Titus, colleagues blast Biden’s plan to sell jets to Turkey

By: - July 5, 2022 1:17 pm

The members of Congress warned Turkey would use “American-made warplanes” to violate Greek airspace. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Matthew Lotz)

Nevada Democratic Rep. Dina Titus joined five other other House Democrats in lambasting President Biden’s decision to sell F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, warning American warplanes would be used in the country’s “antagonism” toward Greece, a fellow NATO ally. 

As a member of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus, Titus signed onto a joint statement saying the sale, which Biden reaffirmed was his intention during a June 30 meeting, would escalate tensions between Turkey and Greece.

In their statement, the caucus argued that “Turkey has violated the airspace of fellow NATO ally Greece over 2,377 times, including 120 overflights over Greek territory” in 2022 alone. 

The group warned Turkey would use “American-made warplanes” to enter Greek airspace and “violate the Arms Export Control Act.”

“Turkey’s antagonistic actions in the Aegean Sea, as well as their hostile stance towards the Greek government, make it clear that they do not intend to suspend these aggressive and destabilizing actions soon,” the congressional lawmakers wrote. “Over the past seven months, none of Turkey’s actions in the Aegean Sea related to Greece could be classified as defensive but rather are simply intimidation. The Administration has provided no information as to how they are working to have Turkey cease these antagonistic actions toward a U.S. ally.”

The members of Congress also said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan “has announced he is on the verge of reinvading Syria with the specific intention of targeting Kurdish forces in the North. Many of these forces have previously fought alongside and assisted U.S. operations in the region.”

Biden’s proposal for the sale comes as Turkey, which has been hostile toward Sweden and Finland joining NATO, dropped its opposition. The White House denied there was a connection between the two. 

Congress would still have to approve the final sale, which is estimated at $6 billion.

While the caucus welcomed the news Turkey would no longer block the two countries from joining NATO, they wrote there are “too many outstanding issues to move forward with the sale of F-16s” to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government.

In addition to increasing hostility toward Greece, the letter referenced Erdoğan’s announcement about reinvading Syria with the intent of targeting Kurdish forces. The caucus warned F-16 fighters could also be used against Syrian Kurdish allies. 

“Until the Administration can provide suitable answers on how they intended to mitigate the above-listed concerns, we will continue to object to this weapons transfer and do everything we can to ensure that these F-16s are not delivered to the Turkish government,” the group wrote. 

Joining Titus in issuing the statement were Chris Pappas of New Hampshire, Charlie Crist of Florida,  (FL-13), Carolyn B. Maloney of New York,  Frank Pallone of New Jersey, and  John Sarbanes of Maryland.

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Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle

Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years.  He started his career at View Neighborhood News, the community edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. During his seven years with the R-J, he won several first place awards from the Nevada Press Association and was named its 2011 Journalist of Merit. He left the paper in 2017 and spent a year as a freelance journalist accumulating bylines anywhere from The Washington Post to Desert Companion. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues. Born and mostly raised in Las Vegas, Lyle graduated from UNLV with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies. He is currently working on his master's in Communications through an online program at Syracuse University. In his spare time, Lyle cooks through Ina Garten recipes in hopes of one day becoming the successor to the Barefoot Contessa throne. When he isn’t cooking (or eating), he also enjoys reading, running and re-watching episodes of “Parks and Recreation.” He is also in the process of learning kickboxing.