Top Senator Vows to Block F-16 Sale Unless Turkey ‘Begins to Act Like a Trusted Ally’

Top Senator Vows to Block F-16 Sale Unless Turkey ‘Begins to Act Like a Trusted Ally’

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – US Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who serves as the chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is vowing to block a proposed sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey unless Ankara adjusts its behavior to suit Washington’s tastes.

“I strongly oppose the Biden administration’s proposed sale of new F-16 aircraft to Turkey,” Menendez said in a statement on Friday, Sputnik reported.

Earlier on Friday, multiple outlets reported the US government is considering selling Turkey 40 of the American-manufactured F-16s at a price of $20 billion.

But the US legislature’s leading foreign affairs official quickly pledged to block the deal, accusing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of attempting to “undermine international law, disregard human rights and democratic norms, and engage in alarming and destabilizing behavior in Turkey and against neighboring NATO allies.”

“Until Erdogan ceases his threats, improves his human rights record at home… and begins to act like a trusted ally should, I will not approve this sale,” the chair insisted.

It’s far from the first indication that Washington may use the potential arms sale as a bargaining chip to potentially force Turkey to forego its resistance toward allowing Sweden and Finland to join the NATO alliance.

A Finnish official reportedly insisted Finland has “not been part of any discussions” regarding the proposed F-16 deal.

On Thursday, Sweden publicly refused to extradite four people that Turkey is seeking over their alleged connections to Fethullah Gulen, the US-based cleric accused of masterminding the attempted coup that left hundreds dead in 2016.

Turkey was previously slated to receive the notoriously-unreliable F-35 fighter jets from the US, but Washington canceled the arrangement in 2019 in retaliation for Ankara’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense system. In August, the Turkish government signed a contract for the purchase of a second batch of S-400s.

Objections by the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee signals there’s still a rocky road ahead for the proposed weapons deal as Turkey’s protests continue to impede Sweden and Finland’s submission to NATO.

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