Congress blocked arms sales to Turkey for 2 years

Bipartisan group of congressmen block military deals with Turkish government after Turkey purchases Russian S-400 system.

Gary Willig ,

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Reuters

Several key US Congressmen have prevented major arms sales to Turkey for about two years, the the US-based Defense News reported.

According to the report, the lawmakers who acted to prevent the arms from being sold to Turkey are Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch (R-Id), House Foreign Affairs ranking member Mike McCaul (Tx), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY), and Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) from New Jersey.

Risch and McCaul both confirmed the report, while Engel and Menendez did not.

The deals which were blocked include upgrades for US-made F-16 fighter planes as well as well as export licenses for US-made helicopter engines. The Turkish government needed the licenses to complete a $1.5 billion deal to sell attack helicopters to Pakistan.

The number of arms sales to Turkey which were blocked by the Congressmen is unknown.

Relations between the West and Turkey, a member of NATO, have been strained in recent years as the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has pursued an increasingly Islamist foreign policy in recent years and courted rivals to the West such as Russia and Iran.

In 2019 Turkey purchased the Russian-made S-400 anti-aircraft missile defense system in a move which angered the US.

Last month, Erdogan ordered the conversion of the Hagia Sophia back into a Mosque, defying international opposition to the move against the UNESCO-listed world heritage site.

“Turkey is a longtime strategic ally of the United States. That relationship has deteriorated dramatically in recent years and is quickly deteriorating further,” said Senator Jim Risch. According to him, it was Turkey's purchase of the S-400 system which “significantly changed the nature of our relationship. This purchase benefits our adversary Putin and threatens the integrity of the NATO Alliance.”



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