Do the F-35 jets mark a tipping point in U.S.-Turkey relations? - Greek daily

Turkey’s struggle in purchasing F-35 jets from the U.S. has illustrated that US-Turkey relations have crossed the Rubicon while proving that the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) and the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) joint #NoJetsForTurkey campaign - which aims to halt F35 sales to Turkey - has been effective, writes Endy Zemenides, the Executive Director of the Hellenic American Leadership Council, in an article he penned for Greek daily Kathimerini.

Turkey’s deal to purchase S-400 missile defence systems from Russia has cast a shadow on the country’s plans of purchasing  F-35 fighter jets from the United States. A bill that was proposed to the U.S. Congress on May 8, calling for a report on U.S.-Turkish relations and demanding the suspension of U.S. weapons sales - including the F-35 fighter jets - to Turkey until the report’s publication. The bill referred to “strained relations” between the pair of NATO allies, blaming Turkey for “provocative actions” and its deal to purchase S-400 missile defence systems from Russia.

In February, HALC and ANCA began a campaign to block the sales of the fighter jets, saying Ankara is using U.S. weapons against allies and strategic partners.

Zemenides notes that the joint campaign has been surprisingly effective in that it the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted (351-66) to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with a provision to suspend F35 sales and all major defense equipment deliveries to Turkey until the Secretaries of State and Defense deliver a report on the status of the US – Turkey relationship to Congress.

But this does not mean the freeze of the F35 transfers, the article points out; as it is unknown which provision regarding the F35s the conference committee will decide to include in the final bill.

The article points out U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s frustration with Turkey, quoting him as saying “I hope you consider not giving them F35s, it seems we give and give and give [to Turkey] and get slapped in the face”; “As to Turkey, I hope the Administration would prevent the sale of the F35s, they are not a weapon to be used against terrorists, they are a weapon to be used against Greece.”  

‘’Since the transfer of F35s is scheduled to occur in phases, expect this issue to become a constant in American foreign policy debates,’’ Zinedes writes.

Meanwhile, a pro-government newspaper in Turkey on Sunday said Turkey is considering the purchase of Russian Su-57 fighter jets should Washington decide to suspend the delivery of F-35 jets.