F-35 ban may help Erdoğan in election – columnist

A possible ban by the U.S. Congress on Turkey receiving F-35 stealth fighter jets could help President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan win re-election, according to Murat Yetkin, a columnist for Hurriyet daily’s English language edition.

The possible sanctions against Turkey could produce a “rally around the flag” effect for Erdoğan, Yetkin, the newspaper’s editor in chief, said in his regular column.

Turkey is holding snap presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24, three days after it is due to take delivery of two F-35s for training and testing in the United States.

“Many Turkish people would recall how after Britain refused to deliver two warships that the Ottoman government had already paid for in 1914, the Ottoman state opted to harbor two German warships by hoisting Turkish flags on them, bombed Russian Black Sea ports, and dragged the country into the First World War against the Allied Powers,” Yetkin said.

A small group of U.S. senators presented a bill in April calling on the assembly to block delivery of the F-35s to NATO member Turkey, citing its internment of a U.S. pastor on terrorism charges and Erdoğan’s ever-closer relations with Russia, which include plans to purchase S-400 anti-aircraft missiles.

Erdoğan, speaking in the past few days, is already using Germany’s refusal to allow him to campaign in the country to garner sympathy and votes at home, Yetkin said.

The president is also claiming that foreign powers want to bring his government down by manipulating the currency markets.