Turkey’s hopes of overcoming congressional hurdles and acquiring F-16 fighter jets and upgrade kits rose this week when the Senate removed two amendments to a bill designed to prevent their sales from the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Turkish presidential adviser Ibrahim Kalin told reporters in the Kazakh capital Astana Wednesday that the move was a “positive step,” adding that “pressure from the Greek lobby” to hinder the deal had been beaten back. However, Turkey’s relief proved to be premature.
“Not so fast” was the message from Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who co-authored the amendments along with fellow Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. “Let me be clear,” Menendez tweeted. “I will not approve any F-16 case for Turkey until [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan halts his campaign of aggression against the region. Full stop.”