Congressional Turkey Caucus Co-Chairs Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Joe Wilson (R-SC) joined the bipartisan leadership of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in condemning Turkish President Erdogan’s decision to purchase the Russian S-400 missile system, as this key panel overwhelmingly voted to block a pending sale of U.S. made F-35 jets to Ankara, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
The Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC), In Defense of Christians (IDC), and ANCA welcomed the House Foreign Affairs Committee decision. “Erdogan’s increasingly anti-American conduct has angered even Ankara’s staunchest allies on Capitol Hill,” said HALC Executive Director Endy Zemenides, IDC President Toufic Baaklini, and ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian, in a joint statement. “Now is the time for a policy review that puts back on the table legitimate issues that were, for far too long, suppressed by Turkey’s former allies - from its continued occupation of Cyprus and obstruction of justice for genocidal crimes to its ongoing repression of Christian minorities.”
“Turkey’s impending purchase of the S-400 anti-aircraft system from Russia is very damaging for the U.S.-Turkey relationship,” Rep. Chabot told Committee members during today’s consideration of H.Res.372, calling the purchase “totally unacceptable” for the U.S.
Rep. Wilson concurred, calling the S-400’s purchase “damaging and dangerous” and “indicative of the current government’s disdain for our shared values and Turkey’s democratic foundations.” Rep. Wilson went on to note that “the fact that they [Turkey] are now considering collaborating with the Russians on a new S-500 system just confirms this to me and others.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY), who authored H.Res.372, was blunt in his remarks. “President Erdogan has tightened his grip on power and rolled back democracy in Turkey. […] Today’s resolution condemns Erdogan for his authoritarian behavior and calls on Turkey to cancel delivery of the Russian weapons system.”
Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-TX), who joined Chairman Engel in spearheading the bi-partisan measure, said “the time is come to put Turkey on notice that if they purchase the S-400 system, Congress will no longer support their participation in the F-35 program. We want to see Turkey make a course correction and make the better choice.” Rep. McCaul went on to note, “it is incomprehensible to me that Turkey, a NATO ally, would buy a Russian S-400 system. This is not acceptable to this committee or to the Administration.”
Senior House Foreign Affairs Committee member Brad Sherman (D-CA) concurred. “We’re all concerned about Turkey,” said Rep. Sherman. “If they are cooperating with Russia with regard to an S-400 and, even worse, the development of an S-500 rocket – that is inconsistent with their partnership in NATO.”
H.Res.372 is one of several pieces of Senate and House legislation currently under consideration that would block the sale of some 100 F-35’s to Ankara and stop the future production of F-35 parts in Turkey. The House Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 defense spending bill would restrict U.S. funding for the delivery of F-35’s to the Erdogan regime if the S-400 purchase moves forward. The Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is said to also include restrictions on the pending F-35 sale.
Congressional Quarterly is reporting that efforts are already underway to find alternatives to Turkey manufacturing F-35 parts for European customers and Japan and others have expressed interest in purchasing the 100 F-35’s optioned by Turkey.