From the U.S. to Turkey: Will the Senate vote for or against the transfer of the F-35 jets?

From the U.S. to Turkey: Will the Senate vote for or against the transfer of the F-35 jets?

The Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu at the State Department in Washington, on Monday, June 4.

Not even a week later, and after Cavusoglu’s positiveness and confidence regarding the delivery of the F-35 Lightning II fighters from the United States to Turkey, the U.S. Senate “is readying to vote next week on a bill that would block such transaction”, reads.

The transfer of the jets was supposed to take place the latest by June 21st.

According to a spokeswoman at the Senate Armed Services Committee who spoke to The National, the Senate will “likely vote on the NDAA next week”, just days before the transfer of F-35 jets to Turkey is due to take place. “The national defence authorization act (NDAA) was amended this week to include a full section intended to block any F-35 sales to Turkey.” The ammendement was filed by Senators Jeanne Shaheen, Thom Tillis and James Lankford.

The Senators, their moves and their desire

In mid April, 2018, Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and James Lankford (R-OK) released the following joint statement on their decision to pursue targeted sanctions against Turkish officials in this year’s Fiscal Year 2019 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs spending bill in response to the unjust imprisonment of Dr. Andrew Brunson:

“Turkish President Erdogan has continued to violate the trust between our two nations by holding Pastor Brunson and other innocent Americans behind bars on fabricated charges. Accordingly, we will request sanctions be applied to Turkish officials as part of the Fiscal Year 2019 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs spending bill. Turkish officials who participate in the detainment of any innocent American citizen should face international consequences, and the actions against Pastor Brunson, in particular, qualify as hostage-taking.

We desire cooperation and strengthening ties between our countries, but the US Government has a responsibility to ensure the safety and welfare of its people. Turkey has an opportunity to repair relations by immediately releasing Dr. Andrew Brunson, deporting him back to the US and ceasing its unprecedented policy of hostage-taking immediately. Ultimately, these results would benefit both our great nations.”

On April 20, 2018, , Senator Shaheen led a bipartisan letter with Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) and a group of 66 Senators, calling on the President of Turkey to release Dr. Brunson.

The sanctions are tightly linked to the case of Pastor Andrew Brunson has written that “The case of Pastor Andrew Brunson, who has lived in Turkey for over 20 years and was arrested more than 18 months ago on charges of espionage and terrorism, has gained international attention. However, there are also other lesser known U.S. nationals or dual nationals that are living behind bars.”

According to Senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a Washington think tank, Dr. Aykan Erdemir who spoke to Ahval some days ago, “When look at the details of these cases you see that there is not a shred of evidence even though they are waiting for months to see their indictments. They often have to defend themselves against secret witnesses who cannot be effectively cross examined or are not at all credible. All of these developments have led to increased calls for a range of sanctions on Turkey.”

A few words about Pastor Andrew Brunson

Pastor Andrew Brunson was not “new” to Turkey since it has been its home for over 20 years. He was arrested more than 18 months ago on charges of espionage and terrorism, but he is not the only U.S. national living behind bars, in Turkey. reads that “there are also other lesser known U.S. nationals or dual nationals” in the same position as the Pastor whose case has gained global interest and attention.

Dr. Aykan Erdemir has co-authored the report with former United States ambassador to Turkey, Eric Edelman in which one can read of 40 foreign nationals listed in it, “who were either arrested in the past” or still remain imprisoned in Erdogan’s Turkey.

Erdogan’s ‘My way or no way’ approach

The 36-page document-report is called “Erdogan’s hostage diplomacy:  Western Nationals in Turkish Prisons”.

The Turkish journalist Yavuz Baydar describes it as a “chilling read” and explains why:

“The report sheds light on the darkest aspect of these policies: the Western nationals thrown into Turkish prisons for charges that law experts find ridiculous, kept as potential swap elements, whom Erdogan hopes will “soften and tame” those governments he sees as messing with him and his close circles. The FDD report makes a key point about the unexpected fallout of Erdogan’s ‘My way or no way’ approach. It became a trap for some Western capitals that chose a policy of appeasement because of Turkey’s strategic position.”

Perhaps the U.S. stance might offer a different Western… approach to the one that maybe Erdogan would expect. It remains to be seen… …. / IBNA

Main Photo: Happy faces prior to a meeting of NATO Foreign ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, April 27, 2018 – Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (L) and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R)