Turkey Quid Pro Quo Or No? Odd Timing For F-16 Sale

Turkey Quid Pro Quo Or No? Odd Timing For F-16 Sale

Turkey Quid Pro Quo Or No? Odd Timing For F-16 Sale

There are two questions at hand for the proposed sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey. First, despite the denials from Joe Biden himself, is this a quid pro quo for Turkey allowing Sweden and Finland to join NATO?

And second, if it is a quid pro quo, is that a bad thing?

Here’s the background of the story. Remember how Russia invaded Ukraine? Let’s start there. Russia’s aggression led Ukraine to ask to be admitted to both NATO and the EU, though Ukraine has since given up on NATO membership. Meanwhile, Sweden and Finland were both watching what was going on. They are the two Scandinavian countries that had not yet joined NATO, even though Norway was a founding member. While Russian aggression might not make a huge difference to Sweden, Finland shares a pretty long border of 810 miles on its east side with Russia. If Putin decided to get territorial beyond the old Soviet Union lines, he might start eyeing that Finnish border. Finland is currently planning to build actual barricades on that border to make sure that Russia stays put. (Holy crap, you mean building a border wall JUST MIGHT WORK??? I’m shocked, SHOCKED.)

Sweden and Norway applied for NATO membership back in May, which of course made Vladimir Putin just thrilled. The stumbling block to their admission wasn’t Putin, though. It was de facto dictator of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Yes, Turkey, despite its current government, is a member of NATO, which allowed Erdogan to block admission for Sweden and Finland. There were murmurings that deal-making was happening behind the scenes, but every time a deal looked like it might happen, Turkey would again throw cold water on the whole thing. Well, until last Wednesday, that is, when Turkey announced that they had struck a deal.

The three countries’ foreign ministers signed a memorandum to confirm that Turkey will back Sweden and Finland’s NATO bids during a summit in Madrid this week, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto said in a statement.”

Previously, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he would not approve the applications, citing their support for Kurdish organizations that Turkey considers security threats.”

All 30 NATO members must approve a country’s bid for it to be accepted into the alliance.”

Last week, Stoltenberg told reporters that he was working to add Finland and Sweden to NATO “as soon as possible.” He said it will “make them safer, NATO stronger and the Euro-Atlantic area more secure.”

So, how did Turkey come to a sudden change of heart regarding Sweden and Finland? Let’s remember that Turkey isn’t shy about locking up innocent people because of their family members, and Jazz Shaw at Hot Air raises concerns about any extraditions that may occur as a result of this deal.

Precise details of the agreement have not been released, but Erdogan is saying that Turkey had “got what it wanted” from both countries, including “full cooperation” in the fight against the Kurdish groups. This allegedly includes the extradition of Kurds from both countries to Turkey and an agreement by both countries to not impose sanctions on the Turkish defense industry.”

This sounds like a complete cave on the part of Finland and Sweden since they are worried that the people they extradite to Turkey will be in grave danger. (That much should be obvious.) This agreement seems to speak to the urgency they feel about joining NATO and having strong military support if Russia tries to attack either one of them.”

But what if it wasn’t an extradition treaty? What if it was something else, like… a sale of F-16 fighter jets from the United States?

Biden told reporters at a press conference following a NATO summit in Madrid that he expressed support for selling F-16s to Turkey during a one-on-one meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a day prior.”

At the same time, Biden dismissed the idea that agreeing to sell Turkey the fighter jets would represent a “quid pro quo” after Ankara agreed to relent on its objections to Finland and Sweden joining NATO.”

“I said back in December, as you’ll recall, we should sell them the F-16 jets and modernize those jets as well,” Biden told reporters. “It’s not in our interest not to do that and I indicated to them that I had not changed my position at all since December.”

“There was no quid pro quo with that. It’s just, we should sell,” Biden continued. “I need congressional approval to be able to do that, and I think we can get that.”

And now, Senator Lindsey Graham has just returned from a trip to Turkey, and says he is fully on board with the sale of the F-16s to the Erdogan regime.

Ummmm, anyone else feel just a little weirded out about the timing of all of this?

So let’s address the two questions I posed at the beginning of this post. Is this, despite the denial by Biden, a quid pro quo to Turkey: “You drop your objection to letting Sweden and Finland join, and we’ll sell you those F-16s that we all know you want?” As the kids say, this seems sus. (Suspicious, for those of us not inundated by months of Among Us.) Having Lindsey Graham so happily on the “sell the jets” bandwagon, only days after Biden makes this announcement, is also more than a little strange. Unless we get a bigger look into what Finland and Sweden offered Turkey in return for dropping their objection, the F-16s do look like a pretty decent incentive. As Senator Graham said, we have a “problematic relationship” with Turkey, what with Erdogan being a dictator and all. I kind of doubt Team Biden decided to sell off these jets without ulterior motives.

But if this is a quid pro quo, is that necessarily a bad thing? We’re getting decent new allies in Sweden and Finland, and we’re pissing off Vladimir Putin at the same time. Yeah, he’s mad.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is warning Finland and Sweden that if they welcome NATO troops and military infrastructure onto their territory, Russia will respond in kind.”

He said Wednesday that Russia will have to “create the same threats for the territory from which threats against us are created.”

The two formerly nonaligned Baltic countries were formally invited Wednesday to join the Western military alliance.”

Putin brought this upon himself, really. Finland and Sweden were perfectly happy with the status quo until Putin decided to go for a bigger version of the Soviet Revival Tour. So if this is a quid pro quo to Turkey in order to bring Sweden and Finland into NATO, and formalize keeping Putin at bay in the north, the trade-offs may have been worth it.

The elephant in the room, of course, is the fact that it probably isn’t a good idea to trust Erdogan with anything. What will he do with modernized F-16 jets? And what will happen if Congress decides NOT to authorize the sale? I guess that really would prove whether there was a quid pro quo in place after all.

Featured image via Engin_Akyurt on Pixabay, cropped, Pixabay license

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  • BSmith says:

    So what happens when Turkey attacks fellow NATO country, Greece? And uses these F16s to do so?

  • AF JAG (Ret.) says:

    Both Turkey and Greece already have F-16s, as do Egypt, Pakistan and a lot of other countries. It’s a great airplane, but the prototype first flew in 1974 – it’s no longer cutting edge Turkey originally wanted new F-35s, but these were denied since Erdogan was cozying up to Russia at the time and there was concern classified information about the F-35 would leak to them (he had just purchased Russian air defense system). The F-16s are a consolation prize at best.

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