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Politics

Pappas Amendment Gives Biden Out to Sell Turkey F-16’s, Skirt Greece

WASHINGTON – A US Congressional amendment pushed by New Hampshire Democrat Chris Pappas aimed at preventing the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey gives US President Joe Biden a way to get around it and get his way.

Biden wants the US to let Turkey buy the jets at the same time the US has said it supports Greece against provocations including Turkish fighter jets constantly violating Greek airspace.

Pappas and a team of other House members opposed to the sale got approval of the amendment barring it but Biden can get around any veto simply by stating it is in the US national interest.

That gives the President a chance to further swivel away from his alleged support of Greece as he did when he declared Saudi Arabia a “pariah” but went there despite the CIA saying Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud gave the order to slaughter Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

The other condition is that the jets couldn’t be used to violate Greek airspace but it wasn’t said how that could be enforced, although Congressional oversight is required and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan almost certain to rule that out. It would also have to pass the Senate.

The White House said that Turkey is a valuable ally despite buying Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems that undermine NATO – of which Turkey, Greece and the US are members – and could be used against Greece in a conflict.

The US also barred Turkey from buying more advanced F-35 fighter jets and didn’t explain the contradiction about why Turkey is an ally while buying defenses from a NATO enemy and would be rewarded with more F-16’s.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who, in an address to the US Congress – without mentioning Turkey name – urged lawmakers to reject Biden’s plan has said he expects Turkey will get the F-16’s.

THAT MAN IN ANKARA

That’s despite the US also renewing a military co-operation deal with Greece that will see an expanded American military presence and more bases in the country where the US Navy has a base at Souda Bay on Crete.

“The passage of this bipartisan amendment sends a strong message to Turkey and to the international community that the United States will not allow the Erdoğan government to escape accountability for violating U.S. law and the standards of the NATO alliance,” said Pappas.

“I have consistently opposed the sale of F-16s to Turkey and advanced weapons and equipment to upgrade its existing F-16 fleet. It remains deeply troubling that President Biden supports moving forward with this sale despite Turkey’s increasingly belligerent rhetoric and aggression towards Greece, a reliable democratic NATO ally,” he added.

The amendment was also pushed by Republicans Gus Bilirakis from Florida and Nicole Malliotakis from New York and Democrats Carolyn Maloney from New York, John Sarbanes from Maryland, David Cicilline from Rhode Island and Frank Pallone from New Jersey.

The view from Greece has been cautious with Mitsotakis’ New Democracy government careful not to antagonize despite opposition to the sale, wanting to keep good relations with Washington.

Triantafyllos Karatrantos, an analyst at the Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) think tank told Kathimerini there would have to be a strict framework stipulating good neighborly relations and avoiding provocations, disputes or engagement with third countries.

But he said Erdogan, who – like Mitsotakis – is facing an election in 2023is playing to a nationalist base and has been ramping up belligerent talk he likely wouldn’t back away from and would reject any condition limiting the use of the F-16’s.

Karantrantos said that if pushed too far that Erdogan will try to find fighter jets elsewhere unless he can squeeze more concessions out of the US as he did when setting aside a threat to veto the entry of Sweden and Finland and NATO which led Biden to meet him and agree to push the F-16’s sale.

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