Amendments to condition US sale of F-16s to Turkey removed from Senate defense bill

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Two amendments introduced by Democratic Senators Bob Menendez and Chris van Hollen making potential F-16 sales to Turkey contingent on a series of conditions were removed from the Senate version of the annual US defense spending bill.

The Senate convened on Tuesday to finalize the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) bill, which includes the 2023 defense budget.

Nearly 900 amendments submitted for inclusion in the bill continue to be discussed. No votes are scheduled until Nov. 14 when the chamber re-convenes following a break for the US midterm elections.

According to information obtained from congressional sources, the amendments presented by Menendez and van Hollen were dropped from the bill.

After the Senate passes the NDAA, it will be made into a joint text with a previous version passed within the House of Representatives before it is sent to US President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

A similar amendment to those put forward by Van Hollen and Menendez, which sought to impose conditions on Turkey’s F-16 purchase, was added to the House of Representatives version of the NDAA bill, but these additions are expected to be removed in the joint text.

The amendments sought to impose several restrictions on the sale of F-16s and modernization kits to Turkey, including requiring the president to inform Congress of “concrete steps” he has taken to ensure the warplanes “are not used by Turkey for repeated unauthorized territorial overflights of Greece or military operations against United States allies.”

The amendment put forward by van Hollen pointed in particular to Syrian forces led by the YPG, the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, a designated terrorist organization in Turkey, the US and EU. The US has partnered with the YPG-led SDF in its efforts to counter Daesh/ISIS in northeastern Syria, drawing Ankara’s anger in a major strain on bilateral relations.

The amendment also makes any transfer contingent on Ankara ratifying Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership bids.

It is stated that the diplomatic efforts of Türkiye in Washington were effective in this change in the Senate.

Source: AA

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