Congress moves to stop military sales to Turkey

Congressional frustration with Turkey has reached a boiling point.

After months of deferring to the Donald Trump administration and forgoing punitive measures for fear of worsening an already sour relationship with a NATO ally, lawmakers are taking matters into their own hands.

House legislators last week attached a provision to a must-pass defense bill that would curtail major arms sales to Turkey over its impending purchase of the S-400 Russian missile defense system. Their Senate counterparts are gearing up to attach an even more severe weapons ban to their version of the bill.

And lawmakers aren’t stopping there: Several senators are also pushing to sanction senior Turkish officials in retaliation for Ankara’s monthslong incarceration of an American pastor. Turkish retaliation against Israel for this week’s bloodshed in Gaza, including Ankara’s expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and Turkey's calls for an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, have further strained relations with the United States.

“What we’re trying to do is to get the attention of [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., told Al-Monitor. Shaheen is using her seats on the Armed Services Committee and on a foreign aid spending panel to push both measures.

Shaheen’s counterparts on the House Armed Services Committee advanced a defense authorization bill on May 11 that would ban “major defense equipment” sales to Turkey until the Trump administration submits a report detailing the state of US-Turkish military and diplomatic relations within 60 days of the bill becoming law.

“It will slow down anything going to Turkey,” a House staffer told reporters at a briefing before the committee vote. “Members are concerned about the S-400.”

Turkey signed an accord with Russia to buy the advanced missile defense system last December, raising concerns about security and interoperability with US and other NATO weapons among Defense Department officials and members of Congress. Ankara announced last month that it will receive the missiles in July 2019.
Under Erdogan, Turkey has become an unreliable ally at best.  Erdogan is an Islamists despot who refused to move against ISIS and when teh Kurds stepped in to help the US defeat ISIS, Erdogan attacked them.  He is the most worthless "ally" in NATO.  The Turks used to be strong allies and probably could be again if they could vote Erdogan out of office.  If they do not Turkey is likely to lose its place in teh alliance.


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