Dem Legislator Wants To Stop F-35 Sales To Turkey, Cites Embassy Skirmish

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Rhode Island Democratic Rep. David Cicilline has proposed to block F-35 sales to Turkey after the Turkish president’s security detail beat protesters in Washington, D.C.

Cicilline, who serves as a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, has forwarded an amendment to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. The proposal would stop the transfer of any F-35s until President Donald Trump can secure a promise from the country that it will cooperate with the prosecution of Turkish security who viciously assaulted protesters outside the Turkish embassy in D.C., Defense News reports.

Turkey is looking to buy more than 100 F-35A aircraft and expects to receive its first fighter jet in 2018, but that won’t take place without cooperation on Turkey’s part if Cicilline’s amendment is successful. For it to be successful, however, it requires House approval, after which point the House NDAA bill will have to be reconciled with the Senate NDAA. Supposing the amendment even obtains approval to join the House bill, it may be struck out during the reconciliation process with the Senate bill.

Currently, although Turkey is a NATO ally, the relationship between the United States and Turkey is somewhat tense, as the Pentagon has provided arms to Kurdish fighters in the assault on the Islamic State in Syria. Turkey has a long-standing and bitter relationship with the Kurds and believes the PKK, which it considers a terrorist organization, has strong ties to the Syrian Democratic Forces.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced charges against members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in mid-June, which was about a month after the original brawl in front of the embassy. Observers captured footage of Turkish security guards assaulting protesters. Turkish officials claimed the protesters were linked with the PKK.

“It was an affront to our values as Washingtonians and as Americans and a clear assault on the First Amendment,” Bowser said.

“As Americans, the First Amendment grants us the right to assemble and protest peacefully, and here in DC we are committed to safeguarding and protecting that right,” she added.

Erdogan has complained about the United States’ reaction to his security forces pummeling protesters.

“If [my security guards] are not allowed to protect me in the United States, why do I bring them there with me?” Erdogan asked.

At this point, Turkish cooperation is required to move forward on any charges, as Erdogan’s security detail left the country shortly after the brawl took place.

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