Biden wants to sell weapons to Turkey while Ankara undermines NATO

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With each passing day, the Armenian American community grows more disappointed with President Joe Biden’s anti-Armenian actions. He has done more harm than good to Armenia’s interests.

Last year, 24 hours before acknowledging the Armenian Genocide, Pres. Biden waived Section 907 of the US Liberty Support Act, allowing the US to provide various types of assistance to Azerbaijan, including “security” assistance.

The United States General Accounting Office (GAO) reported that between 2002 and 2020, the Departments of State, Defense, and Energy and the United States Agency for International Development provided Azerbaijan with 808 million in US aid, of which $164 million (20%) was for security assistance. On March 31, 2022, the US Ambassador to Baku proudly tweeted that the US Department of Defense had just donated $30 million worth of “equipment” to Azerbaijan. It makes no sense to provide assistance to oil-rich Azerbaijan, rich with billions of petrodollars. This is a total waste of American taxpayers’ money.

During a recent hearing, when Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken why the State Department had not reported to Congress the impact of aid to Baku on the military balance between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Blinken gave an evasive answer, promising to look into the matter.

Even though previous presidents had also waived Section 907, thereby providing assistance to super-wealthy Azerbaijan, Biden in his 2020 presidential campaign boldly criticized the president. Donald Trump for waiving Section 907. Yet within three months of assuming the presidency, he did the same as Trump.

What is the point of acknowledging the Armenian Genocide and then supplying weapons to Azerbaijan to continue killing Armenians, as was the case in the 2020 war? We need action, not empty words.

A Turkish F-16 prepares to take off at Bodø Air Base, Norway, during Trident Juncture 2018 (Photo: Nebil/Turkish Air Force/Public Domain)

Another mistake of the Biden administration is not enforcing the ban on the transfer of American weapons to third countries. The prime example of this violation is Turkey’s use of US F-16 military aircraft in Azerbaijan during the 2020 Artsakh War. Also, the US has not banned the sale of US parts in the Turkish Bayraktar drones which played a key role in the 2020 war.

The Biden administration cut aid to Armenia to $24 million and allocated pitiful humanitarian aid to thousands of Armenians displaced from Artsakh, while acknowledging they were in an “acute humanitarian crisis “.

The Biden administration also failed to:

1) Pressure Azerbaijan to immediately release Armenian prisoners from Baku prisons after the end of the 2020 war.

2) Condemn Turkey’s recruitment and transfer of Islamist terrorists to participate in the 2020 Artsakh War on behalf of Azerbaijan.

3) Criticize the incursion of Azeri troops into Armenian territory since May 12, 2021.

4) Take action on massive human rights violations by Azerbaijan and Turkey, while hypocritically saying that human rights are a fundamental tenet of US foreign policy.

Instead, we hear repeated US calls for “Armenia-Turkey reconciliation” and a “peace agreement with Azerbaijan,” which are contrary to Armenia’s national interests.

Surprisingly, the Biden administration has just informed Congress that it supports selling Turkey missiles, radars and electronics for its existing fleet of F-16 fighter jets. Additionally, Turkey has requested the purchase of 40 new F-16 jets.

The Biden administration is wrong to say that the proposed arms sale to Turkey “serves the interests of NATO”. In fact, this sale faces an uphill battle in Congress as 60 members have voiced their vehement opposition.

Contrary to the Biden administration’s assertion, the proposed arms sale to Turkey will undermine U.S. and NATO interests for the following reasons:

1) F-16 planes will be used by Turkey in Syria and Iraq to bomb US-allied Kurdish fighters in the fight against ISIS terrorists, which Turkey supports.

2) Turkey will use the F-16s to continue its illegal intrusions into the territorial waters of NATO member Greece.

3) Turkey will use F-16 aircraft to threaten Armenia’s territorial integrity.

4) Turkey continues to occupy Northern Cyprus since 1974 and refuses to leave despite dozens of UN Security Council resolutions.

5) The United States sanctioned Turkey and blocked the sale of American F-35 advanced fighter jets for the purchase of Russian S-400 missiles, contrary to NATO interests.

Finally, as NATO nations, including the United States, clash with Russia in Ukraine, the Finnish and Swedish governments have asked to join NATO. With the exception of Turkey, all other NATO members are in favor of fast-tracking Finland and Sweden. Close. Erdogan announced that his country would veto these two countries’ membership applications, using the ridiculous argument that Finland and Sweden are home to “many terrorist organizations”, i.e. Kurdish refugees. This is very ironic coming from a country like Turkey, which has supported ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq for years.

By opposing the NATO memberships of Finland and Sweden, Turkey hopes to achieve the following goals:

1) To meet the needs of Russia with which it has important military and commercial ties. Turkey is the only NATO member that has refused to sanction Russia and close its airspace to Russian planes. Turkey is Russia’s mole in NATO.

2) Obtain concessions from the United States to buy arms and obtain political support in exchange for allowing Finland and Sweden to apply to join NATO.

It is clear that Turkey, an ally of Russia, does not belong to NATO. Before Pres. Biden decides to sell F-16 jets to Turkey, I suggest he read the Washington Post editorial published on April 29, 2022, titled: “Turkey hits new low of despotism.”

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Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, California. He is the chairman of the Armenia Artsakh Fund, a non-profit organization that has donated $917 million in humanitarian aid, mostly medicine, to Armenia and Artsakh since 1989 (including his predecessor, the United Armenian Fund). He was decorated by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and the heads of Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also an Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipient.

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