US lawmaker looks to block F-35 Ankara sale in ongoing fallout over Turkish DC security brawl
Representative David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island), who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, proposed the ban as an amendment to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was passed by the House Armed Services Committee last month, according to Defense News.
The House Rules Committee reported Friday there were more than 90 proposed amendments. The House is expected to take up the bill and deal with amendments next week.
Turkey plans to purchase more than 100 of the F-35A fighter jets and is expecting to receive the first batch in 2018. Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the F-35A, is aware of the proposed ban, and told Defense News at the Paris Air Show last month that they would stick to the current program unless told otherwise.
The amendment fight highlights the steady fallout between the US and Turkey, a key NATO ally, over the May brawl. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticized Washington over its support for Kurdish groups fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). Turkey considers the Kurds – who have been in a decades-long quest to establish their own nation – to be a terrorist organization.
After Erdogan met with President Donald Trump at the White House in mid-May, Turkish security officials and counter-protesters clashed with demonstrators outside the ambassador’s residence where the Turkish leader was staying.
The incident, which was caught on camera, left 11 people injured, nine of whom were hospitalized.
Federal prosecutors have already filed criminal charges against 16 people suspected of assaulting protesters. Altogether, 18 have been charged over the incident.
The brawl spurred a diplomatic spat, with Ankara and Washington summoning each other's ambassadors.
Members of Congress expressed outrage. The State Department is considering taking additional action against those individuals overseas, which could mean barring future entry or revoking visas, the department told ABC News.
Cicilline’s proposed ban would suspend the transfer of jets to Turkey until Trump confirms Erdogan is cooperating with the criminal investigation and prosecution of Turkish government employees.
The Rhode Island congressman is however, not the only lawmaker seeking redress.
Representative Dave Trott (R-Michigan) submitted an amendment opposing the $1.2 million sale of Sig-Sauer-made semi-automatic handguns to Turkey. He was joined by 36 other lawmakers wanting to place the gun deal on hold, including the Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-California) and Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-California).
Representative Don Beyer (D-Virginia) proposed a visa ban on those involved in the attack and demanded an administration report on the incident and how the State Department plans to compensate victims and fix security lapses.