Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the US are embroiled in a row over fighter jets. It’s not unusual for states to haggle and bargain over deals for military hardware, even if they are allies. But this disagreement says something important about NATO.
Al-Jazeera reported that the fighter jet deal is not unrelated to Turkey acquiescing to Sweden’s entry into NATO:
Hours after Ankara said it would allow Stockholm into the bloc, the US said it will proceed with the transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, the likely trade-off for Ankara’s green light.
However, the outstanding multi-billion-dollar deal for F-16 fighters is not complete yet. Erdoğan told reporters that, ultimately, the decision would be down to Turkish parliament. Turkish parliament, however, is on recess until October.
Alper Coskun, a former deputy permanent representative for Turkey to NATO, told Al-Monitor:
We’re not as close as we thought whenever Erdogan initially made the statement that he will greenlight this
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Coskun seemed to suggest Erdoğan was dragging his feet over the issue to ensure progress on the fighter deal:
While Erdogan has greenlit this, what he greenlit is sending it to parliament.
Coskun said Erdoğan “will be signalling to the US that unless there’s progress on the F-16s, it might be more difficult for parliament” to approve Sweden’s membership.
US jet denials
The US officially denies that the jets are related to the slow progress on Swedish NATO membership. However, according to Al-Monitor, US officials accept the two are related. Furthermore, America is also trying to use the deal to leverage Swedish membership:
But privately, US officials told Turkey that Sweden’s stalled NATO application was the primary obstacle to congressional approval of the long-delayed $20 billion sale, sources close to the Turkish government said.
Given that NATO likes to portray the appearance of unity, not least with the Ukraine war raging, the hold-up is significant. The fact that it is an arms deal, rather than some point of principle, which seems to be dictating if and when a new member can join arguably captures the essence of this military alliance.Support us and go ad-free
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