Commentary Magazine


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Obama Rewarding Turkey with Warships?

Against the backdrop of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s most recent outburst, word comes from the Turkish press that the Turkish government believes that the Obama administration will move forward with plans to give–not sell, but give–two frigates to Turkey. The transfer died in the Congress in 2012, when the Senate became sidetracked with sequestration and other last-minute issues. As Hürriyet Daily News explained:

A U.S bill anticipating the donation of two frigates to Turkey with the authorization of President Barack Obama has failed due to technical, not political, reasons, according to Turkish diplomatic sources… the motion required Senate approval for a free give-away of advanced American naval vessels to Turkey to come into effect. The ships in question are the USS Halyburton (FFG-40) and the USS Thach (FFG-43).

It is hard to square provision of such ships to Turkey given the threats Turkey has made to utilize its navy against Israel and Cyprus. To provide ships against the backdrop of such bluster would be akin to offering to give China weaponry as it asserts itself militarily against Japan because of the Senkaku Islands dispute. It is also curious Obama would give any military equipment to Turkey when (a) Turkey does not at present face a naval threat and (b) Turkey has actively sought to undercut international sanctions on Iran. Certainly, this gift appears not only undeserved, but dangerous.