Recep Erdogan’s re-election at the very least solidifies another four years of Islamist rule. Some analysts argue the election was a victory for democracy because the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) does not have enough seats to impose a new constitution without getting at least some support from other parties. Alas, there might be less here than meets the eye.
The Islamists control the security forces and have eviscerated the judiciary. Anyone who criticizes Erdogan risks getting named a coup plotter in Erdogan’s fantastical conspiracy theory. Long story short, four of those elected by the opposition to parliament have already been accused of crimes, and Erdogan can simply threaten anyone who does not comply with the same. If that doesn’t work, bribery might. Regardless, Erdogan seems a shoe-in for the presidency if he switches Turkey to a presidential system, as he has indicated he would. Therefore, he may enhance his power even further.
Against this backdrop, it is time Congress stop ignoring its oversight role. The Obama administration seems intent on selling Turkey the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, replete with stealth technology and the backbone of our national defense for generations to come. On one hand, Turkey is part of the consortium building the jet, but their contribution is to the fuselage. They will not have access to the most high-technology parts until we sell them the planes.
The problem is trust: The Turkish Air Force has held secret war games with the Chinese Air Force, and the new head of the Turkish intelligence services has been as much a cheerleader for the Islamic Republic of Iran as he has been an antagonist for the United States. The question, alas, is not whether Turkey would sell America’s secrets to Beijing or Tehran, but whether they might simply provide them to our enemies. The simple fact of the matter is trust in the Turkish-American relationship is a thing of the past, and the White House should not leverage America’s security secrets because of diplomatic nicety. Regardless, as Turkey brags about its good neighbor policy toward Syria, Hezbollah, Iran and Russia, it’s unclear why Turkey would even need such a high-tech jet fighter.
What begs belief is that as the Obama administration prepares to move forward with this sale, the Congress would not do so much as require the Pentagon to report on the F-35’s vulnerabilities to technology transfer should it fall into Turkish hands.