F-35 delivery to Turkey delayed 90 days under new defense budget while Pentagon investigates US-Turkish relations; Turkish lira continues to drop; US State Department: The progress that we want to be made is to have Pastor Brunson return home.
President Trump approved a new defense budget that delays the delivery of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey.
The President signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Monday, a recent amendment added delaying the delivery of the jets to Turkey for a period of 90 days while the Pentagon investigates and submits a report on US-Turkish relations.
Amidst the deteriorating relations between the United States and Turkey, President Trump last week announced higher tariffs on steel and aluminum. The President announced last week, “I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar! Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!”
Turkey’s currency, the lira, continues to plunge given the country’s financial crisis. The lira dropped an additional 7% on Monday after dropping 14% over the weekend. The currency has seen a 40% drop over 2018. Turkey’s central bank continues to attempt to stabilize the currency, in what Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan referred to as a “economic siege”.
The United States has been clear that relations will not improve until incarcerated American Pastor Andrew Brunson returns home. The pastor was arrested and has been in prison since the Turkish coup attempt in 2016. He has been accused of aiding terrorists. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert recently stated to the press on tensions with Turkey, “The progress that we want to be made is to have Pastor Brunson return home. I will leave it at that.”
Erdogan continued his attacks on the United States last week in a New York Times op-ed. He claimed the United States support of the P.Y.D, its refusal to condemn the 2016 coup attempt and “sanctions” as ongoing “unilateral action against Turkey by the United States [that] will only serve to undermine American interests and security. Failure to reverse this trend of unilateralism and disrespect will require us to start looking for new friends and allies.”
Turkey has invested $1.25 billion into the F-35 program and several Turkish companies manufacturing parts for the jets since 1999. Under the new defense budget, the Pentagon will investigate US-Turkey relations amidst Turkey’s plans to purchase the S-400 surface-to-air-systems from Russia which would pose a national security concern to the United States.
Amir spoke about developments in Turkey and much more in his last Middle East Current Events Update.