Human rights activist Enes Freedom is accusing President Biden of putting innocent lives at risk by selling F-16 fighter jets to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In a fiery Twitter thread, Freedom compares the sale to arming terrorist groups and warns of potential civilian casualties from Turkish airstrikes.
“You are going to have innocent people’s blood on your hands,” Freedom wrote. “Selling F-16s to Erdogan is like selling F-16s to ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, the Taliban.”
Freedom’s scathing criticism stems from Turkey’s contentious human rights record, its purchase of Russian S-400 missiles despite US objections, and its strained relationship with Greece, a fellow NATO member.
The F-16 sale comes after years of political pressure from Turkey, which was kicked out of the F-35 fighter jet program in 2019 for purchasing the S-400s. The Biden administration agreed to sell Turkey F-16s in exchange for Ankara’s support for Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership bids.
However, Freedom and other critics argue that the F-16 sale rewards Turkey’s bad behaviour and poses a threat to civilians in the region. They point to Turkey’s history of using its F-16s to bomb Kurdish targets in Syria and Iraq, as well as its recent threats against Greece over disputed gas reserves in the Aegean Sea.
“Erdogan will use the new American jets to bomb hospitals, schools, refugee camps, women, children, elderly, civilian infrastructures and more,” Freedom warned.
The Biden administration has defended the F-16 sale, arguing that it is necessary to maintain Turkey’s commitment to NATO and deter Russian aggression in the region. However, critics, including Freedom, remain unconvinced.
“Don’t you remember when Turkey used its F-16s to kill the Kurds, intimidate the Cypriots and Armenians, and threaten Greek territories over the Aegean Sea?” Freedom asked.
He also criticized the Biden administration for ignoring Turkey’s human rights violations and its ties to Russia and Iran.
“The Biden administration chose to ignore the blackmail, hostage diplomacy and all the human rights violations that come with Turkey,” Freedom wrote. “They didn’t only ignore it, they chose to reward them with weapons for it.”
The F-16 sale is likely to remain a contentious issue. It remains to be seen whether the new jets will deter Russian aggression or simply embolden Turkey to further escalate its conflicts with its neighbors.
One thing is clear: Freedom’s scathing criticism raises important questions about the US-Turkey relationship and the potential consequences of arming a country with a checkered human rights record.