WASHINGTON—Several members of Congress have proposed amendments to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act seeking to block the sale of arms ranging from hand guns to fighter jets to Turkey over the attack on protesters in DC by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bodyguards in May.
One such amendment was proposed by Rep. David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and is a member of the Congressional Armenian Caucus. He is seeking to block the US sale of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey, reported Defense News.
Last month the DC police announced that arrest warrants had been issued for 12 members of Erdogan’s security detail and Turkish police officers in connection with the May 16 attack on peaceful protesters in front of the Turkish Ambassador’s residence, which resulted in serious injuries.
The DC police announced that after an extensive investigation with the State Department s Secret Service and the Metropolitan Police Department, a total of 18 individuals have been charged or are facing charges stemming from the attack on May 16.
Cicilline’s proposed amendment would effectively bar the transfer of the Lockheed Martin-made F-35 fighter jets to Turkey until President Trump certifies the government of Turkey is cooperating with the criminal investigation and prosecution of Turkish government employees involved in the May 16 attacks, reported Defense News.
The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which was passed by the House Armed Services Committee last month, is expected to be taken up next week by the full House.
Another amendment, proposed by Michigan Republican Dave Trott seeks a “sense of Congress” disapproving a suggested $1.2 million sale of semi-automatic handguns to Turkey. The Sig Sauer-made weapons are slated to be used by Erdogan’s security team
Trott, along with his Democratic co-chair of the Congressional Armenian Caucus, Frank Pallone were joined last week by House Intelligence Committee Chairman and Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA), Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) and key leaders of House Foreign Affairs Committee in calling on the State Department to reject the pending sale of the semi-automatic guns.
California Republican Dana Rohrabacher also proposed an amendment, which would prohibit the transfer of U.S. defense articles to Turkey and, instead, make them available to Kurdish Peshmerga forces, who have played an instrumental role in the battle against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL). Rep. Rohrabacher, who serves as Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, presided over the hearings spotlighting the Erdogan-ordered attacks in May.
Virginia Democrat, Rep. Don Beyer, has proposed a visa ban on those involved in the attack. He also proposed that the Trump administration report on the incident and what the State Department is doing by way of victim compensation and fixing security lapses, reported Defense News.
“We welcome the leadership of Armenian Caucus Co-Chairman David Trott, House Foreign Affairs Committee members Dana Rohrabacher and David Cicilline, and Representative Don Beyer for offering amendments sanctioning Turkey over the May 16thattack by President Erdogan’s bodyguards against peaceful protesters in Washington, DC,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “We join with our Hellenic, Kurdish and Assyrian American friends and the full range of our coalition partners in looking forward to the House Rules Committee clearing these – and any other constructive amendments that may be offered – for timely consideration on the floor of the House, where we expect they will receive broad, bipartisan backing.”