US-Turkey relations bound to improve amid F-16 deal

A deal between Türkiye and the United States on the sale of 40 new F-16s to the former creates a window of opportunity for further improving the bilateral ties should the latter show more respect to the Turkish sensitivities in combatting terrorism.


Speaking at a press conference on Feb. 14, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Öncü Keçeli assessed the current state of ties between Ankara and Washington after the Turkish ratification of Swedish membership to NATO, a move which prompted the latter’s accomplishment of the congressional approval for the sale of F-16s to Türkiye.

“We expect that the completion of [the processes for] Sweden’s membership [to NATO] and [the congressional approval of] F-16s will introduce a new window of opportunity as the two allied countries better understand each other on the basis of mutual respect and interests,” Keçeli told reporters.

However, Keçeli recalled that there are still serious bilateral problems, especially in the field of fighting terrorism. “We want the U.S. to completely cease its relationship with the PKK’s affiliations in Syria,” he said, referring to the ongoing U.S. partnership with the YPG in the fight against ISIL. Türkiye designates YPG as a Syrian offshoot of the terrorist organization PKK, and therefore as a terrorist organization.

Keçeli said Türkiye has also expectations about ending the presence of FETÖ on U.S. soil. Türkiye designated FETÖ as a terror organization after the group’s coup attempt in 2016. The Turkish demand for the extradition of Fethullah Gülen from the U.S. has not been positively responded to.