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Wednesday, September 1, 2010     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

Islamist Turkey government finds arms requests being blocked by Congress

ANKARA — Turkey has been concerned over delays in its arms requests from the United States.
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    Turkish sources said Congress has been holding up Ankara's requests for a range of U.S. weapons. They said the House and Senate were signaling their displeasure with the pro-Iranian and -Syrian policies of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan.

    "There are a few people in Congress who have been blocking our requests," a Turkish source said.

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    The sources did not identify the members. But they said they included key members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senate Armed Services Committee and their counterparts in the House.

    Over the last year, Turkey has requested a range of weapons and platforms from the United States, Middle East Newsline reported. They were said to have included attack helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles and advanced munitions.

    The sources said the Turkish Foreign Ministry has discussed the issue with the White House and State Department. They said the ministry would send delegations to brief the House and Senate on Turkish policy and military requirements after congressional elections in November 2010.

    "Right now, the atmosphere is not right for serious talks," the source said.

    Congress was said to have suspended consideration of major Turkish military requests in June 2010, in wake of Ankara's vote in the United Nations Security Council against sanctions on Iran. Later, several House members urged the White House to review U.S. defense relations with Ankara.

    The sources said congressional opposition to Turkey reached the point where President Barack Obama warned Erdogan that he would be unable to guarantee U.S. defense exports to Ankara. In August, Obama was said to have urged Erdogan to reduce Turkey's strategic alliance with Iran and restore damaged relations with Israel.

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