Senator Rand Paul Leads Senate Vote to Block F-16 Sale to Turkey

Cites Turkey’s Deployment of F-16s against Artsakh as a Reason to Block Sale

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Member Dr. Rand Paul (R-KY) condemned the use of Turkish F-16s in Turkey/Azerbaijan’s 2020 attacks against Armenia and Artsakh in powerful remarks today calling upon his Senate colleagues to pass a resolution (S.J.Res.60) blocking the sale of F-16s and other US weapons systems to Turkey.  

In powerful remarks on the Senate floor, among the litany of reasons to block the F-16 sale to Turkey, Dr. Paul explained, “The Armenian Ministry of Defense claims that on September 29, 2020, in support of Azerbaijan’s war to conquer the Nagorno-Karabakh region, a Turkish F-16 shot down an Armenian SU-25 attack aircraft in Armenian airspace. Turkey has stood closely by its Azerbaijani ally in its efforts to subjugate the region, providing combat drones, military equipment, training, and, if we are to believe the Armenian government, direct combat support. So our planes that we give to the Turks, the F-16s, are actually being used in another war with Armenia. […] The war in 2020 and Azerbaijan’s subsequent military operation in 2023 killed thousands and created a humanitarian disaster, forcing more than 100,000 people to flee, more than three-quarters of the population of that region.”

Video of Sen. Paul’s remarks on Turkey and Azerbaijan’s aggression against Artsakh and Armenia is available at:

Sen. Paul’s resolution received bipartisan support from Senators, including: Mike Braun (R-IN), John Fetterman (D-PA), Mike Lee (R-UT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Gary Peters (D-MI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rick Scott (R-FL), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).  The privileged measure, entitled to an up-or-down vote of the full U.S. Senate, aimed to provide Congressional disapproval of the proposed foreign military sale of F-16s and other defense articles to the Government of Turkey pursuant to section 36(b)(1) of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) of 1976. The resolution ultimately did not pass, with a vote of 13 Yes, 79 no, and 8 not voting.

ANCA Programs Director Alex Galitsky welcomed Sen. Paul’s principled leadership, stating, “Turkey has been the source of regional aggression and destabilization for decades – from its occupation of Cyprus, incursions into Greek airspace and territorial waters, massacres of Kurds within Turkey and across Syria and Iraq, and its material support for Azerbaijan’s ethnic cleansing of Artsakh’s Armenians.  The Biden Administration shouldn’t ship Ankara a single bullet, much less one of our most advanced weapons systems, knowing full well they will be deployed against the region’s most vulnerable communities – as they were during Azerbaijan’s 2020 attack on Artsakh.”

In the run-up to today’s vote, the ANCA worked to expand the coalition of human rights, ethnic, and faith-based groups supporting passage of S.J.Res.60, which include Frontiers of Freedom Institute, America Matters, Friends Committee On National Legislation, Quincy Institute, American Moment, American Friends of Kurdistan, Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC), Middle East Forum, In Defense of Christians, Christian Solidarity International, and Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN).

“Turkey has supported a brutal war against Armenia—the oldest Christian nation in the world for years. We cannot continue to arm a nation with such a terrible track record, especially as our weapons reserves continue to dwindle,” explained Saurabh Sharma, the President of American Moment.

“Senator Paul’s resolution to block arms sales to Turkey is an important effort to uphold U.S. laws and policies that prohibit sales to governments that systematically violate human rights. Our government should uphold its own laws prohibiting arms transfers to abusive regimes, without exception,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director for Democracy for DAWN.

“Considering Turkey’s abysmal human rights record, its questionable performance as a NATO ally, and its disruptive military engagements in the region, Senator Paul’s S.J. Res.60 presents a prudent course of action. Merely rubber-stamping the sale of new F-16s and the modernization of older ones for Turkey would inadvertently signal to Turkish leadership that they need not address their human rights deficiencies, enhance their reliability as an ally, or adopt a more constructive role in the region,” stated George Landrith, President, Frontiers of Freedom Institute.

“Arms sales to foreign militaries should only occur when they serve U.S. interests. There are no compelling reasons to sell arms to Turkey, and this transfer is especially perverse because the U.S. is sending arms as a reward for ratifying Sweden as a member of NATO and increasing the United States’ defense burden,” concluded Tucker Kass, Program Manager, Defense Priorities Initiative.