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Turkey Uses Sweden's NATO Bid as Leverage in International Deals

  • Turkey's approval of Sweden's NATO entry is linked to the acquisition of US F-16 jets and Canada lifting its arms embargo.
  • Erdogan's recent remarks suggest Turkey's parliamentary decision on Sweden's NATO bid is dependent on these international military agreements.
  • The ongoing delay in Turkey's approval, despite initial signals of agreement, is influenced by broader geopolitical factors, including the situation in Gaza.

It's now widely perceived that Turkey will continue holding up final formal approval for Sweden's entry into NATO as retaliation for the West's support for Israel as it continues assaulting Gaza.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan added further items to the list of grievances in Tuesday remarks suggesting he'll continue to block Sweden's membership bid if certain demands aren't met. He said the ball lies in the US and Canada's court

"Positive developments both on [the acquisition of US] F-16s and Canada's promises [on lifting its arms embargo] would help our parliament to have a positive approach to Sweden... All of them are linked," Erdogan told a press briefing. 

He issued the words to reporters while returning from a trip to Hungary where he met with Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Hungary too had previously held out on approving Sweden's accession, but now Turkey is seen as the final hurdle.

Turkey signaled it would give its agreement all the way back in June, but appears to have intentionally held up the legal process within Turkish parliament, particularly after the Gaza war kicked off.

Erdogan revealed that he held a phone call last week with President Joe Biden on the issue:

"In the call, Mr. Biden said: 'You pass this (Sweden’s NATO bid) from the parliament and I will get it (F-16 sale) passed from the Congress’," he claimed.

Following two years of waiting for the 40 F-16s and 79 modernization kits Turkey has sought, its defense ministry has turned to acquiring Eurofighter Typhoon jets from the UK instead.

Biden has previously favored Turkey's $20 billion Lockheed Martin deal for the F-16s, but Congressional leaders have resisted due to Erdogan's ongoing blockage of Sweden's NATO membership bid.

Turkey has long been a thorn in the side of the Western alliance, and some have even raised the possibility of booting the Eurasian country from NATO. But it remains the alliance's second largest military, and hosts US forces, including some of America's tactical nuke arsenal.

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