President Erdogan raises the stakes for Sweden's NATO membership

A few days ago, President Joe Biden publicly announced that he expected the United States Congress to accept the acquisition of 40 new F-16V Viper fighters, as well as 80 modernization kits to enable the Turkish Air Force to carry a part of its F-16 C/D fleet to this new standard, which is significantly more efficient, in particular due to the AESA AN/APG-83 radar. For the White House, it was a question of obtaining from President Erdogan that he withdraw his veto concerning the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO, following the request made by these countries after the Russian aggression against Ukraine. One would have thought that this strong gesture on the part of the American executive, while Turkey remains under the yoke of American sanctions following the acquisition by Ankara of a Russian S-400 long-range anti-aircraft battery, would have been enough. to appease the Turkish leader. It did not happen.

Indeed, the very day after the American presidential announcement, President Erdogan announced that he would not authorize Sweden to join the Atlantic Alliance, unless Stockholm agrees to extradite 130 Kurdish refugees as well as Turkish opponents to Turkey. For the Turkish president, these refugees are indeed identified as terrorists and must in fact be delivered to the justice of his country. Moreover, the formulation used by RT Erdogan, "We must start by extraditing 130 terrorists...", suggests that this injunction is only the first of a long list, which may relate to other members of NATO, which also sheltered refugees accused of terrorism by Ankara. It should be recalled in this respect that the only official extradition request transmitted by Ankara to Stockholm so far, was about Bulent Kenes, the former editor of Today's Zaman daily, accused by Ankara of belonging to the political party of preacher Fetullah Gulen, an opponent of Erdogan who had taken refuge in the United States, and accused by the latter of being behind the 2016 coup attempt.

Radar F 16 APG83 Military alliances | Defense Analysis | Fighter jets
The F-16V carries the new AESA AN/APG-83 radar

It is naturally unthinkable for Stockholm to deliver 130 refugees to Turkish justice, all the more so if the indictment files transmitted by Ankara are very limited, as was the case for Bulent Kenes whose extradition request was rejected. by the Swedish Supreme Court. In fact, there is no doubt that by formulating such a demand, President Erdogan knows full well that it will be impossible for the Swedish authorities to respond favourably, even partially. In fact, by taking such a position, the latter must also anticipate that he will completely block the process of Swedish accession to NATO, this in a period of the most tense in Scandinavia while Russia is increasing its provocations and demonstrations of force, and that the membership application of the two Scandinavian countries had to obtain a favorable response from the outset and an extremely shortened membership process to avoid any retaliatory measures on the part of Moscow. So what exactly does Erdogan want by doing this?

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