August 2, 2023 | FDD Tracker: June 30-August 2, 2023

Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker: August

August 2, 2023 | FDD Tracker: June 30-August 2, 2023

Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker: August

Trend Overview 

By John Hardie 

Welcome back to the Biden Administration Foreign Policy Tracker. Once a month, we ask FDD’s experts and scholars to assess the administration’s foreign policy. They provide trendlines of very positive, positive, neutral, negative, or very negative for the areas they watch. 

Looking to counter China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific, the U.S. military kicked off the biennial Talisman Sabre military exercise, in which a record 30,000 troops from 13 countries participated. At the same time, the administration is also seeking to rebuild a “working relationship” with Beijing, with little apparent success.  

At the NATO summit in Vilnius, the allies pledged further support for Ukraine but declined to grant Kyiv’s request for a clear roadmap toward NATO accession. The allies also committed to spend at least 2 percent of GDP on defense and formally agreed on military plans to defend against a potential Russian attack. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced a deal to eliminate Turkey’s roadblock to Sweden’s NATO accession, although the Turkish parliament has yet to ratify it. Earlier in the month, the administration made the controversial decision to send Kyiv cluster munitions, aimed at sustaining Ukraine’s ongoing counteroffensive. 

The administration continues to struggle to advance U.S. interests at the United Nations, with a Chinese candidate winning re-election to lead the Food and Agriculture Organization. Meanwhile, the administration further relaxed sanctions against Iran. The U.S. military did, however, dispatch additional forces to the region to deter Iranian threats to commercial shipping. 

Check back next month to see how the Biden administration deals with these and other challenges. 


In a bid to “establish a working relationship with China,” President Biden dispatched top aides, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, to Beijing for meetings with Chinese officials. The White House claims these exchanges are necessary to defuse crises between the two superpowers. However, these recent engagements produced few, if any, tangible results. Nor have they led to meaningful changes in Beijing’s behavior, as evidenced by China’s decision this month to deploy a record number of warships in and around Taiwan’s territorial waters. Indeed, Chinese leader Xi Jinping has refused to speak with Biden since last November, instead tasking his subordinates to convince Washington to abandon policies aimed at curtailing China’s access to U.S. capital and technology.  

While the White House pursues rapprochement with Beijing, hackers associated with China’s military and spy services penetrated the unclassified email accounts of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and other State and Commerce Department officials, including U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns. The Biden administration has not provided a detailed accounting of which officials were targeted by the hackers. Also unclear is whether Washington raised concerns about the espionage operation with Beijing. Although Raimondo acknowledged the hack represented a serious “infringement on our security,” she nevertheless remains committed to traveling to China this year for meetings.  

Regrettably, the Biden administration’s passivity may lead Beijing to embrace ever bolder tactics to achieve its objectives. In the immediate future, China seeks to prevent Taiwanese Vice President Lai Ching-te from transiting the United States in August while en route to Paraguay’s presidential inauguration. 


The Biden administration released the National Cybersecurity Strategy Implementation Plan, which provides a comprehensive roadmap for how the administration will accomplish the objectives outlined in the strategy, which was released in March. The administration also announced a new cybersecurity certification and labeling program that will attach a “U.S. Cyber Trust Mark” to internet-connected consumer devices that adhere to the cybersecurity guidelines published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. This program will inform consumers which products take their safety seriously, hopefully driving consumer demand for secure-by-design products. 

The administration also submitted a long-overdue nomination for national cyber director, held by an interim appointee since the previous director left in February. Harry Coker, the nominee, has had a distinguished career in national security and is well qualified for the job. A permanent director will once again bring clarity to the future of the office. 

To combat the rapid rise in cryptocurrency theft, the Justice Department announced that it would be revamping the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET). The move will roughly double the number of NCET staff who handle cryptocurrency cases and provide greater resources to combat cybercriminals. 

In worse news, Microsoft announced that the U.S. government again fell victim to a significant hack by a Chinese threat group. The group used a Microsoft vulnerability to hack into emails, focusing on espionage, data theft, and credential access. The National Security Council claims no classified networks were accessed in the attack, but senior U.S. officials reportedly had their emails pilfered. Investigations to uncover more details are ongoing. 


President Biden attended the NATO summit in Vilnius on July 11-12. Alliance leaders welcomed Finland as a full member, discussed with Turkey a path forward for Sweden’s accession, committed to invest at least 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense, and agreed on important steps to strengthen deterrence on the alliance’s eastern flank.  

The summit communiqué reiterated that Russia bears “full responsibility for its illegal, unjustifiable, and unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine,” and called on Moscow to “completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its forces” from Ukraine. Such words were little consolation to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who was clearly frustrated by the decision to not offer Kyiv a clear path and timeline to alliance membership.  

To deter Iranian efforts to harass and seize commercial vessels, the Biden administration significantly increased U.S. combat power in the Middle East in July. The additional forces sent to the region include F-16, A-10, and F-35 aircraft from the U.S. Air Force; a U.S. Marine Corps Amphibious Readiness Group/Marine Expeditionary Unit; and the USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116), a U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer.  

The F-35s may also prove useful in countering increasingly aggressive Russian behavior in Syria. A Russian fighter jet used flares on July 23 to damage a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone operating in Syria in support of the defeat-ISIS mission. That was the sixth reported incident in July in which Russian aircraft flew dangerously close to U.S. manned or unmanned aircraft. Moscow and Tehran share the goal of pushing U.S. forces out of Syria. 


Ahead of the July 11-12 NATO summit in Vilnius, Ukraine petitioned its Western backers for a clear roadmap laying out the timeline and prerequisites for its accession to NATO, as well as security guarantees in the interim. While recognizing that accession will not happen while the war continues, many allies supported Kyiv’s request for a roadmap. Washington, however, opposed it, reportedly fearing Russian escalation. 

Instead, the summit communiqué essentially reiterated the alliance’s vague 2008 promise that Ukraine will eventually join NATO. The allies did drop the requirement that Ukraine first complete a Membership Action Plan, but accession will still ultimately depend on political consensus within the alliance. In a largely symbolic move, the allies also upgraded the NATO-Ukraine Commission into the NATO-Ukraine Council. Finally, the allies pledged to develop a “multi-year programme” to “help rebuild the Ukrainian security and defence sector and transition Ukraine towards full interoperability with NATO.” 

In concert, the G7 nations pledged to work with Kyiv to establish “bilateral, long-term security commitments and arrangements,” loosely modeled on U.S. military aid to Israel. These commitments will focus on supporting Ukraine’s military, defense-industrial base, and economy as well as meeting Kyiv’s immediate “technical and financial” needs. 

The summit’s outcome frustrated President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who indicated that he wanted Ukraine’s alliance status taken off the table before any potential peace talks. However, Kyiv can take some solace in the fact that increasingly, the question is more “when and not if” Ukraine will join NATO, as UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said after the summit.  


Washington intensified its diplomatic efforts to expand peace between Israel and Arab countries. On July 27, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met with Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman in Riyadh, where they discussed “initiatives to advance a common vision for a more peaceful, secure, prosperous, and stable Middle East region interconnected with the world,” per a White House readout. 

To secure Saudi normalization with Israel, the Biden administration is reportedly weighing three potential concessions to Riyadh: First, Washington would bless Saudi Arabia’s development of a civilian nuclear program under U.S. monitoring. Second, the two countries would sign a mutual security treaty. Finally, Riyadh would be able to buy more advanced U.S. weapons, such as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense surface-to-air missile system. 

For its part, Riyadh would commit never to denominate its oil sales to China in the renminbi and would distance itself from Beijing and eject Chinese tech giants like Huawei. The Saudis would also offer the Palestinian Authority a large aid package and sign a peace treaty with Israel. Meanwhile, Israel would pledge to preserve the pathway for a two-state solution, including promising not to annex any land in the West Bank. 

The Saudi position on normalization with Israel has been evolving since the beginning of this year. In January, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal Bin Farhan said his country would sign a peace treaty with Israel only after the Palestinians get a state. In June, Saudi Ambassador in Washington Reema Bint Bandar said Riyadh was working toward an “integrated Middle East,” including “a thriving Israel.” Last month, Saudi Arabia welcomed Israel’s national soccer team to an international tournament in Jeddah. 


Amid a marked uptick in Chinese military activity in the Taiwan Strait, the Biden administration recommitted itself to bolstering U.S. and allied deterrence in the region. Notably, a record-setting 30,000 troops from 13 countries participated in the U.S.-led Talisman Sabre military exercise in Australia, which began on July 22 and will end on August 4. During the drills, which simulate a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, the servicemembers practiced amphibious landings and complex ground maneuvers as well as air combat and maritime operations.  

The exercise occurred amidst a flurry of associated diplomatic activity in the Indo-Pacific. Secretary of Defense Austin traveled first to Port Moresby to celebrate a newly inked U.S.-Papua New Guinea defense cooperation agreement. Afterward, he joined Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Canberra for the 33rd annual Australia-U.S. ministerial consultations. For his part, Blinken made stops in Tonga and New Zealand to discuss countering China’s growing influence in the region. Meanwhile, the State Department notified Congress about plans to hire 40 staffers over the next five years for each of four recently opened or soon-to-be-opened U.S. embassies in the Pacific.  

America’s allies, in close coordination with Washington, also stepped up their Indo-Pacific outreach in July. Canada’s Defense Minister reaffirmed Ottawa’s plans to continue conducting freedom-of-navigation exercises in the region, just as Germany for the first time deployed 240 soldiers to Australia for military drills. French President Emmanuel Macron also toured the region, making stops in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia. These and other moves mirror growing concern from NATO about China’s “coercive” posture against the alliance.

International Organizations

Former Chinese official Qu Dongyu was re-elected to lead the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) after the Biden administration failed to recruit an opponent. Qu’s re-election followed a German news report detailing how Qu uses his position to advance China’s Belt and Road Initiative and help Chinese agribusinesses. With control of both FAO and the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, China may expand its UN partnership on “big data,” which Beijing exploits to advance Chinese interests. 

Meanwhile, a Panamanian candidate surprised most observers by winning an election to head the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Panama remains a jurisdiction of significant concern for registering so-called “ghost ships” that carry illicit cargo around the world. The country’s increasingly close relationship with China has led to suspicions that Panama’s victory came with Chinese support once it was clear Beijing’s own candidate could not win. The Biden administration did, however, successfully lobby the IMO to block Iran from hosting an official event amid Tehran’s continued harassment and seizing of oil tankers in the Persian Gulf. 

Separately, the United States formally re-entered the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), claiming that engagement in the agency will help counter Chinese influence within the United Nations. That decision, however, tacitly legitimizes UNESCO’s recognition of a Palestinian state outside a negotiated peace settlement with Israel. The organization also denies Jewish connections to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, where Jewish history dates back thousands of years. 


As Tehran intensified its crackdown on women and dissidents, the Biden administration provided Iran with additional sanctions relief. The administration issued a waiver allowing Iraq to deposit payments for Iranian electricity into bank accounts outside Iraq instead of requiring that payments be made to an escrow account in Baghdad. The waiver came after Iraq announced it had agreed to trade its oil for Iranian natural gas, which would typically violate U.S. sanctions unless otherwise authorized by the Treasury Department. 

Earlier in July, an Iranian official claimed that Washington had enabled Tehran to access all its frozen funds in Iraq. Meanwhile, Iranian oil exports reportedly reached a five-year high of 1.6 million barrels a day — a level nearly impossible to achieve without willful non-enforcement of U.S. sanctions. By relaxing sanctions on Iran, the Biden administration likely hopes to persuade Iran not to produce weapons-grade uranium, seize oil tankers in the Gulf, attack U.S. forces in Syria, or provide ballistic missiles to Russia for use against Ukraine. 

Following recent Iranian threats to maritime commerce in the Gulf, the United States deployed F-35 and F-16 fighter jets, a U.S. Navy destroyer, and a Marine Amphibious Readiness Group/ Marine Expeditionary Unit to the region to help deter Iranian aggression. However, the administration is still poised to allow the UN missile embargo on Iran to expire in October, even after CIA Director Bill Burns revealed U.S. concern over increased Russian support for Iran’s space launch vehicle program — a cover for Iran’s development of intercontinental ballistic missiles.  


The Knesset passed legislation on July 24 eliminating the Israeli Supreme Court’s power to overturn legislation and government actions on the grounds of “reasonableness.” In response, the White House released a statement criticizing the Israeli government for pushing the vote through despite the lack of a national consensus on the issue. Amid this tension, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with President Biden on July 17. The two leaders will meet later this year. 

Israeli President Isaac Herzog traveled to Washington to deliver a speech to a joint session of Congress on July 19. Biden touted the “unbreakable” friendship between the two countries in a meeting with Herzog. Ahead of a separate meeting, Vice President Kamala Harris announced a $70 million joint U.S.-Israel venture on food security and climate resilience initiatives. 

Meanwhile, the United States and Israel conducted the bilateral Juniper Oak 23.3 military exercise from July 10 to 14. The multi-domain exercise focused on an array of capabilities crucial to striking against Iran’s nuclear program, sending a powerful message to Tehran.  

The State Department and the Department of Homeland Security welcomed Israeli moves to ease travel for U.S.-Palestinian dual citizens. But both departments declared that Israel has yet to meet eligibility requirements for joining the U.S. visa waiver program.  

Finally, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan traveled to Saudi Arabia on July 27 to encourage the Gulf kingdom to normalize ties with Israel. 


North Korea celebrated the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War with a military parade that included intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Senior Russian and Chinese officials attended the event. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu led his country’s delegation, marking the first visit by a Russian defense minister since 1991. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gave Shoigu a tour of a defense exhibition that included ballistic missiles and drones. Russia and North Korea have strengthened their relationship, with Pyongyang providing materiel for Moscow’s war in Ukraine in exchange for sanctions evasion and commodities. Kim also met with a Chinese Politburo member who led Beijing’s delegation. Both China and Russia have dropped any pretense that they will implement UN Security Council sanctions prohibiting Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. 

On July 18, Washington and Seoul held the first meeting of their Nuclear Consultative Group. The two allies had pledged to establish the group following South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s state visit in April. A White House readout said the group will serve as an “enduring mechanism for strengthening the U.S.-ROK Alliance and enhancing our combined deterrence and response posture.” As a public show of Washington’s commitment to Seoul’s defense, two U.S. nuclear-capable submarines visited South Korea 

North Korea threatened to shoot down U.S. reconnaissance flights. On July 12, Pyongyang tested its solid-propellant ICBM. The Biden administration responded with a strongly worded statement. The last U.S. sanctions on North Korea were issued on June 15.

Latin America

Washington continues to struggle to secure Mexican government cooperation against drug cartels. In his latest spat with American authorities, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) dismissed the Drug Enforcement Administration’s estimates of Mexican cartels’ strength, arguing Washington lacks “good information.” Earlier this year, AMLO criticized the indictment of 28 cartel members implicated in fentanyl trafficking, decrying DEA investigations in Mexico as “illegal” and “the work of foreign agents.”

The administration has temporarily halted its satellite monitoring of coca crops in Colombia, apparently in deference to Colombian President Gustavo Petro’s decision to halt Colombia’s decades-long policy of coca eradication. Petro’s stance is part of a broader plan to offer both cartels and anti-government militias a path to national reconciliation. However, his son’s recent arrest on money laundering and corruption charges, including for taking money from cartels, casts a shadow on Petro’s policy and the White House’s support for his anti-narcotics strategy. 

In late June, Bolivia announced deals with Russia and China to develop its lithium reserves. U.S. companies are losing the lithium race in Argentina and Chile as well, a significant setback to the Biden administration’s climate strategy. In July, Bolivia confirmed it was in talks with Iran to buy drones. Iran will also provide cybersecurity assistance and overhaul Bolivia’s military and civilian aircraft. The deal has caused concern in neighboring Argentina but has garnered little pushback from Washington. 

Finally, sanctions against Venezuela continue to erode. On July 16, Venezuela’s vice president attended the European Union-CELAC summit in Brussels despite U.S. and EU sanctions banning her international travel. 


On July 11, Amos Hochstein, the U.S. special presidential coordinator for global infrastructure and energy security, arrived in Israel to discuss, among other things, tensions at the border with Lebanon. The previous month, Hezbollah had set up an encampment several meters inside Israeli territory in the Mount Dov region. Throughout June and July, Hezbollah staged a series of provocations along the border. In several instances, Hezbollah personnel were joined by the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), which assisted the group in blocking Israeli military engineering work along the border fence.  

Lebanon’s Hezbollah-dominated government relayed to Western interlocutors, including Washington, Hezbollah’s demand that Israel withdraw from Lebanese-claimed territory. Hochstein reportedly carried the proposal to the Israelis, underscoring the Biden administration’s desire that Israel avoid escalation in Lebanon. Hezbollah is employing the same strategy it used during Israel and Lebanon’s maritime border delineation talks last year, brokered by Hochstein. During those negotiations, the terror group and the Lebanese government each played their part in a division of labor, while the administration’s pressured Israel to seal the deal. 

Meanwhile, the U.S. military continues to support the LAF despite its collusion with Hezbollah. Even as LAF personnel posed for pro-Hezbollah TV stations with their weapons pointed at Israeli soldiers, the U.S. ambassador sat alongside the LAF command while observing a U.S.-LAF combined maritime exercise. Likewise, although the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has manifestly failed to restrain Hezbollah, the Biden administration will almost certainly vote to renew UNIFILs mandate in late August.

Nonproliferation and Biodefense

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Russia had likely placed anti-personnel mines along the periphery of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) in Ukraine. IAEA personnel are stationed at ZNPP to observe the plant’s safety and security. IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi stated that the presence of explosives was “inconsistent with [IAEA] safety standards and nuclear security guidance and creates additional psychological pressure on plant staff.” He noted, however, that “any detonation of these mines should not affect the site’s nuclear safety and security systems.”  

The United States sent two nuclear-powered submarines to South Korea, fulfilling a pledge under the U.S.-South Korean “Washington Declaration” signed in April. North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the sea in response, and its defense minister threatened that U.S. displays of military power could trigger Pyongyang’s use of nuclear weapons. 

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization claimed that Tehran had provided the IAEA with new documentation regarding Iran’s activities at two sites under IAEA investigation for potential undeclared nuclear weapons work. Iran typically makes a show of cooperating with the agency to avoid IAEA Board of Governors censure of Tehran’s non-compliance, but Tehran does not actually meaningfully cooperate. The next IAEA board meeting is in September. At that session, Washington and its fellow board members should provide a deadline for Iran’s compliance and demand a halt to the regime’s provocative nuclear advances. 


As part of a July 7 aid package, Washington pledged to send Kyiv cluster munitions that can be fired by Western artillery systems donated to Ukraine. These rounds, known as dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICMs), are controversial because they scatter smaller submunitions, some of which often fail to detonate and can later harm civilians or friendly forces. While not without risks, DPICMs are necessary to prevent Ukraine’s counteroffensive from culminating prematurely. They can also help destroy dug-in Russian forces. 

Ukraine had been requesting DPICMs since last summer to alleviate its “shell hunger.” Although Turkey provided some, the Biden administration initially demurred, citing opposition from allies. However, Kyiv’s counteroffensive has consumed more ammunition than U.S. planners apparently anticipated, leading American officials to worry that Ukraine would run out. Since Western stocks of traditional, “unitary” shells are running low, Washington tapped its large DPICM stockpile. The administration says it sees DPICMs as a temporary “bridge” intended to buy time until Western shell production ramps up enough to sustain Ukraine’s needs, although that could take years. 

To minimize risk to civilians, Kyiv has promised not to use DPICMs in urban areas. In addition, the Pentagon says the particular DPICM rounds transferred to Ukraine have a “dud” rate of just 2.35 percent. Cluster munitions that Russia and Ukraine have already employed have far higher dud rates. To facilitate eventual demining efforts, which Washington will support, Ukraine will record where it uses DPICMs. Ukrainian territory is already littered with mines and other unexploded ordnance that will have to be cleared once the war ends. 

Sunni Jihadism

The Biden administration continues to engage the Taliban despite the fact that it continues to shelter and support al-Qaeda, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, and a host of other terror groups. Thomas West, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan, and Rina Amiri, the U.S. special envoy for Afghan women, girls, and human rights, met with “a delegation of Taliban representatives and technocratic professionals from key Afghan ministries to discuss critical interests in Afghanistan,” per a State Department readout. Al-Qaeda leaders are embedded in key Afghan ministries, and the group runs training camps, safe houses, and a media operations center in multiple Afghan provinces. Meanwhile, the Taliban continues to deny the presence of foreign terror groups in Afghanistan, including the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. President Biden wrongly claimed that al-Qaeda is no longer in Afghanistan and that the Taliban has been an effective partner.  

The U.S. military continues to support the Somali government’s faltering efforts to drive al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda’s branch in East Africa, from central and southern Somalia. U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) launched four “self-defense strikes” against al-Shabaab as Somali forces battled the terror group. AFRICOM continues to describe al-Shabaab as “the largest and most kinetically active al-Qaeda network in the world.” On July 27, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned the financial emir for the Islamic State’s Somali Province. Treasury noted that the province’s founder and previous emir has been promoted to lead the Islamic State’s al-Karrar office, which funds Islamic State branches in large swathes of Africa. 


Throughout July, Russian planes harassed U.S. aircraft in the skies over Syria. In the sixth incident of the month, on July 27, a Russian jet launched flares that hit an MQ-9 Reaper drone. The most dangerous incident took place on July 16, when a Russian jet forced a manned U.S. aircraft to fly through the turbulence of its wake, endangering the crew. For years, a deconfliction mechanism has prevented accidents in the air over Syria, where both U.S. and Russian planes operate. The six incidents in July thus point toward a deliberate provocation by Moscow. In June, Russian aircraft repeatedly flew over U.S. bases in northeast Syria, sometimes carrying air-to-ground weapons. In response, the Pentagon deployed additional fighter jets to the region, but there has been no visible response to Moscow’s latest escalation. 

On July 11, Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have authorized nine additional months of humanitarian aid deliveries in northwest Syria, where more than 4 million residents inhabit one of the last enclaves under the control of Sunni Islamist rebels. Moscow has continually leveraged its veto to impose additional restrictions on UN aid shipments. Washington has repeatedly condemned this policy as heartless, as Biden’s envoy to the United Nations did before the Security Council on July 24. Yet the administration has not developed any leverage of its own to counter Russian gambits. Experts from across the political spectrum have repeatedly called for the United States and its allies to initiate an aid program outside the UN framework, which would not be subject to a Russian veto. 


The Biden administration believed that it finally secured Turkey’s support and approval for Sweden’s accession to NATO at the alliance’s annual summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. The breakthrough was announced by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, signaling that Ankara would drop its objections to Swedish membership, which Turkey has blocked for 12 months. Ankara has consistently cited numerous terrorism-related “security concerns” that it wanted Stockholm to address before Turkey would approve Swedish membership. 

However, less than 24 hours after the summit, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated ratification of Sweden’s accession would have to wait until October due to the Turkish parliament’s summer recess. This indicates that Erdogan first wants to secure U.S. assurances that Congress will approve Ankara’s plans to acquire F-16 fighter jets. Although the U.S. government has never officially linked Sweden’s accession and the F-16 deal, Erdogan had sought to use the former as leverage to extract the latter. 

Despite Erdogan’s machinations, it remains unclear whether Congress will approve the F-16 sale. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan reiterated the administration’s support for the deal. But Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) remarked that Turkish ratification of Sweden’s accession would be a necessary but insufficient move to persuade him to approve the sale. For the sale to proceed, Menendez and other key congressional actors want assurances from Ankara that any military equipment sold to Turkey will not be used to antagonize other allies, principally Greece.  


The analyses above do not necessarily represent the institutional views of FDD.