Today, Congressman Brad Sherman, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, spoke on the House floor against provisions of a bill allowing the transfer of two vessels to Turkey. H.R. 6649, the Naval Vessel Transfer Act of 2012, contains provisions that provide for the free transfer to Turkey of two Oliver Hazard Perry class guided missile frigates, the USS Halyburton and the USS Thach.
Sherman highlighted how Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has threatened to accompany international flotillas to Hamas in the Gaza Strip with armed Turkish naval escorts in order to confront Israel. "Erdogan called for Israel to be punished for interfering with the previous effort to aid Hamas with the flotilla," warned Sherman.
"In September 2011, after a U.N. report on the Gaza flotilla was released, Turkey threatened to send an armed naval presence to the eastern Mediterranean to confront Israel, and Prime Minister Erdogan said that Israel should expect more naval presence from Turkey in the area," Sherman said.
In his floor speech Sherman also noted that Turkey has aggressively threatened legitimate Cypriot and Israeli efforts to cooperation on energy exploration. Ankara has boosted Turkish armed naval presence around the natural gas fields between Israel and Cyprus and declared "invalid" an agreement between Cyprus and Israel on demarcating their respective energy exploration areas.
Sherman's entire floor speech is available at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeyjHAvwZH4