Turkey leaving NATO? Asserts ‘right’ to close key base for coalition

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Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Ankara had the right to close Incirlik air base in Adana province, southern Turkey as part of its sovereign right.

[ Editor’s note: Turkey is clearly moving further away from Washington and closer to Moscow and while still a defacto member of the US-lead anti-IS coalition, it looks like it may not be for much longer; furthermore, the rhetoric about closing Incirlik airbase to coalition use may signal a first step towards leaving that coalition and perhaps the NATO alliance too is being considered in Ankara.

If Turkey were to leave NATO, it would most likely be the end of that alliance, certainly it would mean the nature of that alliance would greatly change, as would the balance of power in the region and between NATO and Russia, most likely to the detriment of NATO… Ian]

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World Bulletin

Turkey asserts ‘right’ to close key base for coalition

Turkey said Thursday it had the right to close a key air base used by the US-led coalition to strike extremists in Syria, as tensions mount between NATO allies Ankara and Washington.

“We always have in our hands the right to say ‘we will close it’ but as I said, the conditions will be assessed,” Kalin told 24 TV channel.

But he added that Turkish authorities were not conducting any urgent assessments to decide whether to close the base to coalition planes.

Turkey is part of the US-led coalition against the ISIL group in Syria and lets Western war planes use Incirlik as a base for air raids.

Kalin’s comments came after Turkish ministers hit back at the United States over what they perceive as a lack of support for its own intervention in northern Syria and questioned Washington’s presence at the base.

Relations between Washington and Ankara have soured over the six-year conflict as the US sees Syrian Kurdish militias as an effective ground force against IS. Ankara views them as linked to Kurdish separatist rebels waging an insurgency in Turkey.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Wednesday that Ankara had seen no support from the US as it seeks to take the Syrian town of Al-Bab from IS in a battle that has seen fierce fighting.

“Our people ask, ‘why are you letting them (US-led coalition) be based at Incirlik?'” he said, quoted by NTV broadcaster.


The base — which houses dozens of American tactical nuclear weapons — was also a key flashpoint in the July 15 failed coup and several of its former Turkish personnel have since been detained.

Defence Minister Fikri Isik said Wednesday that Turkey was “questioning” the US presence at Incirlik.

But Washington sought to mollify Ankara, describing the base as “invaluable” for the fight against IS.

“The whole world has been made safer because of operations that have been conducted” from Incirlik, said Colonel John Dorrian, a top US military official.

Just days before President Barack Obama leaves office after eight years during which relations with Turkey have become frosty, Kalin appeared to suggest President-elect Donald Trump’s administration would prove better for Turkish-US relations.

“I have the impression that a Trump administration will take Turkey’s sensitivities on this issue (Incirlik) more into account,” Kalin said.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. What a load of BS from a top military guy, John Dorrian, “the world is a safer place because of operations that have been conducted from Incirlik”. Yeah, the US used that base for how many years? It wasn’t until RUSSIA got involved against the US ally ISIS that the whole Middle East, especially Turkey, saw how to destroy terrorism. Is Obama going to take credit for making peace in Syria too? Sorry, the US has been left out of those negotiations, a veritable slap to the US for masterminding that whole mess in the first place.

  2. Ian & Co.: Erdogan/Turkey is now increasing the strength of its anti-IS/Daesh alliance with Russia & Iran. Ever since domestic & foreign military forces used Incirlik as staging grounds for the anti-Erdogan coup attempt, Erdogan/Turkey has been talking about closing Incirlik or sharing Incirlik with Russia (too).

    Allowing Russia to base anti-terrorist aircraft at Incirlik would be a good first step to doing whatever Turkey does next. Long ago, the U.S.-led coalition should have joined the Syria/Russia-led coalition against IS/Daesh & other terrorists.

    Especially with the pending Trump presidency, if Turkey begins to share Incirlik with Russia (too), then Erdogan may force Trump’s hand on Trump’s supposed commitment to opposing ALL Mideast terrorists.

  3. If Turkey attempt to leave NATO they will surely be served its Gladio portion of events, Bologna-style, who knows maybe even nuclear. However if they really leave NATO they will have more grip on migration control and internal affairs, more need for solid cooperation with its neighbors and a genuine tendency to stabilize foreign relations. Turkey has been NATO’s and its predecessor’s elites wet dream for decades maybe even for centuries, for its military doctrine and for its strategic trade and energetic importance and they would try anything to stop Turkey leaving NATO. They even attempted to bribe the EU to accept Turkey. They will shoot anyone like Karlov or a russian plane to stop the dissolution of NATO.

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