Turkey Hints at Shuttering Incirlik to US Air Operations

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Unread post05 Jan 2017, 03:22

Turkey Hints at Shuttering Incirlik to US Air Operations
Military.com | Jan 04, 2017 | by Richard Sisk
http://www.military.com/daily-news/2017 ... tions.html

Turkish officials made a veiled threat Tuesday to ground U.S. warplanes at Incirlik Air Base over the U.S. denial of air support for the Turkish military inside Syria.

The officials questioned the value of having the U.S. fly missions out of Incirlik in southeastern Turkey against ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq while Turkish forces are struggling to take the ISIS-held Syrian town of al-Bab.

"This is leading to serious disappointment in Turkish public opinion," Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik said, adding that "this is leading to questions over Incirlik," Turkey's Anadolu news agency reported.

To avoid repercussions that could affect Incirlik operations, Isik called on the U.S. to "start to provide the aerial support and other support that the [Turkish military] needs" to take al-Bab, which would also drive a wedge between Syrian Kurdish militias supported by the U.S. in actions against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

U.S. Air Force Col. John Dorrian said Wednesday than any actions by Turkey to shut down or limit U.S. air operations out of Incirlik would be disastrous for the U.S. anti-ISIS campaign now focused in Syria on the drive by a mixed Syrian Kurdish and Arab force against Raqqa, the self-proclaimed ISIS capital.

"It's absolutely invaluable," Dorrian, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said of Incirlik. "Really, the entire world has been made safer by the operations that have been conducted there."

Turkey briefly closed its airspace to U.S. operations out of Incirlik last July and cut off power to the base during the failed military coup against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan when suspicions ran high among Turkish officials that the U.S. may have supported rebels within the military.

Turkish pilots supporting the coup attempt took off from Incirlik and bombed Ankara, including the parliament building. As the coup attempt failed, a high-ranking Turkish officer walked across the Incirlik airfield and tried to turn himself into the U.S. military to seek asylum. His request was rejected, and he was arrested by Turkish authorities.

On Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, "The U.S. is a very important ally for us. We have cooperation in every field, but there is the reality of a confidence crisis in the relationship at the moment" over Incirlik and the al-Bab offensive, which Turkey has named Operation Euphrates Shield.

He said, "Our people ask, 'Why are they [the U.S. and coalition warplanes] using the İncirlik air base' " if they won't back up Turkish forces against ISIS and the Kurdish militias considered terrorists by Turkey? "What purpose are you serving if you do not provide aerial support against Daesh [an Arabic acronym for ISIS] in the most sensitive operation for us?"

U.S. officials have acknowledged withholding airstrikes from the al-Bab offensive while maintaining overall support for Turkey's anti-ISIS efforts inside Syria, aimed at sealing off border areas.

Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said Tuesday that U.S. aircraft flew near al-Bab on Monday but did not conduct any strikes. In a briefing from Baghdad to the Pentagon on Wednesday, Dorrian suggested that weather and poor intelligence on the disposition of friendly forces may have been a factors in the decision not to attack.

"The cardinal rule of air support is to do no harm," Dorrian said, adding that the aircrews may not have had "good fidelity" on enemy positions. The result was "a show of force that was conducted at the request of Turkish forces operating on the ground," he said.

There were ongoing discussions at higher levels "to increase the support and operations" by the U.S. military to back Turkish forces, but "I can't get ahead of those discussions," Dorrian said.

"I don't have the details to offer you about what the way forward will be in al-Bab. But I do know there has been some good discussion on that, and Turkey is aware of that discussion," he said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction in 1951 of what was to become Incirlik Air Base, and U.S. and Turkish air forces signed an agreement in 1954 for joint use of the base. Incirlik long served as a deterrent to the then-Soviet Union and as a staging base for U.S. operations in the Mideast.

The U.S. Air Force will neither confirm nor deny that nuclear weapons are stored at the base. About 5,000 U.S. service members, mostly Air Force, are based at Incirlik; they are currently confined to the base because of unrest in the region. The U.S. last year withdrew military families from Turkey, and the State Department has also sent home non-essential personnel.

The tensions over al-Bab and Incirlik have only added to the downward spiral of relations between the U.S. and NATO ally Turkey, marked by Erdogan's new alliance with Russian President Vladimir Putin to bring about a ceasefire and peace talks to end Syria's nearly six-year-old civil war.

The U.S. was not invited to a Moscow meeting last month of the foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey and Iran that led to Putin's announcement last week of the ceasefire and possible peace talks later this month in Astana, Kazakhstan, with rebel groups. However, continued attacks and barrel bombing by the Syrian air force led rebel groups to suspend their agreement to further negotiations.

Turkey has also been angered by what it sees as U.S. foot-dragging on its extradition request for exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, now living in Pennsylvania. Erdogan has blamed Gulen for fomenting the July coup attempt.

In addition, Erdogan has bridled at U.S. support for the Syrian Kurdish militia known as the YPG, or People's Protection Units. The YPG has proven to be the most effective fighting force against ISIS in Syria, but Erdogan considers it an arm of the Kurdish PKK, or Kurdistan Workers Party, which has been branded a terrorist group by the U.S. and Turkey.

A senior U.S. military official, speaking on background last month, said that the Turks "hate that we support" the YPG.

Erdogan and other Turkish officials have charged that the U.S. is supplying weapons to the YPG. The U.S., while acknowledging support for the YPG, has denied giving them recent supplies of weapons.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

Turkey ‘questions’ US use of İncirlik air base
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/incirl ... sCatID=338

Turkey has begun to question the use of the İncirlik air base by the anti-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) coalition forces, as the U.S. has failed to support Ankara’s offensive in the al-Bab region against the jihadist group, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Jan. 4.

“Our people ask, ‘why are they [coalition forces] using the İncirlik Airbase [if the coalition does not provide aerial support to the Euphrates Shield operation]. We allowed not only the U.S. but also other countries’ jets to use İncirlik to jointly fight [ISIL],” Çavuşoğlu told state-run Anadolu Agency.

“What purpose are you serving if you do not provide aerial support against DEASH in the most sensitive operation for us?” he added.

‘Confidence crisis with the US’

“The U.S. is a very important ally for us. We have cooperation in every field. But there is the reality of a confidence crisis in the relationship at the moment,” Çavuşoğlu said.

He added that this crisis of trust had emerged for a number of reasons, particularly noting that the U.S. has not kept its promise regarding the retreat of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) from Manbij to the east of the Euphrates River and had provided arms support to the Syrian Kurdish group.

“Giving arms to the YPG, the U.S. chose a terrorist organization over its ally,” he said, adding that those arms had later found their way into the hands of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey.

Çavuşoğlu said a joint delegation with the U.S. was sent to Manbij to address the issue but the visit did not satisfy Ankara.

“We know that PYD/YPG forces are in Manbij, as our president stated yesterday [to U.S. President Barack Obama]. Obama said he agrees with us on the subject that these forces should return to the east of the Euphrates,” he said, adding that Washington has been in agreement with Turkey from the beginning but “had not kept its promises.”

Extradition of Gülen

Çavuşoğlu also alleged that the U.S. is dragging its heels on the extradition of Fetullah Gülen, thought to have masterminded Turkey’s failed July 15, 2016 military coup attempt. He said Gülen was still able to give orders to his followers in the “Fethullah Terror Organization (FETÖ)” through encrypted messages.

Recalling that FETÖ was added to the list of terrorist organizations to be fought against at the recent meetings of the Islamic Cooperation Organization and the Gulf Cooperation Council, Çavuşoğlu vowed that the Ankara would continue to pursue the issue domestically and abroad.

“The terrorist leader freely threatens Turkey, gives instructions, and sends messages from there. Unfortunately, we have not seen any support from the [Obama] administration about this. They tell us to give positive messages about anti-Americanism in Turkey, but I do not know what to say,” he said.
Addressing the incoming Donald Trump administration in the U.S., Çavuşoğlu voiced optimism that it would be more proactive on the FETÖ issue and said Turkey believed relations would be maintained “clearly and openly” with the new administration.

“We are always in contact with the U.S., regardless of who comes to power [as U.S. president]. We are allies, and we cooperate and have joint targets in many fields. We are NATO allies but both sides must do what is necessary for the alliance. We think and believe the new administration also has this understanding,” he stated.

Defense minister raises İncirlik question

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Fikri Işık also said on Jan. 4 that the lack of the U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition’s air support in Turkey’s Euphrates Shield operation in Syria’s al-Bab “raises questions” about the mission of the İncirlik Air Base in the southern province of Adana.

“We hope that all coalition forces, primarily the U.S., give air and other support that Turkey needs in the Euphrates Shield operation and the necessary step will be taken soon,” Işık told journalists in Ankara.

“But it is thought-provoking that despite the fact we have been NATO allies for years, and that a coalition has been established to fight against ISIL, the coalition does not support the Euphrates Shield operation launched by the Free Syrian Army and supported by the Turkish Armed Forces. Al-Bab is a very critical location in the anti-ISIL fight,” he said.

The anti-ISIL coalition has used the strategic İncirlik base in its operations against ISIL in Syria since July 2015.

Currently manned and unmanned U.S. warplanes carry out strikes on ISIL from Turkey using the İncirlik base.
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Unread post07 Jan 2017, 05:58

ISIS is just the latest infection for the festering wound that is the Middle East. They will go away at some point and do no pose a direct threat to the US. The greatest priority and challenge will always be geo-political-economic-military strategic competition with near peer adversaries and or philosophically opposed powerful countries. IE Russia. We cannot let our involvement against ISIS bind our hand or response to Turkey over their increasingly worrisome and borderline hostile attitude and actions toward Europe, NATO and America.

They need us more than we need them. And as much as we need access to their country for various reasons, Iran, the Black Sea, Syria, Israel etc... we should also determine what their true intentions are and if need be, pack up and leave. Still having nuclear weapons stored at Incirlik due to Cold War era policy our outdated calculations/determinations is quite frankly absurd and unnecessary in the current environment/reality and poses more a risk than benefit.

We can always find other bases and hosts for our forces but they will not be able to find another alliance like NATO or another super/nuclear power willing to provide them with a physical nuclear deterrent and umbrella on their own soil. Let's see them shoot down that Russian fighter or openly invade Syria or launch attacks in Iraq at will without being in NATO or having US bases and military power deployed in their country.

And that is just the start. There are so many things the US could do exact a cost on Turkey politically or economically if it wanted to. As a Western Democracy we cannot turn a blind eye toward their regression into a violent and hate filled Islamic theocracy, away from the principles of secularism, law, science and liberty/openness. Erdogan is a dictator, plain and simple, and not one that has much in common with the Western world so I'm not sure what we are clinging on to.
"Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest."



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Unread post07 Jan 2017, 06:34

It is the US who is supporting and arming an organisation that the Turkish Parliament has prescribed as a terrorist organisation. Not vice versa. Now this terrorist organisation may not be viewed as a threat to the United States however it is to Turkey. And if the US continues its belligerent act of arming such organisation Turkey is not obliged to host US forces. Especially so when US forces are a hinderance to Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria (Al-Bab and Manbij).

One would note Incirlik is not a NATO airbase. The US is there via bilateral arrangements with the Turkish Government.

This is very befitting here:

Secondly, there is no precondition that a country must be secular in order to be a US ally: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan etc

Thirdly, President Erdogan has been elected to power as opposed to maintaining power through force. If the US cared so much about democracy it would not maintain diplomatic relations with Sisi in Egypt.

This is an example of the support the Turkish President enjoys in Turkey:




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Unread post07 Jan 2017, 06:49

Turks Turn Down U.S. Military Help in Syria, Accept Russian Aid Instead
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/tur ... an-n703286

Two defense officials say that Russia has conducted "several" airstrikes in support of the Turkish military fighting in Al Bab, Syria.

And, while the Turks have accepted air power help from the Russians, they continue to decline military help from the U.S.

he Turks are fighting to expel ISIS from al Bab and they are in the midst of an extremely tough fight and they are taking casualties. The U.S. has repeatedly offered help over the past few weeks, both officials said, but the Turks continue to turn it down.

The U.S. has not been conducting airstrikes to support the Turks there.

The American military did conduct a show of force over al Bab recently, but they just flew several jets over the city, they didn't strike anything.

U.S. military officials are baffled at the Turkish refusal of air support. When asked whether the Russians have been striking ISIS in al Bab, one official said, "for now they are."

Al Bab sits about halfway between Aleppo and Manbij and the U.S. is concerned that once the Turks take back the city from ISIS, they will continue northeast to Manbij to confront the Syrian Kurds (YPG) who were part of the liberation of that city several months ago. The Turks consider the YPG to be a terrorist organization, but they are part of the opposition Syrian Democratic Forces that the U.S. continues to back in the fight against ISIS in Syria.

It seems as though the US presence at Incirlik may not last long at this rate.
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Unread post07 Jan 2017, 07:06

Look bro I have no desire to debate you on Turkish history or regional geopolitics, I'm just saying what the reality/concern is from my objective viewpoint. A viewpoint based on Western ideals, uncensored information and guiding principles etc...
Personally I would not mind it one iota if the US military withdraws COMPLETELY from Turkey and if at some point Turkey is also voted out of NATO and continues to be blocked from joining the EU. As long as the current leaderships behaves the way that it does, what's there to gain for Europe and America?

Speaking of arming terrorist though, it's funny, remember those MIT trucks full of weapons and ammunition trying to sneak into Syria to arm "opposition groups" aka ISIS? Remember what happened when the police stopped them because it was illegal?

Bottom line, I do not trust or like Erdogan. He is corrupt, power hungry, ruthless and repressive. Turkey under him has become more divided, more unstable and more violent, and less democratic, less free and less modern. And this is a shame, but more importantly, it is very very dangerous and does not bode well for the Turkish people and their future. Turkey is creating more and more enemies around the world and has less and less friends. No amount of blind faith in a dictator is going to turn that into a positive.

I recommend you read history about what ultimately happens to such individuals and the countries they lead.
"Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest."

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