Eastern Europe

Erdogan Tells Russian State Press He May Close Incirlik Air Base, A NATO Stronghold

Erdogan Tells Russian State Press He May Close Incirlik Air Base, A NATO Stronghold
An aerial view of the airfield at Incirlik Air Base, one of two bases to which the 401st Tactical Fighter Wing deploys its forces during a time of conflict, 1987

Relations between the United States and Turkey, an original member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) since the early 1950s, have become even further strained, to the point of threats to close a major NATO air base in the Islamic country.

Turkey may close the Incirlik air base for the United States if Washington imposes sanctions on Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told A Haber TV channel on Sunday, reported Russian state news agency TASS.

“The decision on whether to close the Incirlik air base [for the United States] lies with us. If we need to do this, we will close both Incirlik and [radar base] Kurecik,” said the Turkish President.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on December 11 that Ankara is ready to consider closing the Incirlik air base for US military if the United States impose sanctions on Ankara over Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defense systems.

In the middle of the twentieth century, in the aftermath of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey chose a secular path under Turkish leader Kemal Ataturk. However, Turkish President Recep Erdogan has sought to Islamize the country and bring back Sharia law.

Turkey has also fought bitterly with the U.S. executive branch over the purchase of the S-400. As a consequence, the Trump White House cancelled Turkey’s buy of the F-35 stealth fighter.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has long sought to split the alliance and has worked hard to bring Turkey under the Russian sphere of influence.

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