The Pentagon commented on the threat of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to close Incirlik military base and Kurejik radio detection station if Washington imposes sanctions against Ankara. The US Department of Defense said it was considering a presence at Turkish military bases as a symbol of the allied relations between the two countries.
“We see the status of our forces in Turkey as a symbol of our decades-old commitment to work and help defend our NATO ally and Turkey’s strategic partner ... The Ministry is making efforts to maintain this relationship while encouraging Turkey to have a more constructive S-400 policy , Syria and other aspects where there is disagreement, ”RIA Novosti quoted the Pentagon spokesman as saying.
Earlier, Erdogan, in an interview with A Haber, said that if necessary, Ankara could close Incirlik and Kureggik to the US military.
“If necessary, we will consult with all our delegations. If necessary, we will close Incirlik and Kureggik, ”he said.
Turkish authorities have already threatened to close these facilities for the United States in response to US sanctions. On December 11, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu admitted that the closure of Incirlik and Kureggik could be on the agenda if Washington imposed sanctions.
“If the US imposes sanctions against Turkey, then the issue of the Incirlik and Kureggik bases may come up on the agenda,” Hürriyet quoted him as saying.
It is worth noting that the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a bill that provides for sanctions against Turkey. They provide for restrictions both in connection with the military operation of Ankara "Source of Peace" on Syrian territory, and because of the purchase from Russia of S-400 missile defense systems. In addition, a ban on the supply of fifth-generation fighter F-35.
“As long as the S-400 are in Turkey, under the control of Turkey, F-35 will not be delivered to this country. This is Erdogan's choice, and he is well aware of its consequences. In addition, Erdogan's invasion of northeastern Syria will destabilize the situation, and this law will help stop any future actions that endanger our friends and partners, the Syrian Kurds, and any actions that jeopardize the U.S. strategy of defeating the Islamic State in Syria. I hope that soon the full Senate will vote on this critically important bill, ”said Senator James Richard, author of the bill.
"American Opportunities Will Be Undermined"
Recall, the Incirlik military base located in eastern Turkey was originally built for the needs of the US military. According to some reports, about 50 nuclear charges can be located on it. American forces at the airbase number about 5 thousand military. The United States used Incirlik's infrastructure for campaigns in the Persian Gulf, Iraq, and Syria.
Southeast Incirlik is Kureggik - a radio detection station, part of the NATO missile defense structure. The early warning radar itself is owned by the United States and used by the US military.
Turkey had previously restricted access to Incirlik to the US military. This happened in 1975 - in this way Ankara responded to the embargo that Washington imposed on arms supplies to Turkey. At this time, the base was used only for NATO purposes, while the remaining operations were suspended. The embargo was lifted in 1978, at the same time the US military regained access to the base.
The loss of this military base could be a serious blow to the capabilities of the United States to conduct operations in the Middle East, said military expert and retired colonel Viktor Litovkin.
“If the United States, and along with NATO, lose the Incirlik base, they will lose a stronghold in the Middle East. Because it is a huge airfield with all the necessary infrastructure to service any aircraft, including strategic bombers, long-range bombers, fighters, attack aircraft, and about 20-30 American B61 free-fall atomic bombs are stored at this base. Losing such a base is losing support in the Middle East, ”he told RT.
In turn, Konstantin Blokhin, an expert at the Center for Security Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, believes that the fact that the issue of closing these bases is being discussed is indicative of a serious crisis in relations between Washington and Ankara.
“This is the deepest crisis in bilateral relations. If you look from the point of view of a pragmatic approach, then the task of the United States is to keep Turkey in its wake, to discipline it. But instead of doing it somehow elegantly, the Americans of Turkey push them away from themselves even more, ”he stated.