Main opposition CHP voices support for closing İncirlik, Kürecik air bases
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on Dec. 16 voiced support for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s remarks on a possible shutdown of Kürecik and İncirlik air bases yet slammed the government for “waiting” to close the bases.
“We are tired of repeating this for nine years. They established a U.S. base in the middle of Anatolia and say, ‘We will close this’ every time the U.S. makes a decision. Does Turkey need to be attacked [for the bases] to be closed?” CHP Deputy Chair Veli Ağbaba said in a written statement.
Ağbaba also said that government authorities “play the İncirlik and Kürecik” cards every time the U.S. “corners” Turkey, yet no action has been taken yet.
The İncirlik and Kürecik air bases are such important issues that should not be “used as a tool” for domestic politics, Ağbaba said. He also urged the government to “give up on this approach and immediately close the bases poses a threat to Turkey.”
Ağbaba, also a deputy for the eastern Malatya province, has been a vocal opponent of the Kürecik air base in Malatya. In his statement, he said that Kürecik is actually a U.S. base “disguised” as a NATO one.
İncirlik airbase in southern Adana province has been a main base for U.S. operations in the Middle East and while Kürecik, in Malatya, is a key NATO base.
“If you are going to make a decision about the Kürecik base if the U.S. imposes sanctions against Turkey, why do you wait if you are sincere?” Ağbaba said.
“Close the base where even lawmakers are not allowed to go inside,” he added.
Erdoğan on Dec. 15 said that Ankara may close the two bases where U.S. soldiers are stationed “if necessary."
“If necessary, we will hold discussions with all our delegations, and if necessary, we may close İncirlik and Kürecik, Erdoğan said in a televised interview.
The president’s remarks came following the U.S. Senate’s resolution recognizing the events of 1915 as a so-called “Armenian genocide.” Turkey condemned the U.S. Senate measure last week.
“If they are threatening us with the implementation of these sanctions, of course, we will be retaliating,” Erdoğan said.
Ankara and Washington have been at odds after Turkey’s decision to proceed with the purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense systems. Washington says the Russian system poses a threat to NATO and has removed Turkey from the U.S.-led F-35 stealth fighter jet program.
Tensions were raised further after Turkey’s anti-terror “Operation Peace Spring” into northeastern Syria against the YPG, the Syrian affiliate of the outlawed PKK.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S., and the European Union.