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Published On: Tue, May 16th, 2017

Merkel considers moving German planes from Turkey to Jordan

nsnbc : After Turkey’s AKP government denied German parliamentarians access to the Incirlik Airbase in Turkey to inspect planes and troops there, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Berlin will explore other options including Jordan.

Incirlic_Turkey_May 2017_German Air force in TurkeyOn Monday Merkel commented on the latest diplomatic hiccup between Ankara and Berlin saying “We will continue to talk with Turkey, but in parallel we will have to explore other ways of fulfilling our mandate.” Germany, as a member of the US-led international coalition against ISIS in Iraq and Syria and per its agreement with Turkey, uses the airbase to station its Tornado reconnaissance jets. The coalition also provides air support for Kurdish Peshmerga and Kurdish-majority Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) ground fighters.

Deputies from the German parliament’s defense committee have multiple time asked to inspect the 250 airmen at the base. Most recently they planned a visit last week.  However, Turkish authorities have cancelled their requests with 48 hours of notice. Merkel stressed that “The Bundeswehr (Federal Defense Forces) are an army under the parliament and it is absolutely essential that its members have the opportunity to able to inspect their soldiers.”

Speaking at an event to celebrate her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party victory in state elections in North Rhine Westphalia, Merkel said  “That means looking at searching for alternatives to Incirlik, and one alternative among others is Jordan.” German officials were allowed to visit Incirlik last year only after Merkel said that the reports of their inspections would not be legally binding. Lawmakers in Berlin have repeatedly requested that Ankara guarantee a permanent right of inspection.

However, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters last week that “This is the essence of the issue. If a technical military team wants to come from Germany when there are already German troops deployed here, [Ankara] does not consider it appropriate for the rest of the delegation to come.” However, the row does not come as a total surprise for the German government. The German Defense Ministry prepared a report earlier this year that identified eight possible new suitable sites in Jordan, Kuwait and Cyprus.

German-Turkish diplomacy has been strained in the run up to Turkey’s referendum on 18 constitutional amendments after Germany denied Turkish politicians from holding rallies for expatriates living in Germany. Turkey’s President R. Tayyip Erdogan had said the speech prohibitions by Germany were “fascist actions” and “no different to those of the Nazi period.”

Merkel and Erdogan will both attend the NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium, on May 24-25. Erdogan will meet with US President Donald Trump on Tuesday.  Turkey approved the US to fly attack and strike aircraft from the base for the fight against ISIS in early 2015. All family members of the 2,500 US troops assigned to Incirlik were reportedly ordered to evacuate in March 2016 following the failed military mystery coup in the country that gave the AKP government the chance to pull of a referendum on constitutional change while the country was ruled by emergency laws.

CH/L – nsnbc 16.05.2017

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