Germany May Withdraw Its Jets from Incirlik Airbase Due to Rising Tensions with Turkey

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According to the Spiegel magazine, German MPs may withdraw six Tornado reconnaissance jets from the Incirlik airbase in Turkey due to Turkey’s denial to allow them access to German troops, deployed there.

Germany May Withdraw Its Jets from Incirlik Airbase Due to Rising Tensions with Turkey

Photo: Getty Umages / Sean Gallup

German MPs may, reportedly, withdraw six Tornado reconnaissance jets from the Incirlik airbase in Turkey. Such a decision will be taken, if Ankara continues to deny them access to the German troops, deployed there, in connection with rising tensions between the two NATO allies, the Spiegel magazine reported on August 25, citing unnamed military sources.

According to the magazine, several options, including moving six Tornado aircraft and refueling planes to Jordanian or Cypriot airbases from the Incirlik, are currently being evaluated by the Bundeswehr.

German jets, based in the Incirlik airbase, regularly perform combat missions and support the US-led coalition in air fights against the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group in Syria and Iraq.

According to the magazine’s source, the withdrawal would be “a nightmare.” The source noted that basing of aircraft in Cyprus or Jordan would be more complicated and expensive, comparing with using the Incirlik airbase. He also added that in this case Germany’s participation in the US-coalition would be put on hold for at least two months.

The source pointed out that the coalition’s systems are currently directly uploaded with aerial intelligence, collected by German Tornados. But it will be impossible, if the aircraft fly out of bases in Cyprus or Jordan.

The German Defense Ministry did not give any comments on alleged plans. “We would like to continue the mission from Turkey, but there are alternatives to the base in Incirlik,” Spiegel quoted the words of a spokesman for the Ministry.

According to the magazine, Social Democrat members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government advocate the withdrawal of the aircraft. They believe that Turkey’s denial to allow German MPs access to Incirlik do not leave any alternative.

“The Bundeswehr would surely like to continue to wage a joint war on IS from NATO’s air base Incirlik,” the N-TV TV channel quoted the words of German Defense Minister, Ursula von der Leyen, later on Thursday. “The operation [supported] from Incirlik is in common interest of Germany and Turkey,” she said, but, at the same time noted that “wise military planning always includes alternative options.”

Last month, Angela Merkel demanded Turkey to allow German lawmakers to visit 250 German soldiers, deployed at the Incirlik airbase. However, she refrained from threatening to withdraw German Tornados.

At the same time, a defense spokesman for the Social Democrats’ parliamentary faction, Rainer Arnold, has another opinion on this matter. “The German government must promptly find other bases for German soldiers,” he told Spiegel.

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  • Joseph Scott

    Just what are they hiding there that this is even an issue?