On February 11, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Fikri Işık didn’t rule out the possibility of closing the NATO’s Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey. According to the Turkish Ahval newspaper, Işık said that Ankara would not hesitate to close the airbase, if its long-term interests require it.
“If Turkey’s medium and long-term interests require to take a step [to close the base] Turkey certainly would not refrain from taking this step,” Işık said during a press conference, according to the Türkiye newspaper.
When asked by journalists if Turkey is currently considering closing the Incirlik airbase, the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister didn’t confirm or deny but he said that the decision-making mechanisms in Turkey “always hold each and every subject in an evaluation.”
2017 witnessed a fall in the relationship between Washington and Ankara mainly due to the US major support for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria. Later, the tensions between the two sides reached a higher level when the Turkish Army launched a military operation against the YPG in the Afrin area in northern Syria on January 20.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan even warned on January 24 that Turkey will attack areas held by the US-led coalition on its border, including the city of Manbij. In response, US Central Command chief General Joseph Votel said on January 29 that the US is not going to pull out its forces from Manbij despite Turkish statements.
While it is highly unlikely that Washington and Ankara will clash in Syria, a solution for this crisis is also far from possible now. The US is not ready to give up on Kurdish forces yet.