Germany decides to quit Turkey’s Incirlik base

A file photo shows German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, second right, and Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz, right, speaking before reporters during a visit at the air base in Incirlik, Turkey. (AFP)
Updated 07 June 2017

Germany decides to quit Turkey’s Incirlik base

ANKARA: Germany has announced it will move its aircraft and 250 military personnel out of Turkey’s southern Incirlik air base, following a weeks-long diplomatic row and the breakdown of bilateral talks in Ankara.
The main reason behind the conflict was Turkey’s refusal to allow German MPs to visit the base, which is currently used for airstrikes against Daesh in Syria. Turkey instead granted them access to NATO base in Konya, another southern province.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel expressed his regret and said that Ankara must understand that Germany will need to transfer it soldiers and military equipment to another location.
He was speaking on Monday following a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.
The German contingent is expected to be relocated to Jordan’s Azraq air base. The transfer was formally decided by the German government on June 7.
It is not the first time the Incirlik air base has come under the spotlight in relations between members of the anti-Daesh coalition. Earlier this year Turkey warned Washington it would block US forces from using the base if it did not receive support for its Euphrates Shield operation in Syria.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said of Germany’s intended move: “There is no decision we have taken on this. They can have it their own way.”
Germany’s withdrawal from Incirlik — where its jets conduct reconnaissance missions over Iraq and Syria — will take a toll on the US-led coalition against Daesh, especially during the Raqqa operation.
Germany also announced that its surveillance flights will be interrupted for a few weeks.
“The presence of Germany at the Incirlik air base was connected with the anti-Daesh efforts but its withdrawal from the base does not mean that it will renounce contributing to (the) anti-Daesh international coalition,” Oytun Orhan, a researcher on Syria at the Ankara-based think-tank Orsam, told Arab News.
Orhan noted that Germany’s decision may result in problems in terms of cost and effectiveness of its military operation because no other air base can bring similar operational advantages.
“But it will not harm its presence in the anti-Daesh coalition especially considering that its role within the coalition was limited compared to the US,” he said.
After Incirlik, the best second option is actually the base in Jordan, Orhan added.
Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat who now chairs the Istanbul-based Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM), said Germany’s decision to move its soldiers out of Incirlik will have both tactical and strategic consequences.
“The Jordan option can help to maintain the German assets involved in the campaign but it will inevitably complicate the coordination efforts between the allied nations taking part in the counter-Daesh campaign,” Ulgen told Arab News.
“At the strategic level, the principle of alliance solidarity stands to be affected with a NATO (member) deciding to move its soldiers out of the territory of a NATO ally, to a non-NATO country.
“Difficulties that emerged in bilateral relations between two NATO allies ended up affecting the effectiveness of a multilateral military campaign.”


Yemen’s new government soon as rivals agree to ‘comprehensive and permanent’ truce in Abyan

Updated 2 min 53 sec ago

Yemen’s new government soon as rivals agree to ‘comprehensive and permanent’ truce in Abyan

  • ilitary units loyal to the internationally recognized government received on Friday orders from the government to immediately put into place a truce
  • The Yemeni government and separatists have been at war during the past couple of years

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s soldiers and separatists agreed on Friday to put into place a “comprehensive and permanent” truce in the southern province of Abyan and other contested areas, local army commanders said on Saturday.

The fresh announcement about halting hostilities comes as Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed, prime minister-designate, is closing in on announcing the formation of a new shared government agreed under the Saudi-brokered Riyadh Agreement.

Military units loyal to the internationally recognized government received on Friday orders from the government to immediately put into place a truce, ending military alerts that have been in place in the province of Abyan for months.

“We have received orders to end combat standby state and put into place a comprehensive and permanent truce in the province,” a local government military officer in Abyan, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Arab News on Saturday. “It seems that the politicians in Riyadh reached an agreement,” the officer said, referring to the continuing new government consultation between Yemeni rivals.

Forces from the pro-independence Southern Transitional Council (STC) said that they received similar orders from their commanders to end hostilities in Abyan.

The Yemeni government and separatists have been at war during the past couple of years.

Aimed at ending the STC’s unilateral self rule in southern provinces, the government launched a military offensive in May in Abyan that has claimed the lives of dozens on both sides.

In July, Saudi Arabia, which brokered the Riyadh Agreement in late 2019, proposed a new mechanism for accelerating the implementation of the agreement which led to Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi mandating Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed to form a new government and the naming of a new governor and chief of security for Aden.

On the ground, the Kingdom has deployed military officers to monitor a truce between the rivals and the implementation of military and security arrangements under the deal. 

The premier-designate is putting the final touches on his consultations with Yemeni parties on a new government as major ministries were distributed between Yemen’s big and small parties, two sources told Arab News on Saturday.

“A new government might see light this week as combat forces will simultaneously pull out of contested areas and join fighting against the Houthis,” a senior STC source in Riyadh, said preferring anonymity.

Military and security arrangements under the deal, such as the STC withdrawal of military units from Aden, the country’s interim capital, and Abyan, have long blocked the formation of a new government as the legitimate government insists on the implementation of the security and military side of the agreement before announcing the agreement.

To end the impasse, the rivals agreed to announce the government this week, coinciding with the withdrawal of forces from Aden and Abyan, sources told Arab News. 

Government and STC sources in Riyadh said that under the current consultations, Yemen’s president would pick names for four “sovereign” ministries — defense, interior, finance and foreign affairs.

The STC was given the ministries of transport, social affairs and labor, civil service and insurance, agricultural and fisheries, as well as the ministry of public works and highways.

The remaining ministries were distributed between the General People’s Congress that has ruled Yemen for three decades, the Islamist Islah Party, the Socialist Party, the Islamist Rashad Party and Hadramout Inclusive Conference. 

Reacting to the news of a new government announcement and the halt of hostilities in their province, people in the contested areas in Abyan voiced hope that the factions would this time become serious and end fighting in their areas. “We are tired of fighting. We want to return to our normal life,” a man from Abyan’s Shouqra, who asked to remain anonymous, told Arab News.