Turkey hints it could bar US from using key air bases

Incirlik air base in southern Turkey has been a main base for US operations in the Middle East. (AFP)
Updated 11 December 2019

Turkey hints it could bar US from using key air bases

  • ‘In the event of a decision to sanction Turkey, the Incirlik and Kurecik air bases can be brought to the agenda’
  • Incirlik air base in southern Turkey has been a main base for US operations in the Middle East

ANKARA, Turkey: Turkey’s foreign minister suggested Wednesday that the United States could be barred from using two strategic air bases in retaliation to possible US sanctions against his country, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
Mevlut Cavusoglu comments came amid reports that US lawmakers had agreed on a defense bill that also includes calls to sanction Turkey over its decision to proceed with the purchase and deployment of Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems.
“In the event of a decision to sanction Turkey, the Incirlik and Kurecik air bases can be brought to the agenda,” Anadolu quoted Cavusoglu as saying.
He said: “Congress members must understand that it is not possible to get anywhere with sanctions.”
Incirlik air base in southern Turkey has been a main base for US operations in the Middle East and more recently in the fight against the Daesh group in Syria and Iraq, while Kurecik, in eastern Turkey, is a key NATO base.
Turkey’s decision to proceed with the purchase of the Russian system has added to growing tensions between the two NATO allies. Washington says the Russian system poses a threat to NATO and has removed Turkey from the US-led F-35 stealth fighter jet program.
Tensions were raised further after Turkey launched an incursion into northeastern Syria to drive away Syrian Kurdish forces that had partnered with the US in the fight against the Daesh group. Turkey considers the Kurdish fighters as terrorists because of their links to outlawed Kurdish rebels fighting inside Turkey.


Saudi Arabia’s Al-Jubeir tells Iran to stop ‘meddling’ in Iraqi affairs

Updated 15 min 53 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Jubeir tells Iran to stop ‘meddling’ in Iraqi affairs

LONDON: Iran should worry more about its own people and stop sponsoring global terrorism, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said on Thursday.
Adel Al-Jubeir, speaking on a World Economic Forum panel about the situation in the Middle East, said the Islamic Republic was responsible for much of the unrest in the region and that leaders in Tehran were the ones who began escalating tensions through their interference in countries such as Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.
He added that the Kingdom was concerned about Iranian “meddling” in Iraqi affairs and that it takes its relationship with Iraq “very seriously,” given the long cultural ties and “brotherly relations” between the two countries.
Al-Jubeir also told the audience in Davos that Iranian interference in the region was widespread and unpopular and that it must be stopped, citing examples of Shiite protests in Iraq and Lebanon.
“We do not seek escalation and we are still investigating the Aramco attacks,” he added, referencing drone attacks on oil facilities in the Kingdom in September widely believed to have originated from Iran.
“Iran is behind the Houthi militia missiles coming from Yemen that are targeting Saudi Arabia,” he said.
The Saudi minister added that while Iran has sought the withdrawal of US forces in the Middle East, its ongoing malign behavior in the region has seen the opposite happen.
Following the killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qassam Soleimani, Iranian officials vowed to remove US forces from the Gulf region.
Al-Jubeir also said that as soon as Iran returned to being a “normal state,” then a restoration of international relations with Tehran would be possible.
When asked about the conflict in Yemen, Al-Jubeir said the Kingdom was working to bring stability back to the country and referenced recent goodwill gestures — including helping humanitarian aid get into the country and the release of 400 Houthi prisoners.
He said Saudi Arabia has reassured the Houthis that they have an “integral role” to play in the future of Yemen, but that they cannot have a “monopoly” on power, adding emphatically: “There will be no new Hezbollah In Yemen.”
Al-Jubeir also said Saudi Arabia was working with Arab and international countries to stabilize the situation in Libya and unify the country, but added the Kingdom was concerned about external interventions and the inflow of foreign troops from Syria into Libya.