Turkey’s Erdogan threatens to close 2 US military bases

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, speaks during an interview with private A Haber and ATV television channels, in Istanbul, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019.(AP)
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Updated 16 December 2019

Turkey’s Erdogan threatens to close 2 US military bases

  • Washington warned of sanctions over Ankara buying Russian arms
  • Erdogan has regularly raised the possibility of closing the military bases at times of tension with the US

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday threatened to close two strategic military bases used by the United States in Turkey, after Washington warned of sanctions over Ankara buying Russian arms.
“If necessary, we can close Incirlik and we can close Kurecik,” Erdogan on the pro-government A Haber television channel. The two bases sit on Turkey’s southwest coast, near the border with Syria.
Erdogan has regularly raised this possibility in the past, at times of tension between the two countries.
The US airforce uses the air base at Incirlik for raids on positions held by the so-called Daesh group in Syria. The Kurecik base houses a major NATO radar station.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu raised the issue of the bases last week. Responding to the US threat of fresh sanctions, he warned that their closure could be “put on the table.”
Turkey faces US sanctions over its decision to buy the Russian S-400 missile defense system, despite warnings from Washington.
And on Friday, Turkey summoned the US ambassador after the US Senate followed the lower house and voted to recognize the 1915 killings of Armenians as genocide. The bill has yet to be signed by President Donald Trump.
Armenia claims 1.5 million died in the killings. Turkey says the number of deaths was far lower and Turks also died, blaming the killings on the First World War.


Dozens of Iraqi protestors wounded as anti-government unrest resumes

Updated 37 min 33 sec ago

Dozens of Iraqi protestors wounded as anti-government unrest resumes

  • In Baghdad’s Tayaran Square overnight, protesters threw petrol bombs and stones at police
  • Baghdad police said its forces had successfully reopened all the roads that were closed by “violent gatherings.”

BAGHDAD: Dozens of Iraqi protestors were wounded in Baghdad and other cities on Monday in clashes with security forces who were trying to clear blocked roads, security and medical sources said, as anti-government unrest resumed after a lull of several weeks.

In Baghdad’s Tayaran Square overnight, protestors threw petrol bombs and stones at police who responded with tear gas and stun grenades, Reuters witnesses said.

Elsewhere in southern Iraq, hundreds of protestors burned tires and blocked main roads in several cities, including Nassiriya, Kerbala and Amara. They say Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has not fulfilled promises including naming a new government acceptable to Iraqis.

“They (security forces) should stop shooting and aiming, who are they and who we are? Both sides are Iraqis. So why are you killing your brothers?” said one woman protestor in Baghdad who declined to give her name.

Baghdad police said its forces had successfully reopened all the roads that were closed by “violent gatherings.”

Mass protests have gripped Iraq since Oct. 1, with mostly young protesters demanding an overhaul of a political system they see as profoundly corrupt and as keeping most Iraqis in poverty. More than 450 people have been killed.

Numbers had dwindled but protests resumed last week as demonstrators sought to keep up momentum after attention turned to the threat of a US-Iran conflict following Washington’s killing of Tehran’s top general in an air strike inside Iraq.

The killing of Qassem Soleimani, to which Tehran responded with a ballistic missile attack on two Iraqi military bases, has highlighted the influence of some foreign powers in Iraq, especially Iran and the United States.