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.

Erdogan under fire over plea for cash

Updated 15 min 35 sec ago

Erdogan under fire over plea for cash

  • The new fund replaces donation accounts set up by Erdogan’s political rivals

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been accused of dodging his responsibilities by launching a nationwide donation campaign to help low-income earners struggling with the coronavirus outbreak.

The new fund replaces donation accounts set up by Erdogan’s political rivals in the Ankara and Istanbul municipalities, which were abruptly blocked by the Interior Ministry.

Many people prefer making donations to city mayors because it offers greater transparency on how their money is spent.

Erdogan’s new campaign, labeled “We are self-sufficient, Turkey,” called on Turkish citizens to make financial donations to a specific bank account. The president promised to donate seven months of his salary, and the Cabinet joined the appeal with a donation of more than $790,000.

“Our goal is to help those financially struggling, especially daily wage workers, due to the precautions taken against the outbreak,” Erdogan said.

But opposition IYI Party leader Meral Aksener said Erdogan’s “salary is not enough … instead he should donate the plane given to him by the Qatari emir.”

With thousands facing wage cuts or joblessness amid tightened measures to curb the outbreak, Erdogan’s call for nationwide donations has been widely criticized as an attempt to avoid government responsibility.

Other critics said that the donation campaign was a last resort to avoid asking for help from the International Monetary Fund because of Turkey’s economic problems.

Research analyst Sinem Adar said the campaign was motivated by Erdogan’s rivalry with the Istanbul and Ankara municipalities.