Sunday, July 31, 2016

Turkish forces surround NATO’s Incirlik air base amid rumors of coup attempt

Browsing through stories that came in over the news feeds overnight and this morning (OK, we Boggart Bloggers are not early starters) we noticed that thinks are kicking off again in Turkey. Reports claimed an estimated seven thousand Turkish troops surround NATO’s Incirlik air base for ‘inspection’. As there is no reason for the Turkish military to inspect the site, this news has sparked rumours of another attempted coup against the regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

No details are available as yet and the reports should be viewed with some scepticism. In the light of recent events in Turkey however, they cannot be dismissed.

All roads to Inkrilic closed

The failed, or very possibly staged Turkish coup of two weekends ago is now commonly acknowledged to have been nothing more than an excuse for Erdogan to centralise more power on the office of president and suppress all political and independent opposition. A less widely reported news story from Turkey is the sudden, and acute deterioration in US-Turkish relations. Two days ago, completely unreported in European and US media, the Commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM) General Joseph Votel was forced to release a statement denying having anything to do with the attempted coup in Turkey following pointed allegations from the very top that "the US orchestrated last Friday's coup". according to a statement released by the US military on Friday.

As U.S. Military magazine Stars and Stripes reported last week, the recent failed coup and jailing of senior military officers, civil servants, academics and journalists in Turkey could impact U.S. operations there against the Islamic State group, Gen. Joseph Votel said Thursday at a security conference in Colorado. Votel said the coup attempt in Turkey two weeks ago left him “concerned” about how U.S. operations and personnel at Incirlik Air Base will be affected.

"Turkey of course …sits on an extraordinarily important seam between the central region and Europe,” Votel said at the Aspen Security Forum. “It will have an impact on the operations we do along that very important seam. Obviously, we are very dependent on Turkey for basing of our resources…I am concerned it will impact the level of cooperation and collaboration that we have with Turkey.”

Hurriyet, a daily paper known for its loyal support of Erdogan (there are no longer any newspapers in Turkey that are not loyal supporters of Erdogan, he closed them all), even reported retired Army Gen. John F. Campbell, former commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, was the mastermind behind the attempted overthrow. However, the paper also reported White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest called the allegations against the general unsubstantiated.

As a result of the previous coup attempt (if that is what it was), U.S. air operations were temporarily suspended and the Turkish government cut power to Incirlik.

Meanwhile, Turkey's propaganda war against the US escalated on Friday, when Turkey's authoritarian head of state Erdogan condemned the West for declining to show solidarity with a NATO 'ally' and being more concerned about the fate of coup supporters than the survival of Turkey are not friends of Ankara. Conveniently forgetting that for over two years while the west was fighting Islamic State, Turkey was carrying on an illegal oil trade with the terrorist organisation and acting as a conduit through which arms and ammunition flowed to the Islamic extremist group.

Erdogan hypocritically blasted the West for criticizing the massive purge of Turkey’s military and other state institutions which has resulted in over 60,000 people being detained, removed or suspended over suspected links with the coup and for cancelling 50,000 civilian passports which many worry is but a prelude to an expansion of the reign of terror inside the country.

"The attitude of many countries and their officials over the coup attempt in Turkey is shameful in the name of democracy," Erdogan told hundreds of supporters at the presidential palace in Ankara.

Today's news, if it is indeed another coup, and the news that NATO's critical Incirlik Air Base near Adana has been completely blocked off by Turkey, with all inputs and outputs having been closed according to Turkey's Hurriyet among rumors of yet another coup, is even more disturbing for NATO.

The action has raised concern that the closing may be tied to an attempt by the Erdogan regime to prevent a second coup attempt. Hurriyet reported earlier that Adana police had been tipped off about a new coup attempt, and forces were immediately alerted. The entrance to the base was closed off. Security forces armed with rifles and armored TOMA vehicles used by Turkish riot police could be seen at the site in photos taken by witnesses.

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