Turkey could slam door on US to Incirlik Air Base if Ankara sanctioned over S-400s

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu speaks during a joint news conference with Guinea-Bissau Foreign Minister Suzi Carla Barbosa, in Ankara, Turkey, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. Cavusoglu says the Turkish military will attack any Syrian Kurdish fighter that remains along the border area in northeast Syria after a deadline for them to leave expires.(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
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Turkey is ready to consider the possibility of closing its Incirlik Air Base to American servicemen if Washington imposes sanctions over Ankara’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense systems, Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday on the A Haber TV channel.

“Turkey may ask the US to withdraw its military from the Incirlik Air Base,” the Sabah newspaper quoted him as saying.

Cavusoglu said that Ankara may also “change the status for the Kurecik base,” at which elements of the European air-defense system had been deployed.

The Turkish foreign minister reiterated that the S-400s are “defense systems” and will not be used for attacking anyone.

There have been numerous discussions in Turkey on the possible closure of the Incirlik Air Base for the American military. Usually such rhetoric by Ankara surfaces due to threats from overseas, but it has never gone as far as taking any specific steps along this track.

The US Congress earlier approved the military budget for fiscal year 2020, in which the Democrats and Republicans expressed the view that Ankara’s purchase of the S-400s falls under US legislation dubbed: “Countering Russian influence in Europe and Eurasia,” which stipulates the introduction of sanctions by the president. In light of this, the lawmakers permitted the Pentagon to spend up to $30 million on the storage of six Turkish F-35s, which had been earlier used for training Turkish pilots at an American base before Ankara was excluded from this program due to the purchase of the S-400s.

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