The German Defense Ministry plans to move its 260 military personnel, Tornado jet fighters and a flying tank from the Incirlik airbase in Turkey to the Al Arzak airbase in Jordan. The current deployment of a German military contingent at the Konya air force base in Turkey will not be affected by the planned pullout from Incirlik though.
Ankara had earlier refused to allow a German parliamentary delegation to visit the Incirlik base, prompting Chancellor Angela Merkel to say that Berlin would consider moving its military contingent stationed at the base to one of the neighboring countries.
President Erdogan accuses Germany of refusing to hand over Turkish military personnel wanted in Turkey for their alleged involvement in last year’s failed coup, and also active members of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
In an interview with Sputnik, Yuri Pochta, a Moscow-based political scientist, said that he was not at all surprised by Berlin’s decision to move its forces from Incirlik.
“[President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan keeps upping the ante with his aggressive rhetoric towards his NATO allies. It looks like with regular power cutoffs and now the refusal to let German MPs visit the base, things finally came to a head because this is a direct interference in German internal affairs,” Yuri Pochta said.
He added that since the decision to pull out from Incirlik rests with the Bundestag, the sides still have time to strike a bargain though.
“It looks like we’ll have to wait for the end of the election period in Germany when it will be clear who is going to do the horse-trading. And also to seen the stand US President Trump and his administration are going to take vis-à-vis Turkey. In a word, an oriental bazaar,” Pochta said, adding that if promised an early admission to the EU, Erdogan could relent and let the German MPs in.
“I think that within the next two or three months we are going to see a lot of horse-trading [between Brussels and Ankara],” Yuri Pochta noted.
The Turkish Incirlik airbase stations hundreds of German personnel and several Tornado jets to carry out airstrikes against Daesh in Iraq and Syria alongside the United States and several other NATO member states.
German-Turkish relations started worsening after then February 2017 arrest in Turkey of Deniz Yusel, a German-Turkish journalist working for Die Welt newspaper.
Yusel was arrested and detained on charges of supporting a terrorist organization and inciting public violence.
The situation worsened when German authorities banned pro-Erdogan rallies in Germany in the run-up to the referendum on giving additional powers to President Erdogan who was keen to ensure maximum voter support for proposed changes to the constitution.