Saturday, July 23, 2016
Incirlik Air Base Being Held Hostage
By Jim Emerson, staff writer
Incirlik Air Base is located in the İncirlik quarter of the city of Adana, Turkey. The United States Air Force and the Turkish Air Force are the primary users of the base, although it is also used by the Royal Air Force and by the Royal Saudi Air Force. The air base has continued to rely on backup generators since the failed coup plunged the country into crisis. Commercial power was cut to the base in and the airspace above it closed to air traffic within hours of last Friday's attempted military takeover in the NATO country. There is little indication when power will be restored.
This week Turkish lawmakers declared a three-month national state of emergency granting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sweeping powers to purge the military and potential political foes after the alleged military coup. In granting Erdogan dictatorial authority , Parliament has enabled him to issue decrees that have the force of law without judicial or even parliamentary approval. Already with a history of autocratic conduct, Erdogan insists that the “state of emergency will counter threats to Turkish democracy.” This is not how the political leader of a member nation of NATO should behave.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim declared "This is a state of emergency imposed not on the people, but on (the state) itself." The Turkish government is using this rhetoric to remove the enemies of the state. The regime’s enemy of choice is Muhammed Fethullah Gülen, a former ally of Erdogan actively involved in the societal debate concerning the future of the Turkish state and Islam in the modern world. Gülen promotes a tolerant Islam which emphasizes altruism, hard work and education. His views are the opposite of Erdogan’s who is transforming Turkey in an Islamic republic. Gulen currently lives in self-imposed exile in the United States. It is very likely that cutting off commercial power to Incirlik Air Base is a ploy to force the Obama Administration to hand over Gülen.
As the world watches, Turkey is suspending the European Convention on Human Rights, allowing the nation more leeway to violate the rule of law by rounding up enemies of the regime. Turkey also no longer behaves as a trusted ally in the war on terror. America and NATO may need to consider closing all assets in the country for the safety and wellbeing of American and NATO service members.
Another sign of an authoritarian regime is the control of information flowing across its borders. The Supreme Council of Radio and Television of Turkey has cancelled the licenses of over 20 radio and television broadcasters. The silencing of all communication will allow the government to crack down on dissidents without the world finding out in a timely basis.