Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Thursday that Turkey has no immediate plans to shut down İncirlik Air Base, following a comment made by İbrahim Kalın, spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, that Turkey always has the right to shut down İncirlik.
Speaking after his meeting with the new United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in the US on Thursday, Çavuşoğlu said there is no plan to close İncirlik Air Base; however, there is no reason for coalition forces to remain at the base if they will not provide support for the fight against the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
“Our people are right [to question coalition forces’ presence at İncirlik]. They are questioning their presence as we are giving martyrs [in the fight against ISIL]. Why are you [members of the coalition forces] not supporting it? Why are you there? This is a valid question,” he said.
On Wednesday Çavuşoğlu said the Turkish people want to revoke US access to İncirlik Air Base following a column by pro-government columnist Abdulkadir Selvi in the Hürriyet daily that claimed revoking US access to İncirlik was debated in the first Cabinet meeting of 2017.
Speaking on the pro-government Kanal 24 TV station on Thursday, Kalın responded to a question on access to İncirlik, saying, “We have the right to shut down İncirlik, but before doing that the situation would have to be evaluated.”
İncirlik is considered a pivotal and convenient location for US operations in Syria and in the greater region.
In August, amid rapprochement with Moscow, Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım had said that “if necessary” Russia could use İncirlik Air Base as well.