Germany begins to withdraw forces from İncirlik base

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German Tornado jets are pictured on the groung at the air base in Incirlik, Turkey, on January 21, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / TOBIAS SCHWARZ

Germany has begun to withdraw forces from Turkey’s İncirlik Airbase after the Turkish government denied requests from German parliamentarians to visit the troops at İncirlik, the Doğan news agency reported on Sunday.

The German Bundestag in June voted in favor of moving its Bundeswehr troops at Turkey’s İncirlik Airbase to Jordan when Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel was unable to persuade Turkey to accept visits by German representatives.

According to the vote, the Bundeswehr, which has about 280 military personnel stationed at İncirlik, from where they fly Tornado surveillance missions over Syria and refuel flights for partner nations in the coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), will be moved to Jordan’s Azraq airbase.

After Turkey repeatedly rejected requests from German parliamentarians to visit the troops at İncirlik, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany would move its troops to Jordan as it has no more patience with Ankara.

“We need an unlimited right to visit for a parliamentary army. We will go to Jordan. Of course, beforehand, we will speak to our partners in the anti-IS coalition about how to provide replacement services during the relocation period,” she said in a video shared by DW on Twitter.

Concerning the decision of Germany to move its troops, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in May, “If Germany decides to pull out of Incirlik, we might as well say goodbye.”

Tension between Germany and Turkey escalated over the arrest of two Turkish-German journalists on terrorism charges and Berlin’s decision to grant asylum to military officers and other diplomatic passport holders who Ankara accuses of involvement in a failed coup attempt on July 15.

The tensions turned into a crisis when the Turkish government blocked a group of German lawmakers from visiting troops stationed at Turkey’s İncirlik Airbase on May 15.

Relations between two countries were recently further strained due to a German veto of the entry into Germany of members of Erdoğan’s security detail who attacked protesters in Washington in May and refusal of Berlin to allow a possible rally by Erdoğan in Germany during the G20 summit.

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