Russian officials have discussed the possibility of using Turkey’s Incirlik air base as a hub for carrying out air strikes in Syria.
According to Russian deputy Igor Morozov, the use of the airbase, which is currently used by NATO and plays the role of a home for about 50 US nuclear warheads, could be offered to Russia by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
However, this step, aimed at the use of the base in the east of Turkey, would be highly controversial as Russia and NATO have been at odds over a number of issues, including Syria and Ukraine.
“Turkey can provide the Incirlik base to the Russian Aerospace Forces for its use in counterterrorism operations [in Syria]. This can become a logical continuation of Turkish President Erdogan’s step toward Russia,” Morozov told the RIA Novosti news agency.
A member of the Council of the Federation Committee on Defense and Security, Senator Viktor Ozerov, also noted that the use of the airbase could be a signal of strengthening relations between the two countries.
“It is not guaranteed that Russia needs Incirlik, but such a decision can be regarded as Turkey’s real readiness to cooperate with Russia in the fight against terrorism in Syria, and not just pay lip service,” Sputnik quoted his words.
Western analysts have already started to express concern about the security of the US warheads, located in Turkey, in connection with the failed coup of 15 July. And Turkey’s realignment toward Russia could increase NATO’s fears about its position in Turkey.
On august 17, editor of the Yeni Safak newspaper, Ibrahim Karagul, said that the state should “take control” of the nuclear weapons in Incirlik.
“The nukes in Incirlik must be handed over to Turkey,” he wrote. “Or else, Turkey should take control of them.”
Amind the ongoing military and political developments over, some people believe it is possible that we will see the next expansion of Russia’s military presence in the Middle East in the near future.
Russia began using Iranian airbase to launch air strikes in Syria this week as it expands its military presence in the Middle East
Russian officials have mooted the possibility of using Turkey’s Incirlik air base as a hub for carrying out air strikes in Syria, following the rapprochement between the two countries.
An MP from the Russian parliament, Igor Morozov, suggested that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could offer Russia use of the airbase, which is currently used by NATO and is home to around 50 US nuclear warheads.
But a move for Russians to use Incirlik, based in the east of the country, would be highly controversial as Russia and NATO have been at odds over a number of issues, including Syria and the Ukraine.
“Turkey can provide the Incirlik base to the Russian Aerospace Forces for its use in counterterrorism operations [in Syria]. This can become a logical continuation of Turkish President Erdogan’s step toward Russia,” Morozov told RIA Novosti.
Senator Viktor Ozerov, a member of Russia’s Federation Council Defence and Security Committee, also suggested that use of the airbase could a gesture signalling the strengthening ties between the two countries.
Erdogan visited Moscow in early August to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and attempt to mend ties between the two countries, which became severely strained after the shooting down of a Russia fighter jet in November 2015.
“It is not guaranteed that Russia needs Incirlik, but such a decision can be regarded as Turkey’s real readiness to cooperate with Russia in the fight against terrorism in Syria, and not just pay lip service,” Ozerov said, according to the Russian state-funded Sputnik website.
Western analysts have raised concerns over the security of US warheads in the wake of the failed coup of 15 July, and the realignment toward Russia could add to NATO fears over its position in Turkey.
On Wednesday, Ibrahim Karagul, editor of the right-wing Yeni Safak newspaper, tweeted that Turkey should “take control” of the nuclear weapons in Incirlik.
“The nukes in Incirlik must be handed over to Turkey,” he wrote. “Or else, Turkey should take control of them.”
The suggestion comes as Russia continues to use an Iranian airbase to strike targets in Syria, the first time Iran has given permission for a foreign power to use its territory for military operations since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Russia’s Defence Ministry said that SU-34 fighter bombers flying from Iran’s Hamadan air base had struck Islamic State targets in Syria’s Deir al-Zor province on Wednesday, destroying two command posts and killing more than 150 militants.
Moscow first used Iran as a base to launch air strikes in Syria on Tuesday, deepening its involvement in the five-year-old Syrian civil war and angering the United States.
Washington called the move “unfortunate” and said on Tuesday it was looking into whether Russia’s move had violated UN Security Council resolution 2231, which prohibits the supply, sale and transfer of combat aircraft to Iran.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday there were no grounds to suggest Russia had violated the resolution, saying it was not supplying Iran with aircraft.
“These aircraft are being used by Russia’s air force with Iran’s agreement as a part of an anti-terrorist operation at the request of Syria’s leadership,” Lavrov told a Moscow news conference, after holding talks with Murray McCully, New Zealand’s foreign minister.
Russia’s use of the Iranian air base comes amid intense fighting for the Syrian city of Aleppo, where rebels are battling Syrian government forces backed by the Russian military, and as Moscow and Washington are working towards a deal on Syria that could see them cooperate more closely.
Russia backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while the United States believes the Syrian leader must step down and is supporting some rebel groups which are fighting to unseat him.
Middle East Eye
Western leaders breathed a sigh of relief as the linchpin to addressing Europe’s growing migrant crisis and the key launchpad for NATO’s Middle East missions stayed in one piece, but many are wondering aloud just how long will it be before Erdogan overplays his hand.
The failed coup attempt in Turkey led by a faction of the military seeking the overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan citing the leader’s abysmal record on free speech, democratic freedoms, and human rights may be the final death knell for both NATO and the European Union who are holding onto the increasingly undemocratic leader for dear life.
The United States, notwithstanding allegations by the Turkish Labor Minister that the coup plot had Washington’s fingerprints all over it, was also relieved to maintain its leading regional partner and a critical component in the NATO security force as Turks managed to repel the government overthrow.
Washington would have been forced under US law to remove its military forces from Turkey, including its fleet of fighter jets at the Incirlik airbase that serves as a critical launchpad for NATO’s missions in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The United States is barred from providing military aid or stationing troops in any country that has fallen under control of a military coup government.
The West now faces a troubling decision, with President Erdogan expected to crackdown on dissent with more fury than ever before, whether they choose to stand beside an increasingly undemocratic leader for the sake of preservation or whether they ultimately will have to transition their national strategies.
“Erdogan will be judged on his own response,” one EU official involved in the migrant deal with Turkey said, citing arrests of judges as an early sign that justified “deep concern that this will lead to a new trampling on rights of freedom of expression and demonstration.”
In total, over 2,745 judges have been arrested along with 2,800 soldiers as the Turkish leader strips away the last semblances of checks and balances within the country.
Germany’s foreign affairs committee chair Elmar Brok predicted that “Erdogan will try to extend his position of power” and French President Francois Hollande said very simply that he expects “repression.”
The emboldened Erdogan had already stripped opposition Kurdish parliamentarians of immunity by enacting a constitutional amendment in May leaving many EU lawmakers to worry that the Turkish president will move to imprison these opposition lawmakers under the country’s expanded terrorism code.
Still another EU official said that “clearly Europe would have more reasons to worry if the coup had prevailed,” but if Turkey proceeds to imprison peaceful opposition en masse then many European lawmakers signal that they will be forced to oppose the immigration deal that is keeping the European Union together by a thread.
Washington and NATO may have a little less at stake in hoping that Erdogan transitions his government towards a less autocratic format in the wake of the coup attempt, a very unlikely scenario, than German who has already taken in over 2 million Syrian refugees causing widespread anger among voters who feel that their culture is under siege and France which faced yet another attack at the hands of radical Islamic terrorists this week.
However, the image of the United States as a beacon of democracy, the motif carried under the banner of both the American flag and NATO forces, would be ultimately exposed as a myth if Erdogan undertakes a purge of all opposition moving for mass imprisonment or a return of the death penalty.
If Erdogan overplays his cards, Friday’s failed coup may be the final death knell in the coffin of NATO and the European Union or at minimum a major destabilizing force for these leading powers in the global order.
Foreign Ministry announces it will, for the first time, receive a permanent office at Brussels headquarters; PM calls move ‘important step’ for security cooperation
In a significant upgrading of ties, NATO will recognize an official Israeli representative and the intergovernmental military alliance will grant Israel a permanent office at its headquarters in Brussels, according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry.
“NATO informed Israel this evening that Israel will be able to open an office at the organization’s headquarters in Brussels and complete the process of accepting the credentials of its representative to NATO,” a Tuesday night statement read.
“The announcement comes after lengthy Israeli diplomatic efforts by the Foreign Ministry, the Defense Ministry and the National Security Agency. Israel wishes to thank its allies in the organization for their support and efforts on the issue,” the Foreign Ministry added.
Israel is not a member of the 28-nation North Atlantic Treaty Organization, known by its acronym NATO, but has enjoyed military cooperation with the body in a number of fields and is currently a partner of the Mediterranean Dialogue, a NATO outreach program with seven friendly nations bordering on the waterway.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as Israel’s foreign minister, welcomed the announcement and said it helped quash ongoing criticism of Israel’s weak relations on the international stage.
“This is an important step that helps Israel’s security. It is further proof to the status of Israel and the willingness of many organizations to cooperate with us in the field of security,” he said.
Israel’s Ambassador to the European Union David Walzer also serves as representative to NATO, but up until now the Israeli mission has not been officially recognized by the organization.
Some NATO governments have opposed past attempts to forge closer cooperation with Israel, arguing that they could hurt the alliance’s relations with Muslim states, including Afghanistan, which remains one of NATO’s top operational priorities.
A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry was not immediately available to comment on whether Jerusalem is currently taking any concrete steps to apply for full NATO membership.
In his former position as deputy foreign minister, current Tourism Minister Ze’ev Elkin made improving ties with NATO a priority, stating publicly during a meeting with the organization’s Deputy Secretary-General Alexander Vershbow that Israel sought to have a permanent representative.
“In contrast to a decline in relations in recent years there has been a significant improvement in the last year,” Elkin said in January 2014. “We are interested in getting the situation back to the way it was and to even broaden the range of matters that NATO and Israel join forces on, including having an Israeli representative at NATO.”
Vershbow was visiting Israel at the time to discuss cooperation between NATO and Israel.
NATO currently has about 40 partner nations, including Australia, India, Japan, Pakistan and Russia. Its partnerships include ones with European non-NATO countries, the Mediterranean basin and Persian Gulf states.
NATO’s treaty requires the alliance to militarily defend members nations, of which there are 28, but not partner ones. Still, partner states regularly contribute to NATO operations such as those in Afghanistan and naval missions off Somalia and in the Mediterranean Sea.
The last expansion of the organization took place in December 2015 when NATO member states formally invited the tiny Adriatic nation of Montenegro to join the alliance in the face of Russian opposition.
The invitation set in motion the process to accept the first new member state since fellow Balkan countries Albania and Croatia were admitted in 2009.