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German military leaves Turkey's Incirlik airbase

September 28, 2017

Germany’s military has finished its withdrawal from Turkey’s airbase Incirlik, prompted by Ankara’s refusal to allow visits by German parliamentarians. Bundeswehr planes will instead be based in Jordan.

A German Tornado jet on the tarmac
Image: Picture alliance/dpa/H. Tittel

Germany’s transfer of reconnaissance and refueling aircraft from Incirlik to Jordan’s al-Asrak airbase had been an unprecedented, mammoth task, German contingent commander Stefan Kleinheyer said Wednesday.

Germany’s parliament, which ultimately decides on deployments, voted overwhelmingly in June to leave Incirlik amid a multifaceted dispute with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over his post-coup crackdown.

The Bundeswehr relocated a set of Tornado reconnaissance jets, a German refueling aircraft, logistical equipment and 260 personnel to Jordan. The troops are involved in oversight of the US-led aerial campaign against "Islamic State" (IS) militia in adjacent Syria.

Map of Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Iraq showing NATO bases in Turkey and Jordan

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said the unit was being redeployed to a Jordanian air base used by numerous NATO partners.

Read more: Is Germany Recep Tayyip Erdogan's 'best enemy?'

In early September, seven German parliamentarians visited NATO’s Konya airbase in central Turkey under a compromise access arrangement via the military alliance.

Temporary compromise

At the time, Germany’s Foreign Ministry said that visit was only a temporary compromise, adding that Berlin would endeavor to arrange politically "smoother" parliamentary oversight in Turkey in the future.

As a "parliamentary army," the Bundeswehr requires a vote of approval from Bundestag lawmakers for each foreign deployment and a parliamentary committee regularly evaluates Germany missions abroad.

Von der Leyen in Jordan (picture alliance/dpa/Bundeswehr)
The defense minister said troops were being redeployed to another NATO base in JordanImage: picture-alliance/dpa/Bundeswehr

Read more: Germany, Jordan clash over immunity for German troops

Diplomatic low-point

Since July 2016, when a Turkish renegade army faction attempted a coup, Erdogan’s administration has detained more than 50,000 people, including journalists and rights campaigners with German links.

Turkish military officers who sought asylum in Germany were deemed by Erdogan to have been among plotters of the failed coup.

Amid high German-Turkish tension, several German municipalities barred rallies by pro-Erdogan politicians.

ipj/sms (dpa, AFP, Reuters)