Akşener: close U.S. bases before Afrin attack

Turkey must close the U.S. air bases located on its territory in İncirlik and Malatya to give it a strong hand in an assault on Afrin in western Syria, said opposition Good Party leader Meral Akşener.

“Yes, we must launch an operation on Afrin”, said Akşener, shortly after the National Security Council gave the green light on Wednesday for a Turkish offensive against the region, which is held by armed Kurdish-majority militias. “But what will you tell Russia, and the United States?”

The planned attack came after the USA announced a “joint-border force” of 30,ooo, to be spearheaded by Kurdish forces considered terrorists by Turkey, including the People’s Protection Units (YPG). Russian forces are in position close to Afrin, and the Kremlin has opposed a Turkish operation against the YPG.

Closing the USA’s military bases on Turkish soil would strengthen Turkey’s hand in negotiations around the situation in Syria, said Akşener.

The Good Party leader criticised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s emphatic rhetoric around the planned attack, saying that by announcing his intention to conduct a military operation, he had given Turkey’s opponents time to prepare for it.

Akşener also accused the Turkish government of sending conscripted Turkish soldiers to fight in order to serve its political interests domestically, and called for politicians’ children who paid to avoid military service to serve on the front line in Afrin. Men over 18 in Turkey are required to fulfil military service of at least six months; however, a fee can be paid to reduce or waive the required service.