Turkish opposition MP calls for closure of U.S. military base

Parliamentarian and senior member of Turkey’s main opposition party Ali Öztunç called on the government to close down a military base used by the United States and in its fight against Islamic State (ISIS), opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet said.

İncirlik Air Base in southern Turkey has been used by the United States since the 1950s, but the U.S. Air Force has decreased its dependence on the site in response to recent Turkish threats to block its use by basing aircraft at other sites in the Balkan and Middle East.

Faced with an economic crisis worsened by U.S. sanctions on two Turkish ministers and a doubling of tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium exports to the United States, Turkey has few cards to play against Washington, but closing İncirlik would be its most powerful.

“I wish to make a call to the government. If it is genuine in its struggle with the United States, the government must immediately close İncirlik Base,” Cumhuriyet quoted Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Öztunç as saying.

Öztunç said that if Turkey were to truly engage in an economic struggle with the United States, it would dislodge American firms from their position in the domestic tobacco market and reduce the barriers to Turkish firms competing there, re-nationalise the sugar industry, stop the presidential palace bodyguards from using American luxury vehicles and cancel a recent tender for aeroplanes won by Boeing.

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