U.S. should consider relocating İncirlik air base to Georgia - analyst

Faced with diverging strategic interests in recent years with Ankara and Iran’s growing influence in the region, Washington should consider relocating the U.S.’ İncirlik air base in southern Turkey to Georgia, wrote Miro Popkhadze, fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Eurasia Program. 

The United States must also consider Russian aggression and expansionism in strategically important spaces that extend beyond Eastern Europe when weighing the devotion of additional U.S. forces to the region, Popkhadze said in an article he penned for the Washington Examiner.

Questions have been looming over the future of the İncirlik base, which hosts U.S. nuclear warheads about 100 miles from Turkey’s border with Syria, amid soaring tensions between Washington and Ankara.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in December said Turkey could shut down the base, in response to threats of U.S. sanctions and a separate U.S. Senate resolution that recognising the mass killings of Armenians a century ago as genocide.

“Georgia could offer up the Vaziani Military Air Base (a former Soviet base) as a potential location for constructing a U.S. military airbase,’’ the article said, pointing to the base’s location and infrastructure as potentials for playing a larger role helping Washington boost efforts to curtail Iranian influence in the region while deterring Russian threats to the South Caucasus.

The location may be met with criticism in Washington over the increased risk of the U.S. direct conflict with Russia, it said, adding however that  “U.S. forces remain stronger, better equipped and more powerful than Russia’s by quite a bit’’.

Russia is far less likely to go to war with a United States that maintains military and economic superiority, it said.