U.S. sanctions bill requires search for alternatives to assets in Turkey’s İncirlik base

The bipartisan bill introduced in the United States Congress on sanctions to be imposed against Turkey following the country’s military incursion in Syria includes a section on the İncirlik airbase in its southern province of Adana.

Section 13 of the Countering Turkish Aggression Act of 2019 requires President Donald Trump to submit an assessment for alternative locations to host U.S. military personnel and assets, which include as many as fifty B-61 bombs, within 30 days of the bill’s enactment. 

The B-61 nuclear weapons have recently become a point of discussion as U.S.-Turkey relations took a downturn in the wake of Turkey’s purchase of the Russian-made S-400 missile defence systems, and the country’s actions in Syria.

The United States removed Turkey from the F-35 stealth fighter program in July after the delivery of the S-400 systems, citing incompatibility with NATO defences and a security threat. 

Further sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, were prepared but their implementation had been delayed.

The bipartisan Countering Turkish Aggression Act of 2019 introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) on Oct. 17 includes measures against Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, government officials, banks, military and energy sector.

Sanctions will remain in place until Turkey “has halted attacks against the Syrian Kurdish community, has withdrawn from all locations that they didn’t occupy prior to the October 9, 2019 invasion, and is not hindering counterterrorism operations against ISIS,” Sen. Van Hollen said in a statement on the same day.

Turkey agreed to a 120-hour pause to its Operation Peace Spring, which will run out on Oct. 22, after meetings with U.S. Vice President Mike Pompeo to allow for the withdrawal of previously U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) from a 32-kilometre-deep strip along the Turkish border.