CHP’s pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee İnce vows to shut down US mil­i­tary base in İn­cir­lik

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page -

IN A SUR­PRIS­ING re­mark, the main op­po­si­tion Re­pub­li­can Peo­ple’s Party’s (CHP) pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Muhar­rem İnce vowed yes­ter­day to close In­cir­lik Air Base to the United States and send the U.S. sol­diers back by Christ­mas un­less the U.S. ex­tra­dites the leader of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), Fe­tul­lah Gülen. Speak­ing at a rally in the Black Sea re­gion’s Amasya prov­ince for the up­com­ing pres­i­den­tial elec­tions, İnce said, “I will tell the U.S. to ex­tra­dite FETÖ’s leader; oth­er­wise it is Christ­mas on Dec. 24, and the U.S. sol­diers in İn­cir­lik will be able to cel­e­brate Christ­mas at home. It is that sim­ple.”

İnce, who is a CHP deputy of Yalova Prov­ince, was an­nounced as CHP’s pres­i­den­tial can­di­date on May 4 af­ter long-awaited days and will go up against Presidet Re­cep Tayyip Er­doğan.

İnce stated that if he is elected he will “im­prove the ju­di­ciary in three months and Europe and then, the U.S. will not be able to crit­i­cize our ju­di­ciary,” and he promised af­ter the changes, he will ask for the ex­tra­di­tion of Gülen.

The is­sue of Gülen’s ex­tra­di­tion has been cloud­ing ties with the U.S. Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties have re­peat­edly asked Wash­ing­ton to ex­tra­dite Gülen, who or­ches­trated the July 15, 2016 coup which killed 249 peo­ple. FETÖ was also be­hind a long-run­ning campaign to over­throw the state through the in­fil­tra­tion of Turk­ish in­sti­tu­tions, par­tic­u­larly the mil­i­tary, po­lice and ju­di­ciary.

De­spite ev­i­dence and doc­u­ments sent by Ankara to Wash­ing­ton, there has not been any progress for the ex­tra­di­tion of Gülen. The U.S. main­tains an im­por­tant pres­ence at In­cir­lik, a Turk­ish mil­i­tary air­port and base lo­cated in the south­ern Adana prov­ince, as a hub for op­er­a­tions against the Daesh ter­ror­ist group. The base was es­tab­lished in 1954 and was con­sid­ered one of the most im­por­tant NATO bases in Turkey dur­ing the Cold War. The base con­tin­ues to house a stock­pile of dozens of Amer­i­can tac­ti­cal nu­clear weapons. As a re­sponse to the U.S. arms em­bargo fol­low­ing Turkey’s mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion in Cyprus in 1974, the base was trans­ferred to the Turk­ish Armed Forces (TSK) by the CHP-led coali­tion gov­ern­ment the same year. The U.S. re­turned to the base in 1978 af­ter it ended the em­bargo. The U.S. pres­ence in In­cir­lik was a source of crit­i­cism from the Turk­ish far-left dur­ing the Cold War. With the dis­so­lu­tion of the Soviet Union, the far-right also joined in the voices de­mand­ing the base be free of foreign troops.

Start­ing in the early 2000s, es­pe­cially with the U.S. in­va­sions in Afghanistan and Iraq, dis­cus­sions about end­ing the U.S. pres­ence at In­cir­lik started in Turkey. As re­la­tions with the U.S. went down­hill, the ar­gu­ment of clos­ing the In­cir­lik base has been of­ten brought up.

Main op­po­si­tion CHP’s pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Muhar­rem İnce.

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