Turkey Backs Away from Airbase Rights

Despite comments National Security Advisor Susan Rice made on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Turkey and the US have not reached an agreement as to whether Incirlik Air Base, or other Turkish bases, will be used to stage US and coalition airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria. Turkey has agreed to help support the training and equipping of moderate Syrian rebels, but it is pushing for a no-fly zone targeting Bashar Assad’s military forces and the creation of a “buffer zone” along the Turkish border before it assents to US use of air bases in its territory, reported the State-run Anadolu news agency Tuesday. “The US is being insistent on Incirlik Air Base, although it has military bases in the Gulf countries, due to the high cost of airstrikes,” Can Acun, from the Foundation for Political Economic and Social Research, told the news agency. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel praised Turkey for agreeing to host a joint US Central Command-US European Command planning team in the country “next week” to develop a training program for Syrian rebels, and the “responsible manner” it is handling refugees and border security with Syria, according to an Oct. 12 readout of the phone call between Hagel and his Turkish counterpart, Ismet Yilmaz. (See also Turkey Moves Forces as British Strike ISIS in Syria.)