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A US KC-135 Stratotanker, air-refueling support at Incirlik. Wikipedia

Turkish lawyers threaten to arrest US officers at Incirlik Air Base

A group of Turkish lawyers close to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has filed formal charges against a number of US Air Force officers stationed at the Incirlik Air Base. The complaint accuses them of having ties to terrorist groups.

Published: August 11, 2018, 10:31 am

    The escalation of the Turkish currency crisis during the last week has coincided with the escalation of  tensions with the United States.

    President Erdogan of Turkey has blamed foreign powers for the economic woes facing his country. He believes that the “interest lobby”, the bankers, want to damage Turkey. Since last week the Turkish lira is on an extended down-slide. In one day alone it lost nearly 20 percent of its value. It will likely severely impact the Turkish economy.

    The lawyers allege that the US officers were connected to a movement that attempted a coup d’état against Turkey’s government in July 2016 and are seeking a temporary halt to all flights leaving Incirlik Air Base.

    The lawyers have demanded that the government halt all flights out of Incirlik to keep the US officers from fleeing the country, and called on the government to raid the base and seek to capture the officers.

    Incirlik is a central hub for US air power in the region and the home of a few dozen B-61 nuclear gravity bombs with adjustable yields. Experts have long questioned the wisdom of holding US nuclear weapons in Turkey.

    Court documents obtained by the Stockholm Center for Freedom, a group of exiled Turkish journalists, show that charges were filed at the chief public prosecutor’s office in Adana, where Incirlik is located.

    The lawyers have demanded the “arrest of the commanders of the US Air Force who are the superiors of the soldiers based at Incirlik and took a role in the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016,” according to the documents.

    In response, the European Command spokesman, told Air Force Times: “Any reports that US government or military personnel had any previous knowledge or involvement in a Turkey coup attempt are baseless and completely false.”

    The US had imposed economic sanctions on Turkey’s interior and justice ministers last week for their role in the detention of an American pastor also accused of involvement in the coup attempt.

    On Friday, Turkish stocks were down by at least 2 percent while stocks of some Turkish banks and steel producers fell by 15 percent after a tweet by US President Donald Trump. Spanish, Italian and French banks, from which Turkish banks had borrowed tens of billion of Euros, also lost, Bloomberg reported.

    With the Turkish lira crashing, no foreign banks will likely loan Turkey more money. Turkey will soon be unable to pay for its imports, especially for hydrocarbon energy. The Turkish economy may now face a deep recession, and a number of its banks and companies will likely go bankrupt with unemployment spiking.

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