Five Days and Counting: Incirlik AFB External Power Still Cut Off, U.S.-Turkish Relations Near All Time Low

Nearly five days have passed since the Turkish government cut off exterior power to the U.S./NATO operated Incirlik Air Base in southeastern Turkey.

After numerous complaints on Twitter about a mainstream media blackout to give the Obama Administration political cover for tense negotiations with the Turks, CNN and other outlets have started reporting about the quasi-standoff. Flight operations against ISIS continue from the base including strikes against Daesh targets around the northern Syrian city of Manbij which reportedly killed scores of civilians.

According to Turkey's Anadalou News Agency Turkish police and prosecutors did enter the base on Monday after the installation's Turkish commander was arrested over the weekend for his alleged involvement in the coup against Turkey's President. Turkish General Bekir Ercan Van was reportedly denied political asylum in the U.S. by his American counterparts. He joins the over 6,000 people, most of them military officers, arrested or charged in connection with Friday's failed coup'd'etat.

Sources in Turkey seem confused, with some telling their old American colleagues in NATO or the intelligence community like former CIA officer Phil Girardi or ex-DIA analyst retired Army Col. Patrick Lang that the coup was a 'set up' and infiltrated by Erdogan loyalists from the start, and that Ankara's claims that Pennsylvania-based exiled cleric Muhammed Fethullah Gülen was behind the putsch are self-serving. Other Turks tell the UK Guardian, in what may be a smokescreen or deliberate disinfo from the Erdogan camp, that the coup plotters came far closer to eliminating the Turkish President than initially thought outside the country. At any rate, the coup forces appear to have been (not surprisingly) concentrated in the Turkish Navy, Air Force, and Army units that were part of NATO's rapid reaction forces and which had the most interaction with foreign militaries -- a not surprising bastion of the now crushed Kemalist secularist traditions in the Turkish armed services.

What's clear at this hour is that Ankara is not taking the pressure off Washington by restoring power to the Incirlik Air Base. Flight operations are ongoing using generator power on site, but we don't know how many generators Incirlik's American crews have or whether having to refuel them has limited the number of combat sorties against Daesh. Nor can CNN or the rest of the mainstream media apparently downplay the Incirlik power outage story any longer to spare the Obama White House the humiliation of being bullied by Turkey's newly empowered Sultan, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The 'Clinton News Network' has reported the implications for the U.S. military of having to find other bases in the Mideast to continue operations, while carefully downplaying the B61 tactical nuclear bombs stored underground at the base:

Washington (CNN) — The US military is doing “prudent planning” in case it needs to move its anti-ISIS operations out of Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey following the country’s failed coup, several US defense officials told CNN Tuesday.

The Turkish government cut off the power to the base after the coup attempt took place Friday, leaving it without a commercial power supply for four days and counting.

The Pentagon has been able to fully operate the base through generator power but said it would be difficult to continue indefinitely.

While fuel supplies for the generators could be brought in, the key is whether it becomes too expensive and cumbersome given the high pace of air strikes the US wants to continue flying out of the base. US aircraft regularly conducts missions in northern Syria, where it is battling ISIS. And both drones and surveillance aircraft are used to monitor the border with Syria and conduct other reconnaissance missions.

The Pentagon is all but openly pressuring the Turks to turn the power back on at Incirlik. If they don’t, “I think it’s safe to say over time that it could become a limiting factor,” said Peter Cook Pentagon press secretary, referring to US operations there. “The concern would be if it were a protracted period of time, then we would potentially have to make adjustments.”


Whether Erdogan is aiming for nothing less than Washington surrendering Fetullah Gulen to him and his riled up supporters on a platter is unknown. What is known is that the Turkish leader is not taking the pressure off until Washington makes some sort of concessions to him. Meanwhile his supporters are frantically purging the military, the civil service, the judiciary, media and even schools and universities of anyone remotely suspected of opposing his increasingly despotic and Islamist rule.

In response to the great Erdogan/AKP purge of 2016, Secretary of State John Kerry has hinted at suspending or terminating Turkey's membership in NATO -- an outcome that would be deeply satisfactory to Russia as Moscow seeks to profit from the open split between Washington and Ankara. See for example, Katehon think tank director and Eurasianist ideologue Alexander Dugin's video below for a Russian nationalist perspective on the failed coup and its implications for Eurasian geopolitics: