US Established Incirlik Air Base in Turkey to 'Redraw Middle East' Borders

© Sputnik / Hikmet Durgun Incirlik Air Base
Incirlik Air Base - Sputnik International
Turkish politicians and activists based in the Adana province, home to the Incirlik air base, told Sputnik that they want Ankara to close the facility or at least ban the US and other NATO countries from using it because Washington has utilized it to carry out its destabilizing strategy in the Middle East.

Hayri Akgun, chairman of the Freedom and Solidarity Party's (ÖDP) regional branch, maintained that Incirlik "is a major stumbling block on [Turkey's] way to independence" since the United States has used it to carry out its plans in the region. "The main goal of creating the base was to redraw the entire [map of] the Middle East," he added.

© Sputnik / Hikmet Durgun Hayri Akgun
Hayri Akgun - Sputnik International
Hayri Akgun

The ÖDP has been a staunch opponent of the base, built by the US Army Corps of Engineers in 1951, and has repeatedly held protest rallies, urging the authorities to close it.

"Dagger in the heart of the Middle East"

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (File) - Sputnik International
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Selver Kaplan, who heads the local office of the Patriotic Party (Vatan), is convinced that the US was behind the unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "Coup plans were devised at the Incirlik Air Base," she said. "We received this information from the people working there."

On July 15, a group of midlevel military officers staged a coup, but failed to come to power. The Turkish commander of the air base was arrested in the purges that followed.

The politician did not demand that the military facility be closed, but she urged the Turkish leadership to prevent the US and other foreign nations from using it. "Incirlik must only be made available to the Turkish military," he said.

© Sputnik / Hikmet Durgun Selver Kaplan
Selver Kaplan - Sputnik International
Selver Kaplan

Kaplan also accused the US of playing a destabilizing role in the region.

"If the air base remains open for the US and other countries, terrorist attacks will continue to take place. Assaults on our police and military officers, as well as the people will not stop. Incirlik is the hotbed of all terror acts. It is the command center of the game that is being played in the Middle East," she said. "Incirlik is a dagger in the heart of the Middle East."

© Sputnik / Hikmet Durgun Incirlik Air Base
Incirlik Air Base - Sputnik International
Incirlik Air Base

"Blow to Turkey's independence"

Sevil Araci, chairman of the Labor Party's (EMEP) regional organization, called the Incirlik air base a "blow to independence of our country."

"We have always said that there must be no similar bases in Turkish territory. We view these facilities as an external interference," the politician noted. "There must be no foreign military installations in Turkey. All agreements on this issue must be made void. This is what we are fighting for."

People gather at a pro-government rally in central Istanbul's Taksim square, Saturday, July 16, 2016. - Sputnik International
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The Labor Party has held numerous rallies against the base and plans to continue these activities in the future.

Mustafa Gozutok, who chairs the local office of the Felicity Party (SP), echoed these sentiments, saying that it was "unacceptable to use the Incirlik air base against Turkey."

"We are against this base and we want it to be closed. We are planning to hold rallies to demand that it is closed," he said.

Incirlik "served as command and control center of the coup"

Ibrahim Kaya, a local merchant, said that Incirlik was at the heart of the botched coup.

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"US military personnel and Turkish military command joined forces. The Incirlik air base served as the command and control center of the coup. Incirlik's role in the coup was enormous. Planes and aerial tankers took off from Incirlik," he said.

Kaya further noted that no one expected the US military in the country to support those, who tried to overthrow Erdogan. "We were living here as brothers. Sadly, it turned out that we are not brothers," he added.

The merchant mentioned that local trade has been affected by the failed coup attempt.

© Sputnik / Hikmet Durgun Halil Yildirim
Halil Yildirim - Sputnik International
Halil Yildirim

Halil Yildirim, a local street vendor, echoed these sentiments, saying that US troops, who are his main customers, are staying at the base due to security concerns. As long as things stay the same, businesses in the region have nothing to do.

He also said that locals don't want the base to be closed because the 1,500 people employed there will be out of work.

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