German troops poised to withdraw from İncirlik

The German government has spoken out in favour of transferring German reconnaissance aircraft from Turkey's İncirlik air base to Jordan. After another attempt by German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel to mediate between the two countries, Ankara again refused to allow German lawmakers to visit soldiers stationed at the base. Who is the loser in this tug of war over visiting rights?

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German foreign minister too moderate

The withdrawal of the German armed forces is overdue, writes, but laments that Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has made too many concessions:

“He admitted indirectly that Germany showed too little empathy after last year's coup attempt, and assured Turkey that the hated PKK's cash flows would be carefully scrutinised. Both concessions are feasible - but perhaps not on the very day when you've been rebuffed. ... Whit Monday was definitely not a productive day for the foreign minister.”

Hürriyet (TR) /

Merkel's bluff backfired

Merkel has shot an own goal with her threat last week to withdraw the German troops, Hürriyet concludes:

“It's unclear what goal, beyond a bluff, Merkel was pursuing when she threatened to transfer troops to Jordan after German lawmakers were denied entry to the İncirlik airbase. Because that bluff has backfired. Turkey doesn't care about the absence of the German Tornados, and nor will this have a negative impact on the fight against the IS, particularly since their contribution is of a symbolic nature. What's more, if deploying soldiers to a Nato member state like Turkey already proves to be problematic, Germany may well face new problems when it comes to stationing planes and soldiers in a Middle East country like Jordan. The Bundestag has already had bad experiences in Afghanistan. In sum: Merkel is hurting her own interests with her misguided İncirlik bluff.”

Berliner Zeitung (DE) /

Withdrawal would send the right message

The German government is right to consider withdrawing its troops from İncirlik, Berliner Zeitung believes:

“Not just because the regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has again banned members of the German parliament from visiting the base, even though the Bundeswehr is a parliamentary force. Despite both countries being members of Nato Germany no longer has anything at all in common with today's Turkey, let alone shared values. Again and again it's been argued that the main thing is to avoid a worse scenario - such as Turkey cancelling the refugee agreement or moving closer to Russia. And most importantly, the Turkish opposition must not be left in the lurch. ... Withdrawing the troops from İncirlik would be a good way of showing: this is where we draw the line!”

Daily Sabah (TR) /

İncirlik is just a symptom

The threats from Germany that it will withdraw its troops are not the real problem, writes columnist Beril Dedeoğlu in Daily Sabah:

“Those soldiers can easily be replaced by other Nato troops. However, such a move will only worsen Turkish-German relations. Just like the genocide issue, İncirlik cannot be the issue that explains why relations are so bad between the two countries today. One can't avoid wondering whether Turkey has become a serious obstacle for a number of German government objectives. ... We must not forget, of course, that the tensions between Turkey and Germany are not independent of the big picture, i.e. the evolution in the global balance of power.”