US Vice President Mike Pence issued an ultimatum to Turkey earlier this week: either Ankara remains a critical NATO partner or it jeopardizes the alliance by going ahead with the purchase of Russia-built S-400 air defense systems.

Mike Pence’s warning against the acquisition of S-400 missile defenses from Russia prompted Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay to come up with a counter-warning to show that his country, a generous NATO ally, would not be pressured into abandoning the deal.

In light of the growing rift between the two countries, here are some reasons why Turkey is strategically important for the United States and NATO.

Incirlik Air Base

Incirlik, a Turkish air base located 110 kilometers from the country’s border with Syria, has been a strategically-important asset both for NATO and the US military.

Built-in 1955 with US assistance to counter the Soviet Union during the Cold War, the facility later became a launch pad for campaigns in the Middle East, including during the First Gulf War, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and the US-led coalition’s offensive against Daesh* in Syria.

US assistance for the Kurdish militia in Syria, which the Turkish side considers to be terrorists affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (outlawed in Turkey), with air support missions launched from the Incirlik base, has been a major stumbling block in relations between Ankara and Washington.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, once said that Turkey would consider its “sovereign right” to deny the US access to the air base, while Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned of a “confidence crisis in the relationship” between the two countries.

ALSO READ  Turkish operation in Syria is 'growing threat', US keeps withdrawing forces

“Our people ask, ‘Why are they using the Incirlik Airbase?’ What purpose are you serving if you do not provide aerial support against [Daesh] in the most sensitive operation for us?’” Cavusoglu told the state-run Anadolu news agency.

They did not close the base but increased pressure by delaying the approval of US air missions out of the base.

However, Turkey previously delivered on its threats by repeatedly denying German lawmakers access to the base in 2016, where roughly 250 German troops were stationed.

The first time, the decision was prompted by Bundestag’s passing of a parliamentary bill classifying the 1915 mass atrocities against Armenians by Ottoman forces as genocide.

The second time was triggered by Berlin’s decision to grant asylum to Turkish military personnel accused of taking part in the botched coup in July 2016.

In addition, even though the information was never confirmed by NATO, US, or Turkish officials, roughly 50 B61 type nuclear warheads are thought to have been stationed in the base since the Cold War, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

Contribution and Armed Forces

Turkey has been an integral cog in the NATO machine since becoming a member in 1952 – as well as one of the biggest contributors to the alliance’s budget. In 2018, Turkey donated €89.8 million ($101 million) to the organization’s common funding.

The country also has the largest army within the 29-member bloc after the United States and plays a crucial role in the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.

It has been hosting NATO’s land command in the eastern coastal province of Izmir and strategically important radar systems in Kurecik, Malatya, and has allowed allies to use its key air bases, Incirlik and Konya for NATO operations, as well as has been actively fighting against jihadist terror in the Middle East.

ALSO READ  Turkey deliberately targeted US troops in northern Syria: media

Aegean and Black Sea

Turkey has been providing permanent naval assistance to the alliance’s missions in the Aegean Sea and leading regional initiatives in the Black Sea.

In addition, Ankara controls two strategically important straits between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles, which are among the busiest waterways in the world.

“Turkey is very important to the alliance because of its geography and military capabilities. The Black Sea is the launching pad for Russia into the Mediterranean and the Middle East and there are three lines of defense: the Bosphorus and Dardanelles, the Greek islands and Crete. That is the reason NATO asked Turkey to join”, Lieutenant-General Ben Hodges, former commander of the US Army in Europe, was cited as saying by The Times.

Part of F-35 Production

With Turkey’s decision to go ahead with the purchase of Russia-made S-400 missile defenses, the United States has decided to suspend activities associated with Turkey’s F-35 operational capability.

As part of a nine-nation consortium building fighter jets, the Joint Strike Fighter, Turkey has supported the development and production of the F-35s, manufacturing key components of the plane.

Since the US has decided to halt deliveries, the main supplier, Lockheed Martin, is left with no other choice but to search for alternative suppliers, which might cause delays in the production of F-35s.

 

This article first appeared in Sputnik News – you can follow them on Facebook

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Stern Daler

There are no reasons to leave Turkey in the NATO. All reasons concerning Russia are null and void. Russia is a democratic country. The NATO is a defense pact to give mutual military protection to joined democracies especially against threats from non democratic (communist) countries. Russia was one of these potential communist enemy countries – but that is history. Incirlik is partly on land that was owned by murdered Armenians. German lawmakers were denied rights to inspect German troops while on a defense mission in favor of Turkey. So this is an dubious asset for a democratic defense pact. Turkey… Read more »

Daeshbags-Sux
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Daeshbags-Sux

We share the same analysis, this is obvious. Turkey has nothing to do into NATO any more.

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Karel Vd Geest

Turkeys strategic importance has diminished greatly since dissolution of Warsaw pact. Russia is a rather weak country with a dying population and a weak economy. US has almost three times its population and ten times its economy. That is wthout Europe.

Incirlik is a now hardly inportant. US allready vacated civilians from the base and has alternatives on Cyprus, Crete and Israel and Jordan. And Tabqah.

Turkey is thinking ancient geopolitics and making faulty assumptions, as does this article. They will get stung for this.

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Karel Vd Geest

And most important, with Turkey acting and talking like an enemy, it lost US trust, the cornerstone of any alliance

Daeshbags-Sux
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Daeshbags-Sux

And same values for the EU. MIT intelligence agency is even indicted for terrorism in France and for murder attempts in Germany after their operatives started liquidating

Daeshbags-Sux
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Daeshbags-Sux

Kurdish 100% non-violent activists, mostly women moreover.

Ibo
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Ibo

Never trusted US, just look at the countries they have bought democracy or attempt.
Turkey sees US as a biggest treat and concerne about security of i it’s own. If turkish foreign policy does not align with US or West. There is nothing they could defend her interest. Turkey doesn’t want to be another syria, Iraq or Egypt.
NOT in short term, but in longtern she may realign with east as a block. Rusia, China etc.

Daeshbags-Sux
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Daeshbags-Sux

Russia has more common interests and issues in common with the EU, China is a biggest threat on Russia than NATO. Turkey pulled out from Western zone on shitlamist ideology alone! Nobody forced Turks to put the Ikhwan in power. Ikhwan is ALREADY a threat to Russia and China : Chechen shitlamists, Uyghurs, TIP, etc… Erdogan with his ‘brothers’ in Qatar and Iran have became the main sources of backing/funding/arming for “global jihad”. As you make your bed, you have to lie in and you made your bed with shitlamists. Erdogan is the main responsible to what happened to Syria…… Read more »

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Stern Daler

@Karel Dutchnationl, Russia is no more week than other countries with an aging population. War is not millions of infantry any more.

having said that. I totally agree.

Sweet Robert
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Sweet Robert

Baloney. Nato build up on Russia borders suggest otherwise. Nato needs Turkey more than Turkey needs Nato. I agree NATO is a dinosaur.

Daeshbags-Sux
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Daeshbags-Sux

NATO is not a threat to Russia, Russia is not a threat to NATO and both know this. All you hear is rhetoric to maintain the budgets and the responsiveness of armies. All you need to do is take a look at where Russia deploys her mobile ABMs (anti-ballistic missiles) and you’ll end convinced that Putin doesn’t sees NATO as a threat at all! Iran, NoKo and Iran, eventually KSA are the real concerns for Russia! EU sanctions on Russia are even a joke : Customs got instructions to close their eyes! Putin even managed to get the latest generation… Read more »

Daeshbags-Sux
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Daeshbags-Sux

The article should say “Turkey was”, as Turkey was a democracy. Now it’s the Ottomn Empire v2.0 with Sultan Erdogan who sees himself as the mahdi and praises the Nazi regime as an effective form of government…

Daeshbags-Sux
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Daeshbags-Sux

As NATO charter says, there is no place for dictatorships into the alliance. What we do have here is a way to dump Turkey while not looking like we dump them. We can’t have a nation led by…

Daeshbags-Sux
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Daeshbags-Sux

a shitlamist with neo-Ottoman + Nazi fetishism being kept in the alliance, period!

Daeshbags-Sux
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Daeshbags-Sux

Moreover, the NATO map has changed and the Bosphorus can be kept under watch from Lemnos island and Romania, both being into coastal batteries range

Daeshbags-Sux
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Daeshbags-Sux

Incirlik is huge and costly, Jordan is way more military speaking “fragile” than Turkey and in need of money while Israel would absolutely pleased to welcome a NATO base and even entering the alliance.

Daeshbags-Sux
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Daeshbags-Sux

With Georgia and Azerbaijan having grown NATO-Friendly while Romania and Bulgaria are members, it’s obvious that a Turkey that has grown more and

Daeshbags-Sux
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Daeshbags-Sux

more incompatible with our values is expandable.

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Stern Daler

@Daeshbags-Sux, both the US and Turkey are doubtfully democratic.

Daeshbags-Sux
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Daeshbags-Sux

When it comes to F-35, the best thing that could be done for NATO would be… scrapping the program [sic]. Rafale can absolutely replace it and F-22 too, with serious costs advantages. The only version that may be useful may be F-35B as a replacement to Harrier for those using amphibious ships, thus, with the 98kN M88/K9+ engine and the upcoming M88/K10 with 110-115kN, operating Rafale-M from amphibious ships using a ski-jump added with arrestor cables is not a major issue… Note : with not even 300 units delivered USAF is already wanting to do cuts into F-35 procurement while… Read more »

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Stern Daler

@Daeshbags-Sux, absolutely. Turkey lacks essential democratic assets.

Daeshbags-Sux
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Daeshbags-Sux

Well, they had these… But fücked these up by getting in the trap of letting religious fanatics rising to power. This is why laïcity is so much important! Politics is already enough complicated and messy for rational people. Add the irrationalities of bigots to the equation and… Well, history teaches us what results it had, e.g. the worst economic crises in human history (the cutting of the Silk Road), the #1 genocide ever (270-400 millions Hindus), etc etc etc… The Frank Herbert famous quote about the association of religion and politics makes things clear. The most pitiful is that Atatürk… Read more »