REPORT: US Military reduces operations SHARPLY at Turkish air base…

Well it’s about dang time:

WSJ – The U.S. military has sharply reduced combat operations at Turkey’s Incirlik air base and is considering permanent cutbacks there, according to U.S. officials, a shift they said was driven by tensions between Washington and Ankara.

The base was the centerpiece of the U.S.-led fight against Islamic State for several years, but conflicting aims in Syria have driven a wedge between the U.S. and Turkey. The drawdown is among the strongest consequences yet of those fraying ties.

A squadron of American A-10 ground attack jets was moved from Incirlik to Afghanistan in January, leaving only refueling aircraft currently at the Turkish base. At the time, the Pentagon said it was stepping up operations in Afghanistan.

At the same time, the U.S. military has gradually reduced the number of military family members living on the base, shrinking its footprint in Turkey.

U.S. officials maintain that the U.S. remains committed to Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally, and that there are no immediate plans for a further drawdown of forces and aircraft. The A-10s, officials said, could return to the base at any time.

An American drawdown at the base could rattle the NATO alliance amid tensions between the U.S.-led coalition and Russia over the war in Syria, where Moscow backs the regime of President Bashar al-Assad while the U.S. has supported his opponents.

Assuming they are still there, how about a drawdown of our nukes at Incirlik? That’s the one thing that makes me more nervous than anything, especially given how unstable Sultan Erdogan is and how he’s essentially purged everyone who would ever disobey him. He could order his military to surround and enter Incirlik and try to take our nukes by force – and that would be very bad.

We are currently at odds with Turkey over their invasion and occupation of Afrin in North Syria to annihilate the Kurds, who we have partnered with in our war against ISIS. And I don’t see that getting any better as Turkey insists they will kill all the Kurds in Northern Syria along their border and Iraq’s border. That’s a problem because the US is currently in Manbij with the Kurds there.

In related news, the Washington Post editorial team has just declared Turkey a totalitarian state:

IN TURKEY under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the tweet has been turned into a crime, and a troubled democracy is being turned into a dictatorship. Gradually but inexorably, a nation that once aspired to be an exemplar of enlightened moderation is being transformed by Mr. Erdogan into a dreary totalitarian prison. In the latest setback, last week, 23 journalists were sentenced to prison for between two and seven years on patently ridiculous charges that they were members of a terrorist organization and had tweeted about it. Two others were convicted on lesser charges of supporting a terrorist organization.

Mr. Erdogan, the target of a failed coup attempt in July 2016, has embarked on a campaign of repression against perceived enemies in the press, government, academia and law enforcement, among other pillars of Turkish society. More than 60,000 people have been arrested and 150,000 forced from their jobs. Mr. Erdogan’s prime targets are the perceived followers of the opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, who now lives in Pennsylvania. Mr. Erdogan claims Mr. Gulen — once his ally in Turkish politics — had incited the coup attempt, hence the charge of a “terrorist organization.” Mr. Gulen denies it.

Turkey once had a robust, independent press, but Mr. Erdogan has waged a multifront campaign: closing media outlets, forcing others into new ownership, and using friendly judges and prosecutors. In the latest cases, some reporters and editors were convicted for what they said on Twitter. A lawyer representing two journalists, Baris Topuk, said at an earlier hearing: “In our opinion, the name of the organization in which the defendants are accused of being members should be TTO: Tweetist Terrorist Organization. There are no weapons or bombs in the case, only news articles and tweets.” Ali Akkus, who was news editor of the now-defunct Zaman daily, had said on Twitter, “No dictator can silence the press.” The use of the word “dictator” was singled out by a prosecutor in the charges against him. Mr. Akkus received a sentence of seven years and six months in prison.

The show trials underscore how far Turkey has fallen from Western norms of democracy, human rights and rule of law. Mr. Erdogan is happily marching alongside Russia, China, Egypt, Cuba and others where legitimacy to rule rests on coercion and thought control. Mr. Erdogan’s dictatorship must be called out for what it is. Even if he covers his ears, the United States and other nations must protest, and loudly.

I am glad to see we are drawing down our presence at Incirlik, but WaPo is right that we must protest and speak out against Turkey’s Erdogan. So far all we’ve done is pat Turkey on the back and congratulate Erdogan after he brainwashed his people into changing their Constitution, which not only essentially made him Sultan, but finally did away with the last vestiges of democracy.

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