Wall Steet Journal says Turkey no longer US ally, air base should be moved

Fact checked

An article from Todays Zaman (link) reports: “US daily The Wall Street Journal has claimed in its editorial on Saturday that it is the “unavoidable conclusion” that the US needs to find a better regional ally to fight the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIL) than Turkey, suggesting that the air base Turkey is currently hosting should be moved somewhere else.

Recalling Turkey’s reluctance in joining the anti-ISIL coalition, the editorial said not only will Ankara take no military action, it will also forbid the US from using the US air base in İncirlik—located fewer than 100 miles from the Syrian border—to conduct air strikes against the terrorists.

“That will complicate the Pentagon’s logistical and reconnaissance challenges, especially for a campaign that’s supposed to take years,” it added.

The newspaper said the US military will no doubt find work-arounds for its air campaign, just as it did in 2003 when Turkey also refused requests to let the US launch attacks on Iraq from its soil in order to depose Saddam Hussein. It said Turkey shares a 910-km border with Syria and Iraq, meaning it could have made a more-than-symbolic contribution to a campaign against ISIL.

The daily described it as a “reality” that the Turkish government, a member of NATO, long ago stopped acting like an ally of the US or a friend of the West. The editorial quoted former US Ambassador to Turkey, Francis Ricciardone, who said this week that the Turkish government “frankly worked” with the al-Nusrah Front—the al Qaeda affiliate in Syria—along with other terrorist groups. It claimed that Ankara also looked the other way as foreign radical groups used Turkey as a transit point on their way to Syria and Iraq.

The WSJ noted that İncirlik air base has been a home for US forces for nearly 60 years, but perhaps it’s time to consider replacing it with a new US air base in Kurdish territory in northern Iraq.

“America may no longer have friends in Ankara, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have options in the Middle East,” the editorial concluded.”