Bundeswehr to be withdrawn from Incirlik

Jun 12, 2017

The Bundeswehr will leave the Turkish air base in Incirlik and continue its contribution to the anti-IS coalition from a new base in Jordan. Federal Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen explained the plan to the Cabinet. The German Government’s decision was a consequence of the refusal to allow German parliamentarians to visit Bundeswehr troops in Incirlik.

The Bundeswehr will withdraw Tornado surveillance planes and the tanker aircraft from the Turkish air base in Incirlik. The German Government has had to take this action as a consequence of Turkey’s refusal to allow members of the German Bundestag to visit German troops stationed in Turkey. The Bundeswehr will continue its mission from Al Azraq Air Base in Jordan, announced Federal Minister of Defence Ursula von der Leyen after the Cabinet meeting.

Transfer will be closely coordinated with anti-IS partners

"Obviously the transfer of troops to Jordan will take time," said Ursula von der Leyen. It will be two or three months before the Tornados can fly missions again. The tanker aircraft could be flying again in two to three weeks. "For this reason I will be seeking talks immediately with the rest of the coalition against terrorism, and in particular with the Americans, so that we can discuss how the gap can be filled such that no disadvantages arise," said the Minister.

"Until now Incirlik has been a good air base in the fight against IS. But it is obviously unacceptable that members of our parliament are unable to visit our troops in Incirlik," said Ursula von der Leyen. The Bundeswehr is well prepared for the transfer, she said. An alternative air base is available in Jordan.

From Incirlik Air Base German planes fly missions over Syrian and Iraqi sovereign territory as part of the anti-IS coalition. Germany is supporting the international alliance with Tornado reconnaissance aircraft and tanker aircraft for the mid-air refuelling of fighter jets.

Mediation talks in Turkey failed to bring breakthrough

For domestic policy reasons, Turkey is not currently willing to assure members of the German Bundestag free access to German Bundeswehr troops stationed in Incirlik, declared Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel on Monday (5 June) after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Cavusoglu in Ankara.

This is absolutely inconceivable under German law, because the Bundeswehr is a parliamentary army, i.e. it is controlled by Germany’s elected parliament. "Wherever the Bundeswehr is, members of the German Bundestag must be able to visit the troops," reiterated Sigmar Gabriel, and added, "Since this is not now possible in Incirlik, we will withdraw the Bundeswehr from Incirlik."

German NATO troops will remain in Konya

The debate surrounding the deployment of German armed forces in Turkey has also spread to include the NATO base in Konya. Unlike the air base in Incirlik, Konya is also a NATO base, from which NATO surveillance aircraft operate with two important duties. Firstly, they support the anti-IS coalition, and secondly they play an important part in monitoring NATO airspace.

NATO AWACS (Airborne Early Warning and Control System) aircraft are a joint NATO capability and not a national capability. Even if German personnel is involved, only NATO as a whole can make a decision regarding the deployment of NATO AWACS aircraft. At present a withdrawal from Konya is not on NATO’s agenda.

© 2017 The Press and Information Office of the Federal Government

Bundeswehr to be withdrawn from Incirlik