Has the US finally had enough of its "ally" Erdogan?
Moments ago the DOD announced that the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of State, has authorized the ordered departure of all DoD dependents not assigned to Chief of Mission authority from Adana (to include Incirlik Air Base), Ismir, and Mugla, Turkey. This decision allows for the deliberate, safe return of family members from these areas due to continued security concerns in the region.
It adds that while "this step does not signify a permanent decision to end accompanied tours at these facilities", the evacuation "is intended to mitigate the risk to DoD elements and personnel, including family members, while ensuring the combat effectiveness of U.S. forces and our mission support to operations in Turkey. The United States and Turkey are united in our common fight against ISIL, and Incirlik continues to play a key role in counter-ISIL operations."
“The decision to move our families and civilians was made in consultation with the Government of Turkey, our State Department, and our Secretary of Defense,” said Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, Commander, U.S. European Command. “We understand this is disruptive to our military families, but we must keep them safe and ensure the combat effectiveness of our forces to support our strong Ally Turkey in the fight against terrorism.”
The Pentagon is ordering the evacuation of nearly 700 military family members from Incirlik Air Base and two smaller military installations in Turkey because of concerns over the deteriorating security environment there.
Families are expected to begin leaving Turkey on Wednesday, stopping first at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, before continuing on to the States or other duty locations, U.S. European Command told Stars and Stripes.
“We understand this is disruptive to our military families, but we must keep them safe and ensure the combat effectiveness of our forces to support our strong ally Turkey in the fight against terrorism,” EUCOM chief Gen. Philip Breedlove said Tuesday in a statement.
The mandatory departure order, announced by the State Department, affects nearly all Defense Department dependents assigned to Incirlik, as well as those at smaller bases in Izmir and Mugla.
About 670 dependents are expected to be evacuated, along with 287 pets. About 770 dependents, most from Incirlik, are currently in Turkey, EUCOM spokeswoman Julie Weckerlein said. Those allowed to stay are the family members of mission-essential personnel.
This is all taking place one day after the Turkey Foreign Ministry, outraged by a satirical clip making fun of the Turkish President and his recent policies that was broadcast on German television, summoned the German Ambassador for official explanations. Following the broadcast of the satirical piece titled “Erdowie, Erdowo, Erdogan” on NDR show titled “Extra 3” on March 17, German Ambassador Martin Erdmann was summoned up several days later to officially explain “in length” the reasons for the broadcaster’s behavior, Der Speigel has learned.
The one minute and 52 second long satire package showing footage from recent history in Turkey criticized Erdogan's increased crackdown on the freedom of the press and hostile policies in the region, including Turkey’s alleged support for Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) fighters in neighboring Syria.
The video also focused on the lavish living of the Turkish president and his multibillion euro deals with the Europeans to keep migrants at bay. The broadcast on German television comes at a time when Germany, as part of EU is actively seeking closer ties with Turkey to help tackle the migrant crisis in Europe.
Erdogan’s crackdown on journalists and restrictions on freedom of speech have been repeatedly criticized by the international community, along with Ankara’s controversial anti-terrorists campaign against Kurdish militants which inflicted much suffering on Turkey’s minority population.
The day the satirical piece was aired, RT launched a petition calling for a UNHRC-led investigation into claims of alleged mass killing of Kurdish civilians committed by the Turkish military during Ankara’s crackdown on Kurds in the country's southeast.
The video is below: