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German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen visited the Bundeswehr armed forces at the airbase in Incirlik, Turkey, Jan. 21, 2016. AFP photo

Germany considers withdrawing troops from Incirlik

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By Michael Hornsby, Berlin

Germany is reported to be considering withdrawing its troops from Incirlik air base in southern Turkey, after the Turkish government refused to allow a group of German politicians to visit soldiers stationed there.

According to the German DPA news agency, Ankara’s decision to block the visit is partly in response to Germany granting asylum to Turkish military personnel who fear persecution in the wake of the failed coup attempt last summer. Alternative bases in Cyprus, Jordan and Kuwait have reportedly been vetted by the German defense ministry, and a decision is expected in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile Reuters reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that Germany must consider alternatives to Turkey’s İncirlik base, and Jordan could be a possibility.

Germany has approved a 58 million Euro investment in infrastructure development at Incirlik, designated for improving accommodation for the approximately 260 German soldiers stationed there, and for building an airfield for German Tornado reconnaissance aircraft which are supporting the coalition campaign against ISIS.

A similar spat over German politicians’ access to Incirlik occurred last year, after the German parliament passed a resolution recognizing the 1915 Armenian Genocide. That time, Turkey eventually granted access to the German politicians.

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