Central Command chief says post-coup purge might effect Turkey-US military cooperation
The head of U.S. Central Command said Thursday that some officers with whom the U.S. had relationships are imprisoned for their role in a recent coup attempt in Turkey.
“We have certainly had relationships with a lot of Turkish leaders — military leaders in particular. I am concerned about what the impact is on those relationships as we continue,” Gen. Joseph Votel said while speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, a think tank, in Colorado.
Responding to a question about whether some of those leaders are now in jail he said “yes, I think some of them are in jail.”
The general leading the Pentagon’s operations in the Middle East said Turkey is beyond being just a place where the U.S. “park our assets and launch them.
“They have been integrated into many things that we are doing,” he said, noting Turkey’s contribution to the anti-Daesh fight and significant intelligence sharing between the two countries with respect to the terrorism.
He expressed his concerns that in the long run the coup and Ankara’s efforts to clear the military of coup supporters would have an effect on U.S. operations in the region.
“I am concerned that it will impact the level of cooperation and collaboration that we have with Turkey which has been excellent frankly.”
Noting some limitations on U.S. operations in Incirlik, Votel said the electricity problem at the base in southern city of Adana has been resolved.
After it was discovered that Turkish forces at Incirlik were involved in the coup, authorities cut electricity to the base. The U.S. launched aircraft from the base using an internal power system until commercial electricity was restored earlier this week.
Turkey has discharged at least 1,684 service members from the Armed Forces for their role in the failed coup when a faction of the military tried to overthrow the government July 15. The three military chiefs of staff, including the land, air and naval forces, preserved their top positions after the Supreme Military Council meeting Thursday.