03:40 GMT13 June 2021
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    Turkish leadership can no longer use its Incirlik military base as a means of political pressure since the North Atlantic Alliance has decided to formally join the US-led coalition fighting against Daesh in Iraq and Syria, political analyst Zeynep Gurcanli told Sputnik Turkey.

    "When Germany had announced that it wanted to join the anti-Daesh coalition, Ankara and Berlin reached an agreement that Turkey would allow German planes to use certain areas at the Incirlik air base. Now this deal is void. The fact that NATO formally joined the US-led coalition fighting Daesh has legal implications. As part of NATO, Turkey is obligated to allow NATO use its bases if needed. Under these circumstances, all NATO member states, whether they have bilateral agreements with Turkey or not, can deploy their aircraft and forces to Incirlik or any other military base in Turkey," she said.

    Last week, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed that the US-led military bloc would "become a full member of the Global Coalition," adding that all alliance members already take part in anti-Daesh operations. In his view, this step would "enable NATO to take part in political deliberations, including on the coordination of training and capacity building," as well as improve intelligence sharing among member states.

    ​Gurcanli, a representative of the popular Turkish daily Sozcu in Ankara, also mentioned a diplomatic row between Ankara and Berlin, which saw Turkish authorities prevent German lawmakers from visiting Bundeswehr service personnel stationed at Incirlik. Apparently, this situation would not repeat itself as long as NATO takes formal part in anti-Daesh operations.

    "Should German MPs wish to visit Incirlik, they would be able to do this thanks to NATO's temporary decision. They would not de jure be present on Turkish soil since all [Turkish bases] are currently considered to be NATO bases," she explained. "International agreements are above bilateral deals, laws or constitutions. This NATO agreement is an international agreement. The moment Turkey granted the alliance access to its bases, it provided access to all NATO member states. The areas at Incirlik allocated to NATO have automatically become a territory under NATO's control."

    Gurcanli pointed out that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could have vetoed NATO's decision to formally join the anti-Daesh coalition, but could not in fact vote against it.

    "Political implications of Turkey vetoing NATO's decision would have been grave. In a certain sense, Turkey was forced into a corner in Brussels. A veto could have been viewed as Turkey's wish to prevent NATO from tackling Daesh. It would have been impossible to prove the contrary. This is why the president had no other choice in Brussels than to refrain from using the veto," she said.

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