Germany deploys aircraft at İncirlik to support anti-ISIL campaign

The two jets and an Airbus A400 cargo plane carrying 40 German troops landed at the İncirlik base on Thursday. Germany’s active involvement in the fight against ISIL came after the terrorist attacks perpetrated by the group on Nov. 13 and is seen by many as the most significant German military activity since World War II.

Last week, the Bundestag approved a plan envisaging sending 1,200 troops, six reconnaissance planes, a tanker aircraft and a frigate to protect the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in the east Mediterranean to Turkey, Qatar and Kuwait.

The German government’s decision to become actively involved in the fight against ISIL has stirred debate both in Germany and Turkey. A report in the Abendzeitung newspaper published on Thursday likened the sending of German troops to fight against terrorism to scenes from the movies “Pearl Harbor” and “Top Gun” and said that no one in Germany wants to risk a German soldier being taken captive by an ISIL terrorist. The newspaper Kolner Stadtanzeiger reported that German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen was dismayed by the negative comments made against the decision to send German troops abroad.

The move has already prompted opposition parties in Turkey to criticize the Turkish government for not seeking Parliament’s approval for opening İncirlik to Germany. Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Aytun Cıray told Today’s Zaman on Sunday that the decision to grant permission to use İncirlik to countries other than the US was a violation of the Constitution and noted that even if NATO countries do not need an official memorandum to use Turkey’s bases, the decision should have been debated in Parliament.

Ayhan Bilgen, a Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) spokesperson, told Today’s Zaman on Sunday that allowing other countries to use İncirlik requires the passage of a new mandate drawing up a framework for cross-border military operations.