The great Turkish purge of suspected conspirators from the 2016 coup attempt, a Spanish Inquisition-style call to arrest of everyone and anyone that may have uttered a hushed negative comment against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has reached the gates of the U.S. Air Force’s critical base at Incirlik, Turkey.

On Wednesday, a group Erdoğan-supporting lawyers dropped a 60-page criminal complaint requesting that Turkish authorities arrest numerous high ranking U.S. military officer and search American military facilities in Turkey be seized and searched. Among other things, this request brings into question the security of the up to 50 nuclear bombs stationed in the country, and if they could be commandeered by the Turkish state.

Turkey, Air ForceDept. Of Defense
View of Turkish Airbus A400M during 424th Air Base Squadron’ Fire fighter exercise, in Chièvres Air Base, Belgium, July 12, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Visual Information Specialist Pascal Demeuldre)

As The War Zone rightly observes, this ploy by the Turkish lawyers at least partly stems from a email allegedly sent from the coup conspirators that involved one participant with the first name ‘John’. Naturally, lawyers say, such a coup can only be averted if every person in Turkey in 2016 named John has to be arrested, interrogated, and forced to confess to crimes against his holiness Erdoğan.

That list includes the former wing king of the 39th Air Base Wing, Col. John Walker, who was in charge of the American garrison at Incirlik Air Base when the coup went down, and his number two in the chain at the time, Col. Michael Manion. Several other high profile officers re listed in the document; honestly, given the breadth of the document, it’s surprising they didn’t throw Secretary of Defense James Mattis on the list for shits and giggles. 

The litany of problems between the U.S. and Turkey go back well before the 2016 military coup, when U.S. forces in Iraq detained Turkish soldiers in 2003 and caused a diplomatic incident. During the coup, Erdoğan accused exiled 77-year-old cleric Fethullah Gülen of orchestrating the putsch from his couch in Pennsylvania signaling a new era in U.S.-Turkish relations. Making things somehow worse, Turkeys newfound love of hostage politics has also continued to rub Congress the wrong way, all of which made last June’s delivery of the first Turkish F-35A’s a contentious affair.

Besides jailing U.S. citizens, Turkey also has threatened military action against U.S. forces in Syria with the so-called ‘Ottoman Slap’. Given the rapid and unprecedented deterioration between the two NATO allies, the possibility for Turkish forces to take another group of hostages — namely the arsenal of B-61 nuclear gravity bombs — is something that the U.S. military has to take seriously as a possible escalation against U.S. interests in Turkey. With friends like this, who needs enemies?

Turkey, Law, Air ForceStockholm Center For Freedom
A page from the complaint filed in Turkey.
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