The slow-motion crisis brewing between the US and Turkey continues to fester, as Turkish President Erdogan has threatened to boot US troops from military bases in Turkey. The major US presence in Turkey is at the Incirlik Air Base, built by the United States after World War II, which houses both US and Turkish forces. American forces were previously threatened by Erdogan during the 2016 coup attempt, when Turkey cut off power to the American portion of the base.
Now that the US continues to push Turkey to give up the S-400 surface-to-air missiles it purchased from Russia, Erdogan is once again threatening to punish the US. The US has already banned Turkey from participating in the F-35 fighter program and from receiving any F-35 jets. But the major penalty, sanctions, has yet to be inflicted. Erdogan warned that any sanctions on Turkey could result in US troops being kicked out of Turkey.
Erdogan has also threatened to order Russian fighter jets now that it has been banned from receiving the F-35. And it is planning to order even more S-400 missiles and equipment from Russia, doubling down on a matter that has infuriated Washington and its European NATO allies.
This isn’t the only area in which Turkey is thumbing its nose at Europe and the US, either. With ongoing spats with Cyprus, and Turkish incursions into northern Syria, Erdogan intends to do what he wants to do when he wants to, and he doesn’t care what his allies think. It’s up to the US and NATO now to determine whether they want to continue the relationship with Turkey, or whether losing Incirlik is worth it to cut ties with a loose cannon like Erdogan. He is perfectly content to run roughshod over his friends and allies, and will continue to do so unless the US and NATO put their feet down.