South Asia Center Nonresident Senior Fellow Barbara Slavin writes for Al-Monitor on an address given by General Lloyd Austin at the Atlantic Council:
Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of US forces in the Middle East and South Asia, said Nov. 6 that the US-led coalition against the group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS) would benefit from Turkish bases to carry out airstrikes, but could still succeed without more cooperation from this NATO ally.
Austin, in wide-ranging and rare remarks before a Washington audience at the Atlantic Council, asserted that slow progress is being made against IS despite Turkey’s refusal to permit the use of Incirlik Air Base for bombing runs on IS forces concentrated near Turkey’s border with Syria or in Iraq. So far, Turkey is only allowing reconnaissance by unarmed drones.
“When and if the Turks decide to be more forthcoming in helping the coalition, it will clearly be value-added,” Austin said, responding to a question from Al-Monitor. “The more access to basing and overflight rights, the better.”