Protest at Incirlik cut short as crowd surge prompts dispersal by police
Stars and Stripes November 6, 2023
Turkish police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse protesters Sunday at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, where a large number of demonstrators rallied against American support for Israel in its war against Hamas.
Rally organizer Bulent Yildirim, head of the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, said the protests were cut short after some in the crowd went too far. Official attendance figures were not immediately available, but videos posted to X, formerly known as Twitter, appeared to show protesters in the thousands.
The protesters pushed toward the Incirlik fence line, prompting law enforcement authorities to disperse them.
After that, the crowds moved away from the base, social media video recordings appeared to show.
Yildirim said he regarded the demonstrations near the southeastern city of Adana as a success, despite their premature end.
U.S. military officials did not comment on the events Sunday. But leading up to the protests, U.S. European Command said security measures were being taken to ensure the protection of personnel at Incirlik.
The war in Gaza, which began Oct. 7 when Hamas attacked Israel, has ratcheted up tensions across the Middle East and beyond. Turkey has seen numerous large demonstrations and public condemnations of Israel by its leaders, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. That has put the U.S. at odds with its NATO ally.
During times of high political tension between the countries, the presence of U.S. bases, which are controversial among the population to begin with, often become a focal point.
“May Allah save us and all Muslim countries from these American bases,” Yildirim said in an online message to his supporters after the protests.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived Sunday in Ankara just hours after the protest at Incirlik ended. Blinken is slated to meet Monday with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan to discuss the war in Gaza and other issues.