Turkey Denies Deal Allowing U.S. Troops To Use Its Bases

Despite comments from U.S. officials suggesting Turkey had given American forces access to Turkish bases, Turkey is now denying a deal was ever made.

Turkey Denies Deal Allowing U.S. Troops To Use Its Bases
U.S. Air Force / Clayton Lenhardt

Turkish officials are telling media outlets no deal was ever struck allowing the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS to use its key air base — despite this comment from U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice over the weekend.

NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER SUSAN RICE VIA NBC: "The Turks have just in the last several days made a commitment that they will allow the United States and our partners to use Turkish bases and territory."

Turkey, which hosts the second biggest army in NATO, is a strategically important ally given its shared border with both Syria and Iraq. 

With a bloodbath raging just across the border, Turkey faces increasing pressure to take a more active role in the ISIS campaign.  

Public opinion at least partially explains Turkey's reluctance to do so. That was a key factor in its refusal to allow U.S. troops to operate from its bases in 2003. 

Maintaining its credibility at home and in the Arab world is a big concern, writes the director of the Middle East Institute's Center for Turkish Studies. 

"The Turkish government does not want to deal a blow to its regional image by taking part in another Western-led military operation in a Muslim country."

Complicating Turkey's involvement are its competing interests in Syria. Turkey fears taking military action could embolden its Kurdish minority, which it has been fighting a decades-long conflict with. The Turkish government considers the Kurdish fighters as big of a domestic threat as ISIS. (Video via Euronews

Those Kurdish fighters are currently fending off ISIS militants from the Syrian border town of Kobani. So far, Turkey's refused to intervene. (Video via YouTube / Iraq Syria

It has also refused to engage in any ground operation unless U.S. troops agree to take on both ISIS and the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The U.S., while calling for his resignation, has stopped short of taking military action against the Syrian president. (Video via YouTube / Foukoul Hani Rif)

Turkey has been accused of turning a blind eye to arms shipments that have ended up in the hands of ISIS fighters — an accusation Vice President Joe Biden recently made and later apologized for. 

BIDEN VIA HARVARD UNIVERSITY: "They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad." 

For its part, Turkey has asked its allies to set up a no-fly zone and a buffer zone along the border. U.S. officials say they're not considering the request.

This video includes images from U.S. Air Force / Clayton Lenhardt and Getty Images.