The United States has announced that its Patriot defensive missile batteries will be pulled from Turkey and “redeployed” to the U.S. this fall, ostensibly to receive “critical modernization upgrades” following a “review of global missile defense posture,” as the U.S. Embassy in Turkey put it.
Fox News wrestles with suspicions that the missiles are actually being pulled to send a message of displeasure to the Turkish government over its bombing campaign against the Kurds. A quote from the State Department explicitly rejecting this notion—and describing the rotation of the missiles as “long-planned”—is provided early in the article. The bulk of the piece, however, is taken up by an extensive discussion of the Turkish-Kurd tensions and one particular Turkish airstrike on July 24 that is said to have caught the U.S. military by surprise, threatening the lives of Special Forces operators who were in the area training Kurdish fighters.
In fact, after four paragraphs describing the Patriot announcement and the border deployment of those missiles, along with 300 U.S. Army personnel to maintain and operate them, the rest of the article is about the Turks and Kurds.
At the very end of the article, a defense official tells Fox News, “If needed, we are prepared to return Patriot assets and personnel to Turkey within one week.”
It sounds like Fox is a bit skeptical of the official reason for the redeployment. Furthermore, Reuters had an article on Sunday that mentioned Germany is also withdrawing Patriot batteries it controls on the Turkish border, and the German missiles are unlikely to return. This decision is said to be part of “a reassessment of the threats stemming from the conflict in neighboring Syria.”
Presumably that means military planners are no longer concerned with Syrian warplanes, or missile strikes from either the Syrian military or a rebel faction. With U.S. planes flying missions into Syria out of Turkish bases, and plans on the table for extending a no-fly “safe zone” into Syria along the Turkish border, the threats that would require Patriot protection might have become more remote.
However, the Reuters piece mentions that some German officials have criticized the Erdoğan government in Turkey for its crackdown against the Kurdistan Workers Party and called upon Turkey to reopen peace negotiations with the PKK.