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Key U.S. Air Base in Turkey Sits on Property Stolen from Armenians During the Genocide
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U.S. Air Force personnel walk past an entry at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. STAFF SGT. REBECCAH A. WOODROW U.S. AIR FORCE

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Suppose the U.S. built and operated a military base in Germany on property confiscated from Jews during the Holocaust. America, Jewish Americans, Germany, and Israel would have reached a principled resolution years ago.

Now consider Incirlik (EEN-jeer-leek) Air Base in Turkey. American taxpayers and the Army Corps of Engineers built it 67 years ago. Its 3,320 acres are home to the U.S. Air Force’s 39th Air Base Wing, B-61 nuclear weapons, thousands of American military personnel, and American businesses.

Turkey stole many of those acres from Christian Armenian families during the 1915-23 Armenian Genocide. Relatives of such Armenian families fled to the U.S. and settled in cities like Fresno.

Yet the U.S. State Department has habitually shielded Turkey from accountability in this and related instances.

The air base knows its past, though. In 2007, then base commander, Col. Murrell Stinnette, held a “Town Hall meeting [on Congress’s] Armenian Genocide Resolution.” The base encourages visits to Levonkla, a nearby 12th century Armenian castle.


Turkey committed genocide against 1.5 million Armenians and seized nearly everything they owned in cities and towns such as Incirlik: homes, businesses, ancient churches and monasteries, farms, schools, personal property, valuables, antiquities, and bank accounts.

In Los Angeles Federal Court in 2010, Americans Alex Bakalian, Anais Haroutunian, and Rita Mahdessian sued Turkey, its Central Bank, and Ziraat Bank for confiscating their relatives’ Incirlik property (122 acres) during the genocide.

The plaintiffs sought over \$65 million based on the land’s market value, plus a portion of Incirlik rent that Turkey had collected from the U.S. as of 2010.

Days earlier, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld California Law 354.4. Modeled after California’s Holocaust claims statutes, the law extended through 2016 the period during which Turkey could be sued.

In 2019, however, the same court decided against the plaintiffs: the lawsuit was “time-barred” due to statute of limitations guidelines.


Similar lawsuits have yielded mixed results.

Many Armenians bought life insurance from New York Life, AXA France, and Germany’s Victoria Versicherung AG before the genocide. But the companies shamefully avoided paying surviving family members. In 2004-5, NY Life and AXA France settled out of court for \$40 million.

The German firm evaded responsibility even though Germany — Turkey’s WWI ally — facilitated the Genocide.

In 2006, Armenian Americans sued Germany’s Deutsche and Dresdner banks. Each had seized Armenian accounts and assets post-Genocide. These institutions, too, dodged accountability.

Congress, particularly the House’s bipartisan, 126-member Armenian Caucus, could help the foregoing cases with legislation similar to the California law, but which courts couldn’t override.

Recall that Congress recognized the Armenian Genocide in 2019 with near unanimity.

Congress has often facilitated recovery of property stolen during the Holocaust, including \$1.25 billion in Jewish assets appropriated by Swiss banks.

American relations with Turkey have deteriorated due to President Erdogan’s 17-year record of bellicose conduct against the U.S., NATO, and Israel.

Turkey’s internal repression, corruption, support for ISIS, threats against Greece, Cyprus, and Armenia, far-fetched claims over Mediterranean Sea resources, aggressive neo-Ottoman/pan-Turkic policies, purchase of Russian S-400 missiles, and threats over Incirlik haven’t helped relations.

In 2016, demonstrators burned American flags and demanded that the U.S. leave the base. In 2017 and 2019, Turkey threatened to cut off American access to Incirlik.

In 2018, Turkish lawyers wanted to raid the base and arrest U.S. Air Force officers.

Alarmed and appalled, the U.S. has explored moving some Incirlik assets to Greece.

The U.S. could use the Armenian American Incirlik facts to achieve additional leverage over Turkey while also gaining a measure of justice. Resolute diplomacy would be required.

American companies such as Starbucks and Colorado-based Vectrus Systems Corp., as well as the University of Maryland Global Campus, are air base tenants. They must be informed that they occupy stolen property.

Incirlik’s restless ghosts may yet rise to obtain redress and advance American interests and values.

David Boyajian writes about Caucasus issues. His work can be found at David_Boyajian.[email protected]

(Republished from The Fresno Bee by permission of author or representative)
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  1. Demand says:

    The damages, to this day, from the Turkish genocide of the Armenians is conservatively estimated at nearly four trillion dollars. See

    Yerevan, Armenia

    • Agree: Alternate History
    • Replies: @Jake
    , @Mulga Mumblebrain
  2. Turkey stole many of those acres from Christian Armenian families during the 1915-23 Armenian Genocide. Relatives of such Armenian families fled to the U.S. and settled in cities like Fresno.

    In fairness, all of Asia Minor was appropriated by ‘Turkey’.

    I collect ancient coins and own a variant of the Famagusta Seige Bezant, which is not a very numerous coin, and has a tremendously bloody history behind it. The individual who claims the most variants of the Famagusta Bezant is a Turk, and I met him at a bourse in NYC once. He claims direct Greek ancestry on his mothers side, and deeper Greek ancestry on his fathers family tree.

    I have no idea to what extent he is fluent in Greek, (I am not) but the general point of my possibly anomalistic discussion is that its probably almost impossible at this stage to determine who is native to Asia minor, or at what point they became localised.

    Within Armenian’s, there is a very interesting and ancient Indo-Euro offshoot of R1b that pops up reliably within Armenian Y-lineages, which I am fairly confident reaches back to the peoples of Hittite or Mitanni extraction. Other Armenian lineages are the expected J2a etc.. that are present in all the peoples who have invaded or presided over the region of Eastern Asia minor at various points in time..

    I am not suggesting declining to press claims to stolen property, taken through violence and murder, however if you go far enough back in time, the Hittite conquest/subjegation of the Hattians and Hurrians likely involves the progenitors of the modern Armenian people in a similar manner.

    I recall a PBS documentary by an American Armenian woman who found that in her attempts to obtain an ‘address’ for her families forcibly abandoned home in what is now Turkey, the previous plat showed street names in Russian – if I am recalling correctly, and that to her detriment, she found that none of the street identifiers were retained after conversion to Turkish rule / control. This seems to be a major obstacle to pressing for title to illegally taken real property, in her documentary.

    The one constant of history seems to be summed up by a lucid observation of Thomas Jefferson –

    “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.”

    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
  3. I’m surprised Boyajian didn’t mention the Jewish bankrolling of the Young Turks. Then I see that it was previously published in the Fresno Bee. So I’m no longer surprised.

  4. @Trial by Wombat

    Thoughtful post, TBW. You’re no wombat brain, that’s for sure.

    If you go far enough back in time, the Hittite conquest/subjugation of the Hattians and Hurrians likely involves the progenitors of the modern Armenian people in a similar manner.

    The Hittites retained the name Hatti as the name for their country. They also retained the Capital City and its name – Hattush. This suggests a gradual coalescence of the peoples rather than subjugation.

    Armenia was for long part of the Kingdom of Urartu. Urartrian was related to the Hurrian language and is widely preserved in cuneiform tablets. Written Armenian didn’t emerge until the C5th AD.
    The presence of a population who spoke Proto-Armenian in Urartu prior to its demise is subject to speculation, but the existence of Urartian words in the Armenian language and Armenian loanwords into Urartian[78] suggests early contact between the two languages and long periods of bilingualism.

    So this also involves coalescence of peoples and the preservation of previous, often very ancient traditions. In modern Armenia, the view is that Urartrian was retained as the Official State language, long after everyone was a native Armenian speaker. Similar examples would be Norman French ( language of law ) in Chaucerian England, and Latin in the Constantinople of Justinian ( 527-65 AD ).

    The contrast with the Turks could not be more stark. Ever since their incursion into Anatolia after the Battle of Manzikert ( 1071 ), the story has been one of violent conversion, forcible expulsion, massacre and miscegenation. 120 years ago, Greeks and Armenians in Anatolia numbered millions, perhaps as much as 25% of the population. Now, after massacre and forcible expulsion, there are now less than 8,000 in Istanbul. Everywhere, their historical and cultural remnants have been erased. Even where historical monuments are officially preserved, they are mainly neglected and permitted to fall into ruin. See this article on Ani, once one of the World’s largest cities.

    So, no, I don’t think the Hittites can be compared to Ottoman or later Turks. Coalescence has been replaced by massacre, expulsion and erasure.

    • Replies: @Trial by Wombat
  5. anonymous[120] • Disclaimer says:

    Two questions

    How hampered would the air war against Iran be without this base?

    Is envisioned use of this base in a war with Iran the main reason for keeping it and a condition for keeping it is to keep dozens of nukes at the base?

    If someone informed could answer these questions, it would clear up a geopolitical mystery for me.

  6. Blade says:

    Yet another long list of Armenian claims, and as always, without any evidence or documents. I am sure someone’s grandma told your aunt that it was all Armenian properties. Alright, but why don’t you first show land deeds? I know, I know, Turks ate them. Armenians managed to go to France or the USA, but none of them managed to carry a simple paper. You incompetent assclowns.

  7. @Verymuchalive

    Some very good points, and you may very well be correct as far as linguistic adoption over replacement.

    I think evidence in modern America points to adoption of loan terms from conquered American Indians – Illini / Illinois, Utes / Utah for example, when we refer to a ‘Hurricane’ , ‘Canoe’, ‘Caucus’, ‘Barbecue’ etc.. these are Native loan words adopted into modern English and used by those who generally have no ancestry from those Native Tribal populations (or heritage in a lot of cases from English / Isles populations, for that matter), so the coalescence is not necessarily obligatory.

    I agree with you that – in any event – the Turkic (more a linguistic catch-all than an actual tribal ancestry at that point in time) tribal incursions were largely interested in violently dispossessing, whereas we do have conclusive evidence that the Hittite goal was in some part to utilize the services of subject peoples.

    I think that a better historical timeline indicator is the stubborn genetic majority ancestry of male Armenian R1b L23 lineages that clearly indicate an ancient Indo-Euro paternal origin, related, but not an offshoot, from their cousins who come to predominate in Europe. Its entirely possible that significant portions of the J2a that today are combined with the ancient R1b subtype are the combinant population of Hittite / Hattian / Hurrian that you theorize – it could be more likely than not.

    I think that the Armenian diaspora likely needs to invest in a distributed effort to retrieve, digitize and identify last known titled owner for the real property in question across modern Turkey, which is the preparatory under-pining needed to mount any successful legal challenge to these conversions / confiscations. The materials in the hands of the Turkish authorities may not ever be released or even maintained, so the material maintained in Russian archives is probably the most valuable and accessible source documentation.

    There is no shortage of Russian speaking Armenians who are capable of overseeing such an effort, and – for all I know – such an effort could already be planned.

    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
  8. anon[107] • Disclaimer says:

    Force Turkey to return and then turn the gun on America It should return the lands to the native American Indian and fund the reparations for the blacks .

    Later Iraq can declare US invasion of Iraq is genocide and in 10 or 50 years muslim countries can pass resolutions calling the invasion as genocide.

    • Replies: @Mulga Mumblebrain
  9. @Trial by Wombat

    Rather interesting that you should bring up North American Indians. There are still large Reservations in the US and Canada for these peoples and there are likely more North American Indians than there ever have been. By contrast, there are no Greek or Armenian Reservations in Anatolia. Apart from a small number in Istanbul and the (alleged) existence of crypto-Armenian villages in eastern Anatolia, they have been completely erased.

    As regards the material in the Russian Archives, that would only apply to Kars Oblast, a small part of eastern Anatolia held by Russia until 1917. It is now part of Turkey. The rest of eastern Anatolia where nearly all Western Armenians lived was part of the Ottoman Empire. So the records, if they survive, would only apply to a very small number of Armenians.

    The survival would be the problem. No doubt many were lost or destroyed during WWI. Others may have been captured and destroyed by the Turks later. Finally, how many records got to Russia unscathed is open to question, as is the number destroyed by the Soviets for their own reasons. I wish Armenian researchers good luck in sifting through this material. They’ll need it.

    • Agree: anonymouseperson
    • Replies: @Blade
  10. Jake says:

    Why is it that the post-Christian West cannot care about this? It’s very simple. First, It is seen as backwardly tied to Medieval thinking to talk about Turkic Islamist horrors, and the post-Christian West is well beyond even the Protestant West in being damned determined to be anti-Medieval. Second, Jews played a role in the Armenian and similar Ottoman atrocities that per capita is unnerving, shall we say. And Jews have been ‘special’ to Modern English culture since the time of archetypal WASP Oliver Cromwell.

    The WASP world is always happy to ally with Turkish Moslems to try, using much Jewish money, to destroy Eastern Christian nations and peoples.

  11. Blade says:

    Greeks were sent to Greece as a part of the peace agreement, their number was well above 1 million, there are also hardly any Turks in Greece if you notice. As for Armenians, they were relocated to what was then part of Turkey. Most made their way. From there many went to France, America, and Russia. That is why now there are millions of diaspora Armenians in those countries. Post world war population statistics of Armenians prove that there was no Armenian genocide, especially not near their claimed numbers. You calculate the number and find out ~300.000 Armenians have perished. Incidentally above 200K Turks and Kurds also died in the same area during fights with Armenians. But of course, you haven’t heard that.

    • Disagree: anonymouseperson
    • Replies: @Verymuchalive
  12. @Blade

    I made no mention about genocide whatsoever. I said that, as a result of massacre and violent expulsion, Greeks and Armenians who barely 120 years ago may have constituted 25% of the population of Anatolia, now constitute a fraction of 1%.

    You say that hardly any Turks lived in Greece. As a result of Ottoman colonisation, there were many.
    The 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey (Greek: Ἡ Ἀνταλλαγή, romanized: I Antallagí, Ottoman Turkish: مبادله‎, romanized: Mübâdele) stemmed from the “Convention Concerning the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations” signed at Lausanne, Switzerland, on 30 January 1923, by the governments of Greece and Turkey. It involved at least 1.6 million people (1,221,489 Greek Orthodox from Asia Minor, Eastern Thrace, the Pontic Alps and the Caucasus, and 355,000–400,000 Turkish Muslims from Greece),[3] most of whom were forcibly made refugees and de jure denaturalized from their homelands.


    It was largely a post facto measure, as most Greeks had been killed, fled or violently expelled.
    By the end of 1922, the vast majority of native Pontian Greeks had fled Turkey due to the genocide against them (1914–1922), and the Ionian Greek Ottoman citizens had also fled due to the defeat of the Greek army in the later Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922), which had led to reprisal killings.[10]

    Estimates vary as to how many the Ottomans killed.
    The most common estimates for Ottoman Greeks killed from 1914 to 1923 range from 300,000–900,000. For the whole of the period between 1914 and 1922 and for the whole of Anatolia, there are academic estimates of death toll ranging from 289,000 to 750,000. The figure of 750,000 is suggested by political scientist Adam Jones.[14] Scholar Rudolph Rummel compiled various figures from several studies to estimate lower and higher bounds for the death toll between 1914 and 1923. He estimates that 384,000 Greeks were exterminated from 1914 to 1918, and 264,000 from 1920 to 1922. The total number reaching 648,000.Rummel, R.J. “Statistics Of Turkey’s Democide Estimates, Calculations, And Sources”. University of Hawai’i. Retrieved 15 April 2015.

    So far, I’ve just dealt with Greek losses. The figures for other Christian minorities, including Armenians, are even more revealing.
    By 1924 the Christian population of Turkey proper had been reduced from 4.4 million in 1912 to 700,000 (50% of the pre-war Christians had been killed), 350,000 Armenians, 50,000 Assyrians and the rest Greeks, 70% in Constantinople; and by 1927 to 350,000, mostly in Istanbul. In modern times the percentage of Christians in Turkey has declined from 20–25 percent in 1914 to 3–5.5 percent in 1927, to 0.3–0.4% today[18] roughly translating to 200,000–320,000 devotees. This was due to events that had a significant impact on the country’s demographic structure, such as the First World War, the genocide of Syriacs, Assyrian, Greeks, Armenians, and Chaldeans the population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1923.

    • Replies: @Blade
  13. Blade says:

    You should also post Turkish losses. Greeks collaborated with an invading foreign army, and took up arms against Turks. Anyone from Black Sea area would know well about Pontian Greek gangs and atrocities they committed. The Turkish army at the time was already disbanded and it was local clashes. I won’t get into a lot of details. I am tired of posting them, talking to Westerners is like talking to a wall. They all wanted to carve out independent countries and destroy Turks. I would say it is justice served for them.

    1.22 million Greeks were sent to Greece as part of population exchange. ~400K remained in Istanbul per your documents (which makes no sense as follows). Near East Relief report from 1922 reports that of all Armenians in the world 817K of them were Ottoman exiles (submitted to UN of the time). Add 350K remaining in Turkey to that and you reach 1.62 million for Greeks. Ottoman official census before WW1, in 1914, shows that there were 1.2 million Armenians and 1.6 million Greeks (205K in Istanbul) let’s say not all could be counted and add another 500K you reach a number around 3.3 millions. Do the math and you get a number around ~500K for all Christian losses. Which can be easily explained by WW1 and gang wars they initiated.

    Turkey largely expelled them due to their treasons, and murders of Turks. I agree on one thing though, we should have actually executed them all like Greeks did in Peloponnese, then no one could do black propaganda today and they’d be largely forgotten. The greatest mistake of the Turks is not going to the extreme and wiping out their enemies. If we did, millions of their descendants today would not be able to come with blood libels for their failed independence movements, both of which would necessarily have ended with genocide and exiles of Turks as we have seen in Balkans where millions perished. And today no one would remember them.

  14. The USA should just leave Turkey altogether and stop playing empire. What happened to Armenians was a great injustice.

  15. Well, not everybody can be treated like the Jews.

    Serbs, Bosnians, Russians, the ethnic Germans of the East, Poles, Chinese, the Rohingya, the Tutsi, American Indians, indigenous Taiwanese, Uighers, Kurds, Marsh Arabs, Boers, Highland Scots, whoever I’ve forgotten, and yes, Armenians.

    But they can’t all ride high, wide, and handsome — not like the Jews. Armenian grievances are very real — but you just can’t have all that the Jews have got. There just isn’t enough to go around.

    • Replies: @Mulga Mumblebrain
  16. @Demand

    Send the bill to the ‘Young Turks’ ie the doenmeh crypto-Jews, including Mustapha Kemal.

  17. @Colin Wright

    The Uighurs have no need of any compensation, having been treated with exemplary humanity by their Government, despite many converting to Wahhabist jihadist terrorism, and others constituting a US controlled and financed emigre terrorist faction, engaged in salafist butchery in Syria and elsewhere.

    • Replies: @Colin Wright
  18. @anon

    But the US aggressions against Iraq in 91 and 03 and the sanctions regime WERE genocides. No need to ‘declare’ them such-they speak for themselves.

  19. @Mulga Mumblebrain

    ‘The Uighurs have no need of any compensation, having been treated with exemplary humanity by their Government, despite many converting to Wahhabist jihadist terrorism, and others constituting a US controlled and financed emigre terrorist faction, engaged in salafist butchery in Syria and elsewhere.’

    Yes, we know you’re a shill for China.

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