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The Turks Attempt to Save Face by Attacking America - Again (english)
by Mary Mostert
10 Mar 2003
A news columnist, Fikret Bila, in Turkey said yesterday, “The US understood Turkey and realized its mistake. The fact that the US reached this conclusion is understood from the phone call between Prime Minister Abdullah Gul and US Secretary of State Colin Powell. The Parliament’s decision showed the US that Turkey isn’t one of those countries which can be directed by pressures.”
Only, it wasn’t the American Government that took the Turkish Parliament for granted and announced that an agreement had been reached. It was the Turkish government that told the media that. The U.S. State Department and the White House has warned the media consistently that NO AGREEMENT had been reached, even when the Turkish government announced an agreement was reached. The issue was most specifically addressed on February 20th when Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was asked by Jim Lehrer in an interview broadcast on WETA TV, “No breakthrough yet on the Turkish bases situation; is that right?” Rumsfeld replied: “That's correct.”
Lehrer: “What's the problem? Is it money?”
Rumsfeld: “Well, no. It's the fact that Turkey is a democracy. It has a relatively new government. It is wrestling with a whole set of issues, and the reality is that what the United States has asked of Turkey is significant. And so they need time to think it through and talk to their parliament and give consideration to it. I suspect in the day or two immediately ahead, why we'll have some sort of an answer, and in the last analysis, Turkey is our ally in NATO. Turkey is participating now in Operation Northern Watch, where we have coalition aircraft in Turkey that monitors the northern portion of Iraq. And they have been helpful in a number of ways.”
Lehrer: “What would not having access to their bases do to a potential military action against Iraq?”
Rumsfeld: “Well, I don't think that's really the issue, whether we'll have access to their bases, and whether we'll be able to overfly and those types of things. We already have that for Operation Enduring Freedom, the global war on terror. I think the real issue they're considering now is the extent to which they want to increase that to permit larger numbers of heavier troops to come in from the north in the event that the decision is made that force is necessary to disarm Saddam Hussein.”
Lehrer: “But if you don't have the 40,000 troops, what I've been reading, there's 40,000 troops that the U.S. wants to put into the northern boundary through Turkey for potential conflict with Iraq, if you can't do it that way, what I'm asking is – “ Rumsfeld: “We'll do another way.”
The real issue involved is an effort by the Turkish Government to take effective control over Northern Iraq and the Kurdish population there. In their bargaining with the United States, Gul’s government as recently as February 26th was demanding, as a price for allowing the US to use its bases the following:
(1) Iraq’s territorial integrity must be protected.
(2) The establishment of an independent Kurdish state must not be permitted.
(3) A possible Iraqi federal system must be organized not based on ethnic lines, but rather on geographical ones.
(4) The country’s ethnic Turkmen will be considered ‘essential constitutive elements’ and included in the country’s new political structure.
(5) The Kurds must not have dominion over Mosul or Kirkuk
(6) Kurdish peshmergas (guerilla fighters) will be disarmed when the time comes.
While Turkey is demanding that the Turkmen, who are less than 1% of Iraq’s population, be included in the country’s new political structure, they have specifically demanded that the Kurds, who are nearly 20% of the 44 million people in Iraq, representing a larger ethnic population than the entire population of Jordan, NOT be given any recognition on ethnic lines.
The Kurds in Northern Iraq, who have been persecuted by both the Turks and the Iraqis, and who are in majority in the area say:
(1) The Turkish army shouldn’t be stationed in northern Iraq.
(2) Kurdish authorities will decide on the disarmament of peshmergas when Iraq’s new general structure is determined.
(3) Turkey’s political and military interventions would cause other actors to intervene and thus sow instability.
The Turkish government has been putting the pressure on the U.S. Government to pay Turkey $26 billion to cover their expenses of the occupation. They also want to be allowed to take control of the Kurdish area of Iraq. Although this quite definitely WOULD have caused a side war, now the Turkish columnist says, “The US learned through the proposal that pressure put on Turkey by ignoring Turkey and its public, without considering its pride important might turn upside down. It understood that there was a public and Parliament in Turkey but it’s too late now.”
It’s not too late for George W. Bush and America. Hopefully, it is too late for the Turks to get control of the Kurds and the property they want in Northern Iraq, while forcing the American taxpayer to foot the bill.
Mary Mostert was writing professionally on political issues as a teen-ager in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1940s. In the 1960s, she wrote a weekly column for the Rochester Times Union, a Gannett paper and was one of 52 American women who attended the 17 Nation Disarmament Conference in Geneva, Switzerland to ban testing of nuclear bombs in the atmosphere. She was a licensed building contractor for 29 years, as she raised her six children. She served an 18 month mission as Public Affairs Director for the Africa Area for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1990-91. In the 1990s she wrote a book, Coming Home, Families Can Stop the Unraveling of America,