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WashPost: Turkey Supports Lifting U.N. Sanctions Against Iraq

Perhaps the clearest statement yet from Ankara on sanctions.  Note also:
> Turkey has lost $35bn in trade since sanctions were imposed
> In Turkey's Kurdish conflict, 30,000 people have died/disappeared over the
last 16 years

Drew Hamre
Golden Valley, MN USA

Ankara Supports Lifting U.N. Sanctions Against Iraq  
By John Ward Anderson
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, January 26, 2001; Page A17 

ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkey, a key NATO ally that provides a military base for
fighter jets enforcing a "no-fly" zone over northern Iraq, favors lifting
sanctions against Iraq if effective checks on its military can be enforced.

"Iraq was one of our main trade partners before the Gulf War," Prime
Minister Bulent Ecevit said in an interview this week, noting that his
country has lost about $35 billion in trade since U.N. sanctions were
enacted after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. Turkey would favor
lifting the embargo, he said, "provided that controls on, checks on,
military preparedness are continued . . . but it should not deprive us of
our economic interests."

Ecevit's comments come as there is broader international apprehension about
what the new Bush administration's policy will be regarding sanctions
against Iraq, which many countries are ignoring. Analysts and politicians
here have expressed concern that Bush and his aides -- many of whom were top
U.S. policymakers during the 1991 Persian Gulf War -- might take an even
tougher stance against Iraq than did the Clinton administration.

Ecevit seemed to signal that while his government will continue to allow the
use of Incirlik Air Base for flights that enforce the no-fly zone, it has
become increasingly difficult to support sanctions that strike so hard at
Turkey and which so many other countries are violating.

Though Turkey has recently appointed an ambassador to Iraq and sent
humanitarian aid flights to its southern neighbor, Ecevit said "it would be
unfair to put the blame on Turkey" for eroding international support for the
embargo. "Turkey has been the major sufferer of the embargo on Iraq" while
loyally adhering to it.

The United States supports the sanctions as a way to isolate Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein and contribute to what it hopes will be the collapse of his
government. Many analysts say that Turkey does not necessarily support that
goal because of its concern that without a strong leader in Baghdad, Iraq
could splinter and cause the creation of a Kurdish nation in the north that
would entice Kurdish areas in southern Turkey to break away and join in a
new state.

"It's not our concern who continues the leadership of this or that or any
other country," Ecevit said. "Saddam is there in the position of leadership,
and that's a fact we cannot change. The United States has tried to change it
for several years, but to no avail. But whoever is in power, I hope the
country will take steps for its development in a democratic and peaceful

The Kurdish issue in the southeast, where more than 30,000 people have
disappeared or been killed in 16 years of conflict between Turkish forces
and separatist rebels, remains one of Turkey's thorniest problems. Many
analysts say that following the February 1999 arrest of Abdullah Ocalan, the
leader of the separatist Kurdish Workers' Party, the Turkish government is
still relying on military options even after effectively winning the

"It is true the separatist Kurdish terrorism has diminished in the last year
or two, but it has not ended," Ecevit said. "The armed terrorists are still
existing on our borders, in northern Iraq. They can always resume their

Ecevit outlined an expansive vision of Turkey's role in the region and the
world, noting its strategic location as a bridge between Europe and Asia and
its network of alliances with the United States, Europe and NATO, as well as
with Israel and other Middle Eastern countries.

"The United States realized before any other Western country that Turkey's
importance has increased since the ending of the bipolar world," Ecevit
said. "I'm sure that relations with the United States will continue in a
strategic way under President Bush's administration as well."

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