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Re: Iraqi opposition... & Turkey's position

Here's an addition to Dirk's piece on the Iraqi opposition, which I came across last week. 
Unfortunately, I don't remember the exact date it first appeared.
I am also including a piece from the same source on Turkey's position. According to this article, 
Turkey is opposed to extending the US's ridiculous war on terrorism to Iraq. 
URLs at end of articles.

Salwa de Vree,
Leiden, The Netherlands.


Amid intense speculation the United States will next target Iraq in its war on terrorism, the State 
Department has said it has begun mediating a long-running dispute between rival Kurdish groups in 
Northern Iraq. Deputy spokesman Philip Reeker said a high-level US team led by Ryan Crocker, deputy 
assistant state for Near East affairs, was in Northern Iraq to further Washington’s efforts to oust 
Saddam Hussein by bringing the factions together. Crocker was meeting members of the Patriotic 
Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in the first direct US attempt to 
mediate between the two at their request, Reeker said. “This delegation is the first step in that 
mediation process”, he said, adding that PUK leader Jalal Talabani and KDP leader Masoud Barzani 
had asked for State Department help in overcoming their differences. Reeker noted, however, that US 
consultations with both groups was longstanding. The last consultive mission was in February, he 
said. Crocker and his team would also meet with Turkish officials as part of their trip. Crocker’s 
mission was aimed at demonstrating “continued US engagement with the Iraqi opposition, consult with 
key players on issues in Northern Iraq provide for direct discussions on the status of 
reconciliation among the Iraqi Kurds and to evaluate implementation of the oil-for-food program in 
the North”, he said. Baghdad has reacted angrily to US officials meeting with Kurds and late last 
month, Saddam repeated an offer to engage the factions in dialogue but was rebuffed. Washington has 
long sought to build up the Iraqi opposition -- including the PUK and KDP -- in order to topple 
Saddam but has had little success thus far in finding a military force with the ability to move 
against him. Advocates of targetting Iraq next in the anti-terror war have noted the key military 
role played by the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. They have urged President George 
W. Bush and his Administration to back various Iraqi opposition groups so they might play a similar 
role. Iraqi Kurds rose up against the regime in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War over Kuwait, 
leaving the three provinces of Arbil, Suleimaniyeh and Dahuk outside Baghdad’s reach. The KDP today 
controls an area along the Turkish border, while the rival PUK administers areas close to the 
Iranian border.


Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer last week reaffirmed his support for Iraq’s territorial 
integrity during talks with visiting Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. Sezer told a 
press conference here that “Turkey gives utmost importance to the territorial integrity and 
national unity of Iraq”, which is under the threat of becoming the next target in the US-led 
anti-terror drive, a move Turkey opposes. He urged Baghdad to cooperate with the United Nations and 
the international community in a bid to end the “suffering of the people of Iraq”, which has been 
under an international embargo for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Sezer and Sheikh Hamad also 
appealed to the Israelis and the Palestinians to end spiralling violence in the Middle East and 
return to the negotiating table. Since the events of September 11 in the United States, Turkey, the 
only member of NATO with a mainly-Moslem population, has opposed extending the US-led war against 
terrorism especially to Iraq, its southern neighbor. Turkey says destabilizing Iraq could create on 
its border an independent Kurdish state in mountainous Northern Iraq, which has been under the 
control of two Kurdish factions since the end of the Gulf War in 1991. Such a state would in turn 
fan separatist-minded tendencies among Kurds living mainly in Turkey’s Southeast, which borders 
Iraq and Syria. The banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fought Ankara for 15 years for Kurdish 
self-rule in the Southeast until 1999 when it said it was abandoning its armed campaign for a 
democractic solution to the Kurdish question. In late November, Turkey’s Defense Minister 
Sabahattin Cakmakoglu said that Ankara could re-evaluate its position in the case of evidence 
linking Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein with terrorism. But in remarks to the media last week, the 
chief of the Turkish army voiced strong opposition to extending the US campaign to Iraq on the 
grounds that it could create a Kurdish state. Generak Huseyin Kivrikoglu also warned that a 
military intervention in Iraq would have far graver economic consequences for Turkey than the 
effects of the 1991 Gulf War. Ankara estimates it lost 35 million dollars, mostly from lost sales 
of oil, since the beginning of the UN embargo against Iraq. Turkey was the second stop of a 
regional tour which had already taken Sheikh Hamad to Russia. He was scheduled to travel on to 
Egypt and Algeria. The US weekly Newsweek has said top American officials are studying the 
possibility of invading Iraq from both the North and the South in order to topple the regime of 
President, Saddam Hussein. Under heavy political pressure, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been 
looking at a study that suggests deploying 50,000 US troops on Iraq’s southern border and another 
50,000 on its northern border, according to the report in an issue due out last week. The plan 
calls for sending the two armies towards Baghdad simultaneously, but strategists doubt that even 
that force would be enough to take the Iraqi capital, Newsweek said. Lieutenant-General Paul 
Mikolashek, commander of US ground forces in the region, believes taking Baghdad and overthrowing 
Saddam Hussein would require forces “at least at the level” of Desert Storm -- when around 169,000 
US combat troops were deployed to eject Iraq from Kuwait, according to the report. But President 
George W. Bush and his national security team have decided that Saddam has to go, said the magazine 
quoting unnamed US officials. “The question is not whether the United States is going to hit Iraq; 
the question is when”, the report quoted a senior US envoy in the Middle East as saying. RUSSO-US 
IMPASSE In a related development, Moscow has said it failed to reach agreement with Washington on a 
new sanctions regime for Iraq and remained “categorically” opposed to military strikes to oust 
Saddam. “The Russian side is categorically against conducting a military operation in regards to 
Baghdad in the framework of the next phase in the fight against international terrorism”, Deputy 
Foreign Minister Sergei Ordzhonikidze said in a statement. The Foreign Ministry added that Russian 
negotiators and visiting US Assistant Secretary of State John Stern Wolf had only reached agreement 
on “certain questions” during two-day talks in Moscow about a new Iraqi sanctions regime. US 
officials in Moscow issued no comment following the talks and Wolf left Russia without speaking to 
the press. The impasse -- if only temporary -- over Russia’s Soviet-era ally came amid growing 
speculation that the United States was on the verge of expanding its target list in the global war 
on terrorism which has focussed on Afghanistan for the past two months. Russian officials had 
earlier said that Moscow was willing to listen to US arguments in favor of broadening the terror 
hit-list before making its own final judgement on the issue. But the two-day talks with Wolf 
appeared to confirm Russia’s primary desire to secure nearly a billion dollars in Iraqi trade 
agreements that remain frozen by existing UN sanctions rather than giving its nod to military 
strikes on Baghdad. Moscow said it “had expressed its concern” that the value of Russia-Iraq 
contracts frozen by the United Nations had grown to 860 million dollars. The statement noted that 
Washington had promised to help “unfreeze” contracts worth only a fraction of that sum -- 54 
million dollars -- and that a new round of consultations would be held by early February. These 
were timed to come before the existing UN oil-for-food program for Iraq expires at the end of May. 
Russian officials responsible for trade with Iraq, which has been characterized as a “rogue state” 
by Washington, meanwhile expressed dismay at what they described as an arbitrary trade sanctions 
regime with Baghdad. Yevgeni Yagupets, a spokesman for Russia’s chief committee for economic 
cooperation for Iraq, said the UN sanctions committee was primarily suspicious about contracts 
which supplied Baghdad with civilian-use equipment for factories built during the Soviet era. 
“Russia wants all sanctions lifted once Iraq admits UN weapons inspectors”, Yagupets said. Iraq, 
Sudan, Somalia and Yemen have all been mentioned as possible targets for future US military action. 
US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice has opined that “the world and Iraq will live better 
without Saddam Hussein in power”. After initially refusing to support a UN sanctions review against 
Iraq, Russia last month said it would support the initiative while stressing the importance of 
persuading Baghdad to allow the United Nations to resume arms inspections. UN inspectors were 
withdrawn from Iraq in December 1998, on the eve of a bombing campaign by US and British warplanes, 
and were not allowed to return.


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