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News, 26/02-05/03/03 (1) NORTHERN IRAQ/SOUTHERN KURDISTAN * U.S. Would Limit Action By Kurds in Postwar Iraq * When Iraqis play football in Kurdistan, local fans cannot hide their hatred * Iranian-Backed Brigade in Northern Iraq * Thousands of Kurds protest Turkish plans for Iraq * Iraq Kurd gun market bustles under Turkish threat * Turkey to Iraqi Kurds: We will protect our interests OPPOSITION ALLIANCE * U.S. Envoy Reassures Kurds on Concerns About Turkey * Iraqi Opposition Names Leadership, Defies U.S. Plan * Iraqi opposition elects a leading commission composed of 6 figures * Iraqi Opposition in Bitter Dispute With US Aid * Iraq's route to a democratic future IRAQI/TURKISH RELATIONS (1 - before the vote) * Turkey Shuts Down Its Border With Iraq - BBC * Turkey evacuates embassy in Baghdad * Another delay sought on U.S. troops in Turkey * Ankara takes new line in foreign policy * Turkey's top politician postpones U.S. deployment vote to Saturday * Turkey Offered Deal on Textiles * Turkey Remains Gridlocked on Bases NORTHERN IRAQ/SOUTHERN KURDISTAN http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A8113-2003Feb26.html * U.S. WOULD LIMIT ACTION BY KURDS IN POSTWAR IRAQ by Philip P. Pan and Daniel Williams Washington Post, 27th February ANKARA, Turkey, Feb. 26 -- The United States has promised to prevent Kurds from imposing a federation-style government in postwar Iraq that would ensure their continued autonomy and agreed to allow Turkish troops to enter northern Iraq and observe the disarmament of Kurdish militias once fighting has stopped, Turkish officials said today. The deal, designed to persuade Turkey to allow U.S. troops to use its bases for an attack on Iraq, foresees that Turkish troops will cross the 218-mile Turkish-Iraqi border along with U.S. troops and proceed at least 121/2 miles into the rugged Kurdish-inhabited hills to prevent a flow of refugees into Turkey and maintain stability and security in the region, the officials said. Turkish officials said they requested the guarantees, as a condition for opening their territory to U.S. forces, to ensure that an independent Kurdish state -- or even an autonomous Kurdish entity within an Iraqi federation -- does not emerge along Turkey's borders if a widely expected U.S. attack destroys President Saddam Hussein's central government. U.S. and Turkish negotiators reached consensus today on almost all details of the deal, officials from both sides said, and the Turkish government said a parliamentary vote -- the final step -- was likely Thursday. The plans to allow Turkish forces into Iraq already have provoked anger and concern among the 3.5 million Iraqi Kurds who since the 1991 Persian Gulf War have enjoyed a flourishing self-rule in northern Iraq under the protection of U.S. and British air patrols that keep out Hussein's military. A Bush administration envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, addressed Kurdish and other anti-Hussein Iraqi leaders in northern Iraq today, seeking to reassure them that Washington does not plan to sell them out. [.....] Erdogan said the government plans to send as many as 40,000 troops across the border. He said the Turkish troops would be under Turkish command, but stay behind the U.S. forces. Pressed, he added, "You never know, they may go further." Armagan Kuloglu, a retired Turkish general with the Center for Eurasian Strategic Studies, said the mission of the Turkish military would be to prevent refugees from entering Turkey and to stop Iraqi Kurds from seizing oil fields near Kirkuk and Mosul that would give them economic power to establish an autonomous state. He said the military would also seek to protect the interests of Turkmen residents in Iraq, a population he estimated at nearly 3 million. He said the Turkish military would stay back and see if U.S. troops follow through on U.S. promises, but would not hesitate to move beyond the 121/2-mile limit to protect Turkey's interests if it believed the United States was not doing so. "We're talking about Turkey's security. We can't entrust our security entirely to another party. We have to be ready to take steps ourselves if necessary," he said. "The mission would be to control northern Iraq, temporarily." A senior member of the Turkish government said Turkey would not oppose a federation government in Iraq "if it is decided by the Iraqi people themselves. What we're saying is, one element of Iraq should not impose its model on the whole country." [.....] http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=382714 * WHEN IRAQIS PLAY FOOTBALL IN KURDISTAN, LOCAL FANS CANNOT HIDE THEIR HATRED by Patrick Cockburn, in Arbil, northern Iraq The Independent, 1st March The mounting threat of war was no deterrent to the players of Naft, an Iraqi football team, as they travelled for a match yesterday in the heart of Kurdistan, even though the Kurdish government supports an American-led invasion. The Iraqi players were keen that nobody should be in any doubt as to where their loyalties lay. Outside their dressing room in the new stadium in Arbil they did a little jig, chanting: "We offer our soul and our blood to you Saddam." Udai Abdul Ridah, a midfielder, confided: "All our players are ready to fight." For an hour before the game Kurdish supporters of the Arbil club (known as Hawler in Kurdish) lined up to buy pink-coloured five-dinar (£1) tickets while stallholders beside the gates sold them bags of sun-flower seeds, pistachio nuts, baklava and fried rice balls. "We play in a friendly way, but we don't cheer for Saddam," said Abdul Khalid Massud, the stadium manager. Indeed the main chant from 10,000-strong Kurdish crowd, when not cheering on their own side, was: "Stuff the Turks." For the past week Kurds have talked of little else but the Turkish threat to advance on a 200-mile-long front into Kurdistan. Neither Naft nor Arbil are at the top of the Iraqi league, but the game underlined that there is not much animosity at a popular level between Arabs and Kurds in Iraq. Arbil's star striker, Mohammed Nasser, is an Arab from Baghdad and the club's most popular player. "There is no difference between the Kurdish and Arab nation," he said. "We are against war and there will be no war." The Naft goalkeeper, Sair Aldin Zamman, added: "We go back and forth. Sport is different from politics." Later he remarked, perhaps with that sense of self-preservation inbred in Iraqis: "We love Saddam Hussein and we will stay with him to the end." The game was not particularly aggressive, but occasionally the crowd grew impatient with what they saw as Naft players feigning injury.A single goal gave Arbil the win. There might have been a measure of official orchestration in all this. Their cheerleader, Adid Gharib, a Kurd who had fought in the Iran-Iraq war, was leading the chants against Turkey. He said: "I like the Arab team. Turkey wants to occupy our oilfields and take what we have achieved." Arabs from the rest of Iraq often play for Kurdish teams because they are paid more, a fact that irritates some Kurdish football officials who think the money could be better spent. The Iraqi population is divided into three communities Shia Arabs, Sunni Arabs and Kurds but they have never regarded each other with the sectarian hatred seen in Northern Ireland or Lebanon. Violence against each community has normally come from the government. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/03/international/middleeast/03OPPO.html * IRANIAN-BACKED BRIGADE IN NORTHERN IRAQ by C. J. Chivers New York Times, 3rd March IMNAKO MOUNTAIN, Iraq, March 2 ‹ Advance elements of the Badr Brigade, an Iranian backed militia that includes many deserters from Iraq's army, are building a new military encampment in northern Iraq, and preparing to move several thousand fighters into the area, according to local Kurdish officials familiar with the deployment and a visit to the camp. The expanding activities of the brigade, which intelligence officials say receives support from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and might fight as an Iranian proxy against President Saddam Hussein, pose fresh diplomatic challenges to both Kurdish authorities and the United States. The camp is located 11 miles inside Iraq and about 135 miles from Baghdad, in territory outside the Iraqi government's control and administered by Kurds. It included 94 squad sized tents on Saturday and more than 120 this afternoon ‹ enough to shelter more than 1,000 of the group's fighters. As tents rose today, the brigade's intention of occupying Iraqi soil was clear. The fighters, who call themselves mujahedeen, had already opened a small grocery, had at least one antiaircraft machine gun and a large ammunition bunker, and were digging latrines throughout a series of rocky bluffs at the base of this mountain. One supervisor said they were prepared to join with Kurds to resist a Turkish incursion into northern Iraq. "If our supreme council approves it, we will support them against the Turks," said Murtaza Musawi, who identified himself as the camp security officer. That appears to be the sort of prospect that has raised concern in Washington, where the Bush administration has tried to limit regional intervention in the event of war with Iraq and has labeled Iran a member of the "axis of evil." "We think any Iranian presence or Iranian-supported presence in that region is destabilizing and not positive," Richard Boucher, spokesman for the State Department, said last month. The new camp is sign of the deeply tangled local situation the United States confronts as it prepares for war here. The Badr Brigade, estimated to have 15,000 fighters in all, is the military wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a member of the Iraqi National Congress, an umbrella opposition group that has been backed by the United States. But the brigade also has long resided in Iran, which provides it with material, intelligence and training support, intelligence officials said. It sees itself as a prominent voice for Shiite Muslims, who make up roughly 60 percent of the Iraqi population. Its relations with Washington have been prickly. The Supreme Council has made clear its displeasure with the notion of any American occupation in Iraq, and, in a recent interview, a council official said the current American military buildup was the latest manifestation of a Washington blunder. The official, Galib al-Asadi, a council representative in northern Iraq, noted that after the Persian Gulf war in 1991, the United States allowed Iraq to keep much of its army and to use helicopter gunships to suppress uprisings that almost toppled Mr. Hussein. "If the United States didn't help the Iraqi regime in 1991, it would not need this war," he said. Mr. Asadi also suggested that the brigade's military activities would be wholly independent of American plans, a stance that runs counter to Pentagon preferences for coordinating, if not commanding, forces taking part in wars the United States fights. "We are not going to fight alongside the Americans," he said. "We were fighting the Iraqi regime when the United States was helping the Iraqi regime, and we will continue to fight the regime whether the United States comes or not." Tensions between Washington and Iran have presented Kurdish authorities with a delicate problem. Kurds want a military and political partnership with the United States, and are loathe to fall on Washington's bad side just at the moment they expect Mr. Hussein to be forced from power. But they have longstanding relations with the Supreme Council and Iran. Many Kurds, particularly in the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which took refuge in Iran in 1996 when the rival Kurdistan Democratic Party attacked them with Iraqi forces, feel a loyalty to their Iranian neighbors. Some also sympathize with the brigade, whose fighters and their families have suffered terribly under Mr. Hussein. Kurdish officials said the brigade has asked them to allow 5,000 troops onto Iraqi soil. The Patriotic Union has not acted on the request, and a senior official said tonight that developments at the camp were being closely followed and discussed. "We are reviewing the situation," he said. How many brigade fighters are in northern Iraq remains unclear. Residents of the nearby village of Banibee said that three weeks ago a team of brigade fighters toured the area, looking over ground and interviewing shepherds. Farouk Abdullah, a Patriotic Union customs officer on duty at a checkpoint near the camp, said fighters first arrived on Feb. 24, driving in on three buses and beginning to erect tents. Since then, more buses have arrived with more fighters, and three cargo trucks, visible today, have been bringing in equipment. The fighters themselves, of whom about 100 were visible today, refused to discuss their strength. Villagers said members of the brigade have told them they have 1,100 fighters here so far. The Badr Brigade has maintained a garrison in northern Iraq since 1998, when the Kurdish Patriotic Union allowed 50 to 60 fighters to base in a forlorn little compound in the nearby village of Maidan. It was allowed to increase its strength to as high as 250 since 2000, said Lt. Colonel Kamaran Abdullah, a Patriotic Union security chief. The colonel noted the Maidan group, which typically held military exercises about once each year, has conducted three exercises in the last two months, including a night exercise on Feb. 18 at which it practiced attacking bunkers, and fired machine guns and mortars. Local intelligence reports have also noted an increase in military exercises, and said the brigade has recently conducted training with gas masks and in urban combat. http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2003/03/03/kurds_protest030303 * THOUSANDS OF KURDS PROTEST TURKISH PLANS FOR IRAQ CBC, 3rd March ARBIL, IRAQ - Kurds in northern Iraq took to the streets by the tens of thousands on Monday morning to show their opposition to the prospect of Turkish soldiers moving into the region if the United States goes to war against Baghdad. The city of Arbil in the heart of Kurd-controlled northern Iraq, shut down as protesters marched through the streets carrying banners that condemned the prospect of Turkish intervention in the area. Kurdish groups have vowed to resist any troops Ankara might send into the region. The protesters chanted "No Turkey" and other slogans as they converged on the United Nations offices in Arbil. The Iraqi opposition, which held a conference last week to discuss the shape of a post Saddam Hussein government, wants talks with Turkey and the United States to stop such a move. There have been reports that Washington was willing to allow Turkey to move troops into the northern Iraq. Ankara says the soldiers would provide humanitarian aid and secure the borders. The Kurds believe Turkey's goal would be to suppress the creation of a truly autonomous Kurdish state in northern Iraq. Ankara fears such a development would inspire the Kurdish minority living in Turkey to resume its own struggle for independence. http://biz.yahoo.com/rm/030304/iraq_kurds_weapons_1.html * IRAQ KURD GUN MARKET BUSTLES UNDER TURKISH THREAT by Joseph Logan Yahoo, 4th March ARBIL, Iraq, March 4 (Reuters) - War may be bad news for most businesses in Iraq's breakaway northern Kurdish enclave, but to the peddlers in Arbil's weapons bazaar, it means everybody's a customer, or should be. In the capital of one half of the zone that rose up and split from Saddam Hussein after the 1991 Gulf War, Kurds are lining up to buy arms they vow to use in a war on Iraq against U.S. ally Turkey, which threatens to invade to halt Kurdish autonomy. "We are getting ready, buying guns and bullets," said Hassan Ali, one of a handful of prospective gun owners milling about the concrete stalls along a dusty highway where the gun merchants ply their trade. "If the Turkish military enters Kurdistan, we'll have the guns to go into the mountains and defend ourselves to the last." Turkey -- whose territory Washington wanted to use to open a northern front in Iraq -- is intent on flooding northern Iraq with troops to prevent the emergence of a Kurdish state it fears could re-awaken separatism among its own 12 million Kurds. It also cites the need to deal with refugees and protect a Turkish-speaking minority in northern Iraq as reasons to enter. U.S. war plans for northern Iraq are in doubt after Ankara's parliament balked at giving permission to host U.S. troops. But Iraq's Kurds are taking nothing for granted and want pledges from the United States that Turkey will keep out of their homeland. The two Kurdish factions that split power in the northern enclave are also adamant in rejecting reported Turkish demands to disarm their thousands of lightly armed "peshmerga" fighters, who they say should be part of a future Iraqi army. In the meanwhile, they are arming themselves -- perhaps not quickly enough for the merchants, who can only sell weapons to customers who get a permit from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which runs the part of Iraqi Kurdistan bordering Turkey. "We don't sell anything to anyone who doesn't have a permit, so you can't just show up here and pick out your weapons," said Kamal Mustafa, who said he was nonetheless selling two to four firearms a day. For those allowed to buy, the vendors can offer weapons ranging from museum pieces like a rusty Mauser infantry rifle to a smart Chinese Kalashnikov, which costs about 1,100 Iraqi dinars (about $140). "Now this is a really beautiful gun," said a vendor who declined to be named, proudly displaying a Russian sniper rifle with a telescopic sight, selling for 2,500 dinars. "That's also nice, but not top quality," he noted of a battered rocket-propelled grenade launcher. "Come back with a permit and I'll throw in some grenades." The shoppers, whatever their budgets, say the weapons are their insurance against the possibility of an influx of troops from Turkey, which has long had soldiers in northern Iraq to hunt separatist Turkish Kurd rebels. "It's really old, but what can you do?" asked one man, an Arbil traffic policeman who was testing a pistol at a makeshift firing range behind the bazaar. "I'm going to need to have something at hand if the Turks come." "I have to have something ready if there's a front with Turkey," said civil servant Ali Suleiman, who bought an Iraqi army pistol engraved with an eagle and a set of initials. Birds took flight at the crack of gunfire, but a cluster of muddy dogs wrestling near the empty tin cans used for target practice barely stirred, inured to the clamour. Shoppers hoped Washington would be able to restrain Turkey, but said they needed to be prepared if it neglected them. "We are friends of America, and with their support we won't let the Turks in our region," said Hassan Ali. "But if America betrays us, they could get inside." And if they did? "It would be the simplest thing for me to do a suicide attack on one of their tanks, to sacrifice myself," he said. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/05_03_03/art18.asp * TURKEY TO IRAQI KURDS: WE WILL PROTECT OUR INTERESTS Lebanon Daily Star, 5th March ANKARA: Turkey warned Iraqi Kurds on Tuesday not to test its determination to protect its security interests in breakaway border region as it struggled to contain the fallout of its rejection of American troops. Turkish newspapers said that Ankara was waiting for assurances from Washington on the future of northern Iraq before it could consider a new vote on allowing US troops into the country. "The US should have a political attitude to prevent entities from emerging on their own and upsetting Turkey," Turkey's governing party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan told parliamentarians from his Justice and Development Party (AKP). Ankara's plans to strengthen military presence in the enclave - which has been outside Baghdad's control since the end of the Gulf War - has angered Iraqi Kurds who took to the streets Monday in thousands to protest possible Turkish intervention. Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis described the demonstration in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil during which students burned Turkish flags as a "provocation." Turkey fears Iraq's Kurds may use a war to declare independence, a move its says could re-kindle separatism among its own restive Kurdish community. "Nobody should abuse Turkey's good will, be carried away by false courage, or test Turkey's sensitivities," Erdogan said. The Kurds fear that Turkey would take advantage of the war to crush their autonomy. Two Iraqi Kurdish factions control a de facto autonomous zone since the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War. The zone is protected from Saddam's forces by both US and British air patrols. Turkey had been planning to send its troops into northern Iraq, in coordination with US forces, officially to stop a possible wave of refugees from swamping the border area. But the parliamentary rejection of American troop deployments has put a stopper on both Ankara's plans to intervene and Washington's plans to invade. Meanwhile, an Iraqi opposition leader held talks with Turkish officials Tuesday in an attempt to mend ties between Turks and Iraqi Kurds. Ahmed Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress, a London-based umbrella group, said that tensions over Turkey's deployment plans could be resolved. "We think that Turkish troops in northern Iraq could be a cause of difficulty and conflict, but I believe we can work out these problems," Chalabi said after meeting with Turkish officials. "We want to be friends with Turkey and we do not think that Turkish troop intervention is useful either for Turkey or for Iraq." OPPOSITION ALLIANCE No URL (sent to list) * U.S. ENVOY REASSURES KURDS ON CONCERNS ABOUT TURKEY by Judith Miller and C. J. Chivers The New York Times, 27th February SALAHEDDIN, Iraq, Feb. 26: At the first meeting of top Iraqi dissidents on Iraqi soil in nearly a decade, an American envoy pledged today that the United States did not want to rule Iraq and would rely on a broad-based opposition to govern the country if American forces invade. Zalmay Khalilzad, President Bush's envoy to the Iraqi opposition, told the more than 50 member advisory committee of the Iraqi National Congress that the "Iraqi people should govern their own affairs as soon as possible." He told delegates privately that the transition to a democratic Iraqi rule could start within two months of the end of a war. Mr. Khalilzad also delivered diplomatically calibrated statements designed, on one hand, to encourage Turkey to join the coalition against Saddam Hussein, but, on the other, to warn Turkey that it must respect American demands that all military movements in northern Iraq and elsewhere be "coordinated" with Washington, and that Turkish troops agree to leave Iraq after a war. "We would definitely like Turkey to be part of the coalition, but we don't accept any unilateral movement by any country," he said after the meeting. The Turkish Parliament is scheduled to vote on Thursday on whether to permit American combat forces to be based in Turkey. Washington hopes to use the Turkish bases in the event of a war with Iraq. But Iraqi Kurds deeply mistrust Turkey, their powerful neighbor to the north, which has historical claims to some Iraqi territory and a desire to control Kurdish separatist forces there. Some Kurdish leaders have vowed to fight Turkish forces if they enter Iraq without their permission. Mr. Khalilzad's presence here seemed to reassure the Kurds, who oppose Turkey's desire to send a large number of soldiers into northern Iraq, ostensibly for border and refugee control. During the Persian Gulf war of 1991, more than a million Kurds fled Iraqi forces and Washington imposed a no-flight zone that has allowed the Kurds to control northern Iraq. Addressing the overwhelming hostility of some four million to six million Kurds to a Turkish military presence in their country, Mr. Khalilzad also said that the concerns of "our Kurdish friends in northern Iraq" have been "fully factored into our discussions with Turkey." With aspects of a Turkish-American political, military and economic agreement still under negotiation, Turkey did not make it easy for either Mr. Khalilzad and his small American delegation, or many of the 300 journalists and others here for the conference, to cross the border into Iraq. Turkey refused to approve the full number of security officials that Washington had requested to protect Mr. Khalilzad, and delayed his arrival here by at least a day, American officials said. Wayne Downing, a retired general and the administration's former head of counterterrorism, was recently turned back at the border, Iraqi dissidents said. The meeting itself was repeatedly delayed by political disputes with Washington and the periodic reluctance of Turkey, Iran and Syria to permit some delegates and the journalists to enter northern Iraq from their territory. As host to the gathering, the opposition also overcame a series of obstacles, including a history of internal feuding, terrorist threats from Baghdad and militant Islamists, and snowstorms that made the Turkish and Kurdish mountain passes treacherous. The Iraqi delegates, which included representatives from Iraq's mosaic of ethnic groups, tribes, religious sects and ideologies - and at least three women - wore business suits and buried long-standing political rivalries and grievances in their prepared speeches today. They often interrupted Mr. Khalilzad's remarks with applause. Particularly well-received were his statements stressing America's commitment to a democracy and the right of all Iraqis to choose their government. "You, the Iraqi opposition, have dedicated decades of your lives to liberating your country," he said. "That moment is near." The American envoy also sought to reassure Ahmad Chalabi - a secular, Shiite leader of the Iraqi National Congress - and other delegates that Washington did not favor replacing Mr. Hussein with another general, through a military coup or any other means. "None of us want Saddamism without Saddam," Mr. Khalilzad said. Mr. Chalabi and his supporters had previously criticized the administration's reported plans to impose a postwar military rule on Iraq for as long as two years. In an interview tonight, Mr. Chalabi said Mr. Khalilzad had told him that in the event of a war, the United States would be largely responsible for disarming Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, "de- Baathification" - a reference to Mr. Hussein's ruling Baath party - and neutralizing the Iraqi military. "But he also said that there must be no gap of sovereignty by Iraqis in Iraq - that Iraqis must be sovereign in Iraq at all times," Mr. Chalabi said. Hoshyar Zebari, a leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, which is responsible for the area where the conference is being held, noted that Mr. Khalilzad had pledged that the administration would work with several task forces on plans for Iraq's future, including a political task force that would advise on how to move quickly to a democratic Iraq. http://palestinechronicle.com/article.php?story=2003022820330411 * IRAQI OPPOSITION NAMES LEADERSHIP, DEFIES U.S. PLANS Palestine Chronicle, 28th February SALAHADDIN - Defying the American plans to install a U.S.-led government after ousting Saddam Hussein, Iraqi opposition groups named a unified leadership Friday, February 28, after three days of intense talks in the Kurdish-held northern Iraq. Upbeat opposition officials, eager to present themselves as a credible force to be reckoned with, said hours of delicate closed-door debate yielded a six-member council they want to see at the heart of a future government in Iraq, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. "The conference has been a good success. We have resolved all the problems in the opposition," said Sami Abdul Rahman, a senior member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) which hosted the three-day talks. The council consist of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) leader Jalal Talabani, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader Massoud Barzani, the Iraqi National Congress (INC) leader Ahmad Chalabi, leader of the Tehran-based Shiite Supreme Assembly for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SAIRI) Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, Ayad Allawi of the Iraqi National Accord, as well as Iraqi dissident and former foreign minister Adnan Pachachi. Barzani and Talabani are Kurds who have been sharing control of the north of the country since they wrested autonomy from Saddam in 1991 and have strong political and military credentials. Al-Hakim is a conservative Shiite, and his group has its own militia with backing from Iran. Chalabi and Allawi, also Shiites, are secular dissidents and have been close to the CIA. Abdul Rahman said the opposition had also formed 14 committees, which roughly match the functions of various ministries, a challenge to Washington which has urged the groups here not to form a government-in-exile. [.....] Commenting on the Iraqi opposition conference, Gawal Ali Director of the Strategic Studies Center in Baghdad stressed that the opposition factions disagreed on every thing except for destroying Iraq. The conference final statement reflected the opposition differences with the United States, Ali said, adding that by planning occupying Iraq for two or three years after the war, Washington war will lead to radical political change in the region. The new line-up proposed by the Iraqi opposition immediately hit a snag when the sole Arab Sunni Muslim named to the council said he would not serve on the body. Pachachi, who was not attending the meeting, said he had already turned down the offer to join the council and would not budge. "I was surprised to find my name among the members of the leadership," Pachachi said in a statement. The 80-year-old exile, who lives in Abu Dhabi, added he had "already informed the organizers of the meeting my objections and opinion on such a project." "I already rejected the offers that were made to me and am sticking to my position," he added. Pachachi's statement was a blow to the opposition's efforts to woo the Arab Sunni minority that has dominated Iraq and its mosaic of ethnic groups since the country was established in 1922. There was no immediate reaction to Pachachi's statement in Salahaddin where opposition members appeared happy with the conference's results. -[IslamOnline & News Agencies (islamonline.net).] Published at the Palestine Chronicle. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/030301/2003030104.html * IRAQI OPPOSITION ELECTS A LEADING COMMISSION COMPOSED OF 6 FIGURES Arabic News, 1st March The correspondent of the Qatari al- Jazira TV station in Northern Iraq reported that the follow up and coordination committee of the Iraqi opposition, currently meeting at Salah Eddine resort near Irbil elected a leading commission composed of 6 members in charge of running the Iraqi affairs in the phase after Saddam Hussein, and preparations for forming a provisional government The correspondent said that members of this commission are Masoud al-Barazani, the leader of the Kurdistani democratic party; Jalal al-Talibani the leader of the Kurdistani national federation, representatives for the Kurds; Abdul Aziz al-Hakim of the higher council of the Islamic revolution in Iraq; Ahmad al-Jalabi the chairman of the national congress, Eyad Allawi of the national reconciliation movement in addition to appointing Adnan al-Baja Jee, a former minister by the end of the 1960s. The leadership's council -- being a provisional government -- will run a provisional government to run the affairs of the country for a limited period of time after toppling Saddam Hussein from the regime. The opposition did not hide its deep concern over Washington's plans aimed at ruling Iraq militarily after demolishing the current regime. [.....] http://www.arabnews.com/Article.asp?ID=23245 * IRAQI OPPOSITION IN BITTER DISPUTE WITH US AIDE Arab News (Saudi Arabia), 2nd March [.....] "Khalilzad mentioned that a military governor will rule Iraq because we were not ready," said Warith Al-Kindi, an information officer with the Supreme Assembly for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SAIRI), the main faction representing the country's majority Shiite community. "So we told him that if America thinks it was treated badly in Somalia, how does it think it will be treated in Iraq? After all these years of suffering, why should we live under foreign occupation?" he asked. Al-Kindi accused Washington of trying to pressure the opposition into giving prominent positions to pro-Israeli delegates, agreeing to US protection of Iraq's oil fields and playing down the role of Islam in any future political or legal system. Another close aide to SAIRI chief delegate Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim described former oil man Khalilzad as a "bully". The US envoy had told delegates a future government had to include "those who have suffered under Saddam," the aide said, expressing concern that that meant inclusion of regime insiders in a post-Saddam administration. Late on Friday, Khalilzad was whisked away from this hilltop town by his team of heavily-armed diplomatic security guards. Opposition spokesman Hoshyar Zebari attempted to put a brave face on the departure but acknowledged that he did not know whether it was final. [.....] http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c =StoryFT&cid=1045511260150&p=1012571727102 * IRAQ'S ROUTE TO A DEMOCRATIC FUTURE by Adnan Pachachi Financial Times, 2nd March Post-conflict Iraq, rather than the conflict itself, has become the focus of global attention. Two options dominate current thinking: US military rule, or a government in exile. Both are flawed and counter-productive. The former is oblivious to a vibrant Iraqi nationalism; the latter ignores the aspirations of massive anti-Ba'athist forces inside the country. This is the reason I have rejected offers to take a leading part in the arrangements for the post-Saddam era. Last week, Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, invited me to join the leadership of the Iraqi opposition. I declined for three reasons. First, I have serious doubts about the legitimacy of such a group or its representative nature. Second, any body formed by such a group would have only advisory responsibilities during the transitional period, not executive ones. Serving as an advisory body attached to a US military administration would be damaging and unacceptable. Third, I have reservations about the group's structure and membership. Hence my surprise to learn on Friday that I had been elected to the six-man leadership committee. This is a portent of how selection may go through without due process of information and consultation. Together with a group of prominent liberal, secular Iraqi figures, I issued an appeal last month urging Saddam Hussein to relinquish power in order to avert a catastrophic armed conflict and spare the Iraqi people the ravages of war. We called for the removal of the authoritarian regime and its replacement with an Iraqi civilian administration, not military rule, to manage the affairs of the nation during a transitional period, hoped to be no more than two years. This provisional government of qualified technocrats should work under the guidance of a sovereign council whose members would be chosen after consultations conducted by the United Nations with Iraqis of all political persuasions. Most Iraqis reject the imposition of a government from outside. Iraqi nationalism is still a vibrant force to reckon with. A vast majority inside the country, which has borne the brunt of Mr Hussein's oppression, must and can be consulted before any authority is installed in Baghdad. A narrow-based government in exile would be disruptive. Reliable surveys indicate strong antipathy towards a government "parachuted" in from abroad. The principal tasks of the interim administration should be to maintain law and order, defend the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq, provide essential services, revive the economy and prepare for elections. Immediate steps would be required to enable the people to engage freely in political activity, such as the formation of political parties. The interim administration should enact an electoral law based on universal adult suffrage for the election, under international supervision, of a constituent assembly to draft a constitution. The constitution should contain guarantees for fundamental human rights, provide for periodic elections and the peaceful transfer of power and ensure the subordination of the military to civilian government. The rule of law must be guaranteed under an independent judicial system. It must prohibit torture and summary execution, degrading or inhuman punishment, arbitrary arrest and other atrocities from which the Iraqi people have suffered for many decades. The draft constitution should be submitted to a referendum under inter- national supervision. Only then could elections be held for the first genuinely democratic government in Iraq's modern history. This government would have to deal with many problems, such as reversing the effects of political, ethnic and sectarian oppression and upholding the principle of Iraqi identity and citizenship. Pluralism and tolerance rather than segmentation are the answer. The government would have to agree with the representatives of the Kurdish people about the system under which the Kurds would live in a united Iraq. Indeed, it should endeavour to satisfy the legitimate aspirations of all ethnic and religious groups. Gradually, the government would deal with debts and reparations so that Iraq could rebuild its free-market economy, providing the incentives, security and confidence for investors. It would have to pursue a sound oil policy, one that contributed to the reconstruction of Iraq, and co-operate with other, especially oil-producing, nations to minimise the fluctuation of oil prices. The government would also have to take a forthright stand in supporting the aspirations of the Palestinians to establish an independent and viable state in the West Bank and Gaza. I am optimistic about the future. Although some regimes have oppressed sections of the population, the peoples of Iraq have always lived in peace and harmony. What differentiates them is not ethnic origins, or their religious or sectarian affiliations, but their political beliefs and aspirations. Among the Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds one will find socialists, capitalists, communists, nationalists, religious fundamentalists and secularists. With the spread of modern education and intermarriage, Iraqis have learnt the virtue of tolerance without which no democratic system can survive. The writer was foreign minister in the government deposed by Saddam Hussein in 1968 IRAQI/TURKISH RELATIONS (1 - before the vote) http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/dowjones/20030226/bs_dowjones /200302261524000842 * TURKEY SHUTS DOWN ITS BORDER WITH IRAQ - BBC Yahoo, 26th February NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Turkey closed its southern border with Iraq, halting all traffic, as a U.S.-led war seems imminent, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported on its Web site Wednesday. With the border shut down, the shipment of goods from Turkey to Iraq has halted and oil tankers already in Iraq have been ordered to return to Turkey. Turkey imports around 10% of its oil from Iraq. The Turkish government also said it was closing its embassy in Baghdad, the BBC reported. Meanwhile, NATO has begun sending equipment to the southeastern part of the country. Turkey is the only NATO member that borders Iraq. [.....] http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/cms.dll/html/uncomp/articleshow?artid=386 86364 * TURKEY EVACUATES EMBASSY IN BAGHDAD Times of India (from AFP), 27th February ANKARA: Turkey has evacuated its embassy in Baghdad as a precaution against "uncontrolled acts" should Ankara make its territory available for a possible US attack on Iraq, Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis said on Wednesday. Ankara has ordered its diplomats to return home "in order not to leave the embassy exposed to the risk of uncontrolled acts" following the decision of the Turkish government yestrday to seek parliamentary approval for the deployment of US troops in Turkey, Yakis told reporters. Parliament had been expected to vote on whether to approve the government's request today but officials hinted the vote would not go ahead before Ankara and Washington complete long-running talks on the terms of bilateral cooperation in the event of a war. The Turkish ambassador in Iraq, Osman Paksut, left Baghdad earlier on Wednesday, leaving no Turkish diplomats in the Iraqi capital, the Anatolia news agency reported from Baghdad. Yakis said the evacuation started at noon on Tuesday. http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/world/1797403 * ANOTHER DELAY SOUGHT ON U.S. TROOPS IN TURKEY Houston Chronicle, 27th February ISTANBUL (Reuters): Turkey's ruling party moved today to delay until the weekend a parliamentary vote on deployment of thousands of U.S. troops in the country, dealing a blow to U.S. preparations for a possible war against Iraq. Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan had said on Wednesday the vote, urgently awaited by the United States, would go ahead today barring any unexpected problems -- an apparent reference to talks on a financial compensation package. But after consultations this morning, his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) applied to delay any debate until Saturday. Parliament convened to discuss the proposal for a delay, which seemed likely to pass. The United States is pressing for a quick decision now on permission for a secondary "northern front" which military experts say would take pressure off a possible main invasion force pushing to Baghdad from the south. It had expected a final go-ahead over a week ago and troopships wait off the coast. "U.S. officials have made the Turkish side aware at a high level that time is critical and further delay is not helpful," a U.S. official said. It was not immediately clear why the AKP sought a delay. Deputies might want to await a Friday meeting of the powerful National Security Council, a body that includes the country's top political and military leadership. There could also be problems sealing a multi-billion dollar financial aid package. After months of negotiations between Ankara and Washington, a deal appears close that would give Turkey up to $30 billion in U.S. grants and loan guarantees to help cushion its frail economy against the impact of a war it has long resisted. The road to a vote has been long and tortuous for Turkey and for the AKP, a party viewed with suspicion by the military for its Islamist roots. The AKP is reluctant to sacrifice its popularity in a war many fear could deepen economic crisis and bring chaos to Turkish borders. But its leaders know Turkey would suffer if it refused to help the United States and forfeited financial help. Party chiefs expect the measure to pass if they back it. But if delays continue, U.S. military planners could abandon the northern front and divert troops waiting off the Mediterranean coast to the Gulf area. Only hours before the move to delay, Turkish and U.S. officials sealed a deal on military cooperation which, among other things, would clarify the role in any war of the Turkish military in largely Kurdish-ruled northern Iraq. Turkey plans to send up to 40,000 troops into a border buffer zone 20 km (12 miles) inside Iraq. The issue of their role in the zone -- beyond Baghdad's control since the 1991 Gulf War -- has been a sensitive one for Ankara. Turkey insists its troops will not become involved in combat, but will only marshal refugees and safeguard an ethnic Turkish Turkmen minority in the region. Ankara says it has won assurances that the Kurds of northern Iraq will not be allowed to make a bid for independence from Iraq or to control its northern oil fields. Turkey fears a Kurdish breakaway state in northern Iraq could trigger renewed armed Kurdish separatism on its own territory. Iraqi Kurds repeatedly say they have no intention of claiming statehood and see a Turkish military presence in their mountainous enclave as dangerous and unwelcome. Many suspect Turkey wants to crack down on its own Kurdish rebels based in northern Iraq. Ankara, which closed its Baghdad embassy on Wednesday, recommended today that all Turkish citizens leave Iraq. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/28_02_03_c.htm * ANKARA TAKES NEW LINE IN FOREIGN POLICY by Mohammad Noureddine Daily Star, Lebanon, 28th February BEIRUT: Ankara's position on the current Iraq crisis signaled a new course in Turkish foreign policy. After decades of adhering to Kemal Ataturk's maxim of "peace in the homeland, peace in the world," which resulted in Turkey distancing itself from involvement in regional and international problems, the country appears to have embarked on a new path. Turkey now appears prepared not only to take part in international events, but also to have adopted the new American idea of pre-emptive war. The first test of this new policy direction will be - unsurprisingly - the planned US invasion of Iraq. Over the last several months, Turkey made a point of acting in keeping with "international legitimacy" - a.k.a. the UN. This was the position of Turkey's Islamists as well as its secularists. The Islam-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) government publicly embraced the goal of trying to avert war and seeking to find a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis. In this, Ankara was driven by what it perceived as the myriad threats and dangers to Turkish interests of a war on neighboring Iraq. Yet since late January, Turkey has pursued a "dangerous" policy where the rules governing its relations with its immediate neighbors are concerned: 1. Ankara has apparently decided to ignore the ceiling of international legitimacy. It no longer feels bound by UN resolutions in its actions vis-a-vis Iraq. Prime Minister Abdullah Gul went so far as saying that the UN is not the sole source of legitimacy in international affairs, and that a common position adopted by a group of countries would have equal legitimacy. It was this new position that prevailed in all the subsequent negotiations Ankara held with Washington involving details of the planned invasion of Iraq. Acting outside the remit of international legitimacy signaled the beginning of a new phase in Turkey's relations with neighboring states with which it has longstanding disputes, including Cyprus, Greece, Armenia, and Syria. This new position was not without its supporters inside the country. Well-known Turkish commentator Mehmet Ali Birand, for example, urged Ankara not to insist on upholding international legitimacy where Iraq is concerned, in order to avoid being called upon to apply the same standards in Cyprus. UN resolutions view the Turkish military presence in Cyprus as an occupation. The fact that a major regional power like Turkey has decided to ignore international legitimacy puts the entire region face to face with a new might-is-right situation (of which Israel is the major proponent). 2. With the agreement it reached with Washington concerning Iraq, Turkey has violated even its own constitution. Article 92 of the Turkish Constitution states that the army can only be deployed outside the country's borders (and/or foreign troops can only be stationed on Turkish soil) in cases deemed legitimate in international law. Turkish legal experts agree that such a situation would arise if Turkey were attacked by a foreign power, if there were a UN resolution sanctioning such actions, and if Turkey acts according to a decision by NATO. Since none of these conditions are met in such a case, Turkey's participation in an invasion of Iraq is illegal as far as the Turkish Constitution is concerned. But Turkish officials seem to be acting out of Turkish national interests rather than international law. AKP leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared more than a month ago that, "Turkey cannot remain outside the equation," and that its interests dictate that it take part in any war so that it can influence what happens afterward. Gul meanwhile said Turkey must act in tandem with its "strategic partner and ally," the United States. It therefore becomes plain that Turkey's actions vis-a-vis Iraq lack any basis in international law. It has embarked on a course quite unprecedented in the history of its foreign relations. Since the dialogue between Washington and Ankara involves only interests, then it can only be expected that the two sides would agree on all the issues discussed. The fact that agreement has been arrived at only gradually has its reasons. Ankara needs time to convince Turkish public opinion of the wisdom of joining the war. Over 90 percent of the Turkish people oppose war, while 78 percent are against any Turkish participation. The ruling AKP, moreover, has to contend with widespread opposition among its supporters to taking part in an aggressive war against a fellow Muslim nation. For its part, Washington has not been in a hurry to enlist Turkish support. The Americans might have decided to keep the "Turkish card" up their sleeve until the last possible moment, hoping that the Iraqi regime might fall without a war being necessary. America's relationship with Turkey resembles in many ways that between a married couple. They are fated to remain together, even though they might differ from time to time over mundane details. Washington is in dire need of a northern (Turkish) front to make the war as quick and costless as possible. For its part, Turkey needs American economic support, as well as Washington's backing over such issues as Cyprus, Greece, Armenia, and the European Union. Turkish interests in Iraq are another story, being stronger than international law and good neighborliness combined. The political, military and economic agreements Ankara signed with Washington totally reflect the fact that it intends to deal with Iraq and its population as if the country were part of its own territory. Otherwise, what does it mean that the Iraqi Kurds must be disarmed after the war? What does it mean that the Iraqi Kurds must be prevented from entering Kirkuk and Mosul? Why should Ankara be interested in which Iraqi faction controls the oil fields of Iraq? Why is Turkey demanding "rights" for the Turkmen of Iraq? Why does Turkey reject the establishment of a federal system of government in Iraq? What is the meaning of Ankara's insistence that a Turk must be included in the administration that would rule Iraq after the overthrow of the current regime? Why should Ankara insist that Iraq have a unified army? What business is it of Ankara's with all these strictly domestic Iraqi affairs - even if it means preventing the rise of an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq? What would the Turks say if told that the Turkish Army must not interfere in politics? Would they agree to being asked why the (chiefly Turkish Kurd) southeastern parts of their country are so underdeveloped, for example? The Turkish-American agreement about war on Iraq will subject that country - and perhaps later the entire Middle East - to a new American-Turkish Sykes-Picot. It is not entirely implausible, in fact, that Israel is also in on the deal. Such an arrangement would herald a new era of negative relations between the countries and peoples of the region, the catastrophic implications of which are only too plain to see. Mohammad Noureddine is a Beirut-based expert on Turkish affairs. He wrote this commentary for The Daily Star http://www.cleveland.com/newsflash/news/index.ssf?/newsflash/get_story.ssf?/ cgi free/getstory_ssf.cgi?a0607_BC_Turkey-US-Iraq&&news&newsflash-international * TURKEY'S TOP POLITICIAN POSTPONES U.S. DEPLOYMENT VOTE TO SATURDAY by Harmonie Toros The Plain Dealer, 28th February ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Turkey's ruling party delayed a crucial vote on allowing in more than 60,000 U.S. combat troops as the government failed Thursday to persuade its lawmakers to back the deployment. Parliament had been expected to vote after a debate Thursday, but, at the request of ruling Justice and Development Party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it agreed to delay the debate to Saturday. War in Iraq is unpopular among Turks, and many Justice lawmakers -- even after preliminary discussions Thursday -- say they oppose any Turkish participation in an attack. "I do not approve of the U.S. stance, I do not approve of the bargaining process, therefore I will vote against (the motion)," Justice Party lawmaker Emin Sirin said. Even Deputy Prime Minister Ertugrul Yalcinbayir hinted Thursday that he would vote against the deployment, stating that he only backed the motion in the Cabinet because it had to be a unanimous decision. Salih Kapusuz, Justice party deputy chairman, told lawmakers that discussions within the party on the U.S. deployment to Turkey had not been completed. The party also said it wanted to wait for Friday's meeting of the National Security Council, which gathers the country's top civilian and military leaders. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul said Thursday that American and Turkish officials had agreed on the military conditions for the deployment. A Turkish official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the two sides also were close to an agreement on the political and economic conditions. Diplomats have been negotiating a multibillion-dollar economic aid package aimed at compensating Turkey for any losses incurred in a war. They are also negotiating the future of Iraq and the military command structure in case of U.S. and Turkish deployment in northern Iraq. Private NTV television said the two sides had agreed that U.S. officers would arm and disarm Kurdish opposition groups in northern Iraq under the supervision of Turkish officers. Turkey had opposed proposals to arm the Kurds, fearing increased military strength would encourage them to create their own state which, in turn, could inspire Turkey's minority Kurds. Despite the ongoing talks, Turkey's Cabinet has already backed the deployment of 62,000 U.S. troops, 255 warplanes and 65 helicopters and sent a bill to parliament for approval. Washington wants to use Turkey as a staging point to open a northern front against Iraq, and U.S. officials say they need a decision from Turkey as soon as possible. U.S. warships carrying tanks and armor for the U.S. 4th Infantry Division have been waiting off Turkey's coast to unload for more than a week. If Turkey's parliament rejects the bill, the ships would have to travel to the Gulf. The government says Turkey cannot afford to alienate its most important ally, the United States, and be left out of the decision-making on Iraq's future. Erdogan has said he expected his party's lawmakers to show unity and vote in favor of the deployment. The Justice party has a large majority in parliament, with 362 seats in the 550 member chamber. The opposition Republican People's Party announced Thursday that its lawmakers would oppose the deployment. Continuing preparations for possible Iraqi retaliation against Turkey, Ankara on Thursday asked NATO for more Patriot anti-missile batteries and equipment to protect against biological and chemical weapon attacks. The first NATO equipment -- Patriot missiles and AWACS radar aircraft -- arrived in Turkey on Wednesday. Turkey has evacuated its Baghdad embassy, and on Thursday urged all its citizens to leave Iraq. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A8004-2003Feb26.html * TURKEY OFFERED DEAL ON TEXTILES by Dan Morgan Washington Post, 27th February The United States, walking a delicate line between textile interests at home and the need for military help abroad, has offered Turkey a package of limited textile trade concessions as a reward for letting U.S. troops use the country as a jumping-off point for an attack on Iraq, sources said yesterday. The proposals would temporarily waive long-standing "Buy American" provisions to enable the Pentagon to purchase Turkish-made apparel for U.S. troops. Turkey would be allowed to increase its duty-free exports of clothing above the present quota, but only for goods made with American yarn and fabric. Officials of the U.S. textile industry, reeling from the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs in the past decade, sharply criticized the proposal for a one-year waiver of the Buy American provision, a staple of Pentagon contracting for decades. "We're very concerned about that because it's a precedent and the camel's nose under the tent," said Jock Nash, Washington counsel for Milliken and Co., the nation's largest textile manufacturer. Nash and others questioned whether Turkey would be satisfied with other parts of the offer because of the requirement that high-cost U.S. textile materials be used to make additional clothing exported to the United States. Erik O. Autor, international trade counsel for the National Retail Federation, predicted retailers would not buy such clothing because of its cost. Greater access to the U.S. textile market has long been a top priority for Turkey, which sells nearly $1 billion worth of clothes and textiles in this country each year. A senior Turkish official said here this week that improving the terms of his country's textile trade with the United States was high on Turkey's wish list in negotiations over the stationing of U.S. troops. During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Turkey won textile quota relief valued at around $100 million. With its economy recovering from one of the deepest recessions in decades and public opinion overwhelmingly opposed to a war with Iraq, Turkey is attempting to negotiate concessions that would make the stationing of U.S. troops on its soil more palatable to its people and parliament. Morton L. Abramowitz, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey, said, "They're deeply afraid of the shock [of war] on their recovery, and they feel they need significant help to offset those shocks. The U.S. has always recognized this." At the same time, the Bush administration risks a domestic political backlash if it grants too many trade concessions to major textile countries such as Turkey and Pakistan -- even though both are vital to the campaign against Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network. Pakistan sought, but did not receive, major concessions for its textile exports to the United States after pledging to support the U.S. effort against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Officials yesterday expressed concern that other countries such as Mexico and Chile, both members of the U.N. Security Council, would also seek trade or immigration concessions from the United States as a Security Council vote on a new Iraq resolution nears. To some extent, the administration's hands are tied by a written guarantee of protection for the textile industry that it provided to wavering Republicans in 2001 to win a critical vote on trade legislation. The textile industry is centered in such GOP strongholds as rural North and South Carolina. That legislation, which gave broad authority to the president to negotiate trade agreements, passed the House by a single vote. A spokesman for Rep. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who supported the legislation despite representing a major textile district, said yesterday that it did not appear that proposals put forward to Turkey break any promise from the administration. He said DeMint was pleased that the administration had required the use of U.S. fabric and yarn in increased duty-free imports from Turkey. "This could help our industry," the spokesman said. But he added that DeMint was concerned about even the temporary lifting of the Buy American provisions for Turkey. Officials in Congress and the administration said key aspects of a trade deal with Turkey would have to be approved by the House and Senate. The president does have authority to adjust quotas on his own, but not import duties, officials said. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A18584-2003Feb28.html * TURKEY REMAINS GRIDLOCKED ON BASES by Philip P. Pan Washington Post, 1st March ANKARA, Turkey, Feb. 28 -- Turkey's influential military leaders met with the nation's top elected officials today but declined to settle a paralyzing debate over whether U.S. troops should be allowed to use Turkish bases to open a northern front in a war against Iraq. The dispute has all but overwhelmed the political system and has repeatedly delayed parliamentary votes on the issue even as U.S. officials -- impatient to begin moving troops and equipment into position along Turkey's 218-mile border with Iraq -- have pressed for a final decision. Turkey's powerful National Security Council, composed of its senior generals and political leaders, had been expected to break the gridlock today, but it ended a critical meeting tonight without issuing a decision about the deployment of U.S. forces. A parliamentary vote, which is required under Turkish law to authorize the U.S. deployment, is now scheduled to take place during a special session of the legislature Saturday afternoon. After weeks of hard bargaining over a package of economic aid and political assurances from the United States, leaders of the ruling Justice and Development Party have endorsed the U.S. deployment. They enjoy a comfortable 362-member majority in the 550-member parliament, but dozens of legislators are expected to buck the party line because public opinion polls show voters are strongly against involvement in any war against Iraq. By remaining silent, the Turkish military is also adding to the political uncertainty . The issue of whether to host U.S. troops is the biggest challenge the fledgling Justice and Development Party has faced since November elections, when it surprised the nation's political establishment and became the first party to win an outright governing majority in Turkey in more than 25 years. About 90 percent of parliament members are newcomers. "We're taking so much time because it is a life-or-death issue for the party," said Nevzat Yalcintas, a ruling party deputy elected from Istanbul. "We're under tremendous pressure, and the risks are huge. If things don't go well during and after the war, the voters will blame us, and our party could be completely wiped out." The Justice and Development Party is vulnerable in part because it won office on a populist platform, promising to shake Turkey out of a tradition of elitist politics that many Turks blamed for an economic crisis in 2000. By going against public opinion now, especially on an issue related to the economy, the party could quickly alienate the voters who put it in power. At the same time, the party must contend with the lingering suspicions of the Turkish political establishment -- including the military, the government bureaucracy and other state institutions -- that are wary of the party's popular appeal and its Islamic roots. Members of the Justice and Development Party describe themselves as pragmatists who want to show that an Islamic party can govern a secular state. The Turkish military in particular prides itself as the guarantor of secularism in this predominantly Muslim nation, and it has put the Justice and Development Party on notice that it will not tolerate a religious shift in state policies. The armed forces have staged three coups since 1960 and helped overthrow an Islamic government in 1997. Turkish and Western political analysts said the military's reluctance to take a strong public stand on the deployment of U.S. troops reflects not only its concerns about the wisdom of a war against Iraq but also its calculations about how best to weaken the Justice and Development Party. By remaining silent, the analysts said, the military can later blame the party for whatever decision it makes. "The reason why the government has held out for so long is that the military has put no pressure on it to take a stand either way," said Dogu Ergil, a political science professor at Ankara University. "The party is trying to protect itself, because it would be safer if the military backed the deployment, too. Instead, the party is cruising in the dark without any signals from the shore." The military's silence has been matched by indecision from Turkey's president, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, who is also said to be mistrustful of the ruling party. Sezer has hinted that a U.S. deployment might be unconstitutional, but stopped short of taking a clear position on the issue. Yalcintas, the legislator, said his party recognizes it has been forced to bear the burden of any decision. "We have many opponents, in the parliament and outside the parliament, and they will use any decision against us," he said. "If we vote for the U.S. troops, we alone will be held responsible by the public. If we vote against them, the public might support us at first, but then the establishment will blame us for the consequences." Those consequences could include a rupture in relations with the United States, a historic ally that has strongly backed financial aid for Turkey and its bid to join the European Union. Rejecting U.S. troops would also limit Turkey's influence over the shape of a post war Iraq and make it harder for it to stop the emergence of an independent Kurdish state. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk