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[casi] News, 26/02-05/03/03 (1)

News, 26/02-05/03/03 (1)


*  U.S. Would Limit Action By Kurds in Postwar Iraq
*  When Iraqis play football in Kurdistan, local fans cannot hide their
*  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


*  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


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

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

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,

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."


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

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.

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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."


No URL (sent to list)

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

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.

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

"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 (] Published at the Palestine

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.


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.


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

The writer was foreign minister in the government deposed by Saddam Hussein
in 1968

IRAQI/TURKISH RELATIONS (1 - before the vote)

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.


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
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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

"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.

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.

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