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Re: [casi] US holding Turkish troops?

08 Jul 2003 02:30 BST

Turk military raps U.S. over Iraq arrests

By Ralph Boulton
ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's military has bitterly condemned the U.S. army
for seizing commandos in northern Iraq in an incident that underlined
souring ties between the two NATO allies.

The arrest of 11 special forces officers on Friday and their release two
days later also highlighted Turkish military concerns about its role in Iraq
and its influence at home.

Turkey has had small detachments of troops in northern Iraq since the 1990s
pursuing Turkish Kurdish separatists.

"It turned into a major crisis of trust between the Turkish and U.S. forces
and became a crisis," the head of Turkey's powerful military General Staff,
Hilmi Ozkok, told reporters.

He said the incident touched on "national honor and the honor of the Turkish
armed forces."

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, in their
second telephone conversation in two days, he expected those behind the
arrests to be brought to account. His office said in a statement the two
sides agreed to set up a joint commission in the northern Iraqi city of
Kirkuk to probe the incident. It would start work on Tuesday.

"(Erdogan) expressed his belief the commission will ... create the necessary
environment to render Turkish-American relations in the region more
effective," the statement said.

Diplomatic sources in the Middle East said one of those detained was a
Turkish colonel expelled twice previously by U.S. or British forces for
"suspicious activities." They said there was evidence the soldiers were
involved in a plot to kill the interim governor of Kirkuk. Turkey denies the

In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said U.S.-Turkish
relations were "very strong" and the United States acted because of "reports
of disturbing activities that they (the Turkish soldiers) might have been
involved in."

"We had substantial intelligence information that they might have been up to
activities involving local leadership," added a senior U.S. official who
asked not to be named.


Turkish government spokesman Cemil Cicek made clear Ankara had no intention
of leaving northern Iraq.

The Turkish military, whose estimated strength in Iraq is between a few
thousand and 10,000, seeks to control a 12-mile (20-km) deep buffer zone in
Iraq and wants freedom to operate against Turkish Kurdish rebels in the
mountains. "The reasons why Turkish troops need to be there still exist, so
therefore our withdrawal is not on the agenda," Cicek told reporters.

A Bush administration official said he believed the dispute would subside.
"I think it's going to die down very quickly ... on the Turkish side they
are working to cool things down."

The incident, which produced dramatic newspaper headlines such as "Rambo
Crisis" and "Ugly American," came three months after Turkey's parliament
unexpectedly refused the U.S. army permission to use Turkish soil for its
invasion of Iraq.

"The result the army did not expect was that the United States has simply
left Turkey out of the mainstream decision making process over Iraq," said
Dogu Ergil of the Tosam social research institute.

Washington persuaded Turkey not to send extra troops into northern Iraq,
where Ankara fears Kurds may try to found their own state and foment renewed
insurgency in Turkey.

"The Turkish military wants to feel it has the same freedom in northern Iraq
it had before. The U.S. wants to make everyone aware the rules have now
changed," said newspaper commentator Cengis Candar.  Reuters

----- Original Message -----
From: "Anai Rhoads" <>
To: <>
Sent: Saturday, July 05, 2003 10:09 AM
Subject: [casi] US holding Turkish troops?

> [ Converted text/html to text/plain ]
> Dear list,
> My husband just told me that a news-radio prog claimed the US is detaining
> Turkish troops in N. Iraq. Does anyone know anything about this? I am
> for info online and not come up with anything as of yet.
> Thanks
> Anai
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
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