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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 suggestions. 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. "UGLY AMERICAN" 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. http://tinyurl.com/ga7l Reuters ----- Original Message ----- From: "Anai Rhoads" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: <email@example.com> 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 looking > for info online and not come up with anything as of yet. > > Thanks > > Anai > > -------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---- > Add photos to your e-mail with MSN 8. Get 2 months FREE*. > > ===References:=== > 1. http://g.msn.com/8HMWENUS/2746??PS= > > _______________________________________________ > 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 firstname.lastname@example.org > All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk _______________________________________________ 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