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Re: [casi] Turks, Kurds and the US-Turkish relationship

I notice that both articles you cite here discussing the future of Iraq
interestingly omit the most  important word, OIL.

----- Original Message -----
From: "AS-ILAS" <>
To: "casi" <>
Sent: Tuesday, July 29, 2003 6:04 AM
Subject: [casi] Turks, Kurds and the US-Turkish relationship

> 1) A voice of sanity amid Iraq's chaos
> 2) Turks, Kurds and the US-Turkish relationship
> ------------
> 1)
> Jul 29, 2003
> A voice of sanity amid Iraq's chaos
> By Syed Saleem Shahzad
> SULAIMANIYA, Northern Iran - Violence continues in most parts of the
> Iraq, with sloganeering against the US presence the daily business in the
> south, and anxiety over the right of determination for the Kurds in the
> north. Yet a slow and steady political process is very gradually evolving.
> Side by side with the daily casualties of US soldiers, a well-thought out
> and enduring package of policies is very much in the focus of the
> political forces of the post-Saddam era, although it remains to be seen
> long it will take for the present anarchy and political vacuum to be
> replaced by a stable political system.
> Under Saddam Hussein, all political forces opposed to his self-hatched,
> so-called Arab socialist nationalism were crushed. As a result, southern
> Iraq seems to be devoid of any political force and the half -literate
> clerics are exploiting the chaos. A similar situation exists in central
> Iraq. However, the situation in the northern region of Kurdistan is
> different. After the Gulf War of 1991, the Kurds began to establish
> democratic norms and civil society, and these endeavors are now bearing
> fruit.
> In the present chaotic circumstances, the Kurds have a team, unified
> theories for the future of Iraq, and a decisive role to play. And unlike
> other regions, the Kurds are playing their cards very cleverly and making
> sure of a powerful role in any future government.
> One man, Dr Faud Masum, has emerged nationally in the post-Saddam period
> a powerful political personality.
> He is also the most prominent figure in Kurdistan right now and is tipped
> the president of its next joint parliament. (He was the first prime
> of the joint parliament, but resigned immediately because the Kurdish
> factions could not develop consensus on issues). Currently he is a member
> a committee in Baghdad which is pondering a constitution for Iraq.
> Masum, 65, has had a dynamic career. A PhD in Islamic Philosphy from Cairo
> University, he wrote his thesis on Iqwan-u-Sifa (a group of sufis in 10th
> century Iraq who believed in secularism). He was a teacher at Basra
> University but later he chose to be a peshmerga , a member of a Kurdish
> volunteer force and which means "a person who faces death" in the Kurdish
> struggle. He says that he fought for Kurdistan and carries many old
> but he never wounded anybody.
> This correspondent had a chance to speak to Masum at his modest house in a
> middle-class district of Sulaimaniya, in Iraqi Kurdistan, where he
> his political perspective on post-Saddam Iraq.
> ATol: Iraq is situated in the heart of the Arab world. How do you see the
> present developments and their impact on neigboring countries, especially
> the presence of US troops?
> Masum: Let me clarify. Iraq is not an Arab country. It is a multi-ethnic
> country comprising Assyrians, Kurds, Arabs, Turkmens, etc. But we are a
> member of the Arab League and we would retain that membership. In my
> opinion, an "Iraq first" policy is in our interest, but we would not be
> of any plan against our neighbors, nor would we support it.
> ATol: The US' aims in the Middle East seem to be obvious. It plans to
> the dynamics of Middle Eastern society and wants broad democratic and
> economic reforms in the region. How do you see these developments?
> Masum: Of cource, the situation in Iraq will have a direct impact on
> neighboring countries, and that is why these countries are afraid.
> Interestingly, they already have US troops on their land, but they are
> afraid of US designs for political and economic reforms in the region. The
> US has a clear line of interest behind these policies, but we too have our
> interests. Let's see what happens in the future.
> ATol: There is an impression that the US would not allow a big local army
> and it would continue to dominate the region through its presence. Do you
> think this is part of its colonial thinking on Iraq?
> Masum: I do not think so. Colonialism is history now. The US cannot
> rule in Iraq. I think they will keep their presence through some of their
> bases in Iraq. As far as an Iraqi army is concerned, it would number
> to 140,000, not including the border guards. Since the Ba'athist regime
> developed its own military doctrine, we aim to purge that trend and
> an army on a new theme.
> ATol: How do you see the present political trends in Iraq, with so-called
> Islamic fundamentalism taking root after the prolonged secular rule of the
> Ba'athist regime?
> Masum: The southern Iraqi region used to be a nest of leftist and
> nationalist movements before Ba'athist rule. However, during Saddam's
> several factors combined to weaken the real political forces. For
> Shi'ites were suppressed. Similarly, the Iranian revolution took place,
> which helped the Islamic parties in the south to follow a model like the
> communists used to have for the USSR.
> But I think that once elections are held, these Islamic parties will not
> hold a majority. They are only more organized now because of the political
> fractures caused by the Saddam government's victimization. Islamist
> are also playing skillfully with some temporary problems like civic
> and they are painting the present US invasion as a fight between Islam and
> infidels.
> You see, there is a person named Muktadarus Sadr emerging as a leader in
> south. He is not a cleric qualified to issue any religious ruling. He is
> young to be the top scholar of the Shi'ites. He has started raising
> against the US and many of the former Ba'athists [those who are Shi'ites]
> have joined him. This is now the order of the day in the south.
> I see these developments as a temporary phase and once the country gets on
> political track, they will fizzle out.
> ATol: The Sunni Arabs ruled Iraq from the beginning. Now they have a sense
> of deprivation. Many believe this is the main propelling force behind the
> resistance against US troops. What is your opinion?
> Masum: Saddam has already explioted Arab nationalism. He has used Sunnis
> against Shi'ites. We Kurds are Sunnis but he destroyed us. Shi'ites are
> Arabs but they were suppressed. What we here call the "triangle of
> resistance" mostly comprises the remnants of the Ba'athist regime. They
> nothing to do with Sunni Arabs. The resistance movement has no political
> manifestation; it is just a fight for vested interests of the former
> Ba'athists. Saddam was equally bad for everybody, and anybody can see the
> bodies of Arab Sunnis in the recently found mass graves besides those of
> Shi'ites and Kurds.
> However, there is a group of Sunni clerics who are preaching that power
> should be in the hands of Sunni Arabs. These clerics mostly belong to the
> Ba'ath Party. Sunni Arabs ruled this region during the Ottoman Empire,
> during King Faisal's reign, after the 1958 revolution, and after the
> revolution. There was no room in the past for non-Sunni Arabs in any
> sensitive or important positions. Even the governors of the Kurd and
> regions were Sunni Arabs. But in my opinion this injustice should not
> continue in the future. A federal system, not like in the West, but like
> many Eastern countries, should be implimented in which all three parts of
> Iraq should have greater autonomy for their decisions.
> ATol: The US failed to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and
> to find a link between the Saddam regime and al-Qaeda. Is there any
> justification for the US invasion?
> Masum: I saw mass graves and suppression under Saddam Hussein, and I think
> that it is the moral duty of any nation to help another nation out from
> these circumtances.
> ------------------
> 2)
> Jul 29, 2003
> Turks, Kurds and the US-Turkish relationship
> By Robert M Cutler
> The recent detention of Turkish soldiers by US troops in northern Iraq is
> only a symptom of the divergence of interests between erstwhile Cold War
> allies. The vote of the Turkish Grand National Assembly this year against
> allowing the United States to use Turkey's territory for transit of
> forces in the run-up to Gulf War II is likewise only a symptom of that
> divergence of interests.
> At the origin of that divergence is the response of US foreign policy to
> events around September 11, 2001. Look for those divergences to continue
> manifest, despite Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul's recently
> visit to Washington.
> The naming of the trinity of Iraq, North Korea and Iran as the "axis of
> evil" covers over the "deterritorialization" of US security and defense
> policy. What does this mean? It means that geography no longer has
> fundamental strategic, but only tactical, significance. The term
> "deterritorialization" arose among political scientists in the late 20th
> century to refer to the emergence of non-traditional security issues and
> significance of the psychological aspect of social mobilization. Under
> conditions of contemporary US security and defense policy, it has been
> a new connotation.
> Euro-American international political studies drew attention during the
> 1980s to the new emergence of security issues, from the danger of "nuclear
> winter" to that of global warming, which required international
> to be resolved and so were no longer based in zero-sum notions of
> traditional military-strategic calculations. They were therefore called
> "non-traditional" security issues. (Mikhail Gorbachev and his ideologues
> fact drew upon that Western academic work when they reformulated Soviet
> foreign-policy doctrine so as to place the common interests of mankind
> even those of the Soviet state.)
> As for social mobilization, Western social scientists in the 1990s, caught
> up short by the eruption of ethnic conflict throughout Central Eurasia,
> recourse to so-called "constructivist" theories of "identity politics".
> These theories were often divorced from systematic consideration of the
> social bases for the emergence of those identities or, indeed, the role of
> (indigenous) intellectuals in creating them and so fomenting ethnic
> conflict. The Wars of the Yugoslav Succession illustrate this process, and
> Valerii Tishkov, head of the Ethnography Institute of the Russian Academy
> Sciences, is one of the few scholars who has attentively examined its
> significance in the former Soviet areas.
> But because identity is a wonderful concept about which to speculate,
> "constructivist" Western theories frequently tended to slight the
> of geography and other tangible resources that condition the actual
> and course of ethnic conflicts.
> If we look back on the evolution of US Cold War doctrine over the years,
> becomes clear that the collapse of the Soviet bloc, including that of the
> Soviet Union (a process distinct from the former), signaled a late victory
> for the earlier Cold War doctrine of "rollback" over the later Cold War
> doctrine of "deterrence". Deterrence doctrine (along with its concomitant
> war-fighting strategy of "escalation dominance") was fundamentally a
> psychological artifact. It was really grounded more in presumed cognitive
> processes of Soviet decision-makers than in any immutable facts of
> geography. By contract, rollback at least suggested the relevance of
> geography: rolling "back" was a spatial rather than psychological concept.
> In a particularly striking manner, however, we have since September 2001
> watched, following the validation of a geographically based Cold War
> doctrine, the progressive deterritorialization of US security and defense
> doctrine.
> This means that geography no longer matters from the standpoint of
> US national interests. The "war against terrorism" is an all-subsuming
> rubric under which the doctrine of "preemptive war" is asserted without
> respect to military theater. The current US administration brings the "war
> against terrorism" home through such legislation as the "Uniting and
> Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept
> and Obstruct Terrorism" (USA PATRIOT) Act of 2001. US security and defense
> policy has been "deterritorialized" not because it is has become without
> reference to territory, but because it does not distinguish among
> territories.
> That fact establishes the parameter within which Turkey has lost its
> relative geopolitical significance to the United States as a regional
> allied against a territorially defined enemy (the erstwhile Soviet Union).
> Turkey has, since September 2001, been transformed in practice from a
> strategic regional ally into a tactical facilitator of the
> "war against terrorism". Thus when the Turkish Grand National Assembly
> failed to approve the US deployment into Iraq through the country, the
> Americans simply made other plans.
> The war on Iraq was not really fought against an enemy capable of
> fundamental harm upon the United States; the US reply to the events of
> September 2001 illustrates the country's resilience. The war on Iraq was,
> rather, a means to an end: it is intended as a demonstration of
> capacity to assert US prerogative without restriction, anywhere, any time:
> when reach is ubiquitous, territory ceases to have meaning. One unintended
> consequence has been, as a conservative Eastern European diplomat has put
> it, that former anti-anti-Americans in his region have found themselves
> turned today, against their will, into anti-Americans. This is the dynamic
> that threatens to play itself out also in Turkey, but with much greater
> violence and unpredictability.
> Why will this happen so? To be sure, Turkish public opinion was
> overwhelmingly opposed to the US deployment. Yet as Deputy Defense
> Paul Wolfowitz recognized during a visit to Ankara in late May, the
> government allowed a parliamentary "free vote" (ie, not subject to party
> discipline) because "the military [did not] say it was in Turkey's
> to support the United States ... with the kind of strength that would have
> made a difference". And this was because the Turkish military, still
> thinking itself a strategic rather than tactical player in Washington's
> eyes, miscalculated and sought to impose upon the US its own conditions
> acquiescing in a war that it did not really need on its own border. These
> conditions included the deployment of tens of thousands of Turkish troops
> northern Iraq and, by implication, Turkey's policy toward the Kurdish
> within Turkish borders.
> Thus Gul's visit to Washington occurred in the context of the creation of
> high-level US-Turkish military committee to investigate the detention of
> Turkish soldiers by US forces in northern Iraq this month. News reports
> Ankara indicate that discussions in the joint committee included
> of possibilities to create an "international protection force" for
> Iraq.
> With the refusal of India, France and Germany to supply forces to backstop
> the US occupation of Iraq, and with United Nations Secretary General Kofi
> Annan's invitation to Washington to supply a timetable for withdrawal of
> forces unlikely to be accepted, an international aegis for such a force is
> unlikely. Press reports from Ankara state that the United States has
> accepted the principle that Turkey will take command of any region in
> northern Iraq where Turkish soldiers may be deployed.
> In the absence of UN authorization, then, it seems increasingly likely
> the US will come to rely at least in part upon Turkish troops to be sent
> into northern Iraq. How far "mission creep" will go remains undetermined.
> The quid pro quo for this could likely be US acquiescence, if not
> assistance, in suppression of Kurds in Turkey. That would be an ominous
> development in light of a recent statement by the presidency of Turkey's
> Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress (KADEK), the political and social
> organization into which the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) transformed
> itself in the late 1990s, during and after PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan's
> arrest and trial.
> KADEK has stated that if the Turkish state does not reciprocate its own
> policy of compromise (in effect since the late 1990s at Ocalan's
> and insistence), then it will resume armed combat. With the Kurdish ethnos
> spread across the map from Syria into Iran, and with a political and
> territorial foothold in northern Iraq - where the main Iraqi Kurdish
> wholly support US policy and seek to establish a degree of relative
> from Baghdad within a federal state - the stage would be set for further
> "unintended consequences" of the US invasion: just what Washington doesn't
> need.
> Robert M Cutler ( is research fellow, Institute of
> European and Russian Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa.
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