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Statement Of Gene Rossides On The Turkish Parliament Vote Rejecting U.S. Troops Use Of Turkey As A Base For An Attack On Iraq
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: CHRYSOULA ECONOMOPOULOS
March 3, 2003 No. 8 (202) 785-8430

Statement Of Gene Rossides On The Turkish
Parliament Vote Rejecting U.S. Troops Use Of
Turkey As A Base For An Attack On Iraq

The following statement was issued today by Gene Rossides, founder and general counsel at the American Hellenic Institute (AHI):

The Turkish Parliament, in accordance with its constitutional procedures, voted on March 1, 2003 to reject a measure that would have allowed up to 62,000 thousand U.S. troops to use Turkey as a base for a northern front attack on Iraq is good news for U.S. interests whether one is for or against war with Iraq.

The point is that we don't need Turkey in the event of war with Iraq and we should not be paying what a senior Bush administration official called "extortion in the name of alliance." We did not need Turkey in the Persian Gulf War in 1990-1991 in which no northern front was opened, and we do not need Turkey today in the event of war with Iraq.

Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld and others have stated the U.S. can do without Turkey. (NYTimes, Feb. 20, 2003, at A13; col. 4; and Nov. 28, 2002, at A1; col.5.) The U.S. can put sufficient combat troops in northern Iraq if it wants to via air transport. The 101st Airborne Division of 20,000 troops is fully adequate for northern Iraq and would be received enthusiastically by the Iraqi Kurds.

The Iraqi Kurds are the key to our success in northern Iraq, not the Turks, in the event of war. And the Iraqi Kurds are a key element for a post-war Iraq, not the Turks.

Ms. Judith Miller of the New York Times reported on March 1, 2003 that Iraqi opposition leaders at their first conference in Iraq in 10 years issued a four page statement "insisting on the right of Iraqis to govern themselves if Saddam Hussein is ousted and creating a political framework for a post-liberation leadership." Their statement "also opposed allowing Turkey to move military forces into northern Iraq." The statement "was unanimously approved by the 54 members of the opposition group's 65 member steering committee who were present. Many of them traveled thousands of miles from far-flung exile to meet" in an enclave controlled by Iraqi Kurds. President Bush's special envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, endorsed the meeting. (NYTimes, Mar. 3, 2003; at A9; col.1.)

It should be common sense that it would be harmful to U.S. interests if Turkish troops invaded Iraq. Turkey is the former colonial ruler of the area and any Turkish troops in northern Iraq would be bitterly resented by the Kurds. Turkey's main interest is not getting rid of the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. Turkey's main interest is to keep down the Iraqi Kurds. (See op-ed article by Peter W. Galbraith, former U.S. ambassador to Croatia, NYTimes, Feb. 19, 2003, at A29; col. 1.)

Putting U.S. troops in the mountains of southeast Turkey to open a northern front was a bad idea from the start because it is (1) militarily unnecessary since we could put airborne troops there if we wanted to; (2) economically damaging in view of the record deficit in the 2004 fiscal year budget as it would cost the U.S. $26 billion ($15 billion in one year of grants and loans) in "extortion" payments and; (3) morality--Turkey's persecution of its 20 percent Kurdish minority is far greater than Saddam Hussein's against the Iraqi Kurds. (See Edward Peck article in the Mediterranean Quarterly, Fall 2001, pages 13-26, at page 16. Mr. Peck, a retired U.S. ambassador, served as U.S. chief of mission in Baghdad from 1977 to 1980.) Turkey, a member of NATO, is an aggressor nation which still illegally occupies 37.3 percent of Cyprus and maintains an illegal blockade of Armenia.

It makes no political or military sense to put U.S. troops in a country in which over 90 percent (polls show 94 percent) of the population do not want them. The Turkish Parliament voted in accordance with its constitutional procedures and the U.S., in its own best interests, should not be pressing to overturn the vote."

For further details, please see the joint letter to President George W. Bush of February 26, 2003 (click here) which details Turkey's extortion and that Turkey is not needed in the event of war with Iraq.

For additional information, please contact Chrysoula Economopoulos at (202) 785-8430 or info@ahiworld.org. For general information regarding the activities of AHI, please view our website at http://www.ahiworld.org.