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Statement On Current Developments Regarding Iraq
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: CHRYSOULA ECONOMOPOULOS
March 7, 2003 No. 11 (202) 785-8430

Statement On Current Developments Regarding Iraq

U.S. Military Outlines Plans To President Bush For Defeat of Saddam Hussein Without Turkey's Help

Leading Columnists Call For U.S. To End Any Effort For A Second Vote By The Turkish Parliament

Turks Hail Parliament Vote As Victory For Democracy

On March 7, 2003, American Hellenic Institute (AHI) general counsel Gene Rossides stated (1) that U.S. officials have now moved ahead with plans to invade Iraq without Turkey's help in the event of war with Iraq; (2) that leading columnists have called for the U.S. to end any effort for a second vote by the Turkish Parliament; and (3) that the Turks have hailed the Parliament vote as a victory for democracy.

The U.S. military outlines plans to President Bush for defeat of Saddam Hussein without Turkey's help

On March 5, 2003, Mr. Eric Schmitt, reporting for the New York Times (Mar. 6, 2003, at A14; col.1) wrote:

"The Pentagon has provided President Bush with options for an attack against Iraq that could begin within days and without using Turkey as a staging area for American troops in the north, military officials said today.

…Gen. Tommy R. Franks met today at the White House to discuss war plans with President Bush and his top national security advisers.

…[A]dministration officials said the 75-minute meeting focused on all aspects of the war plan, including alternatives to using Turkey as a staging area for American troops to open a northern front in Iraq.

* * * *

A senior Turkish general today endorsed a plan to send as many as 62,000 American troops through Turkey to open a second front in northern Iraq. But a senior American military official said…. 'We're beyond that now,' the official said of staging through Turkey. 'We're at Plan B.'

Plan B, the official said, is what General Franks's initial (emphasis added) war plan envisioned: an offensive launched from Kuwait, with lighter forces from there swooping into northern Iraq to safeguard the oil fields there and keep rival Kurdish factions from fighting with each other or with Turkish troops that might cross the border.

'There'll be a northern option with or without Turkey,' Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters on Tuesday."

Leading columnists call for U.S. to end any effort for a second vote by the Turkish Parliament

The New York Times' nationally syndicated columnist, Mr. Thomas L. Friedman, wrote (NY Times, Mar. 5, 2003, at A27; col. 5):

"The Turkish Parliament's vote against allowing U.S. troops to use Turkish bases is stunning when you consider that the Bush team had offered the Turks a dream package — $6 billion in aid and new weapons, and veto power over the future of Iraq's Kurds. But there is something admirable about the Turkish democracy's refusing to be bribed into a war its people don't want. It would be shameful for us to force the Turks to vote again…" (Emphasis added.)

The Washington Post's nationally syndicated columnist, Jim Hoagland, wrote (Wash. Post, Mar. 6, 2003, at A23; col. 1):

"The Turkish imbroglio illustrates the moment of change that is upon us: This is no time for President Bush's diplomats to try to pressure or seduce Ankara into changing the vote, (emphasis added) or for recriminations or reprisals to fly. It is time to move on, to let Turkey's politicians stew in the consequences of their act, and for Washington to be crystal clear with Turkey's senior generals that they would pay a huge price for staging a unilateral intervention in northern Iraq when war begins."

Turks hail Parliament vote as victory for democracy

From Istanbul on March 4, 2003, Mr. Dexter Filkins wrote a news report in the New York Times titled "In Defeat of the U.S. Plan, Turks See a Victory for Democracy" (NY Times, Mar. 5, 2003, at A11; col. 1). Mr. Filkins wrote:

"When Turkish lawmakers rejected a resolution last week that would have allowed as many as 62,000 American combat troops to set up a base against Iraq, they did not just complicate the Bush administration's plans for war.

In the eyes of many Turks, they ushered in a new era in Turkish democracy. Messier and more unpredictable than what came before it, perhaps, but a system that is proving more open than what most Turks have seen.

'People said they wanted a democracy in Turkey, and now they have one,' said Cuneyd Zapsu, a senior adviser to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party. 'Turkey is a real democracy.'

As the Turkish people continued today to mull over the dramatic vote of last Saturday, in which the Parliament rejected the American military plan by a narrow margin, the idea that something profound had changed in Turkey's politics continued to reverberate here.

* * * *

[S]ome Turks saw in the vote a break with the politics of the past. For 50 years, Turkey's political system has been dominated by tightly controlled political parties, with many of their leaders drawn from the same political class, and by the Turkish military, which has long acted as a primary force in domestic politics. Both were stalwart, and sometimes unquestioning, American allies.

This time, there was something different. The Turkish people overwhelmingly opposed the American effort to bring Turkey into the war. Turkey's military stayed quiet, and the country's democratically elected Parliament turned America down. In that way, for many Turks, the vote represents a singular moment.

'The people now are not following what their leaders say,' said Neyazi Oktem, a law professor at Bilgi University in Istanbul. 'Quite honestly, the concept of democracy has changed in Turkey.'"

From Ankara on March 5, 2003, Mr. Philip Pan, Washington Post foreign service reporter, in an article titled "Turkish Vote on Troops Shows Surprises of Democracy," wrote:

"For years, Ahmet Faruk Unsal listened to U.S. and European critics lecture him about the shortcomings of Turkey's democracy. He nodded as they complained about violations of Kurdish rights or limits on freedom of speech. He acknowledged that the police tortured suspects and agreed the military intervened too often in civilian affairs.

So when he and other members of the Turkish parliament defied the government Saturday by rejecting a measure to let U.S. troops attack Iraq from Turkish territory, Unsal said they were simply doing what their American friends have always said they should do: democratically representing the will of the people.

'The West said all these things about the Turkish system, and we do have problems,' said the former Lockheed Martin engineer…'But you know what? We did something not even the British Parliament, the cradle of democracy, was able to do. We voted with the public, against a war.'

* * * *

Ali Carkoglu, a political scientist at the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation…. and others said Turkey is more democratic than ever. Momentum is building for further change because of requirements for European Union membership, Turkey's main foreign policy goal. As a result, Carkoglu and others said, Washington can no longer get its way with Turkey simply by working with a few top leaders."


Please also visit AHI's website for the following related items:

Gene Rossides' statement on the Turkish Parliament Vote Rejecting U.S. Troops Use of Turkey as a Base for an Attack on Iraq;

Gene Rossides' March 5 statement on current developments regarding Iraq, titled: U.S. Army Lt. General David D. McKiernan Dismisses Rebuff by Turkey; Joint Chiefs Head, General Richard B. Myers, says U.S. forces would invade Iraq from the north "with or without" Turkey's aid; and

AHI's February 26, 2003 joint letter to President Bush re: Senior administration official calls Turkish actions "extortion in the name of alliance.".

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