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Statement On Current Developments Regarding Iraq
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: CHRYSOULA ECONOMOPOULOS
March 13, 2003 No. 12 (202) 785-8430

Statement On Current Developments Regarding Iraq

It Is Not in the Interests of the U.S. to Continue Negotiations with Turkey for a Second Vote in the Turkish Parliament and to Pay to Turkey "extortion in the name of alliance."

The following statement was issued today by Gene Rossides,
American Hellenic Institute general counsel:

It is not in the best interests of the U.S. to continue negotiations with Turkey to pay to Turkey "extortion in the name of alliance" for the use of bases in Turkey to open a northern front in the event of war with Iraq for the following reasons:

It is unnecessary. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard B. Meyers, General Tommy R. Franks, who heads the U.S. forces in the Gulf, and Army Lt. General David D. McKiernan, the U.S. ground commander in the Gulf, have all stated there will be a northern front without Turkey's help. Plan B presented to President Bush on March 5, 2003 by General Franks was General Franks' initial war plan. It envisioned an offensive launched from Kuwait, with lighter forces from there swooping into northern Iraq to safeguard the oil fields. (NY Times, Mar. 6, 2003, at A14; col. 1; see also AHI statement of Mar. 7, 2003 attached

The U.S. should not submit to "extortion in the name of alliance." Turkey demanded $32 billion for the use of Turkish territory by U.S. troops and the U.S. offered $26 billion ($15 billion in one year). A senior U.S. official called Turkey's actions "extortion in the name of alliance." (NY Times, Feb. 20, 2003, at A1; col.6) The administration's offer is fiscally and morally unconscionable and should be immediately withdrawn. Current newspaper reports state that the U.S. is still pushing for a second vote in the Turkish Parliament.

It is extortion at $32 billion, at $26 billion, at $15 billion, at $1 billion, at $1 million or at 1 cent. Members of Congress and commentators have referred to Turkey's actions as extortion, blackmail, bribery and shakedown.

It is fiscally unconscionable. We need these enormous funds in the U.S. for homeland security and domestic needs, or to reduce our huge deficit.

Turkey's purpose is to suppress the Iraqi Kurds and gain access to Iraqi oil as numerous articles have stated. Turkey's purpose is not to remove Saddam Hussein and build democracy in Iraq. Any use of Turkey would make a mockery of our stated objectives. How could we have put ourselves in this position?

It damages our relations with the Iraqi Kurds. Any continued negotiations with Turkey damages our relations with the Iraqi Kurds, an important element in the event of war with Iraq and a key element in building a post-war democratic Iraq. The Iraqi Kurds have developed self-government in the northern Iraq no-fly zone which will be most helpful in the effort to develop democratic institutions in a post-war Iraq. They also have a military force estimated at 100,000 troops. They strongly oppose any Turkish troops invading northern Iraq.

Any deal with Turkey would cast doubt on our stated objectives of disarming the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and building democratic institutions. Newspaper accounts state that Turkey is seeking a veto over U.S. policy regarding the Iraqi Kurds and access to Iraqi oil.

The Turks have hailed the Parliament vote as a victory for democracy. Over 90 percent (the polls show 94 percent) of the Turkish public oppose a war with Iraq). Any second vote in the Turkish Parliament which would authorize use of Turkish territory by U.S. troops would be a severe blow to the efforts of the Turkish people to achieve a real democracy.

Two leading columnists oppose any U.S. 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): "It would be shameful for us to force the Turks to vote again." And the Washington Post's nationally syndicated columnist, Mr. Jim Hoagland, wrote (Wash. Post, March 6, 2003, at A23; col.1): "This is no time for President Bush's diplomats to try to pressure or seduce Ankara into changing the vote."
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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;

Gene Rossides' March 7, 2003 statement on current developments regarding Iraq, titled: 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;

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 info@ahiworld.org. For general information regarding the activities of AHI, please view our website at http://www.ahiworld.org.