Kurd Sellout Watch, Day 19

The fog of diplomacy.

The dispute between the United States and Turkey over whether to allow U.S. overflights has been resolved. As Chatterbox reported earlier today (in an update at the bottom of yesterday’s Kurd Sellout Watch), the March 20 vote by the Turkish parliament to allow U.S. overflights did not resolve the matter. Turkish government ministers, still hoping to force the United States to allow Turkish troop deployment in Iraqi Kurdistan, continued to block the overflights. U.S. ambassador Robert Pearson spent a long night in negotiations, Colin Powell made a phone call, and now, finally, the Turks have OK’d the overflights. Did they get anything in return? Something that might make the Kurds unhappy? We don’t know. “It was not immediately clear,” reports the Associated Press’ James C. Helicke, “how the issue was resolved.” Shortly after the overflights were approved, however, Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gul made it official: Turkish troops will head in. An anonymous U.S. official quoted by Reuters said we did not agree to this. But for Chatterbox to believe that a sellout didn’t just take place, it will take (at the very least) a U.S. official saying on the record that we did not agree to this, and that in any ensuing hostilities, U.S. troops will defend the Kurds.

Meanwhile, U.S. warplanes are pounding the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, and Reuters says the BBC has reported that U.S. special forces may have actually captured the city. If true, that would eliminate one locus of dispute between the Turks and the Kurds, who both want Kirkuk. They’ll likely both back off if it’s in U.S. hands.

[Update, March 22: There are conflicting reports today about whether Turkey did or did not send about 1,500 troops into Iraqi Kurdistan yesterday. Ankara says it did not but will. British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon tells Agence France Presse that “a small Turkish force” did enter, but that it “is consistent with a border policing operation.”

It’s still an open question whether the United States got permission to fly over Turkey by quietly assenting to a Turkish troop deployment in Iraqi Kurdistan. That is to say, it’s still an open question whether the U.S. sold the Kurds out. British Defense Secretary Hoon tells the BBC that there was no deal. Unnamed “senior Turkish officials” say there was a deal, with Secretary of State Colin Powell. finds it  ”evident that America and Britain have betrayed the Kurds again.”] 

Kurd Sellout Archive:

March 20, 2003: Day 18
March 17, 2003: Day 15
March 14, 2003: Day 12
March 11, 2003: Day 9
March 6, 2003: Day 4
March 4, 2003: Day 2
March 3, 2003: “How Screwed Are the Kurds?”