Kurd Sellout Watch, Day 147

The U.S. remains coy about where Turkish troops would go.

Earlier this week, Chatterbox expressed some anxiety about pending meetings between Turkey’s foreign minister, Abdullah Gul, and various high-ranking Bush administration officials who are trying to persuade Turkey to send troops into Iraq. Chatterbox questioned the wisdom of this desire, given the potential for Turkey to turn an ostensible peacekeeping mission into an assault on Iraq’s Kurds. American forces in Iraq arrested, earlier this month, a Turkish special forces unit that reportedly planned to assassinate the Kurdish governor of Kirkuk. Why invite more trouble for the only group in Iraq whose loyalty the United States can count on?

A principal reason the United States is so solicitous toward Turkey is that several countries we’ve approached, including France and Germany, insist that the United Nations oversee any international peacekeeping force in Iraq. At a press conference after his July 24 meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell, Gul was asked whether he favored involvement by the UN or NATO. “UN [or] NATO involvement definitely will make the job easier,” Gul answered. The implication, though, was that Turkey wouldn’t insist on it.

The urgent question remains: Where would the Turkish troops go? Sending them into Iraqi Kurdistan would be a disaster. But, at least publicly, the Bush administration isn’t ruling that out. Asked about this at the July 24 press conference, Powell replied, “I used to be in the Department of Defense, but I am not now. So I will yield to my colleagues in the Pentagon. …”

Back in Ankara today, Gul indicated to reporters that Turkey won’t make a final decision on the troop request before September. By then, perhaps the Bush administration will have recognized the wisdom in turning administration of Iraq over to the United Nations, mooting the issue of Turkish involvement. But don’t count on it.

Kurd Sellout Watch Archive:
July 23, 2003: Day 143
May 16, 2003: Day 75
May 1, 2003: Day 60
April 25, 2003: Day 54
April 23, 2003: Day 52
April 18, 2003: Day 47
April 10, 2003: Day 39
April 3, 2003: Day 32
March 26, 2003: Day 24
March 25, 2003: Day 23
March 23, 2003: Day 21
March 21, 2003: Day 19
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?”