|War Plans Half Baked|
The new Islamic
government in Turkey was never going to be an easy political ally, but things
have cooled off with the US over the last few days, as the parliament voted
against allowing the passage of 62,000 US troops through Turkey for an
attack on Iraq.
The US thought they had the Turkey in the bag, and that the deal was done.
Turkey was asking for some $US50B in aid and loan guarantees in exchange for
free passage, but the US baulked, and said the Turks would have to settle for a
mere $US7B in aid and free ride into Iraq to harass the local Kurds.
The Turks, of course, don't like the Kurds. The Kurds (mostly in northern
Iraq, Western Iran and
southern Turkey) just missed out on getting their own state in the big (and
seemingly arbitrary) Colonial carve-up which created most of the Middle Eastern countries
last century. Going into northern Iraq would let the Turks quell uprisings
before they spread to the Kurdish population on their own soil.
No such luck now - the Turkish parliament baulked at the US counter-offer - even
after officials gave approval 'in principle', and the deal is off: no free
passage; no aid; no harassing the Kurds.
American M1A2 tanks are still on ships in the Mediterranean waiting to
unload. Unloading onto Turkey seems unlikely - now they will have to sail around
to Kuwait, because the entire military ground operation may have to be launched from
Of course with the US and UK ramping up the bombing on Iraq even before a
declaration of war, it may be well underway by the time the tanks get to
Kuwait. They might unload straight into newly captured Iraqi ports - or not at
As yet though, there are no reports of the US transport ships sailing off
through the Suez to unload at Kuwait. Clearly the US are still hoping for a
change of heart from the Turks, who have just witnessed the 12% drop of their
stock exchange as the reality of having to go cold-turkey on US aid hit home
for the debt-ridden nation. The thought of the US encouraging a future Iraqi
puppet government turning a blind eye to smuggling arms to Kurdish separatists
in Turkey as payback may be a little sobering too.
Saddam has been confused by the maneuvering too. Earlier reports claimed that
Iraqi troops in the north of Iraq were moving south - strongly suggesting that
Saddam had conceded northern Iraq, and was moving his military back to Baghdad
to protect his regime. After this, they may be moving north again.
This looks like a boring game of chess in which inexperienced players make
the same move over and over again, thinking that boredom will force their
opponent to break out of the loop. We'll be waiting until thanksgiving.
Saddam's tried and true cheat-and-retreat strategies have never failed
him - yet. And Turkey too, may be given one more chance. The E.U. aspirant with
the dubious distinction of being the only country in the Middle-West may have
to decide which side of the line it falls on in the war of ideologies - and
soon. If it makes the wrong decision - Turkey is stuffed.