Ankara flexes its muscles

The deployment of turkish soldiers in iraq could further fuel the problems

Last tuesday, the turkish parliament gave the green light to the ankara government’s plan to send soldiers to iraq. 358 deputies voted in favor of the deployment, 183 deputies refused to give their consent. Accordingly, up to 12.000 turkish soldiers were to be deployed to iraq.

In early march 2003, the turkish parliament refused to provide logistical support for the war against iraq, much to the displeasure of the u.S. Government (a brief yes for the stationing of u.S. Troops in turkey). Even the plans of attack had to be changed because of this refusal. The u.S. Subsequently showed its annoyance with the turkish decision. Did the turkish parliament with its current decision make a kowtow before the usa and made apology for its defatist attitude, as some commentators suppose??

Certainly, loan commitments of 8.5 billion dollars for the heavily indebted country on the bosphorus may have influenced the voting behavior of the deputies. But first and foremost, they were pursuing turkish interests, which in the short term also coincided with u.S. Interests in military relief in iraq. But the turkish decision could even complicate the situation in iraq and create new conflicts. This has already been shown by the reaction within iraq to the decision from ankara. Both kurdish organizations and the provisional iraqi governing council vehemently opposed it. The turkmen minority in iraq, on the other hand, was in favor of the decision and, with backing from ankara, was able to make a stronger political impression.

Kurdish groups in particular fear that the turkmen minority could act as a kind of turkey’s fifth column in iraq. The first clashes between kurds and turkmen in northern iraq began months ago. The demobilized fighters of the former kurdistan workers’ party (pkk) stationed in northern iraq are also among the staunch opponents of turkish involvement in iraq. After all, turkish militaries have been demanding the complete elimination of military bases for months now. However, the usa has so far ignored this urge from ankara, although the pkk is on the so-called terror lists of the usa and the european union.

The pkk’s successor organization kadek, in turn, has recently changed course in its assessment of u.S. Policy. After the overthrow of saddam hussein, the turkish government advocated the democratization of the entire region and assigned the usa a key role in this process. It is clear that the kadek also wants to make the situation of the kurdish minority in turkey an ie in this context. Thus, in the foreseeable future, a scenario that had previously been considered impossible could no longer be ruled out. A turned kadek could put turkey under prere with the help of the usa. The turkish government has already taken away the basis for such planning games in advance with its deployment of troops. She made it clear that she "all measures to clean iraq from terrorist elements of pkk/kadek" will meet and prevent iraq from becoming a "asylum for terrorists" become. This has already been agreed with the us government. The head of kadek, osman ocalan, however, hopes that the u.S. Will not allow turkey to act against it or that the u.S. Itself will attack its bases. He did not oppose the deployment of turkish troops in principle, but they had to avoid the kurdish areas and were not allowed to set up bases.

The demonstrative praise from washington for the decision, which is controversial in turkey itself, cannot hide the disagreements that are in full swing over the location of the deployment. Turkey favors selahaddin province in northern iraqi kurdish region. The usa wants to prevent that under all circumstances, because then immediately with arguments between the turkish soldiers and the kurdish population is to be counted on. According to the plans from washington, the turkish soldiers are to be deployed in the particularly dangerous central iraq.

There are also still differences of opinion about the powers of the soldiers. Turkey not only insists on its own command, it also wants to administer most of the territory it controls itself. Ankara can only make such demands because the usa is in urgent need of troop reinforcements due to the continuing resistance in iraq. The consequences of turkey’s military presence, however, could further exacerbate the problems in iraq.