Wednesday, July 11, 2007

'Will Turkey Invade Northern Iraq?'

That's the question asked by AP reporter Christopher Torchia in this article and according to the Times Online, the Turkish prime minister hasn't ruled it out.

This past Sunday, the New York Times editorial The Road Home (which finally called for troop withdrawals from Iraq - a very hollow and far too tardy appeal from a newspaper that published Bush's Iraq war propaganda as it if was factual) included this suggestion:

The United States should explore using Kurdish territory in the north of Iraq as a secure staging area. Being able to use bases and ports in Turkey would also make withdrawal faster and safer. Turkey has been an inconsistent ally in this war, but like other nations, it should realize that shouldering part of the burden of the aftermath is in its own interest.

That's not going to happen if the Turkish government continues to feel betrayed by the US and threatened by PKK militants in northern Iraq. So, while the NYT editors seem to think that Turkey isn't shouldering any of the burden, they refuse to even acknowledge the current reality on the border.

On Monday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Turkish television that Turkey would take whatever steps were necessary if the United States fails to fulfill its pledge to help in the fight against Kurdish rebels, but he appeared reluctant to order an invasion before the elections.

"We are seeing with great grief that America remains quiet as Turkey struggles against terrorism. Because there were promises given to us, and they need to be kept. If not, we can take care of our own business," Erdogan said. "We hope there won't be an extraordinary situation before the election. But there'll be a new evaluation after the elections."

Flashback to this 2005 story and you don't exactly have to wonder why the relationship between the US government and Turkey is on very shaky ground:

US blames Turkey for Iraq chaos
March 22, 2005

The US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has blamed the inability to gain permission to invade Iraq through Turkey for the power of the insurgency that the US now faces.
Asked on Sunday what he considered to be the greatest mistake of the war, Mr Rumsfeld told ABC: "Had we been successful in getting the 4th Infantry Division to come in through Turkey ... I believe that a considerably smaller number of the Baathists and the regime elements would have escaped.

"And as a result the insurgency would have been at a lesser intensity than it is today."

Typical Rumsfeld: blaming everybody else for his own incompetence.

So now we have the NYT wagging its finger at Turkey, telling it that it's for its own good to help the Bush administration get the hell out of Iraq when, all along, Bushco has either ignored Turkey's pleas for help and/or blamed that country for the mistakes made by the "flowers and candy" neocons.

So, tell me again how the NYT has changed its stripes from being a Bushco propaganda mouthpiece?

And, if you want a picture of the possible effects of a Turkish invasion, read this. The stakes are high for all involved and this is a front that the US military is not prepared to deal with, as the article states. Meanwhile, the only thing the Pentagon seems to want to do is play the numbers denial game about how many Turkish troops are actually on the border. Fat lot of good that does. The Pentagon denies every initial war report about anything that might be Bad News™ propped up by the state department's spokespuppet who has offered absolutely nothing about how to deal with a possible incursion. Useless, as usual.

The US has a "Special Envoy for Countering the PKK", retired Air Force General Joseph Ralston, appointed in 2006 and whom the authors of this Harper's article wonder aloud about his seeming lobbying on behalf of Lockheed Martin to the Turkish government.

As a former supreme allied commander for NATO and vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he would appear overqualified for the job.

Then came the mid-September announcement (just weeks after Ralston's appointment) that Turkey would be purchasing thirty new F-16's from Lockheed Martin. Weeks later, the Turkish government ruled out purchasing any Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes. This leaves only one option—Lockheed Martin's new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. A deal between Lockheed and Turkey would be worth as much as $10 billion.

Did Special Envoy Ralston lobby on behalf of Lockheed Martin during his encounters with Turkish officials? It seems likely. Ralston sits on the Board of Directors of Lockheed Martin and serves as vice chairman of The Cohen Group, a lobbying firm that has represented Lockheed since 2004. On August 11 of this year, seventeen days before he was named Special Envoy, Ralston was appointed to The Cohen Group team that lobbies for Lockheed.

So, just how effective is Ralston when it comes to actually advising Turkey if his main function seems to be enabling US war profiteers? It appears that his "special envoy" status doesn't have much to do with what his mission is supposed to be - unless Turkey plans to use those Lockheed Martin planes to attack the PKK within Iraq. Who knows? I guess we'll have to wait until after the Turkish elections to find out what's going to happen.

As for the NYT, which is still shilling for Bushco on the Iran invasion front thanks to several columns by Michael Gordon - a willing leftover from the Iraq war propaganda days - it will take more than one sorry "we support Iraq withdrawal now" editorial to restore its seriously damaged credibility. If its editors couldn't even research the Turkish situation to the extent that they would have had to conclude that Turkey's government isn't in any mood right now to facilitate the withdrawal, their suggestions for such a strategy certainly can't be taken all that seriously and they obviously need to learn how to use Google instead of relying on whoever is whispering administration rhetoric in their ears.

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