ANKARA Ñ Turkey has threatened to delay a decision for the
deployment of U.S. troops in preparation for the war against Iraq.
Turkish officials said the government of Prime Minister Abdullah Gul has
been dismayed by divisions within NATO to provide military help to
Ankara to defend against the prospect of an Iraqi missile attack as well as by Washington's failure to agree to Ankara's demands for
A Turkish request to European members of the alliance for PAC-2 systems has been
delayed amid the NATO dispute, Middle East Newsline reported.
[On Thursday, Germany and the Netherlands agreed to help Turkey's
defense capabilities despite the NATO division. Ankara had asked the two
countries for PAC-2 systems.]
Last week, Ankara approved the deployment of 3,500 U.S. military
personnel to upgrade Turkish air force bases and sea ports in preparation
for combat troops, naval ships and aircraft. Turkey's parliament was
scheduled to vote next week on a proposal for the deployment of up to 40,000
U.S. troops in the war against Iraq.
But the chairman of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party, Recep
Erdogan, said Ankara might delay the parliamentary vote. Erdogan is regarded
as the most authoritative civilian voice in Turkey.
Erdogan told the Yeni Safak newspaper that Turkey wants to wait for a
United Nations Security Council resolution on Iraq before a parliamentary
vote for U.S. combat troop deployment. He said the parliamentary session
scheduled for Tuesday would not result in an immediate vote.
"Turkey will watch, evaluate and then prepare the motion [for U.S. troop
deployment]," Erdogan said.
U.S. officials have expressed frustration with the halting pace of
Turkish participation in the expected war against Iraq. The officials have
pressed Ankara for a quick decision that would allow U.S. troops to land in
Turkey and head for Iraq.
But both Turkish and U.S. officials acknowledge that the pace of the
talks has been hampered by a failure to agree on a compensation package for
Ankara. The Washington Post quoted U.S. officials on Friday as saying that
Turkey's demand for up to $25 billion in U.S. aid is outlandish.