ANKARA Ñ Turkey's parliament has rejected a government request for
U.S. military deployment in a major setback for U.S. plans for an attack on Iraq.
A parliament vote on Saturday failed to obtain an absolute majority for
the deployment of more than 60,000 U.S. troops. The parliamentary leadership
agreed after a closed door session than a simple majority was not enough to
approve the request by the government of Prime Minister Abdullah Gul, Middle East Newsline reported.
The Bush administration appeared stunned by the parliamentary decision.
An official said Washington would wait until Sunday before issuing a formal
"What more do you want?" Tayyip Erdogan, leader of the ruling Justice
and Development Party, asked. "It was a completely democratic result. May it
be for the best," Officials said the Gul government had been expected to
sign a draft memorandum with the United States. The memorandum of
understanding was said to have covered the military and political aspects of
a U.S. war against Iraq.
"We had certainly hoped for a favorable decision," U.S. ambassador to
Ankara Robert Pearson said. "We will wait for further information and advice
from the government of Turkey about how we should proceed."
Parliament voted to approve the deployment of more than 60,000 U.S.
troops by a vote of 264 to 250. The vote was far closer than expected and
was not according to party lines. Nineteen parliamentarians abstained in the
But the opposition Republican People's Party argued that the absence of
an absolute majority of the 550-member parliament would not allow for
passage of the resolution for U.S. military deployment. After a discussion,
parliamentary speaker Bulent Arinc agreed and the government request was
turned down. Parliament was not scheduled to reconvene until Tuesday.
On Sunday, Turkey's ruling party and government convene to discuss the next
Last week, the Gul Cabinet approved the deployment of up to 62,000 U.S.
troops as well as 255 U.S. fixed-wing aircraft and 65 helicopters. Under the
proposal, Turkey would obtain $20 billion in U.S. grants and loan guarantees
as part of a compensation package.