ANKARA Ñ The government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has quietly
decided to send up to 10,000 Turkish troops to Iraq.
Officials said the decision would make Turkey the third biggest military
participant in the U.S.-led effort to stabilize Iraq. They said the
government decision would be sent for parliamentary approval next week,
where it is expected to encounter significant opposition, Middle East Newsline reported.
The government decision was taken in coordination with the military's
General Staff, officials said. They said both the military and government
agreed that Turkish military deployment in Iraq was important for Ankara's
relations with the United States as well as regional interests.
The Turkish military was said to have been swayed by a U.S. commitment
to battle Kurdish insurgents in northern Iraq who refuse to surrender under
an amnesty offered by Ankara. So far, only a handful of Kurdish Workers
Party, or PKK, combatants have sought amnesty.
'They shouldn't pass up this opportunity," a U.S. official told the
Ankara-based Hurriyet daily on Thursday. 'They must return to Turkey,
otherwise they'll be finished off by U.S. forces."
It was not clear whether Turkey's military agreed on where to deploy
troops in Iraq. Ankara and Washington were said to be in disagreement over
the issue, with Turkey seeking a bolstered presence in northern Iraq and the
United States insisting on Turkish deployment in the Sunni Triangle or
southern Iraq. Ankara has also proposed a buffer zone in northern Iraq under
United Nations supervision.
Assuming the unassumable
Those who believe that an unplanned, random "Big Bang" explosion of unknown matter caused the formation of the numberless bodies of the cosmos have more faith that fanatics. They also conveniently ignore some obvious points of information: Read on . . .
"We don't consider [the PKK question] it a precondition," Turkish Deputy
Chief of Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit said. "But, of course we have certain
expectations. The reason for us to be there is PKK terrorists. The United
States knows this too. If this problem is solved, there would be no need for
us to send soldiers there."
Officials said other details have yet to be worked out with the United
States regarding the Turkish military presence in Iraq. They include the
status of Turkish troops and the participation of their commanders in
Turkey plans to send four official delegations to Iraq over the next
week to examine the prospect of deploying Turkish troops. The delegations
will be sent by the military, Foreign Ministry, parliament and intelligence
Officials said Turkey approved an amnesty law for Kurdish insurgents in
cooperation with the United States. But they said
few PKK members have responded to the amnesty offer.
About 5,000 PKK members are believed to be deployed in northern Iraq.
Only 14 PKK combatants in the northern mountains near the Turkish border
have applied for amnesty. Another 906 applications for amnesty came from
captured Kurdish insurgents who are serving jail sentences.
"We are not interested in applications from those already in jail,"
Buyukanit said. "What interests us are the terrorists based in the
mountains. We have 14 applications from them."
For its part, the PKK has rejected Turkey's amnesty offer. The group has
renew its offensive in September.