ANKARA Ñ On Thursday, Turkey's government formally agreed to a six-month
deployment of more than 60,000 U.S. troops as well as hundreds of aircraft.
Turkish sources said Ankara and Washington have also reached understanding
on troop levels in northern Iraq. They said Turkey would be allowed to have
twice the number of U.S. troops in the area.
Under the agreement, officials said, the United States would be allowed to
deploy 62,000 troops in Turkey for six months, Middle East Newsline reported. Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul
said the military portion of the accord has been completed and the entire
agreement has been scheduled for a vote by parliament on Saturday.
Turkish sources said the memorandum of understanding drafted by Ankara
and Washington in February satisfies concerns of the government of Prime
Minister Abdullah Gul and the military.
The MoU defines Turkey's military role in northern Iraq, the sources
said. They said Turkey will have command over its troops in Iraq and will
coordinate and cooperate fully with U.S. commanders. A Turkish military
liasion was sent to Qatar to ensure round-the-clock coordination with U.S.
"The forces of the two countries will carry out their duties under their
respective national commands," the MoU was quoted as saying.
The troops would be accompanied by tanks, armored personnel carriers and
fighter-jets based in up to six military bases in Turkey. Officials said the
more than 300 U.S. aircraft would be allowed to arrive in Turkey. They would
comprise 255 fixed-wing aircraft and 65 helicopters.
In return, officials said, Turkey would receive a compensation package
worth about $20 billion. Turkish Economy Minister Ali Babacan said this
would comprise a grant of $6 billion dollars as well as an $8.5 billion loan
that would be offered to Ankara as soon as the war against Iraq begins. The
rest of the package would await congressional approval.
The sources said the MoU, which has
yet to be signed, fulfills Ankara's demand that the thousands of U.S. troops
planned for deployment in Turkey will be under Turkish law and be confined
to specified areas.
'Turkey and the United States have reached a consensus on military
matters concerning Iraq because Ankara got what it wanted from the United
States in this area," analyst Murat Celik wrote in the Star daily.
"We've substantially completed the negotiations with the Turkish
government on the economic, political and military documents that will
outline the U.S.-Turkish cooperation with respect to Iraq," State Department
spokesman Richard Boucher said on Thursday. "There are still maybe one or
two final details to be worked out."
Turkish sources said the military agreement was resolved far more
quickly than the negotiations on an economic aid package as well as the
future of northern Iraq. They attributed this to the close military
between the two NATO allies as well as the approach of the Turkish General
The accord details military cooperation between the two NATO allies in
Iraq and Turkey. Under the MoU, U.S. soldiers arriving in Turkey will come
under Turkish law. The accord also addresses the routes used by U.S.
soldiers, restrictions on passage and a framework for briefings by U.S. and
"U.S. soldiers will be subject to Turkish law within Turkey's borders
and in terms of their relations with citizens of the Turkish Republic, and
they will be subject to U.S. law within themselves," the MoU was quoted as
A key point not addressed in the accord is the level of troop deployment
in northern Iraq. The MoU does not list how many soldiers either Turkey or
the United States can deploy in northern Iraq. The sources said this
understanding that troop deployment would be determined by the conduct of
the war against Iraq.
The MoU also sets a timetable for U.S. military deployment in Turkey.
Under the draft accord, the U.S. Army will be given two weeks to disembark
from ships and aircraft arriving in Turkey until they reach the Iraqi
border. Under the MoU, U.S. ships will anchor in the Mediterranean port of
Turkish sources said the hardest issues comprise the future of Iraq
after the toppling of the regime of President Saddam Hussein. They said
Ankara wants guarantees that Iraq will have one military and security
infrastructure. In contrast, the United States wants the Kurds to have a
separate military force in northern Iraq.
Ankara also wants the Turkmen minority to be granted a formal role in
any new political system in Iraq. The United States is opposed to any
special role for the ethnic Turks.
The sources said the United States has doggedly bargained over every
item in the MoU. At the same time, Washington has prepared for options
should Turkey fail to agree to U.S. deployment.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, suggested
that Turkey has become the biggest challenge to war planners. He told the
New York-based Economic Club on Wednesday that the military seeks any
agreement that allows for U.S. soldiers to land in Turkey and be granted
safe passage to Iraq.
"That's everything we really want," Myers said.