The Bush administration has abandoned the hope that
Turkey will serve as a major front in the planned U.S.-led war against Iraq.
Officials said the Defense Department has ordered U.S. Central Command
to begin preparations to execute a contingency plan for a one-front war
against Iraq. That front would be Kuwait and Central Command has been
informed to prepare for the arrival of at least two additional divisions
meant for deployment in Turkey.
"The Pentagon has written off Turkey as a second front," an official
said. "There is the prospect that U.S. special forces could eventually enter
Iraq from Turkish territory. But this will not comprise the second front
that we had been planning."
Officials said the Pentagon has launched negotiations with Kuwait for
the arrival of tens of thousands of additional U.S. troops, Middle East Newsline reported. They said Kuwait
has agreed in principle, but raised unspecified guarantees.
The Pentagon has ruled out an air-lift of a massive number of troops and
equipment to northern Iraq. They said the amount of military platforms and
equipment required could not be transported except either by ship or
So far, at least 10 U.S. ships laden with military equipment have been
waiting outside Turkish territorial waters in the eastern Mediterranean. In
wake of parliament's rejection of U.S. troops, the U.S. Army has halted a
$300 million modernization project of Turkish bases and sea ports.
The White House said a contingency plan that would exclude Turkey would
be a viable military option. But White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said
the plan, termed "Plan B," has not yet been implemented. He termed "Plan A"
as that which would use Turkey as a second front.
ALSO BREAKING IN TODAY'S WORLD TRIBUNE.COM:
"The preferable is Plan A for a variety of geographic reasons,"
Fleischer said on Monday. "But Plan B is also a very militarily viable
option, which will be successful. So I think it rather speaks for itself. "
[On Wednesday, the London-based Al Hayat daily quoted Western diplomatic
sources as saying that Israel and Cyprus are regarded as the only U.S.
option in wake of Turkey's refusal to allow the entry of American troops.
The sources envisioned the U.S. use of Israel and Jordan for massive convoys
of American troops and equipment toward northern Iraq.]
Pentagon sources said the use of Kuwait as the only front against Iraq
would pose several significant problems. One is that the Kuwaiti border is
regarded as too narrow for a massive U.S. invasion against Iraq and would
allow the regime of President Saddam Hussein to place all of its military
assets in the south.
Another drawback, the sources said, is that the use of Kuwait as the
sole launching pad against Iraq would create tension with neighboring Saudi
Arabia. The Saudis have pledged to stay out of the war and the sources said
the kingdom has ordered reinforcement of troops near its border with Kuwait
to prevent U.S. forces from using Saudi Arabia in any war against Baghdad.
The sources said the use of Kuwait would force the U.S. military to
quickly divert warships from the eastern Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf.
They said this would require that the ships utilize the Suez Canal, owned by
Egypt. On Tuesday, President George Bush telephoned Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak and discussed Iraq.
"We are expecting the Egyptians to cause problems or just plain delays,"
a Pentagon source said. "It's clear that after the Turkish episode, the
Egyptians will want guarantees for additional aid and other incentives."