The United States has formally abandoned the prospect
of a northern front in the war against Iraq as Turkey has once again balked at cooperating with the U.S. war effort.
But what is looming as a major crisis is the danger that Turkey will militarily pursue its own agenda in northern Iraq.
Washington has been dismayed by the invasion of Turkish troops into
northern Iraq. Officials said thousands of Turkish troops have crossed the
border into Iraq in an operation that was not coordinated with the United
"It would be notably unhelpful if [Turkish troops] went into the north
in large numbers," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said.
Turkey has denied an invasion of Iraq, Middle East Newsline reported. But at the same time Turkish
authorities are believed preparing to expel foreign journalists along the
"As an independent state Turkey does whatever it pleases," Turkish
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said. "We don't want to be misunderstood and
therefore we are discussing the issue with our ally."
U.S. officials said Turkey has proven uncooperative in efforts to send
American troops through that country and toward Iraq. They said Ankara has
also delayed its agreement to allow U.S. aircraft through Turkish air space
for strikes on Iraq.
Officials said dozens of U.S. warships waiting off the Turkish coast
were ordered to leave the eastern Mediterranean and head for the Persian
Gulf. The ships were said to be containing about 20,000 troops from the U.S.
Army's 4th Infantry division.
U.S. Central Command has been aiding pro-U.S. Kurdish elements in an
offensive against Al Qaida forces in northern Iraq. U.S. officials said
about 50 cruise missiles were fired at positions of the Ansar Islam, aligned
to Al Qaida and supported by the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.