The U.S. Defense Department has cited the absence of
Turkish military cooperation as a leading reason for the painstaking advance
Pentagon officials said the absence of a northern front stems from the
refusal of Turkey to allow the deployment of 62,000 American troops in that
country. They said Iraqi Republican Guard divisions were able to withdraw
from the north and focus on a defense of Baghdad and Tikrit in central Iraq.
Goods already unloaded in Turkey must now be reloaded and shipped to the Persian Gulf.
The U.S. military has been ordered to collect a huge amount of material
and vehicles unloaded over the last few days at Turkish ports as part of
now-defunct plans to move American troops through that country to the Iraqi
border. The material is now headed for U.S. ships that will sail for the
Officials said the diversion of the material as well as more than 20,000
U.S. troops meant to enter Turkey has hurt the war effort. They said this
could extend the war against the regime of President Saddam Hussein for up
to another two weeks.
"We're doing it [the movement of troops and military material] from the
south instead of from the north," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said.
"And it's not anywhere near as convenient or helpful."
Officials said the United States has changed its approach toward Turkey
in wake of its refusal to allow the deployment of American troops for the
formation of a second front. They said Turkey has forfeited a U.S. pledge
for up to $15 billion in grants and loans in compensation for the war
against Iraq. They also warned Turkey against deploying troops in northern
Ankara has granted the United States use of Turkish air space for
attacks on targets in northern Iraq. But U.S. officials said the government
of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has tried to place a series of restrictions
on such flights and banned the use of Turkish air bases for any U.S.
military aircraft deployed for the war against Iraq.
U.S. officials said Central Command will form a northern front without
Turkish cooperation. They said about 5,000 U.S. troops have landed in three
airports in northern Iraq, but many of them have been reserved to help fight
Kurdish battles against Al Qaida-aligned forces.
The State Department and other elements of the administration are said
have rejected a proposal to use other U.S. allies in the Middle East to help
form a second front. Officials said the proposal that had been considered by
Pentagon was to divert the U.S. Fourth Infantry Division Ñ meant to be
hosted by Turkey Ñ through Israel and Jordan for deployment in northern
The officials did not rule out a reassessment in U.S. relations with
after the war with Iraq. They said the administration will examine a range
"I think one of the mistakes they made, frankly, was turning down our
proposal for a cooperative action in the north
which would have been useful," Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said.
"It looks as though maybe we don't
need it. We're getting lots of people into the north by the southern routes
and we'll try to make sure that the kinds of
problems that would in any way prompt a Turkish intervention are just not
going to happen."