ANKARA Ñ The United States has offered Turkey a new aid package in
exchange for allowing the passage of military equipment and other supplies
for coalition forces in northern Iraq.
For their part, Turkish officials said Ankara would allow the United
States to bring more 200 M998 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle,
nicknamed the Hummer, through Turkey to Iraq. The United States has also
deployed the light combat vehicle in Afghanistan.
"A total of 204 unarmed Hummers, which were brought to Turkey for site
preparation, have been transferred to northern Iraq over the last few days,"
the Turkish military General Staff said in a statement. "There have not been
any weapons or equipment transferred to the region."
Turkish officials said the aid package was relayed to Ankara during the
visit by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Middle East Newsline reported. Powell held talks on Tuesday
and Wednesday with civilian and military leaders on increased Turkish
cooperation with the U.S.-led war against Iraq.
Powell, officials said, appealed to his hosts to allow U.S. warplanes on
missions from and to Iraq to land in Turkish military bases. In addition,
the U.S. secretary also urged Ankara to approve a supply line through Turkey
for coalition forces in northern Iraq as well as the stationing of a
military unit to assess developments in the region.
The United States did not ask Turkey for the deployment of a large
amount of troops to bolster a northern front against the Iraqi regime.
Instead, Powell said, a northern front is being based on special forces and
"The northern option has changed shape," Powell said. "Instead of using
the [U.S. Army] 4th Division for that purpose, we have put special forces
teams into the north, and the 173rd Airborne Brigade. Whether other forces
might at some point be introduced or not, or they'll be coming up from the
south, I will leave to the military commanders to decide. We are just now
executing the northern option, that part of the campaign, in a different way
than had originally been planned."
"Our principal area of discussion today had to do with supplies Ñ food,
fuel, other kinds of supplies that might go in," Powell said.
On Thursday, Turkish newspapers reported that 30 Turkish trucks carried
U.S. military vehicles and equipment into northern Iraq. The reports said
the U.S. military supplies reached an air base in Irbil, 150 kilometers
south of the Turkish border.
Officials also said Ankara formally agreed to allow the landing of U.S.
military planes in distress and the transfer of wounded soldiers to
Turkey. The United States has been conducting around 200 air sorties a day
"We have been allowing airplanes in distress to land in Turkish
airfields, and also for the evacuation of wounded people from the region to
be brought in," Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said. "So, these are
In exchange, the secretary said, the Bush administration would press for
approval of more than $1 billion in U.S. orders in Turkey. This would
include U.S. military purchases of $750 million in Turkey of a range of
equipment and supplies required for forces in Iraq.
The Bush administration would also liberalize Turkish exports to the
United States and help establish so-called Qualified Industrial Zones that
would jointly produce textiles and other equipment for export. The U.S.
military would also commit to purchasing Turkish textiles.
The Bush administration has already approved $1 billion in aid for
Ankara and Congress has begun advancing the legislation. The House and
Senate Appropriations committees are expected to discuss the aid package to
Turkey as part of a more than $75 billion wartime spending bill.
So far, two leading House members have called for a reduction of the aid
package to Turkey and establish "performance standards" for the NATO ally.
They are Henry Hyde, a Republican, and Tom Lantos, the ranking Democrat on
the House Appropriations Committee.