ANKARA Ñ Turkey has decided to send a small military team to monitor
the coalition entry into the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.
Turkish officials said Ankara aims to ensure that Kurdish fighters do
not remain in control of the city, which is located amid the vast northern
Iraqi oil fields. The fields are said to contain 40 percent of Iraq's oil
wealth and Kurdish fighters have joined U.S. special operations forces to
capture the city.
The Turkish deployment of monitors was discussed and approved by the
United States, officials said. They said Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah
Gul discussed the issue with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who
assured his Turkish counterpart that Kurdish forces would withdraw from
Kirkuk after its capture.
"We've accepted this," Gul said.
In Washington, a new report asserts that Ankara's relations with the
United States could be determined by their cooperation in northern Iraq. The
Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies said the
United States requires Turkey's help to preserve Iraq's sovereignty.
The report, authored by Bulent Ali Riza and Seda Ciftci, cited Turkey's
hesitancy to help Washington and called for a review and redefinition of
Turkish-U.S. strategic relations. The center said Ankara, despite tensions
over Iraq, remains vital to U.S. interests in the Islamic world.