The United States has again blamed Turkey for delays in the Pentagon's "shock and awe" strategy against Iraqi President Saddam
U.S. President George Bush said Turkey's refusal to allow American
forces to enter that country to form a second front in northern Iraq was a
major blow to the coalition against Saddam. Bush said the result was that
Saddam was able to concentrate all of his forces around Baghdad.
Bush said the absence of a northern front reduced the element of
surprise against the Saddam regime. The result, he said, was an improvement
in Iraqi combat as Saddam moved his forces from north to south.
U.S. officials said the Bush administration remains wary of Turkey even
after the fall of Saddam, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials said the administration is concerned
that Ankara will seek to control northern Iraq and confront Kurdish
"Shock and awe said to many people that all we've got to do is unleash
some might and people will crumble," Bush said in a television interview on
Thursday. "And it turns out the fighters were a lot fiercer than we thought.
Because, for example, we didn't come north from Turkey, Saddam Hussein was
able to move a lot of special Republican Guard units and fighters from north
to south. So the resistance for our troops moving south and north was
Bush said despite the absence of a second front, the U.S. military
"handled that [Iraqi] resistance quite well."
So far, officials said, U.S. forces in Iraq have stopped Turkish
soldiers from entering Kirkuk. They said the Turkish soldiers posed as
civilians and came in vehicles behind a convoy that brought humanitarian aid
to the northern city.
Officials said the Turkish mission is meant to inflame tension between
Kurds and ethnic Turks in Kirkuk. They said such tensions could be used by
Turkey to justify a large-scale intervention in northern Iraq.
Turkey has acknowledged that it wants to send soldiers to northern Iraq.
Turkish officials said the military is waiting for U.S. permission for the
entry of six Turkish liaison officers to Mosul to check on the condition of
the city's Turkmen population. Officials said 18 Turkish liaison officers
are already located in Irbil, Kirkuk and Mosul.