ANKARA ø Turkish officials said the government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan
has approved the U.S. military use of seven
sea ports and six airports. They said the facilities would be used for the
transport of U.S. military cargo.
A decree published on Sept. 1 in Turkey's Official Gazette listed the
ports eligible for use by the U.S. military as Agalar, Aksaz-Karaagac,
Antalya, Incerlik, Iskenderun, Izmir and Yumurtalik. The airports that would
be available to the U.S. military for cargo shipments were identified as
Aksaz-Dalaman, Ankara, Antalya, Incirlik, Istanbul and Izmir.
Officials stressed that Ankara's decision fell short of U.S. demands.
They said the United States has sought the unlimited use of all Turkish
ports and airports for military shipments, Middle East Newsline reported.
The Turkish decision came as officials have been denying persistent
reports of the military's plans to invade Iraq. The reports asserted that
the military has sought approval from Erdogan for a counter-insurgency
against the presence of the Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, in northern Iraq.
The PKK was said to have about 3,000 insurgents in northern Iraq and has
been using the area to launch cross-border attacks in southeastern Turkey.
So far, senior Turkish officials have not ruled out military action against
the PKK in Iraq.
"The United States is not yet in a position to launch a military
operation against the PKK," Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said. "We
shall not proceed by relying on another country. We know how to deal with