Plan to send in Turkish troops abandoned

Submitted by Anon on 26 November, 2003 - 11:48

Controversial plans for Turkish forces to occupy Iraq as peacekeepers have been abandoned.

The plans, which were voted through by Turkey's National Assembly in October, received widespread opposition from Iraq's US-installed interim Governing Council, Kurdish and Islamic leaders, and much of the Turkish public and media.
Controversial plans for Turkish forces to occupy Iraq as peacekeepers have been abandoned.

The plans, which were voted through by Turkey's National Assembly in October, received widespread opposition from Iraq's US-installed interim Governing Council, Kurdish and Islamic leaders, and much of the Turkish public and media.

Confusion surrounds whether the decision was ultimately a Turkish one - as Turkish officials claim - or an American one brought about by the Iraqi Governing Council's bitter resistance to the Turkish deployment.

Although the Bush administration was keen for Turkey - as the only NATO nation with a predominantly Muslim population - to be involved in the peacekeeping, the idea of bringing up to 10,000 Turkish troops into Iraq was less enthusiastically received elsewhere.

Polls run in Turkish national newspapers put public opinion at more than 80 percent against any military intervention, reaching a height after a suicide car bomb was detonated outside the Turkish embassy in Baghdad.

Although Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the attack was not a result of Turkey's decision to send in troops, commentators highlighted the incident as another reason Turkey should not intervene.

Across the border in Iraq the idea was greeted with suspicion in light of Turkey's 400-year rule of Iraq as part of the Ottoman Empire, and the ongoing Kurdish/Turkish fighting to the north of the region.

Southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq are the traditional homelands of the Kurds, who are battling the Turkish government for an independent state and a place in the governing coalition in Iraq.

Turkish troops already have a number of bases in northern Iraq set up to fight Turkish Kurd rebels, seeking to carve out a separate Kurdistan.

Kurdish leaders accused the Turkish government of volunteering to take part in the peacekeeping as a way of securing a seat at the negotiating table and to ensure their interests were protected as the country was rebuilt.

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