Saturday | March 01, 2003
This just in from Ankara: The Turkish parliament has rejected U.S. demands for basing rights in the Iraq war.
Turkish Speaker Nullifies U.S. Troop Vote
By SUZAN FRASER
In a serious blow to U.S. plans for a possible war with Iraq, Turkey's parliament speaker nullified the legislature's vote Saturday to allow deployment of 62,000 U.S. combat troops to open a northern front against Iraq.
Speaker Bulent Arinc voided the vote on constitutional grounds, ruling that a majority of legislators present had not voted in favor. Arinc then closed parliament until Tuesday.
The vote was 264-250 with 19 abstentions, four short of a simple majority.
The bill's rejection is likely to seriously increase tensions with the United States which had been expecting a positive vote.
Assuming it sticks, this is a major political defeat for Bush. A key NATO ally, one that he has done several favors for recently, one that really needs U.S. financial help -- has just told us it can't take the domestic political heat. It's out of the coalition.
This makes it hard, if not impossible, for the US to use NATO as a cudgel to force the Europeans to participate in the war. If the French are smart (and when it comes to diplomacy they usually are) and they really want to stop this thing, they'll use this opening to try to pry away some of the Eastern European NATO members and candidates who've signed up for Bush's crusade.
Which means Bush has to come down on the Turks like the wrath of God -- to show that being a cooperative NATO ally, as opposed to a bunch of ungrateful bastards, is still the smart move. Otherwise he looks like a loser who's trying to bluff his way through with a weak hand.
But Turkey is a front-line state, which means whether we can launch ground operations from there or not, we'll still need their help. So what the hell are the Bushies going to do?
Militarily, I don't know what it means. Publically, the Pentagon says it doesn't really need a northern front. But of course that's what you would expect them to say while the negotiations were in progress.
I don't know if it's true or not. At a meeting in Switzerland last month, I heard Wesley Clark predict how the invasion would unfold, and he also didn't put much emphasis on the northern front. But what about the Kurds? If U.S. troops don't go in from the north, who'll make sure there isn't an effort to declare a provisional Iraqi government, or (even worse) an independent Kurdistan? And what if Turkish troops go in and we're not around to keep them from mixing it up with the Kurds?
I sense big trouble brewing for Field Marshal Bush.
Posted March 01, 2003 11:59 AM | Comments (38)