U.S. Lands Military Equipments in Turkish Port Without Permission
U.S. Army trucks and Humvees are unloaded from the ship Tellus owned by
ARC at the southern Turkish port of Iskenderun February 19, 2003
ANKARA, February 19 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) – The U.S.-flagged
ship Tellus Wednesday, February 19, offloaded 522 military vehicles among
other military equipments, in the Mediterranean port of Iskenderun,
southern Turkey without permission from the Turkish government.
The vehicles included army trucks, radio transmission vehicles and other
types of troop transporters, according to footage broadcast by the
network, Agence France-Presse (AFP) said.
The CNN-Turk television network said the vehicles were assigned to units
involved in the “upgrade” of Turkish ports and airports, a mission
authorized earlier this month by the Turkish parliament ahead of a
possible war with Iraq.
Meanwhile Aksam newspaper reported that tempers flared on Tuesday,
February 18, when some 50 battle-ready U.S. commandos arrived by bus and
sought to obtain entry to the port facilities.
Port authority chairman Cumhur Ozturkler initially refused them entry to
the port facilities, saying they did not have proper permission, the
It was possible to reach officials at the port for confirmation on
Wednesday, AFP said.
Aksam also reported that 12 patrol boats, dispatched by Turkey to the
Iskenderun region, were preventing fishermen from putting out to sea.
Officials recently suggested that ships carrying U.S. military equipment
to Turkey were currently lying offshore, waiting for a green light from
the Turkish parliament to start deploying combat forces.
No Plans For Vote On U.S. Troop Deployment Soon
The head of the ruling party Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that
Turkey has no plans to hold a parliamentary vote this week or early next
week on allowing U.S. troops on its soil for a possible war against Iraq.
"There is no fixed date," Erdogan said when asked whether a vote might be
held this week or Monday next week, speaking during an interview with the
NTV news channel.
U.S. Offers Turkey Up To $24 billion In Aid
The United States has offered Turkey up to 24 billion dollars in
“financial aid” to offset the impact that a war in Iraq could have on the
fragile Turkish economy, the head of Turkey's ruling party said
Erdogan told NTV news channel that Washington has proposed two
alternative packages -- one of six-billion-dollar grants and a second of
long-term loans of about 24 billion dollars (22 billion euros).
A two-billion-dollar tranche of the grants would be in the form of
writing off loans taken out by Turkey to purchase U.S. military
Erdogan did not say whether Turkey was satisfied with the size of the
proposals, but said it was unhappy with the U.S. congressional approval
required for the release of the assistance, which could drag on for
"It might well fail to pass through the Congress. But if it is passed, it
is said it might be passed in between six and eight weeks," Erdogan said.
A spat over the terms of economic, political and military cooperation
between the United States and Turkey in the event of a war in Iraq has
prompted Ankara to delay a decision on whether to open its territory for
launching strikes against Baghdad
‘Not Much Time Left’
Meanwhile, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Turkey has "not much
time left" to reach a deal with the U.S. on whether its territory can be
used by U.S. troops in a possible war.
"Either an agreement will be reached, or an agreement won't be reached,"
Turkey is a "strategic partner" of the United States, he added, noting
that NATO had now taken steps to provide logistical support in the event
of a war with Iraq.
But the Turks have no immediate plans to hold a parliamentary vote on the
matter. "There is no fixed date," Recep Tayyip Erdogan, head of the
ruling party said.
NATO at last formally approved defensive measures for Turkey in the event
of war after being paralyzed for weeks by one of the worst splits in its
history after France, Germany and Belgium refused to vote in favor.
And NATO chief George Robertson headed to Washington for high-level
talks, admitting the alliance had been damaged by one of the worst splits
in its history.
Russia expressed "profound concern" about four straight days of strikes
by U.S. and British forces against Iraqi air defense facilities with the
foreign ministry calling the attacks both unwarranted and contradicting
UN Security Council resolutions on Iraq.
Meanwhile, the French mission at the United Nations has received
thousands of messages from Americans expressing support for the French
stand on Iraq, despite hostility expressed towards France by the U.S.