IDF: With Turkey's help, U.S. could launch Iraq war next week
Ha'aretz, Wednesday, March 5, 2003:
The United States could launch an attack on Iraq as early as next week if
allowed by Turkey to use its bases, Major General Aharon Ze'evi (Farkash),
Director of Military Intelligence, said Tuesday.
"If the United States is allowed to deploy its forces in Turkey, the attack
in Iraq could open on any given day, beginning next week," Ze'evi told
Channel Two television. Without Turkish approval, the U.S. could postpone
the war until April or May, he said.
In a briefing to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Ze'evi
estimated that there was little chance that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
would attack Israel before the U.S. begins its offensive. Iraq's ability to
attack Israel would also be low during the war, Ze'evi said.
Ze'evi also said that although Baghdad did have missiles that could reach
Israel, it had not yet deployed any of them to western Iraq, where they
would be in range of the country.
The intelligence chief also estimated that Hezbollah and Palestinian
Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat would refrain from intensifying attacks
against Israel during the Iraq war, due to fear of a response from the U.S.
Committee chairman MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said after the briefing that
Iraq's destruction of 19 missiles at the instruction of weapons inspectors
was "a joke" designed to trick the international community into thinking
Iraq's intentions were peaceful.
But, Steinitz said, Iraq poses "very little danger" to Israel at this point.
Turkey considering second vote on U.S. troops
Turkey's government said on Tuesday it was considering a second try at
winning approval for U.S. troops to be based here, but hinted it first
wanted a promise from Washington to rein in Kurds in northern Iraq.
Turkey threw Pentagon war plans into turmoil on Saturday when parliament
rejected a U.S. request to allow 62,000 troops to use Turkey as a launchpad
to open a "northern front" in any attack on Iraq.
Turkish financial markets, which had sunk on that news, rose slightly on
Tuesday on hopes the Justice and Development Party (AKP) will drive approval
through at a second attempt.
Asked whether the government would present a new draft on U.S. troops to
parliament, Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis said: "We are evaluating it both
within the party and the government."
Worries a war could lead to a Kurdish state breaking away from Baghdad
almost certainly contributed to the rejection.
After the vote, AKP leader Tayyip Erdogan talked of "historic reflexes" that
had been triggered by U.S. war plans, an issue he returned to on Tuesday.
"The United States must take a political stance against events in the region
that may develop of themselves and establishments that would insult Turkey,"
he said. "No one should provoke Turkey's sensitivities."
Ankara has watched the increasing independence of Iraqi Kurds - outside
Baghdad's control since the end of the 1991 Gulf War - with growing
apprehension, fearing it could rekindle the flames of its own domestic
Analysts: Little chance of vote before Sunday
Analysts see little chance of a fresh vote before a Sunday by-election,
which Erdogan, previously banned from parliament on charges of "Islamist
sedition", hopes will help him take over the post of prime minister from
party ally Abdullah Gul.
"I expect a resolution to come," one AKP lawmaker told Reuters, speaking on
condition of anonymity. "There could be reductions in the number of troops
"This government will propose the resolution but...the new government Tayyip
Erdogan will form will put it to a vote."
Yakis gave no timetable and suggested much depended on the United States.
"There are some answers we are expecting (from the United States). Those
answers have yet to arrive," he said.
Referring to an aid package of up to $30 billion Washington had been
prepared to offer Turkey, U.S. Ambassador Robert Pearson said on Tuesday
there would be no aid without approval of the troops but said he was hopeful
of a second decision.
"We have hopes, as we always have had, of working closely with Turkey," he
said after meeting Prime Minister Gul.
The AKP may prefer to present the motion after the UN Security Council votes
on a second resolution sanctioning possible military action against Baghdad.
Washington has signalled it will push the resolution to a vote next week.
The United States, aware that resolution might not pass, may not be prepared
to wait that long and could abandon Turkey and ship troops and equipment
instead to the Gulf where an invasion force is massing.
Yakis made clear where Turkey's sensitive spot is by attacking Iraqi Kurds
who burned Turkish flags during demonstrations in northern Iraq on Monday
against Turkish plans for military intervention in the Kurdish-administered
Scenes of the flag-burning, sure to annoy nationalist Turkey, were broadcast
widely on television in Turkey.
"This is absolutely a provocation," Yakis said in Ankara.
Turkey has fought a costly internal conflict since 1984 against armed rebels
from its own estimated 12 million Kurds who seek autonomy for the
Turkey has kept troops in northern Iraq for many years and is poised to send
tens of thousands more if war breaks out.
Ankara says the troops would be asked to shelter refugees and prevent the
humanitarian disasters seen after the 1991 war. They would also oppose any
Iraqi Kurdish bids to claim independence or seize Iraqi oil fields in the