WATERTOWN, MA – The Cleveland Plain Dealer today published a Letter to the Editor written by Krikor Pounardjian, Chairperson of the Armenian National Committee (ANC) of Ohio. The letter was written in response to the November 7, 2002 article, “Turkey won’t say if U.S. can use its bases in Iraq war,” by Associated Press writer Louis Meixler.
Pounardjian’s letter is included below along with the article by Meixler. For additional information, please contact Vanik Hacobian at 617-923-1918 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Why does U.S. still look to Turkey as an ally?
Turkey’s noncommittal attitude toward allowing U.S. warplanes to use Turkish bases in a renewed war with Iraq (“Turkey won’t say if U.S. can use its bases in Iraq war,” Nov. 7) should not come as a surprise.
History shows that during World War II, Turkey favored Germany and declared war on her only at the last moment – when it became evident that the Allies would be victorious.
In 1979, Turkey refused to allow its airspace to be used to rescue U.S. hostages in Iran. And a quick search of news archives from throughout the 1991 conflict with Iraq will show that Turkey sat on the sidelines throughout Desert Shield and entered Desert Storm only as a token gesture.
As a Jan. 18, 1991, story in the New York Times reported, “. . . on the first and hugely successful day of the allied air war, (Turkish President) Ozal apparently decided that he had better act fast [in opening up Incirlik Air Base to the allies] to make sure that his country did not appear to be lagging too far behind other coalition members.”
The United States should have at least learned its lesson in 1991. The myth that Turkey continues to be a critical ally lost its legitimacy a long time ago.
ARTICLE BY LOUIS MEIXLER
Turkey won’t say if U.S. can use its bases in Iraq war
Ankara, Turkey- The leader of Turkey’s winning party refused yesterday to commit to allowing U.S. warplanes to use Turkish bases in any war with Iraq and declined to say whether his country’s close military ties with Israel will be maintained.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party said Turks consider Israeli policies toward Palestinians to be “terrorism,” but added that Turkey would not link its close economic rela tions with Is rael to popular anger.
Erdogan is the power bro ker in the Jus tice party, which won a massive elec tion victory Sunday.
He is ineligible to serve as prime minister, because he was convicted of reading a poem that courts deemed anti-secular.
His party has been meeting throughout the week to discuss who will become prime minister, but Erdogan will most certainly continue to be its most influential voice.
Erdogan once belonged to a pro-Islamic party that the military forced from power for confronting the secular establishment.
He has made it clear, however, that the Justice party is looking to follow a moderate, pro-Western stand.
And he says that while his party opposes a war in Iraq, it would respect decisions taken by the United Nations.
“The most preferred result is to resolve this issue in peace,” Erdogan said.
“We don’t want blood, tears or death.”
Turkey, which borders Iraq, was a key launching pad for U.S. aircraft during the 1991 Gulf War.
The United States already has some 50 aircraft in southern Turkey at Incirlik air base and would be eager to use the sprawling NATO facility if there is a conflict with Iraq.
When asked if the new government would agree to a request to use Turkish bases, Erdogan said: “I don’t find it appropriate to talk about indefinite results.”
“We don’t know what the outcome will be from the United Nations. The United States has not clarified its position yet,” he said.
Turkey fears fighting in Iraq could destabilize the region and harm the fragile Turkish economy.
Turkey also worries that with an ouster of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, minority Kurds who control an autonomous zone in northern Iraq could declare an independent state. That, they fear, could inspire Turkey’s large Kurdish population. Kurdish guerrillas demanding autonomy have been fighting Turkish soldiers in the southeast for 15 years.
The Turkish press, and in particular the pro-Islamic press, has harshly criticized Israel and especially its prime minister, Ariel Sharon, during Israeli incursions into Palestinian-controlled territory.
But at the same time, Turkey is Israel’s closest ally in the region.