March 05, 2003

A Turkish General Expresses Concern

A Turkish General Expresses Concern

Turkey-watchers all know that, at the end of the day, it is the Turkish Army that essentially controls Turkey and acts as the key guarantor of its stability. So when the Chief of the Turkish General Staff speaks out in depth on the recent parliamentary machinations--Ankara's entire political class will be listening. Here is a link to the key general speaking out. Some of what he had to say:

"But, we cannot make our calculations by supposing that war will not break out. We should evaluate our move in case of a war. Unfortunately, our choice is between the bad and worse, not between the good and bad. We should either totally stay outside or join the process by helping those who fight. These two moves have been evaluated systematically and in coordination with all institutions and organizations for months," Ozkok said.

Ozkok continued, "we will suffer the same damage if we do not participate in a war, but we will not see compensation for the damage after the war. And, it will be never possible for us to have a right to speak after the war. Some of our losses can be compensated if we help those who fight. We will send humanitarian aid to refugees in Northern Iraq without joining those who fight. War will last short and pain will be less since a northern front will be opened. We think that unexpected developments will not occur and fewer people will die. We would return back by fulfilling our mission without shooting even a single bullet."

Put differently, the message is: This war is happening regardless of our recent parliamentary vote. By refusing to allow the U.S. troops to enter Iraq from Turkey---we have severely limited our voice regarding post-conflict developments that are vital to us. Nor shall we receive compensation for the economic losses we face resulting from the conflict. We don't want to appear like we are intervening in the decisions of the political class, but dear parliamentarians, please reconsider your decision if we re-vote this issue in the coming days. Key security concerns depend on your reappraisal of the situation.

A message, I suspect, enough parliamentarians will heed if a second vote occurs.

UPDATE: The NYT is now giving this serious play.

Posted by Gregory at March 5, 2003 04:51 PM
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