Turkey's Rejection of American Troops
Exposes Myth of US-Turkish Friendship
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
For decades now, successive American administrations have been singing the
praises of Turkey for its alleged friendship towards the United States.
During the Cold War, American officials believed that Turkey deserved full
US support for supposedly serving as a first line of defense against any
possible Soviet expansion. The Turks successfully played on such American
fears to extort tens of billions of dollars in military and economic aid
from the United States.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, American officials were fed a whole
bunch of new lies in order to keep on pumping billions of more dollars into
the bottomless pit of the collapsed Turkish economy. They were led to
believe that Turkey would serve as a surrogate to the West to entice the
Islamic Republics of Central Asia away from Russian influence.
The Turks miserably failed to impress the Central Asian Republics. However,
shortly thereafter, the Gulf War broke out giving Turkey the opportunity to
serve as a launching pad for US air attacks on Iraq. Never the ones to miss
a chance to milk the generous Americans, the Turks demanded compensation for
allegedly losing tens of billions of dollars by shutting down the pipeline
that carried Iraqi oil to a Turkish seaport on the Mediterranean. In fact,
it was Iraq, not Turkey, that shut down the pipeline to deprive the West of
the benefit of its oil.
Ten years later, as Turkey was running out of excuses for siphoning money
from the Americans, the US-led war on international terrorism started,
following the September 11, 2001 attacks, providing an opportunity for the
Turks to solicit more than $200 million in order to send a small contingent
of troops to Afghanistan. In an amazing transformation, a country which
practices state terrorism against the Kurds and others, suddenly tried to
present itself as a fighter of terrorism!
More recently, seeing the fixation of the Bush Administration on invading
Iraq, and sensing a golden opportunity to really fleece the United States,
the Turkish leaders tried to extort tens of billions of dollars in return
for allowing a limited number of American troops to use military bases in
Turkey. The Bush Administration innocently thought: "our Turkish allies
would naturally allow us the use of their territory, and in return, we would
give them a little bit of financial support." In thinking so, the American
officials made three major miscalculations:
1) They naively believed that the Turks were "our staunch allies." They
could not understand that Turkey's membership in NATO is a means to extort
money from the US, and not an indication of friendship!
2) Knowing full well that over 90% of the Turkish public as well as the
ruling Islamic party are dead set against the war on Iraq, the Bush
Administration foolishly pressured the Turkish government into going against
the will of the overwhelming majority of its people. Successive US
governments have made this same mistake in many other countries. They cannot
understand that forcing leaders or governments to take a stand against the
wishes or the interests of their own people will eventually cause these
regimes to be overthrown.
3) They failed to realize that once you start offering bribes to others to
do your bidding, you leave yourself open to blackmail! The more you offer to
pay, the more they will ask. The Americans thought that the Turks would
settle for a few hundred million dollars. They discovered, to their chagrin,
that the Turkish leaders were demanding a couple of hundred BILLION dollars,
realizing that their country was the only access point to Iraq from the
north. American officials inadvertently strengthened Turkey's bargaining
position by announcing t
hat the northern front would help shorten the war
and reduce the number of US casualties.
After a lengthy and ugly haggling over money, the Turks and the Bush
administration reportedly settled on $15 billion in loans and grants. The Am
ericans finally learned the price of Turkey's friendship! Even after
agreeing to pay this astronomical sum of money, the Turkish leaders kept
postponing their decision. Repeated interventions by high-ranking
pro-Turkish officials in the Bush Administration, and trips to Turkey by
various delegations, including Turkophile Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul
Wolfowitz, failed to obtain Turkey's final consent.
A couple of months ago, Pres. Bush went to the unusual length of inviting to
the White House Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the head of the ruling Islamic Party
in Turkey who holds no particular governmental post. Last month, Pres. Bush
even accepted to meet in the White House with Turkey's Minister of Finance
and Minister of Foreign Affairs for a rare personal arm-twisting session by
the President of the United States! Foreign Minister Yashar Yakesh said
Pres. Bush warned him not to press him too much on more US aid for Turkey.
Yakesh revealed on Turkish TV what Pres. Bush had told him in their meeting:
"In Texas, there are markets for trading horses. These are high risk markets
where you may end up losing everything you got and be left buck naked."
The Jumhurriyet newspaper provided additional details on Bush's
"undiplomatic" words to the Turkish Foreign Minister. Bush reportedly told
the visiting Turkish ministers, "Gentlemen, you have nothing to do here in
the US. Go back home and pass the bill in Parliament approving our military
request. No other ally has given us as much hassle as you have!" The
newspaper also reported that Bush reminded the Turkish Foreign Minister that
should relations between Turkey and the US sour, the Armenian lobby was
eagerly waiting to bring up the Armenian Genocide resolution in Congress!
Even after such stern warnings from Pres. Bush, and subsequently, from
Secretary State Colin Powell, the Turkish Parliament turned down the
American request during a vote in Parliament on March 1. US officials were
shocked. Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, the ranking Democrat on the
intelligence committee told the CNN: "We spent the last 50 years defending
them in NATO. And along comes this opportunity, and by three votes they
decline the opportunity to allow us to come in through the north."
Needless to say, the Turks' thumbing their noses at the Americans will have
a long-term effect on US-Turkish relations. Turkey is in a no win situation.
Even if the Turkish leaders reconsider and finally accept the American
request, they have already antagonized the US by holding up for more than a
week dozens of military ships and thousands of troops in the sea, and have
disrupted the American war plans. Furthermore, by going against the wishes
of their own people, the Turkish leaders would alienate their people and
risk destabilizing the country.
Should the Turks, however, stick to their refusal, they may pay a hefty
price, especially if the United States does end up in a war with Iraq and
suffer larger than expected casualties due to their inability to use the
northern front. Turkey may then face one or more of the following negative
1) It would have no say in the arrangements made in post-Saddam Iraq.
2) It would lose the blind support of the pro-Turkish hawks in the Bush
3) The US would not lobby for Turkey's membership in the European Union.
4) The US would not ask the International Monetary Fund to provide billions
of dollars in loans to rescue the sinking Turkish economy.
5) The US would no longer turn a blind eye to the scores of Turkish
violations of human rights.
6) The US would back initiatives to settle the Cyprus issue by deman
that Turkish troops be removed from the island.
7) The Bush Administration would not block consideration of an Armenian
Genocide resolution in Congress.
8) On April 24, the President of the United States would issue his annual
commemorative statement in which, for the first time, he would use the words