International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

July 18, 2003

July 18, 2003






**   Writers view arrests of Turkish soldiers as U.S. "revenge" for Turkey's stance on Iraq war.


**  Turkish commentators argue that Turkey has the right to "have a say" in post-war Iraq.


**  Prolonged tensions reflect a "totally changed" bilateral strategic relationship.




Arrests a signal to Turkey to 'stay out' of northern Iraq--  Turkish and European papers agreed that the U.S.' "grudge" against Turkey motivated Washington to increase support to Iraqi Kurds.  Islamic-intellectual Zaman stated that the U.S. wants to ensure that the "Iraqi Kurds have more influence and more representation."  Russia's business-oriented Kommersant held that the U.S. required the Kurds' "impressive force" to stabilize northern Iraq.  Some Turkish dailies suggested that CENTCOM officers "by-passed" the Pentagon in the Suleymaniye incident.  Others blamed the Pentagon's handling of Iraqi reconstruction for the arrests and increasing "chaos."  The centrist Turkish Daily News opined that if the State Department had "joined the's problems would not have occurred." 


The U.S. presence in Turkey's 'backyard' is 'the main source of the problem'--  Turkish outlets argued that Turkey's national interests justified its involvement in northern Iraq.  Centrist mass-appeal Milliyet outlined three reasons for Turkey's military presence in northern Iraq: "elimination" of the "terrorist" PKK/KADEK, "monitoring" the activities of Iraqi Kurds, and "assisting" the region's Turkoman population.  Echoing Turkish sentiments, Germany's center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung cited Turkey's "panically blind fear" of internal PKK subversion if the Kurds "get the right to self-determination."  Turkish commentators were split on how best to advance the country's national interests, which run counter to the U.S.' determination to not allow "any other authority in the region."  Centrist Milliyet pushed for "cooperation rather than confrontation" with the U.S., while center-left Radikal advocated "putting distance" between Ankara and Washington.


The U.S.-Turkish strategic partnership has 'shattered'--  With the end of the Cold War and the fall of Iraq, Turkish analysts held that "Turkey no longer carries any political weight" with the U.S.  Austria's independent Salzburger Nachrichten noted that diverging interests in the wake of the Iraq war have put U.S.-Turkish relations on a "collision course" that will fundamentally "change relations" in the Mideast.  Although Turkish dailies agreed that "friendship" with the U.S. is "not possible" now, they diverged on how Turkey should best respond.  The centrist Turkish Daily News stressed that Turkey has to "secure its relations with the West by giving priority to the EU pillar."  Alternatively, center-left Radikal and Zaman advised Erdogan to "fine-tune" relations with the U.S. to form a more "distant" partnership.


EDITOR:  Andrew Borda

EDITOR'S NOTE:  The analysis based on 61 reports from 7 countries, June 26 to July 17, 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




TURKEY: “Can’t We Be More Specific?”


Sami Kohen stated in centrist mass-appeal Milliyet (7/17): “Ankara is suffering because of its failure to present a clearly defined policy for Northern Iraq.  This issue has not been properly discussed to this point, but there is an urgent need for an open discussion and to work toward new strategies based on the facts in the region.  Northern Iraq has turned into an issue that could determine the fate of Turkish-American relations.  Both Turkey and the U.S. need to fine-tune their policies on Iraq if there is a common desire to enhance bilateral ties.” 


“Iraq And Turkey”


Cengiz Candar commented in conservative, pro-AKP DB Tercuman (7/17): “Turkey has experienced a defeat in Iraq in all military, political and diplomatic senses.  Turkey must completely change its approach to Iraq, particularly its ‘northern Iraq mentality,’ as quickly and thoroughly as possible.  Otherwise, we can expect new challenges with the U.S., new defeats for Ankara, and more problems for the Turkoman community.”


“Agreeing To Disagree”


Ilnur Cevik observed in centrist English-language Turkish Daily News (7/17): “The Americans have decided not to pursue the issue any further for the sake of Turkish-American ties, but the dispute is still there.  Now Turkish leaders have to sit down and decide what we want to do in northern Iraq and how.  This means the civilian leadership should be more involved in the decision-making process, and should not leave everything to the military.”


“Northern Iraq/Civilian and Military”


Hasan Cemal observed in mass-appeal Milliyet (7/16): “The Suleymaniye incident is inexcusable and is incompatible with Turkish-American friendship.  Yet it seems that both sides have understood this and therefore toned down the rhetoric.  It is also important that both sides see the need for greater coordination and cooperation in the future process in Iraq.  In spite of these efforts, bilateral relations their current phase and for the near future present a complex picture....  The fact of the matter is that the U.S. is now Turkey’s southern neighbor.  This might remain the case for years.  Turkey has been formulating its Iraq policy so far based on military considerations.  This should be changed now.  Today, the northern Iraq issue is more of a diplomatic issue than a military one.  Turkey should engage its foreign ministry more than before, and form a working coordination between civilians and the military.”


"Sack, Handcuffs, And Statement"


Fikret Bila noted in centrist mass-appeal Hurriyet (7/16):  "The joint Turkish-U.S. Fact Finding Team has issued its joint statement about the recent scandal, which erupted in al-Sulaymaniyah.  Clearly, the statement is far from meeting the Turkish public's expectations.  The U.S. side only said that the incident was regrettable and the Turkish side shared that conclusion....  The statement neither explains why sacks were put over the heads of the Turkish army officers and were handcuffed and shackled and their ribs were broken nor attributes any blame to the U.S. side for that humiliating treatment."


"Conciliatory Mood"

Emin Parzaki argued in  conservative, pro-AKP DB Tercuman (7/16): "The Turkish-U.S. Joint Study Group has wound up....  The joint statement reflects a 'conciliatory mood.'  Despite this, the wording used in the statement is extremely vague and far from satisfactory for the Turkish public....  It does not apologize for what happened to our soldiers taken into custody in northern Iraq....   The expressions used in the statement indicate that the problem still exists....  [The U.S.] never wanted Turkey to have a military presence in Iraq right from the outset....  The U.S. does not want any other authority in the region aside from itself.   It sees the Turkish military presence there as an obstacle to the structure it wants to see develop there.  There were two aims to the operation mounted by the United States against the Turkish soldiers in the area: first, to demonstrate the discomfort it felt at the activities of the Turkish military.  Second, to give a message to Karkuk and the Turkomans in its environs: 'Do not place too much trust in the Turkish military unit....'  The joint statement shows that US and Turkish interests in northern Iraq do not overlap."  

"We Did Not Understand Anything"


Semih Idiz noted in center-right Turkiye'de Aksam (7/16):  "Both sides reportedly regret the incident....  This is all very good.   Still however, we have not heard an apology for the detention of our 11 soldiers, whose heads were covered as if they are Taliban and al-Qaida militants and some of whom were beaten and insulted by the Americans.  What did the Turkish side want after all?   It merely wanted the U.S. to at least apologize for the way our soldiers were treated.   And it wanted 'the necessary action to be taken against those who are responsible for this incident.'   This had to be done in order to ensure that certain U.S. officers who have "broken loose" would "learn" not to treat the soldiers of a NATO ally in this manner, no matter what....  In other words, we are still in the dark where the 'al-Suleymaniyah raid' is concerned....  It is understood however, that the US wing, which constantly puts emphasis on the importance of transparency, did not want to come to the fore where this issue was concerned....  Under these circumstances, the Turkish side has no choice other than 'closing this file without further discussions....'   This is the basic truth of the matter and this cannot be covered with 'expressions of regret.'" 


"Ethnic Transitition To Democracy"


Mustafa Balbay commented in leftist, intellectual Cumhurriyet (7/15):  "In Iraq, the 25-member provisional Governing Council, as listed, has a true broad representation. The careful selection of personalities, made up of such a wide range of different characters, might be possible only in a full-fledged democracy....  The people are not aware of the special characteristics that were considered in the selection of these persons. The powers of the council are not clear. Its term of office is not clear.  So be it. What is important is full democracy....  To what extent these individuals will represent that ethnic population is a question that needs to be answered. As a matter of fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the determination of the members has been made on the basis of influence rather than of population....  Turkey's aim was to have at least two members, but ideally three members, to represent the Turkoman front. One member has made it. We have nothing to complain about in the personality of artisan Sungul Chapuk, but, having called the Turkoman Front to inquire, we found out that no one knew anything about this person.  Although we do not desire it to be so, but at a time when stability has not yet been achieved and when the U.S. soldiers are faced with daily attacks, the newly announced provisional administration will become yet another target."


“The Turkoman Shock for Ankara”


Mass-appeal Hurriyet evaluated (7/15): “For the Turkoman representative, Ambassador Paul Bremer’s choice was a lady from the Turkoman Women’s Union as opposed to Ahmed Aga, leader of Iraqi Turkoman Front.  This choice is completely against what Ankara had been expecting to see, and it has a special meaning.  The U.S. took care to include all political organizations in Iraq, with the notable exception of the Turkoman.  The Turkoman community has been given representation in the governing council not through its main political organization, but through a non-governmental organization.  The U.S. apparently does not want to involve Turkey in the process of Iraq’s political future....  Bremer’s final list clearly says to Ankara that Turkey will not be a part of the political dialogue with the U.S. about Iraq....  After all, this is the ‘political operation’ that comes after the recent military operation against the Turks in Suleymaniye.”


“The Global Gangster”


Ozgen Acar argued in the social democrat-intellectual Cumhuriyet (7/15): “It seems the situation for President Bush is getting messier every day.  He is now labeled as a ‘liar,’ and things are not promising for the future, since the Iraq occupation is becoming an increasingly complex issue....  Popular support for Bush has dropped from 90 percent to 58.  The Defense Secretary is after supplemental budget, which signals that in Iraq the U.S. will have to spend more than it can possibly earn from oil revenues....  The U.S. failed to capture Usama Bin Laden in Afghanistan or Saddam in Iraq.  Yet U.S. intelligence managed to capture 11 Turkish soldiers in northern Iraq prior to their assassination attempt against the governor of Kirkuk.  It looks like the day is approaching when nobody will take the CIA seriously.”


"U.S.: The Method Was Wrong"


Centrist mass-appeal Milliyet opined (7/14):  "From the start of the incident up until the long talks held yesterday, there were three important requests of the Turkish side, which were presented to the U.S. delegation:   1. To immediately release the Turkish soldiers.  2. To explain the reason for the operation made by the U.S. soldiers.  3. To open investigations about the U.S. soldiers who made this operation and to do what is required....   Will the U.S. apologize for the al-Sulemaniye raid?  High-level sources are stressing that it is not realistic to expect the U.S. to apologize in a clear manner to the public. Even if this is done behind closed doors, it is stated that it is necessary not to expect this to be included in a statement to the public or in an official statement. In contrast to this, it is stated that with diplomatic expressions drawing attention to the wrongness of the operation, it can provide for the public to feel the same satisfaction. According to the observers, the name given to this in diplomacy is 'Constructive indefiniteness.' Although it does not include the expression of an 'open apology' and leaves the result indefinite, it could set forth a result close to this with diplomatic expressions, which have a constructive attribute....  When this is considered together with similar problems Ankara had encountered previously, then the course of the relations from now on are also of great importance. The fact that Gen. Hilmi Ozkok, the Chief of General Staff, personally expressed that a serious crisis of trust was experienced, is a stage, which should be dwelled upon. If another development occurs, which would hurt the honor of the Turkish Armed Forces and the Turkish nation, then it is understood that this would be the straw that would break the camel's back."


“The Day After”


Asli Aydintasbas wrote in mass-appeal Sabah (7/14): “The Suleymaniye crisis stemmed largely from U.S. commanders in CENTCOM acting on their own initiative.  This is not the first crisis between the Turkish military and CENTCOM.  There is ongoing mistrust on both sides.  However, the high-ranking military and political authorities on both the Turkish and American sides are working assiduously to find a settlement to the crisis.  On the U.S. side, very important names including Cheney, Wolfowitz and Powell consider the US. action in Suleymaniye to be a mistake, and take Turkey’s objections as justifiable arguments.  Of course, they don’t make these views public.  In fact, the parameters of Turkish-American relations have changed in post-war Iraq.  Turkey has lost its position as indispensable for the U.S.  The new parameters will be developed based on the level of cooperation on the Iraq issue.”


“The Wings of Pentagon and Turkey”


Ali Aslan commented in Islamist-intellectual Zaman (7/14): “It is obvious that the Pentagon was by-passed in the Suleymaniye incident.  There are two wings at the Pentagon--the civilian wing and the military wing....  Leaders of the military wing are so upset with Turkey because of the its rejection of U.S. troop deployments that they don’t even want to hear Turkey’s name mentioned.  This sentiment will likely continue for at least another 5 to 10 years....  The civilian wing, on the other hand, is under the control of the ‘neo-conservatives.’  They seem to be willing to move on with Turkey and put their disappointment behind them.  Their overall attitude about Turkey coincides with the State Department’s moderate approach....  Both wings of the Pentagon have something in common: They both want to see the Iraqi Kurds have more influence and more representation--not only in the north, but throughout Iraq.  They would like to keep Turkey out of northern Iraq to the extent possible as long as Turkey resists the U.S. vision for the Kurds.  The neo-cons, however, do not approve of the way the Turkish soldiers were treated in the Suleymaniye incident.  So in this particular event, it is the military wing of the Pentagon that should to be blamed.”


"The U.S. and the 'Iraq Quagmire'"


Business-oriented, center-right Turkiye'de Aksam contended (7/12):  "Is it in Turkey's interest for America to get caught in a quagmire in Iraq?  We are so full of anger at the U.S....  But if we approach things based on logic, whether the administration of Iraq is in the hands of Saddam or the U.S....  Turkey loses in any event from an unstable Iraq.  We lose not only from the standpoint of the security of the Turkomans in Iraq....  But from the standpoint of Turkey's border security as well.  In other words, it is not possible to say 'Let them continue their internal squabbles as long as they do not impact on us.'  Moreover, we are confronted with a U.S. administration that is every bit as out of control as the 'unbalanced Saddam....!'  The U.S. is being governed by a cadre that has made a play for world leadership, but which in the eyes of the world is demonstrating one instance of pettiness after another....  They supposedly launched a 'war against terrorism....'  But, they are having the members of the terrorist PKK/KADEK [Workers' Party of Kurdistan/Freedom and Democracy Congress of Kurdistan] in Northern Iraq attack Iran, and are provoking them to carry out actions in Turkey.  But wait!   One could ask: Were the previous US administrators all that much better?!  Indeed, they were not....  In other words...the U.S. is the same U.S. that we have always known....  From time to time it acts like a friend, but when one looks at the past fifty years of our relations, it has been able to carry out every sort of hostile act against us.  In the past it was on the other side of the ocean, but now it is right next to us!  Are things going to keep going on this way?  I do not think so.  As long as we stand firm, even the U.S. will be unable to disregard our strength in the region.  I hope that they understand this before they get bogged down in a quagmire in Iraq!   Is it possible to be "friends" with the U.S.?  No.  We can only hope, at the very most, to deal with a U.S. that "imitates" a friend!"


"Loan Crisis With The U.S. Looms On The Horizon"


Center-right, mass-appeal Star held (7/12): "The recent detention and manhandling of our soldiers by the American troops in northern Iraq was humiliating enough.  This incident, however, is regarded only as the first phase of the current tension between Washington and Ankara.  American sources have already started to give signals that a new crisis over a proposed grant or loan could erupt soon.  U.S. President George W. Bush asked the Congress to approve a $1 billion grant or a higher amount of long-term loan to Turkey because of the support it had lent during the war on Iraq.  The Congress subsequently endorsed Bush's request.  Two conditions, however, were imposed on the grant or loan at the last minute before the bill was ratified by the Congress.  Turkey is now required to cooperate with the U.S. in Iraq and to fully comply with the IMF-tailored economic program in order to receive the grant....  The situation, however, suddenly changed after the detention of the Turkish soldiers, which showed that the U.S. and Turkey were competing with each other rather than cooperating in northern Iraq.  American sources have been constantly drawing attention to the condition imposed by the Congress on the loan since the detention of Turkish soldiers.  They hinted that the transfer of the loan or the grant could be delayed.....  The detention of 11 Turkish soldiers by U.S. troops, who even manhandled them, was actually a tacit warning issued by Washington in order to tell Ankara that it should no longer keep its troops in northern Iraq.  The U.S., which has sent its troops from another corner of the world in order to occupy Iraq, does not want to see any foreign force on Iraqi territory which is not subject to its control.  Turkey, however, wants to monitor the developments taking place in its own backyard due to reasons which are much more justifiable than those cited by the U.S.... This is the main source of the problem."   


"U.S. Gets Farther, EU Gets Closer"


Ankara's centrist, English-language Turkish Daily News editorialized (7/12):  "The latest developments indicate that, in general, Turkey's relations with the West will start undergoing significant changes.  Prior to the invasion of Iraq, Turkey's relations with the West stood on two pillars: relations with the U.S. and relations with the EU.  Though these two "pillars" were not mutually exclusive.... The 'strategic cooperation' [with the U.S.] has lost its content....  Turkey's distrust of the U.S. is growing with each passing day. Due to the Kurdish problem a certain suspicion had been harbored towards the Americans anyway, a suspicion which had not been articulated much. The latest developments have fuelled these doubts and worries.  To sum up, the U.S. umbrella over Turkey has been punctured gradually....  The Bush Administration has adopted towards Turkey--as well as other countries--a condescending attitude....  In such a climate Turkey has to secure its relations with the western world by giving priority to the EU 'pillar' so that what has been lost around the 'U.S. pillar' will be balanced out by securing Turkish full membership in the EU. Turkey is only just realizing that if it becomes a full member of the EU it can diminish--even turn into an advantage--the losses it has suffered.  Full membership in the EU has become more important than ever. The path to Turkey bolstering its position in the international arena politically and economically, is via full membership in the EU. EU membership is the only way of getting rid of the U.S. pressure and to prevent the separatist activities."


"Kurdish State, Mental Eclipse"


Centrist, mass-appeal Milliyet urged (7/11):  "The U.S. has started to adopt a sympathetic approach towards the Kurds.   It is regarding them as the most reliable group especially in Iraq....  Turkey's primary concern was to prevent the PKK from using northern Iraq as a base while keeping Talabani and Barzani under close observation.  Ankara was also aware of the fact that the U.S.' support was indispensable in order to have free rein in northern Iraq.   Meanwhile, the Kurdish leaders preferred to maintain good relations with Turkey and to play for time in order to make new gains.  The U.S., for its part, was protecting the Kurds while taking Turkey's concerns into consideration.   Whenever Turkey stated that it was against establishment of a Kurdish state, Washington announced that it was in favor of preserving Iraq's territorial integrity....  What has changed or not changed since then?  There is no doubt that the Iraqi Kurdish leaders still dream of founding a Kurdish state....   It is clear that declaring foundation of a Kurdish state and backing the PKK-KADEK would not serve interests of the Iraqi Kurdish leaders and the U.S....  We should calmly ponder over the following points without displaying reaction in response to provocation: 1.   Cooperation rather than confrontation with the U.S.  2.   Rapprochement and good relations with the Iraqi Kurds instead of hostility.  3.   Ensuring a peaceful life for the Turkish citizens of Kurdish origin in a democratic state upholding supremacy of law.  If Turkey takes the correct steps in line with those suggestions, northern Iraq would no longer be a trouble in Turkey's foreign policy while enhancing stability inside the country....  Careful and prudent calculations rather than nationalist rhetoric should guide political decisions.   


"Where To, America?"


Taha Akyol opined in centrist Istanbul Milliyet (7/11):   "Ankara sees that the U.S. is using the "Kurdish card" in a gradually increasing manner, but it also sees that the 'Kurdish card' started to crack once again: Mr. Jalal Talabani is trying to become the favorite of the U.S. in order to obtain an important position in the new Iraqi regime. The role of Mr. Talabani in the detention of the 11 Turkish officers is certain. He is doing everything to curry favor with the U.S.  At the same time, Mr. Talabani is also sending 'kisses' to Turkey, Russia, Europe and the Arab countries and wants to show how good an Iraqi administrator he would be....  The increasing resistance by the Shi'ite Arabs and nationalistic Sunnite Arabs is forcing the U.S. to be more dependent on the Kurds.  The rejection of the draft permission by Turkey had in any case created problems in the Turkish-U.S. relations and made a great contribution to the U.S. considering the Iraqi Kurds to be 'strategic allies....'    But the U.S. experts also know very well that for the U.S. to only rely on the Kurds in Iraq and in the region, means to rely on a very fragile and narrow foundation."


"Coordination Period In Turkish-U.S. Relations"


Center-right Hurriyet noted (7/11):  "Even the current situation has been sufficient to deepen even further the rift in relations that began with the [military authorization] motion crisis.  And one of the most important reasons behind this crisis has been the lack of coordination.  The lack of coordination between two major military forces operating in a complex region like Northern Iraq has brought the two countries to the brink of great peril....  Since Washington, despite Turkey's requests, has not placed priority on this topic, it is now expected that a framework for such coordination, which has not been able to be achieved to date, will be clarified in these talks among the military officers....  Cooperation is essential in order to resolve the problems of the region.   And it is not merely a question concerning Turkey, but rather a question of resolving the problems of Iraq....  It is Turkey and the U.S. that, just after the Iraqi people themselves, will be most effected by what happens in Iraq.  Transparent cooperation in these relations is very important from the standpoint of Iraq's reconstruction.  But this transparency has been impossible to achieve.  The basic reason has been a crisis of confidence.  And NATO is no longer able to provide as strong an alliance guarantee as it used to.  If Turkish and American military officials should be able to form a framework for coordination in Northern Iraq, it will be an important step forward in overcoming the crisis of confidence.  And it would provide an efficacious development for the struggle against terrorism as well, just as much as for the stability of Iraq.  For uncertainty in the relationship benefits the terrorists most of all."


"The U.S. Or The EU?"


Sami Kohen argued in centrist Istanbul Milliyet (7/11): "The crisis that is currently being experienced with the United States because of the raid conducted in al-Suleymaniye has led to discussions on whether or not Turkey should turn to other alternatives where its foreign policy is concerned....  Some of those who stated in the aftermath of the incident in northern Iraq that Turkey should review its U.S. policy believe that EU might constitute an alternative to the U.S.  According to this view, given the fact that the relations between Turkey and the U.S. have received a heavy blow with the last incident, Ankara should embrace the EU and it should use the EU as an alternative.  There is no doubt that Europe has always had a special place in Turkey's foreign relations and in the hearts of the Turkish people.  Currently Turkey is conducting its closest commercial, economic, cultural, and social relations with the EU and with countries that are members of the EU.  The fact that the U.S. has gradually become very influential on Turkey's foreign policy during the past 50 years is the result of various economic factors, however.   Even if the conditions have changed, to ignore and to sacrifice the U.S.--which is currently considered a hyper-power--will not be very wise....  The question that should be asked today is not 'whether or not we should choose the EU or the U.S.'   If we insist on asking this question, however, the answer to this question should be:   'Both.'"


“The Suleymaniye Aftermath”


Yilmaz Oztuna commented in the mass-appeal conservative Turkiye (7/11): “From our perspective, we should be able to see the big picture and realize our mistakes during the Iraq war.  Turkey’s position in northern Iraq has already been weakened because of these mistakes.  Certain other countries also defied the U.S. and stood against the military operation.  Yet the Europeans will make it up with Washington sooner or later.  At this point, Turkey should be very careful to take the necessary steps in order not to fall back into the Third World.  This issue should be considered as a national cause.  From the U.S. perspective, the ‘Pax Americana’ cannot possibly be achieved if Turkey is alienated.  Originally, the U.S. wanted to achieve its goals with Turkey’s help, but the parliament’s rejection of the motion gave Washington serious doubts about Turkey.  In its long-term planning, Ankara should formulate a policy that embraces the U.S. rather than standing against it.”


“The Turkish Military, CENTCOM and EUCOM”


Sedat Ergin observed in the mass-appeal Hurriyet (7/11): “Washington has sent a General to conduct the negotiations with Turkey over the Suleymaniye crisis.  General Sylvester is part of U.S. EUCOM, which is headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany.  However, those responsible for the incident in northern Iraq are part of CENTCOM, based in Tampa, FL....  This interesting situation resurrects one of the major sources of tension between the Turkish and American militaries.  The Turkish military established a healthy working relationship with the U.S. military over the last 50 years within the framework of NATO....  The cooperative military relationship with the U.S. did not face any serious issues until the current structural change.  Today, the military relationship has moved from NATO to the Middle East (i.e. from EUCOM to CENTCOM), and this new relationship has not yet been well defined.”  


“A New Roadmap For U.S.-Turkish Relations”


Orhan Gokce and Birol Akgun noted in Islamist-intellectual Zaman (7/10): “There is a significant difference in U.S. policies in the post-9/11 period and the post Word War II period.  Yet it seems the Turkish foreign policy-makers have not fully realized it. … We have to realize the fact that Turkey and the U.S. are not strategic allies, and that our regional interests might conflict with U.S. interests from time to time.  Turkey must be able to revise its relationship with Washington through a new vision.  It seems best for Turkey to design its ‘roadmap’ by taking the new political facts into account and by arranging bilateral ties in the spirit of a more ‘distant’ partnership.”


"Iraq Issue Cannot Be Left To The Military Alone"


Ankara's centrist, English-language Turkish Daily News commented (7/10):  "In Iraq the American military alone have the say...neither the State Department nor any other institution.   The military's word is the law.   They cannot be made to listen to anybody's word though their deeds come to be questioned.    And look at the spot this has led to.  Iraq is drifting into chaos and the U.S. is acting rough, hurting the feelings of even the countries closest to it, pushing itself into 'isolation' with each passing day--when it should be forming around it a circle of friendship and alliance....   You cannot expect the military to rebuild a society....  Doing politics is somebody else's job.  The American military has won the war in Iraq.   However, they cannot do the rest.   While trying to intimidate those who oppose the occupation they use the kind of tactics that alienate the civilian society all the more.   They do not listen to anybody....  The arrest of 11 Turkish soldiers in northern Iraq too is a product of the military approach....  The military must always be under civilian checks and controls.   They must act within the framework of the policies to be formulated by the civilian authority.  The military's views must always be obtained but the final decision must be taken by the civilian authority.  If, in Iraq, the other institutions too--including the State Department -- had joined the loop rather than the Pentagon alone dealing with such issues, today's problems would not have occurred."


"U.S. Wants To Control Africa By Creating Conflicts Between Tribes"


Left-wing intellectual Cumhuriyet held (7/10): "The U.S. is getting ready to settle in the entire African continent.   Within this framework, it is making preparations to reduce the influence of France primarily and all European countries on Africa....  Similar to Iraq, Zimbabwe will also fully democratize soon....  Following Bush's visit, the African axis of Bush's world empire goal will also get into motion.   The easiest thing in Africa is to cause conflicts between the tribes!   It is then possible to go there to establish peace.   Most probably, Bush was quite happy when he found out that there are 3,000 tribes in Africa!"


"Time To Ponder"


Soli Ozel noted in center-right Sabah (7/10): "The method used during the raid could be regarded as a reflection of anger felt by the members of the American Armed Forces, especially young officers towards the Turkish Armed Forces because of the latter's responsibility for rejection of the government motion on troop deployment by the National Assembly on 1 March.   Therefore, it is quite clear that the relations between the two armies, which constitute the main axis of the ties between the two countries, will no longer be maintained at the same level and with the same content.  Only time will tell whether the government officials in both countries will be able to mend the severe damage caused by that incident....  In any case, however, we should admit the fact that the period of strategic partnership between Turkey and the United States has ended....  The most important question on the agenda is whether Turkey's continued military presence in northern Iraq is still necessary.   This matter should be assessed in the light of the fact that the U.S. is now our southern neighbor.   It seems that withdrawing its troops from northern Iraq would be in Turkey's best interest."


“Shaking The Trust Within NATO”


Zafer Atay argued in the economic-political Dunya (7/10): “The incident in Suleymaniye is not only an appalling game, but also shakes the basic pillars of NATO.  The NATO alliance is based on mutual trust, solidarity, and willingness to work hand-in-hand for the achievement of shared ideals.  The arrest of Turkish soldiers and the treatment they were given have undermined the pillars of NATO....  There is no point in believing that there were 'disturbing acts by the Turkish team.’  The event was a clear show of force on the U.S. side.  The normalization of Turkish-American relations requires two conditions to be met: The U.S. should convey an official apology to both Turkey and NATO; and those responsible for the Suleymaniye incident should be punished.”


“Strategic Tuning”


Sami Kohen commented in mass-appeal Milliyet (7/9): “The incident in northern Iraq is clearly the end of the strategic partnership between the two countries.  The detention of Turkish soldiers is like ‘putting the nail in the coffin’ of the partnership.  The concept of strategic partnership was created in the post-cold war era and developed over the course of time.  However, the Iraq crisis has put an end to this concept, which actually means that the ties were never at the level of a genuine partnership....  The Turkish military presence in northern Iraq is designed to address three goals: the elimination of the PKK/KADEK; the monitoring of political and military activities of the Kurds; and providing assistance to the Turkomen....  Rhetorically, the U.S. does not have a different position from Turkey’s in any of these three areas.  Yet in practice we see some differences stemming from skepticism or mistrust.  These differences can be eliminated as long as Ankara and Washington agree on the fundamental parameters.  Both countries are in need of strategic fine-tuning.”


“What Is the U.S. Doing?”


Yilmaz Oztuna wrote in mass-appeal-conservative Turkiye (7/9): “It seems credible that the U.S. is actually trying to give a clear warning to Turkey in order to get Ankara on its side in upcoming operations against Iran and Syria.  The U.S. wants Ankara to realize that there is no room for neutrality in this game.  Washington has been issuing indirect or verbal warnings, yet Ankara did not take them seriously to this point.  In a possible operation against Iran, it is very likely that the U.S. will ask Turkey to join.  There is one more possibility which is also credible: The U.S. may be trying to eliminate the Turks in the area and weaken the Turkomans and Arabs in order to pave the way for an autonomy for its loyal allies Barzani and Talabani....  The incident in northern Iraq is unacceptable and incompatible with the spirit of the NATO alliance.  This incident is only turning the U.S. into a loser.  The U.S. captured Iraq very quickly, but what comes next is unknown even to the U.S.  Such policies will make it even harder for the U.S. to retain its hegemony in the region.”


"They Broke The Rib Of Our Soldier"


Mass-appeal, center-right Star held (7/9):  "The Americans did not merely treat our soldiers similar to the way they treated the Taliban.  In other words, they did not merely cover the heads of our soldiers with bags.  The dimensions of the issue are much more humiliating.  Our soldiers were pushed around by the U.S. troops.  The U.S. soldiers were so violent toward our soldiers that they broke the rid of one of our soldiers....  The U.S.' humiliating stand toward Turkey is not limited to the violence used against our soldiers.  A letter was sent by US Secretary of State Colin Powell to his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul.   Powell's letter is about Gul's visit to the United States.   According to the Foreign Ministry officials, the letter implies that 'the U.S. does not want Gul to come to Washington....'  These signs show that the 'cold war' with the U.S. has just begun."


"Is That All?"


Ismet Berkan observed in center-left Radikal (7/8):  "The crisis emerged between Turkey and the U.S. because of the detention of 11 military servicemen ended after 60 hours.   Our soldiers are now free and ready to resume their duties in al-Suleymaniye.   Well, is the problem solved now?   No, a crisis still exists between the two countries....  I believe that Ankara should not ignore this incident and that it should put a distance between itself and Washington until the U.S. publicly apologizes to Turkey for the violent detention of our servicemen and punishes those responsible for the 'mistake.'  No one would want any controversy and tension between Turkey and the U.S., which might lead to a military conflict....  Yes, what has taken place is a matter of honor.   And, whatever the information compiled by the U.S. is, it is impossible to forget the way the U.S. troops behaved and view the incident as an 'accident....'  A sincere apology is required to change their negative feelings against the U.S....  Turkey should suspend its arm purchases from the U.S. and seek alternative sources if Washington fails to apologize....  The relations between Turkey and the U.S. should be redefined.   We should establish honorable relations with that country, which has been our ally for many years and which will most probably be our neighbor in Iraq for a long time.  Meanwhile, Ankara should quickly draw up a new policy on Iraq."


"The Other U.S."


Center-right Istanbul Vatan noted (7/8):  "The fact that U.S. troops 'arrested' the Turkish officers and SNCO's on duty in northern Iraq both aroused indignation and led to the abundant use of words such as honor, pride, friendship, etc.   Some people say, 'Our strategic partner and old friend America has behaved shamefully.'   Turkey's 'partnership' and 'friendship' has not been in the fore for a while when compared to the U.S. administration's strategy for the Middle East in particular and the entire Muslim world in general.   This relationship was 'in the forefront' during the Cold War era and at times when weapons technology was not as developed.   For many years, people spoke of Turkey's geopolitical importance as proof that the West had to champion and support us.   However, Turkey's 'importance' has also changed within current 'geopolitical' concepts.  The U.S. administration gave a clear message when it arrested Turkish servicemen: The U.S. does not want a Turkish military presence in northern Iraq, whatever the reason, be it Turkoman security or the fight against terrorist organizations.  This is because America's current "strategic partners" are the Kurdish tribes that belong to Barzani and Talabani.   American technocrats, who are good at solving problems in theory, have started to understand that equilibriums scribbled on pads of paper cannot solve [the problems of] Iraq and the Middle East.   Barzani and Talabani unconditionally support the U.S. occupation of Iraq....  The U.S. is getting closer to the Kurdish tribes and is attaching greater importance to cooperating with them as it becomes more aware of the hell it has walked into in Iraq.   The Americans are invaders in Iraq."


“Partnership In Crisis”


Erhan Basyurt wrote in the Islamist-intellectual Zaman (7/8): “The U.S. is trying to alienate Turkey.  The way that the operation against Turkish soldiers was conducted is unimaginable.  Turkey and the U.S. military carried out joint operations for years and presented themselves as allies.  The detention of Turkish soldiers in northern Iraq is a clear crisis of confidence between Turkey and the U.S., which does not serve either side’s interest.  There is no logical reason for the U.S. to hurt Turkey.  The crisis of confidence can be resolved as long as the U.S. acts to settle it.  Otherwise the crisis will make both sides a loser.”


“Not Only Military”


Ertugrul Ozkok remarked in mass-appeal Hurriyet (7/8): “This event will be investigated by a  military commission made up of representatives from both sides.  But this is not good enough, and it won’t be enough even if diplomats are included.  Both the Turkish parliament and the U.S. Congress should investigate the incident in northern Iraq.”


“It Is Time To Give The Friendship A Rest”


Sedat Ergin argued in mass-appeal Hurriyet (7/8): “At this point, it is the best to leave it to the U.S. to define our bilateral ties.  In the light of current events, Turkish public opinion does not have any enthusiasm for continuing the relationship as before.  Turkey and the U.S. should abandon the ‘strategic partnership’ concept, and ties should be redefined following a ‘cooling-off period....'  In addition, Turkish FM Gul should postpone his upcoming Washington trip under present circumstances.”


“A Fiasco Like The Bay Of Pigs”


Mass-appeal Hurriyet commented (7/7): “The U.S. move to detain Turkish soldiers in northern Iraq is clearly insane. The U.S. has lost even its staunchest friends in Turkey because of this incident.  Whatever strategic assessment the U.S. action might have been based on, it is clear that it resulted in a fiasco on the order of the Bay of Pigs....  Actions taken by the U.S. against Turkey as retaliation against its stance during the Iraq war crisis have now exceeded the boundaries of mere punishment to the taking of revenge.  I was optimistic enough to believe that Turkish-American bilateral ties were in the process of normalization.  In light of this incident, however, the best thing at this point is to keep a distance between the two sides until things have cooled off.”


“This Is Not An Accident”


Ismet Berkan wrote in the liberal-intellectual Radikal (7/7): “Turkey and the U.S. have repeatedly talked about their strategic partnership.  In spite of the March 1 crisis (the refusal of an authorization for U.S. troop deployment in Turkey), we kept hearing about the continuation of the strategic partnership.  If the March 1 incident was not enough to  terminate the strategic partnership, this event surely is....  The U.S. has actually given enough indications to Turkey that its presence in northern Iraq is not wanted.  Since these signals have not been grasped, we now hear a harsher tone.  Turkish-American relations are in need of urgent redefinition.”


“Alienating The Turks”


Ilnur Cevik noted in English-language Turkish Daily News (7/7): “Someone has openly sabotaged Turkish-American relations.  Let us hope that this is the work of a misguided American local officer and is not a Pentagon plot.  Let us hope the Iraqi Kurds had no hand in this.  Let no one make the mistake of not realizing that sooner or later the Americans will go, and after that we will be left to ourselves.”


“Dancing with the US”


Soli Ozel editorialized in mass-appeal Sabah (7/3): “Turkey has missed the chance to have a say in northern Iraq by not acting together with the U.S. during the Iraq war.  At the same time, however, Turkey to a great extent has learned to evaluate the Iraq issue beyond the narrow prism of hypothetical scenarios about the Kurds.  The Turkish Foreign Ministry has finally started creating policies for all of Iraq as opposed to limiting itself to a northern-Iraq obsession.  This will help Turkey not only in its relations with the U.S. but also in the formulation of a better foreign policy.  This step is long overdue.”


“Problems For The U.S.”


Taha Akyol opined in mass appeal Milliyet (7/2): “Other than the Kurds, no one seems to be happy with the Americans in Iraq.  It is obvious that an anti-American regime will be established immediately once the U.S. turns over the administration to the true representatives elected by the Iraqi people.  Was this the reason George Bush went to war?!  The reaction of the masses increases in Iraq as the U.S. extends its stay in its attempt to establish stability.  Unfortunately, the U.S. did not fully understand the 1,400-year tradition of Shiite opposition, and could not foresee the  reaction of the Iraqi people.  The U.S. had wrongly expected to be welcomed with flowers!  The U.S., recalling the countless Shiite rebellions against Saddam, U.S. believed the Shiites would support the occupation.... The fact that the U.S. has asked for troops from Turkey and Pakistan for Iraq does not mean that the U.S. will be met with flowers by those two countries either.  Of course, our relations with the U.S. are highly important, and we cannot ignore Iraq.  However, Turkey should avoid the being part of a ‘police force’ against Iraq, and should try to convince the U.S. to shape developments for Iraq’s benefit.”


“Washington’s View Of The Turkish Military”


Sedat Ergin observed in mass-appeal Hurriyet (7/1): “The atmosphere in Washington leads me to conclude that the effects of Turkey’s rejection of the parliamentary motion during the Iraq crisis will not be easily eliminated.  It will really take time to cure the bilateral relationship....  In Washington there is a strong antipathy toward the Turkish military, which is blamed for the rejection of the U.S. troop deployment in Turkey.  There are many on Washington scene who put the blame directly on the military, and do not consider the matter as an outcome of the democratic process....  It seems AKP propaganda about the issue (pinning the blame on the military) has been influential in Washington as well.  The Pentagon in particular remains very upset with the Turkish military, because it took the military for granted from the beginning.  There is also a failure to appreciate the psychological effect among the public of the spectre of the deployment of 60,000 U.S. soldiers in Turkey. By blaming the Turkish military for the entire affair, decision-makers in Washington are avoiding admitting their own mistakes.”


“Formulating A Foreign Policy Without Washington’s Support” 


Murat Yetkin observed in liberal-intellectual Radikal (7/1):  “Washington blames the Turkish military for the rejection of the motion to allow U.S. troops in Turkey during the Iraq crisis. The American military shares this conviction....  The Pentagon and State Department are more calm than the U.S. military hierarchy, as demonstrated by Secretary Powell’s visit to Turkey and the decision to provide $1 billion in aid to Turkey....  The whole issue provides a lesson for both sides.  From now on, neither Turkey nor the U.S. can take each other for granted.   In this way, bilateral ties will likely be carried to a new level.  Ties between Turkey and the U.S. can be divided into two periods: the first 40 years marked by a policy of containment against Russia, and the last 10 years by a policy of containment against Iraq. Instability in the Balkans can be added to the factors shaping relations in recent times. Turkey has always considered itself indispensable for the U.S. because of Incirlik airbase. Whenever the Cyprus or Armenian issues were brought to the agenda, Turkey’s strategic importance was sufficient to persuade the White House as well as Congress....  Now Ankara will have to cope with  these problems for itself.  By approving the March 1 motion, Turkey might have ensured the backing of the U.S. for a while, but U.S. support would still have diminished in the end. The rejection has caught Turkey unprepared for this inevitability.  There is, however, a positive side as well. As a result of the rupture with the U.S. Turkey has gained a chance to shape its foreign policy without relying on U.S. support. Turkey now might be able to develop healthier and stronger ties both with the U.S. and the EU.”


“Turkish Soldiers In Iraq?”


Ferai Tinc noted in mass-appeal Hurriyet (6/30):  “The U.S. miscalculated the aftermath of the war, and it seems things are becoming messier in Iraq.  The number of Iraqis opposing the occupation is growing every day.  There is even discontent among the Kurds, supposedly America’s best ally in Iraq.  According to the reports, the Pentagon has now started thinking about Turkey, and a Washington Post story tells us that the U.S. has requested Turkish troops....  If the story is true, Turkey should think about sending its troops to help for the establishment of a democratic Iraqi state and a stable and secure Iraq.  But if the U.S. is seeking Turkish troops for helping to reinforce the current occupation, we should not be part of it.  There is only one way for the U.S. to get rid of the ‘occupation force’ label: by activating the UN to take on a more active role.”


“The US And Turkey”


Murat Yetkin wrote in liberal-intellectual Radikal (6/29): “After having a series of talks with Washington officials, my observation is that U.S. prestige has been shaken, especially in Europe, by Turkey’s failure to pass the motion that would have allowed American troops to move through Turkey.  One can still feel sense the traces of disappointment with Turkey in Washington.  However, it is the U.S., not Turkey, that  benefited from the decline of the motion, in both political and military terms.  The U.S. saved billions of dollars, prevented the entry of Turkish troops into Northern Iraq, and brought Turkey to a policy more in line with what Washington had wanted.”


“Things Are Getting Messy”


Hasan Unal argued in Islamist-intellectual Zaman (6/27): “Despite the media overlook, the fact of the matter is that things in Iraq are getting messier for the U.S. everyday.  Arabs are becoming more displeased with the occupation itself as well as the occupation forces....  The anti-American or anti-British incidents seem to be individual cases yet the U.S. should not be surprised if this kind of resistance turns into an organized movement in the course of time.  Americans in Iraq did not take the necessary steps for establishment of a new Iraqi administration in the post Saddam era.  Instead their focus somehow shifted from administrative issues to organize Kurds in the north.  The U.S. plan might be using the Kurds in order to block the rise of Arab nationalism, yet it does not seem to be working well.”


“The U.S. In The Postwar Era”


Fehmi Koru observed Islamist-intellectual Yeni Safak (6/27): “It seems the popular support that both the U.S. and UK administrations have been enjoying before the war, has started diminishing.   There are many confused minds in Washington and they all seem to be in the process of recalculation.  The U.S. administration is not presenting a unified picture, and Pentagon’s power has become a disturbing factor for the other administrative departments.  There are more comments and analysis than before about the neo-cons being solely influential over the Bush administration....  Turkey, on the other hand, had proven its functioning democracy before the Iraq war.  And its importance was once again underlined by President Bush as he was reaffirming U.S. support for Turkey’s EU accession.”


“The U.S. Changes Its Base Policy”


Zafer Atay wrote in economic-political Dunya (6/26): “The U.S. has decided to close down some of its military bases around the world, including in Turkey.  There is ongoing speculation that the U.S. is acting vindictively against certain countries.  However, in the post-cold war and post-Iraq war era, the U.S. does not need heavy-handed, money-guzzling bases any more.  In the new international atmosphere, where the Soviet threat does not exist and Russia is considered a common friend, Washington’s focus has shifted to the Middle East and the Caucasus....  Washington is not looking for an ideological fight--its main interest is to eliminate the rouge states, both sponsors of terrorism and producers of nuclear weapons....  It seems likely that U.S. bases will be opened in ‘less problematic’ friends of Washington, such as Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland and Romania, as well as in the ‘good allies’ of the Middle East region such as Kuwait, Qatar and Oman.  In Asia, we can add Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to the list, because they cannot afford to oppose any U.S. action.”


BRITAIN: "A Partnership At Risk?"


The independent weekly Economist opined (7/11):  "The prevailing suspicion among ordinary Turks and their leaders is that hawks in the American administration are out to punish them for not letting American troops use Turkey as a rear base in the war against Iraq.  But there is a deeper explanation.  The two countries' interests have been diverging since the cold war ended.  Though it backed the Americans strongly in the first Gulf War, in 1991, Turkey has since bitterly regretted one outcome: the consolidation of Kurdish self-rule in northern Iraq.  Not only did it fan separatist feeling among Turkey's own Kurds; the war's outcome also lost Turkey trade with Iraq worth billions of dollars—a loss that Turks think was never appreciated by the Americans.  Nor was Turkey compensated.  The Turks are becoming no less glum about the outcome of the recent American war, for Turkey is being slowly but surely eased out of northern Iraq, once again to the great satisfaction of Iraq's Kurds.  The spectre of a Kurdish renaissance, courtesy of the Americans, is jangling Turkish nerves.  That, not just the recent spat over the 11 captured Turkish soldiers, is what truly irks the Turks."


GERMANY:  "The End Of A Friendship"


Wolfgang Koydl stated in Munich's center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung (7/8):  "The U.S. forces may release the eleven Turkish soldiers whom they arrested when storming the camp near the Kurdish city of Suleymaniye, but the real problem has not been resolved:  Turkey wants to have a say when it comes to determining events in northern Iraq, and it is even willing to risk the well-tested basics of foreign policy raison d'etat for this purpose.  The U.S. in turn is trying to do everything to play down the most recent incident, but behind the façade of diplomatic countenance and relaxation, U.S diplomats and politicians are trembling with anger about Turkey's behavior, which they describe as 'ungrateful....'  It is probably no exaggeration to say that Turkey is even ahead of France on the list of nations against Washington bears a deep grudge....  There will be future conflicts between Turkey and the U.S., because U.S. plans for the Kurds in northern Iraq are feeding Turkey's paranoid fears and obsessions, ranging from the Turkish military via the bureaucracy to the justice authorities.  It is the panically blind fear of the end of the Turkish state if the Kurds get the right to self-determination.  And to the government in Ankara does not make a difference about whether the Kurds live on Turkish territory or not...  Some time in the future, Turks and Americans will get their act together again.  Turkey is much too important, but it owes this significance mainly to its geographical location.  But future relations will be based on a different foundation--distrust will replace trust."


"Play With Fire"


Andrzej Rybak and Hendrik Kafsack opined in Hamburg's Financial Times Deutschland (7/8):  "Even after the settlement of the most recent crisis, relations between Turkey and the U.S. remain burdened.  The ouster of Saddam Hussein's regime and the strengthening of the Kurds in northern Iraq that goes along with it, could turn out to be a serious burden for the formerly well-functioning relations.  It is the activities of Turkish forces in northern Iraq that are destabilizing the region.  That is why the Americans must do everything to counter this danger....  The government in Ankara fears no more than the establishment of an independent Kurdish state....   Since Saddam Hussein's ouster, Turkish commandos have persecuted, arrested or killed PKK fighters; groups that sympathized with the fight of the Turkish Kurds, were intimidated, their villages destroyed.  Washington tacitly watched these activities for a long time.  But the current situation no longer allows this, because Turkey, with its special missions, is threatening to further destabilize the fragile situation in Iraq.  That is why the arrest of the Turkish soldiers was a shot across Turkey's bow and came at the right time....  The U.S. must now use its influence to prompt Ankara to change its moves.  Ankara owes Washington a lot....  It is time that Turkey now makes concessions.  But if Turkey sticks to its operations in the neighboring country, the U.S. president must considerably increase pressure on Turkey.  The arrests from last week are a warning that should be understood in Ankara."




Evangelos Antonaros noted in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (7/8):  "Even after the release of Turkish soldiers, the crisis in Turkish-American relations has not been resolved.  On the contrary, a further escalation of the formerly model relations will be preprogrammed if Turkey does not understand the character of the U.S. moves....  The arrest of the Turks in Sulemaniye was certainly no blunder.  The warning to Ankara could not have been more obvious:  Stay out; in northern Iraq, we have the say....  Did Ankara plan a 'destabilizing measure'…to justify its interference?  This would be stupid, not only because Turkey would be unable to control the consequences of the destabilization of the region and could burden relations with the U.S. to such a degree that they can no longer be repaired.  But what would be even worse:  Turkey would definitely have to bid farewell to its plan to join the EU, a move for which there is not greater advocate than the U.S.  There would be only one interpretation: the hardliners within the corps of officers wanted to achieve exactly this, because government leader Erdogan is currently trying to cut the power of the military to create the preconditions to join the EU."


“Meanwhile In Kurdistan”


Rolf Paasch judged in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (7/7):  “Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan called the arrest of Turkish soldiers an 'ugly incident....'  In the end, it may all have been a false report or misunderstanding, but the incident still merits attention.  It points to the fact that since the Iraq war the Turkish-American relationship can be regarded as shattered.  The difficulties of the war coalition over the stabilizing of the Sunni triangle and the Shiite south have concealed up to now that Northern Iraq also has unresolved questions ready for the occupiers.  The longer the Iraqi Kurds have to wait for political and constitutional progress concerning a guarantee of their autonomy, the swifter the demand for the Kurds to go it alone will reappear.  And the more alarmed will be Turkey’s response about developments in Northern Iraq; especially now that Erdogan and his government, as losers of the Iraq war, are increasingly coming under pressure with regards to domestic reforms.  It has not been decided yet whether Turkey will succeed in using the shock over the Iraq war as a basis for a new and more liberal policy towards the Kurds, which would bring it closer to the EU.  A U.S. policy on Turkey, which is marked more by revenge than understanding, and a Turkish policy on the Kurds, which is based more on weakness than sovereignty, are very poor prerequisites for a solution of the Kurdistan question--within and outside Iraq.”


"Muddling Through"


Center-right Braunschweiger Zeitung said (7/5):  "The arrest of Turkish officers in Northern Iraq because of an alleged attack to kill the Kurdish governor shows mainly one thing:  For the solution of the Kurdish problem, Washington has no plan either.  It acts according to the principle of muddling through.... We can insinuate that Ankara is pursuing a dirty policy against the Kurds, but this development can be stopped only with clear political messages from Washington.  But up until today, Washington owes Turkey such a response."


“Demonstration Of Power By The U.S. ”


Juergen Gottschlich commented in left-of-center Die Tageszeitung of Berlin (7/7):  “What began before the start of the Iraq war has now come to a head: the crisis in Turkish-American relations.  Instead of clearing up a conflict of interest via diplomatic channels, the U.S. army busted 24 people at an installation of its NATO partner.  This move against forces of a friendly nation is unheard of in the history of NATO.  As the action was not the result of a chance encounter but carefully planned, it is a clear demonstration of U.S. power.  The message to Turkey is clear: get out of Northern Iraq....  The reason for the action is to push back Turkish influence in Northern Iraq.  On the face of it, this may seem sensible and plausible.  It is really not Turkey’s business whether the Kurds declare themselves independent or not.  But their American protectors have often proved in the past that for them too the Kurds are just political pawns.  In the end, Turkish soldiers have as little business in Iraq as American troops.  Both sides lack international legitimacy for their presence, both want to push through their own interests, if need be by force.  What is new is that the U.S. military--whether backed beyond the Pentagon is not yet known--now asserts them even against allies by force.  This sets new yardsticks, especially within NATO.”


RUSSIA: "Americans Reluctant to Liberate Allies"


Alexander Reutov wrote in reformist business-oriented Kommersant-Daily (7/7):  "In Turkey's more than half a century long partnership with the U.S., the operation in Iraq came as the main test for the two countries.  The crack in previously strong relations between Ankara and Washington appeared even before the start of military operations against the Saddam Hussein regime....  For several months the Kurds sent the U.S. command in Baghdad complaints over the actions of the Turks.  However, Washington could not for a long time make a choice in favor of this or that side.  The arrest of Turkish special troops indicates that the decision has finally been taken.  The U.S. decided that the close relations with Iraqi Kurds, who represent an impressive force, play a key role in the matter of stabilization in Iraq.  And in order to have this, it is possible to humiliate an old ally.  The more so, as officials in Washington assume, the support of Turkey that suffers from a lengthy financial crisis can be bought any time."


AUSTRIA: “A Dead-End Street”


Walter Friedl judged in mass-circulation daily Kurier (7/10): “The arrest of Turkish soldiers by U.S. troops in northern Iraq was a slap in the face for the government in Ankara, and at the same time a rude rebuke of the NATO partner.  The American message was: we are the bosses here.  The boastful reply from proud Turkey was to be expected.  Turkey no longer carries any political weight--except with the nationalists in their own country.  The government in Ankara will have to deal with the fact that the wind has turned.  American-Turkish relations are badly shaken.  The U.S. is going to do its own thing now--with no respect for Turkish interests....  But in its efforts to get into the EU, Turkey also has bad cards.  After years of blocking necessary reforms, they are now finally being tackled by a moderate Islamic government, of all things, but few members of the EU are able to reconcile themselves to the idea of Turkish EU membership, a country with a 99% Muslim population--even though nobody in the EU actually dares to say this out loud.  The bitter conclusion: A failed foreign policy, partly from arrogance, partly because of miscalculations, has maneuvered Turkey into a dead-end street.”  


“Two Allies On A Collision Course”


Helmut Müller observed in independent Salzburger Nachrichten (7/9): “The harsh words that are being exchanged between Ankara and Washington right now are the ultimate proof for the fact that the war in Iraq has totally changed relations in the Middle East.  Relations between the two NATO partners are in tatters.  It is obvious now which states were the main losers of the military campaign in Iraq--Turkey is certainly at the head of the list.  In the eyes of the U.S., the country has lost its strategic importance, as the Americans now have their own ‘aircraft carrier’ in the region: the territory of Iraq.  The disagreement stems from Turkey’s decision not to let U.S. troops march into Iraq through Turkish territory, which prevented a northern front in the war.  For Ankara, this was the sovereign decision of a democratically elected Parliament, for Washington, it was the breach of trust of an important ally.  Since Saddam’s downfall, the two countries have been on a collision course: The U.S. want control over the Kurdish areas in northern Iraq, but Turkey wants to have a say in what is going on there--out of fear of Kurdish ambitions.  After the affront towards the U.S., Turkey will probably try even harder to get a foot in the door of the EU.  Two questions pose themselves in this context: How serious is Ankara about trying for a more civilized coexistence with the Kurdish minority in Turkey?  And what about the promise to curb the influence of the military on democratic political life via reforms towards EU-conformity, if in reality, it is the army that calls the shots--first trying to follow America’s footsteps, and now encouraging anti-American feelings?"


“Turkey With No Support From Any Side”


Christian Ultsch remarked in centrist Die Presse (7/8):  “They are not yet members of the EU, and it is possible that they never will be.  And now, they have blown it with the Americans as well. Right now, at the banquet of foreign politics, Turkey is sitting between the two chairs that should be the most important for the country.  In the long run, this position could become uncomfortable for the Islamic government in Ankara.  The story around eleven Turkish soldiers that were arrested by the U.S. army in Northern Iraq a short while ago and only released two days later poses a number of questions: For instance, what were the eleven comrades doing in their Kurdish neighbors’ territory?  If it is true that their order was to murder the governor of Kirkuk, the Americans’ anger is understandable.  They really don’t need anyone right now to increase the chaos in Iraq: this is a job they are well able to do on their own.”


"Angry Allies"


Christoph Winder wrote in liberal Der Standard (7/7): “This is not a good year for Turkish-American relations.  In March, Ankara’s refusal to let the U.S. build a northern front in the war in Iraq caused bilateral relations to drop to a frosty all-time low.  In the last few weeks, Turkey managed to improve the situation with a number of diplomatic measures. However, an incident that happened last week may well have nipped these tender attempts at reconciliation in the bud.  The reasons for the raid that was carried out by a band of U.S. soldiers, allegedly to prevent an attack on the Kurdish governor of Kirkuk, are still unclear.  The question is whether this brash intervention to prevent terror was arranged by the low-level military, or whether it was sanctioned by the higher ranks.  At least the intelligence services must have known about it, in order to provide the necessary information.  No comment is available from Washington as yet--but even without knowing all the details, it is clear that the incident has greatly angered the Turkish public and the country’s Prime Minister Erdogan.  The incident once again illustrates the opposing interests of Turkey and the U.S.: While Washington would like to have a completely free hand in Northern Iraq, Ankara refuses to grant America sole control over the Kurdish territories.  None of the initiatives that Turkey is currently using to prove to the EU that their handling of the Kurdish minority in the country is worthy of a European state seem to have changed anything in this respect.”




EGYPT: "The Humiliation Of Turkey"


State-owned Al-Ahram remarked (7/9):  "Has Turkey lost its significance for the U.S. following the success of the U.S. forces in spreading their control over Iraq? This question is all the more important because of the crisis which erupted following the capturing by U.S. forces of 24 Turks, including 11 officers of the Turkish Special Forces in the city of al-Suleymaniye in northern Iraq and keeping them detained for three days before releasing them....  It seems that the U.S. wanted to teach Turkey a lesson by taking Turkey by surprise....  Thus it is evident that the aim of the catastrophic action was to convey a message to Turkey publicly that a significant part of its value, dignity and importance was compromised when the U.S. forces seized control of Iraq. All the Turkish demands that the U.S. apologize for the incident or that Washington act without infringing on the dignity of the commander of the Turkish army will likely be unheeded by Washington....  We have noticed that the U.S. is dealing in an unfriendly way with all the neighbors of Iraq. It is as if Washington is telling them to mind their own business and to stop their interference in Iraq's domestic affairs....   This indicates that the United States will not allow anyone to interfere in Iraq's affairs except through Washington. Thus it is evident that Washington no longer differentiates among Syria, Iran and Turkey.  The truth of the matter is that one can only feel sorry at seeing Turkey crying like the cheated wife who woke up all of a sudden to find her husband having a love affair with another woman."




CHINA:  "Turkey Condemned The U.S."


Li Qiang commented in official Communist Party international news publication Huanqiu Shibao (7/09):  “Public opinion thinks that the relationship with the U.S. is still the cornerstone of Turkish diplomacy.  Out of strategic considerations, the U.S. will not completely give up its traditional alliance relationship with Turkey that has lasted for more than 50 years.  However, the Kurdish issue in North Iraq will still be a long-term hidden problem for relations between the two countries.”



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