Friday, November 07, 2003

CNN - Turkey 'will not send Iraq troops'

This is extremely good news, even if it might not seem so on the face of it. The notion of sending Turkish troops to police Iraqis always struck me as utterly boneheaded, and more a signal of the Bush administration's desperation than anything else. One shudders on imagining what might have happened if Turkish troops, notorious as they are for brutality in their own country, were given the task of policing Kurdish Iraqis.

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Turkey will not send its troops to Iraq to relieve U.S. forces there after plans for a deployment raised sharp opposition from Iraqis, the Anatolia news agency reported Friday.

The Turkish parliament's decision last month to approve troops for Iraq had been a major victory for the United States, which has pressed hard for Turkey to join peacekeeping efforts. Turkey would be the first major Muslim nation to send troops to bolster the U.S.-led occupation.

But Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council quickly voiced opposition to having troops from Turkey -- or any of Iraq's neighbors -- on its soil. Many Iraqis were suspicious of the Turks, fearing they were seeking to dominate the country or would clash with Kurds in the north.