October 01, 2002
Masters of the Obvious

CNN Europe reports that Iraq is warning Turkey against allowing the US to use Incirlik Air Base as a staging point should the US decide to attack Iraq. In a statement remarkable for its blinding obviousness, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said Turkey will "absolutely not" be considered a friend of Iraq if it lets the United States use its air bases for an attack on Baghdad.

The article also discusses Turkey's weak economy and its difficulties with Kurdish rebels in the area bordering on Iraq, but fails to note the fragility of Prime Minister Ecevit's government, which is the real issue affecting Turkey's view on the war. While it appears (from his public statements) that Turkey opposes the attack, it is very likely that they will allow the US to use the base. While it is true that in the short term the Turkish economy might suffer more, it is likely that a regime change in Iraq will also result in the removal of trade sanctions against Iraq, and the Turks would be in a position to enjoy the fruits of a rejuvenated Iraqi economy through trade agreements.

posted on October 01, 2002 05:52 PM


Maybe Turkey's changed a lot since I was posted there back in the Pleistocene Era, but the Ankara I remember, if confronted with a statement like this, would give out with a guffaw. (They even tried to throw us out, suggesting that they weren't about to take crap from anyone at any level.)

posted by CGHill on October 2, 2002 01:21 AM

I don't think I did a very good job of explaining myself in the original post; what I was trying to convey was that the Turks have generally worked with us, not because we told them so, but because they decided that they agreed with us, or that it was the right decision. Unlike some of our "fair-weather friends" in the region, Turkey has been a steadfast ally.

posted by timekeeper on October 2, 2002 07:22 PM

The Turks, at least since Ataturk, have looked to the West far more often than to their ostensible cohorts in the Middle East; they've even abjured Arabic script in favor of a Western-style alphabet. But I don't think they're emotionally wedded to the West - they're far too pragmatic for that.

posted by CGHill on October 3, 2002 03:27 AM

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