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   Vol. 67/No. 37           October 27, 2003  
Tokyo, Ankara to boost occupation of Iraq
Recent announcements by the Japanese and Turkish governments register progress in Washington’s push to draw other governments into its occupation of Iraq.

According to Reuters, Japanese officials are hammering out a proposal to provide up to $5 billion in funding to the U.S.-dominated occupation authority. At the same time, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has confirmed that Tokyo will place hundreds of troops at Washington’s disposal, following a July 26 parliamentary vote giving the green light for Japanese forces to enter a combat zone for the first time since World War II.

The Turkish government announced in early October that it will deploy thousands of troops inside Iraq, under the command of U.S. officers.

The country’s press reported that as many as 10,000 troops from the 28th Mechanized Infantry Brigade, which has been part of U.S.-led occupations in Kosova and Afghanistan, would be deployed as early as November.

According to the Turkish daily Hurriyet, officials in Ankara told U.S. representatives they wanted their troops deployed in northern Iraq. U.S. officials, however, leery of having them near heavily Kurdish areas where their presence might spark protests, said they would instead be stationed in a region between Baghdad and the border of Jordan and Syria.

Members of Iraq’s Governing Council, a body handpicked by Washington to put an Iraqi face on its occupation, voted to oppose the deployment of troops from “neighboring countries.”  
Conflict with Kurdish forces
“We fear that those troops might side with one party of the Iraq people against the other,” said Council member Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, in a reference to Ankara’s ongoing war against the Kurdish people, who have waged an historic struggle for national self-determination in a region that includes areas of Iraq, Turkey, Iran, and Syria.

Gen. Ilker Basbug, the Turkish army’s deputy chief of staff, warned Kurdish leaders to keep their soldiers away from the Turkish forces as they cross the Turkish-Iraq border. “If the convoys are attacked, the necessary response will be given, he said. “The Turkish armed forces have the abilities and capacity to protect its convoys and itself.”

The Turkish government has already stationed thousands of troops on the Iraqi side of its southern border to seal it off from Kurdish refugees and guerrilla fighters. Unlike the soldiers to be deployed closer to Baghdad, these forces answer to Turkish commanders.

Opinion polls in Turkey indicate that a large majority of people there are opposed to the deployment. Eight months ago the Turkish parliament voted to deny the Pentagon the use of its territory for an armored force in the invasion of Iraq. Undeterred by the unexpected setback to its plans, Washington pushed ahead with its war on Iraq, using Kuwait-based forces to overrun the country.

In late September, after a series of talks, U.S. treasury secretary John Snow gave approval to an $8.5 billion loan package to the Turkish government on condition that it persevere with its austerity program and cooperate with Washington in Iraq.”

A week later, the BBC reported that “Turkey and the U.S. have agreed on an action plan to eradicate the Kurdish paramilitary group, the PKK,” or Kurdistan Workers Party. Based in the southeast part of Turkey, the PKK had fought a 15-year guerrilla war against the Turkish armed forces through the late 1990s.

The Turkish and Japanese troops will join an occupation force currently made up of 130,000 U.S. troops, some 11,000 British soldiers, and small deployments from 30 other countries totaling about 13,000 troops.Washington has also been trying to get the government of India to send forces. On October 5 U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell told CNN that the Indian government had “indicated they would not be in a position to provide troops. And I don’t expect that position to change.” New Delhi has said that it would consider providing troops if the United Nations Security Council endorses such a step.

U.S. officials are pushing for the Security Council to adopt just such a resolution. Agence France-Presse reported on October 14 that the council representatives of the French, German, and Russian governments proposed “minor changes” while moving to accept the U.S. plan’s “broad outline.” Berlin and Paris had opposed the “unilateral” character of Washington and London’s decision to invade Iraq, counterposing to it military action carried out under UN auspices.  
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