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06-24-02 Letter To The Washington Post

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     June 24, 2002

Letters to the Editor
The Washington Times
3600 New York Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002

Dear Editor:

I write regarding Georgie Anne Geyer¹s June 22, 2002 article concerning Turkish opposition to U.S. military action against Saddam Hussein. Ms. Geyer argues that "nobody questions the unusual record of the Turks in supporting well-thought-out American policies." Indeed, we write to question this very notion of Turkish reliability as a U.S. ally. The following are several factual examples of Turkey's disloyalty to the U.S. and unreliability as an ally:

  1. During the 1973 Mid-East War, predating the Turkish invasion of Cyprus by one year, Turkey refused the United States military overflight rights to resupply Israel and granted the USSR overland military convoy rights to resupply Syria and Iraq, and military overflight permission to resupply Egypt. See E. Luttwak, The Politics of Sea Power, 60-61, (1974). A member of the Turkish Foreign Policy Institute in Ankara wrote:
  2. "During the Arab-Israeli War of 1973, Moscow's overflights of Turkish airspace were tolerated. On the other hand, during the same Middle East conflict, Turkey refused to allow the United States refueling and reconnaissance facilities during the American airlift to Israel." Karaosmanoglu, "Turkey's Security and the Middle East," 52 Foreign Affairs, 157, 163 (Fall 1983).

  3. Over NATO objections, Turkey allowed three Soviet aircraft carriers, the Kiev on July 18, 1976, the Minsk on February 25, 1979, and the Novorosiisk on May 16, 1976, passage rights through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits into the Mediterranean in violation of the Montreaux Convention of 1936. See generally Washington Post, July 19, 1976, at A26, col. 1; New York Times, February 26, 1979, at A13, col. 1. The Soviet ships posed a formidable threat to the United States Sixth Fleet.
  4. In 1979 Turkey refused to allow the United States to send 69 marines and six helicopters to American military facilities at Incirlik in Turkey for possible use in evacuating Americans from Iran. New York Times, February 13, 1979, at A8, col.
  5. Again, in 1979 Turkey refused the United States request to allow U-2 intelligence flights (for Salt II verification) over Turkish airspace "unless Moscow agreed." New York Times, May 15, 1979, at A1, col. 3. This position was voiced over a period of months by Turkish officials, the opposition party and the military Chief of Staff, Gen. Kenan Evren.
  6. In May 1989, Turkey rejected an American request to inspect an advanced MIG-29 Soviet fighter plane, flown by a Soviet defector to Turkey. New York Times, May 28, 1989, at A12, col. 1.
  7. Turkey further damaged NATO by vetoing NATO's effort to put military bases on various Greek islands for defensive purposes against the Soviet navy.
  8. During the Persian Gulf War, Turkey sat on the sidelines throughout Desert Shield, refusing to send any forces to the U.S.-led Coalition, refusing to authorize a second land front from Turkey (see Washington Post, January 16, 1991, at A6, col.5), and refusing to allow the use of the NATO air base at Incirlik, Turkey. Throughout Desert Shield there was large-scale, openly organized smuggling along the Turkey-Iraq border. (See Wall Street Journal, October 30, 1990, at 1, col. 1; Turkish newspapers Sabah,September 3, 1990, and Cumhuriyet, September 22, 1990, and the weekly magazine Yuzil, September 9, 1990.) That smuggling, including smuggling of oil from Iraq, has been going on ever since Desert Storm.

    Desert Storm began on January 16, 1991. It was not until over 48 hours after the air war had begun on January 16, 1991, and only after the Iraqi air force and air defenses had been neutralized and the U.S. had achieved air superiority, that Turkey allowed a limited number of sorties out of the Incirlik NATO air base. Only one out of twenty coalition sorties originated in Turkey, and these were clearly unnecessary. The Turkish military and Turkish public opinion opposed the use of Incirlik NATO air base.

In light of these facts, it is not at all surprising to read that Turkish leaders are invariably opposed to President George W. Bush¹s aim to topple Saddam Hussein from power. Far from being a reliable and loyal U.S. ally, Turkey remains a vastly destabilizing force in Southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. Considering this unreliability, it should be clear that Turkish interests in Iraq differ substantially from our own.

Thank you for your consideration.




Gene Rossides