American Hellenic Institute


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02-26-03 Letter to President George W. Bush

                                                                                                                                                                                                             February 26, 2003

The Honorable George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20005

Re:  Senior administration official calls Turkish actions "extortion in the name of alliance." Where is the outcry? Turkey is not vital nor needed in the event of war with Iraq.

Dear Mr. President:

In the lead New York Times article on February 20, 2003 (at A1; col.6), David E. Sanger and Dexter Filkens reported that Turkey, a NATO ally, is demanding $32 billion for use of Turkish territory by U.S. troops for a second front against Iraq and that the U.S. has offered $26 billion.  Turkey's governing party leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the White House's final offer of $26 billion "was not yet good enough and that Parliament would not vote this week on whether to allow the deployment of upwards of 40,000 American troops along the Iraqi border."  Messrs. Sanger and Filkens continued:

"Mr. Bush made no public comment about the standoff today....

In private, though, administration officials were fuming, with one senior official calling the Turkish efforts to hold out for more aid--and perhaps access to oil from the Kirkuk region of Iraq--as 'extortion in the name of alliance.'  Another said that despite a stream of aid from the United States, 'the Turks seem to think that we'll keep the bazaar open all night.'

* * * *

Much of the negotiation concerns grants and the forgiveness of debt for an economy that in the estimation of the International Monetary Fund and others, has been run without discipline for years.

The Turks, who are demanding as much as $32 billion in aid, 'see a moment this month to get the kind of deal that other countries in similar financial straits could only dream of,' a senior administration economic official said the other day.

Still, an administration official said other issues were in contention in negotiating with the Turks--, namely, the future of the Turkish military presence in northern Iraq and the Turkish desire for some oil concession at Kirkuk in Iraq.

'The Turks want to control the operation at Kirkuk, at a minimum through a pipeline,' the official said....

But Mr. Bush and his aides have often said Iraq's oil is for the benefit of the Iraqi people, and they realize that any discussion of guaranteeing access to the oil to Turkey—or any other nation—would make it appear that the war is about oil rights, not weapons of mass destruction.

The official said giving Turkey guarantees was impossible 'without breaking an awful lot of crockery,' including 'looking disingenuous to our Kurdish friends' in northern Iraq.

* * * *

Mr. Rumsfeld...told reporters this afternoon...with Turkey's aid or without it, he said, an attack on Iraq is 'doable.'"

The administration's offer of $26 billion ($15 billion in one year) is unconscionable and should be immediately withdrawn. It is extortion at $32 billion, at $26 billion, at $15 billion, at $1 billion, at $1 million or at 1 cent.

Members of Congress and commentators have referred to Turkey's actions as extortion, blackmail, bribery and shakedown.

Turkey is not vital nor needed in the event of war with Iraq

Caving in to Turkey's demands is especially wrong in view of the fact that Turkey is not vital nor needed by the U.S. in the event of war with Iraq. We did not need a second front from the mountains in southeast Turkey in the Persian Gulf War of 1991 and we do not need it now in the event of war against Iraq. We can put troops in northern Iraq, when and if needed, via air transport. (Please see our letter to you of December 11, 2002, copy attached.)

A military strategy of opening a second front with U.S. troops is highly questionable from the point of view of (1) military necessity; (2) economic costs of putting our troops there, and the request by Turkey for $32 billion in aid, in view of the record deficit in your 2004 fiscal year budget and substantial domestic needs, and (3) morality.

The New York Times reported that administration officials have stated that the U.S. can defeat Iraq without Turkey. The Pentagon has two military plans, one with Turkish cooperation and one without it. (NY Times, Nov. 28, 2002, at A1; col.5.)  On February 20, 2003, the New York Times reported that Secretary Rumsfeld stated that an attack on Iraq is "doable" without Turkey's aid. (NY Times, Feb. 20, 2003, A13; col.4.)

The lack of military necessity

We did not need Turkey in the Persian Gulf War of 1990-1991.  As you will recall, during Operation Desert Shield (August 2, 1990-January 15, 1991), Turkey refused the coalition the use of Incirlik NATO air base in southeastern Turkey and refused the coalition overflight rights.  The Turkish military and public opinion were opposed to the war.  On January 16, 1991, Operation Desert Storm started and it was days later and only after the Iraqi air defense system and air force were neutralized and the U.S. coalition had complete air superiority, that Turkey, to save face, allowed the coalition use of Incirlik.  The coalition used Incirlik for a limited number of sorties. (Please see our letter to you of December 11, 2002, copy attached.)

The U.S. buildup in the Persian Gulf area is overwhelming, particularly given that Iraq is, by all accounts, a third-rate power.  We have several air bases, several aircraft carriers and over 150,000 armed forces in the region, as reported by the Washington Post (Sept. 22, 2002, at A1, col. 5 and Dec. 20, 2002, at A45, col. 1), the Baltimore Sun (Feb. 24, 2003, at A1; col. 1), and other media.

Turkey is simply not necessary for the U.S. to handle the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.  For Turkey's proponents, Defense Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Defense Under Secretary for Policy Douglas Feith and Richard Perle, Chairman of the Defense Policy Board, to say that Turkey is crucial to our efforts against Iraq is a false and misleading statement and raises serious questions as to their motives.  Mr. Perle is a former paid consultant of Turkey and Mr. Feith is a former paid agent of Turkey and both have received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Turkey.  Mr. Wolfowitz has made speeches in Turkey and the U.S. containing blatant falsehoods about Turkey. (Please see our letter to you of September 4, 2002, copy attached.)

Dr. Ted Galen Carpenter, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies, CATO Institute, recently stated that "Turkey would be at most a convenience militarily."  He said:

"I think that in some ways the U.S. military is adopting a rather old fashioned strategy, basically a pincer movement on Baghdad, coming in from the north and from the south.  Again I want to emphasize, I think the whole idea of war is a very, very bad idea.  But if we're going to do it I think there are other ways of proceeding ... I think Turkey would be at most a convenience militarily for the United States.  It is not really a necessity, and I certainly question whether it's a fifteen billion dollar necessity.  So the U.S. I think, is overpaying for what is aid that would be of relatively modest importance to this operation." (American Hellenic Institute noon forum, Feb. 13, 2003).

A second front by U.S. troops in southeast Turkey is not in the best interests of the U.S.

When is someone going to call Defense Department officials to account?

Economic costs

Your administration sent to Congress a budget for fiscal year 2004 that creates a record deficit.  It is fiscally irresponsible for Defense Department officials to be recommending the expenditure of substantial millions of taxpayer dollars in costs for upgrading military bases and ports, and $26 billion in economic aid for allowing about 60,000 U.S. troops in southeastern Turkey. The New York Times reported that Turkey is actually demanding "as much as $32 billion to ensure their participation in a war with Iraq." (NY Times, Feb. 19, 2003, A17; col.1.)

The key beneficiary of the billions of dollars of aid to Turkey will be the Turkish military.  You should be aware, Mr. President, that the Turkish military has "tens of billions of dollars" in a cash reserve fund.  (See Eric Rouleau, "Turkey's Dream of Democracy," Foreign Affairs Nov./Dec. 2000, pages 100-114.)  Rather than giving more aid to Turkey, we should seek from Turkey and its military the 5 billion dollars they owe the U.S.


Any use of Turkey in a war on Iraq and Saddam Hussein would make a mockery of our values and the alleged reason for getting rid of the Saddam Hussein dictatorship. Turkey is presently in violation of (1) the UN Charter Article 2(4), by its illegal invasion of Cyprus and continuing occupation of 37.3% of Cyprus; (2) numerous UN Security Counsel and General Assembly resolutions on Cyprus; (3) the NATO Treaty by its invasion of Cyprus; (4) the Geneva Convention of 1949 by its illegal settlement of over 90,000 Turks from Anatolia to northern occupied Cyprus; (5) the Genocide Convention by its actions against its 20 percent Kurdish minority; and (6) customary international law by its illegal blockade of Armenia.  Turkey's shameless campaign to deny the Armenian Genocide is a profound moral issue.

Turkey's aggression against Cyprus and the bombings and killings and rapes of innocent civilians makes Turkey an international terrorist state.

Turkey's decades-long genocidal campaign against its 20 percent Kurdish minority in which the Turkish army has killed since 1984 over 30,000 innocent Kurdish civilians makes Turkey a national terrorist state.  The Turkish military since 1984 has also directed, through paramilitary groups, the assassination of 18,000 Kurds.  (See Eric Rouleau, "Turkey's Dream of Democracy, Foreign Affairs, Nov./Dec. 2000, pages 100-114.).  The Turkish military since 1984 has also destroyed 3,000 Kurdish villages and created 2,500,000 Kurdish refugees.

Mr. Edward Peck, a retired U.S. ambassador served as U.S. chief of mission in Baghdad from 1977 to 1980.  In an article in the Mediterranean Quarterly (Fall 2001), Mr. Peck stated that the Kurds in Turkey "have faced far more extensive persecution than they do in Iraq."  He writes:

"The northern no-fly zone may qualify as one of history's major ironies.  The aircraft we send to protect the Kurds are based in Turkey, where large numbers of Kurds, over a longer period of time, have faced far more extensive persecution than they do in Iraq.  Further, when the Turkish army wants to invade Iraq for the express purpose of killing Kurds there, we supply aerial photography and then suspend our protective overflights so the Turks can use their own aircraft to kill more. This is dynamic hypocrisy of galactic proportions." (page 16).

The New York Times reported (Feb. 26, 2003, at A10; col.1) that the Iraqi Kurds have asked the U.S. not to allow the Turkish military inside Iraq. Mr. C.J. Chivers wrote:

"In a vote that exposed frustration over elements of the United States war plans, the Kurdish Parliament in northern Iraq asked Washington today to prevent Turkish military forces from entering Iraq in the event of a war to oust Saddam Hussein.

* * * *

The vote today also gave voice to frustrations that Kurdish parties had tried to solve by more quiet means. In a joint letter to Mr. Bush on Feb. 13, Massoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, and Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, wrote that Kurds fear 'Turkey's real agenda is to crush our experiment in democratic self-government.'"

It is not in the interests of the U.S. to allow any Turkish troops into northern Iraq. Turkey, the former colonial ruler in the Middle East, has stated on a number of occasions that its objective is to suppress the Iraqi Kurds.

Turkey's actions since it joined NATO in 1952 are a stain on the honor of NATO and the U.S.  On July 10, 1975, Cyrus Vance and George Ball in testimony in Congress supported the congressional embargo on arms to Turkey until Turkey "purged" itself of its aggression in Cyprus.  (Suspension of Prohibitions Against Military Assistance to Turkey, 1975: Hearing on S. 846, H.R. 8454 and other bills and resolutions Before the House Committee on International Relations, 94th Cong. 1st Sess. 45-72, at 46 (1975)).  The supplying of arms to Turkey, with the public knowledge of their use by the Turkish military against the Kurds, has made the U.S. an accessory to the actions of the Turkish military.  Messrs. Wolfowitz, Perle and Feith have been prime movers of arms to Turkey.

Buying Turkish cooperation is a foreign policy scandal

Reporting from Istanbul for the Washington Post, John Ward Anderson wrote that a "poll released Sunday [February 9, 2003] showed that 94 percent of the Turks surveyed opposed a U.S. war against Iraq." Mr. Anderson reported that "the Turkish parliament last week voted to allow the United States to upgrade military bases and ports," under orders from Recep Tayyib Erdogan, the Justice and Development Party leader, whose party controls 362 seats in the 550 member parliament. The vote was 309 to 193 with others absent or abstaining. Mr. Anderson, in an article under the caption "Party Discipline Won Out in Turkey's Vote on U.S. Request," wrote (Wash. Post, Feb. 13, 2003, at A22, col. 1):

"Lawmakers said that before last week's vote, they met with Prime Minister Abdullah Gul and Recep Tayyib Erdogan, the Justice and Development leader, who ordered them to vote in favor of allowing the United States to renovate military bases and ports. The two leaders promised U.S. economic aid with written guarantees."

In an article captioned "U.S., Turkey Haggle Over Economic Aid" (Wash. Post, Feb. 14, 2003, at A23, col. 1), staff writer Mr. Peter Slevin wrote:

"U.S. and Turkish diplomats held intensive and inconclusive negotiations yesterday over the terms of a multibillion-dollar economic aid package designed to secure Turkish support for a potential U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and insulate Turkey from war costs.

After a day of discussions in Washington that included Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Treasury Undersecretary John Taylor, the two sides remained billions of dollars apart, said a senior Turkish official who described 'slight movement, but not enough to satisfy the Turks.'

Turkey, which shares a 218-mile border with Iraq, has not agreed to allow U.S. troops to use its facilities in the event of war, and Prime Minister Abdullah Gul told reporters in Ankara, the capital, yesterday that the decision would depend on the outcome of the aid talks.

* * * *

U.S. officials say Turkey will certainly receive financial help from the United States. The principal questions are how much and in what form, said a State Department official who reported that Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis and his team are 'looking for a budget sweetener. They want money, as much as they can get.'

While neither side would specify numbers, sources reported that they are far apart. Turkish officials and media have cited figures ranging from $14 billion to $25 billion -- amounts the Americans consider outlandish.

* * * *

The Washington talks are designed to resolve three sets of issues, the Turks reported. The first issue is the rules that would govern U.S. troops stationed in Turkey. The second is the economic package. The third is a set of principles to define post-conflict Iraq, a particularly sensitive subject because of the enmity between the Turkish government and the Kurds who control much of northern Iraq.

Turkey is not alone in seeking money. Egypt has asked the United States for more aid to defray war effort contributions and such costs as lost tourism revenue. Israel has appealed for $2 billion in new military assistance and $10 billion in loan guarantees. No money for war-related economic aid, or for the war itself, is included in President Bush's 2004 budget."

We strongly oppose any aid to Turkey as not in the best interests of the U.S. for the reasons stated above.

Mr. President you are being misled as to Turkey's value in the event of war with Iraq. It is past time for you to revise our present double standards policy toward Turkey that has proven so harmful to U.S. interests.


Aram Hamparian
Executive Director
Armenian National Committee

James F. Dimitriou
Supreme President
Order of AHEPA

Gene Rossides
General Counsel
American Hellenic Institute

Ted Spyropoulos
Hellenic American National Committee

September 4, 2002 letter
December 11, 2002 letter


Vice President Richard B. Cheney
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
Secretary of the Treasury John W. Snow
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Lee Armitage
Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
Chief of Staff Andrew Card
Senior Adviser Karl Rove
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice
Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman
Director of OMB Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr.
The Congress