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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 10-11-2007, 02:34 PM Thread Starter
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Turkey Basting

Turkey calls U.S. envoy home
Moves come after panel approves Armenia genocide resolution
The Associated Press
Updated: 3:28 p.m. ET Oct 11, 2007


WASHINGTON - Turkey has asked its ambassador in Washington to return to Turkey for consultations over a House panel's approval of a bill describing the World War I-era mass killings of Armenians as genocide, a Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday.
The ambassador would stay in Turkey for about a week or 10 days, said spokesman Levent Bilman.
"We are not withdrawing our ambassador. We have asked him to come to Turkey for some consultations," he said.
The Bush administration earlier indicated it would try to soothe Turkish anger after the House panel's vote.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee defied warnings by President Bush with 27-21 approval Wednesday to send the measure to the full House for a vote. The administration will now try to pressure Democratic leaders not to schedule a vote, though it is expected to pass.
Hours before the vote, Bush and his top two Cabinet members and other senior officials made last-minute appeals to lawmakers to reject the measure.
“Its passage would do great harm to our relations with a key ally in NATO and in the global war on terror,” Bush said.
Turkey criticizes House action
Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul criticized the decision to move the measure toward a vote in the House.
“Unfortunately, some politicians in the United States have once again sacrificed important matters to petty domestic politics despite all calls to common sense,” said Gul, according to the state-run news agency Anatolia. “This unacceptable decision by the committee, like its predecessors, has no validity or respectability for the Turkish nation.”

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said passage of the resolution by the House would gravely harm U.S.-Turkish relations and U.S. interests in Europe and the Middle East.
“The United States recognizes the immense suffering of the Armenian people due to mass killings and forced deportations at the end of the Ottoman Empire,” McCormack said in a statement. “We support a full and fair accounting of the atrocities that befell as many as 1.5 million Armenians during World War I” — which he said the measure doesn’t do.
Following Wednesday’s vote, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said he would call the Turkish ambassador to Washington, and that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would talk to Turkish leaders on Thursday.
Quietly preparing Turks
U.S. diplomats have been quietly preparing Turkish officials for weeks for the likelihood that the resolution would pass, and asking for a muted response.
Burns said the Turks “have not been threatening anything specific” in response to the vote, and that he hopes the “disappointment can be limited to statements.”
“The Turkish government leaders know there is a separation of powers in the United States, that today’s action was an action by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, that this was not an action supported by President Bush and the executive branch of our government,” he said.
The Bush administration has expressed concern that the vote could lead to Turkey cutting off crucial supply lines to Iraq. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said ahead of the vote that 70 percent of U.S. air cargo headed for Iraq goes through Turkey, as does about one-third of the fuel used by the U.S. military in Iraq.
“Access to airfields and to the roads and so on in Turkey would very much be put at risk if this resolution passes, and Turkey reacts as strongly as we believe they will,” Gates said.
The vote also came as Turkish warplanes and helicopter gunships attacked suspected positions of Kurdish rebels near Iraq on Wednesday, a possible prelude to a cross-border operation that the Bush administration has opposed. The United States, already preoccupied with efforts to stabilize other areas of Iraq, believes that Turkish intervention in the relatively peaceful north could further destabilize the country.
The committee’s vote was a triumph for well-organized Armenian-American interest groups who have lobbied Congress for decades to pass a resolution.
Following the debate and vote, which was attended by aging Armenian emigres who lived through the atrocities in what is now Turkey in their youth, the interest groups said they would fight to ensure approval by the full House.
“It is long past time for the U.S. government to acknowledge and affirm this horrible chapter of history — the first genocide of the 20th century and a part of history that we must never forget,” said Bryan Ardouny, executive director of the Armenian Assembly of America.

© 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21221278/

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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 10-11-2007, 03:42 PM
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Kurds call on Turkey not to attack

Kurds call on Turkey not to attack


Turkey says a renewed offensive by the PKK left 15 soldiers killed over the weekend [AFP]


The regional government of Iraq's northern Kurdish region has called on Turkey not to carry out its threat to mount an armed cross-border incursion.

The Kurdish statement came on Thursday as legislators in Turkey vowed to submit a request to parliament that it authorise military operations against Kurdish fighters based in Northern Iraq.


"The resolution won't go to parliament today. It will be sent to parliament after [the] Bayram [holiday]," the Reuters news agency reported a senior AK Party politician as saying.

But Jamal Abdallah, a spokesman for Iraq's regional Kurdish government, said military action was not the answer.


"Recourse to military action is not going to help resolve the question of security on our borders," he said.

"There must be other ways to settle this problem because it's our problem too."

The Turkish government, led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, wants an incursion into northern Iraq to flush out suspected rear bases of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

Renewed offensive

Erdogan said on Tuesday that all measures, including military ones, would be considered in the fight against the PKK.

Turkey says PKK fighters used bases in northern Iraq to launch a renewed offensive inside Turkey in which 15 soldiers died over the weekend.

In video


Al Jazeera's report on Turkey's incursion debate YouTube - Turkey weighs northern Iraq raids to fight Kurdish rebels

It accuses the Iraqi Kurds of tolerating or supporting the PKK, which the regional government denies.

But Abdallah reiterated the regional government's official position that "we do not allow groups hostile to any of our neighbours to use Kurdistan to launch operations".

Hoda Abdel-Hamid, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Irbil, an Iraqi city about 300km from the Turkish border, said: "People are quite sceptical that Turkey would carry out a full-scale incursion these days."

She said: "They see that there is a lot of pressure from Baghdad and from the neighbouring countries to try to keep this part of Iraq - the only stable part of Iraq - as stable as possible.

"They expect a lot of international pressure on Turkey not to go ahead with this large-scale incursion."

International pressure

Ilnur Cevik, the editor and chief columnist of Turkey's New Anatolian newspaper, agreed that Turkey would come under international pressure not to carry out an incursion.

"You can start a military incursion, but you cannot stay there because the United States will put up pressure and the European Union - which Turkey wants to join - will put up pressure ... despite the fact they feel that Turkey has a legitimate cause in fighting the PKK."

He told Al Jazeera: "The areas that we're talking about - deep inside the Iraqi Kurdish mountains where the PKK is holed up - mean you have to go 60km inside Kurdish territories. This is not the legitimate 'hot pursuit' that is allowed for Turkey by international law, it is an occupation."

Turkey and Iraq signed an accord last month to combat the PKK, but failed to agree on a "hot pursuit" clause, requested by Turkey, to allow Turkish troops to pursue fighters across the countries' shared border if the need arose.

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"Turkey has warned of damage to bilateral ties and military co-operation if congress passes the measure"

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On Thursday, Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, urged Turkey not to launch military operations into northern Iraq, saying it would "complicate" the security situation in the country.

"The question of security continues to be a fundamental issue to the stability of Iraq," Solana said.

"Any possibility of complicating even more the security situation in Iraq is something that should not be welcomed. That is the lesson we pass to our Turkish friends."

Earlier on Wednesday, Washington again warned Ankara against unilateral action in northern Iraq.

Relations between Turkey and the US have already come under strain after US politicians voted to pass a bill labelling the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide.

Turkey has called the resolution irresponsible and warned it could cause "serious troubles" to relations between the two countries.
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Turkey threatens repercussions for U.S.

Turkey threatens repercussions for U.S.
By CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA, Associated Press Writer
25 minutes ago



Turkey, which is a key supply route to U.S. troops in Iraq, recalled its ambassador to Washington on Thursday and warned of serious repercussions if Congress labels the killing of Armenians by Turks a century ago as genocide.

Ordered after a House committee endorsed the genocide measure, the summons of the ambassador for consultations was a further sign of the deteriorating relations between two longtime allies and the potential for new turmoil in an already troubled region.

Egeman Bagis, an aide to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told Turkish media that Turkey — a conduit for many of the supplies shipped to American bases in both Iraq and Afghanistan — might have to "cut logistical support to the U.S."

Analysts also have speculated the resolution could make Turkey more inclined to send troops into northern Iraq to hunt Turkish Kurd rebels, a move opposed by the U.S. because it would disrupt one of the few relatively stable and peaceful Iraqi areas.

"There are steps that we will take," Turkey's prime minister told reporters, but without elaboration. It also wasn't clear if he meant his government would act immediately or wait to see what happens to the resolution in Congress.

He declined to answer questions about whether Turkey might shut down Incirlik air base in southern Turkey, a major cargo hub for U.S. and allied military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Turkey's Mediterranean port of Iskenderun is also used to ferry goods to American troops.

"You don't talk about such things, you just do them," Erdogan said.

The measure before Congress is just a nonbinding resolution without the force of law, but the debate has incensed Turkey's government.

The relationship between the two NATO allies, whose troops fought together in the Korean War in 1950-53, have stumbled in the past. They hit a low in 2003, when Turkey's parliament refused to allow U.S. forces use their country as a staging ground for the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

But while the threat of repercussions against the U.S. is appealing for many Turks, the country's leaders know such a move could hurt Turkey's standing as a reliable ally of the West and its ambitions to be a mediator on the international stage.

The Turks did suspend military ties with France last year after parliament's lower house approved a bill that would have made it a crime to deny the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey amounted to genocide. But Turkey has much more to lose from cutting ties to the U.S.

The United States is one of its major business partners, with $11 billion in trade last year, and the U.S. defense industry provides much of the Turkish military's equipment.

Turkey's ambassador in Washington, Nabi Sensoy, was ordered home for discussions with the Turkish leadership about what is happening in Congress, Foreign Minister spokesman Levent Bilman said. He said Sensoy would go back after seven to 10 days.

"We are not withdrawing our ambassador. We have asked him to come to Turkey for some consultations," Bilman said. "The ambassador was given instructions to return and will come at his earliest convenience."

The Bush administration, which is lobbying strongly in hopes of persuading Congress to reject the resolution, stressed the need for good relations with Turkey.

"We look forward to his quick return and will continue to work to maintain strong U.S.-Turkish relations," said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council. "We remain opposed to House Resolution 106 because of the grave harm it could bring to the national security of the United States."

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the measure is damaging relations at a time when U.S. forces in Iraq rely heavily on Turkish permission to use their airspace for cargo flights.

About 70 percent of U.S. air cargo headed for Iraq goes through Turkey as does about one-third of the fuel used by the U.S. military there. U.S. bases also get water and other supplies carried in overland by Turkish truckers who cross into Iraq's northern Kurdish region.

In addition, C-17 cargo planes fly military supplies to U.S. soldiers in remote areas of Iraq from Incirlik, avoiding the use of Iraqi roads vulnerable to bomb attacks. U.S. officials say the arrangement helps reduce American casualties.

U.S.-Turkish ties already had been strained by Turkey's complaint the U.S. hasn't done enough to stop Turkish Kurd rebels from using bases in northern Iraq to stage attacks in southeastern Turkey, a predominantly Kurdish region where tens of thousands have died in fighting since 1984.

Turkish warplanes and helicopter gunships attacked suspected positions of Kurdish rebels on the border this week and Turkey's parliament was expected to vote next week on a proposal to allow the military to pursue a large-scale offensive in northern Iraq.

The U.S. ambassador to Turkey, Ross Wilson, was invited to the Foreign Ministry, where officials conveyed their "unease" over the resolution in Congress and asked the Bush administration do all in its power to stop passage by the full House, a Foreign Ministry official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make press statements.

Historians estimate up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I. Turkey denies the deaths constituted genocide, saying the killings didn't come from a coordinated campaign but rather during unrest accompanying the Ottoman Empire's collapse.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the resolution Wednesday despite intense lobbying by Turkish officials and the opposition from President Bush. The vote was a triumph for well-organized Armenian-American interest groups that have lobbied Congress for decades to pass a resolution.

The administration will now try to pressure Democratic leaders in Congress not to schedule a vote, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated they were committed to going forward.

"Why do it now? Because there's never a good time and all of us in the Democratic leadership have supported" it, she said.

Turkish officials said the House had no business to get involved in writing history.

"It is not possible to accept such an accusation of a crime which was never committed by the Turkish nation," Turkey's government said after the committee adopted the measure.

___

Associated Press writers C. Onur Ant in Istanbul and Suzan Fraser in Ankara contributed to this report.

(This version CORRECTS SUBS 24th graf, `The House ...' to correct time to Wednesday sted Thursday)
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