Rondo a la Turque
Turkish troops have reportedly entered northern Iraq
despite opposition from the US. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said Turkish forces had moved across the border to prevent a flood of refugees.
According to Turkish military sources, more than 1,000 commandos crossed the border.
The Turkish military Saturday denied reports
that some 1,000 Turkish commandos crossed into northern Iraq, a military move that would likely increase tensions with Iraqi Kurds and Washington.
A military official said Friday that soldiers, in M-113 armored personnel carriers, rolled into northeastern Iraq from near the town of Cukurca, where the borders of Turkey, Iraq and Iran converge. He said the soldiers were reinforcing several thousand Turkish troops already on the Iraqi side of the border and were not ordered to go deeper into Iraq.
Similar reports were front-page news in Turkish newspapers Saturday and were carried on Turkish television stations throughout the night.
A spokesman for the Turkish General Staff denied the reports.
?Turkey has not entered northern Iraq,? the spokesman said, speaking on customary condition of anonymity. ?Such news is a lie.?
A dastardly lie! Turkey would never do a thing like that. They?re shocked. Shocked, do you hear?
With me so far? OK, next:
Germany said Saturday it would withdraw its crew members from NATO surveillance planes that are patrolling Turkish airspace if Turkey moves its troops into Iraq. The threat was announced by Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and Defense Minister Peter Struck following a meeting of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Security Cabinet.
They threatened to withdraw if Turkey moves troops into Iraq? Do they mean if Turkey moves more troops? BTW Turkish troops already were in Iraq -- they have been for years. Perhaps the Germans are confused, and think that incursions of up to 150 km are OK, but now they've moved to 180km. Or something.
Anyway -- good news everyone:
UN weapons inspector Hans Blix announced today from Ankara that a preliminary inspection of the city ?has revealed no evidence that Turkey has moved any troops into Iraq?. He said there is evidence of previous incursions, and the inspectors are ?vigorously pursuing the issue?, demanding that the Turkish government deliver ?credible evidence? that all the troops had been withdrawn in the mid-1990s. He praised the Turkish government's cooperation ?on process? and said he was confident that cooperation on substance would be forthcoming during the coming months. Meanwhile, inspections would continue. ?There are a lot of interesting restaurants in downtown Istanbul?, Mr. Blix remarked.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry at first issued the following statement:
Who is this idiot?
But later amended this to:
We reiterate that there are no, absolutely no, Turkish troops in Iraq. They are there for humanitarian reasons only, and the land they are seizing is not for territorial purposes. UN inspectors are welcome to search for them anywhere in Turkey.