Why America Needs Turkey in Iraq

(New York Times) Asla Aydintasbas - Critics fear that the presence of Turkish forces in Iraq would aggravate a historically tense relationship with neighboring Kurdish regions. In addition, Iraq's new Governing Council has already said that no additional foreign troops are wanted in Iraq. So how much would Turkish peacekeepers contribute to the stability of Iraq? Quite a lot, actually. Because they are Sunni Muslims from the same neighborhood, Turks are attuned to the cultural concerns and needs of the conservative (and by now irate) population in central Iraq. Sunnis are as critical to Iraq's stability as the Pashtun were to Afghanistan. Whatever structure emerges in Iraq cannot be hostile to this ancient elite. During meetings over the summer, Sunni clerics and tribal leaders told Turkish officials that, if it's a question between American forces and Turks, they'll take the Turks. Sending Turkish soldiers would also be the only real way to repair the Turkish-American alliance, much damaged since the Turkish Parliament's decision in March to stay out of the war. For its part, Ankara should reach out to Iraq's Kurds and assure them that its aim is not to crush Kurdish rights but to help Iraq as a whole.

2003-10-10 00:00:00

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