Balkans: October 29, 2003


Turkey's president, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, issued a statement that indicates the deployment of Turkish peacekeepers to Iraq has been postponed --and perhaps cancelled. Sezer said as far as he was concerned the deployment issue was "closed." Domestic concerns in Turkey about sending large peacekeeping contingents into Iraq as well as Iraqi objections have put a great deal of political pressure on the Turkish government. Strong personal opposition from Iraqi interim national council members seems to have given American leaders second thoughts about bringing Turkish peacekeepers into Iraq as part of coalition forces. (Remember, there are Turkish troops in Iraq and have been for years --deployed along the northern border as part of Turkey's war with PKK Kurdish rebels.) The "medium pay-off" of Muslim peacekeepers was always balanced by the risk of Turkish troops getting embroiled with Kurd militias. This doesn't mean that at some point Turkish troops won't operate as coalition members in Iraq. It does suggest it won't happen any time soon. (Austin Bay)




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