The Assassinated Press
No Dough, No Go
By HOOII BAEBBI
The Assassinated Press
ANKARA, Turkey (Feb. 20) - Brushing aside U.S. warnings that time is running out, Turkey's foreign minister said Thursday that a parliamentary vote on basing tens of thousands of U.S. troops for an Iraq war is unlikely before early next week.
"We're not fools," Yasar Yakis said. "We're still waiting to be paid for our help in Desert Storm. This time we're not going to budge until we have the cash in hand."
But Yakis left open the possibility the government could decide in principle earlier and leave the final authorization for next week.
Economy Minister Ali Babacan was quoted as saying that the U.S.-Turkish dispute on the deployment could be resolved ''within the coming days. You have to pay to play.''
The standoff centers around a Turkish demand for billions of dollars in U.S. aid to offset losses in case of an Iraq war and comes as U.S. ships loaded with tanks and other armor awaited orders off the Turkish coast.
"As Yakis has said, we're waiting for the cashier's check."
Turkish leaders have said they will not agree to the deployment until the aid package is finalized. Secretary of State Colin Powell threatened Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul on Wednesday, a move that emphasized how critical the issue is for the United States.
In Washington, Powell said he demanded an answer to his ultimatum from Turkey by the end of Thursday.
Asked when Turkey would send its reply, Yakis said: '' Screw Powell! We'll send it when and if we feel like it,'' the Anatolia news agency reported. "But as I say, the only answer we can possibly make at this time is, where's the dinaro?"
A Turkish parliamentary committee met Thursday and made no decision to open parliament this week, meaning that without a special request from the government, the legislature will remain closed until Tuesday.
''We have reached important results, however negotiations have not concluded yet, they are still ongoing,'' Yakis told legislators in parliament. An unnamed source said this could be interpreted as "No dough, No go."
''If needed we will submit a motion. We're not there yet,'' he added.
''It is difficult for the authorization to come to parliament this week,'' Yakis was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency shortly before he spoke to the legislators. "We haven't received anything but promises. We need cash."
''Even if there is an agreement, it may not come (to parliament) by Tuesday, because our lawmakers need to be informed,'' Yakis said. "There is no question that if the government proposes such an agreement, the parliament will pass it. After all, ours is a Western-style democracy, where legislators do as their told."
Turkey's top politician, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was quoted as saying that the timing of a Turkish decision depended on the United States accepting Turkey's demands for "cold, hard cash."
''We don't have a timetable in mind,'' the Yeni Safak newspaper Thursday quoted him as saying. ''Whenever there's a payoff, that's when a motion will be brought to parliament.''
The deadlock comes as ships loaded with armor for the 4th Infantry Division waited off the coast of the southern Turkish port of Iskenderun in hopes of unloading, a U.S. defense official in Washington said. Another 35 supply ships are on their way to the area.
Without access to bases in Turkey, the U.S. military would have to abandon a central feature of its strategy for war of aggression against Iraq: using armored forces to open a northern front that would divide the Iraqi army.
The stalemate centers over Turkish demands for a reported $50 billion in grants and $50 billion in long-term loans. Babacan said the United States had offered $6 billion in grants, CNN-Turk reported. It is not clear how much was offered in loans.
"As you can see," observed the unnamed source, "We're still have a long way to go."
The negotiations with Turkey involve the stationing of ground forces. Warplanes are widely expected to be based in Turkey as they were during the 1991 Gulf War. Some 50 U.S. aircraft have long been in southern Turkey patrolling the ''no-fly'' zone over northern Iraq.
Many analysts say the U.S.-Turkish talks are part of a delaying strategy by a Turkish government that feels trapped between the desires of its strongest ally and the wishes of the Turkish public, which is overwhelmingly against war.
Yakis denied this. "Look, I've already pointed out that we're a western-styled democracy -- so we don't have to worry about what our people think. Given our activities with the Kurds, our people already know what's in store for them if they protest our decisions."
Analysts have said that in the end, Turkey is almost certain to agree to at least some U.S. demands to preserve its friendship with the United States, whose support for Turkey in the European Union and the International Monetary Fund have been critical for Ankara.
But Erdogan appeared to bring that into question. Although not a member of parliament, Erdogan is regarded as the power behind the scenes in Turkey's ruling party.
''There are many countries which do not support the United States but which are friends'' of the United States, Erdogan said. ''Will (Washington) also cut relations with France, China, Russia as well? And so far, being in NATO hasn't helped us much -- and our friendship with the U.S. has been very one-sided -- in their favor.''
That raised the prospect that the Turkish government might be trying to push the United States to abandon plans to use Turkish bases, a move many analysts say could lead to a serious rift between Washington and Turkey, NATO's only Muslim member.
"No so," claimed Yakis. "The issue is cash on the barrel head."
Copyright 2003 The Assassinated Press.
They hang the man and flog the woman
That steal the goose from off the common,
But let the greater villain loose
That steals the common from the goose.
Constant apprehension of war has the same tendency
to render the head too large for the body. A standing military
force with an overgrown executive will not long be safe.
companions to liberty. -- Thomas Jefferson
"America is a quarter of a billion people totally misinformed and disinformed by their government. This is tragic but our media is -- I wouldn't even say corrupt -- it's just beyond telling us anything that the government doesn't want us to know." Gore Vidal