While still holding out on permission for a full-scale, 80,000-strong US invasion force to be stationed in Turkey, the Gul government has agreed to meet American requirements a quarter of the way. DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military and Turkish sources say Ankara will allow 25-30,000 US troops to land in its bases for the first stage of the war, going up to 40,000 as long as this is not publicly acknowledged.
According to our sources, General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint US Chiefs of Staff, obtained this concession during the few hours he spent in Incirlik and Ankara Sunday, January 19. The two sides agreed that US military headed for Iraq would be permitted limited use of Turkish air and naval bases as well as civilian airports, including Istanbul’s international airport.
Following are the clauses of the agreement:
1. As the war draws near, Turkey will grant passage for one light US division of no more than 15,000 troops to transit into northern Iraq – conditional on a US pledge to end the military campaign against Saddam Hussein within days.
2. Shortly before the invasion (a period counted in days), Turkey will allow US troops to land at Turkish air and naval bases and go into action against Iraqi targets.
3. In the first stage of the US offensive, the Turkish government and high command undertakes to return the Turkish forces already inside northern Iraq to their bases. DEBKA-Net-Weekly had earlier reported Turkish troops as having taken up strategic positions along main roads. Those troops would stay in their bases until a new US-Turkish agreement is negotiated on Turkey’s status in Iraq. The Turkish government and high command promised not to exploit the US campaign to move Turkish forces back into northern Iraq.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military and intelligence sources note that through this clause in the Turkish-US accord, General Myers lifted the Turkish military threat hanging over Kurdistan.
4. Since the accord the US general negotiated is military in nature, Washington and Ankara agreed to review Turkish territorial demands regarding northern Iraqi oil fields and the future administration of the oil cities of Kirkuk and Mosul when the war is over and regime-change is achieved in Baghdad.
The carrot Myers proffered the Gul government, according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources in Washington, was an undertaking on behalf of President George W. Bush that the United States would be generous with the provision of post-war economic aid in reward for Turkey’s responsiveness to US demands for bases. The American general also held out the possibility of US concessions to Turkey in the bargaining over the shape of the government administrations in northern Iraq and the Turkmen region.
5. If the war were to be brief, the Turks would view with favor the granting of passage for additional US divisions.
Turkish officials brushed off questions on the conference they had initiated of Iraq’s six neighbors that took place in Istanbul Thursday, January 23. They advised Washington that the event was of no importance and would not lead to any interference with the five-point accord they had concluded with General Myers.
Myers’ mission effectively ended the US-Turkish crisis that threatened US war plans in northern Iraq and Washington’s political blueprint for a post-war Iraq. It permitted US war planners to come close to reverting to their original three-way split of 40,000 combat troops each for the northern, western and southern sectors of the warfront against Iraq. (See also next article on Jordan) According to the latest information, units of the 4th US Infantry Division, the whole of which was first tasked for the southern front, are now being shipped to Turkish bases to the jump into the northern oilfields together with 101st Airborne Division detachments.