Turkey, Jordan Are (partway) Back on Track

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 ceded part of America’s requirements. DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military and Turkish sources say Ankara will make bases available for the landing of 25-30,000 US troops for the first stage of the war, turning a blind eye to up to 40,000, while also permitting US invasion troops the limited use of Turkish air and naval bases and civilian airports, including Istanbul’s international airport.(To subscribe to DNW,
Jordan’s king Abdullah II this week lifted the restrictions he abruptly clamped down on the movements of American troops in the kingdom, their use of Jordanian bases as launching pads to invade Iraq and strike at the western bases from which Scud missiles were fired against Israel in 1991. He also renewed permission for US warplanes to reach Iraq via Jordanian airspace and gave the nod for Israeli air force flights through Jordanian skies, provided they were coordinated with the US and Jordanian authorities.
According to our sources, General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint US Chiefs of Staff, obtained Turkey’s concessions in the few hours he spent in Incirlik and Ankara Sunday, January 19.
Defining their accord as a military document, the Myers and the Turks agreed to set aside Turkey’s territorial claims in the two northern Iraqi oil cities Kirkuk and Mosul until a later stage.
Soon after Myers departed Ankara, American sources made it clear that the United States fully intended taking over Iraq’s oil fields, administering them in the long term and using Iraqi oil revenues to partly defray the costs of conducting war and maintaining a long-term military occupation of Iraq.
According to debkafile‘s Washington sources, the war bill which, unlike Gulf War I, America will carry more or less single-handed, is estimated at $130 billion, while maintaining app. 70,000 US troops in the country to protect the oil fields and maintain Iraq’s post-war stability could run to another $10-12 billion a year. To raise this cash, the United States plans to increase Iraq’s oil output from 1.6 million to 6.5 million barrels per day, necessitating further heavy outlay for renovating the badly run down Iraqi oil production equipment.
At the same time, the long-term, military-backed control over Iraq’s oil resources – on the spot rather than from outside the region – will make America the leading strategic-political-military force in the Middle East and Persian Gulf as well giving Washington a controlling interest in the global oil market.
In consideration of Washington’s regional design, the Gul government in Ankara decided that its wisest course at this stage would be to shelve its two-century- old claim to Iraqi oil fields for the time being.
The key clauses in the US-Turkish military agreement are:
1. Turkish 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, Turkey will allow US troops to land at Turkish air and naval bases and go into action in Iraq.
3. In the first stage of the US offensive, the Turkish government and high command will bring the Turkish forces who drove into northern Iraq last month back to their bases. They will stay there until a new US-Turkish accord is negotiated to formalize Turkey’s standing in Iraq. DEBKA-Net-Weekly had earlier reported Turkish troops as having taken up strategic positions along main roads. The Turkish government and high command undertook not to exploit the US campaign to grab positions in northern Iraq.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military and intelligence sources note that, through this provision, General Myers lifted the Turkish military threat hanging over Kurdistan.
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 of US generosity in providing Turkey with post-war economic aid in return for responding to US demands for bases. The American general also held out possible US concessions to Turkey in the bargaining over the shape of the government administrations in northern Iraq and the Turkmen region.
Myers’ mission effectively ended the US-Turkish crisis that threatened US war plans in northern Iraq. 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 for the jump into the northern oilfields together with 101st Airborne Division detachments.
These partial reversions by Turkey and Jordan to their first commitments, salvaged key elements of the original US blueprint for the war on Iraq, permitting a return to the three-way split of combat strength between the northern, western and southern sectors.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources in Washington and Amman attribute King Abdullah’s change of heart to the quieting of his acute eve-of-war jitters by renewed American guarantees to protect his kingdom and the reaffirmation of Israeli defense pledges. Jordan’s towns teem with Iraqi intelligence agents, whose subversive activities against the throne, hand in glove with dissident Palestinians and pro-Al Qaeda extremists, are intensifying as the war approaches.
On Thursday, January 23, Jordan requested the sale of an American air defense system to tighten control over Jordanian airspace and protection against foreign intervention.
Having Jordan back on track prompted sighs of relief among war planners in Washington.
The provision of bases in Jordan is essential for the occupation of western Iraq and eviction of the Iraqi military presence in the first stage of the anti-Saddam offensive. DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources note that the capture of Baghdad and Saddam’s power base of Tikrit would be feasible without the use of bases in Turkey, but extremely difficult without Jordanian forward bases for flushing Iraqi forces out of western Iraq. Iraqi units, especially the ones stationed at the H2 and H3 base complexes, are armed with a large quantity of long-range surface-to-surface missiles, some with chemical or biological warheads. They could inflict grave damage on the American advance on Baghdad and Tikrit if they remained to the rear of that advance, as well as threatening Israel.
From Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, the monarch also received reaffirmation through secret emissaries of Israel’s guarantee to defend Hashemite rule in Jordan, according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources in Washington and Jerusalem. This guarantee is embodied in the Jordan-Israel 1994 peace treaty and reinforced in secret bilateral military and intelligence pacts.
But Abdullah made an additional, surprising request: Access to Israeli television, as soon as the threat from Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction has passed, for a personal message of peace and conciliation between the Arab nation and the Jewish State. The responses in Jerusalem and Washington are not known, but have probably been deferred until after Israel’s general election next Tuesday, January 28.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s political sources interpret this as a move by the Jordanian monarch to set himself up as the senior Arab arbiter of the destiny of the Palestinians after Saddam’s passing further diminishes his long-time ally, Yasser Arafat. Abdullah cherishes hopes of reclaiming the authority over the West Bank and Arab Jerusalem, which his father, Hussein, forfeited by losing the 1967 war.

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