Turkey, US at loggerheads over Iraq troops

Turkey and the United States are at loggerheads over where to station Turkish troops in war-torn Iraq.

    Turkish troops are due to deploy in Iraq in the next few weeks

    The Turkish press said on Thursday t

    he United States wanted

    Ankara to send up to

    10,000 troops as soon as possible, following Tuesday's vote in

    the Turkish parliament in favour of deployment.

    US officials, already embroiled in a row with Iraq's

    Governing Council which does not want any Turkish troops, want

    to avoid any protracted bargaining with Turkey.

    But Turkey's Hurriyet daily

    said Washington had opposed a Turkish request to station forces

    between Baghdad and a Kurdish-controlled enclave in Iraq's

    north, fearing this would upset the Iraqi Kurds.

    Troop deployment

    It said US military officials asked the Turkish military

    in a closed-door meeting on Wednesday to deploy its forces west

    of the Iraqi capital, towards the border with Syria and Jordan,

    and further from the enclave.

    Kurds on the US-appointed Iraqi Governing Council suspect Ankara

    may work to obstruct any further autonomy for their enclave,

    particularly if Turkish soldiers are deployed nearby.

    The Council opposes the presence in Iraq of soldiers from

    any neighbouring country.

    Iraqi Governing Council does not 
    want Turkish troops in Iraq

    Council members say the body plans to make a formal

    announcement on its stance, but this has been repeatedly delayed

    .

    Kurdish war

    Turkey says Kurdish concerns are unfounded and insists it is

    sending peacekeepers to help stabilise Iraq and help with

    reconstruction efforts.

    But Ankara fears any moves by Iraqi Kurds for independence

    from Baghdad could spark unrest in its own southeast, where it

    has fought a decades-long war against the Kurdistan Workers' Party

    (PKK), at the cost of more than 30,000 lives.

    Ankara already stations thousands of troops just inside

    northern Iraq in a controversial deployment it says is necessary

    to prevent PKK rebels returning to Turkey to launch new attacks.

    The PKK recently called off a unilateral ceasefire after five

    years.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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