Turkish Newspapers Report That That

*Turkish newspapers report that that country is prepared to send as many as 55,000 troops into Northern Iraq to establish a demilitarized zone in case war breaks out in Iraq. The Turkish president said that his country’s support for a US invasion would depend on having an “international” decision (i.e. a second UN Security Council resolution authorizing the war). The Turks are still not satisfied with the economic deal the US is offering them, or perhaps are not happy that it is being offered only orally without a firm written commitment. The last time, the US promised them $1 bn. and then never paid it.

*The Kurds are not going to be happy with these reports of Turkish plans to occupy part of northern Iraq. In other news, the Washington Post says that ordinary Iraqi troops in Kirkuk are practically starving to death and are highly unlikely to figh, though the Republican Guards have better esprit de corps.

*Kuwait is angry at Lebanon. At a summit a few days ago, Syria presented a proposal that Arab states not provide facilities for an attack on Iraq. Kuwait’s representative wanted an up and down vote on the text, but the Lebanese foreign minister blocked any vote. Apparently the statement was adopted by consensus. Kuwait was alone in opposing it. An Islamist member of Kuwait’s parliament called for Kuwaiti aid to Lebanon to be cut off, pointing out that Iraq wasn’t the one rebuilding Beirut and establishing clinics in Lebanon. Kuwait clearly feels the danger that the Gulf countries cooperating with Washington will be isolated diplomatically in the Arab world, where publics overwhelmingly oppose and Iraq war.

*France is calling home its aircraft carrier, the Charles DeGaulle from the Mediterranean, ending any chance that it would play a role in the American war on Iraq. Apparently Rumsfeld ruffled Chirac’s feathers irretrievably. It needn’t have been handled that way. Chirac had earlier held out the possibility of supporting the war. It was a dispute about timing, not a declaration of disloyalty, on the part of the French.

* My response on an email group to an attempt to justify US inaction during the Baathist massacres of dissidents in spring, 1991:

Not interdicting Iraqi use of helicopter gunships and tanks in putting down the Shiite and Kurdish rebellions of spring, 1991 was tantamount to permitting a Baathist genocide. The helicopter gunships could and should have been interdicted by the terms of the cease fire.

President Bush senior had called upon the Iraqis to rise up against Saddam Hussein. Several times, including in clandestine broadcasts beamed into Iraq. Apparently, being from a genteel social class in which the servants are always polite, he expected the Iraqi public to understand that he was speaking to their betters among the Iraqi officer corps, not to the plebeians. When the Iraqi officer corps left a defeated Saddam in power, he was shocked. When it was the street rabble and middle classes of the Shiites and Kurds who responded to his call, he was shocked even more.

A Shiite-Kurdish rebellion that overthrew the Baathists would have been completely unacceptable to US close allies like Turkey and Saudi Arabia. It therefore had to be allowed to fail. Tens of thousands of Shiites were mercilessly mown down in Najaf, Karbala and Basra as the US military watched and declined to do *anything*. Had the Kurdish population not panicked at the vicious Baathist riposte, and fled to the mountains where they threatened to starve to death on the Bush doorstep in the hundreds of thousands, so to speak, Bush senior had not been inclined to intervene in any way.

The US screwed the Iraqi dissidents over. Maybe you could make some argument to justify what was done. You couldn’t argue that it was not deliberate, or that it was not a betrayal or that it was noble.