Attempts to Moderate Stance of IGC on Turks
The Bush administration is saying that it will not take “no” for an answer from the Interim Governing Council on the issue of Turkish troops. Washington naively tends to lump all Muslims together and had assumed that Sunni Muslim Turkish forces would be welcome in Iraq, especially in the Sunni Arab areas. In fact, there are Arab nationalist resentments against Ottoman rule, and Sunni Islamists in Iraq view the largely secular Turkish army as a horde of Voltairean infidels. Of course, Iraqi Kurds are most exercised, fearing that Turkey will find a way to interfere in their region.
Some Shiite members of the Interim Governing Council spoke out on Wednesday in attempts to avert an open split with the United States over the stationing of Turkish troops in Iraq. Rotational president of the IGC, Iyad Alawi, admitted that the council’s members were filled with anxiety about the issue, but stressed that no final decision had been taken. Mouafak Al Rubaie, another Shiite IGC member, said, “We will never deceive ourselves. We know very well that Iraq is occupied, and the Coalition Authority is our partner.” He said the IGC would find a way to work with its partner. This pragmatic stance is common among the Shiites, who believe that Shiite intransigence toward the British after WW I caused them to be marginalized when Iraq became independent, and they are determined to avoid that fate this time.
There was no evidence, however, that the Kurdish IGC members, who spoke out most forcefully against the deployment of Turkish troops, had changed their minds. Even a Sunni Arab like Nasir Chaderchi said that “sending these troops would delay our regaining sovereignty,” warning also that it could lead to bad Turkish-Iraqi relations.
Meanwhile, outside the genteel halls of power, the gloves were off. In Iraqi Kurdistan, people were frank, according to Reuters. There, the locals threatened to just kill the Turks if they came: “”I don’t want Turkish troops coming to Iraq,” Kurdish taxi driver Saddam Younis, 27, said in Mosul. “They will be attacked when they pass through the north,” he said. “We don’t want them in the north, south, middle, east or west,” said Mahdi Herky, spokesman for the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Mosul. “We don’t want them to come.” “What they’re after is control in the north,” said Jasim Mahmoud, a 34-year-old Kurd who works at a Mosul Internet shop. “Kurdish parties are preparing their weapons and if the Turks come down through the north I’m sure they will be attacked.” “