Turkey’s Cross-Border Raids Cannot Defeat PKK But May Turn Up Heat On Uncooperative Iraq

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – 19th June, 2020) Turkey launched another cross-border offensive on Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq this week despite protests from Baghdad, which fears that Ankara will continue expanding its military footprint in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

The stated goal of the air-and-land raids is to roll back the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), blamed by Turkey for repeated attacks on its territory. Although the chances of the operation rooting out the Kurdish insurgency are slim, it once again proves that Iraq is too weak to stand up to its assertive neighbor, experts have told Sputnik.

Huseyin Bagci, the president of the Ankara-based Turkish Foreign Policy Institute, Turkey’s oldest think tank, said that Turkey will continue targeting PKK in Iraq until Baghdad takes the fight against insurgents in its own hands or sides with Turkey in clamping down on them.

“It seems that either Iraqi government will take measures to control PKK, what is nearly impossible, or Turkey will further make operations … It will not bring the end of PKK terrorism but PKK will get always answer from Turkish military,” he said.

Bagci, who is also a professor of international relations at the middle East Technical University, suggested that Iraq and Turkey should find a common strategy to counter PKK. Until then, dealing with Iraqi Kurdish militants will remain ”Turkish business.”

Turkey has a long history of military presence in northern Iraq. It established the first bases there in the mid-1990s and plans to build new facilities to add to the existing 11 bases in the area.

This is bound to raise concerns in Baghdad and Erbil, the main city of Iraqi Kurdistan. The Iraqi government has already condemned Turkish incursions as interference in the country’s sovereignty.

Gareth Jenkins, a non-resident senior research fellow with the Joint Center Silk Road Studies Program and Turkey Center at the Institute for Security & Development Policy in Stockholm, said that Turkey is moving toward the “de facto occupation” of a part of Iraq, in the same way as it has occupied parts of Syria.

“But neither the national government in Baghdad nor the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Erbil northern Iraq is strong enough militarily to oppose Turkey,” he admitted.


Turkey’s incursions in Syria, Libya and now Iraq are reinforcing its image as an interventionist in the Middle East, Gareth Jenkins said further. The current operation, he estimated, is the third time in less than six months that Turkey has started military action in an Arab-majority country.

“The current operations in northern Iraq can damage the PKK but they will not destroy it… When taken together with its actions in Syria and Libya, the current operations in Iraq will reinforce most Arab governments’ perception of Turkey as an aggressive interventionist,” he said.

The operation against PKK shows Turkey’s increasing reliance on military force to achieve its own goals, a decade after Ankara positioned itself as a force for peace and an advocate of the use of soft power, Jenkins said.

The timing of the incursions points to a possible ulterior motive, Jenkins added. Previous offensives against PKK in Iraq frequently occurred in spring or were in response to an upsurge in attacks inside Turkey. This time, the security operation is likely being used by President Tayyip Erdogan for political point scoring.

“President Erdogan is aware that his popularity rises whenever he launches military action and his propaganda outlets can portray him as protecting national security,” Jenkins opined.

Erdogan’s popularity had been in long-term decline even before the coronavirus pandemic, and the economic downturn it is expected to bring about will likely put additional downward pressure on his ratings. In this context, the timing of the raids points to domestic political considerations, although military reasons should not be excluded, the expert said.

Source : www.urdupoint.com

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When the CIA Interferes in Foreign Elections

A Modern-Day History of American Covert Action


This article taken from www.foreignaffairs.com

Russian President Vladimir Putin tends to respond to questions about his government’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election with a mix of denials and countercharges. It is the United States, he alleged in June 2017, that “all over the world is actively interfering in electoral campaigns in other countries.” The purpose of this claim is to excuse and distract from Russia’s actions, and in many places overseas, it’s working. From Kyiv to Brussels to London, government officials told me that they assume the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) frequently interferes in elections abroad.

This perception is understandable: for decades, it was true. The CIA’s first-ever covert action program was an operation to manipulate Italy’s 1948 election. American intelligence officers spread incendiary propaganda, bankrolled their preferred candidate, and orchestrated grassroots initiatives—all to advantage Italy’s centrist forces over their leftist competitors. After the Italian Communist Party lost, the 1948 operation became “a template,” David Robarge, the CIA’s chief internal historian, told me, for what the agency then did in “many, many countries” in competition with its Soviet counterpart, the KGB. From Chile and Guyana to El Salvador and Japan, the CIA and the KGB targeted democratic elections across the globe. Some of those operations manipulated ballots directly; others manipulated public opinion; all were designed to influence election outcomes.

Then, the Cold War ended, and the opposing objectives of Moscow’s and Washington’s electoral operations—to spread or to contain communism—became obsolete. Since then, Russian intelligence has interfered in many foreign elections, not to advance an ideology but to promote divisive and authoritarian-minded candidates, sow chaos and confusion, and delegitimize the democratic model. But what of the CIA?
Over the past two years, I interviewed more than 130 officials about the century-long history of covert electoral interference, or concealed foreign efforts to manipulate democratic votes of succession. My interviewees included eight former CIA directors and many more CIA officers, as well as directors of national intelligence, secretaries of state, national security advisers, a KGB general, and a former U.S. president. I learned that in the twenty-first century, Washington’s senior-most national security officials have considered using the CIA to interfere in foreign elections at least twice. In one instance—in Serbia in 2000—debate turned into action, as the CIA spent millions of dollars working against the tyrant Slobodan Milosevic. In the other—in Iraq in 2005—the CIA stood down. In both instances, U.S. policymakers weighed the potential benefits of covert action against the perceived risks. These behind-the-scenes stories reveal why, contrary to Putin’s claims, Washington, unlike Moscow, has moved away from the practice of covert electoral interference.

The first case arrived in 2000, when Milosevic, the Yugoslav president, was competing for reelection in Serbia. Milosevic was many things: a Moscow-aligned Communist, a Serbian nationalist, and a grave abuser of human rights. In the mid-1990s, he had enabled a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A few years later, he did the same in Kosovo, as his soldiers systemically terrorized, murdered, and expelled ethnic Albanians. The severity of these atrocities prompted NATO, in 1999, to launch an air campaign against Milosevic’s forces and an international court to indict him as a war criminal. Leon Panetta, U.S. President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff from 1994 to 1997, told me, “Milosevic was viewed as a bad guy and influence and somebody that was going to turn that part of the world upside down if there weren’t steps taken to go after him.”

The 2000 election presented such an opportunity. “I don’t know that we publicly said that our goal was regime change,” said James O’Brien, then Clinton’s special envoy for the Balkans, but “we did not see Milosevic being able to lead a normal country.” From mid-1999 to late 2000, public and private U.S. organizations spent roughly $40 million on Serbian programs, supporting not just Milosevic’s opposition but also the independent media, civic organizations, and get-out-the-vote initiatives. Through this overt engagement, O’Brien explained, the United States aimed to level the playing field in an election that Milosevic was poised to manipulate.

As the State Department, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and U.S.-funded nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) influenced the Serbian election in the light, the CIA did the same in secret. John Sipher told me that between 1991 and 2014, when he was serving as a CIA operations officer, he knew of just one “successful” operation to interfere in an election: in Serbia in 2000. “There was a covert effort to try to support the opposition to Milosevic,” Sipher said, recalling that after Clinton notified select members of Congress, the CIA went to work “supporting and funding and providing help to specific opposition candidates—that was the main thing.”

Sipher, who became the CIA’s station chief in Serbia just after the election, explained that the agency funneled “certainly millions of dollars” into the anti-Milosevic campaign, mostly by meeting with key aides to Serbian opposition leaders outside their country’s borders and “providing them with cash” on the spot.
As the State Department and U.S.-funded NGOs influenced the Serbian election in the light, the CIA did the same in secret.
In an interview, Clinton confirmed that he authorized the CIA to interfere in the 2000 election in favor of Milosevic’s opponents. “I didn’t have a problem with it,” he told me of the CIA’s covert action program, because Milosevic “was a stone-cold killer and had caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.” Just as Cold War–era U.S. presidents believed they could strengthen foreign democracies by undermining communist candidates, Clinton believed he could strengthen Serbian democracy by working against Milosevic. “The guy was a war criminal,” Clinton told me. “I didn’t consider Milosevic to be a democracy candidate; I thought he was trying to get rid of democracy.”

In Serbia, the CIA’s focus was on influencing minds rather than altering ballots. “We did not rig the vote nor knowingly lie to the voters to get them to support the people we hoped to win,” Clinton explained. Instead, the CIA provided money and other types of assistance to the opposition campaign.

Congressional leaders knew about and backed this secret plan. Trent Lott, the Senate majority leader, recalled that when he was briefed on the CIA’s operation, he supported it wholeheartedly. “[Milosevic] was totally out of control,” Lott told me. “We weren’t gonna invade, but it was a mess, and we had to do something.” CIA officers, unlike other U.S. government officials, could operate undercover. “Because of the nature of the way we do business,” explained Douglas Wise, then a CIA operations officer based in the Balkans, “Serbia was a lot more penetrable than it was for people who were much more overt, shall we say.” The U.S. intelligence community’s involvement in the election was “substantial,” Wise continued, as Washington used “all the instruments of our national power to create an outcome that was pleasing for the United States.”
But would it be enough? As the election approached, Clinton worried that Milosevic would cheat his way to victory. “These elections are going to be important, but they probably won’t be fair,” he told Vladimir Putin, Russia’s new president, two and a half weeks before the vote, according to a recently declassified transcript of their conversation. “Milosevic is running behind in the polls, so he’ll probably steal it. It would be preferable for him to lose, but he’ll probably arrange not to.” (Putin, in response, complained about NATO’s intervention the previous year. “We weren’t consulted in the decision to bomb Yugoslavia,” he said. “That’s not fair.”)

U.S. democracy promotion organizations, sharing Clinton’s concerns, sought to ensure that Milosevic could not falsify the vote count. One U.S.-funded NGO trained more than 15,000 activists to monitor polling places. The day of the election, opposition members tallied ballots alongside government officials. The state’s vote count suggested that Milosevic had a narrow lead. The parallel count, however, revealed the truth: he had lost overwhelmingly. Major protests erupted. Milosevic, unable to quell a popular revolution, was forced to resign.

The CIA’s hand remained hidden. Two decades later, now retired American intelligence officers expressed unexplained confidence that their work proved pivotal in defeating Milosevic. Sipher commented on the “success” of the CIA’s operation. Wise said that the United States made “a big difference” and that “a combination” of covert and overt tactics had produced “a positive outcome.” As with all covert operations to influence voters, though, the CIA could not assess its precise impact. “Measuring it is hard,” Sipher recognized. But he noted that Serbian government officials did credit the CIA for their victory behind closed doors. “Many of the key players who became senior figures in the follow-on government continued to meet with us and continued to tell us that it was our efforts that led to their success,” Sipher said, “in terms of helping them with everything, from advertising to financing to how they did things” during the campaign.

In interviews, more senior government officials grew uncomfortable at any mention of the CIA and Milosevic’s defeat. “I know stuff about that, but I’m not able to talk about it,” said John McLaughlin, who was the CIA’s deputy director in 2000. This discomfort made sense: CIA interference in the 2000 election was not representative of the agency’s post–Cold War operations. How often, after all, can a war criminal be ousted by ballot? “There seemed to be a higher comfort level not just in the intelligence part of the world but really just policy writ large that something had to be done in the Balkans,” said Steven Hall, a former CIA operations officer who was stationed in the region in 2000. For Washington, “electoral manipulation” had become “a tool of last resort,” Wise added, and the Serbian case was “the complete exception,” in part because of Milosevic’s atrocities and in part because of the “receptive,” “credible,” and “attractive” nature of the opposition. For such cases, Wise argued generally, “the ends justify the means . . . the risk is you maybe do something that is un-American in the eyes of some.” But the result is “the genocidal maniac is no longer in power.”

When I asked Clinton why covert action was merited in Serbia, he said simply, “There’s a death threshold, and Milosevic crossed it.”

In 2004, U.S. President George W. Bush was on the verge of authorizing another such operation. The story unfolded in the White House Situation Room, where, in the summer and fall, national security officials weighed a familiar proposal: for the CIA to engage in covert electoral interference. This time, the target would be Iraq.

In March 2003, the United States had invaded Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein, the country’s longtime dictator, and seize weapons of mass destruction that he allegedly possessed. Hussein’s government fell within weeks, but no such weapons were found. Struggling to justify the war, Bush renewed his promise to transform Iraq’s political system. In late 2003, he declared that “Iraqi democracy will succeed” and that its citizens would enjoy popular representation. “For [the U.S. government] at that time it was extremely important to have free and fair elections because that’s actually justifying the invasion,” said Arturo Muñoz, then a senior CIA operations officer. “As long as we didn’t find weapons of mass destruction, we were kind of desperate by then to justify ourselves, so at least we can create democracy in this place.” American democracy promotion organizations poured resources into Iraq. The International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute, in particular, launched substantial programs there, helping to produce voter-education materials, train party officials, and facilitate political debates and get-out-the-vote efforts.

The purpose of elections, though, is for voters to determine the direction of their state. In this sense, Bush had a problem: intelligence reports indicated that his preferred candidate, Ayad Allawi, would lose in Iraq’s first-ever parliamentary election, scheduled for January 2005.
The transition from containing Communism to promoting democracy made electoral interference a riskier proposition.
The U.S. intelligence community believed that Iran was manipulating the election in favor of Allawi’s opposition. “Of course, Iran was involved,” said McLaughlin, then the CIA’s deputy director. “Why wouldn’t they be? They’re right next door, they have the capability, and they were close to some of the leadership.” Wise was based in Iraq ahead of the election and a few years later, became the CIA’s station chief there. He described Iranian interference in the Iraqi election as wide-ranging: “We’re talking money, activists, threats, extortion, a paramilitary presence.”

Bush and his advisers debated whether to respond with covert action. John Negroponte, then the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, regularly participated in interagency teleconferences from Baghdad with a sole agenda item: CIA-led electoral interference. “We really thought about it hard,” said Negroponte, who told me that he had been “open to the possibility” in discussions with other senior administration officials.

Deliberations reached a serious enough stage that the White House briefed the congressional leadership on its planning. “[The] top line was that there’s an opportunity here to engage in a way that could provide much more of a guaranteed outcome,” recounted Tom Daschle, then the Senate minority leader. The officials I interviewed could not recall, or were unwilling to share, the operational details of the CIA’s plan, although Daschle told me that it included “a lot of activities that we thought were just untoward and inadvisable.”

For the CIA, interfering in Iraq’s election would be the latest rendition of an age-old operation, and by the fall of 2004, the agency was moving toward action. Allawi had come to expect covert help. “The initial attitude of the U.S. was to support moderate forces, financially and in the media,” he said in 2007. Then, unexpectedly, this assistance “was brought to a halt,” Allawi said, “under the pretext that the U.S. does not want to interfere.”

Within the CIA, Congress, and the White House, an unlikely alliance of officials had united against covert electoral interference. The CIA’s representatives, Negroponte recalled, “least wanted to be involved” with this operation, since it could expose the agency to criticism if detected. McLaughlin, laughing, said that he “wouldn’t disagree” with Negroponte’s recollection. “We had, after all, invaded a country to make it democratic,” he said. “How hypocritical would it be then to subvert their election?” Speaking generally, Muñoz said, “If you’re going to ruin the elections, and it becomes known, and things frequently leak,” then once “word gets out that so-and-so won because the CIA did X, Y, and Z, then you’ve just wrecked the whole foreign policy adventure that you’ve embarked on.”

Congressional leaders also objected to the plan. For Daschle, the arguments against covert action were twofold. The first was a matter of optics: how “terrible it would look” if exposed. The second was normative. “It was no longer the Cold War,” he said. “Doing what we had been doing even twenty years earlier was just not appropriate; it wasn’t keeping with what our country should be all about.” Daschle recalled that Nancy Pelosi, his counterpart in the House of Representatives, was “very vocal” in opposing the plan. Pelosi reportedly found an ally in Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser. “As I heard the debate go on,” Negroponte said, “I realized, ‘It is just not worth it, and people do not want to do it,’ and we rejected it.”

Bush, in attempting to build a democracy, was unwilling to intervene covertly in that democracy’s elections. “You wanted to be pretty much clean and free when it came to interference in their electoral processes,” McLaughlin said. “I was involved in a lot of covert action planning and decisions, and you always have to ask yourself, ‘What are the unintended consequences of what we are proposing to do or thinking about doing?’”

The CIA’s plan was shelved. And come January 2005, Allawi’s coalition lost resoundingly in a contest marred by instability and terrorist attacks. A governing coalition with close ties to Tehran then took power.

How, then, has the role of the CIA changed in the post–Cold War period? As Russian intelligence again manipulates elections around the world, the CIA has charted the opposite course. The Serbian operation, according to various U.S. officials, was an “extraordinary” measure that reflected extraordinary circumstances. For the Iraqi election, which did not involve a ruler like Milošević, U.S. policymakers judged that the risks of covert action were too high. In the years since, based on my interviews with the seven directors of the CIA from July 2004 to January 2017, as well as former directors of national intelligence and deputy CIA directors, the logic behind the Iraqi decision has become the norm. Contrary to Putin’s claims, Washington has all but abandoned the use of covert electoral interference.

In interviews about the CIA’s modern covert action programs, the United States’ former spy chiefs fall into two groups. The first insists that the agency no longer engages in covert electoral interference. David Petraeus, who led the CIA in 2011 and 2012, said he is “not aware . . . in more recent times” of such operations. John Brennan, the CIA’s director from 2013 to 2017, offered a more blanket assurance: “With President Obama and President Bush 43, there was never an effort to try to influence the outcome of a democratic election. We believed it was antithetical to the democratic process to do that.” The CIA once targeted foreign elections, he continued, “but over the course of the last 18 years or so, that has not been the case.”

The second group of officials does not speak in absolutes, suggesting instead that the CIA has moved away from, but not necessarily stopped, influencing elections overseas. “There wasn’t much of it. This is not something that intelligence does with anything like the sense of flexibility and freedom that it might have had in the early Cold War,” said McLaughlin, who, as the CIA’s number two in 2000, would have been involved with the Milosevic case. Since then, such operations have, at the very least, been raised at the highest levels. The Bush administration debated the Iraq scheme; the Obama administration weighed similar proposals. “It’s not like these ideas don’t resurface, but at least in [the Obama] administration they would get rejected,” said Tony Blinken, who served in senior national security positions for the entirety of Barack Obama’s presidency.

Former CIA director John Brennan testifying before the House Intelligence Committee in Washington, May 2017
Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
Of this second group, Leon Panetta, the CIA’s director from 2009 to 2011, was the most forthcoming. He said he never “got into” altering votes directly or spreading disinformation. But on rare occasions, his CIA did influence foreign media outlets ahead of elections in order to “change attitudes within the country.” The CIA’s method, Panetta went on, was to “acquire media within a country or within a region that could very well be used for being able to deliver” a specific message or work to “influence those that may own elements of the media to be able to cooperate, work with you in delivering that message.” As in Italy in 1948 or Serbia in 2000, the programs that Panetta described complemented overt propaganda campaigns. “Even though we were operating on a covert basis,” he said, “you had to make sure that the overt methods that were being used at least delivered the same message.” Even this type of operation presented risks. “There is no question it’s a gamble,” Panetta continued, which is why it was an option of last resort and why more aggressive tactics had been sidelined.

Every interview pointed to the same conclusion: for the CIA, covert electoral interference has become the exception rather than the rule. Either the agency no longer seeks to influence election outcomes, as Brennan and Petraeus asserted, or it does so in rare cases when, as with Milosevic, a tyrant can be ousted by ballot. The exact truth is unknown. But this general shift marks a dramatic departure from the Cold War, when the CIA was interfering in the elections of “many, many” countries. Of this evolution, Negroponte, a former director of national intelligence, said, “Frankly, political action of that kind is really part of the past. Iraq convinced me of that. It was just zero appetite for [electoral] intervention.”

Skeptics will insist that the United States’ intelligence chiefs are lying. But considering present-day realities, the skeptics may be the ones defying logic. It would be self-defeating for the CIA to manipulate foreign elections in all but the most exceptional of circumstances. One reason why concerns the end of the Cold War, which robbed the CIA of its long-running purpose: to counter the Soviet Union. Milosevic, for one, was a relic of a previous era. In September 2001, the CIA found a new focus in counterterrorism, which called for drone strikes and paramilitary operations, not electoral interference.

The United States’ post–Cold War leaders declared an era of liberal democracy defined by free and fair elections. This transition, from containing communism to promoting democracy, made covert electoral interference a riskier proposition. As Michael Hayden, a former CIA director, explained, “Meddling in an electoral process cuts across the grain of our own fundamental beliefs. You might want to do it to level the playing field, you might want to do it because of just the demands of national security, but it doesn’t feel right.” McLaughlin elaborated upon Washington’s evolving outlook. “If you are interfering in an election and are exposed as doing so,” he said, “you are a lot more hypocritical than you would have appeared in the Cold War, when that sort of thing tended to be excused as part of the cost of doing business.”

Hypocrisy, however, had not stopped the CIA before. And in recent years, as great-power competition has reemerged, the United States has had a stake in many foreign elections. Changes in high politics, then, only partly explain this shift in CIA activity. The rest of this story has to do with the spread of the Internet, which has exposed American elections to outside interference. Officials in Washington are reluctant to execute the type of operation to which their country has become so vulnerable. “If you’re in a glass house, don’t throw stones,” Petraeus said. “And we’re the biggest glass house when it comes to Internet connectivity.”

The digital age has also made it harder to maintain the secrecy of covert operations to manipulate foreign electorates. “It’s very difficult to keep that kind of activity from ultimately getting out,” Petraeus continued. And for Washington, getting caught matters. “If the United States were identified as having promoted disinformation or tampering with votes in an election, it would undermine our credibility and our policy efforts, given how inconsistent such actions would be with the values we promote, which are at the heart of our soft power,” said Avril Haines, a former deputy CIA director. “The same is not true for Russia.

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                                                        MUSTAFA KİBAROĞLU

This paper will focus on Iran’s nuclear program in general and will assess the nature and the orientation of the recent developments in its nuclear energy,in particular.



As far as international peace and stability are concerned, the Middle East is one of the most volatile regions in the world. Two principal rea­sons of tension can be stated as the geo-strategic significance of the re­gion, particularly due to its vitally important mineral resources; and the indignation of the Muslim states in the region aroused from presence of the State of Israel since 1948 with its remarkable military might. In the vulnerable and complex socio-political structure of the Middle East there has been international efforts to save the region from the danger of the manufacture, stockpiling and the actual use of all kinds of weapons of mass destruction.1 Nevertheless, there is good reason to believe that Is­rael has already stockpiled some 100 atomic bombs in the basement.(2) This has been one of the most serious obstacles to the settlement of dis­putes and the establishment of a long-lasting peace in the region. The Israeli nuclear weapons capability has also been one major justification for other influential states of the Middle East such as Libya, Algeria Iraq, and Iran for “going nuclear.3 However, the economic and technological embargo imposed on Libya, and the internal disturbances in Alge­ria caused serious setbacks in the nuclear programs of these countries And, during the war in the Gulf in 1991 the capability of Iraq to manufac­ture weapons of mass destruction has been partially destroyed.Moreover, with the UN Security Council Resolution 687, Iraq is being closely scrutinized since then by the inspecting teams of the International Atomic Energy Agency (4) mandated with unearthing the undeclared (clandestine) nuclear weapons capability of that country. Apparently, only Iran remains problematique. There are serious allegations that Iran is seeking to ac­quire nuclear weapons capability. These allegations are not new, and Iran’s nuclear engagements have been steadily ‘reported’ in various books and journals since the early 1970s. But, allegations are intensified both in number and gravity since the recent Russia-Iran secret nuclear deal be­came public.


This paper will thus focus on Iran’s nuclear program in general, and will assess the nature and the orientation of the recent developments in its nuclear industry, in particular. Before proceeding further, however, several important points worth noting at this stage so as to prepare the ground for a more to the point discussion in the following paragraphs. First, Iran is party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty5 ever since its entry into force, and  is subject to the safeguards provisions of the IAEA.(6) Therefore, Iran, at least on paper, has sworn not to seek assistance to divert nuclear energy from peaceful to military purposes, that is to manu­facture nuclear explosive devices.7 Any further move of Iran in making nuclear weapons would thus mean a violation of its obligations under the NPT. Second, regarding the recent agreement with Russia, Iranian au­thorities declared that they were pursuing solely peaceful purposes in their attempt to complete their nuclear power plants in Bushehr which were damaged during the Iran-Iraq war.8 And, finally, even the US Cen­tral Intelligence Agency could not provide the international community with undeniable strong evidence that would indisputably condemn Iran for its illegal occupation with nuclear energy.9 Given these facts, the sig­nificance of  Iran’s nuclear engagements as regards the usual process of acquiring nuclear weapons capability should be addressed first. Because, without full-fledged evidences or assurances, relying solely on others’ judgements (pros and cons) on whether Iran is pursuing a veiled nuclear weapons program, or on the contrary, aims at generating huge amounts of energy for its economic development, can be misleading.10 A second emphasis should be on the basic undertakings of Iran under the NPT. Since, Iran’s illegal occupation with nuclear energy in its safeguarded installations which are declared to the IAEA is likely to be detected.11


Nuclear program of Iran: a résumé

As far as the nuclear engagements of Iran are concerned, one should refer back to the year 1958 when the United States agreed to sell a small size (5 MW) nuclear research reactor to be installed in the Tehran Uni­versity. Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI) was founded only a year before. However, both the capacity of the reactor and the lack of skilled personnel prohibited Iran’s further research and developments in this field. Hence ‘nothing wrong’ was reported in the mass media. Notwitstanding, following the inflow of hard currency which started in the mid-1970s due to the drastic increases in the oil prices, Iran was then believed to have been involved in conducting a clandestine nuclear weap­ons program. However, with the entry into force of the NPT, Iran had become a state party to the Treaty, thus had to forgo such ambitions. Even though its NPT status did not change in the aftermath of the Revo­lution, Iran was still believed to have had ambitions to assemble a nuclear explosive device under the Khumeini regime.12 However, neither during the routine IAEA safeguards inspections, nor in the most recent ‘special’ inspections of February 1992 and November 1993, IAEA inspectors could come up with evidence that would accuse Iran for violating the terms of the NPT. Nevertheless, the fears arising from Iran’s recent en­gagements in the nuclear field, particularly those with Russia and China, have not been alleviated.

Iran’s nuclear deal with Russia and P.R. China

The Russia-Iran agreement came after several years of negotia­tions, and the two countries signed a $ 1 billion worth protocol on Janu­ary 8, 1995.13 Accordingly, Russia agreed to complete two partially con­structed nuclear power reactors at Bushehr (750 km south of Tehran). The two 1300 MWe light-water reactors were originally built by Kraft Werk Union (KWU) of Germany starting in 1976. But, completion was halted after the Revolution.14 Russia also agreed to provide Iran with enriched uranium fuel for these reactors. The protocol outlined a wide range of assistance including the training of approximately 500 Iranian technicians as well as some 20 AEOI graduate students and PhD’s annu­ally at Russian academic institutions.15 The protocol pledged each gov­ernment to instruct the appropriate agencies to prepare and sign con­tracts for the supply to Iran with a 30 -50 MWth light-water research reac­tor, and 2,000 metric tons of natural uranium, and also called for coop­eration in building low power research reactors for instructional pur­poses, and the construction of an Iranian desalination plant. Both sides agreed to prepare and sign a contract for the construction of a shaft for a uranium mine, after which negotiations would be conducted for the con­struction of a gas centrifuge plant.I6

The PR. China, on the other hand, has been Iran’s chief supplier of nuclear-related technologies since the mid-1980s despite the US efforts to stop China from supplying Iran. China has reportedly supplied three subcritical and zero-power reactors and a small electromagnetic isotope separation (EMIS) machine as well as a very small 30 KWth research reactor. None of these hardware are believed to be capable of producing more than minute quantities of nuclear weapons material. But the small research reactors might be useful for training personnel. China also helped Iran create nuclear fuel facilities for uranium mining, fuel fabrication, uranium purification, and zirconium tube production. And, it is highly likely for China to supply Iran with facilities to produce uranium metal and uranium hexafluoride. In 1992, China signed a “preliminary agree­ment” to supply Iran with two 300 MWe light-water reactors.I7


Manufacturing nuclear weapons: a technical briefing

This résumé of the nuclear program of Iran, compiled from differ­ent reliable sources, may make sense, regarding Iran’s intentions, if fil­tered through a technical information about the usual process of manu­facturing nuclear weapons. The first issue to be noted is that, a nuclear weapon is a device in which most or all of the explosive energy is derived from either fission, or fusion, or a combination of the two nuclear pro­cesses. The basic nuclear weapon is the fission weapon which relies en­tirely on a fission chain reaction to produce a very large amount of en­ergy in a very short time.18 Nuclear fission occurs when a neutron enters the nucleus of an atom.19 In a reactor, a neutron which is fired at a U-235, attaches itself to the atom, increasing its instability, which in turn causes the atom to split and release energy.20 Neutrons which are normally too fast, can hardly attach themselves to U-235 isotopes to split them. To overcome such obstacles, several methods are available for slowing down the neutrons. In a nuclear reactor this is done by means of moderators which are materials such as either light-water, heavy-water, or graphite, that surrounds the nuclear fuel in the reactor core.21 To make use of light water, the proportion of U-235 in the reactor should be higher in order to increase the likelihood of a successful chain reaction. Therefore, in light-water reactors, uranium used must be enriched in U-235. Another im­portant event in the reactor core that increases the chances of successful fission is the transforming action of attacking neutrons. Neutrons that are unsuccessful in splitting U-235 atoms are mostly absorbed by U-238, and serve to convert the non fissile U-238 into plutonium Pu-239 which is also a fissile material.

Hence, a nation seeking to manufacture nuclear weapons must complete a number of extremely demanding steps in order to generate nuclear energy and divert it to non-peaceful purposes. The major techni­cal barrier to making a nuclear explosive device is obtaining the fissile material. Weapons-grade uranium (highly enriched uranium HEU) or plu­tonium are such materials usable for nuclear weapons core. How much would be needed for a nuclear weapon depends on the technical capabili­ties of the country involved and the size of the weapon it seeks to pro­duce.22 The diversion of natural uranium into HEU requires several steps, which is usually called the nuclear fuel cycle. In the basic cycle, uranium is mined, refined, processed into an appropriate chemical form, converted into fuel rods, fissioned (burned) in a reactor, and stored as waste.23 Ura­nium ore is found in places close to the earth’s surface, and must be mined like any other mineral.24 Excavated uranium ore is milled to separate uranium from foreign matter. Uranium is then processed into a chemi cal form U308 called yellowcake. At the conversion stage, the processed natural uranium is converted to a form usable in a nuclear reactor. If the material is intended for use in a heavy-water reactor which burns natural (non-enriched) uranium, it is converted to uranium metal or uranium di­oxide (UO2). Uranium destined for light-water reactors is converted to uranium hexafluoride which is a gas suitable for the enrichment process. To make a weapon from uranium, the U-235 isotope of uranium must be used.. Since natural uranium is extremely poor in U-235, and while nuclear weapons require 90% or more of U-235, the percentage of natural ura­nium must be upgraded at an enrichment plant to achieve this concentra­tion.25 Since, U-235 and U-238 are chemically identical, it is necessary to use a physical method to separate and enrich them.

Uranium enrichment is a highly complex process and requires con­siderable investment. Several methods have been developed for enrich­ing uranium, all of which ultimately rely on differentiating among the isotopes of uranium and isolating the material with increased concentra­tions of U-235. The most widely used enrichment method is gaseous diffusion26 Gaseous diffusion is a technically complex process that re­quires massive amounts of electricity, therefore it makes clandestine ac­quisition of a gaseous diffusion plant difficult. The ultra-centrifuge or gas centrifuge method, on the other hand, uses centrifugal force to draw U-238 atoms away from the desired U-235 atoms.27 The  relatively low power requirements of the gas centrifuge method of enrichment, coupled with its relative efficiency, make it an enrichment process of high proliferation concern. Enriched uranium (or plutonium) must be fabricated into fuel rods before it can be used in a nuclear reactor.28 Enriched uranium can then be used as a fuel in naval propulsion reactors or nuclear power reactors.29 Production of plutonium also entails many steps and advanced installations and capabilities such as a research or a power reactor mod­erated by heavy-water or graphite; a heavy-water production plant or a reactor grade graphite production plant; and a reprocessing plant.30 The plutonium obtained from the reprocessing operation can be converted to a form usable for nuclear weapons. The separated plutonium and uranium are virtually inaccessible during this operation, hence, unsafeguarded material in a reprocessing plant can easily be diverted to a nuclear weapon.

Iran‘s nuclear program: two real concerns for scholars and policy-makers

The résumé of Iran’s nuclear program, when reconsidered within e framework of the brief technical information about the usual process of manufacturing nuclear weapons, may give an insight about the intentions of the Iranian leadership. In this regard, one may safely state that it is highly likely for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons capability with its existing nuclear infrastructure which will attain a much more advanced level with the Russian (and to some extent Chinese) assistance in the years ahead. However, acquiring the nuclear weapons capability does not necessarily mean that Iran will definitely be able to manufacture nuclear weapons clandestinely in the installations that will be constructed by Russia or China. Because, these installations and the related nuclear materials that will be transferred to Iran, within the context of the recent protocols, will be under the IAEA safeguards. And, during the routine or non-rou­tine inspections in these sites the IAEA inspectors will most probably detect any attempt to divert nuclear energy from civilian to military pur­poses. Therefore, any account for the likely outcomes of particularly these nuclear installations may still be subject to speculation. In such a circum­stance, for those scholars and the policy-makers who fear a nuclear Iran, the real concern should rather be the technical skill that the Iranian per­sonnel will incur during the construction and the operation of the nuclear plants while in close collaboration and training with their Russian and Chinese counterparts. Withstanding this, scholars and policy-makers should also be seriously concerned with the loopholes and shortcomings in the terms of the bilateral safeguards agreements concluded between the states and the IAEA which also regulate the inspection procedures. Because, the deficiencies in the application of safeguards inspections , emanate from the terms of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and of the model safeguards document INFCIRC/153. (31)


Basic undertakings of Iran under the NPT: a reminder

According to the terms of the safeguards agreements, states have to declare to the IAEA the exact locations of their nuclear related sites and their initial inventory of the nuclear material contained within. Hence, the IAEA is bound to rely on the information supplied by the states for scheduling and implementing its safeguards inspections.(32) This clearly means that the IAEA can be deceived by any state determined to manufacture nuclear weapons clandestinely, simply by not supplying the Agency with accurate information.33 The strict reliance liability of the IAEA on the states’ declarations is therefore one major deficiency of the safeguards agreements. Only in rare instances the Board of Governors of the IAEA may call a state for conducting special (non-routine) inspections which are however normally limited to the declared sites.(34) Nevertheless, Iran once let the IAEA to carry out inspections whenever and wherever the Agency would prefer. But, as noted earlier, since Iran’s nuclear infrastructure is presently still at a rudimentary stage, nothing wrong was reported by the IAEA inspectors. A second difficulty with regard to conducting safeguards inspections properly is that, even if a state which concludes bilateral safeguards agreement with the IAEA does accurately accommodate an initial declaration to the Agency, that state may then create frictions for obstructing the timely and effective implentation of safeguards inspections of the Agency in order to gain aa considerable time prior to inspections.35 The principle of sovereignty and the sensitivity of the states to their domestic jurisdiction gave way to such defects in the above noted internationally agreed documents. (36) Hav ing said these, the importance of close observation of the suspected states is obvious as the jurisdictional and technical limitations of the IAEA are taken into consideration. Because, unless any state like Iran which unambiguously display the determination of acquiring an advanced nuclear infrastructure is not closely scrutinized, the nuclear technological capacity that can be used to generate huge amounts of electricity, can also very well be used to manufacture nuclear weapons indigenously in non-declared sites away from the declared ones.


The significance of acquiring technical skill: the crux of the matter

Bearing in mind the possibility of any state to conduct a clandestine nuclear weapons program given that the political will and financial resources exist, the weapon can thus be acquired basically through two ways. One is procuring a ‘turn-key’ nuclear weapon by any means. This option is the most difficult of all to effectuate, and requires an intelligence vacuum.(37) The second option is to assemble a nuclear explosive device indigenously at ‘home’ as did Israel, India, Pakistan, South Africa, and as almost did Iraq. This option as well requires an intelligence vacuum and the fulfilment of enduring steps by the states. In the case of Iran, given the very fact that the scientists and technicians of this country will soon acquire the basic scientific knowledge and technical skills, the second option is presumably more feasible.   Hence, when allegations about Iran, regarding its illegal attempts to procure weapons-usable material through various channels are considered, it becomes more apparent that there does exist an unequivocal danger of further spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. Much of these allegations go back several years. Western intelligence officials have often reported that Iranian agents have travelled throughout the former Soviet Republics in search of nuclear materials, know-how and scientists. In 1992, for example, Iranians reportedly visited the Ulba Metallurgical Plant in Kazakhstan. That plant produces reactor fuel and manufactures specialized metal components for the aerospace, electronics and other defence industries. The plant is also said to have more than 600 kilograms of HEU which the Iranians may have tried to buy. Another piece of information released to public was when the US Secretary of State Warren Christopher said on May 1 1995 that, for years Iran has been trying to purchase heavy-water research reactors that are best suited to producing weapons-grade plutonium, not electricity. Similarly, according to a senior US government official, Iran is concentrating on centrifuge designs and looking toward a pilot plant, possibly large enough to produce enough HEU for nuclear weapons, with hundreds or thousands of centrifuges connected together in cascades. Moreover, US officials refer to a long list of Iranian procurement attempts in Europe and elsewhere that potentially relate to centrifuges.38These and other allegations concerning Iran are worth notting as far as the dual character of advanced nuclear industry remains and its output depends on the decision of the leaderships whether to get electricity or to manufacture weapons with the nuclear yield gained.


The sources referred to throughout this study which aimed at assessing the threat posed by the recent developments in the nuclear program of  Iran supplied basically two categories of information and/or judgements: Iran was either determined to acquire nuclear weapons in the facilities now under construction or, on the contrary, it was pursuing solely peaceful uses of nuclear energy by seeking assistance to resume construction of the facilities. However, the real concern of this study was to emphasize the importance of acquiring legitimately the necessary technological capabilities and skills which can later be used illegitimately in secret nuclear facilities endowed with nuclear material procured clandestinely. This is concluded to be the real threat that the recent developments in Iran pose. To overcome such a threat, however, the shortcomings of the safeguards provisions of the IAEA should be alleviated so as to pave way to frequent inspections in suspected states like Iran. Nevertheless, this is a matter of international cooperation, and needs overhauling at least the safeguards documents of the IAEA.38 Secondly, the international cooperation in preventing the supply of the suspect states weapons-usable sensitive materials should be strengthened. The existing norms of the London based Nuclear Suppliers Group(40) should become much more operational, and must be supported with reliable intelligence gathering. All in all, regarding these difficulties, states like Iran which deny any accusation about its intentions, should give permision to inter-national safeguards inspections to be conducted whenever and wherever the IAEA would prefer regardless of whether the safeguards agreement in force warrants such a right to the Agency.41 By behaving this way states may assure the international community about their peaceful intentions.

End Notes:

  • For a compilation of the documents and scholarly works concern­ing these efforts See, Mustafa Kibaroğlu, “Verification Provisions of a Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone in the Middle East with Special Reference to EURATOM and ABACC, The Turkish Yearbook of International Relations, .Ankara University Press, (forthcoming); See also, Mustafa Kibaroğlu, “EURATOM and ABACC: Recipes for a NWFZ in the Middle East ?” in James F. Leonard and Jan Prawitz (eds), The Mobarek Plan: A Zone Free of Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle UNIDIR Research Report. (forthcoming)
  • Yet, the official stance of the Israeli authorities against such allega­tions is neither the denial nor the acknowledgement of the exist­ence of nuclear weapons in their arsenal. This strategy is called the policy of ambiguity or opaqueness. See in this regard, Benjamin Frankel (ed.), Opaque Nuclear Proliferation, London. Frank Cass, 1991; See also, Etel Solingen, “The Domestic Sources of Regional Regimes: The Evolution of Nuclear Ambiguity in the Middle East”, International Studies Quarterly, June 1994. No:38. pp:305-337. For an analysis of Israel’s ambiguity policy see, Shai Feldman, Is­raeli Nuclear Deterrence: A Strategy for the 1980s, Columbia Uni­versity Press, New York, 1982.
  • The term “going nuclear” is part of the nuclear (non)proliferation terminology which is often used to denote threshold states that are strongly believed to have chosen the nuclear path for developing lethal weapons. It also stands as the name of a book of one of the most quoted scholars in the field namely; Leonard S. Spector, Go­ing Nuclear, Cambridge, Mass., Ballinger Publishing Co., 1987.
  • The Vienna based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was established in 1957 and mandated with the verification compliance of the states with their obligations under the terms of their bilateral nuclear safeguards agreements with the Agency
  • The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NTP) of 1968, which entered into force in 1970, was drafted with the principal purpose of controlling the development as well as preventing the diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful (civilian) to military uses.
  • The Iranian leadership officially denounced nuclear weapons, un-like some other Middle Eastern leaderships as that of Libya, by staying in the NPT even after the Islamic Revolution of 1979
  • A nuclear explosive device does not necessarily mean a nuclear However, particularly in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, any request of or offer for assistance in the manufacture of nuclear explosive devices, whether or not intended for peaceful purposes, are prohibited. The purpose behind such a restriction was the clear cut understanding that there was indeed no distinction between the two devices (a peaceful device or a weapon) based on the destructive effect they could produce in case they would be used for military purposes. Only slight modifications would be needed to transform any nuclear explosive device into a nuclear weapon.
  • In addition to formal declarations, in personal conversations with the Iranian authorities during an international conference in Sweden in June 1995, Dr. Hadjihusseini of the Tehran based Institute
    for Political and International Studies (IPIS) told the author that Iran is undergoing a serious economic crisis since the drastic falls in yhe oil prices, and also suffers a considerable decline in the generation of electrical energy. Hence, Iran, according to Dr. Hadjihusseini, has no option but to revitalize its already $ 4 billions spent Bushehr project initiated by the Germans but not completed.
  • The former CIA Director James Woolsey stated in September 1994, that they paid particular attention to Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear and missile technology from the West in order to enable it to build its own nuclear weapons. Woolsey also noted that Iran is 8 to 10 years away from building such weapons and that help from outside will be critical in reaching this timetable. According to Woolsey, Iran has been particularly active in trying to purchase nuclear ma-terials or technology from Russian sources, as well as looking to purchase fully fabricated nuclear weapons in order to accelerate sharply its timetable. See, “Challenges to Peace in the Middle East,” Address of R. James Woolsey to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Wye Plantation, MD, September 23, 1994, quoted in Leonard S. Spector, Mark G. McDonough with F.van S. Medeiros, Tracking Nuclear Proliferation: A Guide in Maps and Charts, 1995, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington D.C. , 1995. p.119.
  • Because, it should be underlined that, from the technological point of view, in any nuclear industry operating either for manufacturing nuclear weapons or for generating electrical energy, the phases that must be accomplished are identical. The difference can be in the political intentions of the states about how to make use of their existing nuclear infrastructure.
  • On the one hand, the safeguards provisions of the IAEA under the NPT are far from being perfect, and thus the IAEA and the terms of the NPT were seriously criticized for not having detected the nuclear weapons program of Iraq throughout the 1980s. But, on the other hand, in the first half of the 1990s, the Agency gained experiences in Iraq and during the North Korean dispute. Therefore, the Agency is becoming capable to fulfill its political objective which is expressed as to deter against possible diversion through the risk of early detection. To complement this, the technological objective of the IAEA’s safeguards procedures is the timely detection of diversion of significant quantities of  nuclear material into a bomb.
  • Detailed discussions on Iran’s allegedly secret nuclear deals with countries such as South Africa, Pakistan, Argentina, W. Germany, France, Spain, China and the Soviet Union, exist in Zalmay Khalilzad, Iran: The Nuclear Option, Los Angeles, Pan Heurustics, 1977; Leonard S. Spector, Nuclear Proliferation Today, New York, Vintage Books, 1985; Akbar Etemad, “Iran” in Harald Müller(ed.), European Non-Proliferation Policy, Oxford University Press, 1987. See also L. S. Spector, Nuclear Ambitions: The Spread of Nuclear Weapons 1989-1990, Boulder, Colorado, Westview Press for Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Despite the reported initiatives of Iran, most of the authors  of recent books agree that Iran’s nuclear program, at present, is at a rudimentary stage.
  • Indeed, several Russian nuclear specialists have been active in Iran since April 1994 performing preliminary studies of the coastal site,and some 150 Russian technicians are currently at the site and this number will soon be quadrupled. See, Leonard S. Spector et al, , P: 120.
  • Approximately 85 % of the civil work on Bushehr I was complete, and the work in Bushehr II was also partially finished when construction stopped in 1979. In the intervening years, both reactors were damaged during bombing raids in the Iran-Iraq war, and Iran was subsequently unsuccessful at convincing the German firm to complete construction, largely due to the pressure from the United States. For details see, Leonard S. Spector et al, ibid., pp. 119-124. And, on an account for German nuclear export policy, and on how the German government put an end to KWU’s deal in Iran,see Harald Müller (ed.), A Survey of European Nuclear Policy, 1985-87, MacMillan, London, 1989.
  • David Albright, “The Russian-Iranian Reactor Deal”, The Non-proliferation Review, Center for Nonprolification Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies, Spring-Summer 1995, Vol. 2, No: 3, pp: 49-51
  • Although Russia has reportedly cancelled the centrifuge plant, it still intends to build the mine shaft. For a detailed exposé of the Russia-Iran agreement see, David Albright, “An Iranian Bomb ?” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July/August 1995, pp: 21-
  • But it is unclear if the reactors will ever be supplied. Head of the AEOI Amrollahi told the New York Times in May 1995 that Iran made a down payment on the reactors, and China had started to draw up blueprints and engineering reports for a site in southern Iran. D. Albright, op. cit., p. 25.
  • Frank Barnaby, How Nuclear Weapons Spread: Nuclear-Weapon Proliferation in the 1990s, Routledge, London and New York, 1993,  27.
  • Atoms consist of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Protons and neutrons bond together strongly to form a nucleus, and electrons orbit around them. Atoms of the same family are called isotopes. The uranium isotope U-235 is made up of 92 protons and 143 neutrons, whereas the isotope U-238 has 92 protons and 146 neut Uranium isotope U-235 is rare in nature, whereas the U-238 isotope is 140 times more common in natural uranium than the 235 isotope.
  • The same neutron directed at a more stable U-238 atom would likely be absorbed without fissioning (i.e., without causing split). In a reactor, many neutrons are intercepted by U-238 atoms, others are absorbed by the atoms of other materials in the reactor.
  • When neutrons collide with the heavy water or graphite atoms, they decelerate to a speed that improves their chances of attaching to a U-235 atom and causing it to break apart. Hence, in reactors moderated by these materials, no other adjustments are necessary to make fission possible. When light (ordinary) water is used as a moderator some neutrons are slowed, but others are absorbed by the light-water itself. Because ordinary water is plentiful and cheap when compared to heavy-water which is costly and very difficult to make, light-water is the preferred moderating material.
  • IAEA regulations assume that 25 kg of HEU or 8 kg of plutonium are the minimum amounts needed to manufacture a nuclear device with a yield of 20 Kilotons, roughly the size of the Nagasaki According to one recent estimate, a country possessing a low technical capability could build a 20 kilotons device with only 6 kg plutonium or 16 kg of HEU. A state with high technical capability can potentially build such a device with as little as 5 kg of HEU or 3 kg of plutonium. Moreover, a 1 Kt device, which would require considerable sophistication to manufacture, might need only about half these amounts. See, Thomas B. Cochran and Christopher E. Paine, The Amount of Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium Needed for Pure Nuclear Weapons, Natural Resources Defence Council, Washington D.C., 1994.


nium hexafluoride gas or uranium tetrachloride in the isotope U-23 S; and a capability for converting the enriched uranium hexafluo­ride gas or uranium tetrachloride into solid uranium oxide or metal.


23    The basic nuclear resources and facilities that would be needed to produce HEU indigenously thus include: uranium depostis; a uranium mine; a uranium mill for processing ore into uranium oxide concentrate, or yellowcake named for its amber clor; a conversion plant for purifying yellowcake and converting it into uranium hexafluoride (UF6) or uranium tetrachloride (UC14) to be processed in the enrichment plant; an enrichment plant for enriching the uranium hexafluoride  gas or uranium tetrachloride in the isotope U-235; and a capability for converting the enriched uranium hexafluo­ride gas or uranium tetrachloride into solid uranium oxide or metal.The world leaders in uranium mining and milling are Canada, the United States, Australia, France, Niger, Namibia, and South Af­rica. About 5,000 kilograms of natural uranium is needed to pro­duce the 25 kg of weapons-grade uranium for one atomic bomb. See F. Barnaby, ibid., p. 4.

  • Indeed, technically a weapon could be made of uranium enriched to more than 20 percent. As a practical matter, material enriched to more than 90 percent is preferred. For instance, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima used uranium enriched to 80 percent. Similarly, South Africa used material enriched to 80 percent for the first nuclear weapons and 90 percent for the remaining 5 weapons.
  • Uranium in a gaseous form, i.e., uranium hexafluoride, is forced through a series of membranes of a huge container. Each membrane allows the lighter U-235 atoms to pass through more easily than the heavier U-238 atoms. After penetrating each membrane the gas is richer in U-235 than it was originally, but only slightly. Normally, 1,250 passes are needed to enrich the gas to 3 percent U-235, which is the enrichment level used in most light-water nuclear power plants. However, 4,000 passes are required to enrich the material to the weapons-grade of 90 percent U-235.
  • When uranium hexafluoride is spun in a centrifuge, the heavier U-238 atoms gravitate toward the outer walls, whereas the lighter U-235 atoms remain in the center. The centrifuge method requires only 35 repetitions to achieve weapons-grade uranium. A plant with 1,000 centrifuges can supply the uranium stock for several nuclearr weapons per year.
  • The enriched uranium, plutonium, or natural uranium used in heavy-water reactors is shaped into cylindrical pellets, which are then stacked in tubes called fuel rods. The rods are then bundled together into fuel assemblies. Light-water reactor fuel assemblies each weigh from 200 to 500 kg. Approximately 180 fuel assemblies containing about 110 tons of low enriched uranium are needed to fuel a typical 1,000 MW light-water reactor for three years. See Mason Willrich and Theodore B. Taylor, Nuclear Theft: Risks and Safe Ballinger Publishing Co., Cambridge, Mass., 1974
  • A nuclear power reactor is basically a furnace where the heat produced by a controlled chain reaction is used to generate electricity. Typically, the heat used to turn water into steam issued to drive a turbine which generates electricity. Thus, a country can have entirely legitimate, non-weapons related reasons for developing uranium enrichment technology even though the same technolog can be used to upgrade uranium enrichment level useful for weapons.
  • Uranium fuel, usually in the form of uranium-filled tubes (fuel rods) made of zirconium alloy (zircalloy) or aluminium, is placed in the As the reactor operates, the uranium fuel is partly transformed into plutonium. This is amalgamated in the fuel rods with unused uranium and highly radioactive waste products, and it must then be extracted. Using the Plutonium Uranium Recovery by Extraction (PUREX) method, more than 90% of the uranium and plutonium in the spent fuel solution can be recovered. To do the extraction operation, the spent fuel rods are taken to a reprocessing plant where they arcedissolved in nitric acid and the plutonium is separated from the solution in a series of chemical reprocessing steps.
  • Information Circular (INFCIRC/…) is one of a series of unclassi general purpose IAEA circulurs used to bring to general notice the contents of an important document or an important decision or communication. Safeguards documents circulated in this form include the safeguards system and the safeguards agreement. Hence, INFCIRC/153 denotes “the structure and content of the agreement between the Agency and states required in connection with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.” When the IAEA circulates such documents at the request of the state or states concerned, it takes no responsibility for the contents of the docu ments. However, the significance of the INFC1RC/153 within the nuclear non-proliferation regime comes from the fact that, these procedures constitute the sole legal basis for the verification mechanism  of the regime.
  • Since, according to its Statute and the terms of the model agreement INFC1RC/153 (applicable to the states party to the NPT), the IAEA has no power to have access to the suspected sites in a state without the consent of the host state. Such enforcement measures are beyond its mandate.
  • This has been the case in Iraq. After the 1991 Gulf War, the IAEA inspectors unearthed the undeclared nuclear facilities and materials which were being used to manufacture nuclear weapons.
  • During the inspections the IAEA inspectors apply indeed simple material accountancy techniques to the nuclear material to determine whether any significant amount of nuclear material is missing or not. Inspections are conducted in restricted areas within the facilities called material balance areas. Such and other restrictions further complicate the proper and effective implementation of in
  • Either by objecting to the inspectors’ nationalities or by not providing reliable escort services, and the like, states may seriously delay inspections, and the time gained may be significant from the military point of view. Based on the degree of suspicion, the IAEA may ask more frequent inspection from several states. But the frequency of inspections is negotiated between the parties, hence no

unilateral encroachment is possible. In a protracted conflict, however, unlike the first difficulty mentioned above, in this case the IAEA is not totally powerless. Indicating such a circumstance, through its Board of Governors, ultimately to the UN Security Council, the IAEA may then take several measures for the f ulfillment of its task, as it was the case in North Korea.

  • During the process of drafting these documents, the sovereignty principle was one of the most hotly debated issues in the international fora which undertook working out regulatory documents for controlling the development of nuclear energy world wide. Multilateral discussions in this respect have initially taken place right after World War II with the creation of the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission UNAEC in 1945. Despite the failure in this attempt, events led to the creation of the IAEA in 1957, the enactment of the NPT in 1968, and issuing of INFCIRC/153 in 1971.
  • By intelligence vacuum the author envisions a situation where the intelligence agencies may overlook or rather fail to disclose such “giant deals” between the client and supplier states.
  • For a detailed discussion in these respects see, David Albright, ibid., pp: 22-26.
  • In the Review and Extension Conference of the NPT held in the UN Headquarters in April/May 1995, it is decided that the NPT be extended unconditionally and indefinitely. This means that no adjustments or amendments can be made in the Treaty and its related safeguards document. See in these matters, John Simpson,”The Birth of a New Era ? The 1995 NPT Conference and the Politics of Nuclear Disarmament”, Security Dialogue, Vol.26, No:3, September 1995, pp: 247-256
  • The Nuclear supplier Group has reproduced a set of guidelines

that most of the suppliers of nuclear plants and materials agreed to in London on 21 September 1977. That’s why this group is equally known as the London Club. This set of guidelines is also attached to communication addressed on 11 January 1978 to the Director-General of the IAEA. These guidelines for nuclear transfer are also labelled as INFCIRC/254. The initial signatories of the guidelines are; Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, the former German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA and the USSR. NSG restricted the supply of items that might be used to advance a non-peaceful nuclear program, and adopted a trigger list including heavy-water and heavy-water production plants. NSG also required export conditions stricter than those specified in the NPT. In April 1992, the twenty-eight NSG member states further tightened control over nuclear exports in response to revelations of Iraq’s clandestine import of nuclear technology. The Group, thus expanded its trigger list to include more dual use items, and agreed to require full-scope (comprehensive) safeguards as a condition of export.

  • Of course, the IAEA, as stated in its Statute, should seriously take into consideration that such extra inspections may cause a com-petitive disadvantage to the host country.

(*) Published in the fpi Quarterly “Foreign Policy”, Vol. 20, Nos. 3-4

Visits: 429

Turkish Stand on the Gulf Crisis, Middle East and Europe – TURGUT ÖZAL

Turkish Stand on the Gulf

Crisis, Middle East and

Europe (*)


Neither the European Community nor the Western European Union may reach their netural and logical boundaries without Turkish presence.


It is a great pleasure and honor for me to be with you  today in Paris. I wish to express my sincere thanks to President Robert Pontillon for inviting me to address one of Europe’s three most important international parliamentary plat­forms.

In his letter of invitation, President Pontillon indi­cated that, he and his colleagues were particularly impressed by the firmness of the Turkish stand throughout the Gulf Crisis and the War. He invited me to express my views on two sub­jects; first, on how to tackle the problem of establishing a just and durable peace in the Middle East and second how I see the new configuration of Europe in a profoundly modified inter­national environment.

The Middle East has always been a region of con­flict. The Arab-Israeli problem which has come to surface in the balances among the parties has tipped to one side or the other during the period in between. This conflict has given rise to other negative developments and tensions in the region as well as in the world. Terrorism is the foremost among them.

Differences among the Arabs have added to the gravity of the situation in the region. These differences made it very difficult, if not possible to achieve the Arab unity desired by many.

On the eve of the Gulf Crisis there were several Arab groupings.

The small but rich Arab countries of the Gulf had established the Gulf Cooperation Council. On the other hand Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Yemen came together in the Arab Cooperation Council.The third group consisted of the Maghreb countries. I also have to mention other Arab countries like Sudan and Somalia which had varying relations with each Arab group. Among these countries there are also those with large populations, high population growth rates and low incomes. I don’t think I need to name them.

The Iran-Iraq War brought new dimensions to this state of affairs. This war had both positive and negative effects on inter-Arab relations. All Arabs did not act in unison during this war. For example we all know that Syria was not among the Arab states supporting Iraq. There were also some North African countries like Libya which chose to stay neutral.

This war had as consequence low oil prices. It also led to the allocation of a substantial part of the oil income to war expenditures of Iraq through the financial assistance of the Gulf countries to that country. I should also mention here that Iraq perceived this assistance as its own right.

The East-West rivalry in the region aggravated the differences among the Arab states and fuelled the arms race in the Middle East.

Inter-Arab differences together with the Arab-Israeli conflict and the East-West competition as well as the presence of extremist factions and the adversity between different sects led to a much more complicated picture of the region on the eve of the Gulf Crisis. Lebanon has been a model of such a picture since 1975. One could witness all the factors I have just mentioned in that country. The events in Lebanon could be the ominous forebearers of such a picture with much greater dimensions in the future.


It would be an understatement just to say that these are difficult problems to solve. In fact some of them have been aggravated by the Gulf War and even new ones have been created.However we beleive that in the aftermath of the Gulf crisis we have a historic opportunity to cover substatial grounds towards the solution of some of these problems and especially the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In this context I must mention the great prestige gained by the United States after the Gulf Crisis and the rap­prochement between the United States and Soviet Union with the end of the Cold War.On the other hand, at present, resis­tance from extremists and terrorists to efforts to solve the Mid­dle East conflict are not as strong as it used to be in the past.

One main problem area in this picture is the in­fluence that extremist religious elements have on the Israeli government. The fact that Secretary Baker finds a new settle­ment in the occupied territories at each visit he makes to Israel is a manifestation of that influence on the Israeli Government.

I believe that the presence of this influence of extremist religious elements on the Israeli Government is one of the most important barriers for Israel to live peacefully in the region.

Our policy regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict has always been clear, consistent and balanced. We recognise the legitimate rights of the Palestinians, including the right to es­tablish their own state. We also recognise the right of all states in the region, including Israel, to live within secure and recog­nised borders.

At this highly critical juncture of peace making in the Middle-East, maintaining the present momentum is of crucial importance. If such a settlement can not be reached within a reasonable time scale, the frustrations of the people of the region and especially of the Palestinians will increase the anti-western sentiments among the people of region. It may also create further complications for the moderate and conservative Arabs and add to the already substantial inter-Arab differences.

Israel is also in a position to make the most of the prestige it has gained during the Gulf Crisis. Saddam Hussein’s attacks against Israel by scud missiles; and the restraint shown by the Israeli Government against these attacks have strengthened the standing and the negotiating posotion of Is­rael. Israel should now determine how far it can go during the negotiations and should contribute to the solution of the prob­lem within those parameters. Otherwise it may confront greater problems in the future.

The Middle-East already has an enormous stockpile of military equipment. For a lasting peace in the region, we must move swiftly to devise arrangements to curb excessive arms sales to the Middle-East. Weapons of mass destruction need to be swept away from the region. The CFE arrangements might to some extent constitute an example for the area. Of course the entirely different conditions of the region need to be taken into consideration. Success in this area also depends on success towards a settlement of the region. Success in this area also depends on suc­cess towards a settlement of the Arap-lsraeli conflict.

I personally believe that the most important factor for the achievement of peace in the region is to develop a system that would increase economic interdependence and meaningful cooperation among countries of the Middle East.

The countries of the region can collectively open up their markets to one another and increase trade exchanges and tourism. They can together build and improve the in­frastructure in the Middle East. Part of the region’s oil revenues could be pooled in an economic cooperation fund to finance such projects.

Cooperation along these lines would create an at­mosphere of deeper understanding and enhanced good will. It

would also serve the well being of all the nations in the region.lt would help narrow the income gap between the richer and less wealthy. This would contribute to a relaxation of social tensions underlying political unrest.

I believe that the most important requirement of the Middle East for the years to come is water. The need of the countries of the region is now even more greater because of the pollution in the Gulf. In this respect I should remind you of my proposal of a multi-lateral venture for the purpose of build­ing a “peace-water pipeline” to deliver water from Turkish rivers, down to the Arabian peninsula. This pipeline would benefit all countries involved, in this context may I draw your attention to an initiative I have undertaken to convene an International Water Summit in Istanbul from 3 to 9 November 1991, to dis­cuss related problems.

The winds of democracy may be reaching the Mid­dle-East soon. We really see some signs to this effect.

Turkey is a drawbridge of Europe’s fortress of con­temporary civilisation and its gateway to the Middle East. As such we consider that democratisation ought to go hand in hand with efforts aimed at increasing economic interdepen­dence in the area. This is the only way to guarantee that the region keeps pace with the exigencies of a new global order based on peace, justice and progress. The achievement of democratisation in the Middle East should be regarded not only as a desirable goal for the region itself, but also as a component of Europe’s well being and peace of mind.

We cannot expect to have a democracy in the region with western standards at the initial phase, although each country may reach different stages in time.

Turkey, with its secular democracy and free market economy can constitute an example to the countries of the region in this respect.


Turkey together with Iran and Pakistan is on the way to giving a new life to the trilateral “Economic Cooperation Organisation”. The three countries have agreed to accord trade preferences to each other, to establish a joint investment bank and to cooperate on infrastructure projects. A summit is being planned for autumn of this year to seal these decisions. We are hoping that these developments might have some influence to encourage similar cooperation in the region.

We believe that the situation in Iraq is more serious than may be appreciated from the outside. Iraq has suffered a great and a humiliating defeat. The war has caused great damage on the country. The wound is yet fresh and warm and the pain is not so obvious. But as time passes the situation in Iraq might become worse. I believe there has also been great loss of life in Iraq during the war. As the prisoners of war return to their families and homes, the gravity of the situation will weigh on the people of Iraq. The civil war in that country has also created additional damage and loss of life. It has in­creased tensions between the regime and the people of Southern and Northern Iraq. It would not be correct to think that peace has finally come for the people of Iraq. A sparkle might lead to other tragedies in that country.

I believe that a quick political solution is required to bring an end to the sufferings in Iraq. Embargo by itself is not enough to provide this solution. It is up to the international community to come to grips with this problem. Otherwise the present problems might achieve new dimensions.

Now I want to outline my views on the develop­ments in Europe.I believe the most important development in Europe have been the ending of the Cold War and the enormous chan­ges in the Soviet Union, the collapse of communism in Europe, the unification of Germany and coming into power of democratic governments in the countries of East Europe.


On the other hand, the decision by the European Community to achieve a single market by end of 1992 is a very significant development for Europe. The attraction of the European Community for the non-member countries increase every passing day as the community draws closer to this ob­jective. There may be differences in the pace towards an inter­nal market in various sectors, but it is a fact that this objective will be achieved in the end and will be a significant building block in the new European architecture.

I would now like to go a little further into some of the developments I have just mentioned.

The lifting of the heavy hand of the Soviet Union over the countries of Central and Eastern Europe led to the revival of democratic currents in those countries, and to the collapse of old economic systems. As a result it brought them face to face with colossal new problems. There was a mistaken belief in those countries that with democracy, prosperity would be within easy reach. However the most important characteristic of a free market system is that it requires hard work for individuals as well as for nations to achieve prosperity.

The lifting of the Soviet pressure also affected the ethnic problems in the Balkans. These problems which were not much visible because of Soviet pressure came to surface. This has led to tensions between the countries of the Balkans and between different ethnic groups in almost every Balkan state. This sitiation might lead to new and greater complication if not handled with due care. Turkey is in a situation to play a positive role also in this respect. It has a great deal of ex­perience in the Balkans going back to the Ottoman period. It is a country of the region enjoying excellent relations with Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Yugoslavia and Hungary. It has problems only with Greece. I am not going to take up the reasons here. I should however mention that their solution will be much easier if the European Community does not become a party to these problems.

The Soviet Union itself, in some respects resemble the Balkans. Outside the Russians which constitute the core of the Union, there are Christian and Moslem-Turkic republics and scores of minorities in those republics. It is noteworthy that those which refuse to join the Union Treaty are only the Chris­tian Republics. This situation might give rise to difficulties to achieve a further rapprochement between Europe and the Soviet Union in future.

I believe that the process towards democratisation in the Soviet Union is irreversible. Therefore, the West should help the Soviet Union in this period of transition.

However, the real effort and sacrifice must come from the people of Soviet Union themselves. Turkish ex­perience in passing to a free market economy has verified this. We had to pool almost ninety percent of our resources to achieve this objective. The European Community did not pro­vide even the insignificant sum of 600 million Ecus foreseen by the fourth financial protocol. I believe, at this stage, the Soviet Union will mostly need support without political strings at­tached, and assistance for the education and training of people required to run a free market economy.

During the last few years substantial steps have been taken for the security of Europe. NATO has played a very important role in the ending of the Cold War. It is a well estab­lished and an efficient organisation. It is important to maintain this organisation and to make the necessary changes within the organisation in parallel with the developments in Europe and the world.

The challenges facing us in Western Europe are no less serious than those which confronted us forty-five years ago. To avoid the risks of failure, common sense urges us to envisage an interlocking network of relationships based on NATO, the CSCE, the European Community and other European institutions.


As far as NATO’s role in the future security architec­ture of the continent is concerned, Turkey supports the evolu­tion of a stronger European dimension. Such a development ought to reinforce the Atlantic Alliance and bring about a more equal distribution of leadership and responsibilities within it. In our opinion, if the EC nations decide to form an exclusive club, the new European architecture cannot benefit from the new prospects and meet new challenges. It would leave some European allies like Turkey and Norway, who are yet to join the Community, marginalized on the flanks. Hence, a European defence identity should be conceived as the “European Security Pillar” of NATO and in the manner endorsed at the London Summit in July last year.

The Atlantic Alliance, the CSCE and the European Community are three specific secular pillars of the continent, each will make its own contribution to the new European ar­chitecture. An important aspect of European cooperation will be in the framework of the European Community. Military\Security integration and Atlantic security cooperation should remain the job of NATO. In this context cooperation with and support of the United Statets is imperative for an Atlantic balance. We should refrain from attempts to reduce the United States’ presense in Europe. Western European Union ought to develop to become the European pillar of the Transatlantic system by embracing all the fourteen European members of the alliance.

Lastly I wish to make a few points that should cor­rect lingering misperceptions in the minds of some Europeans about Turkey’s role in the new configuration of the continent.This role can be properly assessed by taking due account of historic, geopolitical and economic factors.

Eastern Thrace and particularly Anatolia are exten­sions of the European continent. As such, the course of their history has always been inseparable from that of Europe. These were Alexander’s springboard towards world dominion. Rome stretched her power to the borders of Persia and to Mesopotamia across the Bosphorus and the Taurus Moun­tains. Taurus, Iconium and Ephesus served as stepping stones for the spread of the message of Christ into Greece and Rome. Islam followed the same path in reaching the peoples of the Balkans. For five centuries, Istanbul provided the home base from which the Ottomans, as successors of Byzantium, control­led Europe as far as Budapest.

Imperial Turkey was formally admitted to the “Con­cert European” in 1856. The entire history of the Ottoman reform movement consists of an unbroken chain of attempts to reorganize the state and the society on the European pattern.

Yet Turkey’s European vocation found a modern, concrete and absolute expression with Kemal Ataturk’s revolu­tionary achievements. The record of the Turkish Republic in all walks of life -from public and civil law, politics, economics, cul­tural and social orientation to military and defence matters- bears out the nation’s European credentials. In fact, the suc­cess of Turkey’s emergence as a modern and secular state bears witness to Turkey’s historic course oriented to Europe. The Turkish bid to join the Community and the Western European Union should be seen as the culmination of a process which lasted for centuries.

Throughout the last decade, Turkey registered a great success with regard to economic restructuring. A sound economy, capable of being integrated to the world economies, has thus emerged. The transformation was brought about in a democratic environment.

Turkey had no access to huge grants and extensive subsidies. We, nevertheless, managed to create a healthier economy that could produce consecutive current account surpluses until the Gulf Crisis. I should also mention here that the free market economy we now enjoy helped us overcome the adverse affects of the crisis with a minimum loss. We ser­viced our foreign debt repayments on schedule. Today, Turkey is in a position to extend credit lines to many countries. She has been able to achieve a sustained annual growth rate of not less than 6 % over the last decade. The Turkish Lira has be­come fully convertible and foreign exchange reserves have reached an all-time high level. Exports have more than quad­rupled. There are no restrictions pertaining to the foreign exchance regime and an effective stock-market is steadily expanding. Privatization is going on at full speed.

Turkish experience towards achieving a free market economy is being followed with great attention by the countries of the region. Indeed, Turkey, with most developed free market economy and a trained, experienced bureaucracy, has a lot to share with the countries of that part of the world. It could share its experiences in the liberalisation of trade and encourage free movement of people, capital and services.

This is also true for the Black Sea region and the Balkans. I have put forth the idea of a “Black Sea Economic Cooperation Zone”. This Zone would include, besides Turkey, the Soviet Union, Romania and Bulgaria. Six Soviet republics would also participate, these are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldavia, Russia and the Ukraine. We believe, proposed joint measures to liberalize trade in the Area and to cooperate in establishing the infrastructure necessary for facilitating trade among the participants. We are not aiming at a Black Sea Common Market. We only want to create a medium through which goods, capital, people and services can move more free­ly. During my visit to the Soviet Union, I saw that president Gor­bachev and the leaders of the republics were favorable to this idea.

The dramatic developments in the Gulf must always remind us of the breadth of the problems besetting the Muslim world and the dangers of the revival of an age-old conflict between Muslims and Christians. Power hungary people exploit even the smallest differences among nations and fractions to achieve their objectives. In the past, economic frustrations forced many people to seek ways of liberation. They resorted to communism and revolutionary methods. We now know that, those methods are not the cure.

The changes in Eastern Europe and Soviet Union have resulted in the revival of religion in these regions.

People believing in God build stronger societies. History confirms this. The important thing is that religion should not border on extremism. To prevent this, societies and in­dividuals need to be more tolerant towards each other. One should not forget that religions which believe in one God are based on same principles.

If we are to avoid the dark ages when religions were at war with each other, we must be very careful. In a world which is so much smaller today we cannot ignore the economic difficulties of others. We need better programmes of cooperation and assistance to other developing countries.

Today the Muslim population in the world is more than a billion. In the Soviet Union alone the Muslim population is nearing 80 million. The birth rate is high. No one can say from now the effect of a number of political problems that will be created if these people are to come under the influence of militant ideologies.

The Moslem populations world over, not only in the Middle East but in the Soviet Union as well, are in fact at the threshold of making historic decisions in their search for a viable alternative which would fundamentally determine their future.

The fact that Turkey is a secular Moslem country sharing western values enriches the Turkish Model with an added dimension. This dimension proves to the Middle Eastern nations, as well as to the Islamic world in general, that an Islamic country can evolve into a democratic and modern society on the western pattern. On the other hand it also con­stitutes a model to be emulated by the Eastern and Southern Soviet Republics.

Turkey applied to the European Community in 1987. The Commission rendered its opinion on Turkish membership in 1989 at a time of unprecedented mutation in Europe. These were the welcome changes which marked the end of the Cold War. The EC was seen as a pole of attraction by all Eastern European countries. However, today, we see that a lot of time is still needed for many of the East European Countries to come up to the standards of integration with the Community. Turkey is very near to those standards. It is in fact at a better position than some of the member states.

Turkey has also reached an economic standard above other Islamic countries. Turkish membership will make it possible for the EC to establish better relations with the Islamic world. There are those who believe that the EC is a Christian club. Such tendencies only contribute to polarisations in the world.

Turkey’s historic experience and knowledge of the Balkans, the Black Sea Region, West Asia as well as the Middle East and the excellent relations it enjoys with almost all the countries of these regions places Turkey at a unique position. Turkish membership in the European Community and the Western European Union would no doubt enrich these two or­ganisations and would contribute to the improvement of their political, cultural and economic ties with that part of the world.

Turkey will also serve as an engine of growth in an expanded Europe with her developing economy offering new market opportunities for Western European exporters. Enriched with Turkey’s young and dynamic workforce, Western European capital and enterprise would be in a position to tap the vast economic potential of Anatolia.

As far as the Western European Union is concerned, I would first underline one of the prioties of Turkish foreign policy, namely that of participating in all spheres of the European integration process.

We agree that efforts towards strengthening European role in the field of security and defence should be pursued with energy and vigour. Yet, it is our firm conviction that one cannot and should not create two different categories of European members within the same alliance; those who are within the EC and WEU, and trrose who are only within NATO. On the other hand Turkey should not be expected to accept only the responsibilities of the defence of the continent without parpicipating fully in the making of the new Europe.

I would like to sum up my message as follows: Turkey, as a persistent and unswerving adherent of the humanitarian values of Europe, is long overdue for political, economic, cultural recognition by her natural partners. Neither the Community nor the Western European Union may reach their natural and logical boundries without Turkish presence. She constitutes a European bridge to a far wider consensus between Europe and the Middle East. As such, she is a political asset for Western Europ.

All European nations have contributed to a rich and diverse European identity. Turkey, with all the civilizations that have enriched Anatolia and its people is one of the Mediter­ranean heirs to that very identity in equal share to her future EC and WEU partners. We claim that heritage.Turkey and Western European Union have common goals and common responsibilities to discharge. Therefore, no special consultative arrangement can be regarded as a per­manent substitute to Turkey’s eventual full membership in the Union.

With these thoughts in mind, I wish you every suc­cess in your future work.

(*)     President Turgut Özal’s address to the WEU Parliamentary Assembly in Paris on May 5,1991 was published in the fpi Quarterly “Foreign Policy” Vol. 16, Nos. 1-2



Visits: 264

Turkey’s Policy towards Iraq in the post-Saddam era – Tarık Oğuzlu

Turkey’s Policy towards Iraq in the post-Saddam era


Tarık Oğuzlu[1]


US Policy in Iraq during 2003-2006

US Policy during 2003-2006 period can be described a pro-Kurdish, as Kurdish groups received strong US support. This period provided 3 important gains for Kurdish groups. The first one is the article 140 of the new Iraqi constitution which states that Kirkuk’s final status is to be decided through a referendum. Secondly, Kurdish Region became a federal area and the Iraqi Constitution defines Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) region as a federal unit in Iraq. And lastly, Kurds gained influential positions in state administration such as the presidency of Mr. Talabani.


Another aspect of US policy in this period was about the containment of both Shiite and Sunni forces. After US take over, Sunnis were excluded from the Iraqi body politics. The goal was to consolidate de-Baathification. At the same time US aimed at eradicating the roots of the Al Qaeda in Iraq through the cooperation of Shiite militias as there was no possibility of an alliance with Sunni groups against Al-Qaeda or resistance groups. In 2003-2006, US tried to exclude Iran from the game as a legitimate player. After the end of military campaign against Saddam Hussein, Iraqi army was disbanded and new Iraqi forces were to be established. The US military plan was just to do the clearing the ground from any unwanted group and activity. Holding the ground and rebuilding it, would be undertaken by Iraqi forces. This strategy, however, proved to be wrong.

US policy in Iraq since early 2007

When we came to 2007, US understood that Peace with the Sunni Arabs was necessary to fight the Al-Qaeda and Baathist resistance. Therefore US increased its support to Sunni groups such as the Sunni Awakening group and the Sons of Iraq. Understandably the US support increased the strength of the Sunnis and The Awakening has now at least 100000 men under arm, for instance. Through its support to Sunnis, US goal was to see that the Sunni forces are reintegrated into the Iraqi army and the new political elections, local and general, ease the way for Sunni representation in state administration. Since the early 2007, the beginning of the surge strategy, more troops are needed to provide stability and security in Iraq. Now Sunni Arabs are in the payrolls of US administration, too. De-Baathification strategy which was aimed at during 2003-2006 period needed to be reversed. In addition to that previous US strategy to clear and leave to Iraqi forces was redefined as clear-hold-build. This time the US soldiers do the fighting and stay in the war zone to consolidate the gains. They do not turn over the field over to the local Iraqi forces after the war came to an end. The US goal was redefined as to win hearths and minds of the Sunni Iraqis.

Another change was seen in the attitude towards Iran as well as Syria. It is now the case that the Washington administration has now been in the process of altering its exclusionary approach towards Iran and Syria, as the voices of traditional realists are now being heard more often than the neo-con demagogues. The need to talk to Tehran and Damascus in order to contribute to the emergence of long-term stability in Iraq and the region has now become more pronounced in Washington than ever. Reconciliation with Iran was seen necessary to have lasting stability in Iraq. Therefore Iran’s support is needed to have control over Iraq’s anti-American Shia groups. This resulted in such a deal like; the US would not support the Iranian regime’s opponents in Iraq. In return Iran would help the US secure Sadr’s agreement to a ceasefire. Sadr group declared ceasefire in the summer of 2007 and cease fire was extended in April 2008. This fact constitutes a main factor for the positive results yielded by the surge strategy. As the surge strategy proved functioning and level of violence decreased in Iraq, the issue of pulling back American soldiers from Iraq has been debated more vociferously then ever. The best way to succeed in Iraq before withdrawing is to tie the decision of withdrawal to clear benchmarks, success of the Iraqis to settle their problems at home. It is important to keep in mind that the satisfaction of Arabs, both Shia and Sunni, is more important than the satisfaction of Kurds for long-term stability in Iraq. A strategy that primarily relies on Kurdish support, at the expense of Arabs, particularly Sunnis, would never work. The Kurds do now have to fight at two fronts, Baghdad front and Ankara front. Kurds are in fight with Arabs over Kirkuk, the share of the oil resource, the limits of regional government, the budget, and Turkey over Kirkuk and PKK. The Americans would likely side with the Arabs over Kirkuk, for they have increasingly become dependent on their cooperation.

Indications of new strategy to tilt towards Arabs

For the United States to leave Iraq as soon as possible as claimed by the majority of Iraqis and foreseen by the presidential candidates, Iraq should turn to a stable and secure place. For this to happen, the satisfaction of Arab demands, particularly the Sunnis, is important. The change in the US policy from relying on Kurdish support to provision of Shia and Sunni satisfaction for long-term stability in Iraq inevitably have had positive implications for Arabian side of Iraqi. First of all, the referendum on Kirkuk is postponed for six months till June 2008. Sunnis and Shias form a common block in Iraqi parliament to resist the Kurdish claims on Kirkuk. They have even made it clear that they could resort to force to overcome any Kurdish fait-accompli on the status of the city. Even though the local elections in Iraq will be held in 2009, the Kurdish region will be excluded from this process. Elections in Kirkuk will not be held unless the parties to the conflict came to an agreement as to how to share power in Kirkuk. The Kurds agreed to this term. This is a sign of victory on the part of Arabs and Turks. In addition to that the Americans are now supporting the Arabs’ policy on the sharing of Iraq’s oil resources. The final decision on the production, use and distribution of oil rests with the Central authority in Baghdad, not regional governments. Last but not least the Kurds could get only 17% of Iraqi budget. They asked more than this but Sunni and Shia Arabs resisted. The proportion of Kurdish share will be discussed every consecutive year. On the Turkish side, The US administration does now offer Turkey military help against PKK. PKK is declared as the common enemy of Turkey and the US. Collective action of the US and Turkey against PKK increases the pressure on the Kurds to cooperative with Ankara. Improvement of bilateral relations is a must for stability in the Middle East and Iraq. The US does now need Turkey to contain Iran. Such developments led the Kurds to feel that the United States might once again leave them out in the cold, as it did during first Gulf War in 1991.

Prospects for Future

On the on hand, Shiites are not happy to see that the Sunnis are reintegrated to the Iraqi body politics and army. They are still afraid of the possibility of Sunni domination of Iraqi politics. They are reluctant to incorporate the Sunni soldiers into the Iraqi army. At the same time Iran is against the possibility of Iraq transforming into a centralized state with Sunnis playing the role of power brokering. In this regard, Turkish and Iranian policies are in conflict. The more centralized Iraq become, the happier Turkey becomes. For Iran, a more decentralized Iraq is much welcome. On the other hand, US lenience on Sunni Arabs is also motivated by the US concern to counterbalance the rising Iranian influence inside Iraq and the whole Middle East. The Sunni regimes of the region support this American policy within the framework of their goal to limit Iran’s influence. On the Kurdish side, there is a dissatisfaction to see that the Arab influence in Iraqi politics is increasing and supported by the United States.

The most important concern for the future is what might happen after the US leaves without the roots of any everlasting peace were built in Iraq. The strengthening of Sunni tribes might be perceived by the Shiites and Kurds as the most important challenge against their communal gains in the post war era. The US strategy resting on Sunni tribes might in the end result in the deepening of communal conflicts. The United States is now advised to ask the Iraqi groups to settle their differences before the withdrawal of American troops. Withdrawal should be tied to meeting of certain preconditions on the part of the Iraqi groups. Each actor appears to have been trying to gain time and consolidate their own gains before the US leaves. None of the conflicting parties in Iraq seems to be working hard for the unification of the country and establishment of a truly democratic state. In one way or the other the forecasting of Joseph Biden and Peter Galbraith are coming true, the soft portioning of Iraq along sectarian lines. For US to be able to start a healthy withdrawal and leave a stable Iraq behind in which no one power is dominating the main body politics or threatening the security of the country, the Status for Forces Agreement needs to be signed as soon as possible.

Why Iraq is Important for Turkey?

Turkey has historical responsibility for the maintenance of Iraq’s borders and any change of this structure will undoubtedly influence Turkey’s interests. However, the significance of Iraq does not only stem from the historical aspects, its relevance to Turkey does also emanate from Iraq’s geopolitical location. Whether Iraq is going to remain as a unitary state or morph into three new states, whether Iraq is going to operate as a strong centralized state or transform into a weak federal structure, whether Iraq is going to become a pro-Western secular country or turns into a theocratic state in the image of Iran are of significant questions with respect to Turkey’s regional interests in the Middle East.

In addition to historical and geopolitical factors, demographic issues make Iraq a crucial region for Turkey. Iraq’s population includes substantial number of Kurds and Turkmen, who have kinship relationship with Turkey’s own people. Such kinship relationship between the two populations denies Turkey the luxury of keeping itself immune from Iraq’s internal developments. Iraq is also a factor in Turkish bid for EU membership. Iraq’s future and Turkey’s responses to that will undoubtedly impact Turkey’s relations with the European Union and the US. And finally, the future of northern Iraq and the power vacuum there impacts Turkey’s fight against PKK.

Turkey’s Iraq policy during the 1990s

Iraq’s territorial integrity was considered as vitally important for the preservation of Turkey’s own security. Despite the repressive and authoritarian character of Saddam’s regime, the writ of Baghdad’s rule over the whole country was seen as the most important break on the separatist and secessionist claims of Kurds and Shiite groups. In the post-Saddam era Turkey became tremendously concerned with the political status of the Iraqi Kurdish groups. Turkey was also concerned with the possibility of the PKK benefiting from the lack of authority in northern Iraq in its efforts to organize terrorist attacks inside Turkey. While Kurdish groups increased their power and influence thanks to US support, Turkey gradually saw Iraq’s Turkmen community as a possible source that might potentially counterbalance the rising Kurdish influence. The existence of the Turkmen community in Iraq was also a concern in Turkey’s relations with Iraq. However, Turkey’s approach towards this particular issue was that Iraqi Turkmen were Iraq’s citizens and the improvement of their well-being depended on the nature of the relationship between Baghdad and this community.

Turkey’s Iraq Policy after the regime change

First of all, Iraq increasingly transformed into a weak/failed state during the 1990s. Iraq has now transformed into a place where different kinds of wars are waged simultaneously. On the one hand, Sunni insurgents fight the American occupiers; on the other Al-Qaeda terrorists fight both the US-led international coalition and Iraq’s mainly Shiite groups. Another struggle has been between the Shiite and Sunni groups. Another one is between the Kurds and Shiite on the one hand and Sunni groups on the other. Another war is currently waged between the US and pro-American Sunni regimes on the one hand and Iran on the other. While the main concern during the 1990s was Iraq’s explosion, it is now Iraq’s further implosion.

Secondly, the political future of Iraqi Kurds has increasingly become one of the key factors in Turkey’s own Kurdish problem than ever. The fear on the part of Ankara has been that if Iraq’s future were to reflect ethnic differences, the ethnicization of Kurdish question in Turkey might gain ground. Whether Turkey’s Kurds would be growingly attracted to the emerging political authority in northern Iraq has become a question that Turkey’s security policy makers do now take into account while defining Turkey’s national security interests. Political developments in northern Iraq have led the international community to pay more attention to the situation of Kurds of Turkey more than ever. At the same time the success of Turkey’s efforts to eliminate the PKK terrorism at home has been negatively impacted by the PKK’s increasing ability to use northern Iraq as a logistic area.

Thirdly, given that Turkey’s transformation in line with the premises of liberal-democracy is now considered to be the number one factor affecting Turkey’s chance of being admitted to the European Union, the more negatively Turkey’s security were impacted by the developments in northern Iraq, the less able Turkey has become to complete its democratization/Europeanization process. The continuation of the PKK terrorism appears to have slowed down Turkey’s democratization process, for in a securitized domestic environment the steps that need to be taken in the name of liberal democracy have increasingly been seen as threatening. Besides, Turkey’s exposition to growing security threats emanating from northern Iraq seems to have contributed to the EU’s reluctance to admit Turkey as a member. The EU public opinion does not want to see that the EU borders Iran, Syria and Iraq.

On the US- Turkish front, inevitably, the US occupation of Iraq has negatively affected Turkey’s relations with the United States. Despite all American attempts otherwise, Ankara has gradually come to the point that the current US government, under the influence of the neo-conservative ideology, has been punishing Turkey for its non-cooperation on the eve of the war in March 2003. The United States has been seen by increasing number of Turkey as a potential threat to Turkey’s security. Furthermore, the occupation of Iraq has also impacted the dynamics of balance of power politics in the Middle East mainly by contributing to the rise of Iran’s relative influence at the expense of Turkey. Even though Turkey would not like to see that she needs to increase her defense expenditure in order to counterbalance the rising Iranian power, Iran’s growing nuclear aspirations on the one hand and the declining of NATO’s security commitment on the other might lead eventually Turkey to reconsider its decades-long non-nuclearization policies.

As for the final status of the City of Kirkuk, Ankara has long argued that the referendum in Kirkuk needs to be postponed sometime in future. From Ankara’s perspective Kirkuk is a miniature of Iraq where people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds have been living for centuries and its final status should be decided by all Iraqis. Otherwise, the incorporation of Kirkuk, an oil-rich city, into the Iraqi Kurdistan region would likely increase the prospects of a civil war, for the majority of Iraqis strongly oppose any Kurdish control of the city. As for the shape of Iraq’s administrative structure, Ankara supports the idea of a federal Iraq that is based on geographical criteria, rather than ethnic and religious differences.

Alternative Turkish discourses towards he Kurds of northern Iraq

When we look at the attitudes towards Kurds of Northern Iraq we witness two alternative competing discourses; realist-exclusionist vs liberal integrationist

To the adherents of the first position, realist-exclusionist and Kemalists, which mainly consists of the members of establishment in politics and bureaucracy, Turkey’s number one priority, should be to prevent the emergence of an independent Kurdistan. In this regard, Turkey should never accord legitimacy to Iraqi Kurds by talking directly to them. Gradual integration with northern Iraq is dangerous, for this might accelerate the process of reawakening of Kurdish nationalism in Turkey, particularly in Kurdish populated areas. To this view the United States and Israel actively support the emergence of an independent Kurdish state in the hope that such a state would not only provide Israel and the US with the capability to install anti-ballistic missiles against Iran, but also act a US protégée in the region.

To the other position, liberal-integrationists and neo-Ottomanists, whose adherents consist of liberal intellectuals and pro-European circles, there is now a new status quo in Iraq and the only thing Turkey can do is to adjust its position to these new realities and to adopt a liberal integrationist approach towards the Iraqi Kurds. The Kurds of Iraq are Turkey’s true allies, particularly right after the influence of Shia Iran has increased in the region. The Kurds and Turks do share many common points, of which their western orientation and secular characteristics come first. While the Iraqi Constitution itself recognizes the political legitimacy of the Kurds, they ask what Turkey would gain from turning a blind eye to the Kurds of Iraq? The more Turkey eradicates the structural causes of the Kurdish problem at home through liberal-democratic reforms, the healthier relations with Iraqi Kurds would turn out to be. Turkey should not overstate the potential danger of rising Kurdish influence in Iraq, for the Kurds need Turkey more than Turkey needs the Kurds. Turkey is the only outlet for the transmission of Kirkuk oil to western markets. Turkey does now own 80 percent of the construction sector in the region. Without trade with Turkey, the life in northern Iraq would be extremely costly. Trying to make northern Iraq economically dependent on Turkey would not only benefit Turkey’s economy but also provide her with better capabilities to affect Kurdish political decisions. Just as the EU influenced the nature of economics and politics in Central and Eastern European countries through the enlargement strategy, Turkey might play a similar role vis-à-vis northern Iraq. The region provides Turkey with the chance to prove its growing European identity in the realm of foreign and security policy. It remains to be seen which position holds sway over Turkey’s approach towards Iraq and Iraqi Kurds.

The liberal integrationists are gaining the upper hand in this debate. The ongoing Turkish military involvement attests to this: Goal is limited to the eradication of PKK, great effort has been spent to convince the international community to the legitimacy of a military action against the PKK, the EU and US do now lend legitimacy to Turkey’s actions, political relations with Iraqi Kurdish leadership is improving, Talabani visit to Turkey, the volume of bilateral trade is increasing.

Latest Developments on the ground in Turkey-US-Kurds-Iraq Relations

Several positive and promising developments have been noted in Turkish-US relations as well as the relations between Turkey and Iraq. The American and Turkish governments mended their relations and began to cooperate. The US does now provide Turkey with intelligence with respect to PKK presence in northern Iraq. The new Turkish Chief of Staff underlined that Turkish-American intelligence cooperation is now perfect. On the Turkey- Iraq front, we have seen the official visits of the statesmen on both sides such as visit of The Iraqi President Talabani in Turkey in spring 2008 and visit of the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan in Iraq in July 2008. Also, Turkish President will soon visit Baghdad in official capacity. This diplomatic traffic yielded positive results. The parties signed a document whereby they agreed to establish the Higher Strategic Council. Both parties underlined the need for close cooperation against PKK. On the other hand, the local election in Turkey in 2009 and the increasing PKK-led terror violence in this context might negatively impact the improving security environment between Ankara and Baghdad-Erbil.

[1] Assoc. Prof. Bilkent University

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US Policy and the Iraq Time Bomb Prof. Dr. Hüseyin BAĞCI – 25 March 2002, Turkish News

US Policy and the Iraq Time Bomb

Prof. Dr. Hüseyin BAĞCI – 25 March 2002, Turkish News

When Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote his three consecutive articles in the National Interest in 2000 under the titles ‘Living with a New Russia,’ ‘Living with a New China,’ and ‘Living with a New Europa’ he was actually setting the new imperatives for U.S. foreign policy on how to deal with ‘those NEW power centers’ in a new security environment.

As one of the most well known and influential strategists in the United States together with Henry Kissinger during the Cold War years and in the post-Cold War period, Zbigniew Brzezinski appears now right in his definition of the hegemon United States, the likes of which history has never before experienced. Indeed, when Henry Kissinger published an article just a few months before Sept. 11, 2001, with the title ‘Does America need a Foreign Policy,’ he created many discussions as to the first signs of an anti-American coalition of some of the great powers starting to emerge. China, Russia, the European Union and India seem not to be very happy with U.S. conduct of international politics.

As the ‘exceptional hegemon’ in the new world order, the United States is recognizing terrorism as a global threat and finds it necessary to fight it with every means. It believes that liberal democracies are challenged by terrorism and terrorism must be fought on a global scale alone or with an ‘international coalition.’ Of course, the United States needs a global coalition to fight terrorism and this is why President Bush is sending Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld to different parts of the globe to seek allies. It is not the year 1945 or 1989, or even 1991; Sept. 11 was a turning point where Henry Kissinger’s question can be answered. The United States needs a foreign policy, and this will be not easy.

Euroasia is the future of international politics. The security of the Eurasian landmass is solely America’s responsibility according to the U.S. administration. Indeed, Eurasia is the future, but poverty in Asia is the biggest challenge for all international actors. Usama bin Laden and his al-Qaida is only one among the expected challenges to the international and global order. To define some countries as ‘the axis of evil’ does not solve the problem. Look at what Russia, China and India have done following Sept. 11. None of them can openly take an anti-American position, therefore, they do not stress that the United States is doing wrong. China in particular is on good terms with the United States because China is bowling from inside [sic]. Unemployment is a big problem for all the countries in Asia and if China has bad news to spread that means it is bad for all the others too. How to contain China is indeed an ‘American problem’ now. Russia is also unhappy with the American presence in Central Asia and the Caucasus but has to appease the United States, like Britain and France did to Germany before World War II. Russia’s new alliance with China and India is a tactical one and Russia will further impose its policies over Eurasian just as before, though it will be not so easy.

Russia’s view that ‘failed states are not necessarily rouge states’ is important because Russia supports Iran, Iraq and North Korea. Therefore, Russia is not alone in this case. The EU is also having similar views and in particular in the last few years EU countries follow more and more ‘pro-Arab policies.’ The result is that Russia is more and more a reliable partner for the EU in global politics and no doubt the U.S. administration is not happy with this. In particular, French Foreign Minister Huber Vedrin leads this view and the gap between the United States and the EU on the definition of the meaning of international terrorism is widening and NATO has already been declared a ‘corpse.’ NATO enlargement has also lost speed and this will create some new discussions in Europe in November when NATO enlargement will be the main issue at the Prague summit.

Within this global context, discussions in Turkey on EU membership and the U.S. search for an international coalition dominated the political agenda over the last few weeks. Indeed, the ‘anti-EU block’ in Turkey gets intellectual support from former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whose book will be published in April. In her book, as some excerpts were published in several newspapers, she favors more U.S.-oriented policy than the EU and sees the EU as a ‘vanity of intellectuals.’ In her words, the EU is finished and will not be successful. No doubt, this view will be very much used in Turkey for domestic consumption and Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yılmaz will face stronger opposition. The different views of the Motherland Party (ANAP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) also prove that the coalition is still not harmonious and Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit is barely managing the existence of the coalition. The good old days for the coalition are over.

The visit of U.S. Vice President Cheney also showed that Turkey is part of U.S. global politics and the United States in security issues is more reliable than the EU. The meeting between Cheney and the Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Kıvrıkoğlu with Foreign Minister İsmail Cem and State Undersecretary Uğur Ziyal is a unique one and it shows what the United States is interested in.

Turkey is a key country for any U.S. intervention in Iraq and Turkey’s many interests are at stake and Turkey cannot remain indifferent to regional developments. Cheney left Turkey with a positive view, leaving behind it ‘a reliable ally’ in regional and global politics. The Turkish government’s view that it is against U.S. intervention in Iraq is not so important! None of the 11 other countries that Cheney visited also said yes but this ‘no’ means yes if the United States intervenes. Which country or countries can prevent it? Obviously none.

It was a fact-finding tour to tell countries what the United States is intending to do. It was not asking for their permission for such an operation. Next week, the conference in Lebanon of the Arab League will take place and let’s see what will come out of it. U.S. policy is this time very different from the Cold War and Iraq has limited time to meet the expectations of the United Nations. Saddam Hussein and Iraq have gained time, but how long it can go on like this an open question. There is a time bomb in the Middle East and it is ticking faster than ever.

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Are Saddam Hussein’s days numbered? Prof. Dr. Hüseyin BAĞCI – 11 February 2002, Turkish Daily News

Are Saddam Hussein’s days numbered?

Prof. Dr. Hüseyin BAĞCI – 11 February 2002, Turkish Daily News

Turkey is once again in the line of focus since the “letter exchange” between Turkish Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein became public two days ago when the translation of Saddam’s letter was sent to the Turkish press. In his letter, Saddam gives a “lecture on real politics” to his counterpart that Turkey should not be following the same policy as the United States. Indeed, Saddam Hussein has given the same lecture to the Turkish side as he did in spring 1990, when then Turkish Prime Minister Yildirim Akbulut paid an official visit to Baghdad. At that time, Saddam said to the Turkish delegation in an undiplomatic way that the Cold War had ended, NATO would be dissolved and that Turkey should be very careful. It was considered as an open threat to Turkey by President Turgut Özal, who was against Saddam since that moment, and Prime Minister Yildirim Akbulut did not respond and was criticized very strongly after his return.

Saddam has “Turcophobia” like many other regional countries, and this is understandable within the historical context, which concerns Ottoman-Arab relations. But, the main reason for Saddam to be against Turkey was the Turkish support for Prime Minister Nuri al-Said in the ‘50s, who sided with Turkey to establish the Baghdad Pact in 1955 together with Iran, Great Britain and Israel. When the military coup d’etat took place in 1958 against Nuri al-Said in Iraq, where al-Said was mercilessly slaughtered by military officers when he tried to escape from the palace in women’s clothing, it was clear that the Baath regime should be kept at a distance. Despite the fact that Prime Minister Ecevit has always been sympathetic to Saddam, he was described as “Third Worldist” for his policies by Turkish circles.

When Bülent Ecevit visited him just before the Gulf War in his capacity as a journalist, even then Saddam was not giving any clues that he would leave Kuwait without using force. It means that he was relying very much on Soviet support and his oil revenues. Like Ecevit, he had another sympathizer in the Soviet Union at that time with the name Yevgeni Primakov, an Orientalist and journalist who had been a close friend of Saddam. Even Yasser Arafat supported him, but Arafat is now paying the price for this wrong assessment. But President Turgut Özal had a different perception of Saddam than Bülent Ecevit, and 10 years later it is very clear that Özal was right. Özal was very pro-U.S. in his policy orientation and was always saying in his official statements that Saddam is a danger to peace in the Middle East and should be neutralized politically.

When Iraqi forces were losing and leaving Kuwait in 1991, it was Özal who advised U.S. President George Bush to press on to Baghdad and replace him immediately. However, George Bush did not do it and Özal insisted that it would be the greatest mistake the United States would ever make in the Middle East, not just for now but also for the future. Indeed, this proves that the U.S. administration was wrong. People like Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Vice President Cheney and Secretary of State Powell were all in the U.S. administration at that time and it is now those same people who will try again. Therefore, the conditions changed and no doubt Saddam is now internationally much more stronger than he has ever been in the last 10 years. Even more so since Sept. 11.

The mental and political change of Ecevit has to be studied very carefully now. His letter to Saddam was correct and necessary. But, he and Foreign Minister Ismail Cem knew exactly what kind of answer they would receive. It was more than a political scandal when Cem refused to divulge the contents of the letter Saddam sent. But, the Turkish public is not the same as 10 years ago, and this time there is no room for manipulation.

The United States is determined to attack Iraq sooner or later, despite the fact that  it doesn’t have an international coalition behind it. In the words of Donald Rumsfeld, “The mission defines the coalition, not the coalition the mission.” This is true, and Turkey is a decisive country for an international coalition and military success whatever scenario one should think. It means that Turkey remains on the side of the United States unconditionally, and Ecevit is the most important realizer of this mission at the moment. The “letter exchange” is also a game for making very clear to the domestic and international public that Turkey, under no condition, will side with Iraq.

Last week in the Munich Security Conference, more than 350 experts from around the world gathered together, where I also sat as an international observer during the two-day conference, how Turkey was very much put forward by Paul Wolfowitz, the number two in the U.S. Defense Ministry and Senator John McCain, Arizona, as the country which has to be supported by all means and by Europeans, including full membership of the European Union. No doubt Ecevit is a much desired person for U.S. policies in the region, and Mr. Ecevit is indeed on the U.S. side, of course not without any reason. Northern Iraq is a key issue for Turkey’s security policy and a replacement of Saddam will create new conditions there. Whether Saddam will be replaced or not, that is a question of time, but this time the issue is more serious. Many EU countries, Russia, China, India are against any U.S. military intervention.

This was also very clear during the Munich Conference. However, the fact is that a new regional order will be designed and in this design there is no place for Saddam. This process will take place, but there will be no return as far as one can analyze it. The price will certainly be higher than 10 years ago. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld asked the U.S. Congress to provide an extra $10 billion. It means some extra support in addition to the $376 billion defense budget. The U.S. administration is more determined. The United States is the greatest world power that the rest of the world has experienced on such a scale. Whether Europe is with it or against it, it does not matter, as Richard Perle said directly to EU politicians during the Munich Conference.

What Turkey may do when the operation starts is not an open question anymore, on the contrary, Turkey has to act with the United States. Another chance will not be given. Saddam has played his cards very well up until now, but time is working against him. It will not be long until he is replaced. Can he change the pace of history? It seems not anymore. The other big powers will only be spectators if this operation starts. Any examples in the past, look at Roman history! At least Ecevit has read this before.

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