Turkey's Price To Support
Bush's Iraq War: $25 Billion

By Caroline Daniel in Washington Financial Times

The Bush administration was pressed yesterday to offer Turkey economic assistance at a White House meeting by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, leader of the governing Justice and Development party, as part of the price of any military co-operation in a possible conflict in Iraq.
Turkish officials in Washington expressed concern about the economic impact of an invasion and said they would seek economic aid from the US in meetings with President George W. Bush and other senior US officials. "Turkey suffered a lot from the Gulf crisis, and rumours of an invasion of Iraq are already affecting the Turkish economy, tourism and international trade . . .the figure the Americans have been talking about is not our figure," one diplomat said.
Philip Gordon, a defence analyst at Brookings, said: "Turkey has about $5bn in military debt to the US, and that will be on the table. Turkey is throwing big numbers around, of about $25bn in assistance, but that does not seem realistic. They will be wanting to address foreign military sales from the US, economic aid and IMF support. If the US wants ground troops in Turkey, they will have to pay a price for it."
Turkish military support is considered vital by the US administration and military analysts for any potential invasion of Iraq. However, last week when Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defence, was in Turkey, he did not receive wholehearted public endorsement for the level of co-operation the US could expect.
Loren Thompson, defence analyst at the Lexington Institute in Washington, said: "The single most important thing is unfettered US access to the Incirlik air base in south central Turkey.
"In addition they want Turkey to allow the use of their territory as a staging area for ground operations, most likely a small unit of about 4,000 personnel. The third most important thing is that the Turks show some constraint in how they deal with the Kurds on both sides of the border."
The previous Turkish administration had drawn up a plan to create a buffer zone within Iraq to keep refugees within Iraq's borders.


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