NATO moves to help Turkey join U.S. invasion

Fred Feldman ffeldman at
Sun Feb 16 20:55:06 MST 2003


BRUSSELS, Feb. 16 - Resolving a bitter dispute that pitted the United States
against France and Germany over military plans on Iraq, NATO agreed tonight
to an American request to supply Turkey with equipment to defend itself in
the event of a war to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

The settlement was reached at NATO headquarters in Brussels after several
days of tough negotiations amid mounting concern that the alliance might
rupture in the leadup to a possible war.

Some officials said they hoped that the NATO agreement could pave the way
for resolving the much more contentious dispute over authorizing the use of
force against Iraq at the United Nations Security Council. For now, however,
European and American officials were pleased that one of the most serious
internal splits in NATO's history had been patched up.
"Alliance solidarity has prevailed," said George Robertson, the NATO
secretary general.
While the NATO decision brought widespread relief throughout the alliance,
there continued to be signs today of difficulty in enlisting Turkey's
support for a war. Senior Turkish officials said the government might have
to delay a vote scheduled for Tuesday in the Turkish Parliament on whether
to allow American combat troops to use bases in Turkey for possible attacks
on Iraq.
And in a sign of possible fraying of support for the United States in the
Middle East, a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo broke up today
after failing to set a date for an emergency Arab summit meeting to press
Mr. Hussein to comply with the United Nations disarmament demands.

The NATO dispute was resolved when it was agreed to have the military staff
of the NATO Defense Planning Council, which does not include France, make
plans for Turkey's defense, specifically by sending Awacs air reconnaissance
planes, Patriot missiles and chemical and biological warfare defense teams
to Turkey.
France had objected to such a step on the grounds that the Security Council
had not yet authorized the use of force against Iraq. Shifting the decision
to the Planning Council rather than NATO itself was a way of circumventing
French opposition.
Germany went along with the compromise, and the last holdout, Belgium,
agreed to go along under pressure from other NATO members. Belgium dropped
its long-held demand that any NATO decision be linked to authorization of
force by the Security Council.

After tonight's announcement, France, Germany and Belgium issued a joint
statement reiterating their opposition to military action unless authorized
by the Council.

Despite the NATO breakthrough, there were no signs today that the council
dispute was closer to being resolved.
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