Snatch and Grab for the Spoils of War
By Maree Howard
Plans to invade Iraq have been thrown into disarray as the Turks and the Kurds, key partners for the northern-front of the invasion, begin vying for spoils after the war to the point of rummaging through Ottoman Empire archives for the deeds and certificates to prove ownership of land and resources before Iraq was created after World War I. Maree Howard writes.
A huge spanner has been thrown into the war plans of both Bush and Blair as the new Turkish Government performed a spectacular about-face with respect to their plans for Iraq and its post-Saddam aftermath.
Scoop's Mid-East intelligence sources report flurries of behind-the-scenes diplomatic activity have been going on for many days.
The main problem is that the Turks were dismayed by the paramount leadership role the Americans assigned to Kurdish representatives at the conference of Iraqi opposition leaders that took place in London in December.
They also took note of the political and military preparations for self-rule being advanced in Kurdistan. The Turks believe that the Kurds are on course for independence, not just autonomy - a development Turkey will never accept.
The dispute escalated further when senior US military officers visiting Ankara asked how far the Turkish Army intended to advance into northern Iraq. They were told that the Turkish Army intended to keep moving forward - even as far as Baghdad.
British defence Minister Geoffrey Hoon was told the same thing after he arrived in Ankara to try and settle the dispute.
That upset the Kurds who are wanting an independent state along with their claim to the northern-Iraq oil fields.
Meanwhile, a Turkish government team is rummaging through old Ottoman Empire archives looking for documentation to prove Turkish ownership of the oilfields before World War I. Scoop has been told they intend pressing their claims.
Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gull, whose Justice and Development Party was elected in a landside last November, is doing the rounds of the Arab capitals in search of support of Ankara's latest stance.
The Turkish Army is already laying siege to Iraqi Kurdistan interruping the flow of imported foodstuffs. Travellers to Kurdistan must now go through Syria or Iran. The Turks have thrown-up roadblocks and are searching Kurdish vehicles with Kurdish leader Barzani being warned by Turkey that the Kurds had better beware of making enemies because any wrong move will bring Turkish military reprisal.
Bringing Turkey and the Kurds back into line is essential if the vital northern flank of the warfront is not to be disabled before and during the conflict. The allied forces could well end up not only fighting Saddam Hussein but also having to seperate two old enemies. There will be huge financial aid concessions offered to Turkey and the Kurds to try and solve the dispute.
Apart from the Iraqi oil, Bush Jnr also wants revenge for what the CIA believes was a Saddam Hussein-inspired assassination attempt when someone shot at Bush Snr while he was visiting Kuwait after Gulf War I.
Bush and Blair plan to meet at Camp David on
31 January. But that meeting will have nothing to do with
the UN resolutions, state of the nation speeches or
photo-opportunities. It has everything to do with a huge
rift that has developed and thrown the war plans and the
timelines into disarray.