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Dispute Over Turkish Troop Deployment to Iraq Centers on Location - 2003-10-16


The Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq met Thursday with the Iraqi Governing Council to discuss the council's concerns that Turkish troops might join coalition forces in Iraq. The issue seems to boil down to where Turkish troops would be deployed in Iraq.

The issue of Turkish troops joining coalition forces in Iraq drew criticism from the U.S.-appointed Iraqi governing council when first proposed by the United States several weeks ago.

Thursday, the Coalition Provisional Authority met behind closed doors with the Iraqi Governing Council in Baghdad in continuing negotiations aimed at resolving any differences.

Governing Council member Yodamin Genna says the concern centers on the possible involvement of not just Turkish troops, but military personnel from any neighboring country. He says, for example, if violence broke out in Iraq there is concern troops from neighboring countries might not remain neutral.

"There are some differences in the views of some members trying to avoid the troops coming here because, generally, we think that neighboring countries may have some sensitivities and can't be neutral in Iraqi issues if they are here," he said.

Officials with the Coalition Provisional Authority said negotiations are centered on where Turkish troops would be stationed once in Iraq, not on whether they should be allowed to enter the country. The CPA has given the Governing Council assurances that Turkish troops would not be deployed in sensitive areas of Iraq, including the north where the Kurdish population has long feared Turkish intervention.

In what has been widely seen as a direct result of last week's decision by the Turkish parliament to send troops to Iraq, a suicide car bomber attacked the Turkish mission in Baghdad Tuesday. There were several people injured. The only person killed was the suicide bomber.

Despite the attack, Wamidh Nadhmy, a political science professor at Baghdad University, says most Iraqis, other than Kurds in the north, wouldn't be concerned about the presence of Turkish troops in Iraq. Mr. Nadhmy says the average Iraqi has too many other things to worry about.

"Most people are thinking of their employment or how to feed their children, bring medicine to their patients and also because of the troubled security and lack of tranquility in the country, this is the main interest of the population," he said.

However, Mr. Nadhmy says he believes the solution most Iraqis would find favorable is a U.N. Security Council resolution that would place the responsibility of foreign forces in Iraq under U.N. authority.

Meanwhile, talks between the Iraqi Governing Council and the Coalition Provisional Authority on Turkey's military presence in Iraq will continue.

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