Turkish expert: U.S., Turkey likely to reach secret military agreement

Azerbaijan, Baku, Sept.3 / Trend, U.Sadikhova /

During the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen's visit to Ankara Turkey and the U.S. can reach a secret agreement to use the Turkish territory for deployment of the U.S. military equipment withdrawn from Iraq, the Turkish analyst Hilmi Ozev believes.  

"The U.S. and Turkey can agree to use the Turkish territory for redeployment of U.S. troops withdrawn from Iraq, but this is unlikely to take place openly in view of the upcoming  referendum," Ozev, expert at the Turkish Asian Center for Strategic Studies (TASAM) told Trend over the phone from Istanbul.

Mullen arrived in Ankara Sept.3, where he will meet with his Turkish counterpart Isik Kosaner and Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul, and discuss withdrawal of the U.S. troops from Iraq, the situation in Afghanistan and issues related to the U.S. military base Incirlik located in Turkey, Dogan agency reports. One of the main topics of discussion will be provision of the U.S. military base in Turkey with heavy machinery leaving Iraq, the Turkish media reported.

Sept.2 the U.S. officially declared an end to the military operations in Iraq and withdrew 90,000 troops from the country. Fewer than 50,000 U.S. troops, who by late 2012 will ensure security of the U.S. civilian specialists and diplomatic corps, as well as train the Iraqi security forces, remain in Iraq.

The U.S. brought troops into Iraq in March 2003 under the pretext of a need to topple the Saddam Hussein regime, which allegedly was arming his army with weapons of mass destruction, never found so far. Turkey then refused to allow its territory to bring the U.S. troops into Iraq.

According to several Turkish media outlets, Mullen's visit to Ankara took place after the talks with Turkish diplomats in the White House last week, regarding the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and the troop surge in Afghanistan.

Turkish analyst Ozev believes that the U.S. and Turkey will not take radical steps in military cooperation on the threshold of the referendum next week and the upcoming parliamentary elections in Turkey in 2011.

According to him, the Turks and Americans will act secretly in order not to stir up the public opinion for a week before the historic referendum in Turkey.
The U.S. and Turkey, which is a member of NATO, have an agreement on the use of airspace.

Ozev says that Mullen's visit to Turkey at this stage is related with the situation in the Middle East.

"The U.S. admiral's visits should be regarded as a message to other regional countries," the Turkish expert said.

Washington wants to once again demonstrate Turkey's importance as an ally in the region, particularly after the withdrawal of the troops from Iraq, because the seven years' war stroke a great deal on the U.S. image in the Middle East.

"The U.S. is sending a signal that other countries should follow their example and work closely with Ankara. The need for Turkey as a strategic ally intensified more after the end of hostilities in Iraq," Ozev says.

The maximum number of troops in Iraq reached 170,000 people. The operations were attended by over 49 countries at various times. The largest contingents were from the United Kingdom (about 45,000), Italy (about 3,200 people), Poland (about 2,500 people), Georgia (about 2,000 people) and Australia (about 2,000). Only the U.S. contingent remained in Iraq from August 2009.

According to the CNN Turk channel, during Mullen's visit another topic on the agenda will be a joint combat of Washington and Ankara against the terrorists of the Kurdistan Workers' Party in Turkey. According to the channel's website, establishment of a tripartite mechanism between Turkey, Iraq and the U.S. in combating PKK will be discussed during the talks.

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