No link to the story yet, but Drudge reports that Turkey will allow US ground forces to operate from their country. Link when it becomes available.
The news shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Yes, Turkey angled for too much money. Yes, the new Turkish government is more religious than we’d like. Yes, Bush and Powell could have handled Turkish concerns more deftly.
But then there’s the inevitable trump card of Turkish politics: The Army.
Since the founding of the Ataturk republic after the First World War, the military has had a constitutional and traditional role in protecting the people from a government that couldn’t always be trusted to act in the nation’s best interests. By such messy measures can a young democracy be in an underdeveloped nation be somewhat protected. Several times, the Army has legally moved in to remove corrupt or ineffective governments from power.
Is it a good solution? No. But, generally, it beats all the other possibilities.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Turkey’s military is pro-war. They know all too well what this Iraq War will cost them — in dollars, in renewed Kurdish problems, in humanitarian relief, etc. But they are more aware than their masters in Ankara how important good relations are with the US.
You can bet there was a lot of talk (and perhaps a few warnings) between the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Ministry over allowing US forces to pass through. And, as usual, the side with the bigger battalions won.
UPDATE: Here’s the link to the one-line AP release. More later, I assume.