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10 10 2007 - Armenian bill threatens Turkish-US military deals
Turkish Weekly<=o:p>
Turkish-US military =eals threatened by Armenian Bill
Tuesday , 09 =ctober 2007
Armenian bill threatens Turkish-US military deals
Any possible Turkish retaliation to an Armenian "genocide" =esolution that the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs is =xpected to approve tomorrow is said to be likely to expand to include lucrative =rms procurement deals between Turkey and the US. =o:p>
Turkey has long rejected the genocide tag for the World =ar I deaths of Anatolian Armenians. But this has not prevented over 20 =ations from recognizing the events as genocide, and now the Committee on Foreign =ffairs is highly likely to adopt the resolution during its scheduled meeting =omorrow.

If the resolution is approved by the committee, it would be up to House =peaker Nancy Pelosi to decide whether to bring it to the House floor for a =ote. Despite intense efforts launched by both the Turkish government and the =st1:place w:st="on">US administration, Pelosi is said to intend to bring it before the House. =br>
But the passage of the “genocide resolution” by the House =lone (though it is not legally binding for the administration) is likely to =ave a serious negative impact on the Turkish public and to further affect the =lready damaged Turkey-US relations.

The most vulnerable areas in terms of possible Turkish retaliation are =aid to be limiting usage of the Habur border gate with Iraq for US goods, =ncluding oil and military spare parts, as well as limiting or even closing the =DDncirlik airbase in southern Turkey to US access. Ýncirlik has been heavily used by the US for its operations both in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

Any Turkish action to limit or close both Habur and Ýncirlik to =st1:country-region w:st="on">US use will jeopardize =st1:country-region w:st="on">US combat operations in Iraq, said an Ankara-based =estern diplomat.

Arms deals to be affected

Another significant region of cooperation between Turkey and the US said to be at risk from the genocide resolution is arms procurement. =st1:country-region w:st="on">Turkey was one of the leading countries =n 2006 for US arms sales, totaling an estimated $2.1 billion.

Those US sales to =st1:country-region w:st="on">Turkey have mostly taken place in the =orm of foreign military sales credits that did not involve any international =ender being opened by Ankara. Turkey signed an =rms deal based on foreign military sales with the US worth over $13 billion =ast year that involved Turkish purchase of an additional 30 F 16 fighters and =urkish participation in the US-led Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) project.

Turkey’s Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry (SSM) has in the meantime =ased contract terms and conditions for the purchase of arms through =nternational tenders -- conditions that were mainly affecting US companies due to the Turkish request for the transfer of high technology which ran contrary =o US legal restrictions.

This relatively flexible Turkish policy has opened the way for US =ompanies to re-enter the competition for Turkish arms procurement tenders. A =ecision to take the genocide resolution to the US House may prompt the SSM to =arden contract terms and conditions for the US companies.

For example, US firm Sikorsky, which came close to negotiations with SSM =or the sale of around 70 S-70 Black Hawk helicopters to Turkey may lose this =ender as a result of a possible Turkish retaliation to the resolution, said a =enior Turkish defense industry source.

Turkey had been planning to make a final decision on the acquisition of =ultipurpose helicopters some time in November, the month that US House may vote on =he genocide resolution.

Similarly, the chance of US companies succeeding in Turkey’s $1.4 billion acquisition of four long-range air and missile defense =ystems may decrease, and Turkey may instead opt for the Russian S-400 missiles that Moscow is said to be planning to =ffer in response to the Turkish tender.

If the fact that almost half of the Turkish Air Forces generals are in =avor of the Russian missiles is taken into consideration, the adoption of the =enocide resolution will further weight this bid in favor of the Russians, said =he same senior Turkish defense industry sources.

US Lockheed Martin and Raytheon are bidding in Turkey’s long-range =issile project with a combination of Patriot 2 and Patriot 3 missiles under =oreign military sales conditions.

PKK attack may heighten Turkish emotions

Many Ankara-based Western diplomats fear that the latest Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) attack over the past weekend in Þýrnak in the Southeast, which killed 13 Turkish soldiers, just three days before =he expected deliberations on the genocide resolution in the Committee on =oreign Affairs will heighten Turkish emotions.

Since the attack Turkey’s possible cross-border operation in northern Iraq to crack down on PKK terrorists has come to the agenda again. Turkey has long been accusing the US of not taking action against PKK bases in northern Iraq, from which terrorists have been infiltrating into Turkey to stage their =iolent attacks.

US inaction against =he PKK in northern Iraq =oupled with a potential genocide resolution may make Turkey turn more emotional and lead it to take tougher retaliatory measures =gainst the US, said a Western diplomat.


Annette Melikian

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