US troops unloading in Turkey despite Parliament refusal

This story has essentially zero coverage in the US media, but the US is unloading troops in Turkey despite the vote against it in the Turkish Parliament:

For the past week it has been unloading armaments, including Patriot missiles, at the port of Iskenderun -- an apparently illegal move sanctioned by the military dependent on the U.S.

According to Article 92 of the Turkish Constitution, parliament must give approval for the basing of a foreign power's military within the borders of the Turkish Republic.

The official line is that arms and materiel are waiting to be off-loaded and anything that has been unloaded is part of the already-approved upgrading of Turkish bases and ports. A Turkish politician who tried to enter the Iskenderun port was turned away by U.S. personnel and the Turkish military said his safety could not be guaranteed if he tried to re-enter to inspect the equipment.

CNN Turk reported that U.S. Patriot missile defense systems were being unloaded in Iskenderun Wednesday morning, and intended for the southeast Anatolian town of Batman. Another report said rocket launchers were being unloaded. Arms and equipment have not been moved out of the port areas.

CNN International broadcast a shot of one of the U.S. ships that is docked in Iskenderun. Wider shots - broadcast for the past week on numerous Turkish television stations -- show hundreds of military vehicles that already have been off-loaded.

Haberturk, a television station, reports that three American ships anchored at the port in Iskenderun and are unloading their contents.

There is confirmation from several other sources: The SacBee, BBC.

What the US military is doing is, in collusion with the Turkish military (which greatly desired the aid packagae/bribe that the US promised for cooperation), creating "facts on the ground". Like settlements in the West Bank, this strategy creates a tangible reality which then adds to the sense of inevitability that can then be invoked for further pressure.

Already Turkish legislators are swaying from their positions. NPR this morning did a story about how the public, which polls at 95% against war, is being asked loaded questions in new polls lke, "if war is inevitable, shouldn't Turkey cooperate?" trying to create an atmosphere where the Parliament can vote for US action without seeming to directly contradict the wish of the Turkjish people. Naturally, they are invoking fear of a Kurdish uprising, to play off of the public's fears.

Make no mistake, if Turkey does authorize the US and becomes involved, then the Kurds will suffer and be crushed. This is the central goal and concern of Turkey regarding the entire issue of Iraq, it dominates the local politics and teh entire discussion of Iraq is hinged on that issue. The off-loading of US troops is part of a calculated campaign to influence the debate and take advantage of those fears, to try and circumvent the will of the Turkish people. It will probably work.

UPDATE: more details and reports: Palestine Chronicle (with photo), Islam Online. Video footage shows the equipment to include trucks and troop transports, and battle-ready commandos.

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