NATO Partners Agree to Train Iraqi Troops

NATO Partners Agree to Train Iraqi Troops
Jun 28, 2004

Mike Allen

ISTANBUL, June 27 — NATO countries will set aside their objections
and agree Monday to provide emergency military training for the
interim government of Iraq, White House officials said Sunday.

Two weeks ago, President Jacques Chirac of France warned against “any
meddling by NATO in this region.” But responding to a request from
Ayad Allawi, the prime minister of the interim Iraqi government that
will assume political authority Wednesday, negotiators for the 26 NATO
countries have agreed to give the alliance a direct role in providing
military training and said they would call on members to increase
their support for the new government.

Details of the agreement, including who will be trained, where and
when, still must be worked out by the governments, officials said. But
the White House described the move as giving President Bush the
international imprimatur he had long sought for post-invasion

Bush and the other leaders of NATO countries are scheduled to finalize
the tentative training agreement Monday at the start of a two-day
summit in the largest city in Turkey, which borders Iraq. Faced with a
wave of bombings and more than 40,000 anti-Bush demonstrators, Turkish
officials deployed warships outside waterfront hotels and 23,000
police and soldiers to protect the 3,000 government officials and more
than 20,000 journalists attending the summit.

The White House views the agreement on training for Iraq, which
follows NATO’s decision to take over an international security force
in Afghanistan, as a crucial step in its effort to guide the alliance
away from its historic emphasis on the defense of its own territory
and instead toward taking the offensive against terrorism around the

Bush, appearing with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer,
said the United States was “hoping to change the mission of NATO so it
meets the threats of the 21st century, and we’re going to work
together to help make sure NATO is configured militarily to meet the
threats of the 21st century, as well.”

Bush plans to use the centerpiece address of his five-day overseas
trip to hold up the secular democracy in Turkey, NATO’s only
majority-Muslim member, as a model for Iraq and the greater Middle
East. Bush tried to make the same point by holding a meeting today
with Turkish religious leaders that included a rabbi, an Islamic
cleric and an Armenian Orthodox patriarch.

Before Allawi sent the letter, the White House received private
assurances from NATO members that his request would be granted,
according to aides traveling with Bush. The administration has had to
dramatically lower its sights, however. Earlier this month, Bush
sought foreign troops, NATO involvement and debt relief for Iraq at a
meeting of the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations in Sea
Island, Ga., but was rebuffed at various times by France, Germany and

Diplomats said that to win the endorsement of Germany and France, the
agreement allows for the possibility that some of the training will
take place outside Iraq. At the insistence of the Bush administration,
the operation will be a formal NATO mission rather than a project of
individual countries.

James Appathurai, the NATO spokesman, said in a telephone interview
that alliance ambassadors reached the initial agreement “without any
sort of dramatic debate” because they “share a common view that we
should assist Iraq as much and as quickly as possible so that it can
provide for its own security and so that coalition forces will not be

Bush’s national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, said from the
Turkish capital Ankara on “Fox News Sunday” that “NATO will urge that
this all happen on a very urgent basis, that this isn’t a long
planning exercise, that really they’re in a phase of looking to quick
implementation of these plans.”

Bush said Saturday during a news conference in Ireland that a
functioning Iraqi police force and military was his most important
criterion for determining that the U.S. mission in Iraq was complete,
and he suggested that robust NATO support would mean U.S. troops could
come home sooner.

Bush, who had to change his deployment plans before the war when the
Turkish parliament voted against allowing the use of its bases for a
northern front, appeared Sunday with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan and said he appreciated “so very much the example your country
has set on how to be a Muslim country and, at the same time, a country
which embraces democracy and rule of law and freedom.”

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, also in Istanbul, met Sunday
with the foreign and defense ministers of Iraq’s interim government.

Bush shook his head and replied “no” when asked whether the capture of
three Turkish hostages by militants in Iraq had cast a pall over the
summit. Bush did not speak at length about the hostage-taking, because
of what aides called a desire to avoid encouraging the kidnappers. But
a senior administration official who briefed reporters said Bush
expressed sympathy to Turkish officials and “made clear that this
episode demonstrates the kind of an enemy we are fighting, a
totalitarian enemy which terrorizes and seeks to export chaos to the
world, as well as chaos in Iraq.”

Rumsfeld compared the recent attacks in Iraq to the Tet offensive of
1968, a turning point in American public opinion about the Vietnam
War, when the Vietnamese communists seized cities throughout South
Vietnam. He told ABC that the insurgents had clearly studied “the idea
that if you go out and kill a lot of innocent people, even though
militarily you achieve nothing, the psychological effect through the
television, through newspapers is that they’re there, that they’re
noisy, that they’re achieving something big — which is what the
effect of Tet was.”

Washington Post Staff Writer

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS