Gates says in his memoirs he warned Turkish PM over Iran.
Gates, who served as Pentagon chief from 2006 to 2011 under US President Barack Obama and his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, published his memoirs titled "Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War" on Tuesday.
When Gates visited Turkey in February 2010 and talked about the Iranian nuclear issue, Prime Minister Erdoy-an seemed eager to protect the Iranians, according to the book.
Gates said he felt he made very little progress with Erdoy-an because Erdoy-an was very cautious about doing anything that might provoke the Iranians.
According to Gates, Erdoy-an defended Iran's peaceful nuclear ambitions and was against more sanctions against Iran.
Using diplomatic language, Gates says he warned Erdoy-an that if Iran continued its nuclear ambitions, the proliferation of nuclear arms in the region would be inevitable, therefore increasing the possibility of an Israeli military operation and the risk of a war in Turkey's region. He also told Erdoy-an that the international community needed to continue the sanctions on Iran to push the country to return to the negotiation table on the nuclear issue.
In his book Gates also said that, in 2007, Turks who wanted to stop the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorists crossing from Iraq to Turkey had launched a series of air and land operations against the PKK across the border and that the situation was very close to getting out of control. According to Gates' book, then-Commander of the Multinational Forces in Iraq David Petraeus tried to get the Turks to give information to the Americans in advance of any cross-border operations so that the Turks and Americans would not accidentally fight against each other. The book said the Turks occasionally gave information about those operations but that most of the time the information about a cross-border operation came after the fact.
Some of the military operations by Turks were very close to the Iranian border, according to the book, and more than one time Iranian military aircraft had already taken off. Gates said in his book that one of the worries of the US was the possibility that the Iranians might not be able to differentiate Turkish and American aircraft.
The cross-border operations by Turkey lasted a few months, including a big military operation in late February 2008, right before Gates' visit to Ankara. Gates said in his book that the Turkish government was intensely criticized by the Turkish public over not being more aggressive against the PKK. Gates said his message to the Turks was to stop the cross-border operations and withdraw the Turkish troops.
Gates said not being able to help the Turks effectively in the fight against PKK terrorists and other bilateral issues caused a regression in bilateral relations between Turkey and the US. To mend ties with Turkey, then-US President George W. Bush came up with a comprehensive cooperation plan and offered it to Prime Minister Erdoy-an, Gates said. The plan included cooperation on intelligence over monitoring the borders and making it easier for the Turks to target PKK terrorists, Gates added.
(Cihan/Today's Zaman) CyHAN
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