- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 16, 2003

From combined dispatches
BRUSSELS The United States formally asked NATO yesterday for limited help in the event of war with Iraq, including the deployment of missiles to protect Turkey.
Officials said Washington proposed six forms of support, including access to airspace, bases, ports and refueling facilities, but none of them would entail direct involvement by the 19-nation alliance in an attack on Iraq.
"These are prudent contingency proposals so that in the event that we would be called upon to show solidarity with [NATO member] Turkey, we would be positioned militarily to do so," one NATO official said.
The U.S. proposals involve:
Using NATO's planning facilities to coordinate efforts such as air or sea transport for troops and equipment, air-to-air refueling, or even air cover to ground troops.
Using collective forces such as AWACS surveillance planes, naval minesweepers or patrol ships.
Providing troops to enforce peace and help rebuild Iraq after Saddam Hussein's regime has been toppled.
Rep. Douglas K. Bereuter, Nebraska Republican, who heads NATO's Parliamentary Assembly, stressed a peacekeeping role for NATO.
"It's potentially possible that NATO would have a role in peace enforcement, perhaps even governance" until a new Iraqi administration is able to run the country, Mr. Bereuter told reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
NATO participation in a campaign against Iraq would continue a process of extending the alliance's military reach beyond Europe.
It closely mirrors measures NATO took in support of the United States during the war in Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks on New York City and the Pentagon.
But U.S. officials said the request was not made under NATO's Article V mutual-defense clause, unlike the assistance granted in 2001.
At NATO's November summit in Prague, in which the alliance extended membership invitations to seven new nations in Eastern Europe, the leaders of NATO nations declared that the alliance could operate anywhere in the world.
But Mr. Bereuter warned that a widening gap between the United States and Europe threatens to cloud consensus in the alliance.
"There is a growing gap in attitudes and perceptions between the Europeans and the United States," Mr. Bereuter said.
"This will endanger the consensus in NATO and this is just the sort of time when we can least afford a growing gap," he said.
NATO's most prominent role could be in defending Turkey, Iraq's northern neighbor, where the United States is inspecting runways and harbors in preparation for the possible deployment of 80,000 soldiers for an Iraq operation.
Although opinion polls show more than 80 percent of Turks oppose military strikes against Iraq and the government fears war could destabilize the entire region, analysts say Turkey is likely to permit at least some use of it's facilities to the United States.
On the overall U.S. request, diplomats stressed that the issue was still at an early stage and no immediate decisions were expected to send the proposals to NATO's military planners.
NATO leaders at the Prague summit pledged "effective measures" to ensure Saddam complies with U.N. demands for disarmament and warned Iraq "will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violation of its obligations."
The timing of the U.S. proposals was sensitive, with political leaders and public opinion in many European countries opposed to a war with Iraq, at least in the absence of specific U.N. authorization, and urging more time for U.N. arms inspections.
Several allies, notably France and Germany, say the United States and Britain would require a fresh U.N. Security Council mandate to use force against Baghdad.
Germany has said it would not participate in any attack on Iraq, even with a U.N. blessing.


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