- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 24, 2003

NICOSIA, Cyprus — The Turkish government is under increasing domestic pressure to revise its traditionally close relations with the United States, according to diplomatic reports.

In comments by Turkish officials to Western diplomats, the longtime alliance between the United States and Turkey is described as being virtually in tatters.

The main question brought up almost daily by the Turkish news media is whether the once-solid friendship with Washington will survive Turkey’s refusal to join the U.S.-led coalition in the war on Iraq.

Some newspapers asked whether Washington will continue to be interested in a strategic relationship with a country that abandoned it.

According to the center-right daily Turkiye’de Aksam, “The unpleasant consequences of the crisis in Turkish-U.S. relations are unlikely to be erased anytime soon.”

Reports and comments in the highly nationalistic Turkish press have accused the United States of efforts to undermine the unity of the Turkish state by favoring Iraq’s ethnic Kurdish minority in the north and encouraging separatist demands from Turkey’s Kurds.

The recent critical remarks of Turkey’s behavior by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman are being described as insults tantamount to a 1964 letter by President Lyndon Johnson warning Turkey against invading Cyprus.

Editorialists and government critics have accused the two U.S. officials of insisting that Turkey “keep away from Syria and Iran” to facilitate U.S. hopes of fragmenting Iraq, including the creation of a Kurdish state in the north of the country.

According to the left-wing Istanbul newspaper Aydinlik, the United States “viewed Turkey as a key country that would open the gates of Asia for Washington.

“By rejecting to open a northern front during the Iraqi war … Turkey has actually locked the gates of Asia for the United States.”

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