Turkish parliament gives heavy blow to U.S. war plans; Arab leaders oppose any attack on Iraq
Turkey's parliament speaker ruled Saturday that a vote to approve a U.S. troop deployment failed because the votes in favor were not a majority of those present, private NTV television reported.
Parliament Saturday voted 264-250 with 19 abstentions in favor of allowing in the U.S. troops.
But speaker Bulent Arinc said the vote did not stand because the votes in favor were not a majority of the legislators present in parliament. The Turkish constitution states that a majority of those present must vote in favor for a bill to pass.
Arinc closed parliament after the vote until Tuesday.
The bill's rejection is likely to seriously increase tensions with the United States which had been expecting a positive vote.
The motion would have empowered the government to authorize the basing of up to 62,000 troops, 255 warplanes and 65 helicopters.
Washington had been offering Turkey some $15 billion in loans and grants if the troops were allowed.
Hours before the vote, the governing Justice and Development Party's leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, met with his party legislators to try and persuade them to back the U.S. troop deployment. Afterwards Erdogan called the parliament decision a "completely democratic result."
"What more do you want? It was a completely democratic result. May it be for the best," the Anatolian news agency quoted Erdogan as saying after a meeting with party leaders to evaluate the vote.
Meanwhile, Arab leaders said Saturday they opposed an attack on Iraq as a threat against Arab national security, and said their countries would not participate in any war, a final statement said.
At the end of their one-day summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, the Arab leaders agreed on "the complete rejection of a strike against Iraq, or threatening the security and safety of any Arab country, as a threat to the Arab national security", the statement read out by Arab League chief Amr Moussa said.
The leaders called for the crisis over Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction to be resolved peacefully under the umbrella of the United Nations, and asked that weapons inspectors be given adequate time to complete their mission.
"They stressed that their countries refrain from participating in any military action that aims at the security, safety and territorial integrity of Iraq," the final declaration said. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)