98218. Iraqi Crisis Easing, Not Over
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- The crisis with Iraq has eased,
but it is not over, U.S. Defense Secretary William S. Cohen told
U.S. service members here April 18.
It remains "an open question" whether Saddam Hussein will
fully comply with the agreement he signed with U.N. Secretary
General Kofi Annan, Cohen said. Only full compliance with U.N.
Security Council resolutions will lift sanctions imposed by the
"It's not enough to say Saddam has opened his presidential
palaces and the inspectors have found nothing, so the sanctions
should be removed," Cohen said. "He has an obligation to show
proof positive of where, when, how and under what circumstances
the [chemical and biological] materials were destroyed. Until he
does that, Saddam Hussein should expect no relief."
The defense secretary addressed American active duty and
reserve component members here during the second stop of five-day
trip to Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Israel and Greece, April 17 to 21.
In Ankara, April 17, Cohen hailed Turkey as a strong
strategic partner in promoting stability in the Middle East. He
said the United States strongly supports Turkey's proposal for a
multinational Balkan peace force, which is "one more sign of the
important role Turkey plays as a force for stability."
Cohen urged Turkey and Greece to resolve their longstanding
dispute over Cyprus. Responding to press queries about selling
arms to the two nations, Cohen said Turkey and Greece are both
NATO allies. "We obviously support individual members modernizing
their systems to make sure they not only are capable of defending
their own security interests, but can carry out their Article V,
collective security obligations [as well]."
Requests for U.S. assistance are evaluated on a case-by-case
basis, Cohen noted. "It is our hope and expectation that the
tensions that currently exist between Turkey and Greece will be
will be negotiated and settled in a way that is responsible as
members of the NATO alliance."
Cohen visited coalition forces supporting Operation Northern
Watch. About 1,300 U.S., 200 British and 100 Turkish troops
deployed at this Turkish facility near Adana enforce the northern
"no-fly" zone in Iraq and monitor Iraqi compliance with U.N.
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen.
Joseph Ralston, accompanying Cohen during the first part of the
trip, said the vital enforcement and surveillance operation helps
cement U.S. military relations with Turkey.
"Turkey is an absolutely critical ally," Ralston said. "It
is in a unique geographical position. It's in the long-term
interests of both of our nations that we continue to have a very
strong military-to-military, as well as strategic, relationship."
The U.N.-Iraq agreement which eased the recent crisis "would
not have been possible without you," Cohen told about 300 service
members assembled at the base community club. "Without the
strength of our military, the commitment, dedication and
sacrifice every one of you make day in and day out, no such
agreement would have been possible."
When Annan returned from Iraq, Cohen recalled, the U.N.
negotiator told President Clinton and other top U.S. officials,
"not only the threat of force, but the reality of force," helped
ensure his success.
The allied forces protect vital national security interests
by maintaining stability in the Middle East, Cohen said. "As a
result of the contribution you make, we're able to strike these
agreements which [not only] preserve the peace, but also send a
very strong signal: In the absence of compliance, we are there at
the ready, to take whatever action might be necessary."
Hailing the troops for their patriotism, Cohen said: "I know
it's hard to be out on the front lines, away from your families.
I want you to know the American people truly appreciate what you
are doing on behalf of your country."