President Gul: Turkey is nobody’s launching pad

compiled by Cem Ertür
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
October 15, 2008

1) Meeting the challenge: US policy toward Iranian nuclear development (September 2008)

2) Diplomacy takes back seat as preparations point to confrontation (October 2008)

3) Turkey buys new air defense missile systems (October 2008)

4) Turkey is nobody’s launching pad (September 2008)

5) Tehran shouldn’t become like Baghdad (August 2008)

6) from the archives: Turkey‘s Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul speaks to FPA World Leadership Forum 2003


excerpts from ‘Meeting the challenge: US policy toward Iranian nuclear development’

by Senators Daniel Coats and Charles Robb, et al., Bipartisan Policy Center, September 2008

A deterrence strategy against Iran must also include enhanced access to military facilities in countries East, West, and North of Iran. This involves diplomacy with Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, and possibly Pakistan to gain their approval to host the U.S. forces and support staff needed for military action. The United States has had access to some facilities in these countries for operations in Afghanistan, but Russian pressure has introduced interruptions and uncertainty in U.S. access; Uzbekistan cut of U.S. access to its air base in 2004. Pakistan is highly sensitive to any U.S. presence and is unlikely cooperate with the United States against Iran. Azerbaijan and the United States cooperate in Caspian Sea security, and Azerbaijan appears the most likely anchor of a northern containment strategy for Iran. Turkey is a NATO ally, but its leadership is unreliable, and its cooperation with Iran on energy projects and other issues will dissuade Ankara‘s participation in U.S. military strategy against Iran. The objective would be to enable U.S. military as broad access as possible to Iran from all directions.


Israeli bombers cannot traverse Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf, and Iraq without detection and, perhaps, engagement. It is possible that Turkey would allow Israeli fighters to traverse its airspace, but because all of the fighters would need to enter Iran from the same direction, the pilots would be exposed. Regardless of how Israel might try to strike, it is likely that Iranian air defense will know that the Israelis are on their way before they reach Iranian airspace.


excerpt from ‘Diplomacy takes back seat as preparations point to confrontation’

by Abraham Rabinovich, The Australian, October 11, 2008

This week, however, Olmert flew to Moscow in an attempt to persuade the Russians not to sell Tehran the S-300 ground-to-air missile system that would provide the Iranians with a formidable defence against attacking warplanes… In the event Russia rejects the request, the Israeli Air Force was reported by Israel Radio to have consulted with Turkey about holding training exercises in that country with the S-300 system bought by Turkey to devise ways of eluding the missiles.


excerpts from Turkey buys new air defense missile systems’

Turkish Daily News, 13 October 2008

The international tender for low and medium altitude air defense missile systems kicked off today… The project on offer is for an air defense missile system to strengthen Turkey‘s defense power through a single, high-tech missile system and includes training services, related systems and its equipment.


excerpt fromTurkey is nobody’s launching pad’

Yeni Asir, 26 September 2008

link to the original news item in Turkish:

Note: This news item is about an Arabic-language Al-Jazeera TV interview conducted with Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul during his visit to New York in September.

To the question of whether or not the bases in Turkey would be used in a war with Iran, Gul replied:

“As Turkey is a member of NATO there are, of course, joint military activities; however, the presence of US or foreign military troops in Turkey for an attack on another country is out of the question. The authorisation of parliament would be required for anything to happen from within Turkey. Moreover, the bases in Turkey are of a [simply] logistical nature and are under the command of NATO and the Turkish generals; therefore it cannot be said that anything is beyond our control in Turkey. Turkey is not a launching pad against any of its neighbours.”


excerpts fromTehran shouldn’t be devastated like Baghdad

by Ugur Ergan, Hurriyet, 17 August 2008

link to the original news item in Turkish:

[Turkey‘s] President Abdullah Gul’s warnings to Iran‘s President Ahmedinejad on the ongoing nuclear crisis with the US bear similarities to those he had made back in February 2003, to then Iraq‘s Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan to prevent the Iraq War:

“The political scope for finding a peaceful solution is getting increasingly narrower. We are heading towards perilous developments. We, as Turkey did everything we could to prevent the war. From now on, preventing the war lies solely in your hands. Don’t engage in a war that you cannot win against the US.” [Prime Minister Gul’s meeting with Ramadan, Ankara, February 2003]

“We find the latest package offered by the five members of the UN Security Council and Germany, which we support as well, most positive.” We see this as a window of opportunity. The time is running out, don’t miss this opportunity. Bush might strike [Iran] before leaving office. If the US were to strike [Iran], they would strike fiercely. As your neighbour, we wouldn’t want Tehran to be devastated like Baghdad.” [President Gul’s meeting with Ahmadinejad, Istanbul, August 2008]


from the archives:

excerpt from: ‘H.E. Abdullah Gül Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Turkey, speaks to FPA World Leadership Forum 2003’

Foreign Policy Association, 25 September 2003

The habits of cooperation between Turkey and the U.S. have stood the test of time since the Korean War, through the Cold War, into the global war against terrorism. The moral responsibility and stated imperatives of the Turkish-U.S. partnership that have worked effectively in the last half-century are not diminished. To the contrary, our strategic cooperation and partnership means even more now than before, as we strive for stability in Afghanistan and Iraq, encourage peace and stability betweens Arabs and Israelis, stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery means, and generate harmony between civilizations… After 9/11 we needed a new era in Afghanistan. At that time, Turkey alone heeded the ISAF in Afghanistan… Look at Bosnia. Look at Kosovo. Look at other parts of the world. There are Turkish and American soldiers shoulder to shoulder.