Robert Novak

Bush aide Zalmay Khalilzad was sent to Ankara this week to negotiate. Actually, it was too late to use Turkey as an invasion base. Under discussion was the unspoken Turkish desire to send troops into Iraq. Much as Bush desires a "coalition of the willing," he does not want Turkey's army in Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region. U.S. Special Forces operatives, slipped into Iraq, are openly working with Kurdish militia.

Stratfor reports that Turkey has already moved 7,000 troops into that region, with several thousand more on the Turkish side of the border. It also indicates Iranian troops are working with their Kurdish allies. The Turkish-Iranian partnership, though odd on its face, is possible and points up the complexity of dealing with "post-war" Iraq's problems.

Such problems, Senate Foreign Relations Committee members privately complain, have been taken out of the State Department's jurisdiction and given to the Defense Department. They suggest Gen. Tommy Franks has his hands full as theater commander-in-chief without having to plan his designated assignment as a MacArthur-like proconsul in occupied Baghdad.

Sen. Richard Lugar, the Republican chairman of Foreign Relations, recently convened hearings on whether anybody in the administration is doing such planning. Government witnesses were disappointing -- especially Douglas Feith, under secretary of Defense and the heavy thinker at the Pentagon. Several senators asked about the fate of the Kurds, but he did not give much of an answer.

"It is very hard," said Feith at one point, "to tell you precisely what we plan to do because so much . . . depends on how events unfold." He hastened to add, however, that "a great deal of thought has been given" to the problems posed by the senators.

Hopefully, that includes countering an international power grab in northern Iraq.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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