Turkey to decide on sending troops to Lebanon

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Turkish government spokesman and Justice Minister Cemil Cicek has confirmed their government's intentions to send troops to Lebanon under the UN Resolution 1701. The statement was made after the Council of Ministers met yesterday. The final decision is to be made by Turkish parliament.

The statement also revealed the ongoing struggle between Tayyip Erdogan's AK(Justice and Development) Party government and President Ahmet Necdet Sezer. Sezer's statements on Friday was regarded as a clear indication of the President's reluctancy to send Turkish troops to Lebanon. "Yes, let's do it, I am not against it. But the UN resolution does not focus on humanitarian aid", said Sezer on Thursday. On Saturday, Head of Parliament MP Bulent Arinc has made a counter declaration that it is not Presidents but government and parliament's decision on whether or not to send troops.

On the other hand, Turkish army generals are refraining from making political statements but emphasizing their readiness for such operations if parliamentary decision is made. The new Militay Chief of Staff General Yasar Buyukanit said "It is government's duty to decide joining the operation", but he also underlined that Turkish army has started the preparations.

Despite differences between state organs opinions, Turkish people are not very enthusiastic to send their army to Lebanon as one online survey on the highest selling daily newspaper Hurriyet web page indicates. According to the poll more than 75% of the respondents are against sending troops to Lebanon.

The final decision has to be given by Turkish Parliament, expected this week or early next week according to government spokesperson Cemil Cicek.