July 19, 2019

Who Lost Turkey?

Source: Foreign Policy

Journalists: Keith Johnson, Robbie Gramer

On July 4, 2003, U.S. paratroopers kicked down doors and raided a compound in the northern Iraqi city of Sulaymaniyah. It was two months after the United States declared “Mission Accomplished” and major military operations in Iraq over. The soldiers snatched up small arms, grenades, and explosives—and also 11 members of Turkey’s elite special forces. The U.S. troops reportedly cuffed the Turks and covered their heads with the kinds of dark hoods normally reserved for terrorist detainees in Afghanistan or Guantánamo Bay.

Before the Turkish commandos were released, it took days of behind-the-scenes diplomacy, including lengthy phone calls between then-Vice President Dick Cheney and then-Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to defuse the crisis.

The “hood incident,” as it’s still bitterly remembered in Turkey, barely registers as a footnote in U.S. histories of the Iraq War. For Turkey, it was emblematic of America’s willingness to act as it pleased with Turkey, a junior partner watching Washington trample its interests in the region, while the U.S. occupation of Iraq unraveled just across its border.

Read the full article and more in Foreign Policy.


  • Jim Townsend

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Transatlantic Security Program

    James Joye Townsend Jr. is an adjunct senior fellow in the CNAS Transatlantic Security Program. After eight years as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for European ...