Turkish President Turgut Ozal said today he does not expect a war with Iraq but has to take the precautionary measure of asking for a declaration of war because Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is unpredictable.
Interviewed on NBC television's "Today" program, Ozal said Hussein lacks good advisers to prevent him from making mistakes.
"It is very difficult to make an estimate for the time being, because Mr. Saddam Hussein is quite an unpredictable man, because it is a one-man show in Iraq, and therefore we have to take necessary measures in case he makes a mistake, you see?" he said.
Ozal's handling of the Persian Gulf crisis has been highly popular in Turkey despite the fact that it stands to lose $2.5 billion to $3 billion in revenues due to its closure of the Turkish route for oil exports from Iraq.
A Gallup opinion poll in the Turkish daily Sabah showed 55.2% of the Turkish public supports Ozal's decision to enforce the oil pipeline sanctions and about the same percentage said they had faith in his future decisions.
Explaining the willingness of Turkey to pay the cost of his decision to stand against Hussein, Ozal contrasted his position with that of governments faced with Adolf Hitler in World War II. "The West gave in to Hitler in Munich and it cost much more people later on," he said.
The Turkish Parliament empowered the government to declare war or send troops abroad if Turkey is attacked. Ozal said this was a precautionary measure required under the Turkish constitution.
Ozal, who knows Hussein well, said a lack of good advisers could leave Saddam open to making mistakes militarily.