The Turkish government is still reeling from the parliament's defiant March 1 rejection of a U.S. request to station 62,000 troops in the country. If parliament votes this week or next on the government's attempt to salvage the deal — as now seems likely — will the outcome be any different? Depends on whether the newly elected Justice and Development party (AK) has learned the lessons of the last vote. Here they are.
Avoid overconfidence The AK controls nearly two-thirds of the seats in parliament, but the back-bench revolt caught them by surprise. The brass realizes that if the vote fails again, their jobs and the party's credibility are in peril. Deputies who lodged protest votes last time, thinking the motion would pass, will be told to smarten up.
Use the bully pulpit Prime Minister Abdullah Gul did not work hard enough to sell the motion to his party's 363 deputies, many of whom are inexperienced and hold widely divergent views on war and the Middle East. Gul is expected to be replaced this week as Prime Minister by party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who will be a more forceful advocate.
Get the U.S. on message The Americans were dismissive of Turkish concerns, says Emin Sirin, a deputy from Istanbul. "We had too much John Wayne and not enough Gary Cooper." Turkey's Chief of Staff, General Hilmi Ozkok, tried to sell the deal. But parliament may still tell those U.S. soldiers where to go.