Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
TUESDAY, APRIL 10, 2007
In Today's Papers
Turkish Leaders React to Barzani Remarks
All papers report Prime Minister Erdogan issued a stern warning on
Monday to the regional president of the Iraqi Kurdish administration
Massoud Barzani for saying in televised remarks over the weekend if
Turkey intervenes in northern Iraq, the Iraqi Kurds would intervene
in the cities in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast.
"They should be very careful in their use of words; otherwise they
will be crushed by those words. Barzani has again exceeded the
limits," Erdogan told the press.
Papers report the Turkish Foreign Ministry (MFA) has presented an
"ultimatum-like" note of protest to Iraq, demanding urgent and
decisive action against the PKK, stressing that otherwise Turkey
will invoke its rights stemming from international treaties.
Government spokesman Cemil Cicek said northern Iraq extends support
to ethnic terror, adding the subject would be raised at the Turkish
National Security Council (MGK) meeting today. Foreign Minister
Abdullah Gul telephoned Secretary Rice, requesting Barzani be given
a "warning for his arrogant statements."
Iraqi President Talabani called Erdogan on Monday, "apologizing" to
the PM for Barzani's statement. Talabani said he attached
importance to relations with Turkey, stressing they were ready for a
joint fight against the PKK.
Papers also report State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said
with regard to Barzani remarks, "We think that those kinds of
statements are really unhelpful, and they certainly do not further
the goal of greater Turkish-Iraqi cooperation on issues of common
concern, including fighting the PKK." "Iraqi leaders should focus
on how they might work together closely with the Turkish government
to further their mutual interests," McCormack said. Several papers
point out that McCormack referred to the Kurdish leader as "Mr.
Barzani," without describing him as head of the regional government
in northern Iraq.
Papers speculate that at the National Security Council (MGK) meeting
today, Turkish leaders will discuss possible measures against the
northern Iraqi Kurdish administration such as shifting Turkish
trucks delivering goods to Iraq to a crossing in Ovakoy on the
border with Iraq, "bypassing" the Habur bordergate in an effort to
deprive Barzani of USD 500 million gains annually. Other measures
would include blocking civilian flights to and from the Kurdish
region by closing Turkish airspace.
Editorial Commentary on Turkey-Northern Iraq, Barzani Remarks
Writing in the mainstream daily Vatan, Mehmet Tezkan criticizes
Turkey's Iraq policy: "Kurdish leader Barzani quietly supports the
PKK terrorists' activities in Turkey, while in the last three days
Turkey gave up ten martyrs to PKK terrorism. While they are doing
so much damage to Turkey, there are 913 Turkish firms working in
nrthern Iraq at the moment trying to rebuild the towns from scratch.
Turkey managed to enter Iraq economically but not politically. We
couldn't manage to get the Peshmerge's support. Barzani threatens
Turkey and what do we do? We ask US Secretary of State Rice to pull
Barzani's ear! In dealing with the PKK as well, we are not very
successful. PM Erdogan already announced that the PKK coordinator
mechanism was not successful. In other words, we couldn't enter
nrthern Iraq politically and could not establish good relations.
Our military should enter, not to settle down there, but to
eliminate the PKK. Unfortunately, we missed that opportunity on
March 1, 2003, when we refused to allow Americans to enter Iraq
Asli Aydintasbas comments in the mainstream daily Sabah that
understanding Barzani's psyche might be helpful: "How should Turkey
deal with Barzani? First of all we should do a personality
analysis: Barzani is a proud tribal leader and the controlling
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power in his region. The founder of the first independent Kurdish
establishment, the Republic of Mahabad, was Barzani's father, Mollah
Mustafa Barzani. Barzani has a strange complex after fighting
against the PKK for years together with Turkey. He feels like a
king in his own territory but every remark that comes from Turkey,
such as he is a 'leader of a few tribes;' peshmerge;' 'for years he
carried a Turkish passport;' and 'he was like our servant at our
door,' hurts his ego immensely. So, could Turkey continue its
policy of dialogue with Northern Iraq by praising Barzani's ego?
Probably yes, if you agree with his targets. Barzani is a powerful
Kurdish nationalist. He believes that he has a historic mission
(the formation of an independent Kurdish state) and he doesn't want
to miss the opportunity his father missed. He doesn't hide his main
aim. And, he is stubborn. Under these conditions I will ask you to
answer this question: Is it possible for the relationship between
Ankara and Barzani to improve within the next 15 years?"
Security Operations against the PKK Continue
All papers report some 13,000 Turkish troops backed by helicopters
launched operations against PKK militants in southeast Turkey. Eight
PKK members were killed in operations in Bingol and Tunceli, and
four members of the leftist DHKP-C were killed in fighting with
security forces in Tunceli. Thousands of troops from around Turkey
are being deployed to the Hakkari-Sirnak border for the operations
across the southeast. Funerals were held with the participation of
5,000 in Corum as well as in Adiyaman, Van, and Samsun for the
members of security forces killed in skirmishes with the terrorists.
Turkish National Security Council to Meet Today
All papers report the Turkish National Security Council (MGK) will
discuss recent Barzani remarks, the PKK activities, the
fundamentalist threat in Turkey, and the Turkish presidential
elections at a meeting Tuesday. President Sezer will attend today's
meeting for the last time before his term in office expires next
month. At the meeting Sezer is expected to present a report on
Islamic activities in Turkey.
Debate over Presidency Continues
All papers report Prime Minister Erdogan continues his round of
talks with groups of the ruling AKP lawmakers. Reports say AKP is
firmly behind Erdogan becoming the country's next president. The
leader of the opposition DYP, Mehmet Agar, said the controversial
requirement of 367 MPs to be present for the first two rounds of
voting in the parliament was not necessary. Agar said the presence
of 184 MPs would be enough during the election process. Government
spokesman Cemil Cicek said the 367 requirement, supported by the
main opposition CHP, would amount to an "exploitation of law."
Meanwhile, secularist NGOs and groups, worrying that Erdogan as
president would undermine Turkey's regime, plan a protest rally in
Ankara on April 14 with participation of over 300 organizations.
NTV, 7.00 A.M.
- Government spokesman Cemil Cicek said prosecutors in Istanbul have
launched a probe into the weekly magazine Nokta for stories alleging
military takeover plots by high-level commanders in 2004.
- State banking fund TMSF chairman Ahmet Erturk said the sale of
Sabah media group would be raised after the presidential elections.
- Four children drowned after falling into a 3-meter deep waterhole
in Yuksekova in the mainly Kurdish southeastern province of Hakkari.
A 4-year-old child drowned when he fell into a waterhole in the
Mediterranean tourist city of Antalya.
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- The fourth World Mayors Summit will be held in Istanbul from April
- The ruling AKP government is preparing to open 84 schools on the
84th anniversary of the Turkish Republic.
- Tens of thousands of supporters of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada
al-Sadr took to the streets of the holy city of Najaf on Monday, the
fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad, to demand an end to the
American military presence in Iraq.
- Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki warned cooperation with
Iraq could deteriorate if five Iranian diplomats detained by US
troops in Iraq are not set free.
- Greek Cypriot Foreign Minister George Lillikas claimed Turkish
strategy in Cyprus aims for the division of the island.
- The kidnappers of two Turkish engineers contacted the Turkish
Embassy in Abuja and Italian firm Merpa demanding ransom.