Cablegate: Turkish Bloggers Sound Off On Political Developments
DE RUEHAK #1186/01 1371131
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 171131Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2139
INFO RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 2710
UNCLAS ANKARA 001186
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV TU
SUBJECT: Turkish Bloggers Sound Off On Political Developments
1. (U) Summary: Turkey's blogging community, while small, mostly
reflects the larger current of sentiment in the elite secular
community. Through comments on newspaper websites and individual
blogs, Turks are sounding off about secularist demonstrations, the
upcoming elections, and Turkey's political landscape. The general
tone is pro-secular, anti-Baykal, anti-American, and mixed on the
issue of military intervention. End Summary.
2. (U) Turkey's blogging community is relatively small. According
to the UN's International Telecommunications Union, only an
estimated twenty percent of Turks use the Internet on a regular
basis. Of this group, most are not in the habit of accessing news
websites or commenting on current events. Blogging appears to be
primarily an occasional pastime of the elite, most of whom were
exposed to the idea abroad.
3. (U) Even so, the Internet sites of Turkey's major newspapers are
full of comment boards that are frequently used to express reactions
to current events. "Milliyet", one of Turkey's leading dailies,
recently started a blog site that produces commentary on everything
from politics to raising children. Blogcu.com is another relatively
popular site for aspiring Turkish bloggers on all subjects.
4. (U) In the heady political atmosphere of the past few weeks,
Turkish bloggers have posted a flurry of opinions on current events.
Many are commentaries on the secular side of the debate, but
Islamist currents occasionally make a showing as well. Below is a
sample of blog entries on popular websites posted within the last
month, grouped by topic.
5. (U) The inability of Turkey's leftist-nationalist parties to
come to an agreement on unification or electoral alliance is a main
topic of conversation on political blogs. Most chastise Republic
People's Party (CHP) leader Baykal for his iron grip on the CHP, but
some also fault the smaller factions for lack of vision. The
overwhelming sense is that power is the only thing holding the
parties back, and that if the republicans were to find a unifying
figure (i.e., someone other than Baykal), they would easily defeat
the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP).
"There are world class leaders in CHP who will defend democracy and
stand in front of tanks. If Baykal resigns soon, votes will flow to
CHP. Baykal needs to be given a 'memorandum'."
"It looks like unity is difficult for them to see. It's been like
this for years, hasn't it? Gentlemen, stop sweating the small
stuff. Think about the citizenry; think about the country...Think
big - not just as an opposition [party] but as the party in power!
Aren't you sick of being in the minority or in a coalition?"
The Role of the US and the EU
6. (U) Many bloggers take up the role that the US and the EU are
playing in the outcome of events. The general opinion is that while
Turkish politicians bicker in public, they all bow to the same
master behind the scenes.
"None of the political parties have come out against the USA-EU
agenda. Deniz Baykal said in an interview on Kanal Turk that it is
impossible to have politics without 'the realities of the world' and
the USA or EU. So then what's the difference between that and the
AKP? If you're not going to pursue a different kind of politics
then what's the trouble all about?"
"Yesterday I went to the meeting with my father and mother to the
meeting in Caglayan. What I heard there was full of pride. The
American [sympathizers] Erdogan and ABDullah Gul (ABD is the Turkish
acronym for USA, hence labeling FM Gul as the USA's man) have goals
that nobody else knows, which in my mind is inexplicably bad."
"Turkey's financials and its potential are obvious. Whoever comes
in to power, it won't really matter much. The strings are in the
hands of the USA and IMF. It's the IMF that determines Turkey's
The Message of the Demonstrations
7. (U) Bloggers from across the political spectrum recognize that
the pro-secular demonstrations are a force to be dealt with, but
disagree on whether they will ultimately be effective at changing
the power dynamic and whether the military should get involved.
"The people who flowed into the public squares said that they don't
want a [military] intervention, but don't want a civilian
intervention in Cankaya either."
"One solid result came from the meetings in Istanbul. Millions of
people said that the secular nature of the state is very special.
They said one more thing: we don't want a military intervention.
We are the ones who establish and live in this democracy."
...And the Other Side
8. (U) Islam-oriented blogs are few and far between, but there is
some commentary against the prevailing winds of secularism.
"I'm not afraid of this nation Mr. [Buyukanit]...I'm going to hold
my headscarved lover's hand, read verses from the Koran, read verses
from the Koran without your knowledge...later I might get together
with some of my fellow dangerous citizens and say 'Allah' with
"For the first time in history, the Kemalist secularist ideology of
Turkey's ranting, oligarchic elite is coming together in the waste
dump...After seventy years of being privileged by their fractious
rule, their thoughtless ideology has no meat on its bones."