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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EUR/SE, EUR/PD, NEA/PD, DRL
JCS PASS J-5/CDR S. WRIGHT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2007


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In Today's Papers

Investigation into Ankara Car Bomb Plot Continues
All papers report a 23-24-year-old suspect with curly hair and an
Arabic accent is being sought in the investigation into the car bomb
plot on Tuesday, averted when police defused hundreds of kilograms
of explosives placed in a mini-van in a parking lot in downtown
Ankara. Three cell phones were found inside the van, suggesting the
plotters aimed to stage attacks at three different locations.
Several papers claim the PKK was behind the attempt, with Cumhuriyet
saying the terrorist organization wanted to retaliate against the
killing of 11 of its members in Sirnak last month when the
organization charged Turkish troops used chemical weapons in the
operation. Police went on alert in Ankara, increasing security
measures in the parking lots of public buildings, shopping malls and
state agencies.

Turkish Paper Interviews Talabani, Barzani in Northern Iraq
Tabloid Aksam's Syrian columnist Husnu Mahalli interviews the Iraqi
Kurdish leaders Jalal Talabani and Massoud Barzani in northern Iraq.
President Talabani said with regard to the missing US-origin
weapons in Iraq that the agency in charge of distribution of weapons
in Iraq was managed by Americans, and that there were always
irregularities. "Some 160,000 are said to be employed in this
agency whereas the actual number of employees are recorded as 90,000
according to Iraqi Interior Ministry data. It means that an extra
70,000 are paid by the agency while they also sell guns elsewhere.
The Americans know this," says Talabani. On Kirkuk, Talabani said
the claim that about 500,000 Kurds had been settled in the oil-rich
town was "exaggerated," but noted the Arabs settled by Saddam
Hussein should return to their homes. The Iraqi President said the
democracy in Turkey offers significant opportunities to Kurds who
have their own parties and media outlets. "The new Turkish
constitution will give broader rights to the Kurds. Waging war
against the AKP government and Turkish state means fighting against
democracy and the rights of the Kurdish people in Turkey," he
emphasized.

Talabani added he has told PM Erdogan that according to the
requirements of the Iraqi Constitution, Iraq, once security is
settled across the country, would see that foreign terror
organizations are not allowed in Iraqi territories. "Unfortunately,
we can't fight against the PKK and PJAK at this point," he said.
Talabani noted that Kurdish leaders should understand that Kurds
should contribute to the democratic process in Turkey. "I think
Kurdish political leaders such as DTP leader Ahmet Turk have
understood this fact. But maybe they don't have freedom of
movement," Talabani said, stressing that the AKP's policies have
given the Kurds in Turkey hope. Talabani also said after he became
the President of Iraq, he paid visits to Syria and Iran, but was not
invited by Turkey. "I'd be honored to comply with an invitation to
visit Turkey if I receive one," Talabani said.

Massoud Barzani, the head of the regional Kurdish administration,
said despite all the problems with Turkey, investment by Turkish
companies in the region increased. Barzani said strains would
benefit no side, and called for improvement of friendly ties with
Turkey. On the PKK question, Barzani said the organization's
members were settled in Mount Kandil and other mountainous areas
along the border with Turkey whereas Kurdish soldiers were fighting
for security in Baghdad. "We have told the PKK that we won't allow
attacks on our neighbors. The PKK is a source of distress for us as
well," he stressed. Barzani also noted he has received an
invitation from Iran as the president of the Kurdish federal region,
but not from Turkey and Syria. "I'm not planning to visit any
country where I'm not invited as the president of the Kurdish
federal region," he concluded.

Editorial Commentary on Iraq
Kubilay Celik writes in the nationalist Tercuman: "It seems, given

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the report by General Petraeus, US withdrawal from Iraq is not an
imminent issue any longer. The General believes that things are
working well in Iraq and an immediate pull out will have a negative
impact on the achievements. On the other hand, Democrats are
strongly pushing the administration for an immediate pull out. Even
though the majority in the Washington administration is well aware
of the impasse in Iraq, they are unable to say it publicly. In
fact, the US is facing an enormous challenge in Iraq regardless of
its decision on withdrawal. Things are going to be very difficult
for the next president of the US. The new president will have to
exert enormous efforts to correct the American image internationally
and also should find a way to settle the Iraq issue -- both of which
are extremely difficult."

Zafer Atay writes in the business-political daily Dunya: "General
Petraeus claimed that all is well in Iraq and called for a gradual
pull out. It can only be called a big lie to say that things are
going well in Iraq when 600,000 - mostly civilians -- died during
the last four years. While the General was giving his Congressional
testimony, eight American soldiers were killed in Iraq, and there
were numerous car bomb attacks. Ambassador Crocker's presentation
was better and more realistic than that of General Petraeus. The
experienced diplomat warned that a triumph in Iraq cannot be
guaranteed. However he joined the General by expressing that things
are going well in Iraq. In any case, there is a talk of pulling out
30,000 soldiers from Iraq. And this is another distortion.
President Bush sent 30,000 additional troops to Iraq despite
Congressional opposition. If and when they are pulled out, the
essential core of US forces, which is more than 100,000 will still
be in Iraq."

Turkish Anti-Terror Board Discusses Measures against Terrorism
All papers report Turkish High Council on Counter Terrorism,
convening Wednesday under the chairmanship of Deputy Prime Minister
Cemil Cicek, discussed the activities with regard to the fight
against terrorism in light of information presented by security and
intelligence units. A statement released at the end of the meeting
says "Terrorist activities carried out against our country by the
terrorist organization sheltered in a neighboring country were
discussed." The meeting also discussed the bomb-laden vehicle that
police discovered in a crowded neighborhood in Ankara on September
11, say papers.

Draft Constitution
All papers: Mainstream Milliyet reports that 11 AKP deputies and 6
academicians will meet for three days, starting today, to go over
the text of the constitution draft and finalize it. CNN Turk's
website publicized the full content of the draft constitution that
was prepared by the academicians led by Prof. Ergun Ozbudun.
Answering questions of CNN Turk, Prof. Ozbudun said that after AKP's
review, the draft will be publicized.

Papers also report that alternative draft constitutions are being
prepared by the NGOs, vocational organizations and jurists under the
leadership of Prof. Ibrahim Kaboglu. In a press conference to
introduce their initiative, Prof. Kaboglu said that their work is
open to contributions of democratic civic organizations and experts
and that they named their group's effort the "Democratic Initiative
for a Social, Cultural and Egalitarian and Contemporary
Constitution." Mainstream Sabah says Ataturk's revolutions and the
principles were taken out of the AKP's draft constitution and that
clauses related to freedom of faith and religion will open the door
to the re-establishment of different religious sects.

Northern Cyprus Site of President Gul's First Overseas Visit
Islamist oriented Yeni Safak and Zaman reported that President Gul
will pay his first foreign visit to northern Cyprus on September
18-19, and then he will go to Strasbourg to address the Council of
Europe on October 2-3.


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TV Highlights
NTV

Domestic News

- Turkish Foreign Ministry Spokesman Levent Bilman slammed Greek
Cypriot leader Papadopoulos for calling the Turkish armed forces as
"the only enemy of the Greek Cypriots."

- EU Commission official Jean-Christophe Filori warned that changes
in Turkish Penal Code Article 301 should not be handled within the
frame of constitutional reforms.

- Turkish security forces killed four PKK terrorists in fighting
near Kelekci village in the southeastern province of Siirt,
Governor's Office said on Wednesday.

- Turkey's budget deficit for the first eight months of the year is
reported as 8.4 billion Turkish Lira.

International News

- A powerful earthquake of 7.8 magnitude centered near the
Indonesian island of Sumatra toppled buildings on Wednesday and set
off a tsunami alert for the Indian Ocean.

- Turkish Cypriot presidential secretary Rasit Pertev met Wednesday
EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn in Brussels, and asked the EU
to press the Greek Cypriots to come to the negotiating table.

- Belgium is reportedly preparing to renew the trial of ten suspects
from the Turkish extreme left terrorist organization DHKP-C.

- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has stepped down after just one
year in office.

WILSON

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