Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2007
In Today's Papers
Papers Report Turkish Operations into Northern Iraq
The Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports Turkish F-16s bombed four
PKK camps in northern Iraq while mainstream Sabah claims Turkish
warplanes targeted the PKK's mountain camps as some 300 ground
troops, backed by helicopters, move into Iraqi territory. Sabah
says Turkish warplanes have been seen flying over the town of Dohuk
located at a distance of 40 km to the border. Papers see the
activities on the border as "preliminary strikes" before a
wide-scale incursion. Yeni Safak says Turkey has asked the US for a
map showing the landmine zones in the region.
Meanwhile, papers report Turkish forces deploying tanks and
artillery repulsed an attack by up to 100 PKK militants on a
gendarme post in Hakkari province near the Iraqi border. After
heavy clashes, some 30 militants were killed and the terrorists
withdrew back into northern Iraq, taking with them an unknown number
of dead and wounded, according to the officials.
Several papers quote White House spokeswoman Dana Perino as saying,
"We continue to urge the Iraqis and the Turks to exercise restraint
in terms of escalating tension between the two countries because
they agree that the common problem and the common enemy is the PKK,
the terrorist organization." Mainstream Vatan emphasizes that for
the first time since 2003, Turkey managed to secure the approval of
the US and Britain as well as Arab countries for a possible
cross-border operation, citing Perino as saying the US could provide
"operational intelligence" for Turkey.
Papers and television newscasts report that on Wednesday, an Iraqi
delegation headed by the minister for national security, Sherwan
al-Waili, is to visit Turkey to discuss moves for fighting against
the PKK. All-news broadcaster NTV reports Thursday that the
northern Iraqi KDP politburo official Imad Ahmad and KDP's foreign
affairs chief Safeen Dizayi would be among the members of the
delegation accompanying Waili.
Talabani Denies Agreeing to Handover PKK Leaders
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others
report that on Wednesday, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani denied
telling Foreign Minister Ali Babacan that Baghdad might agree to
handover the PKK leaders hiding out in northern Iraq to Turkey. "We
have said many times that the PKK leaders are not in the Kurdish
cities but in the Kandil Mountains with thousands of their fighters,
so it is not possible for us to arrest and hand them over to
Turkey," Talabani reportedly said in a statement. Papers claim
Talabani had made the offer to Babacan in their meeting in Baghdad
earlier this week. "Belly dancers of the Middle East" mainstream
Hurriyet slams Talabani as well as Masoud Barzani, the head of the
Kurdish regional administration in northern Iraq, for constantly
wriggling out of promises they have made on tackling the PKK. "The
Talabani riddle" reads a headline in mainstream Milliyet, accusing
Talabani of giving conflicting signals.
National Security Council Suggests Economic Sanctions on Northern
All papers report in a six-hour meeting Wednesday, the Turkish
National Security Council (MGK) urged the government to impose
economic sanctions on "the groups extending support to the PKK."
Papers speculate Turks consider moves such as Turkish trucks
carryings goods to Iraq will use the crossings on the border with
Syria, bypassing the Habur border gate. They also report Turkey was
preparing to introduce an informal quota for food exported to
northern Iraq. Northern Iraq relies heavily on Turkey for its
power, water and food supplies. The ruling AKP earlier said
sanctions could include cutting off electricity supplies to northern
Iraq and halting or slowing down road traffic at the Habur border
gate. Papers believe the measures recommended by MGK will deal a
heavy blow to Massoud Barzani who controls the Habur border gate,
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making the Kurdish leader lose gains up to USD 300 million annually.
Nationalist Vatan claims Syrian leader Bashar Assad has agreed to
exempt Turkish trucks carrying goods through Syria to northern Iraq
from transit fees.
Editorial Commentary on the PKK-Northern Iraq
Gungor Mengi comments in the mainstream daily Vatan: "When al-Qaeda
hit the US, President Bush declared to the entire world that, from
that moment on, any country supporting or sheltering terrorism shall
be considered a hostile regime. Given the situation vis-`-vis the
PKK using Northern Iraq its base, President Bush needs to have some
empathy. The President set the criteria six years ago for who it
calls a friend but the US itself is violating that. The PKK uses
the area under US occupation and manages to carry out its terrorist
activities without any hindrance. Following the recent attack, when
PKK fighters crossed the border and claimed 12 lives, Ankara has
reached the "enough-is-enough" point. The US is in an odd situation
because it has become like a terrorism-sponsoring country.
Currently there is no way of ending terrorism against Turkey unless
the US takes determined steps against the PKK and their activities
in Northern Iraq."
Hasan Cemal observes in the mainstream daily Milliyet: "The US
ignored Turkey's fully justifiable requests on the PKK. This has
become one of the main reasons behind anti-Americanism in Turkey.
One wonders whether the US does not care about losing Turkey.
Considering the current events, including the Armenian genocide
resolution in Congress and the indecisive attitude against PKK
terrorism, it looks like as if the US really wants to lose its ally
and destabilize Iraq even more than it is now. Let's hope that
President Bush realizes the mistakes and finds ways to correct them
soon as possible, because time is also running out for him."
Secretary Rice Testifies at the House Foreign Affairs Committee
Sabah, Hurriyet, Star, Bugun, Milliyet, Zaman and others: Speaking
at the House Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary Rice said "The
last 72 hours have been difficult. On Sunday, I talked to Prime
Minister Erdogan as well as the Iraqi Kurds. Iraq should not be a
place from which PKK terrorists attack Turkey. Both, the Iraqis and
the Turks should exert extra-ordinary efforts." Stressing that the
Iraqis will close all PKK offices and stop PKK activities in Iraqi
territory, Secretary Rice said that the US has a series of measures
on the issue and added, "We are starting to take certain measures
immediately in order to prevent terrorist attacks from the border."
Secretary Rice urged the Congress not to bring the Armenian Genocide
Resolution to the agenda because of the current sensitive
Meanwhile, during the daily press briefing, State Department
spokesman Sean McCormack said that within the framework of her
Middle East tour, Secretary Rice will come to Ankara to hold talks
with Turkish leaders before attending the Iraqi Neighbors Conference
in Istanbul on November 2-3.
Democrat Support for the AGR Decreases
Mainstream Sabah and liberal Radikal report that following the
strong lobbying of Turkey against it, Democratic members of the US
Congress started withdrawing their support for the Armenian genocide
resolution. Democratic congressman Brad Sherman, who was among the
drafters of the resolution, said that "it is more likely that the
resolution will come on the Congressional agenda in January rather
than now. We want a vote on the resolution whenever the necessary
number is reached." Congressman Steny Hoyer said, "Some members of
the Congress changed their mind about supporting the resolution.
Let us stand wherever the majority is."
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- Wednesday has marked mass rallies in most cities, joined by tens
of thousands of Turks, in protest of the PKK's terrorist actions.
The largest rally was held in the eastern city of Elazig where some
100,000 protested against terror in a peaceful march.
- Kurdish DTP leader Ahmet Turk has urged the PKK to release eight
Turkish soldiers abducted in Hakkari province over the weekend.
- The Ankara prosecutor has filed a lawsuit against the pro-Kurdish
DTP acting party chair Selma Irmak for using the honorific "Sayin"
(Mr.) to refer to the PKK's imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan.
- Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan said following the recent
referendum on constitutional reforms that the mandate of President
Abdullah Gul was reduced from seven to five years and the parliament
from five to four years.
- The US House Foreign Affairs Committee has approved a bill to
grant to Turkey three decommissioned US military ships and to sell a
fourth at a large discount.
- A resolution adopted by the European Parliament contains no
references to Armenian genocide claims.
- The US military has developed a new program known as the Human
Terrain System (HTS) to study social groups in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The US military hires anthropologists for the program.
- Wildfires in California cause losses anticipated over USD 1
billion, and force more than half a million people from their homes.