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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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SIPDIS

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
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2007


In Today's Papers

Turkish, International Reactions to PKK Attacks
All papers report that on Monday, several demonstrations were
organized in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and several other provinces
across Turkey to denounce PKK attacks. Government Spokesman Cemil
Cicek told reporters following Monday's cabinet meeting that the
fight against terrorism was a national cause, warning against acts
that would harm Turkey's unity. Cicek said that the meetings of
Erdogan in Britain, Interior Minister Besir Atalay in Kuwait and
Foreign Minister Ali Babacan in Iraq's neighboring countries are
aimed at explaining the parliamentary motion's intention. In
Britain, Erdogan is expected to meet the British and Israeli prime
ministers. Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said Monday during a visit
to Kuwait that Turkey would try all diplomatic means before carrying
out any military operation.

Turkish televisions quoted President Talabani saying yesterday PKK
militants near the Iraqi border will cease all their actions as of
yesterday evening. On Monday evening, the PKK announced its
conditions for a cease-fire, saying the Turkish army should cease
operations in southeast Turkey and that Turkish plans for incursions
into northern Iraq should be dropped.

Papers report State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said, "We do
not believe unilateral cross-border operations are the best way to
address this issue," adding the US had opened a "full-court press"
to keep the situation from deteriorating. White House Spokesman
Tony Fratto reported President Bush was closely following the
developments. "We do not want to see wider military action on the
northern border," Fratto said. Gordon Johndroe, Spokesman for the
National Security Council, said "The US is committed to working with
Turks and Iraqis to deal with the PKK terrorist problem."

Mainstream Sabah criticizes the US for applying a "double standard,"
recalling that Secretary Rice of the July 2006 Israeli invasion of
Lebanon that she "would not judge the measures taken by Israel," and
that she would "respect the process in which Israel defends itself."
Rice today calls on Turkey for restraint, says Sabah.

President Gul Meets Party Leaders
All papers report President Abdullah Gul held talks with political
party leaders to discuss the recent terror actions. Opposition CHP
leader Deniz Baykal said after meeting Gul that a "national
platform" should be set up to combat terrorism, adding this platform
should be comprised of the ruling and opposition parties as well as
military and civilians. "A covert war is being conducted against
Turkey through the PKK. The cost of failing to act will be heavier
than taking action," Baykal emphasized. Far-right MHP leader Devlet
Bahceli said Massoud Barzani and his Peshmerge were responsible for
terrorist attacks against Turkey, asking that "all Turkish
connections to Barzani who are supporting the PKK should be
revealed, including those in the parliament." Bahceli said Turkey
should not wait for Prime Minister Erdogan's return from meeting
President Bush in the US to launch a cross-border operation. The
pro-Kurdish DTP chairman Ahmet Turk opposed a cross-border military
operation into north of Iraq, saying Turkey should overcome this
period "with common sense."

Erdogan on Possible Turkish Iraq Incursion
All papers report that in a phone talk with Secretary Rice before
Sunday's terror summit at Presidential Palace, Prime Minister
Erdogan urged the US to hand over PKK leaders or launch a joint
operation with Turkey to combat the terror organization. Rice
warned that a Turkish cross-border operation would harm joint
interests and would hurt efforts to block the approval of the
controversial Armenian resolution, and asked Turkey to wait for a
few days for a joint action against the PKK. Erdogan, visiting
Britain as the guest of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, addressed
students in Oxford University yesterday, saying Turkey would take

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care of itself if no development is seen in a couple days.

Mainstream Sabah reports while Secretary Rice has asked Turkey to
wait for a few days so that the US can convince the Kurdish
administration of northern Iraq to move, yesterday Turkish Foreign
Ministry (MFA) Undersecretary Ertugrul Apakan told Ambassador Ross
Wilson that Turkey cannot wait for a long time without doing
anything, stressing the US administration should "supply Turkey with
urgent intelligence information in line with the requirements of
strategic cooperation."

Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports Erdogan said the Turkish
government would consider the political, military and diplomatic
aspects of an operation. "We cannot act emotionally, influenced by
street protests. We will act consistently. Turkey will pay any
price needed to defeat terrorism and will make those responsible for
terror pay a price," the PM emphasized.

Editorial Commentary on Possible Turkish Operations into Iraq
From a mainstream daily Milliyet op-ed: "Turkey eventually might
find itself using the military option even though it is not the
desirable one. The only way of preventing this is to ensure
northern Iraq does not become a safe heaven for the PKK. Currently,
all PKK command and communication activities function under the
sponsorship of Barzani and Talabani. Moreover, PKK terrorist
activities are occurring in this area with the US military as an
eyewitness. It seems absurd that American intelligence is not
capable of discovering the whereabouts of PKK leadership while
American journalists are going to Kandil Mountain and interview
terrorists. It is also an obvious contradiction that American
soldiers sit and watch PKK terrorists in the northern Iraqi
mountains while at the same time the US, in cooperation with Turkey,
follows and catches terrorists in the Afghan mountains. This is
nothing but a clear double standard of 'I can only exert effort to
catch my terrorists' mentality. Such an approach does not match US
obligations within the NATO Convention. The US stays inactive on
the PKK issue in order not to lose northern Iraqi Kurds, i.e. its
sole ally in Iraq. However, current events are pushing the US
toward a crossroads between Turkey and northern Iraqi Kurds. From
now on, it is up to the US to make a choice where to stand."

Murat Yetkin wrote in the liberal-intellectual daily Radikal:
"Secretary Rice asked PM Erdogan to wait for a couple of days. It
was learned that she was suggesting a change in the methods to fight
against PKK. The new method, if it is implemented, will be a joint
operation. Turkey, through its intelligence, will provide target
information and the Iraqi army, under US direction, will hit the
targeted spots. Turkey decided to use this option to see if it
works. If it does not work, Turkey will believe all diplomatic
means have been exerted and focus on a military option. Ankara is
worried about implementation of such a plan for two reasons: First
of all, this will not be a direct US army operation. The US army
will provide support for the Iraqi army. The question is that
whether Barzani will let the Iraqi army to conduct an operation
against the PKK. Washington's decision makers are also worried
about this and they are intensively working to eliminate this
potential problem. The most recent Rice-Barzani talk was for this
purpose. The AKP government, despite growing pressure for action
from the man on the street, will likely wait to take any concrete
steps until after seeing the results of the November 5 Bush-Erdogan
meeting in Washington."

Turks Consider Economic Pressure on Northern Iraq
Sabah, Vatan, Milliyet, Cumhuriyet and Zaman report the Turkish
government is considering moves for stepping up economic pressure on
the Kurdish administration of northern Iraq by cutting electricity
supplies to the region, slowing down procedures at Habur border
crossing, and seizing the assets of the Barzani family in Turkey.
Nationalist Vatan says around 400 Turkish construction companies
operating in northern Iraq were ready to return to Turkey if a call

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comes from the Turkish government.

Turkish General Staff: "No Contact has been established with 8
Soldiers"
All papers: The Turkish General Staff announced on Monday that
despite all search activities, no contact has been established with
8 military personnel who are still unaccounted for since Sunday's
attack in Hakkari. Pro- PKK web sites claimed the soldiers were
taken hostage by PKK.

Constitutional Court President Elected
All papers report that Hasim Kilic was elected as the President of
the Constitutional Court yesterday. Kilic is a conservative person
and known for his objections in court decisions regarding turban
bans and the closure of the Welfare Party (RP) and the Virtue Party
(FP). He was elected with the votes of 6 members out of 11. In a
press conference yesterday Kilic said "The Court will not compromise
on secularism."

TV News:
NTV

Domestic News

- The funerals of 12 Turkish soldiers killed in a PKK raid over the
weekend in the border province of Hakkari will be held today.

- The EU ambassadors in Ankara are expected to urge the pro-Kurdish
DTP to distance itself from the PKK in a working lunch with the
party leader Ahmet Turk today.

- Police have found 45 kg of plastic explosives near a primary
school in Silvan township in the mainly Kurdish southeastern city of
Diyarbakir.

- Turkey's stocks and currency fell sharply on Monday after a deadly
attack by the PKK over the weekend heightened the likelihood that
Turkey will launch a cross-border incursion into northern Iraq.

International News

- Italian Foreign Minister Massimo d'Alema has urged Turkey to
abstain from extensive operations on Iraqi soil.

- The Kurdish regional administration spokesman Jamal Abdullah said
his government in northern Iraq was against the PKK attacks.

- Muhammad al-Baradei, director general of the IAEA, said Iran will
not be a nuclear threat for at least three years since the country
is three to eight years away from producing a nuclear bomb.

- Five Orthodox Jews assaulted a woman and an Israeli soldier Sunday
for sitting next to each other on a bus bound for Beit Shemesh, near
Jerusalem.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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