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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
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2007


In Today's Papers

Prime Minister Erdogan: US, a Strategic Ally, Obliged to Act with
Us
All papers report that on Thursday, Prime Minister Erdogan, on a
state visit to Romania, said in a news conference in Bucharest that
the decision on a cross-border incursion into northern Iraq will be
made by Ankara regardless of the reaction from Washington. "As our
strategic ally, America is obliged to act with us. We acted
together with them in Afghanistan," Erdogan emphasized. Erdogan
also rejected allegations that the aim of his upcoming US visit
would be to secure clearance from Washington for a cross-border
operation into Iraq's north. Papers see the PM's remarks as a harsh
response to Secretary Rice who had warned Turkey to abstain from
intervention in northern Iraq.

Papers comment that recent statements by US officials, seen as
stalling tactics, aim to keep Turkey away from northern Iraq.
Remarks coming from high level Americans including secretaries Rice
and Gates are vague, according to several papers, and aim to keep
any possible Turkish operations limited in scope. Liberal Radikal
draws attention to reports in the foreign press pointing to "ties"
between the PKK militants and the US military, saying the US cannot
be trusted in fighting against the PKK.

Ongoing Turkish Operations In and Out of Northern Iraq
All papers report the Turkish General Staff (TGS) confirmed Thursday
that at least 30 of some 100 PKK militants were killed during an
attack on a gendarme post in Semdinli in the Hakkari province on the
border with Iraq. Papers report operations backed by planes and
helicopters continue. Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet claims Turkish
fighter jets taking off from Diyarbakir air base bombed the PKK
positions in northern Iraq whereas the Islamist-oriented Zaman
claims the planes only made reconnaissance flights along the border
and in Iraq. Papers report over 1,000 special security forces were
deployed to the region, and landmine sweeping continued on the
border.

Editorial Commentary on Turkish Iraq Incursion, US-Turkey
Mehmet Tezkan comments in the mainstream daily Vatan: "The US is
obviously stalling Turkey on the PKK issue. We only see statements
from US officials and no concrete action. One wonders if this is
part of an American revenge-taking policy for Turkey's refusal to
allow US forces to enter Iraq in 2003. The man on the street is
very much in the mood to follow the Israeli example and hit the
targets in Northern Iraq without listening to anybody anymore. PM
Erdogan faces a very big challenge if he goes ahead with a
comprehensive cross-border operation which includes the risk of the
collapse of financial markets and a heavy blow to tourism. In any
case, if the PKK continues to carry out its attacks, the public
reaction may be uncontrollable. The hard part of this story is that
there is no clear formula to overcome the crisis. Both options --
carrying out a cross-border operation or not -- come with many
problems attached."

Taha Akyol observed in the mainstream daily Milliyet (10/26): "It
will be a long list if we try to list all the harms Turkey has faced
as a result of US actions. The Gulf War during the elder Bush's era
and the Iraq War during George Bush's era are quite enough. Turkey,
due to these two events, not only suffered financially but also lost
many lives because of terrorism and faced threats to its territorial
integrity. I'm not saying that the US administration shaped its
strategy to harm Turkey deliberately but it is also valid to ask if
the US should continue to pursue strategies which completely
undermine its ally's vital interests. Today it is very obvious that
Barzani has put terrorism before Turkey because he feels encouraged
due to US policies. This is the point of no return. Turkey faces
terrorism and does not find its friend on its side. The US must
prove its friendship through deeds not for Turkey's sake but because
of our bilateral strategic interests and for the stability of this

ANKARA 00002657 002 OF 003


region."

Iraqi High-Level Delegation in Ankara for PKK Talks
All papers report that following the recent meetings of Foreign
Minister Ali Babacan in Baghdad earlier this week, a high-level
Iraqi delegation arrived in Ankara yesterday evening to discuss
steps to eliminate the PKK's presence in the north of Iraq. The
Iraqi delegation will kick off talks Friday. The delegation
includes the Iraqi Minister for National Security Sherwan al-Waili,
Defense Minister Abd al-Qadir al-Mufriji, intelligence chief
al-Faisal, KDP foreign relations chief Safin Dizayi, PUK
representative Imad Ahmad, and Interior Ministry U/S Aydin Halit.
Some papers claim the Turkish General Staff (TGS) has objected to
the two Kurdish representatives in the delegation participating in
the meeting between TGS and the Iraqis today. The Turkish Foreign
Ministry (MFA) sources told papers Turkey attaches importance to
this visit, warning it may be a "last chance" for Iraq.

Cigarettes Smuggled into Turkey Provide Financial Support to the PKK

Liberal Radikal and leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet report that
according to the report published by the Smuggling and Organized
Crime Bureau of the Security department around $2.5 billion worth of
cigarettes are smuggled into Turkey every year. Reportedly,
cigarettes are produced in a factory in Dohuk and passed to the
Barzani family's company to be distributed to the smugglers
internally. Cigarettes are smuggled into Turkey on donkeys and in
groups of 10-15 people. Before crossing the border, smugglers are
forced to bribe the PKK militants at the border.

An American University in Istanbul Allows the Headscarf
Cumhuriyet reports that at the opening of New York's Alfred
University Istanbul campus the majority of the students and parents
were wearing the Islamic-style headscarf. Some of the students
complained that most of the teachers are wearing headscarves during
classes and talking about religion and that there are even students
attending the classes wearing a veil or full chador. Students
expressed their disappointment saying that they were expecting a
US-style university.

TV Highlights
NTV, 7.00 A.M.

Domestic News

- The Council of State (Danistay) has annulled the radio and
television watchdog RTUK's imposition of a news blackout regarding
the PKK attacks that killed 12 Turkish soldiers in Hakkari over the
weekend. Government spokesman Cemil Cicek said the government will
respect the Danistay decision.

- Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, attending the Black Sea
Economic Cooperation talks in Ankara, said the PKK presence in
northern Iraq was a serious problem that should be solved through
dialogue with the Iraqi government.

- The Turkish General Staff (TGS) has released a message to express
its gratitude for the support extended by the Turkish public, civic
and professional organizations to the Turkish military after the
terrorist attacks which killed 12 soldiers in Hakkari.

- Turkey's main Kurdish party DTP is to hold an extraordinary party
congress on November 8. Ahmet Turk said he will not run for the
party leadership. Firat Anli, the mayor of Yenisehir district in
Diyarbakir, is expected to be nominated for the post.

International News

- Jamal Abdallah, spokesman of the Kurdish regional government in
northern Iraq, has denied reports that there were any PKK offices in

ANKARA 00002657 003 OF 003


the region, dismissing Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's order to shut
down the offices of the organization.

- US Ambassador Ryan Crocker told reporters in Baghdad that the
Iraqi government should take steps to arrest the "PKK guerrillas"
when they come down from their mountain hideouts.

- PKK members say in an interview with Le Monde in Mount Kandil that
the goal of Turkey, backed by Tehran and Damascus, was to end the
autonomy of northern Iraq.

- A group of Iraqi women reporters who risk their lives to cover the
war are among the recipients of this year's "Courage in Journalism"
awards of he International Women's Media Foundation.
WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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