Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
MONDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2007
In Today's Papers
Turkish Warplanes Attack PKK Bases
All papers report that Turkish F-4 and F-16 fighter jets attacked
four PKK bases in northern Iraq. According to a statement posted on
the Turkish General Staff (TGS) website early Sunday, the air
strike lasted approximately three hours, followed by four hours of
long-range artillery shelling. Mainstream Hurriyet reports that
Turkish warplanes destroyed several PKK camps and eight
anti-aircraft batteries in the Kandil Mountains, Zap, Avasin and
Hakurk. Tabloid Aksam writes that Turkish fighter jets flew as far
as 100 kilometers into Iraq. Hurriyet writes that "the US opened
Iraqi air space and turned off the electrical instruments used to
jam Iranian air communications" in order for Turkey to complete its
mission. Mainstream Milliyet reports that TGS officials deny
claims that Iran also took part in shelling PKK targets. Papers
carry an announcement from the northern Iraqi Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan (PUK) that the PKK "suffered heavy losses in the strikes."
However, other Iraqi authorities claim one woman was killed and 140
families fled their homes. Mainstream Vatan and the
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak speculate that top PKK leaders Murat
Karayilan and Bahoz Erdal might have been killed in the strikes.
Mainstream Sabah quotes an unidentified Turkish officer as saying
that the destruction of some "75-80 percent of the PKK command has
triggered a process of psychological collapse in the PKK." Papers
also say that Iraq delivered a diplomatic note to Turkey concerning
the assessment of civilian damage. Papers emphasize that it was
"not a note of protest."
The chief of the TGS, General Yasar Buyukanit, told Kanal D on
Sunday, "I can categorically state that not a single civilian
target, not a single village was hit. Only previously identified
PKK camps were hit. There is no question of any accident."
Buyukanit also said, "by opening Iraqi airspace to us last night,
America gave its approval to the operation," Papers also report US
Embassy Spokesperson Kathy Schalow's comments that "we have not
approved any decision, it is not for us to approve. We were,
however, informed before the event."
Prime Minister Erdogan said the operation was very successful and
congratulated the pilots and other military personnel who carried it
out. "We will continue to wage this battle, both inside and outside
Turkey, for our nation's unity and peace," Erdogan said. Government
Spokesman Cemil Cicek, too, congratulated the military for the
success of the operations, and called on PKK members to surrender.
The DTP, Turkey's main Kurdish party, said that violence will not
resolve the Kurdish problem.
Papers also quote US State Department official Chase Beamer that the
Turkish air operation was Ankara's decision. He also said
Washington respects Turkey's right to defend itself and that the
target of the operation was the PKK, not the civilian villages in
Editorial Commentary on Turkish Air Attacks on the PKK in Northern
Murat Yetkin commented in the liberal-intellectual daily Radikal:
"Due to harsh weather conditions and the debate over the 'returning
home' legislation, the PKK surprised by this weekend's air strikes.
Turkey engaged in midnight air strikes after the US cleared Iraqi
air space. This kind of international cooperation demonstrates a
serious show of force. This operation's psychological effects
outshine its military results. With this operation, we see the
fruits of Turkish-American cooperation. This operation would not
be possible without the efforts of the United States. The US, who
controls Iraqi airspace, approved this operation. This weekend's
developments indicate that the November 5th Bush-Erdogan meeting
marked a turning point for implementing political and military
dialogue. The likely next step will be Ankara's recognition of the
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Kurdish Federation. As Chief of General Staff Buyukanit recently
said, Turkey would consider a modern federation in Iraq "rather
preferable." We may see cooperation emerge between the US, Iraq and
Iraqi Kurdish administration."
Washington-based Ali Aslan commented in the Islamist leaning daily
Zaman: "Two points were cleared during the November 5th Bush-Erdogan
meeting: The US will provide intelligence and will turn a blind eye
to Turkey's use of this intelligence in its limited military
operations. In return, Turkey will not engage in large scale ground
operations into northern Iraq and will not target civilians. Also,
the US asked Turkey to look for ways to reach a political
settlement, to which Turkey agreed. This strike was possible
because of this agreement between Turkey and the US. The Turkish
government, on the other hand, is working on plans for a
comprehensive amnesty. In addition, Ankara has expressed its desire
to engage with northern Iraqi leaders more, which also can be
considered as an effort toward a more political and diplomatic
Yilmaz Oztuna wrote in the conservative daily Turkiye: "According to
initial reports, the air strike included 50 planes and demonstrated
Turkey's military power. No country in the Middle East, except
Israel, has such a technical capacity. This operation carries
political importance because the US provided intelligence and
clearance to use Iraqi airspace, which is practically American soil.
With this air strike, we have witnessed an exemplary harmonious
Priest Stabbed in Izmir
All papers report that Italian Roman Catholic priest Adriano
Franchini was stabbed Sunday at his church in Izmir. Franchini
sustained non-life-threatening stab wounds to his stomach, was taken
to the hospital, treated and released. Police detained Ramazan Bay,
a 19-year-old suspect from the nearby city of Balikesir, who
attacked the priest following the mass. Liberal Radikal reports
that the assailant allegedly said he was influenced by the popular
Turkish series "The Valley of the Wolves," which touched on
Christian missionary activities in Turkey.
- Prime Minister Erdogan will travel to Madrid to join the First
Alliance of Civilizations Forum on January 15-16.
- Renowned Turkish pianist Fazil Say has become a target of the
Islamist-oriented media and groups after saying that Turkey is
becoming "increasingly Islamist."
- Turkey's main Kurdish party DTP leader, Nurettin Demirtas, is
expected to return to Turkey from Europe on Monday.
- The cooperation agreement between Turkey and Iran against the PKK
went into effect yesterday.
- Two Turkish pilgrims died in Saudi Arabia during "hajj" in the
last two days, raising the number of Turkish pilgrims who died this
year to 32.
- Kyrgyzstan's parliamentary elections were marred by allegations of
vote-rigging and tensions between rival political parties.