Search

 

Cablegate: Turkey: Main Alevi Organizations Boycott Pm

VZCZCXRO3217
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHAK #0073/01 0141430
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 141430Z JAN 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4923
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J-3/J-5//
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEUITH/ODC ANKARA TU//TCH//
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEUITH/TLO ANKARA TU
RUEHAK/TSR ANKARA TU
RUEHAK/USDAO ANKARA TU

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 000073

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/14/2017
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL OSCE TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: MAIN ALEVI ORGANIZATIONS BOYCOTT PM
ERDOGAN'S IFTAR

REF: 07 ANKARA 3016

ANKARA 00000073 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: Political Counselor Janice G. Weiner, reasons 1.4 (b),
(d)

1. (C) Summary: Turkey's main Alevi organizations boycotted
a January 11 Muharram iftar organized by Justice and
Development Party (AKP) MPs as outreach to Alevi communities.
They saw the event as "Sunni-centric", aimed at assimilating
Alevis into mainstream Sunni society, and demonstrated their
ire by threatening the extraordinary community step of
"ostracizing" Alevi participants. About 800 guests
reportedly attended, the majority of whom were AKP deputies
rather than Alevis. Erdogan's outreach was well-intended but
clumsily implemented and surprisingly naive: the approach
indicated a lack of understanding of the disparate nature of
Turkey's largely secular Alevi groups. Erdogan's promise
"not to remain indifferent" to Alevi demands was undercut by
his claim that he hadn't heard their oft-repeated requests
for more equitable treatment for their religion. Until now,
they may have talked but he truly may not have listened. End
summary.

--------------------------------------------- ---
Participants Say Iftar a Historic Outreach Event
--------------------------------------------- ---
2. (C) Approximately 50 Alevis from several organizations
risked shunning to attend a January 11 AKP-hosted iftar held
to commemorate the Muharram month of mourning. Participant
Kurtcebe Noyan told the press, "This iftar was a first in the
Republic's history. Erdogan made remarks that could help
thaw the ice between the state and the Alevi community. He
proved that the state has adopted a brand new stance toward
the Alevis." Alevi Professor Osman Egri told us the event
was part of a wider governmental effort at Alevi outreach
that includes establishing a training center for Alevi dedes
(spiritual leaders) and his own project of publishing books
on Alevi history through the Directorate of Religious Affairs
(Diyanet).

3. (U) AKP MP Reha Camaroglu, an Alevi advising Erdogan on
Alevi issues, said the event was meant to launch AKP's
broader Alevi outreach efforts (reftel). He expected a
number of groups to boycott, particularly groups that suspect
AKP has a hidden religious agenda and is merely vote-seeking.
Those who accused Erdogan of insensitively hosting an iftar
when Muharrem is about mourning were disingenuous
ultrasecularists who generally shun all things religious.
Erdogan is sincerely committed to resolving Alevi problems,
Camaroglu claimed.

-------------------------------------
Main Alevi Groups Boycott AKP's Iftar
-------------------------------------
4. (U) Turkey's main Alevi organizations and most respected
Alevi spiritual leaders boycotted AKP's iftar as a
"Sunni-centric" AKP initiative which they said is aimed at
assimilating Alevis. Representatives of the Alevi Bektasi
Federation (an umbrella organization representing 155
associations and 35 foundations), the Cem Foundation, and the
European Alevi Confederation told us Erdogan and Camuroglu
organized an elaborate Sunni-style dinner during which they
declined to discuss the Alevi problems that AKP has ignored
for years. Alevis traditionally fast and mourn for 12 days
in memory of Hussein's death at Karbala and the sufferings of
the 12 Imams, and break their fast at a modest gathering of
friends and neighbors. In a joint press conference prior to
AKP's iftar, dedes (spiritual leaders) from these groups
jointly condemned the event and stated they would shun Alevis
who participated.

5. (SBU) Alevi leaders harshly criticized Alevis who
attended. Pir Sultan Abdal Association President Kazim Genc
told the press Alevi groups that participated were either
"fake associations" or groups whose leaders had already been
excluded from the Alevi community. He noted that PM Erdogan
did not use the word "Alevi" even once during his speech at
the iftar. Hussein Gazi Association's Ali Yildirim claimed
no respectable Alevi attended.

-----------------------------------------

ANKARA 00000073 002.2 OF 002


Boycotting Groups Question PM's Sincerity
-----------------------------------------
6. (SBU) Alevi groups maintain the PM demonstrated his
insincerity toward resolving Alevi demands when he told the
press January 13 that the Prime Ministry had not yet received
a request to consider cem houses as temples -- a
long-standing Alevi demand. If there were such a request,
Erdogan said the government would take necessary steps,
including in the context of constitutional reform, to solve
the problem. Representatives from the Cem Foundation
skeptically noted that the Prime Ministry in 2005 had
received and rejected that very request. In the past, GOT
officials have used the excuse that it was not possible under
current Turkish law. The Cem Foundation appealed to the
Ankara Administrative Court, which on January 11 -- the same
day as AKP's iftar -- unanimously denied their appeal. The
court ruled that no place other than a mosque can be deemed a
"place of worship" and receive a share of the GOT budget.

--------------------------
CHP Tries to Fill the Void
--------------------------
7. (U) Opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader
Deniz Baykal was quick to use the iftar controversy for his
own outreach to Alevis, an important segment that
traditionally votes for CHP. On January 13, he invited Alevi
organizations to eat ashure (the traditional Alevi Muharram
meal) at CHP headquarters, saying the Alevi community can
overcome the grief of the killings of Imam Hussein through
unity and solidarity.

---------------------------------
Reactions from Media and Academia
---------------------------------
8. (C) Several commentators welcomed the iftar as a positive
step. "Aksam's" Ismail Kucukkaya praised the PM and
Camuroglu for organizing the "historic event." "Radikal's"
Murat Yetkin said Erdogan's attendance at the dinner was a
very positive step despite criticisms.

9. (C) Academic experts on Alevi issues told us the event's
"clumsy" organization caused the initially constructive
outreach initiative to backfire. Professors Aykan Erdemir
(Middle East Technical University) and Tayfun Atay (Ankara
University) described the event's organizer, Camuroglu, as a
"brilliant intellectual" who, as an inexperienced politician,
failed to take into account the political complexity of the
issue.

10. (C) Comment: AKP's iftar revived Alevi fears of AKP
desires to assimilate rather than accommodate them. The
Alevi community's strong reaction highlights the work ahead
for PM Erdogan if he truly wants to narrow the wide
credibility gap that exists between the AKP and fiercely
secular Alevi communities. AKP has put forth some
groundbreaking proposals (reftel), but will need to fine-tune
its apparently rudimentary understanding and approach if it
wants to make real progress on winning over the disparate
Alevi factions. End comment.

Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at
http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/Portal:Turk ey

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO: