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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2008


In Today's Papers

National Security Council Discusses Operations into Northern Iraq
All papers report the Turkish National Security Council (MGK) said
in a statement after a meeting Thursday the Turkish military would
continue to carry out cross-border operations against the PKK
terrorists in northern Iraq "whenever necessary." "MGK discussed
the importance of improving cooperation with Iraq in political,
economic, commercial, energy, cultural, and military fields as well
as in increasing humanitarian aid for Iraq," the statement said.

Mainstream Hurriyet says the statement could be seen as green light
for a visit of Iraqi President Talabani to Turkey. Mainstream Vatan
says Talabani would be invited for a working visit to avoid military
welcoming ceremonies.

Papers report that after the MGK meeting, Prime Minister Erdogan and
Foreign Minister Babacan remained in the presidential palace and
held a 45-minute meeting with President Gul. Reports speculate the
issue discussed at the "mini-summit" was the preparation for new
operations into northern Iraq.

Turkey Launches Ground Offensive into Northern Iraq
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Taraf, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman, and
others report Turkish artillery shelled PKK positions in northern
Iraq on Thursday, targeting the PKK camps in Zap, Hakurk, and
Avashin. Papers also say the Turkish military build-up on the
border has intensified to levels not seen before. Prior to the
National Security Council (MGK) meeting yesterday, Turkish fighter
jets conducted reconnaissance flights over northern Iraq. There
were reports Thursday evening that M-60 tanks were also sent to the
border area, and that Turkish artillery shelled the PKK positions in
northern Iraq.

Papers report Peshmerge forces spokesman Jabbar Yawar denied there
had been fighting Thursday between Peshmerge and Turkish troops
inside northern Iraq. The office of the Chief of Turkish General
Staff (TGS,) too, denied in a statement posted on its website there
had been clashes between Turks and Peshmerge forces.

Televisions report Friday morning over 10,000 Turkish troops crossed
the border into northern Iraq in a ground operation against the PKK.
The TGS said in a statement Friday morning it had launched the
ground offensive, backed by fighter aircraft, to attack the PKK
terrorists. Televisions say Turkish troops advanced some 10 km
inside the Iraqi territories. Turkish correspondents in northern
Iraq report the Kurdish regional administration leader Massoud
Barzani went to the "operations zone" to see the situation.

Industrialists Demand for Urgent Economic Measures
Radikal, Zaman, Sabah, Hurriyet, Taraf and others: Turkish
Industrialists' & Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD), Turkish
Clothing Industry (TGSD) and Union of Chambers & Commodity Exchanges
of Turkey (TOBB) drew attention to the unemployment problem and
asked the government to take necessary measures. Mainstream Sabah
summarizes the messages of the industrialists as follows: TUSIAD:
"The nearing municipality elections have fueled risks for public
finance. The importance of preserving fiscal discipline has
increased in the current conjuncture." TOBB: "The markets are in
difficult situation because of the tough foreign currency and
interest rate policies. The industry needs immediate incentives to
increase the competitive power of industrialists." TGSD: "Many
companies might be forced to shut down. Hundreds of thousands of
people might loose their jobs."

Turkish Constitution Debate at Columbia University Stirs
Controversy: Radikal carried an interview with Dengir Firat, an MP
from ruling AKP who is invited to attend a debate at Columbia
University on Turkish constitutional draft. Firat confirmed his
attendance and said that "we are going there to discuss our

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constitutional system with American experts; we are not going to
announce the new constitution there." Regarding the Fethullah Gulen
group's involvement as a sponsor to the event, Firat said he was not
aware of this. Columnist Hakki Devrim of Radikal daily highlighted
this visit as "Our Constitution Draft is Traveling to New York" and
questioned the fact that American experts are going to examine new
Turkish Constitution while Turkish people have absolutely no idea
what the new draft is all about. Columnist Ruhat Mengi of Vatan
daily expressed deep concern over this panel and described the event
incredible because the draft goes to the US first before it was made
it to Turkish public and discussed domestically.

Editorial Opinion on Turkey's Land Operation in Iraq:

"Land Operations are on the Table"
Ferai Tinc wrote in mainstream Hurriyet (2/22): "What could be the
main reason for Turkey's sporadic ground operation rhetoric?
Interestingly enough, Foreign Minister Babacan felt the need to
repeat this rhetoric on his way to Moscow. The fact of the matter
is that any operation will have to be shaped through consensus
between Turkey, Iraq and the US. There may be two reasons for
bringing the ground operation option to the public attention.
Turkey may decide to enter northern Iraq and take control over a
certain area, but this does not seem rational. Also, the ruling AKP
uses this rhetoric as a political tool for the domestic audience in
order to gain credit. Such an effort can be described as a bad
tactic because it creates vengeance. The AKP, just like the
previous administrations, has turned over the PKK fight to the hands
of military and did not want to be a part of solution process. It
is of course a comforting thing for the government to pass the issue
to military and be immune from taking political responsibility for
solution."

"Barzani Should not Stand Against Turkey"
Yasin Dogan wrote in Islamist leaning-pro government Yeni Safak
(2/22): "Earlier this week, Barzani made another irresponsible and
provocative statement. He talked about the limits of patience and
warns that they are not going to be silent against Turkish army
operations. In fact it is Turkey which feels enough is enough. A
cross border operation is being considered because northern Iraq has
become an active base for PKK attacks against Turkey. Barzani is
providing shelter and support to a terrorist organization, thus his
statements insisting he has nothing to do with PKK is far from
convincing. He should stop sponsoring the PKK and take every step
to get rid of PKK. Turkey has absolutely no interest in the Iraq
territory and respects its territorial integrity as long as PKK does
not operate there."

TV News:
NTV

Domestic News

- Opposition CHP has asked the parliament to initiate an
investigation into attacks against Christian clerics in Turkey and
Turks in Germany and other European countries.

- Opposition CHP is considering possibilities for applying to the
Constitutional Court for the annulment of the law on non-Muslim
minority foundations which was approved by the parliament earlier
this week.

- The Council of State has upheld a ruling of the lower court,
annulling a Council of Ministers decision to allow cyanide gold
production in Bergama.

- Risk management working group formed by Turkey's elite business
grouping TUSIAD warns that Turkey was among the countries to suffer
the biggest losses in global financial markets turmoil.


ANKARA 00000335 003 OF 003


International News

- Obama won his 11th straight victory over Clinton in the global
primary for Democrats living outside the US.

- President Abdullah Gul sent a message to the newly elected
Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan, calling for efforts to improve
relations.

- On Thursday, the US Navy successfully shot down an inoperable spy
satellite before it crashed to Earth.

- Iraqi security forces have been ordered to detain beggars and
mentally ill people found on Baghdad's streets to prevent their
exploitation by al-Qaeda.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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