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Cablegate: Turkey/Iraq Sitrep 3: Ground Operation Continues,

VZCZCXRO5485
OO RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHAK #0342 0541217
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 231217Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5324
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/39ABG CP INCIRLIK AB TU IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/425ABG IZMIR TU//CC// IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL IMMEDIATE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J-3/J-5// IMMEDIATE
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEUITH/ODC ANKARA TU//TCH// IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC//USDP:PDUSDP/ISA:EUR/ISA:NESA/DSCA//
RUEHAK/USDAO ANKARA TU IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS ANKARA 000342

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL MOPS MARR PTER TU IZ
SUBJECT: TURKEY/IRAQ SITREP 3: GROUND OPERATION CONTINUES,
GENERAL STAFF ANNOUNCEMENTS, PRESS REACTION

REF: A. ANKARA 0331

B. ANKARA 0340

1. (U) Turkish ground operations inside of northern Iraq
continue, with Turkish troops supported by artillery and air
strikes as well as helicopter gunships.

2. (U) In a public announcement late on February 22, the
Turkish General Staff (TGS) reported that operations are
being carried out by Jandarma forces under the command of the
Second Army, with the support of Turkish Air Force aircraft
as well as helicopters and artillery. According to the
announcements, 24 PKK terrorists and five Turkish military
were killed in a clash that took place on February 22. The
TGS also states that at least 20 more terrorists were killed
by Turkish artillery and helicopter gunships, while an
unknown number of additional PKK were likely killed or
wounded by air strikes and long-range artillery fires. The
military reports destroying many man-made and natural
shelters used by PKK terrorists, as well as a considerable
amount of ammunition, equipment and food supplies. The TGS
statements also report that PKK terrorists, including some
leadership, are fleeing south in panic.

3. (U) Reacting to intense media speculation concerning the
ongoing operation, the TGS issued other public announcements
on February 22 criticizing media outlets for publishing false
information and misleading photographs concerning the goals
of the operation as well as the size and composition of the
military units involved. The TGS statements also requested
that credence not be given to statements in the press by
unnamed military officials, and urged media organizations not
to draw attention to announcements made by PKK-related
organizations.

4. (U) Turkish newspapers continue to speculate on the size
and scope of the ground operation, which is reportedly
code-named "Operation Sun," involves 2000 to 10000 troops,
and will last up to two weeks. Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak
and nationalist-oriented Cumhuriyet report that the U.S. knew
of an impending ground operation up to two weeks in advance
and that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ADM Mullen
sent Vice Chairman GEN Cartwright to Ankara on February 13 to
discuss the details. All papers attribute to Secretary Rice
comments that the U.S. "supports Turkey and is in solidarity
with the government of Turkey," but that "Iraq's stability
must not be harmed."

5. (U) Columnists from the left to the right of the political
spectrum, including both secularist and Islamic leaning
commentators, support the operations but call for the
government to take political, economic, and diplomatic steps
to deal with the Kurdish problem. Yalcin Dogan of mainstream
Hurriyet writes that "this is the 25th land operation since
the 1980s and we are still talking about land operations. I
hope that this land operation leads the government to talk to
the Iraqi government, to initiate dialogue with (Masoud)
Barzani, and to develop a comprehensive plan." Derya Sezak
of mainstream Milliyet writes that "Turkey cannot achieve
results unless military actions are attached to a civilian
solution that includes democratic measures and promotion of a
culture of peaceful coexistence." Oral Calislar of
nationalist-oriented Cumhuriyet writes "historically, Turkey
has treated the Kurdish issue from the security perspective
as a threat. The policy so far treats the Kurds as a
community that needs to be assimilated. Even if these
military operations succeed, the Kurdish issue will not be
over. Political and democratic steps are needed." Ali
Bayramoglu of Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak writes "operations
are fine, but even if they are successful, what about taking
democratic steps to address the Kurdish issue?" This type of
military operation may harm Turkey's relations with the EU.
It will be interesting to see if democratic steps will follow
military action."

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

WILSON

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