Cablegate: Turkey: Pol-Mil Round-Up: January 2008
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SUBJECT: TURKEY: POL-MIL ROUND-UP: January 2008
(Note: This is one of a regular series of unclassified reports on
significant Turkish defense and national security issues in the
press and other open sources. End note.)
-- Turkey Continues Cross-Border Operations in N. Iraq
-- Anti-Terrorism High Council Convenes
-- Retired General Detained for Weapons, Assassination Plots
-- High Level Defense Group Meeting Held in Washington
-- Turkey's Security Relations with Other Countries
-- Defense Industry Activity
Turkey Continues Cross-Border Operation in N. Iraq
1. Turkey carried out air strikes against PKK terrorist positions in
northern Iraq on January 15. Turkish General Staff (TGS) announced
that over 60 targets were hit. Counter-terrorism operations within
Southeast Turkey against PKK terrorists continued during month. TGS
reported that 36 terrorists were captured and 17 surrendered in the
operations in Southeast, while no information on the number of
casualties in the cross-border operation was released.
Anti-Terrorism High Council Convenes
2. The Anti-Terrorism High Council convened under Deputy Prime
Minister Cemil Cicek on January 23. Cabinet members, high-level
military and intelligence officials participated in the meeting. A
statement released following the meeting noted that the Council
assessed the ongoing counter-terrorism activities and discussed
diplomatic, economic, social and other measures to be taken against
terrorism. The Council, as reported by the semi-official Anatolian
News Agency (ANA), reiterated Turkey's determination to combat
terrorism and assessed that on-going military operations have been
effective against PKK terrorists based in northern Iraq.
Retired General Detained for Weapons, Assassination Plots
3. Thirty-three persons, including retired BG Veli Kucuk (one of the
founders of the Turkish Jandarma's intelligence unit JITEM) and ret.
COL Fikri Karadag, were arrested on the grounds that they are
members of an illegal organization code-named 'Ergenekon.' The
investigation began with the discovery of grenades eight months ago
in a house in Umraniye district of Istanbul. Ergenekon has been
linked by police to a number of attacks, including the January 2007
murder of Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, February 2006 murder of an
Italian priest in Trabzon and the May 2006 Council of State killings
in Ankara. Turkish dailies reported that all of the revealed
members of the organization are public servants, many of whom are
former intelligence officers. Various pro-AKP and centralist dailies
reported that 'Ergenekon' planned to create a chaos in Turkey
through bombings in order to prepare the ground for a coup in 2009.
The investigation is on-going.
High Level Defense Group Meeting Held in Washington
4. Turkish Deputy CHOD GEN Ergin Saygun led the Turkish delegation
to the annual High Level Defense Group (HLDG) meeting in Washington
DC on January 29-31. GEN Saygun co-chaired the 21st annual bilateral
meeting along with Assistant Secretary of Defense for International
Security Affairs Mary Beth Long. Bilateral military cooperation,
foreign military sales credits, cooperation in training and defense
industry were discussed in the HLDG meeting. GEN Saygun also met
with his counterpart, Vice Chairman o of the Joint chiefs of Staff
Gen James Cartwright, Supreme Allied Commander Europe GEN John
Craddock, and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas
Burns. GEN Saygun visited several U.S. military bases and
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facilities before he returned to Turkey on February 7.
Turkey's Security Relations with Other Countries
5. Iraq: Turkish Deputy Chief of TGS GEN Ergin Saygun met with his
Iraqi counterpart Gen. Nasier Abadi in Baghdad on January 15.
Issues related to the armed forces of both countries including
counterterrorism and long-term military cooperation were discussed.
GEN Saygun also met with Commander of Multinational Forces GEN David
Petraeus in Baghdad. Counterterrorism activities were discussed in
the meeting, and the determination of both countries in cooperating
against terrorism was reiterated, according to Turkish media
6. Italy: Turkish Chief of General Staff GEN Yasar Buyukanit
received Italian Defense Minister Prof. Arturo Parisi on January 16.
The visit followed GEN Buyukanit's official counterpart visit to
Italy in October 2007. No information on the visit was made public.
7. UK: Turkish CHOD GEN Buyukanit met with his British counterpart
GEN Richard Dannet on January 21 in London. Their talks focused
mostly on Turkey's fight against terrorism, as reported by the
moderate pro-Islamic Zaman daily. GEN Buyukanit was also received
by British Chief of Defense Staff Sir Jock Stirrup, British Defense
Secretary Des Browne and Foreign Secretary David Miliband. Around
200 PKK supporters in London staged protests against the visit and
the cross-border operations, as reported by the center-right Sabah
8. Macedonia: Turkish CHOD GEN Yasar Buyukanit received Macedonian
Defense Minister Lazar Elenovski on January 30. GEN Buyukanit and
Elenovski held a live joint news conference at the TGS Headquarters.
This was the first time in memory that such a meeting was held with
media present. Underlining close military cooperation between the
two countries, GEN Buyukanit noted that 346 Macedonian military
officers have been trained at the NATO's Partnership for Peace
facilities in Ankara, 61 at the NATO's Center of Excellence-Defense
against Terrorism in Ankara, while a Turkish Special Team trained
375 Macedonian personnel in Macedonia. Answering journalists'
questions, GEN Buyukanit underlined Turkish military's unchangeable
stance on the headscarf issue and dismissed military's link to the
ultra-nationalist Ergenekon gang.
9. Qatar: Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul visited Qatar's Chief
of General Staff on January 21. No information about the subject of
their meeting was made public, as reported by the ANA.
10. Greece: TGS reported 49 air interceptions by Greek jets in
international airspace over the Aegean Sea in January. 32 incidents
of violation of Turkish territorial waters in the Aegean, and one
violation of airspace were reported in January.
Defense Industry Activity
11. Turkish defense company Aselsan speeded up design and
manufacture process for ASELPOD (navigation targeting pod) that will
enable warplanes to launch night operations by providing day time
operation conditions. ASELPOD will supersede LANTIRN (Law Altitude
Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night). ASELPOD is expected
to be delivered to the TAF in 2009 (ANA).