Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2008
In Today's Papers
Turkey Continues Anti-PKK Offensive in Northern Iraq
All papers over the weekend and today report that up to 10,000
Turkish troops crossed the border into northern Iraq on Thursday
night. The land forces were supported by warplanes, artillery and
combat helicopters. The Turkish General Staff (TGS) reported a
Turkish helicopter crashed during the operations but that Turkish
troops killed at least 112 PKK terrorists. Meanwhile, fifteen
Turkish soldiers were killed in clashes with the PKK. Monday's
papers cite the TGS as saying that the terrorists are panicking.
Nationalist-oriented Cumhuriyet reports "PKK fighters are accusing
each other of being spies and they are killing each other." Papers
report Turkish troops destroyed PKK camps in Zap and Cemco Valley.
Backed by F-16 fighter jets, Turkish troops are advancing toward the
Qandil Mountains, according to papers. Mainstream Hurriyet reported
on Saturday that Turkish troops destroyed bridges and roads that
could be used to extend logistical support to the PKK.
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports Monday that following the
Turkish cross-border operations into northern Iraq, Iran has started
to mass troops on its border with Iraq. Mainstream Vatan reported
Sunday that some Turkish troops will return home after the first
phase of the operations is completed. Some troops will remain in
northern Iraq and set up cross-border patrol stations to prevent
terrorist infiltration into Turkey. Papers quote unnamed Iraqi
sources who say Prime Minister Erdogan will send a delegation to
Baghdad this week to discuss the Turkish military's incursion into
Reactions to Turkish Offensive into Northern Iraq
All papers report Iraq's government issued a statement on Sunday,
which read, "The Iraqi government considers this unilateral Turkish
military action a threat to the stability of the region and a
violation of Iraq's sovereignty, and calls on Turkey to withdraw its
troops from Iraq as soon as possible." Iraqi Foreign Minister
Hoshyar Zebari said, despite Turkey's pledges to Baghdad that
Turkish troops would "avoid targeting the civilian infrastructure,"
five bridges had already been destroyed. Zebari warned that an
escalation in Turkey's operations in northern Iraq could destabilize
Weekend papers report Prime Minister Erdogan phoned President Bush
and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in order to ensure both
leaders Turkish troops will withdraw as soon as they destroy their
targets. President Abdullah Gul phoned Iraqi President Jalal
Talabani to tell him Turkey wanted to improve economic and political
relations. Islamist-oriented Zaman reports on Sunday that Iraqi
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Talabani accepted Turkey's
invitation, but will not go immediately. Foreign Minister Ali
Babacan instructed Turkish ambassadors around the world to explain
to their host countries the aim and scope of military operations
into northern Iraq.
Papers report over the weekend that Secretary Rice highlighted the
United States' "solidarity with Turkey" in the fight against the
PKK, but that "Iraq's stability and progress is in Turkey's
interest. So everyone should keep in mind that nothing should be
done to destabilize the situation in Iraq." Defense Secretary
Robert Gates warned that Turkey's military strike against the PKK in
northern Iraq will not solve the Kurdish problem. He recommended
political and economic measures in order to address the Kurdish
Papers report over the weekend that EU Expansion Commissioner Olli
Rehn said the EU "understands" Turkey, but warned that Turkey should
refrain from "disproportionate" military action, and "human rights
and the rule of law" should be respected. A German Foreign Ministry
spokesman said Berlin is following the operations with "major
concern," adding that Turkish military presence in northern Iraq was
"a serious risk to stability." The British Foreign Secretariat
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urged Turkey to protect civilians from harm and warned Turkey to
resolve the problem via diplomatic means. Russia also issued a call
for restraint after the start of the Turkish land operations.
Papers also report the Arab League urged Turkey to end the
offensive. A commentary in Islamist-oriented Zaman says "in order
to win the backing of Europe, Turkey should push for democratization
at home and launch Kurdish language broadcasts without delay."
Editorial Commentary on Turkish Offensive on Northern Iraq
"The Land Operation and Journalism"
Oral Calislar is a political scientist, author, and regular
columnist for Cumhuriyet. He writes with a liberal approach to the
Kurdish issue, human rights and democratization. He is opposed to
the Iraq war but often takes an objective view on Turkish-American
He wrote in leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet (2/25): "It is
disturbing to watch the war-mongering style of recent Turkish
television reporting. Over the past 25 years, history has taught us
that the fight against terrorism cannot be limited to military
action. The terrorism problem has social and political dimensions
that reach across borders. For a television journalist, it is very
easy to be motivated by ratings. However, this military operation
will have to come to an end sooner or later. The cultural, social
and political dimensions will continue to exist after this operation
concludes, and we will not be able to bring back those who were lost
in these battles. The truth is the US did not offer support for the
land operation as a step toward a Kurdish solution. Washington, in
the light of the Turkish public's growing fury against the PKK, was
forced to give its okay for a limited-scale land operation. Once
the operation is over, Turkey will have to deal with reforms.
However, so far we simply do not see the government with a plan for
social development. War-mongering journalism is an easy thing to
produce and it helps television stations' ratings. But what we
really need is common sense in order to produce a long-lasting
solution to the Kurdish problem."
"The Land Operation and the US"
Omer Taspinar is the Foreign Policy Director of the Turkey Project
at the Brookings Institute. He is an expert on Turkey, the European
Union, Muslims in Europe, political Islam, the Middle East and
Kurdish nationalism. He is a professor at the National War College
and an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University's School of
Advanced International Studies.
He wrote in leftist Taraf (2/25): "It appears as if Washington and
Ankara have enhanced their strategic and military cooperation. This
is proven by the recent high-level dialogue between the Pentagon and
the Turkish General Staff. Washington is creating a new anti-Iran
bloc that includes Sunni Arab countries, Turkey and Israel. As
Secretary Gates said, "Washington should not lose Turkey." He was
well aware of the fact that this approach requires solid cooperation
with Turkey against the PKK. The US gave a green light for Turkey's
land operation in exchange for Turkey's support for Washington's
policy to isolate Iran. Within Turkey, the land operation will
weaken the PKK's military capacity. But as we know, the
organization has deep social roots in Turkey. Grassroots support
for the PKK is fed by Turkey's social, economic and political
problems. The ruling AKP may be thinking of paving the way for
reforms after the land operation. Let us hope that expectation is
correct so we may see political steps following in the footsteps of
Turban Directive to Rectors from YOK Chairman
Sabah, Milliyet, Hurriyet, Aksam, Vatan, Zaman, Cumhuriyet, Radikal:
Following the Presidential approval of the constitutional
amendments freeing the use of turban in universities, Higher
Education Board (YOK) Chairman Prof. Yusuf Ziya Ozcan sent a written
directive to university rectors saying 'there is no need for any
other legislative arrangement to enforce the Article 10 and 42 of
the constitution'. Prof. Ozcan urged the rectors "not to prevent
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the students wearing turban from entering universities." However,
rectors said that amendment of articles 10 and 42 of the
constitution would not enable students wearing turban to enter
universities. They noted that legal process should continue and
supplemental article 17 of the YOK law should be amended as well.
Greek Cyprus Votes for a New President
Hurriyet, Sabah, Milliyet, Radikal and others: Greek Cypriots voted
in the second round of presidential elections yesterday.
Communist-rooted candidate Demetris Christofias and conservative
Kasolides both staked their campaigns on pledges to stave off
permanent partition by offering an olive branch to Turkish Cypriots.
Christofias won the elections with 53.36 % of the votes. During
his first speech after being elected as President, Christofias said
"Tomorrow is the start of a new day. Long live united Cyprus."
Hurriyet reports that Christofias extended his hand in friendship to
the Turkish Cypriots and added that he will meet with Turkish
Cypriot leader Talat very soon.
- Istanbul University Rector Professor Mesut Parlak said students
wearing the headscarf would not be admitted into the university
- The trial of the murderers of Armenian Turkish journalist Hrant
Dink will continue in Istanbul on Monday.
- Russia's ambassador to NATO, Dmitri Rogozin, said Russia will
never use force to resolve the problem of Kosovo, which unilaterally
declared its independence from Serbia.
- Pakistan has blocked access to the YouTube website because of
content deemed offensive to Islam.
- Cuba's National Assembly chose Raul Castro as Cuba's new president
- The Iraqi government has urged Ankara to pull back its troops from
Iraq as soon as possible.
- Following Turkish cross-border operations in northern Iraq, Iran
has started to mass troops at the Iraqi border.
- An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.6 rattled
Indonesia's Sumatra Island on Sunday.