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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EUR/SE, EUR/PD, NEA/PD, DRL
JCS PASS J-5/CDR S. WRIGHT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2008

In Today's Papers

Iraqi Parliament and Iraqi Kurds Condemn Turkish Offensive in
Northern Iraq
All papers report Turkey's military General Staff (TGS) said on
Tuesday two more Turkish soldiers were killed during a ground
offensive against the PKK in northern Iraq. This raises the Turkish
military death toll to 19. TGS said the total PKK death toll is at
153. TGS also said heavy snowfall was hampering the troops' advance
toward PKK camps in the mountainous region. Mainstream Hurriyet
reports the PKK were heard during radio exchanges saying they were
"stuck" in the area as Turkish troops close in on their bases.

Government Spokesman Cemil Cicek told reporters yesterday there were
no civilians in the area affected by the Turkish military's
operation. Cicek said Turkey has taken economic, social and
cultural measures to improve development in the mostly Kurdish
southeastern region over the last five years. Prime Minister
Erdogan told his ruling AKP group meeting yesterday the ground
offensive does not target the north of Iraq, but the terrorist
organization PKK itself. "We appreciate the stance of the Iraqi
government in cooperating with us," said Erdogan. "We appreciate
the intelligence information about the terrorists in northern Iraq
provided to us by our strategic partner the United States."

The main opposition CHP leader Deniz Baykal told his party group
yesterday the Turkish military should carry on operations until the
targets are achieved. "The greatest problem that might arise in the
future would be probable international interventions aiming to stop
the Turkish military," Baykal emphasized. Devlet Bahceli, chairman
of the opposition MHP, said Turkey should prevent the Peshmerge from
helping the escaping PKK terrorists seeking shelter. "Turkish
troops should stay in northern Iraq, and the government must impose
economic and political sanctions on the region," Bahceli said,
stressing the Iraqi government should ensure the security for the
Turkmen in the region.

The Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement,
"The cabinet expresses its condemnation for the Turkish military
interference, which is considered a violation of Iraq's
sovereignty." Dabbagh also noted a Turkish envoy would meet Iraqi
President Talabani and senior government leaders including Foreign
Minister Hoshyar Zebari in Baghdad on Wednesday. Papers report that
on Tuesday, the regional Kurdish Parliament held a meeting to
discuss the Turkish operation. A report prepared by a Peshmerge
commission urged the Turkish government to pay compensations for the
material losses sustained as a result of the incursion. The report
also suggested Iraq shut down the Turkish bases in northern Iraq.

US Officials on Turkish Operations in Northern Iraq
Hurriyet, Sabah, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others report
US Joint Chiefs of Staff Operations Director, General Carter Ham,
said Turkey did not need permission from the US for the cross border
operations. Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates is
expected "to ask Turkey to withdraw at least some of its troops from
northern Iraq." Addressing the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR,)
State Department Undersecretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns
"warned Kurdish leaders to take responsibility against the PKK," say
papers. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who is due in Ankara on
Thursday, warned the Turks to make this operation as short as
possible, "a week or two," and to be mindful of Iraqi sovereignty.


Turkish Delegation Travels to Baghdad
Turkish televisions report a Turkish special delegation traveled to
Baghdad Wednesday morning to hold talks with "the Iraqi president,
his two aides, and the foreign minister to boost bilateral ties
under the decisions taken at a recent Turkish National Security
Council (MGK) meeting." A statement released by the Turkish Foreign
Ministry (MFA) says the delegation includes deputy Turkish envoy to

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Iraq Murat Ozcelik, PM Erdogan's foreign policy advisor Ahmet
Davutoglu, and Prime Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Hakan Fidan.

Editorial Commentary on Turkish Land Offensive in Northern Iraq

"Success for Operation Sun and Its Prime Target"
Fikret Bila is a senior figure in Ankara's journalistic core and the
author of books on the Iraq war as well as Turkish-American
relations. He often relies on his high-level military sources when
commenting on current issues.
He wrote in mainstream Milliyet (2/27):
"This operation comes as a surprise given the severe weather
conditions. The surprising nature of this timing undoubtedly dealt
a serious blow to the PKK. There were around 400 PKK living in the
mountain camps that are currently surrounded by Turkish military.
Half of them were killed and the rest are on the run. Operation Sun
also succeeded in eliminating the PKK's communications and
logistical nerve center. However, the Turkish military's intentions
are clear; the military has no intention of maintaining a permanent
presence in northern Iraq. In addition, the military has no
ambitions regarding Kirkuk or Mosul. The PKK is the only target of
this mission. This goal was conveyed very clearly to both American
and Iraqi officials. In sum, Operation Sun hopes to prove the
Turkish military's capability to operate, regardless of climate
conditions, and to achieve the goal of rendering the PKK
ineffective."

"Three Dangers"
Erdal Safak is a senior columnist for mainstream Sabah. He is a
liberal, and often treats US foreign policy in a broader context
free from prejudice.
He wrote in mainstream Sabah (2/27):
"Turkey clearly stated its full respect for Iraqi territorial
integrity during this operation. In addition, Turkey has promised
an immediate withdrawal once the job is done. This approach has
garnered understanding and support from the international community.
It is also very important that Turkish authorities clearly separate
the fight against the PKK from the need to develop the largely
Kurdish southeastern region of Turkey. However, there are three
potential threats to this road map. First, some circles in Turkey
have called for a buffer zone between northern Iraq and Turkey, but
Turkey should not even consider this. Such an effort will be
interpreted as invasion of Iraq or, at the minimum, a violation of
Iraq's territorial integrity. The second danger is to use the fight
against the PKK as an excuse to defer the reform process. Several
Turkish officials have expressed reluctance to pursue reforms and
this is very wrong. The third danger is the most challenging one.
This operation may create a negative impact on our Kurdish citizens
and they may feel alienated. This week's protests against the
operations are disturbing, as are the alarming attitudes
communicated by politicians of Kurdish origin. They are talking
about 'resistance' and 'new approaches.' We have to take immediate
action to enhance brotherly ties with Kurds, and this action should
be honest and courageous."

Headscarf Controversy Continues in Universities
All papers report confusion continues in Turkey's universities after
the decision to lift a ban on students wearing the headscarf on
campus. Opposition MHP Leader Devlet Bahceli, whose party voted
with the AKP on the headscarf amendments under the condition the
Higher Education (YOK) Law was changed, reminded the AKP that their
agreement was made "in honor" and criticized the AKP for recent
comments that the constitutional changes are enough and the higher
education law does not need to be changed. Many academics and
rectors also say the government must amend the Higher Education
Board (YOK) Law while others say the current reform is sufficient.
Following the presidential approval of the reforms, YOK President
Yusuf Ziya Ozcan distributed a written order to university rectors
to allow students wearing headscarves to enter classes. Ozcan said
he will seek disciplinary action against the rectors barring

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students wearing the headscarf from universities. On Thursday, the
inter-university board of rectors will hold an extraordinary meeting
to discuss the headscarf controversy. The head of the board,
Mustafa Akaydin, blames the YOK president for the troubles in
universities and has asked him to apologize for "infringing upon
secularism."

On Tuesday, some universities allowed students with headscarves
while others did not. The Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak sees the
situation in universities as "calm," noting "girls wearing
headscarves and those who don't walk hand-in-hand in the
universities that have removed the unlawful ban."

On Wednesday, opposition CHP will apply to the Constitutional Court
to demand the annulment of constitutional reforms relating to the
headscarf ban in universities.

DTP Rally in Van; DTP Group Chairman Ahmet Turk Comments on the CBO
Sabah, Milliyet, Radikal, Hurriyet, Yeni Safak and others:
Following the pro-Kurdish DTP rally in Diyarbakir, around 200 people
gathered in front of the DTP building in Van yesterday to protest
the land operation to northern Iraq. While chanting slogans against
the AKP and PM Erdogan, the group clashed with police. Four
policemen and several protestors were injured. Liberal Radikal
reports that nine protestors were detained.

Meanwhile, at the DTP parliamentary group meeting, deputies carried
banners saying "no to war". In his speech, DTP group chairman Ahmet
Turk criticized the operation of the Turkish Military. He termed
the operation as a "war" and claimed that the target of the
operation is not the PKK but the oil in Mosul and Kirkuk.

Britain Deports PKK Financial Manager
Sabah, Yeni Safak, Cumhuriyet, Hurriyet, and others: Papers report
that British Intelligence agency M15 deported Selman Bozkur, the PKK
member in charge of the financial activities of the organization in
Europe. Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak says Bozkur, whose property
was seized, is thought to have gone to France.

Nevsehir University to Open Armenian Language Department
Mainstream Hurriyet reports that Nevsehir University Faculty of
Science and Literature dean Prof. Metin Hulagu said that they had
applied to Higher Education Board (YOK) for permission to open
departments of Armenian, Greek and Jewish and noted that they can
invite academicians from Armenia.

TV Highlights
NTV

Domestic News

- Six new suspects including a professor, a journalist and a writer
have been arrested as part of a widening investigation into the
far-right "Ergenekon" gang. The gang is believed to have been
plotting a series of bombings and assassinations in an attempt to
force a military coup in Turkey.

- President Abdullah Gul has approved the Foundations Law enacted by
parliament last week, which allows foreigners to set up new
foundations in Turkey. The reform is criticized for being too
restrictive because it does not allow the return of properties
confiscated by the Turkish state and then sold on to third parties.


- Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay said cross-border military
operations into northern Iraq would not have a negative impact on
Turkish tourism.

International News


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- Several political figures and government officials who declared
their support for former President Levon Ter-Petrosian have been
arrested in Armenia.

- Turkish Cyprus leader Mehmet Ali Talat said Cyprus peace talks
might resume in April. UN Special Representative in Cyprus Michael
Moller is to meet Talat on February 28.

- On Tuesday, some 10,000 Bosnian Serb rioters tried to storm the US
consulate in Banja Luka after protests against Kosovo's
independence.
WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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