Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 5, 2008
In Today's Papers
Troop Withdrawal Controversy between the Military and the
Sabah, Milliyet, Yeni Safak, Zaman, Cumhuriyet, Radikal, Vatan and
others: During a party meeting yesterday, opposition CHP leader
Deniz Baykal criticized the AKP government for bowing to US pressure
to withdraw from Iraq. Baykal stressed, "I am talking on behalf of
the Turkish nation as the head of the main opposition party and I
signed the motion that tasked the Turkish military with this
MHP leader Devlet Bahceli addressed his party group and said the
operations in northern Iraq were carried out within limits
determined by the US. Bahceli added "the military's sudden
withdrawal caused surprise and disappointment. This shows there is
a serious communication problem between state institutions. The
Turkish public learned of the troop withdrawal from the spokesman of
the northern Iraqi Administration." Bahceli also criticized the
Turkish General Staff (TGS) for using terms such as "command center"
and "logistical installations" in its statements about the PKK, as
if the terrorist organization were a regular army. Bahceli said
that such references may cause the terrorist organization to gain
undeserved prestige. Mainstream Vatan, Sabah and Islamist-oriented
Zaman say that Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan warned both opposition
parties not to drag the military into political debates. Sabah
reminds that earlier, during the presidential elections, PM Erdogan
was also the target of a harsh military statement.
In reaction to the opposition parties' criticism, the TGS issued a
harsh response on its website. "Such unfair and worthless attacks
do more harm to the military than treachery." The statement noted
that "the Turkish Military never wanted to enter the political
debate, but for the first time in the 24-year long fight against
terrorism," the military is the subject of attacks.
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak refers to TGS statement as the
"e-memorandum to the opposition."
Editorial Opinion on Cross Border Operation Debate
"The US and Yet Another Scandal"
Mustafa Mutlu is a popular columnist on domestic issues and he
writes in mainstream Vatan (3/5):
"Turkey is still debating whether the US influenced Turkey's
decision to end its cross border operation. Even if we assume that
such influence does not exist, it is still very difficult to explain
something else. During a conference at Columbia University, Turkish
participants presented the turban-related Turkish constitutional
changes to American participants. Thus, Americans learned the
details of the new constitutional draft before the Turkish public.
Moreover, this conference was sponsored and organized by a group
affiliated with the religious sect leader Fethullah Gulen. Though
these may be two separate events, they are equally damaging. But
wait, there's more. The Columbia University conference participants
from Turkey, including an AKP parliamentarian who sits on the party
board, debated the headscarf issue in front of Americans; the AKP
deputy even complained about Turkey to the Americans. When it comes
to international relations, it really matters how you see yourself
and your country. Others may treat you like you belong to a state
in a colony, but national pride can overcome this. The Turkish
army, at least, stood up and said openly that the decision to
withdraw was entirely the army's prerogative. I really wonder, how
will those who debated the Turkish constitution in the US during an
event sponsored by Fethullah Gulen be able to justify their
"The Military Shadow Over the Debate"
Mehmet Y. Yilmaz is a senior columnist and one of the top executives
of the Hurriyet board. He writes in mainstream Hurriyet (3/5):
"The CBO withdrawal debate is continuing on an absurd level. The
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debate has finally become a platform for political rhetoric and this
debate is not moving us forward. Instead, it is causing us to run
in circles. The Turkish army's involvement in this debate is
difficult to understand. The Turkish army initiated a military
operation based on a mandate passed by the parliament. In other
words, the political consequences of the cross border operation are
a concern of the government, not the military. The government
should face this political criticism, not the military. Currently,
the AKP government is hiding behind the military. This is a
surprising development considering this government used to be very
uncomfortable with the military's influence. This is a very funny
country that we live in indeed."
Diplomacy Traffic Increases Following the Cross Border Operation.
All news outlets report Iraqi President Jalal Talabani will visit
Ankara in a "working visit" on Friday. Mainstream Sabah points out
that "no welcoming ceremony will be held in honor of Talabani in
Ankara." Mainstream Vatan also notes "President Gul will not host a
banquet in honor of Talabani." Mainstream Milliyet writes "in the
bilateral discussions, Turkey plans to ask the Iraqi government and
the regional administration of northern Iraq to actively support
efforts against the PKK." Nationalist-oriented Cumhuriyet predicts,
"Talabani may come to Turkey while Ahmedinejad visits Turkey so the
three leaders can hold a three-party summit on the fight against
terror." Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak cites CNN Turk in saying that
US Vice-President Dick Cheney will come to Turkey after March 17 to
discuss Iraq and the fight against the PKK.
Israel Says, "Hamas Is No Different from the PKK."
Liberal Radikal reports in "According to Israel, There Is No
Difference between Hamas and the PKK," that Israeli Ambassador Gabby
Levy held a press conference "to compare Turkish cross-border
operations against the PKK to Israeli operations in Hamas-controlled
areas of Gaza." Nationalist-oriented Cumhuriyet writes in "Israel
Sends a Message to Erdogan: There Is No Difference between Hamas and
the PKK," that Levy called Erdogan's opposition to Israeli
operations "of concern" and noted "of the 100 people who were killed
in Gaza, 90 were militants." Mainstream Sabah notes Levy's
response to Erdogan's claims of genocide in Gaza, "Israeli
Ambassador Gabby Levy noted Israeli operations in Gaza cannot be
described as genocide in the same way that that it is not possible
to describe the Armenian events of 1915 as genocide."
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports in "The Israeli Ambassador Draws a
Parallel between the Armenian Events of 1915 and Gaza," that "Levy
emphasized Israel's right to defend itself against a terrorist
organization," and noted "whether in Gaza or in northern Iraq, we
believe we must fight against terror."
- The Ankara prosecutor has asked the parliament to lift the
parliamentary immunity of DTP deputy Emine Ayna, who is accused of
launching PKK propaganda.
- A group of students at Kocaeli University staged a sit-in protest
during the visit of the YOK President Prof. Yusuf Ziya Ozcan. The
students chanted slogans and threw eggs at his car.
- Alevi groups have welcomed the Council of State decision saying
that obligatory religion classes are unconstitutional.
- The Dutch government announced Tuesday that it has formally
recognized the independence of Kosovo.
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- Secretary Rice and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged
resumption of peace talks at a joint press conference yesterday.
- Tehran has dismissed the UN Security Council-approved sanctions
against Iran due to its nuclear program.