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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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RHMFISS/USDOCO 6ATAF IZMIR TU
RHMFISS/39OS INCIRLIK AB TU
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 000860

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
MONDAY, MAY 5, 2008


In Today's Papers

TGS Statements on Air Operations Against the PKK
All weekend papers and TV channels reported that the Turkish General
Staff (TGS) posted a statement on its website Saturday regarding the
results of air operations near Mount Kandil in northern Iraq on May
1st and 2nd. According to the statement, "All targeted
PKK/KongraGel installations in the Mount Kandil area were destroyed.
Among these installations, there were places where one terrorist,
who tried to govern the terrorist organization, frequently stayed.
According to preliminary assessments, as a result of this operation
more than 150 terrorists were rendered ineffective. The operation
led to great panic among the members of the terrorist organization.
It is believed that among those terrorists who were rendered
ineffective were high-level officials." Saturday's TV news and
Sunday papers interpreted this statement as an indication that PKK
leader Murat Karayilan was killed during the operations.

Meanwhile, today's mainstream Hurriyet reports that President Gul
spoke to reporters in Macedonia regarding the military operations
against the PKK. He noted, "Turkey's only target is the PKK
terrorists. Civilians in the region were not harmed."
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports that during a meeting with
lawyers from Diyarbakir, Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government (KRG)
President Massoud Barzani said, "The PKK should abandon violence."
Hurriyet and liberal Radikal report the KRG stated they will
establish 40 security points along the border in order to prevent
PKK infiltration from northern Iraq into Turkey.

PM Erdogan Discusses AKP Ideology and Syria During Interview with
Newsweek
All papers report Newsweek magazine interviewed PM Erdogan, who told
the magazine, "The AKP is not a party just for pious people, but is
a party for the average Turk. Our AKP government proves pious
people can protect secularism. Turkey has achieved success in
balancing Islam, democracy and secularism. We are absolutely
against ethnic nationalism, regional nationalism and religious
chauvinism. Turkey's democracy could be a source of inspiration to
the rest of the Islamic world." When asked about talks between
Israel and Syria, Erdogan said, "Due to Turkey's good bilateral
relations with Israel and Syria, both of the countries wanted Turkey
to enter into peace negotiations."

EDITORIAL OPINION: Newsweek and Washington Post Articles on Turkey

"Missing a Chance"
Gungor Mengi wrote in mainstream Vatan (5/5): "For politicians,
political life includes the element of living in your own
self-designed reality. The more a politician is good at this, the
more he can fool others as well. There are some limits to this, of
course, like Prime Minister Erdogan's recent Newsweek interview.
Erdogan begins the interview with shiny and easy-listening remarks
like, "The AKP is the party of average Turkish citizens." He also
said, "Our party proves that those who are religious can protect
secularism." He even describes Turkey as "an inspiration for the
rest of the Islamic world." At this point the interviewer can't
help but ask, "If you are that much of a liberal, then how do you
explain the claims of anti-secularism that led to the closure case
against the AKP?" PM Erdogan could not come up with a good answer
to this question, so he used his usual rhetoric, "This is an ongoing
judicial case about which I cannot comment." However by skirting
these allegations, he missed an important opportunity. He could
have admitted some of the party's mistakes, which led to the closure
case. He could have expressed regret. Such an approach would gain
enormous credit vis-`-vis the Turkish public opinion."

"Is the U.S. Leaning Toward Democracy in Turkey?"
Washington-based Ali Aslan wrote in Islamist-oriented Zaman (5/5):
"A May 2nd Washington Post editorial commented on the Bush
administration's approach to the danger posed to Turkish democracy.

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Washington's approach to this issue stopped short of choosing a side
in the closure case, while the EU specifically sided with the AKP.
It seems the Washington Post editorial could change some of the
Turkey-related dynamics in the U.S. capital. The Bush
administration tried to take a neutral position regarding the
struggle between democratic reformist civilian powers and the
pro-status-quo military and judiciary. The primary question at
this point is can Washington stay neutral when democracy is at stake
in Turkey? Clearly, the U.S. neo-cons are under the influence of
pro-secular groups in Turkey. I wish the more democratic groups in
Turkey could have a similar influence over neo-cons. When it comes
to Turkey-related issues, Secretary Rice listens to advice from Dan
Fried and Matt Bryza. Even though their role in shaping the current
U.S. policy is unknown, it is for sure that anti-AKP lobbies in
Turkey are doing their best to influence the Washington
administration. The more the American administration distances
itself from anti-democratic and paranoid lobbies, the more it will
gain ground in Turkey's democratic public opinion. Let's hope that
the Washington Post editorial becomes wake-up call."

Turkish Schools Teach Moderate Islam in Pakistan.
All media outlets cover the article published in The New York Times
yesterday which reports that Turkish schools in Pakistan, run by
supporters of Fethullah Gulen, teach a "gentler form of Islam."
Islamist papers carry the report in a straightforward manner, while
secularist papers carry the report with an air of sarcasm. For
example, mainstream Hurriyet writes, "New York Times Reporter
Couldn't Find Enough Words to Praise Gulen." Meanwhile,
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak writes, "The Gulen Movement Is A Global
Movement." Okay Gonensin of mainstream Vatan notes, "The New York
Times claims there are between 3 and 5 million Gulen followers in
Turkey. There's a big difference between 3 million and 5 million,
but if that is actually true, they could create the largest
political party in Turkey." Mainstream Sabah writes, "Moderate
Islam Is Taught in Pakistan in a Total of Seven Schools." Liberal
Radikal writes "The New York Times praises moderate Islam," that is
"taught by Fethullah Gulen schools."

Turkey-EU Troika Meeting Overshadowed by Closure Case, May Day
Tensions
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports that Turkey and the EU Troika will
meet tomorrow, but that the meeting "will be overshadowed by the
closure case against the AKP." Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak notes,
"EU officials will stress that the ban against the AKP is
incompatible with European values." Meanwhile, columnist Semih Idiz
of mainstream Milliyet expresses concern that "the EU did not
criticize the AKP's handling of May Day" which Idiz notes is also
not compatible with European values. Nevertheless, Zaman notes that
"police brutality will be discussed," and "EU officials will say the
police's intervention on May Day will harm Turkey," as "the image of
police brutality will harm Turkey's image." Saturday's Yeni Safak
notes EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn identified "rifts in
Turkey between extreme secularists and secularists, and between
elites and the middle class." Semih Idiz, in Milliyet, calls this
characterization, "too simplistic to reflect the complicated social
dynamics of Turkey."

Secretary Rice in the Middle-East
Milliyet reports U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited
the Middle-East for the 15th time within two years and this time she
met with Palestine leader Mahmud Abbas and Israeli Defense Minister
Ehud Barak. Milliyet notes Rice criticized Israel for building
housing units in the West Bank, stressed that the U.S. will support
Syria-Israel peace negotiations as long as the negotiations do not
cast a shadow over the Israel-Palestine peace negotiations, and
emphasized that Syria must change its Lebanon policy.

TV News:
CNN Turk


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Domestic News

Professional Military Service begins in Turkey. By the end of this
year, reserve officers will no longer serve as commandoes. By the
end of 2009, privates will no longer serve as commandoes. After
2010, commando brigades will consist only of officers,
non-commissioned officers and senior sergeants.

Four PKK terrorists were captured in Hakkari.

Unidentified people fired at the headquarters of Yeni Safak daily in
Istanbul last night around midnight. No injuries were reported, but
there was material damage to the fifth floor of the building.

A Vatan newspaper journalist and a photo journalist were beaten by
the members of the Ismailaga religious community Mahmut Hoca in
Beykoz district of Istanbul


International News

A cyclone killed more than 350 people in Myanmar

Afghanistan security officials arrested two government employees on
charges of links to Al-Qaeda and involvement in a plot to kill
President Karzai

Israeli PM Olmert and Palestinian President Abbas are planning to
meet in Jerusalem this week.

WILSON

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