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Cablegate: Turkey: Bureaucratic Elites Caught Holding Hands in the Dark

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PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHAK #1167/01 1771223
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P 251223Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6662
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 1251
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 4387
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RUEHAK/USDAO ANKARA TU
RUEUITH/TLO ANKARA TU
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEUITH/ODC ANKARA TU
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J-3/J-5//
RHMFISS/39ABG CP INCIRLIK AB TU
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/425ABG IZMIR TU//CC//
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 001167

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/25/2018
TAGS: MARR PGOV PREL TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: BUREAUCRATIC ELITES CAUGHT HOLDING HANDS IN THE DARK

Classified By: Political Counselor Janice G. Weiner, for Reasons 1.4 (b, d)

1. (C) SUMMARY. Evidence of secret alliances among Turkey's
unelected elites, including elements of the military,
judiciary, and bureaucracy, emerged in recent days. Although
Turks have long accepted as fact the existence of an alleged
"deep state" network pulling strings behind the scenes,
concrete evidence has been scarce. Now, revelations of a
meeting between a Constitutional Court judge and the
soon-to-be Chief of Defense have raised flags that the deep
state is more than legend. The controversy surrounding the
meeting -- and non-controversy in some quarters -- is further
evidence of Turkey's polarization and may have a corrosive
effect on the credibility of the highest court. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) "Taraf" daily headlined a report June 13 that
Constitutional Court Vice Chairman Osman Paksut paid a
hush-hush visit to Land Forces Commander General Ilker
Basbug, slated to become CHOD in August. The March 4 meeting
occurred ten days before the chief prosecutor filed the
closure case in the Constitutional Court against the ruling
Justice and Development Party (AKP). Taraf claimed the
entire floor where the general's office is located was
cleared and security cameras turned off prior to Paksut's
arrival for the one hour-plus meeting. According to Enis
Berberoglu of Hurriyet daily, Paksut twice denied the meeting
had taken place; after the Taraf story, however, Paksut
explained he had visited the general to congratulate him for
the military's late February cross-border ground operation
into Northern Iraq and offer his condolences on the loss of
27 troops. He also suggested that the emergence of this
story, three months after the fact, indicated he had been
under surveillance at the time, and claimed there were
efforts to convince the public that ties exist between the
Court and the Turkish General Staff (TGS).

3. (SBU) General Basbug on June 14 confirmed the meeting has
happened but stated its purpose was limited to discussing the
CBO; he denied other allegations. In an announcement, the
TGS described the meeting as "within the framework of
civilized friendship." The TGS criticized Taraf for
presenting the meeting "as if (Paksut and Basbug) met
secretly for a crime, although these organizations were not
involved in a crime at all." It also accused the newspaper
of resorting to unethical means by claiming its source was
within the TGS. The TGS charged that a campaign was being
conducted to tarnish the image of the Turkish Armed Forces
and its commanders, adding it would file legal charges.

4. (SBU) Subsequent media coverage revealed a striking split:
mainstream papers (including Hurriyet, which caught Paksut in
his initial denials) declared the story not worth reporting
and quickly ceased coverage; smaller and more fringe media,
however, were in a furor. Ultra-nationalist paper Yeni Cag
decried a disinformation campaign against the military.
Writers in Yeni Safak, Star, Bugun, and Aksam papers -- and
of course Taraf -- suggested the meeting, the lack of
transparency, and the threats of legal action against critics
were inappropriate in a democracy.

5. (C) Former justice Mustafa Bumin told us he does not
accept allegations of cooperation between Paksut and Basbug.
Bumin said in all his years as a top judge -- including five
as President of the Constitutional Court (2000-2005) -- he
had never received a single request from the military,
although brief official visits were very normal. However, he
hinted at his disapproval of this controversial meeting,
suggesting we should expect many other "incidents" from
Paksut, who as a former career diplomat "has a different type
of character."

6. (C) COMMENT. Turks have long believed the deep state
exists. The Paksut-Basbug meeting is one of the few
acknowledgments of shady inter-institutional liaisons -- made
all the more so by Paksut's multiple denials before his
admission. Increasingly over the past year, the judiciary,

ANKARA 00001167 002 OF 002


often encouraged by the opposition Republican People's Party
(CHP) and perhaps others, has stepped in to act as a check on
the elected government through rulings, public announcements,
or superficially routine speeches. This meeting -- which
occurred ten days before the chief prosecutor initiated
closure proceedings against AKP -- is being evaluated in that
light. Secrecy and defensiveness surrounding a "routine"
meeting demonstrate the disregard elements of the
bureaucratic elite have for democratic boundaries and public
transparency. The unnatural silence of mainstream media
highlights a split between those who are comfortable with
"guardianship democracy" and those who find themselves on the
wrong end of it. Even some AKP critics express disgust over
the incident. While the furor has died down, the bitter
taste left behind fuels suspicions of hidden bureaucratic
alliances and the high court's role in curbing the elected
government. END COMMENT.

Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at
http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/Portal:Turk ey

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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