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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 001156

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, JUNE 23, 2008

In Today's Papers

Taraf Reports TGS Plan to Manipulate Turkish Media and Society
Weekend Hurriyet, Milliyet, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Yeni Safak
and others give extensive coverage to recent reports by the leftist
Taraf daily which claimed the Turkish General Staff (TGS) was
implementing a plan to manipulate the media against the adversaries
of the military in Turkey. The "Information Support Activity Action
Plan" published in Taraf on Friday was drawn up in September 2007 by
the TGS and is said to have intended to direct society along the
lines of the military's views. According to Taraf's story, TGS's
plan included efforts to change the views of journalists,
celebrities and opinion leaders. In the plan, the military tries to
portray the members of the pro-Kurdish political party DTP as
"terrorists." In addition, the military top brass argued that
Islamist fundamentalist actions were being planned and implemented
by the ruling AKP, Taraf argued. The plan sought to bring the
judiciary in line with the military, to manipulate the media to
support the military; to support opinion leaders who block
defamation campaigns against the military; and to agitate Turkey's
Kurds by various intrusive tactics, including searches, targeting
civilians at the Iraqi border with Turkey.

In a statement posted on its website, the TGS rejected the
allegations and said it had no plan to manipulate the Turkish public
opinion. "According to TGS records, there is no such plan or
official document approved by the command headquarters," the
statement said. TGS Chief General Yasar Buyukanit told reporters
the military had no such plan, and dismissed Taraf's claims as
"cheap propaganda" against the military. Islamist-oriented Yeni
Safak says the statement was "not convincing." Mainstream Milliyet
says the statement creates the impression that the document was
prepared by low-ranking military officials, but was not approved by
high-level commanders.

Papers: U.S. Praises the AKP
Sunday's Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet,
Zaman and others report Secretary Rice told a gathering at the
Council on Foreign Relations (CFR,) "We are not going to get
involved in the current crisis or the current controversy in Turkey,
but we need to continue to speak up for reform, democracy and
secular democracy in Turkey." In addition, she said, "I think
secular democracy in Turkey is important, but it is also important
that religious people are a part of the country." She noted, "The
AKP has reached out to the poor, rural and religious people in
Turkey." Rice also said, "The prospect of European Union accession
has been extremely important to reform in Turkey. Without that
prospect, it is going to be hard to continue."

Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak says, "Rice spoke up for democracy in
Turkey." In "Rice Praises AKP's Agenda for Democratization,"
mainstream Hurriyet highlights Rice emphasized the U.S. has
"excellent relations with the AKP, President Abdullah Gul and
Foreign Minister Ali Babacan." Saturday's edition of mainstream
Sabah reports, "The U.S. sent a warning to Turkey" regarding the
closure case against the AKP. Sabah notes Deputy State Department
Spokesman Tom Casey told reporters, "We firmly support Turkish
democracy and we certainly expect that the Turkish courts will
consider the will of the people when they make their decision."

PACE to Discuss AKP Closure Case
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports the Parliamentary Assembly of
the Council of Europe (PACE) will convene an "urgent" session on
June 26th. Debate will include the closure case against the ruling
AKP and the Constitutional Court's annulment of the AKP-MHP
sponsored headscarf-related constitutional amendments. PACE may
determine Turkey should be placed on a "post-monitoring" watch list.
The AKP lawmakers, however, will ask PACE to not place Turkey on
the list, saying it would negatively affect Turkey's EU membership
chances, says Yeni Safak.

ANKARA 00001156 002 OF 003

Attack Helicopter Production Begins
Sabah, Milliyet, Yeni Safak, Vatan, Cumhuriyet, Star: Papers report
that Turkey's TUSAS Aerospace Industries (TAI) and Italy's Augusta
Westland will start co-production of 90 attack helicopters. A
ceremony will be held in TUSAS' Akinci facilities tomorrow to mark
the beginning of the production of the helicopters.
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports that Augusta Westland won
Turkey's attack helicopter tender in March 2007. TAI is the local
prime contractor of the project and Turkish Aselsan and Italy's
Augusta will be the sub-contractors. 90 attack and tactical
reconnaissance helicopters will be produced using national software
and hardware systems, Yeni Safak adds.

Iraq Gives Green Light to Turkish Companies for Oil Exploration
Sabah, Milliyet, Cumhuriyet: Iraq's Petroleum Ministry issued
permission to six more foreign companies, including a state-run
Turkish company (TPAO), to participate in the future tenders to
operate Iraq's oil and natural gas reserves. The other five
permitted countries are Vietnam, Pakistan, Thailand, Angola and
Algeria.

DTP Wants to Open a Bureau in the US
Bugun, Yeni Safak: Conservative Bugun and Islamist-oriented Yeni
Safak report that mainly Kurdish party DTP Istanbul deputy Sabahat
Tuncel said that they want to open a representation in Washington DC
to improve diplomatic relations with the US.

Editorial Commentary on the Middle East

"Toward Peace in the Middle East"
Kamuran Ozbir wrote in nationalist Ortadogu (6/23): "Even a tiny
country like Qatar has succeeded in mediating peace by bringing
Lebanese groups together. Recent developments indicate important
steps toward peace in the Middle East are increasingly initiated by
regional actors. These developments come as the United States fails
in its pursuit to drive the peace process in the Middle East. While
Qatar established a consensus between Lebanese groups, Turkey is
mediating between Syria and Israel. Syria is willing to cooperate
and apparently Damascus does not want to wait for the new American
administration before taking steps to end its isolation. The Saudi
King's invitation to the Iranian president for the Islamic Dialogue
Conference in Mecca is not an ordinary incident. Both the Saudi and
Iranian regimes are trying to find ways to eliminate Shiite-Sunni
tension in both Lebanon and Iraq. However, all of these efforts
for peace will eventually require the involvement of the United
States. Washington, at least for the sake of Israel's safety, will
have to be involved in the process. This involvement does not have
to mean a peace agreement signing ceremony at the White House. But,
it will be very effective if the U.S. becomes a signatory to peace
agreements in the Middle East."

"Tension in the Iran-Israel-U.S. Front"
Omer Taspinar wrote in mainstream Sabah (6/23): "Right now, there is
good news and bad news in the Middle East. The good news comes from
the Arab-Israeli front while the bad news comes from the
Iran-Israeli front. The ceasefire agreement between Israel and
Hamas comforted the region, while Lebanon stabilized due to efforts
from the Arab League and Qatar. Yet the recent developments
regarding the Iran-Israeli front are not so good. Washington
confirms Israel has initiated military exercises in preparation to
launch a strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. It seems Israel
has turned its complete attention to Iran. At this point,
Washington's stance is critical. If and when Israeli jets strike
Iran, they must fly over Iraqi air space, which is controlled by the
U.S. In any case, Iran will hold the U.S. responsible for any
strike, even if it is Israel who acts. If Israel uses Iraqi
airspace to attack Iran, Iran will respond by targeting American
forces in Iraq. Currently, Shiite militias in Iraq are under
Tehran's control and are capable of turning the country into a

ANKARA 00001156 003 OF 003


bloodbath. This is of great concern to Washington. In addition, a
strike against Iran will further raise the price of oil. Further
increases in oil prices will exacerbate the economic crisis, which
would hand the White House over to the Democrats on a silver tray,
so to speak. Thus, Washington is reluctant to give a green light to
Israel's strikes against Iran."

TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- Three suspects were arrested Sunday in Diyarbakir for alleged ties
to al-Qaeda. The suspects admitted they were trained in camps in
Afghanistan and Pakistan.

- Security forces killed three PKK terrorists, including the
organization's Erzurum-Bingol regional chief Ali Celik, in the
eastern province of Bingol during raids earlier this month.

- Celebrations to mark the 2000th anniversary of the birth of St
Paul are held in Tarsus.

International News

- International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is in Syria to
investigate allegations that Damascus was building a clandestine
nuclear reactor for military purposes.

- Iran's Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani dismisses press reports
that Israel is preparing to attack Iran's nuclear installations.

- French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived in Israel for his first
presidential visit to the country.

WILSON

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