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Cablegate: Turkey: Ergenekon Arrests and Military Succession

VZCZCXYZ0003
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAK #1212 1851122
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 031122Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6754
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J-3/J-5// PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC//USDP:PDUSDP/ISA:EUR/ISA:NESA/DSCA// PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L ANKARA 001212

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/03/2018
TAGS: PGOV PTER KCRM PREL TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: ERGENEKON ARRESTS AND MILITARY SUCCESSION
PROCESS

REF: A. ANKARA 1194
B. 07 ANKARA 1970
C. 06 ANKARA 4894

Classified By: Pol-Mil Counselor Carl Siebentritt for
reasons 1.4 (b,d).

1. (U) The Turkish General Staff's (TGS) official reaction to
the July 1 "Ergenekon" arrests (ref a), which netted two
retired army four-star generals and other former military
personnel, has been limited to an official website posting
clarifying that searches of military property related to the
arrests were conducted according to law by military
personnel, not civilian police, with the participation of a
public prosecutor. Land Forces Commander and CHOD-apparent
Gen Ilker Basbug told journalists July 2 that "we are living
through difficult days in Turkey. We must all act with
commonsense, care and responsibility." He denied press
reports that he had discussed the arrests with Prime Minister
Erdogan during their June 24 meeting, chiding the press for
publishing "conspiracy theories" aimed at undermining the
unity and integrity of the armed forces. The Prime Ministry
issued a similar denial, describing as "deliberate
fabrications" allegations that Erdogan and Basbug discussed
the arrests.

2. (SBU) The arrests come a month ahead of the August meeting
of the Supreme Military Council (YAS), which will decide on
the promotion and assignment of the most senior TGS leaders,
as well as on expulsions of military officers for excessive
piety, corruption, or other "unbecoming" activities. As
chairman of the YAS, the prime minister is expected to agree
to recommendations, formulated in advance by the military,
which are then subject to the president's approval. Basbug
is expected to be anointed CHOD during the YAS, while there
are several candidates for the Deputy CHOD position. Other
assignments to major commands made at the YAS will indicate
who future top commanders will be.

3. (C) Political upheaval, including a possible closure
decision against the ruling Justice and Development Party
(AKP), could complicate this military succession process. It
is likely the military's low key response to the arrests is
an indication it wants to avoid jeopardizing a smooth
transition and may prefer that an AKP closure decision occur
after the YAS. It is also not in the interest of the Erdogan
government to further complicate its own precarious situation
by opposing the military's choices for top positions, a move
that would exacerbate already high tensions. There is some
speculation that Erdogan's June 24 meeting with Basbug,
reportedly to discuss security matters, was a signal the
government will not oppose Basbug's promotion to CHOD. In
2006, the YAS announced Gen Yasar Buyukanit's selection as
CHOD on the first day of meeting, widely seen as reflecting
Erdogan's desire to ensure a non-contentious military
leadership succession (ref c).'

4. (C) All are awaiting the closure case decision and its
timing, and publication of the evidence against the Ergenekon
suspects, as indicators of the degree of political tension
Turkey will experience in the coming weeks.

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

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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