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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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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
TUESDAY, AUGUST 5, 2008

In Today's Papers

High Military Council Chooses Basbug as New TGS Chief
All news outlets report the results of the High Military Council
(YAS) meetings which ended August 4. YAS decided that General Ilker
Basbug, commander of the Land Forces, will replace General Yasar
Buyukanit as the chief of the military General Staff (TGS) who
retires on August 30. Basbug will serve a two-year term before he
reaches the mandatory retirement age in 2010. At that point, he
will be replaced by the newly-appointed Land Forces Commander
General Isik Kosaner. General Avni Atilla Isik was named the new
Gendarme Commander; Ergin Saygun was named the First Army
Commander; Hasan Igsiz was named the new Deputy Chief of the TGS,
and Necdet Ozel was named the new commander of the Second Army.
Naval Forces Commander Admiral Metin Atac and Air Forces Commander
Aydogan Babaoglu's positions were extended for one year.

Papers report the outcome of the meeting as a surprise because YAS
did not expel anyone from the military on grounds of disciplinary
and/or fundamentalist activities this year. Papers speculate that
decision was reached in response to speculations that military
officers implicated in the 'Ergenekon' probe would be expelled. A
column in the Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak speculates the new
Gendarme Commander, Atilla Isik, may be named the Land Forces
Commander when General Kosaner takes over from Basbug, which is
likely to make him next in line to be TGS chief. The same column
claims, "General Basbug has decided to give the control of the
critical gendarme intelligence organization to his close aide Isik."
Mainstream papers expect Basbug to keep the military away from
politics. Papers, however, comment it would not be surprising to
see Basbug flex his muscle in the event the "red lines" of the
Turkish military, including secularism and the unitary structure of
the republic, are crossed during his term.

Editorial Commentary on the High Military Council (YAS) Decisions

"The Process of Cooling and Restructuring Continues in the
Military"
Murat Yetkin comments in liberal Radikal (8/5): "This year PM
Erdogan only attended a couple of hours of the Supreme Military
Council (YAS) meeting. Erdogan passed his responsibilities to Chief
of General Staff (TGS) General Buyukanit and did not attend the rest
of the meetings. The promotions and the assignments announced
during the YAS meetings indicate that the process of cooling and
restructuring continues in the military. A new period is starting
in the military - none of the new commanders actively lived through
the May 27, 1960 military coup. The new TGS Chief Ilker Basbug
graduated from the war academy in 1962, which means he is the only
commander who can remember the war academy during the 1960s. During
this process, we should all realize that the Turkish military will
respond to accusations regarding the Ergenekon case and will try to
cast away those who have created problems. The new assignments also
indicate that military is undergoing a vast restructuring. Of
course, these changes are not easy to implement."

"Were there no expulsions on the YAS Agenda?"
Mustafa Mutlu asks in mainstream Vatan (8/5): "The Supreme Military
Council meetings concluded yesterday and for the first time since
1996, no one was expelled from the military. Until now, YAS
convened twice a year and at almost every meeting dozens of military
personnel were expelled for fundamentalist activities or
undisciplined behaviors. There are two possible reasons for the
decision not to expel anyone at this meeting. First, expulsions
from the military will, from now on, be decided by only the military
courts. Second, expulsions could lead to speculations of
connections with the Ergenekon case. No matter what the
justification is, this YAS meeting signals a new era in relations
between the military and the government. I hope this will prove to
be a positive development."


ANKARA 00001402 002 OF 003


"YAS"
Bekir Coskun wrote in mainstream Hurriyet (8/5): "Because of the
Constitutional Court's decision to keep the AKP open, everyone
expects Erdogan will change, but why should he change now? He
hasn't changed during the last six years; he was elected PM twice
and never changed; he carried Turkey into crisis maybe thirty times
and never changed; his activities nearly resulted in the closure of
his party and he never changed ... Why should a person change when
his party is not closed? While we were waiting for him to change,
we missed other changes around us. This year, no military personnel
were expelled because of their fundamentalist activities. Because
of this decision, the PM, who has also been accused of
fundamentalist activities, did not have to approve or disapprove any
of the YAS decisions! It is interesting to see that as
fundamentalist activities are increasing in every corner of Turkey,
fundamentalist activities have suddenly disappeared from the
military. While retired generals are in jail for supporting
Ataturk's secularist principles, why don't you see any
fundamentalist activities? Well, this is the change we all missed
while we were observing the PM and waiting for him to change."

Forest Fires in Antalya under Control
All news outlets report the forest fires which broke out in the
Mediterranean province of Antalya on July 31 are now under control.
These fires destroyed more than 4,000 hectares of woodlands and
caused over 2 million YTL in damage. The fires destroyed more than
60 houses, dozens of farming buildings, a school and a mosque in the
towns of Manavgat and Serik. Six villages were evacuated. Two
people were killed in the fire which also destroyed livestock in the
villages and millions of trees in the woodlands.

Ahmadinejad's Turkey Visit Date Unclear
Hurriyet, Sabah, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others report
Foreign Minister Ali Babacan held a joint press conference with
visiting Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado in Ankara on Monday.
Asked about the prospective visit of Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmedinejad to Turkey, Babacan said details such as the time, place
and format of the visit were "not important." In addition, he said,
"Attention should be put on the essence of the visit. Such
unnecessary details cast a shadow on the essence and success of the
visit," said Babacan. Press had speculated that Ankara was working
to arrange a "working visit" for Ahmadinejad in Istanbul when the
Iranian President declined to visit Ataturk's mausoleum in Ankara.
Mainstream Sabah says on August 14, Ahmadinejad will go to Istanbul
and depart on August 15 after performing Friday prayers in the city.


Erdogan to Meet Assad in Bodrum
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others
report on Tuesday, Prime Minister Erdogan and his wife Emine will
meet Syrian President Bashar Assad in Turkey's Aegean coastal town
of Bodrum where Assad is vacationing with his wife. The two leaders
will reportedly talk about regional problems, Iran, and Israel-Syria
talks. Islamist-oriented Zaman reports Erdogan's advisor Ahmet
Davutoglu will join the meeting. Later in the day, Erdogan will
travel to the areas stricken by raging forest fires over the past
five days in Antalya.

TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- The Health Ministry set up a special committee to investigate the
deaths of newborn babies in a hospital in Ankara. In the last
month, 49 newborn babies have died in the hospital.

- Security forces arrested 132 illegal immigrants -- most of them
from Iraq, Georgia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mauritania, Bangladesh,
India and Burma -- in operations in the northwestern provinces of

ANKARA 00001402 003 OF 003


Edirne, Canakkale and Sakarya.

- According to a report by the Prime Ministry's Human Rights Desk,
7,183 children went missing in 2007 and the whereabouts of 833
children are still unknown. The report says missing children could
be in the hands of the mafia or terror organizations.

International News

- Iran's official IRNA news agency quotes the chief of the
Revolutionary Guards as saying Iran has tested a "new naval weapon"
with a range of 300 km.

- China's official Xinhua News Agency says an attack on a border
patrol station on the country's western frontier killed 16 police
officers.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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