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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
MONDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2008

In Today's Papers

PKK Attack Kills 15 Turkish Soldiers
All media outlets reported over the weekend and today that the PKK
attacked the Aktutun military outpost near Simdili, in the border
province of Hakkari on Friday afternoon. 15 Turkish soldiers were
killed and 22 others were wounded when a group of approximately 350
terrorists attacked the outpost. Twenty-three terrorists were
killed and two soldiers went missing in a fight that lasted five
hours. The military General Staff (TGS) said in a statement issued
Saturday that most of the losses were caused by heavy weapon fire
that came from northern Iraq. Papers report the latest incident is
the fifth terrorist attack against the Aktutun gendarme outpost.
Leftist Taraf reported Sunday, "The TGS must account for its failure
to ensure the safety of the Aktutun outpost."

On Sunday, the military General Staff (TGS) Deputy Chief General
Hasan Igsiz held a press briefing about the PKK attack in Aktutun.
Igsiz said Aktutun as well as four other outposts on the border will
be moved to safer locations. Mainstream Sabah criticizes the
decision for coming "too late," saying the decision came after 44
soldiers died in five different PKK attacks on the outpost. "The
state spends one trillion YTL to buy a luxury armored car for the
retired TGS Chief Yasar Buyukanit, but the transfer of five military
outposts to safer locations is delayed because of financial
troubles," criticizes mainstream Vatan. Igsiz blamed the Kurdish
administration of northern Iraq for "providing the PKK terrorists
with transportation, shelter and medical treatment." In addition,
General Igsiz said the attack on Aktutun had not occurred due to an
intelligence failure, and stressed "there is no problem in
intelligence sharing with the U.S."

In "Turkey Mourns the Deaths of 15 Soldiers in the Aktutun Attack,"
mainstream Vatan as well as all other dailies report that on Sunday,
tens of thousands of mourners across Turkey joined the funerals of
the soldiers killed in the attack. Papers also report a government
decree re-authorizing cross-border military operations into northern
Iraq will be discussed by the parliament on October 8.

Domestic Reactions to the PKK Attack in Aktutun
Sunday papers report that following the attack, Ankara presented a
note of protest to Iraq, and warned the U.S. that the Kurdish
administration of northern Iraq failed to meet Turkish expectations
in the fight against terror. Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet notes
that so far, Turkey has presented five notes of protest to Iraq
demanding measures to blocking the infiltrations of PKK terrorists
into Turkey, but the Aktutun attack clearly shows that Iraq ignores
all such diplomatic initiatives. The paper notes "Diplomacy has not
helped resolve the problem."

On Saturday, Prime Minister Erdogan cut his Central Asian tour short
and returned to Ankara to chair a meeting of the Counter-Terrorism
Board. In a statement after the meeting, the board said the fight
against terrorism would continue with determination. President
Abdullah Gul cancelled his scheduled trips to France and Switzerland
over the weekend. In a televised statement on Saturday, President
Abdullah Gul condemned the terrorist attack and stressed that those
cooperating with and sheltering the terrorists would be punished.
During a Sunday funeral of a soldier slain in Aktutun, Erdogan
called on the Turkish people to preserve their unity and strength.
Erdogan said the statements coming from the U.S. and the EU had not
been helpful in resolving the problem of terror. Erdogan reiterated
his call to the West to take steps to cut financial support for
terror and added that terrorists should not be provided with
shelter.

Opposition CHP leader Deniz Baykal said Turkey must adopt a new
understanding in the fight against terror. "As long as those who
refrain from labeling this incident as a terrorist act continue
their activities in this country, the fight against terror will face

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serious hardships," emphasized Baykal. Opposition far right MHP
leader Devlet Bahceli called on the government to take all necessary
measures for the elimination of terrorist elements at home and on
the other side of the border. Tabloid Aksam expects the military to
ask the government at a terror summit on Thursday to declare
"martial law" in the mainly Kurdish southeast Turkey.

International Reactions to Aktutun Attack
In "Global Reaction to the PKK Attack," mainstream Milliyet says on
its front page "unprecedented" reactions came from around the world
to the terrorist attack on Aktutun outpost. "The U.N., the U.S.,
Britain, Sweden as well as the northern Iraqi Kurdish Regional
Government (KRG) reacted strongly to the bloody attack," says
Milliyet.
On Saturday, the U.S. Ankara Embassy released a statement that
condemned the attack and called on the PKK to lay down its arms and
end the violence "once and for all." Sunday papers report NATO
Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer condemned the attack and
gave a message of solidarity with Turkey in the fight against
terror. EU Term President France as well as the bloc's foreign
policy chief Javier Solana expressed support for Turkey's fight
against the PKK. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani called President
Gul and said the attack in Aktutun was a crime against Turks and
Kurds, as well as against the entire Iraqi people. Talabani also
proposed the Tripartite Security Committee convene immediately,
according to papers. Monday papers report Massoud Barzani, the
president of the northern Kurdish administration of Iraq, strongly
condemned the PKK attack after meeting yesterday with the Deputy
Secretary of State John Negroponte in the city of Selahaddin.
Mainstream Hurriyet reports the Kurdish administration of northern
Iraq also condemned the attack, but described the attack as a
"military act" rather than an act of "terrorism."

TGS: Turkish Fighter Jets Strike PKK Camps in Northern Iraq
Media outlets carry excerpts from Turkish General Staff's most
recent statement about a cross border operation has been launched
after the PKK attack against Turkish border station, Aktutun. The
TGS statement reads, "Turkish jets conducted an air operation to
Avasin in northern Iraq. All units participating the operation
returned home safely. As always, PKK/Kongra Gel was the main target
of this operation and every effort was made to avoid any civilian
harm."

Editorial Commentary on PKK Terror

Hakan Albayrak wrote in Islamist leaning Yeni Safak: "It is
impossible to end PKK violence unless radical steps are taken to
eliminate the reasons why the PKK has emerged as an entity."

Ismet Berkan wrote in liberal-intellectual Radikal: "The key point
to a peaceful solution is to stop people from joining the PKK. Have
we ever honestly asked ourselves the question, 'Why are those kids
joining the PKK and choosing to die?' Once we find an answer to
this question, we will pave the way to the end of the war."

Fatih Cekirge wrote in mainstream Hurriyet: "Talabani's visit to
Ankara and his recent meeting with Gul in New York softened the
Turkish-Iraqi tensions regarding the PKK. But now, President Gul
has openly blamed the 'accomplices' in this attack, which is a
direct reference to the northern Iraqi administration. In other
words, Gul's upcoming visit to Baghdad has already lost its
significance. On the other hand, there are many question marks about
the attack. In particular, terrorists were able to launch an attack
in broad daylight despite the intelligence sharing mechanism with
the United States. A high-level official told me, 'There has been
no intelligence-sharing (with the U.S.) since the last operation. In
fact, a non-stop intelligence sharing mechanism on that level is not
possible and (since the last military operation) Turkey has gathered
intelligence by using its own capacity.' All of this means that
Turkey enjoyed the intelligence-sharing mechanism so the U.S. could

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keep Turkey from becoming a threat to Kirkuk and other Iraqi
civilian areas."

Mustafa Balbay wrote in leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet: "TGS Deputy
Chief General Hasan Igsiz told the press at TGS headquarters
yesterday, 'Thursday's meeting of the High Council Against Terror
will not be another ordinary gathering of the board.' On questions
regarding the intelligence cooperation with the U.S., General Igsiz
said, "We have no problem regarding the intelligence sharing with
the U.S." The TGS deems it important to keep the U.S. on its side in
the fight against terror. Now it's the AKP government's turn.
Let's see whether they'll manage to keep Ankara in unity in the face
of terror, which has been rising steadily since 2005."

Mehmet Kamis in Islamist-leaning Zaman: "Soon after he assumed
office, TGS Chief General Ilker Basbug went to Diyarbakir and Van to
spread messages of love to the people in the region. In Van, he
mixed with people and chatted with a bearded old man. This picture
was very important. I believe the attack on Aktutun was in response
to this picture."

A. Turan Alkan in Islamist-leaning Zaman: "If the government had
acknowledged failure and resigned after the first Aktutun attack,
then a second, third, fourth and fifth attack on the outpost would
never have happened. In countries like Turkey, administrators 'save
the day' by making heroic statements. Meanwhile, the children of
ordinary people like us continue to be attacked and killed."

18 Illegal Immigrants Killed in Traffic Accident in Tekirdag
All major television news and newspapers report the deaths of 18
illegal immigrants who were on their way to Europe. 25 were injured
and 18 died of suffocation in a truck after a traffic accident in
Turkey's Tekirdag province near Istanbul. A truck filled with 43
illegal migrants veered off the road on the Tekirdag-Malkara highway
after the driver lost control due to speeding. The migrants were
left stranded in the vehicle after the driver fled the scene. The
injured migrants were sent to hospitals in the area. Papers report
Tekirdag Governor Nezih Dogan told the press, "Security forces are
trying to find the driver of the truck, which appears to have been
specifically designed for human smuggling. The majority of people
who died were from Myanmar and Pakistan." Governor Dogan also added
that all the migrants were planning to enter Greece.

Editorial Commentary on U.S. Election Campaign

Omer Taspinar wrote in mainstream Sabah: "Ankara must look warmly at
Obama. He is very close to winning the White House. This is mainly
due to the financial crisis in the U.S. and Obama's ability to be
calm and 'cold-blooded' in order to keep the U.S. from descending
into panic. Because of this, Obama is much closer today to becoming
president. Turkey also must be cold-blooded. While Obama is seen
as an ally of the Armenian diaspora, he may change his mind
regarding his call to recognize the events of 1915 as 'genocide,'
much like Bill Clinton did after he became president. Let's not
forget that a historical commission to examine this problem has not
been established. While McCain was opposed to Bush in 2000, he is
now very close to the neo cons. Ankara must ask itself some
important questions... about a potential war between the U.S. and
Iran and about the damage this or the tensions between the U.S. and
Russia can do to Ankara. Obama is the better choice for Ankara.
Let's look at this from the perspective of a more democratic and
developed world."

TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- On October 8, State Minister Mehmet Simsek will travel to
Washington to participate in the annual IMF-World Bank meetings.

ANKARA 00001738 004 OF 004

- 146 people were killed and 649 others were injured in traffic
accidents around Turkey during the nine-day Ramadan holiday.

International News

- The leaders of Germany, France, Britain and Italy called for
tighter regulation and a coordinated response to the global
meltdown, but failed to agree on an EU-wide plan on how to deal with
the crisis.

- A 6.9-magnitude earthquake is reported in Kyrgyzstan.

WILSON

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