Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2008
In Today's Papers
Three Suspects Captured following an Attack on a Diyarbakir Police
All media outlets report three suspects were captured in relation to
this week's terrorist attack against a Police Shuttle Bus in
Diyarbakir. The alleged mastermind of the attack, Mehmet Sah
Yildeniz, remains at large. Yildeniz allegedly joined the PKK in
1998 and recently crossed into Turkey from northern Iraq in order to
carry out the attack. Wednesday's Diyarbakir attack came shortly
after last Friday's attack on the Aktutun military border outpost in
Hakkari, which killed 17 soldiers and injured 21 others.
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak claims the attack in Diyarbakir "aims
to undermine the AKP on the eve of the upcoming municipality
Meanwhile, papers report the High Board for Combating Terrorism met
Thursday to discuss initiatives to reach out to the Iraqi government
and the Kurdish regional government (KRG) in northern Iraq. In
addition, economic and social efforts were discussed in order to
prevent terrorist recruitment. The meeting also addressed proposals
to establish a new mechanism for coordinating the fight against
terror and the military's demands for more authority. Papers note
opposition parties' proposals for the declaration of emergency rule
in the southeast and the establishment of a "buffer zone" to prevent
terrorist infiltrations into Turkey were rejected at the meeting.
The board will continue discussions in a second meeting scheduled
for October 14.
U.S. Condemns Diyarbakir Terror Attack
Liberal Radikal reports today, "The U.S. Embassy released a press
statement condemning the terror attack against a police bus in
Diyarbakir." Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports, "U.S.
Ambassador Ross Wilson spoke to reporters during a reception
Wednesday night at the Mexican Embassy and said 'there are no
problems in the intelligence cooperation between the U.S. and
Turkey.'" However, Cumhuriyet notes, "Wilson did not explain why
there was a failure to notice PKK preparations for the attack
against the military outpost in Aktutun."
Nechirvan Barzani: "Talk to us."
Radikal, Zaman and Taraf carried an interview with KRG Prime
Minister Nechirvan Barzani. Stories highlighted he said, "Recent
attacks by the PKK terrorist organization in Turkey seek to damage
relations between Turkey and the KRG administration." PM Barzani
urged Turkey to seriously consider the establishment of a
In an exclusive interview with Turkey's semi-official wire service
AA, Necirvan Barzani said that recent terrorist attacks in Turkey
are being watched with concern. "We try to prevent PKK terrorists
from using the territory in northern Iraq to stage attacks on
Turkey, and we also try to prevent the PKK from using the roads,
airports and hospitals in northern Iraq. We cannot be held
responsible for the PKK's terrorist acts in Turkey."
Regarding Turkey's cross border operation, PM Nechirvan Barzani said
"No gain is possible by cross border military operations because the
(Kurdish) problem cannot be resolved through military operations."
In addition, the KRG PM asked, "Turkey wants concrete steps from the
KRG, but how can we help Turkey at a time when Turkey does not even
talk to us?" Barzani also invited PM Erdogan to Erbil.
Editorial Commentary on PKK/Kurdish Issue
Cengiz Candar criticized in liberal-intellectual Radikal: "The
solution to the PKK problem requires a complete change in Turkey's
approach to the issue. Whenever I see angry statements against the
Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) that accuse them of
responsibility for the PKK problem, I realize Turkey is far from
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bringing a real solution to Kurdish problem. First the state must
separate the Kurdish problem from the terrorism problem, and then
will have to change its rhetoric and approach completely. There is
no other way."
Cuneyt Arcayurek commented in leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet: "The
military and civilian authorities in Turkey seem to agree on the
fact that the opposition parties' proposal for setting up a buffer
zone inside northern Iraq is not possible. At a press briefing on
the attack in Aktutun, General Hasan Igsiz responded to a question
on the probability of a security buffer region by saying such an
endeavor would be 'very risky.' Long debates in the parliament over
a decree for cross border military operations have shown that the
AKP government thinks it knows everything and shrugs off warnings
from the opposition, but its hands are tied in the face of the
stance of KRG President Massoud Barzani and Baghdad. In sum,
nothing has changed in the fight against terror."
Mehmet Yilmaz wrote in Islamist-oriented Zaman: "Afghanistan's
President Karzai called on Saudi Arabia to mediate between Kabul and
the Taliban. Soon afterwards, he made a call for peace to Taliban
leader Mullah Omar, and met with a representative of Hikmetyar in
Saudi Arabia. I find it very interesting that the soldiers, aiming
a resolution of the security question, proposed 'political dialogue'
with the enemy they have been fighting against in Afghanistan. What
do you think?"
Ihsan Dagi argued in Islamist-oriented Zaman: "It must be understood
that cross border military operations into northern Iraq will not
bring a solution to the terror problem. The government must show
that it won't allow such operations to have negative effects on
internal politics. We see some interesting proposals that run
counter to Turkey's EU reforms, such as the establishment of
emergency rule. They, however, forget that the region lived under a
regime of marshal law and emergency rule for 23 years (1979 - 2002).
This 'tight regime' did not eliminate terror; on the contrary, it
fanned the fires of terror. They still claim they can destroy the
PKK through emergency rule; what they actually want is more power,
not a solution."
Vatan's Gungor Mengi: "Resign, Mr. Commander"
Mainstream Vatan dedicates major editorial opinion pages as well as
its front page to the calls for resignation of Turkish Air Force
Commander General Babaoglu. General Babaoglu was photographed
playing golf during last Friday's PKK attack against the Aktutun
Gendarme Station where 17 soldiers were killed. Later, Babaoglu
said he learned about the attack only the day after. Vatan's senior
columnist Gungor Mengi wrote today, "From now, on General Babaoglu
will be seen as the golfer-commander while our children are
martyred. He must resign in order to prevent further damage to the
army. In this case, Babaoglu's resignation is an insurance policy
that protects the institution to which he belongs. He must have the
courage to accept his personal mistake and go." Columnist Necati
Dogru joins the argument by noting, "When the Deniz Feneri court
case in Germany drew in the Chairman of Radio-TV Board Zahid Akman,
he declined to resign. As for the General Babaoglu case, he should
resign. Otherwise he will end up finding himself in the same
position with Zahid Akman."
Cartoon in mainstream Sabah
In "Cross-border Operation," mainstream Sabah carries a cartoon
depicting Turkish Air Force Commander General Babaoglu in a golf
cart amongst a convoy of military tanks that are headed across the
border into northern Iraq.
Government Inspectors question School Principal's Religious Beliefs
Liberal Radikal, mainstream Hurriyet, mainstream Milliyet and
mainstream Posta report elementary school inspectors launched an
investigation into a complaint filed by a female teacher at Aksu
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primary school in Antalya that she was being harassed by the school
principal. The inspectors sent by the Education Ministry to
investigate the claim asked the other teachers of the school to
respond in writing to questions such as whether the principal was
"Godless" or "Armenian," and whether he drinks or not. Education
workers' union Egitim-Is slammed the inspectors for asking such
questions, "Turkey is a secular and democratic state, and people
should not be questioned over their faith or ethnic origin."
Will the Global Financial Crisis Lead to a Global Political Crisis?
Media outlets today note the warnings of impending social and
political crises from the IMF President, the World Bank President,
and the German Foreign Minister. Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet
reports, "The five pillars of capitalism have been rocked by the
financial crisis," as "the crisis swallows $18 trillion." Economic
daily Referans reports, "Coordinated interest rate cuts reduce chaos
in the stock markets, but volatility in monetary markets continues."
CNN Turk reports, "World Bank President Robert Zoellick warns that
the global financial turmoil will create difficulties for developing
nations' efforts to protect the poor." In addition, CNN Turk notes,
"German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier says the global
financial crisis could escalate into a global political crisis."
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports in "28 Countries are Under
Threat," that "Zoellick warned that developing countries could face
banking emergencies and corporate bankruptcies." Mainstream Sabah
reports Zoellick warned, "28 Countries could descend into a Very
Difficult Situation." In addition, Sabah also reports IMF President
Dominique-Straus-Kahn warned, "This situation is very serious
because there are no local solutions to this global crisis." Liberal
Radikal notes in "28 Countries Are Expecting Financial Problems,"
that "Zoellick warned that rising food and petrol prices, along with
the increasing global financial crisis, will create difficulties for
developing nations to protect their poor populations." Mainstream
Milliyet reports, "The markets were calmed slightly with the IMF
statement indicating they could help support some countries.
However, this did not put out the fires."
Petraeus Calls for Meetings with the Taliban at NATO Defense
Ministers Meeting Media outlets report Petraeus' comments suggesting
talks with the Taliban with an air of cynicism, though the language
appears straightforward. Leftist Taraf even calls his suggestion,
"Discussions with the enemy," which vaguely alludes to prior U.S.
military suggestions that Turkey talk with the PKK. CNN Turk
reports, "U.S. Centcom Commander General David Petraeus said during
yesterdays NATO Defense Ministers Meeting, "Negotiations with some
members of the Taliban could provide a way to reduce violence in
certain sections of Afghanistan." Leftist Taraf reports, "Petreaus
says it is necessary to open the door to dialogue with the Taliban."
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports, "The U.S., Unable to Annihilate
the Taliban, Signals for Talks." Mainstream Sabah calls Petraeus'
suggestions "A Green Light to the Taliban." Liberal Radikal
reports, "Petraeus Approves Contacts with the Taliban."
Lftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports, "The U.S. Prepares to Sit at
the Table," with the Taliban. Mainstream Milliyet reports, "It is
widely debated how to end the seven-year war against terror in
Afghanistan. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates now says in
order to end the war the country will need to reach out to the
Taliban." Mehmet Yilmaz wrote in Islamist-oriented Zaman, "I find
it very interesting that the soldiers, aiming a resolution of the
security question, proposed 'political dialogue' with the enemy they
have been fighting against in Afghanistan. What do you think?"
Editorial Commentary on Turkey-EU
Ferai Tinc observed in mainstream Hurriyet: "Until recently, both
Turkey and the European Union have been tackling crises; Turkey has
struggled with political and Constitution-related crises while
Europe has suffered from a deepening economic crisis. In other
words, the last two years have been wasted and the future is not
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bright. The Turkish government treats EU integration as a technical
process. However, EU reforms that exclude political will are doomed
to remain on paper. And now the EU is facing the global financial
crisis while Turkey continues its policy of not doing the homework
on its EU reforms, which means one more year is just about to be
- 44 members of the pro-Kurdish DTP, including the party's
provincial chief, were detained in the Aegean city of Izmir for
staging an illegal demonstration in September.
- Koc Holding President Mustafa Koc says a stand-by deal with the
IMF might ease concerns in Turkish markets.
- General David Petraeus said negotiations with Taliban could
provide a way to reduce violence in some parts of Afghanistan.
- Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said Russia
will not sell S-300 missile systems to Iran.