Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2008
In Today's Papers
Justice Minister Apologizes for Detainee's Death in Prison
Media outlets report Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin apologized
yesterday to the family of Engin Ceber, a leftist activist who was
beaten to death while in state custody in Istanbul last week. Ceber
was detained September 28 for distributing a leftist publication.
He died in the hospital on Saturday from a brain hemorrhage caused
by multiple blows to the head. According to the reports, Ceber was
first beaten by policemen and then he was beaten by guards after he
was transferred to Metris Prison. Sahin said that Justice Ministry
inspectors confirmed Ceber was tortured, and he suspended 19
officials for their involvement in mistreatment. Papers underline
that this was the first time the state apologized for the death of a
detainee in custody. Turkish Human Rights Foundation Director Yavuz
Onen said 29 suspicious prison deaths have been reported this year.
Editorial Commentary on Torture in Turkey
Oktay Eksi writes in mainstream Hurriyet: "Justice Minister Sahin
apologized to the family of Engin Ceber, who recently was tortured
to death while in state custody. Moreover, Sahin banned 19
officials from their duties. This is definitely a good start.
However, PM Erdogan promised two years ago to put an end to torture
in Turkey, but he was not successful in keeping his promise.
Reports from the Turkey Human Rights Foundation show that 11 people
in custody died from torture in 2006. That number climbed to 29
deaths due to torture in 2008!"
Papers Question Security Flaws in Aktutun Attack
Milliyet, Sabah, Vatan and Zaman carry a report from leftist Taraf
yesterday, which documented aerial images taken by unmanned aircraft
showing a buildup of PKK forces prior to the attack on the Aktutun
military outpost on the border with Iraq. Papers echo Taraf's
initial concern that the military had information indicating a
possible attack on the outpost, but did nothing to stop the attack
or warn the outpost of the attack. The Taraf story claimed yesterday
drone planes were sending pictures of the PKK buildup to Turkish
General Staff (TGS) HQ at 09:35 a.m. on the day of the attack, more
than three hours before the raid on Aktutun was launched. Taraf
also claimed TGS was given intelligence reports which began warning
of an impending Aktutun attack up to one month before the attack was
carried out. Papers inquire why the authorities did not move to
prevent the attack. Mainstream Vatan noted that the U.S. did
provide TGS with intelligence indicating a buildup of PKK forces up
to ten kilometers over the border in northern Iraq.
Barzani Pledges Cooperation in the Fight against the PKK
All papers: Turkey's special envoy for Iraq Murat Ozcelik led a
Turkish delegation to Baghdad for meetings with Iraqi Kurdish
Regional Government President Massoud Barzani, Iraqi President Jalal
Talabani and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki in yesterday.
Ozcelik told Barzani that the KRG should cut logistical support to
PKK. Mainstream Sabah reports that the main issue of the meeting
was the border security and cooperation in fight against terrorism.
While the Kurdish officials did not make any statements regarding
the meeting, Ozcelik said "it was positive" but he did not give any
details about the meeting. Papers quote Maliki as saying "I am
ashamed that the PKK is using Iraqi soil for its activities."
Islamist-oriented Zaman quotes U.S. Embassy Ankara Spokesperson
Kathryn Schalow comments regarding the increased cooperation between
Iraq and Turkey, "This is a positive development. We've been
encouraging Turkey's dialogue with Iraqi authorities, including
representatives of Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government."
New Measures in the Fight against Terrorism
Sabah, Milliyet, Turkiye, Zaman, Hurriyet, Cumhuriyet, Radikal and
others: Papers report that the High Board of Counter-Terrorism
convened under the chairmanship of PM Erdogan on Tuesday. The board
decided to establish an under-secretariat within the Interior
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Ministry that will focus solely on security and counter-terrorism
efforts. This initiative places the management of the fight against
terrorism in civilian hands. The military will be responsible for
border security and external threats. Professional security forces
will be responsible for domestic terror threats.
Editorial Commentary on Turkey-Iraq/PKK
Fikret Bila writes in mainstream Milliyet: "Turkey's special envoy
to Iraq Murat Ozcelik gave positive signals following his meeting
with KRG President Massoud Barzani. Of course, it is still too
early to define the concrete cooperation between Ankara and the
Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government. There isn't even a joint action
plan yet. This meeting was just a preliminary agreement. In the
past, Turkey has worked with Barzani and Talabani from time to time.
However, Ankara doesn't fully trust Barzani and Iraqi President
Jalal Talabani. Today, the U.S. has a more active role in the
region compared to the 1990s. U.S. policies will determine the
outcome of Turkey's cooperation with the KRG and Ankara is well
aware of it."
Abdulhamit Bilici writes in Islamist-oriented Zaman: "We have
witnessed rapprochement between the Americans and the Sunnis in
Iraq. Given the impending American presidential elections and the
ongoing financial crisis, it's doubtful to what extent the U.S. can
meet the Kurds' exaggerated demands. All these facts are forcing
the Kurds to be realistic. Turkey's special Iraq envoy Murat
Ozcelik's meeting with Massoud Barzani is no coincidence. And
there's even talk of President Gul's possible participation in the
opening ceremony of Erbil airport, which was built by Turkish
businessmen. The new goal of the Turkish government is to force the
Kurdish Regional Government to display a clearer stance against the
PKK, and find a way to eliminate a common threat. Time will show
whether this effort will yield results or not."
Mustafa Unal writes in Islamist-oriented Zaman: "The opposition's
'buffer zone' formula on Iraq border is not anything that can be
implemented by Turkey alone. Such a move would require approval
from Iraq, neighboring countries, and the international community.
A buffer zone would mean expanding Turkey's borders into Iraq, and
it's not easy to persuade the Iraqi administration on this matter.
In the coming days, additional cooperation between northern Iraq and
Baghdad will be the main elements of Turkey's fight against terror.
There is no need to worry - terror summits did not always result in
a green light for martial law. Now Turkey will begin a new period
of active struggle against terror."
- Eight al-Qaeda suspects were arrested yesterday in Izmir during a
gendarme security operation.
- Two members of the pro-Kurdish DTP were arrested in Izmir for
"aiding the outlawed PKK."
- PKK terrorists fired on a military convoy in the eastern province
of Tunceli, wounding five soldiers.
- Syria's President Bashar Assad reportedly called for the
establishment of ties with Lebanon. This is the first time Damascus
has recognized Lebanon's sovereignty.
- Azerbaijan will hold presidential elections today. The opposition
said it will boycott the elections.
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- Syria and Russia sign a $71 million-dollar gas deal that will
transport natural gas from the northern Syrian city of Aleppo to the