Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 ANKARA 001996
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2008
In Today's Papers
The U.S. and Iraq Reach an Agreement, But How Will This Affect
Media outlets note that the SOFA agreement between the U.S. and Iraq
transfers control of Iraqi airspace from the U.S. to Iraq in January
2009, which media predicts will have a negative effect on Turkey's
ability to conduct cross-border operations in pursuit of the PKK in
northern Iraq. Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports in "The
Question Mark in SOFA," that "Ankara does not want a U.S. withdrawal
from Iraq until the problem of armed militants is resolved."
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports in "From Now On, Talabani Will
Approve Cross-Border Operations," that Iraqi President Jalal
Talabani is likely to chime in on future Turkish requests to utilize
Iraqi airspace against PKK installations in northern Iraq.
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports, "Iraqi National Dialogue Minister
Akrem al-Hakim will come to Ankara in order to explain what the SOFA
will mean to relations between Baghdad and Ankara." NTV points out
that a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq will likely "require the
use of Incirlik Air Force Base and the use of Turkish ports," while
mainstream Hurriyet emphasizes that Ankara "may use Incirlik as a
trump card in case the Obama administration supports the Armenian
Editorial Commentary on SOFA
Oktay Eksi wrote in mainstream Hurriyet: "One of the direct impacts
of the SOFA is that Turkey will have to seek Iraq's permission, i.e.
Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani's permission,
to conduct an air operation against the PKK. In reality, this means
Turkey will not be able to counter security threats coming from its
neighbor. Moreover, a complete withdrawal of American forces from
Iraq by the end of 2011 does not necessarily mean that Turkey will
have to deal only with Iraq and Barzani. There is also the
possibility the U.S. will move its bases to northern Iraq and we
will end up faced with a new reality."
Sami Kohen asks in mainstream Milliyet: "Will the Iraqi military be
able to establish peace and security? Obviously, it will not be very
easy to establish internal peace and security. There is also the
possibility that the withdrawal will be accelerated after Obama
takes over presidency in January. During this new era Turkey can
contribute to the re-construction of Iraq. Will the U.S. ask Turkey
to use its territory for the troop transfer? There is no sign of
such a request but even if there is, I am sure Turkey will not mind
being open to such a request."
Mustafa Balbay in leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet notes: "If the
Iraqi government is fully in control by 2011, the U.S. will set up
military bases with significant numbers of troops in order to
complete the withdrawal. In the withdrawal process, Barzani's
strategy is clear: he thinks the U.S. cannot do anything without
the Kurds, and a withdrawal will only magnify the Kurds' privileged
position. It wouldn't be a surprise if the Iraqi government decides
in 2011 that the U.S. should not leave Iraq."
Tehran Gives a Green Light to Erdogan's Offer to Mediate
Media outlets report positively on Iranian Foreign Ministry
Spokesperson Hasan Kaskavi's response to Prime Minister Erdogan's
offer to mediate between the U.S. and Iran. In "A Green Light from
Tehran," mainstream Milliyet reports Iran responded positively to
suggestions of Turkish mediation between the U.S. and Iran, "During
a press conference yesterday, Kaskavi welcomed Prime Minister
Erdogan's offer - stated first to the New York Times last week - to
mediate between the U.S. and Iran." In "We Are Open to Turkey's
Mediation," liberal Radikal reports, "Tehran looks warmly at
Erdogan's offer to mediate between the U.S. and Iran." Leftist
Taraf carries the headline, "Tehran: We Won't Stop Erdogan," in his
bid to mediate, but the article points out Kaskavi emphasized,
"There are profound disagreements between the U.S. and Iran."
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Islamist-oriented Zaman reports in "A Green Light from Tehran to
Erdogan Regarding Mediation with the U.S.," that Kaskavi told
reporters, "For the past 30 years, the U.S. has spoken negatively
about Iran. Now we will see if Obama's promises of change will ring
true regarding U.S. policy toward Iran."
IMF-Turkey Close to Signing Agreement
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Radikal, Referans and others report the IMF and
Turkey are likely to sign a 'precautionary' standby agreement.
Mainstream Milliyet reports Turkey's Treasury Undersecretariat and
the IMF have been in talks since August, and a deal could take
effect in January. Turkey and the IMF are discussing a package of
loans that total USD 10 billion. Milliyet notes there are reports
the AKP government is delaying the talks with the IMF to avoid an
IMF review inspection in March when Turkey will hold municipality
elections. Milliyet says the disagreements between the IMF and
Turkey revolved around public spending, municipality funds, primary
surplus and projected income for 2009.
In a cartoon from today's mainstream Sabah, a fire fighting crew is
headed out to fight fires and they come to a fork in the road with
one road going to the fires in Los Angeles, and the other headed
toward Wall Street. The driver asks "Which way should we go?" and
his coworker says "It doesn't make a difference."
Unemployment Rate Grows in Turkey
Media outlets note that Turkey's unemployment rate for August 2008
increased by 9.8 percent in comparison to the same month in 2007.
The number of unemployed workers increased 207,000 to a total of 2.4
million unemployed. Urban unemployment is estimated to be 12
percent, while rural unemployment is estimated at 6.3 percent.
Papers say these figures do not cover 797,000 temporary workers and
another 1.7 million who have abandoned their hopes for finding work.
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports that with these figures
included, the number of unemployed in Turkey actually reaches 4.96
million, and the unemployment rate jumps to 18.6 percent. Business
daily Referans reports additional job cuts ahead in retail, banking
and automotive sectors in Turkey.
A cartoon from today's Cumhuriyet depicts a Municipality office
distributing coal from its roof, but the people below are holding a
sign that says, "It's not coal that we want - we want jobs."
Turkey-Iran Sign Natural Gas Agreement
All papers: Yesterday, Turkey and Iran signed a memorandum of
understanding to improve natural gas cooperation. Turkish Energy
Minister Hilmi Guler and Iranian Oil Minister Gulam Hussein Nozari
signed the agreement in Tehran yesterday. Mainstream Sabah reports
that the MOU allows for Turkish investment in the development of
three phases in Iran's South Pars offshore gas field. In addition
Islamist-oriented Zaman reports the agreement envisages a gas
transfer to Europe via Turkey at a rate of 35 billion cubic meters
per year, including the joint construction of a 1,200-mile pipeline
from the southern Iranian port of Assaluyeh to Bazargan in the
northwest of Iran, which is on the border with Turkey. Meanwhile,
all papers report the Iranian Minister Nozari said that technical
preparations for the implementation of the project could take a
France Captures ETA Terrorist
Media outlets cover France's successful capture ETA leader Garkoitz
Asiazu Rubina and French plans to extradite him to Spain. However,
some note France is tough on ETA terrorists, but not on PKK
terrorists. Mainstream Vatan carries the headline, "France Treats
the ETA Differently than the PKK," pointing out, "France did not
comply with Turkey's requests to extradite PKK terrorists, but
France acts differently with Spain." Islamist-oriented Zaman
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reports, "France, Who Releases PKK Terrorists from Custody, Now
Hands Over ETA Leader Rubina to Spain." Meanwhile, mainstream Sabah
reports the story in a straightforward fashion in "A Huge Blow to
the Military Wing of ETA."
Obama Will Not Forget His Promises (Taraf)
News outlets feature U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's interview
on CBS' 60 Minutes in which he promises to close Guantanamo prison
and end the use of torture during U.S. interrogations. Mainstream
Milliyet carries the headline, "Obama: I Will Close Guantanamo."
Liberal Radikal reports Obama vowed to "withdraw from Iraq, end Al
Qaeda in Afghanistan, and close Guantanamo." Islamist-oriented
Zaman reports "Obama Backs a Solution to Guantanamo."
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet carries the headline, "Obama's First
Declaration: The Torture Base Will Be Closed."
Editorial Commentary on Freedom of Speech/Domestic Political
Ergun Babahan wrote in mainstream Sabah: "Justice Minister Sahin
erred by permitting the pursuit of a 301 case against author Temel
Demirer. The judiciary may think that Sahin's permission to proceed
with the case indicates the case has a leg to stand on. However,
the trial process will definitely be overshadowed by Sahin's
prejudice, as was expressed in some of his unfortunate public
comments regarding this case. Under these conditions, it is
impossible to provide this author with an impartial trial."
Sahin Alpay in Islamist-oriented Zaman: "The AKP received half of
the votes in the last general elections, but the ruling party is now
besieged at home and abroad. Under these conditions, the AKP will
either continue with EU reforms or surrender to the status quo in
order to continue benefiting from the blessings of being the ruling
party. The AKP is likely to choose the second option because the
first one is too risky - it will cost the party support from certain
circles. So far, everything is understandable. But how can you
explain Erdogan and other AKP leaders' adoption of the MHP's
political rhetoric (referring to his "Love it or leave it" comments
during a recent visit to the southeast)? Nevertheless, if the AKP
refrains from making further reforms, it will soon see the beginning
of its end."
Editorial Commentary on U.S./Turkey
Cengiz Candar wrote in liberal-intellectual Radikal: "A majority of
the attendees during PM Erdogan's speech last Friday at the
Brookings Institution think that Erdogan has become a bad political
player since July 2007, particularly regarding the Kurdish issue.
Turkey's approach to the Kurdish problem will have a direct impact
on Washington, but Erdogan's speech last Friday at Brookings was not
convincingly influential on this regard. Thus, PM Erdogan's
domestic democratic performance in the months ahead will be a key
factor affecting the Obama administration's view of Turkey."
- A prosecutor in Istanbul has filed a lawsuit against 60 police,
gendarme and prison officials linked to the death of activist Engin
Ceber in prison. The prosecutor demands life in prison for six
guards,and 12-year prison sentences for the other suspects.
- The owners of a hijacked Turkish ship said they'd begin on Tuesday
'ransom talks' with the Somali pirates. Somali pirates hijacked a
Turkish flagged vessel, Karagol, off of Yemen last week.
- Parliament's human rights committee will conduct "surprise
inspections" in orphanages.
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- U.S. president-elect Barack Obama has promised to shut down the
Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
- The Taliban threatens to launch attacks in Paris unless France
withdraws from Afghanistan.
- The UN World Food Program (WFP) said around $840,000 worth of food
destined for needy Afghans has been lost so far this year in