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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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RUEKJCS/OSD WASHDC//PA
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INFO RUEHTH/AMEMBASSY ATHENS 9320
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 5039
RUEHDA/AMCONSUL ADANA 3408
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 6987
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 6840
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 3410
RUEUITH/DET 1 39LG ANKARA TU
RHMFISS/USDOCO 6ATAF IZMIR TU
RHMFISS/39OS INCIRLIK AB TU
RHMFISS/AFOSI DET 523 IZMIR TU
RHMFISS/39ABG INCIRLIK AB TU
RHMFISS/AFOSI DET 522 INCIRLIK AB TU
RUEUITH/AFLO ANKARA TU

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 002004

SIPDIS

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
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2008

In Today's Papers

The Highly Anticipated Phone Call Comes (Milliyet)
Media outlets prominently feature U.S. President-elect Barack
Obama's telephone conversation Monday with Turkish President
Abdullah Gul. Obama's comments play positively in the Turkish media
and are featured on the front pages of all papers. Gul's office
released a statement about the call that said, "During the
conversation, President-elect Barack Obama stated that he admires
Turks and Turkey; that he has been following what's being done in
Turkey with appreciation; and that he believes Turkey has the right
to fight against terrorism as part of its right to self-defense,
emphasizing the importance of a special alliance relationship
between Turkey and the United States." In addition, the statement
emphasized the two leaders "mutually expressed their will to work
together and to have close consultations concerning regional
issues." Mainstream Sabah carried the headline, "The First Message
is against the PKK," as Obama's "first message for Turkey was
positive and supportive." Sabah also reports that opposition CHP
Vice Chair Onur Oymen responded to news of the phone call by saying,
"ties between the U.S. and Turkey may improve once Obama assumes the
U.S. presidency" because "Bush left Turkey alone in the fight
against terror." Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports, "Despite
Erdogan's numerous attempts to meet Obama, Obama did not meet with
Erdogan, but called President Gul." Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak
carries the banner headline, "Obama tells Gul, 'I have great
admiration for Turkey and the Turkish people.'" Islamist-oriented
Zaman quotes Obama in its headline, "We Stand with Turkey in the
Fight against Terror." Leftist Taraf calls President Gul "a fan of
Obama." Conservative-nationalist Turkiye carries the front-page
headline, "Obama Extends Support to Turkey: You Have the Right to
Fight Terror."

Baykal Recruits Women with Headscarves into CHP, Bahceli Speaks on
Alevis
Media outlets report opposition CHP leader Deniz Baykal addressed
his party group meeting in parliament yesterday and responded to
criticism that he is recruiting women with headscarves into the CHP.
Baykal said these women joined the CHP because "they believe the
AKP deceives them." In addition, Baykal emphasized, "These people
are not trying to impose their lifestyle on the others. They live
according to their beliefs, and they understand that the party who
manipulates religion to win public support has nothing to do with
religion."

Meanwhile, opposition far right MHP leader Devlet Bahceli said
yesterday his party was ready to help resolve the social and
political problems faced by Alevis in Turkey, and urged all to show
goodwill to that end. Bahceli said the MHP was ready to start a new
process of mutual understanding in order to resolve the problems
faced by Alevis. Over the weekend, tens of thousands of Alevis
rallied in Ankara and called for the abolishment of the religious
affairs directorate Diyanet and of compulsory religious instruction
in schools. They also demanded the recognition of the Alevi Cem
Houses as places of worship. On Tuesday, State Minister Said
Yazicioglu retracted his earlier remarks dismissing the demands of
the Alevis as "extreme" and stressed the government should help the
Alevis. Mainstream Milliyet finds the statements of Baykal, Bahceli
and Yazicioglu as "important developments" in Turkish politics.

Turkey-US-Iraq Hold Trilateral Meeting in Baghdad
Mainstream Sabah reports that Interior Minister Besir Atalay will go
to Baghdad today to participate in a trilateral meeting with the
U.S. and Iraq. Turkey's Iraq envoy Murat Ozcelik, along with
military and intelligence officials, will accompany Atalay to
Bagdad. Representatives of the Kurdish Regional Government will
attend the meeting together with Iraq's interior Minister Jawad Al
Bolani. U.S. Ambassador to Baghdad Ryan Crocker, along with U.S.
military officials, will represent the American side. The issue at
the top of the meeting's agenda is the fight against the PKK. A

ANKARA 00002004 002 OF 003


memorandum of understanding is expected to emerge from the meeting.

Iran Launches Operation against PJAK
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet reports that Iran conducted an
operation against PKK and PJAK installations in Kermanshah region.
Reportedly, many terrorists were killed and four of them surrendered
during the operations. Iranian sources reported that all of the
terrorists who were killed were of Turkish origin.

America's Agenda is to sell Planes to Iraq (Cumhuriyet)
Islamist-oriented Zaman says that, following the signing of the SOFA
between Baghdad and Washington, Ankara "is concerned about the
impact of the security deal on the exchange of intelligence with the
U.S. in the fight against terror." Unidentified diplomatic sources
told Zaman it was "too early to comment" on the impact of the SOFA
on Turkish air operations on PKK targets in northern Iraq.
Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet says in January 2009, the U.S. will
transfer authority over Iraqi airspace to the government in Baghdad,
but the U.S. "will actually continue controlling the air corridor
until Iraq forms its own air force." In addition, the paper claims,
"Iraq will buy F-16 and F-15 fighter jets as well as C-5 cargo
planes from the U.S., which will cost Baghdad $6 billion," says
Cumhuriyet.

Editorial Commentary on Iraq/SOFA

Fikret Bila wrote in mainstream Milliyet: "A U.S. withdrawal from
Iraq will bring new problems as well as new opportunities for
Turkey. Everything depends on the withdrawal conditions and on the
role the U.S. will give Turkey during the withdrawal process. It is
quite possible that following the withdrawal, Turkey will be asked
to take care of security in northern Iraq. Regarding the security
issues, there is a possibility a joint mechanism will be formed in
Incirlik similar to the 'Operation Comfort.' However the American
and the Regional Kurdish Government's stance against the PKK is the
most important factor affecting future steps. Following the U.S.
withdrawal, Turkey can think of improving its economic ties with the
KRG in return for eliminating the PKK in northern Iraq. If the U.S.
withdraws its troops without taking the necessary measures then Iraq
will be pushed further towards chaos. The U.S. is responsible for
eliminating all these risks before they withdraw."

Somali Pirates Catch the Big Fish (Radikal)
Media outlets feature sensationalist reports on the latest big catch
for Somali pirates. NTV reports "The Pirates Cannot Be Controlled,"
while CNN-Turk notes, "Somali Pirates Have Captured 7 Ships in the
Past 12 Days." Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports, "Once again
NATO is unable to counter the threat from Somali pirates." Leftist
Taraf reports, "The Pirates Outdo Themselves," as "they captured the
largest ship yet and brought it to the Eyl port," in reference to
the pirates' boarding of a Saudi oil freighter. Liberal Radikal
carries the headline, "The Somali Pirates Catch the Big Fish," but
the article notes, "There is no plan to rescue the ship or the
crew," and "despite the U.S. and NATO thumbing their noses at the
Somali pirate threat, the pirates caught the big one."

Editorial Commentary on Somali Pirates

However, commentators see the larger threat the pirates pose to
global security. Sami Kohen of mainstream Milliyet writes in
"Terror on the Seas," that "Somali President Abdullah Yusuf does not
have control of the country," but "the world is also showing its
incompetence. NATO has been ineffective in securing the waters even
though it has a naval presence in the area."

Erdal Safak of mainstream Sabah writes, "The pirates (like the PKK)
want to establish their own state within the climate of an already
unstable state. The pirates launch attacks from this unstable state
and threaten international stability. Thus, the reasons Turkey
conducted cross-border operations are the same as the reasons why

ANKARA 00002004 003 OF 003


the world must protect international shipping routes. All open
waters are on the road to becoming like northern Iraq!"

Ibrahim Karagul of Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak writes, "The U.S.
claims al Qaeda is taking over Somalia, but their naval base in
Djibouti has done nothing to respond to repeated SOS calls from
ships threatened by pirates. This means the U.S. is setting the
stage for a military operation in Somalia and the U.S. will request
forces from the countries whose ships have been hijacked."

Editorial Commentary on G-20

Hadi Uluengin wrote in mainstream Hurriyet: "The G-20 has agreed to
postpone a tangible action plan until Spring 2009. Understandably,
the current U.S. administration does not want to make a full
commitment before Obama takes charge. Nevertheless, the most
important outcome of the meeting was the successful realization of a
summit between developed and developing countries, which proved the
power and the influence of developing countries."

TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- President Abdullah Gul will visit Israel and Palestine on January
6-8.

- The pro-Kurdish DTP leader Ahmet Turk said Prime Minister Erdogan
seeks to establish a single party regime by calling for "one nation
and one flag."

- Due to increases in energy costs, electricity consumption in the
first half of November 2008 dropped by 6.5 percent compared to
November 2007. In 2001, when Turkey was stricken by an intense
financial crisis, electricity consumption declined only by 1.1
percent.

International News

- French President Nicolas Sarkozy and former British Prime Minister
Tony Blair will host a meeting of international leaders in January
to discuss the global economic crisis.

- A Hong Kong-flagged bulk cargo ship is hijacked in the Gulf of
Aden.

- Iraq says it will hold provincial elections on January 31.

SILLIMAN

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