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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
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2008

In Today's Papers

"Israel Strikes While the World Sits Back and Watches" (Zaman)
Media are completely consumed by the story of the growing crisis
between Israel and Hamas. Media outlets carry screaming headlines
describing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza as Israel continues its
strikes. In a rare moment, Islamists and secularists are united in
their opinions as they harshly criticize the Israeli strikes.
Islamist-oriented Zaman carries the headline, "Doctors Are
Performing Surgery by the Lights of Their Cell Phones," as "The
effects of the bombs are causing Palestinian doctors to shake."
Liberal Radikal carries the headline, "All-out Brutality against
Palestine," as Cengiz Candar calls the situation, "a bloodbath."
Mainstream Milliyet carries the headline, "Gaza Weeps for Its
Children," as "Israel prepares for all out war," including,
"invasion and destruction." Mainstream Sabah reports, "Dead
Children Will Not Grow Up," next to photos of the four sisters
killed by an Israeli rocket while they slept. Mainstream Hurriyet
carries the front-page banner headlines, "Once Again, Children Are
the Victims," and "Doctors Perform Surgery by the Lights of Their
Mobile Phones," in Gaza while Israeli rockets continue to bombard
the area. Extreme right Tercuman reports, "Israel's Bloody
Operation in Gaza Turns into Mass Murder."

In a related story, mainstream Sabah reports Turkish Prime Minister
Erdogan will embark on a tour of Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and
Egypt in order to "carry an important message to the world" for
peace in the Middle East. Mainstream Hurriyet calls the tour
"Erdogan's Peace Tour." In fact, all papers paint the PM as a
peacemaker in search of an emergency ceasefire between Israel and
Hamas. Papers report the AKP Deputy Murat Mercan, AKP Deputy
Nursuna Memecan and MHP Deputy Mehmet Sandir have resigned from the
Turkey-Israel parliamentary friendship group in protest of the
Israeli attacks. Sandir said in his resignation, "I cannot be a
friend to a country that kills children and women." Meanwhile, on
Monday Foreign Minister Ali Babacan held a joint press conference
with visiting Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit. During
the press event, the two foreign ministers urged Israel to stop its
deadly offensive in the Gaza Strip. Babacan said the indirect peace
talks between Israel and Syria through Turkey's mediation had become
"impossible" after the onslaught in Gaza.

"Gaza Is Dying in Agony," and "The World Remains Silent"
(Cumhuriyet)
Media outlets note Western countries, including the U.S., have
stopped short of condemning Israel's operations into Gaza. Leftist
nationalist Cumhuriyet reports, "Western countries are not joining
Arab countries in their criticism of Israel," and instead, "the West
is defending Israel's right to defend itself against Hamas," during
Israel's "bloody operations in Gaza." Islamist-oriented Zaman
carries the headline, "Israel Is Attacking Gaza with American
Bombs." Conservative-nationalist Turkiye reports, "Who Will Stop
Israel? Only the U.S. Can End the Tragedy in the Middle East," and
that is only, "If Obama Wants To."

Editorial Commentary on Israel's Gaza Attacks

Columnist Mehmet Yilmaz from mainstream Hurriyet and Taha Akyol of
Milliyet find PM Erdogan's strong rhetoric against Israel "harsh and
dangerous" because of the potential political and foreign policy
consequences.

Liberal Radikal's Murat Yetkin praises the PM for "not trying to
justify Hamas' actions and focusing only on the Israeli attack in
Gaza."

Milliyet's Fikret Bila thinks PM Erdogan's harsh reaction to Israel
stems from "feelings of humiliation after being deceived by Israel."
Bila notes, "Last week Olmert promised Erdogan there would be no
humanitarian crisis in Palestine; at the same time Israel was

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preparing to launch this operation." In addition, Bila points out,
"This attack has destroyed the Syria/Israel peace talks that were
mediated by Turkey. This development will weaken the power of
Turkey and Arab countries in the region."

Columnist Erdal Safak in mainstream Sabah recommends that PM
Erdogan's Chief Foreign Policy Adviser Davutoglu should immediately
go to Damascus and "make sure to engage Hamas leader Mashal" arguing
that, given the current climate, "this is the right time to make
this effort."

Meanwhile, Mustafa Balbay in leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet as well
as Fehmi Koru in Islamist oriented Yeni Safak agree on one thing -
the timing of Israeli attack is not a coincidence. Balbay says,
"The Israeli government wants to bring a fait-acompli to the next US
administration." Koru says, "Israel is trying to make the Middle
East problem an immediate priority for the Obama administration, and
divert Washington's attention from Iraq and Afghanistan."

Iranian Explosives in Mersin
Mainstreams Hurriyet and Milliyet report that Mersin Customs
officials decided to inspect 22 shipping containers that were en
route from Iran to Venezuela. The customs officials suspected the
presence of radioactive material, so experts from the Atomic Energy
Institute were called in to inspect the containers. The AEI
inspectors subsequently found explosive materials made of nitrate
and sulfite. Official documents on the containers claimed that the
containers contained tractor parts. Currently, the containers
remain in the custody of Mersin Customs Officials in the Mersin
harbor.

TRT to Launch Kurdish Broadcasts January 1
Media outlets report the state-owned TRT television will launch
Kurdish-language broadcasts starting on January 1, and Prime
Minister Erdogan will deliver a speech in Kurdish on the new
channel, TRT-6. Papers expect Erdogan to issue messages against
ethnic discrimination. At the end of his speech, Erdogan will
congratulate the new channel and send New Years greetings.
Conservative-Islamist papers see Kurdish-language broadcasting on
state-owned television as a milestone in the democratic initiatives
made with regard to the Kurdish question in Turkey.
Islamist-oriented Zaman writes, "The Prime Minister breaks a taboo
and speaks Kurdish." Liberal Radikal carries the headline, "Erdogan
Salutes the Kurdish Language on TRT." Meanwhile, leftist Taraf is
less salutary toward the PM in "Erdogan Utters Words in Kurdish
during an Interview with The Kurdish Station."

TV News:
CNN Turk

Domestic News

- The prosecutor ordered the arrest of 15 al-Qaeda suspects taken
into custody last week in Istanbul.

- Professor Yunus Soylet has been appointed the Rector of Istanbul
University by President Abdullah Gul. Soylet, a supporter of
headscarf freedom in universities, was the family doctor of PM
Erdogan.

- Industrial employment drops by 1.4 percent in the third quarter of
the year, while employment in construction drops by 6.8 percent.

International News

- Iran's state news agency IRNA reports rebels from Iran's ethnic
Baluchi minority have killed four members of the security forces in
southeastern Iran.

- The UN-backed Mine Action Centre (MAC) says a four-year project to

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clear landmines from a buffer zone in Cyprus could end next month
due to a lack of funds.

- Bangladesh voted in its first election in seven years, in a poll
anticipated to restore democracy to this troubled nation after two
years of emergency rule.

JEFFREY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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