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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A




11 camps for 500,000 refugees - Hurriyet
Government wants to gain time on Iraq - Sabah
Despite warnings, Bush determined to hit Iraq - Turkiye
Ankara decides on Iraq: Count us in! - Milliyet

U.S. inspects bases; Iraqi opposition in town - Cumhuriyet
NSC to say final word on Iraq - Zaman
Ankara cautious on Iraq - Yeni Safak
State leaders discuss U.S. demands - Radikal
Constitutional package unchanged, back to Presidency - Yeni

Markets uneasy over Iraq - Dunya
Saddam seeking human shields - Finansal Forum


Iraq: Tuesday's papers report that no political decision
came out of the government leaders' meeting on Iraq, which
was also attended by the Chief of General Staff. Dailies
expect the position of Turkey to be shaped at Friday's
National Security Council meeting. However, reports claim
that the leaders have agreed to join the U.S.-led operation
against Iraq. "Vatan" daily speculates that, cornered
between U.S. pressure and the party grassroots, the AKP
wants to avoid the impression of being the `gendarme' of
Western countries against the Muslim world. The government
is inclined to seek parliamentary approval to open bases and
send troops to Northern Iraq, reports say. Dailies and
broadcasters report that U.S. experts have started
inspections on Turkish air bases. Northern Iraqi Kurdish
leaders Barzani and Talabani are in Ankara today to hold
meetings with the MFA, Turkish intelligence, and the Prime
Minister. Prime Minister Gul and opposition CHP leader
Baykal will discuss Iraq at a meeting today. On Wednesday,
the parliament will vote on the extension of ONW for another
six months. On Thursday, the Supreme Military Council will
convene. "Hurriyet" reports that Prime Minister Gul will
visit Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to feel
the pulse on Iraq. "Milliyet" features a headline
containing Turkey's `conditions' regarding the Iraq war:
-- Ankara is against deployment of large numbers of U.S.
troops in Turkey. Small special teams are acceptable.
-- Ankara wants Muslim countries in the international
coalition against Iraq.
-- A UN or NATO decision is essential for military action
against Baghdad.
-- Missile defense systems should be established at bases to
be used by the U.S.
Dailies also believe that Turkey will demand 12 billion
dollars in `reparations' for possible war losses.
"Hurriyet" claims that Turkey will set up eleven camps in
Northern Iraq to accommodate an estimated 500,000 refugees.

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Wolfowitz op-ed: "Radikal" carries an op-ed on Iraq by
Deputy SecDef Wolfowitz in its entirety as it appeared in
the Washington Post on December 23. The op-ed is captioned
"To Strike or Not To Strike." The paper highlights
Wolfowitz's comments that the world has grave concerns that
Saddam might use his most dreadful weapons. Wolfowitz
writes that the U.S. must take the potential risks into
account when considering an action against Iraq.

Election in Siirt: The CHP has criticized the Supreme
Election Board (YSK) for delaying the election calendar in
Siirt province, where poll results were canceled by the
board on December 3. Reports speculate that the AKP is
unsure about a clear victory for Erdogan in Siirt, who needs
to enter the parliament before taking over the post of Prime

Constitutional changes package: The parliament's
Constitutional Commission on Monday reviewed the
constitutional amendment package that would allow AKP leader
Erdogan to be elected to parliament. The Commission re-
approved the package without changes, papers report. The
parliament will vote on the package on Friday. President
Sezer vetoed the package last week, saying it was designed
to address Erdogan's personal situation. Deputy Prime
Minister Yalcinbayir reportedly said that AKP does not want
to challenge the President, but rather expand democratic
rights for all.

Zeugma/HP's Packard: "Hurriyet" criticizes HP's David
Packard for "forgetting his promise" of 100 million dollars
in financial support to excavate the ancient city of Zeugma,
in Turkey's Gaziantep province. Only 20 percent of the city
has been excavated, and work has been halted after Packard's
initial grant of 5 million dollars was spent, Hurriyet
complains. The paper says that U.S. Ambassador to Ankara
Robert Pearson has sent a letter to Packard, urging him to
continue to support the Zeugma project. Hurriyet says that
a response is being awaited from Packard.


"The critical questions in the Turkish-American bargain"
Sedat Ergin notes some disagreements between Turkey and the
US in mass appeal Hurriyet (12/24): "The US is waiting for a
clear decision by Ankara before making its final plans about
Iraq. Ankara, on the other hand wants some clarification
from Washington on some critical points before making its
decisions. Specifically, Turkey is concerned about the
following points:
- What kind of compensation plan the Bush administration is
willing to commit itself to on behalf of Turkey. The
Turkish Treasury will need a huge amount of cash to cope
with the shock effects of the war. President Bush has
offered Turkey a cash amount of just 3.5 billion dollars
over two years. The amount is considered `extremely
insufficient' here in Ankara. Furthermore, there is no
guarantee of Congressional approval for a compensation plan
for Turkey.
- The uncertainties regarding northern Iraq, as well as US
plans for the post-Saddam era in Iraq. The US is planning to
implement a federal structure in the post-Saddam era, and
its design is not acceptable to Turkey. Turkey wants to
take some protective measures to control an expected refugee
influx from northern Iraq in the case of a military
operation. The US, however, is opposed to these measures.
It should come as no surprise that the number of Turkish
troops deployed in northern Iraq will increase considerably
in case of a war. . The task of Turkish troops will not be
limited to stopping the refugees. By stationing troops in
northern Iraq, Turkey wants to be able to prevent `undesired
developments' there. Turkey also wants to have a say in the
shaping of Iraq's future. . Washington plans to implement a
three-party cooperation mechanism in northern Iraq together
with Turkey and the Kurdish groups under US supervision.
Turkey, however, is against such a model, in which the
Turkish army and Kurdish groups are given equal power. If a
three-party mechanism is to be applied in northern Iraq,
Turkey wants to play the leading role. Turkey is aware of
the fact that its role in Northern Iraq will determine its
status at the table for discussing the future of Iraq in the
post-Saddam period."

"The war is in February"
Yilmaz Oztuna opined in the conservative-mass appeal Turkiye
(12/24): "The war against Iraq will begin soon, because the
US has already obtained, however reluctantly, support from
the six Gulf countries as well as Turkey and the UK.
Sometime in February, Turkey will find itself in the midst
of a war, which is very likely to start with heavy air
bombardment. . Through its colossal military power, the US
will topple Saddam, many innocent people will be killed,
and, in the end, the four-star American generals will
station themselves in Baghdad. A similar scenario will then
be implemented for Iran, until all the Gulf-oil reserves are
distributed under US supervision."


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