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Cablegate: Southeast Turkey Press Summary

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 ADANA 0049

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PINS PGOV PHUM TU IZ ADANA
SUBJECT: SOUTHEAST TURKEY PRESS SUMMARY
FEBRUARY 21, 2003


1. This is the Southeastern Turkey press summary
for February 21, 2003. Please note that Turkish
press reports often contain errors or
exaggerations; AmConsulate Adana does not vouch
for the accuracy of the reports summarized here.


POLITICS, SECURITY, HUMAN RIGHTS
--------------------------------


2. YSK APPROVES ERDOGAN'S CANDIDACY IN SIIRT
ELECTIONS
(Milliyet/Radikal/Turkiye) The Higher Election
Council (YSK) approved AK Party leader Recep
Tayyip Erdogan's candidacy in the March 9 Siirt
elections. YSK had rejected Erdogan's candidacy
application in the November 3 Parliamentary
elections. Three people, including Nusret
Cakiroglu of the Workers' Party (IP), had
objected to the nomination of Erdogan as AK
Party's first-listed candidate in Siirt. YSK
rejected all the objections during its two-hour
meeting on February 20. Tercuman reported that
YSK had unanimously given a visa to Erdogan's
nomination as AK Party's first-listed candidate.


3. MYSTERIOUS AMERICAN COMMANDER IN MARDIN
(Hurriyet) An unnamed American general arrived
in Mardin in a private U.S. plane on February 20.
Mardin Brigadier Commander Brigadier General
Fahri Isildak met the general, for whom
comprehensive security measures had been taken
around the airport. Journalists were not allowed
to take photographs. A helicopter affiliated
with the Turkish Armed Forces also landed at the
Mardin Airport.


4. TWO HUNDRED AMERICAN SOLDIERS DISPATCHED TO
BATMAN
(Hurriyet) Of 1,000 U.S. soldiers who had
arrived in Diyarbakir on February 16 and 17 in
giant cargo planes for the modernization of
Turkish bases, 200 people were sent to Batman.
Cumhuriyet reported the arrival of 200 American
soldiers at the Batman Air Base on February 19.
The soldiers settled in tents that had been set
up for them there. Preparations have been
concluded for Patriot missiles from the
Netherlands which are expected to arrive in
Batman by the weekend. At night, cargo planes
frequently land at the base, where Turkish
Airlines (THY) flights have been suspended for
the past week.


5. STINGER-MISSILE BATTERIES ARRIVE
(Hurriyet/Radikal) U.S.-flagged ship "Tellus"
docked at the Iskenderun (Hatay) Port on February
19, unloading 422 military vehicles. Battery
systems that can project missiles are among these
vehicles. Striking among these vehicles were
Hummer jeeps and Lancers on which Stinger missile
batteries were mounted. Three other ships like
"Tellus" are reportedly waiting in the
Mediterranean. Four other ships carrying M-1
Abrams tanks and heavy military equipment are
waiting to unload their cargoes at Iskenderun.
If the Turkish parliament permits the coming of
U.S. soldiers to Turkey, these ships will steer
toward Iskenderun and Mersin ports. Otherwise,
they will proceed to the Persian Gulf through the
Suez Canal. Americans will pay the Iskenderun
port USD 3 million per month. An agreement has
also been signed with transportation companies
with fleets of trailer trucks to transport the
military vehicles. The trucks will have drivers
and wait near the port area. Ten trailer trucks
have been rented from Mersin's Koknar
International Transportation Company. Each truck
will receive a monthly payment of USD 2,000.
Milliyet reported that a crisis was experienced
during the entrance of nine busloads of U.S.
soldiers from Incirlik to the Iskenderun port.
The soldiers had to wait in the buses for nearly
an hour before they were admitted on to the port.
A delay in the receipt by port officials of a
list of these soldiers reportedly caused the
crisis. Cumhuriyet reported that the unloading
of U.S. tanks and other heavy equipment at the
Iskenderun Port, prior to the passage of a
memorandum for the use of bases and ports, caused
controversy. The Turkish General Staff (TGS)
reportedly gave permission for the unloading,
which caused disturbances among other public
organizations. The Minister of Foreign Affairs
said the U.S. soldiers had arrived for
modernization, while he denied having any
information about the military equipment.


6. TURKISH TROOPS IN NORTHERN IRAQ
Cumhuriyet reported that 7,000 soldiers
affiliated with the (Malatya-based) Second Army
Command had crossed 10-14 kilometers into Iraq
through Hakkari and Sirnak. Many tanks and
armored vehicles were sent to the region,
particularly to Zaho and Dahok, along with
soldiers placed in strategic passages and hills.
Also, preparations are underway to dispatch U.S.
soldiers and materiel unloaded at the Iskenderun
(Hatay) Port. Evrensel reported the deployment
of additional troops, as well as hundreds of
village guards familiar with northern Iraq, along
the Iraqi border. The village guards will
reportedly be used, especially in anti-KADEK/PKK
operations.


7. INCREASED ACTIVITY CONTINUES AT INCIRLIK
Hurriyet reported an increase in the number of A-
6 Intruder/EA-6B Prowler planes at Adana's
Incirlik Air Base. Bolge reported the landing
and taking off of many warplanes on February 20.
According to the newspaper, doors to hangars near
the runway were kept open, with officials working
on some. The paper also pointed to increased
activity in the number of flights, as well as in
ground services. Modernization projects continue
in some parts of the base.


8. WAR ALARM FOR HEALTH PERSONNEL
(Hurriyet/Tercuman) While preparations continue
toward a possible war in Iraq, the Directorate
General of the Red Crescent and Civil Defense
switched to the "extraordinary situation" code,
under the direction of the Heath Ministry.
Orders prepared for such extraordinary situations
as wars and natural disasters have been put in
effect. Temporary-duty timetables have also been
prepared for hospitals and health personnel. An
effort is also underway to provide health
materials, medicine, and stock of blood, while
the Health Ministry initiated an effort to
purchase anthrax and smallpox vaccines from the
U.S. Milli Gazete reported that the Red Crescent
Adana Blood Center, through billboards, is urging
citizens to donate blood. Turkiye quoted Red
Crescent Society National President Dr. Ertan
Gonen as saying the Society is ready for war in
every respect. According to Evrensel, all public
employees serving in the Southeast were ordered
to be ready for a possible Iraq war.


9. CALL FOR BOYCOTTING U.S. PRODUCTS
(Bolge) Seyfullah Sariaslan, President of the
Adana chapter of the Egitim-Bir Sen, together
with other union members, held a press conference
in Adana's Ugur Mumcu Square to voice opposition
to war against Iraq. During the press
conference, Sariaslan called on the public to
boycott U.S. products. He wanted the U.S. to
withdraw its military from the region and
immediately evacuate from Turkish bases.


10. NEW ADANA GOVERNOR SAYS ONLY A MIRACLE CAN
PREVENT WAR
(Hurriyet/Bolge) Adana's new Governor, Kemal
Onal, who took office on February 20, said Adana
had strategic importance in a possible U.S.
operation against Iraq because of its Incirlik
Air Base. "Unless a miracle takes place, there
is the danger of a hot war near to us," he added.
Onal stressed that the public would be informed
accurately about civil defense measures.


11. GERMAN AMBASSADOR IN DIYARBAKIR
(Turkiye) German Ambassador to Turkey Joseph
Rudolf Schmidt
arrived in Diyarbakir for contacts. Schmidt
visited the Governor's Office and the
Municipality and toured the province's historical
sites. In answer to journalists' questions
regarding a possible war in Iraq, Schmidt said
that, as a member of NATO, his country would
perform its responsibilities in the event of a
possible U.S.-Iraq war. He added that German
soldiers were not likely to take part in the
ground operations and noted that the number of
personnel to participate in an air operation was
not known yet. He will later travel to Mardin.


12. PRO-OCALAN DEMONSTRATIONS
(Evrensel) Members of the Elazig Fundamental
Rights and Freedoms Association Initiative and
HADEP youths protested the isolation of jailed
PKK/KADEK leader Abdullah Ocalan by lighting
candles. In Van, youths staged demonstrations in
three different locations calling for an end to
Ocalan's isolation. Police raided several homes
and arrested three people. A Mersin court
released 12 of the 13 people, including Social
Democrat Party (SDP) Provincial Chairman Huseyin
Gur, arrested during the February 18 anti-war and
anti-isolation protest in that province. The
court ordered Gur to remain in custody for having
read a press release during the protest
demonstration. Seven of the 16 pro-Ocalan
demonstrators arrested in Adana's Ceyhan district
were ordered held in custody. In Batman, an
investigation has been launched against 12 DEHAP
officials, including the DEHAP provincial
chairman, in connection with an anti-war and
anti-isolation press release. The officials were
summoned to the Prosecutor's Office for
questioning.


13. HRA DIYARBAKIR OFFFICIALS ACQUITTED
(Evrensel) A hearing was held in the Diyarbakir
Court of General Criminal Jurisdiction on
February 20 in the case of seven Diyarbakir Human
Rights Association (HRA) officials charged with
displaying posters during Newroz celebrations at
the province's Southeastern Journalists' Society
in 2002. Attorney Muharrem Erbey represented the
defendants during the trial. In his defense,
Erbey said that the defendants did not have the
intention of committing crimes. Erbey requested
his clients' acquittal. The court later
acquitted the HRA officials. Prison terms
ranging from six months to two years had been
requested for the officials under Article 77/1 of
the Associations Law.


14. TUNCELI MUNICIPALITY UNDER INVESTIGATION
(Evrensel) The Interior Ministry has launched an
investigation against the municipality of
Tunceli. The investigation stemmed from a
complaint by the National Property Directorate
General that the Municipality had been involved
in misfeasance in the sale of municipal land.


ECONOMIC AND AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENTS
--------------------------------------


15. ECONOMIC REVIVAL POSTPONED UNTIL AN UNKNOWN
DATE DUE TO WAR
Sabah columnist Esen Evran wrote that while
Turkey is focused on tense Iraq bargaining
ongoing with the U.S., the Southeast's agenda is
much more intense. While a possible operation
against Iraq is a brake on the economic revival
expected to come after the economic crisis,
everything in the Southeastern provinces has been
on hold until an unknown date. Abdulkadir
Konukoglu, President of the Gaziantep-based Sanko
Holding Company, said he was disturbed by a
possible war in Iraq, but there was not much he
could do about it. "Everyone comes up and asks
what we will do. I tell them to stay where they
are. We do not have the strength to move our
factories," he added. Gaziantep Chamber of
Industry President Nejat Kocer pointed to
uncertainty and shrinkage in business in the
region during this process. Diyarbakir Chamber
of Commerce and Industry President Kutbettin Arzu
said the possible war in Iraq impacted the
region. "In the west of the country, people
postpone their purchase of television sets and
overcoats, while people here in the region do not
buy anything other than bread, sugar, and cooking
oil," he noted. Turkiye cited Van Commodity
Exchange President Feridun Irak as complaining
that Turkey's total trade volume with its
neighbors was around 5%, way below the desired
level.
HOLTZ

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