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
FRIDAY, MARCH 21, 2003




Parliament authorizes Government to Declare War, Turkey will
enter Iraq - Sabah
Historical Admission - Sabah
Occupation Begins - Milliyet
Baghdad looks like Hell - Vatan
Turkish Military Liaison Officers in Florida and Qatar
inform Turkey about War - Hurriyet
Land Operation Starts With Speed - Aksam

US Starts the War with Speed - Radikal
Land Operation Starts Earlier than Expected - Zaman
Stop This War - Yeni Safak
Disgraceful Attack - Vakit
World Reacts to the Operation - Cumhuriyet

Dunya : Bigger Attack is expected over the weekend
Finansal Forum: Turkey Opens Air Space


War on Iraq: Turkish papers dedicate their reporting almost
entirely to the war in Iraq. The mass appeal papers
published an "emergency special edition" right after the
news broke about the initial bombing. Today the general
tone is about the ongoing missile attacks as well as
speculation as to the reason for the early bombing. Reports
claim that CIA-based intelligence reports had revealed the
locating about Saddam and his aides. Several papers report
that the heavy bombardment continues with Cruise missiles,
while the ground operation has been launched from the south.
"Milliyet" reports that US troops captured two Iraqi cities
in the southern port area. All major Turkish papers are
filing their stories on the war by using international wire
service reports to supplement information from their
correspondents in Baghdad or Kuwait. "Hurriyet" reports
that, unlike in the Gulf war, Turkey and the US have lost
direct contact. In 1991 then-president Bush notified Turkey
an hour before the war began, but this time Turkish leaders
learned of the war from Turkish liaison officers in Tampa,
FL. Papers also note the ongoing discussions between Turkey
and the US about the terms and conditions of the overflight
permission. "Yeni Safak" blames the government for hurrying
to pass the resolution from parliament before reaching
agreement on a related MOU. Several papers mention that
Turkey wants to link the use of Turkish airspace with a
Turkish army incursion into northern Iraq. The discussion
about the shape of the MOU continued until early this
morning, but to no avail. "Hurriyet" quotes Ankara
diplomatic sources as saying "Turkey is waiting for certain
answers from Washington at this point."

From the internal standpoint, the overall tone in the press
is that the AKP government has made an historical mistake
and has handled the issue very badly. News reports and many
editorial comments are questioning the decisions reached by
policy-makers. They note that Turkey was `dreaming' by
believing that the US had no `Plan B' for the war, and that
Turkey's resistance could prevent the war from occurring.
"Hurriyet" editor-in-chief Ertugrul Ozkok slams the AKP and
their advisers as being "completely blind," and notes that
Turkey will have to pay the negative consequences in the
years to come. "Sabah" reports statements by former Foreign
Minister Yakis, who admitted that they all believed that
`Plan B' did not exist. Yakis said "evidently we were wrong
and made a very serious strategic mistake." Islamist "Yeni
Safak" pursues a different tone, calling on the world to
stop the war. The front-page banner headline reads
"illegitimate and unlawful." Ultra-nationalist "Ortadogu"
characterizes the war as "a blood feud," and predicts that
it will last much longer than expected. Stories in the
press also highlight the "different priorities" within the
AKP administration, citing PM Erdogan's visit to a small
Anatolian city in the midst of war preparations. In an
effort to convince the AKP to accept the overflight
proposal, Tayyip Erdogan told his party members that there
will not be a `third resolution' in the future. "When I was
in Corum (a town in Central Anatolia) I understood that
nobody cares about Iraq. They are thinking about the
poverty they face in everyday life."


"Pluses and minuses"
Sedat Ergin analyzed the current status of US-Turkish
relations in light of the war on Iraq in mass appeal
Hurriyet (3/21): "The results of the bargain between
Turkey's AKP government and the US administration can be
summed up as follows:
The most important and valuable gain for Turkey is the
agreement with the US on the political principles of
reshaping Iraq. Most important is the declaration that
Iraq's resources belong to all peoples of Iraq. Naming the
Turkomen as one of Iraq's founding peoples is also a very
important gain for Turkey. . On the other hand, there is
still uncertainty about the Turkish army's role in northern
Iraq. If Turkey remains persistent on that issue, most
probably the two sides will reach a consensus in the days
ahead. . On the economic front, what Turkey received from
the US seems to be no more than a one-page press release
issued by the US Embassy in Ankara. We all knew that
Washington supports Turkey's economic reform program - that
is not news. . When it comes to the political losses, it
would require another full-page commentary. Due to the fact
that Washington is now implementing `Plan B' for the Iraq
operation, there is a serious `crack' in the way Washington
now sees Ankara. Just like a crack in a vase, the healing
will take time and the crack will remain visible even at the
end. . Given the current picture, we can conclude that
Turkey's strategic importance has also suffered an erosion.
Once the war is over, for instance, Incirlik airbase will
lose its vitality as the US moves to the Middle East."

"The wrong calculation"
Sami Kohen commented in mass appeal Milliyet (3/21): "The
war on Iraq began in an unusual way. Evidently, CIA
intelligence reports led to the conclusion that Saddam and
his aides could be located and targeted. However, the
missiles went to the wrong address and, as we have seen,
Saddam Hussein went on live television just three hours
later. In the event that Saddam had been killed, the war
may have ended. It seems that it was an idea endorsed by
President Bush as well, but it did not succeed. . The
current war poses a series of dangers to the international
community, including the US. From the military standpoint,
in addition to the possibility that Saddam will use chemical
or biological weapons, there are big risks for the US both
in the growing negative public reaction and the possible
rise in international terrorism. From the political point
of view, the US action is perceived as unilateral, which
puts the US gradually in a state of alienation and also
alters existing international balances. From the economic
standpoint, the repercussions of the war will be on a global
scale, and weak economies will be most badly affected."


© Scoop Media

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