Cablegate: Istanbul Worries About War, U.S.-Turkey Ties,

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

1. (U) Summary: With apparently over ninety percent of the
local population opposed to the war in Iraq, anti-war
sentiment in Istanbul continues to harden as reports and
images of civilian casualties stream in over the sympathetic
news networks. Among Istanbul's academic and business elite,
however, fears of a breakdown in U.S.-Turkish relations and
its consequences for Turkey have replaced Iraq as the primary
concern. The only issue that seems to span the sharp divide
between the concerns of the man in the street and the elite
is a shared nervousness about the government's ability to
manage an already-battered economy in the face of additional
shocks from the war. End Summary.

2. (U) Media coverage of the coalition operations in Iraq has
largely reinforced the prevailing anti-war sentiment in
Istanbul. Local television stations have focused
predominantly on civilian casualties, reports of coalition
setbacks, and regional opposition to the war. Although our
contacts with average Turks have elicited responses ranging
from apathy to antipathy, the general mood among
working-class (and unemployed) Istanbul residents remains
decidedly anti-war. Pointing to the coalition's failure to
find evidence of chemical and biological weapons, almost all
Turks here question the U.S.'s justification for war.
Students stubbornly cling to their mantra of "no blood for
oil," while residents of more conservative and religious
neighborhoods voice their concerns about an "anti-Muslim
crusade." Although very few have a kind word to say about
Saddam and his regime, they point gloomily to the
difficulties involved in managing a post-Saddam Iraq and the
regional resentment that is being provoked by the U.S.'s

3. (U) The preoccupations of our business, academic and media
contacts, however, have shifted dramatically in recent days.
Following weeks of negotiations and the parliament's refusal
to allow the U.S. to transport troops and equipment to
northern Iraq, the Istanbul elite is now focused on the
"crisis" in U.S.-Turkish relations. Discussions of "what
went wrong?", "who is to blame?", and "is the strategic
partnership dead?" have replaced arguments over whether the
war in Iraq is justified. At an April 2 Marmara Group
conference on U.S.-Turkish relations, a panel of retired
generals, senior diplomats, and business leaders skirted the
case for war, but came out strongly in favor of maintaining
the strategic partnership. Former Foreign Minister Emre
Gonensay argued that, given its friendship with the U.S.,
Turkey should have stood by the U.S. in Iraq. Echoing the
comments of other panelists, retired General Necdet Timur
remarked that two months of disagreement cannot be allowed to
undermine a 50-year old strategic relationship.

4. (U) The only unifying theme in our discussions throughout
Istanbul has been the universal, even overriding, concern
about the fragile economic situation. "Turkey must solve its
economic problems... without a healthy economy, foreign
policy is irrelevant," said former diplomat and DYP Vice
Chairman Mehmet Ali Bayar at the Marmara Group conference.
Investment analysts, bankers, and economists are skeptical
about the AK government's ability to implement the IMF
program. Many of them now argue that the risk of loan
default or restructuring has risen. Sentiment has improved
in the wake of Secretary Powell's visit and the renewed
prospect for U.S. assistance, but all eyes are on AK's
economic efforts. Almost everyone worries about the
potentially damaging impact that the war in Iraq is likely to
have on Turkey's economy. Local merchants and restaurant
owners claim they are already feeling the pinch of
contracting tourism. Grocers, taxi drivers, security guards,
and other working-class Turks in Istanbul bemoan their
economic plight and hope for a rapid conclusion to the war.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Syria: Economic Decline, Rising Hunger And Surging Humanitarian Needs

Syria’s fragile economy has “suffered multiple shocks” over the past 18 months, with its currency plummeting and joblessness swelling as people struggle to cover their basic needs, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator told the Security Council ... More>>

OECD: Final Quarter Of 2020 Shows Continued Recovery In G20 International Merchandise Trade

G20 international merchandise trade continued to rebound in the fourth quarter of 2020 ( exports up 7.2% and imports up 6.8%), following the sharp falls seen in the first half of 2020, as lockdown measures affected trade globally. Although growth ... More>>

UN Report: Civilian Casualties Surged After Peace Talks Began In Afghanistan

Monitoring by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA, and the UN Human Rights Office has revealed that despite a drop in civilians killed and injured overall in 2020 there was a rise in civilian casualties following the start of peace negotiations ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

2021: Critical Year To ‘reset Our Relationship With Nature’ – UN Chief

During this time of “crisis and fragility”, the UN chief told the United Nations Environment Assembly on Monday that human well-being and prosperity can be vastly improved by prioritizing nature-based solutions. Painting a picture of the turmoil ... More>>

Paris Agreement: UN Secretary-General António Guterres To Mark U.S. Reentry With Envoy For Climate John Kerry

Watch live at UN Secretary-General António Guterres will join U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John F. Kerry at an event marking the United States’ reentry into the Paris Agreement this Friday. The discussion with the Secretary-General ... More>>

WeBeliev: Scoop In Conversation With Abhishek Sinha, Founder Of WeBeliev, An NZ Crowdfunding Platform

WeBeliev supports 17 SDGs, launching sector specific campaigns every month Q. What is WeBeliev and why did you start it? A. WeBeliev is a Singapore-registered crowdfunding platform aimed at fundraising for all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) ... More>>