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Cablegate: Turkey Demands Immediate Release of Its Special

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

S E C R E T ANKARA 004230

SIPDIS


E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/04/2013
TAGS: MOPS PREL TU IZ
SUBJECT: TURKEY DEMANDS IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF ITS SPECIAL
FORCES PERSONNEL IN NORTHERN IRAQ

(U) Classified by DCM Robert Deutsch, reasons 1.5, b/d.


1. (U) Baghdad minimize considered.


2. (C) Acting Undersecretary of MFA Baki Ilkin convoked DCM
the evening of July 4th to formally protest the reported
arrest by US forces of Turkish Special Forces (SF) in
Sulaimaniyah, Iraq. According to Ilkin, at approximately
14:30 July 4, Turkish SF reported that 150 US troops arrived
at the Turkish SF Headquarters in Sulaimaniyah to search the
facility. From that point communications from the Turkish SF
to their superiors were blocked. An eyewitness outside the
facility apparently informed the SF that the building was
searched, indeed ransacked, that a Turkish flag in the SF
unit commander's office was torn down, and that the 13
Turkish SF were taken away in shackles. Shortly thereafter,
the Iraqi Turkomen Front office in Sulaimaniyah was also
visited by US soldiers and the Turkomen were arrested. They
were taken away hooded, shackled, and handcuffed.
Communication with the outside eyewitness was broken at that
point as well. In addition, the Turkomen radio station in
Sulaimaniyah was taken off the air.


3. (C) Ilkin reported that both groups had been taken to a
prison in Kirkuk. He added that there were unconfirmed
reports of further moves against Turkish SF in Iraq and
expressed the hope that these reports were not true. Ilkin
said the way that the Turks had been treated was deplorable,
equivalent to the treatment of Saddam's Fedayeen, and
certainly not a way to treat an Ally. He said that the Turks
didn't know who decided to take such an action and, while
they didn't know whether the fact was relevant, they
understood that Col Mayville of the 101st Airborne Division,
with whom they have experienced previous difficulties, was in
Sulaimaniyah on July 4. Ilkin noted that the GOT had
previously complained about the attitude and actions of Col
Mayville. The GOT suspects that such an action could have
been taken on July 4 because communications with authorities
and between Ankara and Washington would have been hampered by
the holiday. Ilkin noted intercepts of communications in the
Kirkuk-Sulaimaniyah area with individuals stating that
"Kirkuk has been liberated today." (Comment: with the
implication that this confirmed an anti-Turkish intent.)


4. (C) Ilkin said that this action was already leaking to the
press (we have not been able to confirm) and that President
Sezer and PM Erdogan had been informed. If the questions
were not immediately dealt with, this incident would have
significant negative repercussions on the US-Turkish
relationship that both sides had been working to put back on
firmer ground. He said the Turkish Government requests swift
action to resolve the incident including:
-- immediate release of those detained
-- a full investigation of the incident
-- identification of those responsible for the decision and
appropriate action
-- share of the results of the investigation with the GOT.
5. (C) Comment: Embassy learned of this alleged incident mid
afternoon July 4 from TGS and MFA sources. Through military
and civilian channels (EUCOM, CENTCOM, State, OCPA Baghdad)
we tried to confirm any relevant activity. It took some 6-7
hours before we were able to confirm the incident, and
Ambassador Pearson informed U/S Ilkin (just prior to the
convocation) that we had taken 23 presumed civilians, since
they neither ID cards nor uniforms, in custody.
6. (C) Action Requested: Given the potential serious
consequences to our relationship, we need to resolve this
incident as quickly as humanly possible. We request a
response with as much specificity as possible for the GOT by
OOB Ankara time July 5. We need to tell the Turks very
quickly, in the most concrete, convincing terms possible, why
we have taken this step. We should provide the briefing in
whatever channels would be most appropriate given the
sensitivity and classification of the information.
PEARSON

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