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Cablegate: Growing Turkish Reaction, Public Criticism of U.S.

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

191439Z Apr 04

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 002218

SIPDIS


DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/SE


JCS PASS J-5/CDR S. WRIGHT


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: GROWING TURKISH REACTION, PUBLIC CRITICISM OF U.S.
DETENTION OF TURKISH SOLDIERS IN NORTHERN IRAQ


-------
SUMMARY
-------


1. Negative reaction by the Turkish Government,
opposition politicians, and the press to the reported
detention of 11 Turkish Special Forces troops in
Northern Iraq continues to grow. Prime Minister
Erdogan, describing the incident as "extremely
distressing," said that he expects the situation to be
resolved "by this evening." Foreign Minister Gul
called the action "unacceptable," and a Foreign
Ministry statement noted that it could "have impacts on
our relations with the United States." Several
opposition leaders have spoken out against the U.S.
operation and called for the immediate release of the
Turkish detainees. True Path Party (DYP) leader Mehmet
Agar called on the Foreign Minister to cancel his
upcoming trip to the United States. End Summary.


----------------------------------
GOT EXPRESSES ANGER AT U.S. ACTION
----------------------------------


2. PM Erdogan reacted strongly to reports that U.S.
forces had detained Turkish special forces team members
operating in Northern Iraq. Speaking to journalists
this morning, Erdogan characterized the incident as
"extremely distressing" and "unacceptable." Erdogan
asserted that "this attitude by an allied country
against its ally cannot be explained." Later in the
day, the PM noted that he "hopes the situation will be
resolved by this evening." In a written statement
released this afternoon, the Foreign Ministry expressed
"profound sorrow" at the incident." The statement
noted Turkish efforts to resolve the situation through
FM's Gul's phone call to Secretary Powell and TGS Chief
General Ozkok's call to SACEUR General Jones. The
Ministry called on all Turkish soldiers to be released
immediately, and for the United States to investigate
and take "necessary action" against U.S. personnel
responsible for the action. The statement concluded by
predicting that the incident could have "negative
impacts" on Turkey's relations with the United States.


--------------------------------------------- -----
OPPOSITION LEADER CALLS ON GUL TO CANCEL U.S. TRIP
--------------------------------------------- -----


3. Mehmet Agar, leader of the opposition True Path
Party (DYP), claimed that this is "the first time that
the military in one NATO country took prisoners from
another NATO country's military." Urging the GOT to
protest the action "immediately and vehemently," Agar
said that "under these circumstances" FM Gul should
"rethink" his planned visit to Washington and, if
necessary, "cancel it." Agar said that Turkey must
"never accept this kind of treatment." He blamed the
GOT for its "mistakes," and hypothesized that "we
wouldn't be faced with such a problem if we had sent
our troops into Northern Iraq last December." Agar
predicted that "even worse developments" could be
expected. Muhsin Yazicioglu, leader of the National
Unity Party (BBP) (not represented in parliament),
described the U.S. action as "insolent," and called for
the Turkish detainees to be freed immediately.
Yazicioglu said the U.S. approach was "very dangerous,"
and accused the United States of acting as a "jandarma
trying to intimidate other independent states."


--------------------------------------------- ------
COMMENTATORS: U.S. TRYING TO REMOVE TURKS FROM IRAQ
--------------------------------------------- ------


4. Press commentary on the alleged incident has also
been sharply negative. The influential all-news cable
channel NTV asserted that the "real reason" behind the
incident is the growing U.S. discomfort with the
presence of Turkish special forces in Iraq. The
commentary claims that PUK leader Talabani has been
pressuring the United States for some time to "remove
Turkish soldiers from the region." The report further
claimed that U.S. forces had asked Turkish special
forces to close down its liaison bureaus in
Suleymaniye, Erbil, and Dohuk, and had requested
special teams to "withdraw" from the area. NTV
concluded its commentary by saying that Ankara finds it
"unacceptable that Turkish soldiers working in
consultation with the U.S. military and Kurdish
officials in the region were targeted instead of the
thousands of armed terrorists whose weapons are
directed against Turkey."


----------------------------------------
SPONTANEOUS PROTEST OUTSIDE EMBASSY GATE
----------------------------------------


5. The reported incident also sparked a spontaneous
demonstration outside the embassy gates this afternoon.
A small group of demonstrators gathered to chant anti-
American slogans before dispersing about 20 minutes
later. Well-known leftist troublemaker Dogu Perincek
showed up to play to the cameras and slam the U.S.
This marks the first such demonstration since the early
days of the war in Iraq. ConGen Istanbul informed the
embassy that a similar demonstration led by a labor
group was held this afternoon near the Consulate.

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