Cablegate: Media Claims of Us Support for Pkk Complicate

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. (SBU) The PKK issue, and the perceived lack of action by
the United States against PKK terrorists in northern Iraq,
has become a chronic, negative story in Turkish media
reporting on the U.S. and U.S.-Turkish relations. The story
contributes to widespread negative perceptions of the United
States and the U.S. effort in Iraq, and makes it more
difficult for the mission to highlight positive developments
in the U.S.-Turkish relationship through the Turkish media.
The following are some of the most recent examples of
negative coverage that illustrate how the PKK issue is
complicating our relationship with Turkey and our public
diplomacy efforts.


2. (U) Columns in two leading dailies, the staunchly secular
"Milliyet" and "Cumhuriyet," on August 14 accused Amconsul
Adana of supporting the PKK by visiting Diyarbakir Mayor
Osman Baydemir. Baydemir had come under heavy fire in the
Turkish media in recent days for visiting the family of a
PKK militant who was allegedly involved in the killing of a
security guard and was later killed in a shootout with
Turkish police. "Milliyet" columnist Melih Asik wrote that
"the goal of Adana Second Consul Alison's visit to
Diyarbakir Mayor Osman Baydemir was to express support for
the mayor, who had expressed his condolences to the family
of a PKK militant." "America is now playing its game
openly," he continued. "While protecting the PKK on Kandil
Mountain and facilitating the terrorists' operations in
Turkey, now it has taken the organization under its wing in
this country," he concluded.

3. (U) Columnist Ali Sirmen made a similar argument the same
day in "Cumhuriyet." Sirmen wrote that the Adana Consul
justified her visit to Baydemir "to pass on condolences for
the killing of a security guard and wounding of two
policemen by the PKK/Kongra-Gel." (NOTE: this claim is
factually incorrect. Amconsul Adana's visit to Baydemir was
carefully considered and intended to convey a message to
Baydemir on the need to maintain a clear distance from the
PKK and to condemn PKK terrorism. END NOTE.) "But
Baydemir's office isn't the right place to pass on such
condolences," Sirmen argued. "In fact, the Consul was using
Baydemir as a vehicle for passing condolences to the family
of the PKK terrorist," he continued. "The United States is
supporting Kurdish independence in Iraq and, despite its
many promises to Turkey, has failed to take any initiative
against the PKK," Sirmen concluded.


4. (U) On the same day, a front-page story in "Cumhuriyet"
titled "U.S. Embassy Double Standard on the PKK" criticized
the embassy for sending a warning message to U.S. citizens
on possible PKK attacks on August 15, anniversary date of
the organization's first violent actions, "while the U.S.
has failed to take a single action against 5,000 PKK
militants in northern Iraq." "Cumhuriyet" argues that the
PKK has been "emboldened" by U.S. inaction. The paper then
notes that after Ambassador Edelman told reporters several
months ago that "the U.S. will not take military action
against PKK terrorists," the PKK announced that it would end
its cease-fire and resume its attacks in Turkey. (NOTE: In
fact, the quote is incorrect, and the link with the end of
the PKK cease-fire is misleading. The Ambassador actually
said that a U.S. military action "should not be expected in
the near future." The PKK had been saying for months before
the Ambassador made that comment that it would end its
"cease-fire" on June 1. END NOTE.)

5. (U) The following day, "Sabah," one of Turkey's largest-
circulation dailies, carried an extensive front-page story
on the PKK under the headline "America's PKK!" The article
reports on the activities of jailed PKK leader Abdullah
Ocalan's brother Osman, who has reportedly broken away from
the PKK in northern Iraq and established a new political
party. Based on statements allegedly made by Abdullah
Ocalan through his Turkish lawyers, "Sabah" implies that the
U.S. is sheltering and supporting Osman Ocalan, and that
U.S. officials may have passed "a sack of money" to Osman in
exchange for his cooperation. As further "evidence" of the
bargain the U.S. has allegedly reached with Osman Ocalan,
the paper cites a declaration by Osman's new party (the
Patriotic Democratic Party) claiming to support the U.S.
occupation in Iraq and calling on Kurds to cooperate with
the United States. The article concludes with Abdullah
Ocalan criticizing his brother for "selling out the Kurds
and the Middle East for a bowl of soup from the United
States." "The U.S. nurtured Saddam for a time as well, then
attacked him," Abdullah Ocalan reportedly said, warning that
"the same thing could happen to Osman."


6. (U) Embassy Ankara issued a press release on August 16 in
an effort to counter the speculation and misinformation
generated by the PKK story over the weekend. The embassy
statement noted that our Adana Consul had given a
consistent, uncompromising message against the PKK and PKK
terrorism to all of her interlocutors in Diyarbakir last
week. It also noted that Turkey has had no better friend
than the United States in its effort to combat PKK terrorism
over the past 20 years. The assumption that the U.S. is
supporting the PKK or a PKK faction, however, has become
accepted as conventional wisdom in the Turkish media. A
"Milliyet" report on August 18 repeats claims made by
"Sabah" over the weekend that Osman Ocalan is under U.S.
control and is being used by the U.S. to counter hard-line
PKK elements. (COMMENT: Ironically, some Turkish
commentators have actually welcomed U.S. "support" for Osman
Ocalan and interpreted this "support" as part of a carefully
conceived U.S. strategy to fulfill its commitment to Turkey
to eliminate the PKK threat. END COMMENT.)


7. (SBU) The press ferment on the PKK reported here is just
a snapshot taken from the long-running Turkish media serial
on the alleged relationship between the U.S. and the PKK.
Of course, many of the Turkish press claims are based on
false information, innuendo, and flawed analysis. But the
problems they create for our relationship with Turkey, and
particularly our public diplomacy efforts, are real. The
stories will undoubtedly continue until we can change the
perception that the U.S. is unable or unwilling to fulfill
its commitment to eliminate the PKK threat in Iraq.


© Scoop Media

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