Cablegate: Mfa Tells Ambassador That Increased Pkk Activity Means Iraq and Coalition Must Act

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 SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 005742


E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/12/2014

REF: A. STATE 201785 B. ANKARA 5378 C. BAGHDAD 1124 D. BAGHDAD 1101

Classified By: Ambassador Eric S. Edelman for reasons 1.4 (b), (d), and (g).

1. (S) Summary: PKK/Kongra Gel's increased terrorist activity in Turkey will stir up public opinion and prompt more Turks to ask why the United States has not taken firmer action against the organization, MFA Deputy Under Secretary for Multilateral Political Affairs Nabi Sensoy told the Ambassador Oct. 5. Sensoy, a thoughtful interlocutor who has worked this issue with senior U.S. officials for some time, expressed his personal and professional frustration, stating that he believed we had promised more action against the PKK than we had delivered. He cited GOT statistics on the upswing in PKK-related violence in Turkey since the group revoked its unilateral cease-fire on June 1: these include 107 killed, including the terrorists themselves. Nonetheless, Sensoy acknowledged that we have taken some important measures, and undertook to give credit where due. Notably, Sensoy asked no questions about operationalizing a new trilateral (USG, IIG, GOT) approach to dealing with the PKK. It is vital that the IIG, with our prompting/assistance, move quickly on key Turkish concerns, such as closing down the PKK's front offices in Iraq. End summary.

2. (S) MFA Deputy Under Secretary for Multilateral Political Affairs Nabi Sensoy called in Ambassador Oct. 5 to discuss further the U.S.'s proposal for IIG action against the PKK (aka Kongra Gel) and a trilateral discussion among the U.S., the IIG, and the GOT on the issue. Sensoy reviewed the ongoing U.S.-Turkey dialogue on the PKK, and expressed his own and his government's disappointment that the U.S. has not taken more concrete non-military action against the terrorist organization. Sensoy reviewed his meetings over the past 12 months with S/CT Amb. Black and then-EUR DAS Pascoe, and expressed his personal frustration that he had advised Turkey's leaders that the United States was prepared to do more against the PKK than in fact we have done. Specifically, he pointed out the need to disrupt PKK command and control and its logistics support network and dissemination of a message of resolve to eliminate the PKK from Iraq.

3. (S) At the same time, Sensoy took pains to thank us for U.S. diplomatic efforts, chiefly the listing of PKK's successor (Kongra Gel) as a terrorist organization and our ultimately successful effort to get the EU to do the same. He also welcomed U.S. efforts to disrupt PKK finances in Europe. Sensoy said he believed that Turkey's leaders and military have not given the U.S. enough credit for these items.

4. (S) That said, Sensoy noted, the PKK still appears to operate relatively freely in Iraq. According to Sensoy, its political front organization--the Kurdistan Democratic Solution Party--operates offices in Baghdad, Mosul, and Kirkuk, and is seeking to set up shop in Sulaymaniya. The PKK is able to transmit radio and television broadcasts. According to Turkish military intelligence, most PKK militants have moved from the Kandil Mountain area to the Zap area, as close as 16 km from the Turkish border.

5. (C) Sensoy read from a GOT estimate of PKK activity in Turkey since the PKK ended its unilateral cease-fire on June 1. According to this information Turkey has experienced the following activity:

--68 armed assaults
--46 "armed crossfires"
--67 bombings
--22 thwarted bomb attacks

--51 terrorists killed
--10 civilians killed
--32 soldiers killed
--8 police killed
--6 village guards killed

Sensoy closed by echoing FonMin Gul's comments (ref b) that Turkey cannot rely on any other country--including the U.S--to go after the PKK. That said, Sensoy added, Turkey had approached the U.S. when it was the occupying authority in Iraq. Since June 28, he asked, what is the legal status of the U.S. in Iraq, and what can we expect of you there? 6. (S) Ambassador responded that he appreciated Sensoy's assessment of the U.S.-Turkey exchange on the PKK, and added that he understood Turkey's frustration, especially given the upswing in PKK activity since June 1. We know that relevant UNSC resolutions which demand that Iraq not be a base for international terrorism must be implemented. Ambassador highlighted that we maintain an intelligence fusion cell with TGS, and that TGS has just agreed to renew this arrangement. He reviewed our offer to provide aerial surveillance on the PKK, an offer which Turkey in fact turned down. He noted our joint effort earlier this year--which regrettably failed--to capture Osman Ocalan based on what turned out to be faulty information from Turkish military intelligence. CPA did outlaw the PKK and Amb. Bremer made the PKK a key item in his handoff to the IIG. Ambassador reminded Sensoy that the IIG FonMin and DefMin had both said at the Istanbul NATO Summit that the PKK has no place in the future of Iraq.

7. (S) Ambassador reported that DCM Jeffrey had met with DPM Salih to present our approach to the IIG on taking action against the PKK, and that the Iraqis have responded positively. Closing down the KDSP offices in Iraq was among the steps we have requested the IIG to take. The next step is for us to operationalize the discussion. He emphasized that in no way is the United States "washing our hands" of the problem and handing it to the Iraqis. We remain engaged on this issue and want to work closely with the IIG on coming to grips with the PKK.

8. (S) Sensoy responded that U.S. non-military action remained important. For example, he requested that we press the KDP and PUK leadership to cease their ties with and logistical support for the PKK. He added that TGS estimated that the U.S. could eliminate the PKK's command and control structure "if you wanted to." He said action is vital since the PKK is hurting Turkey far more than a year ago. Now people are dying in Turkey and the Turkish public will soon agitate for further action. "We are trying to keep a lid on this," Sensoy said, but he expressed concern that the GOT may not be able to do so for much longer. Ambassador responded that we continually talk with the KDP and PUK leadership about the PKK, and added that we will keep at it.

10. (S) Comment: The GOT no doubt expected that we would at some point approach the IIG and ask it to take steps against the PKK, and while the Turks are willing to work with the IIG they do not have great faith that it is yet up to the job. It is telling that Sensoy--generally a fair and thoughtful interlocutor not prone to typical Turkish hysterics on this issue--essentially asked no questions about operationalizing this trilateral process. The Turks still see the U.S. as their main interlocutor on the PKK in northern Iraq, and they will expect action. At the same time, Turkish policymakers understand that our military in Iraq does not have the resources to devote to a full-scale battle against this terrorist organization. However, Sensoy made it clear that the more the PKK ratchets up its terror campaign in Turkey, the more pressure the GOT will feel from its people. This pressure could include calls for cutting back or ceasing altogether GOT-USG cooperation on Iraq, or even unilateral Turkish action in northern Iraq. It is thus all the more vital that we move smartly with both the IIG and GOT so that some action--such as shutting down the KDSP offices in Iraq--can take place as soon as possible to demonstrate concretely our mutual resolve. End comment.

11. (U) Baghdad minimize considered.


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