Cablegate: Kurds in Se Turkey Seek New Political Look?

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) Summary: Various Pro- Kurdish Democratic People's
Party (DEHAP) contacts signaled strongly to PO in late October
regional visits that many DEHAP political leaders over the next
three to six weeks will declare their support for the new
Democratic Society (Demokratik Toplum Hareketi) political
initiative declared two weeks ago by the four Kurdish former
MP's, including recent Andrei Sakharov award winner Leyla Zana.
Additionally, every Kurdish community contact whom PO
encountered last week dismissed the recent announcement by
Turkish tribal leader Dervis Akgul of a new party in Turkey
aligned with Marsoud Barzani and his Iraqi Kurdish Democratic
Party as "insignificant and politically unviable." End Summary.

2. (SBU) Various Pro- Kurdish Democratic People's Party (DEHAP)
contacts in differing levels of detail signaled strongly to PO
in late October visits to Diyarbakir and elsewhere in southeast
Turkey that DEHAP core political leaders over the next three to
six weeks will declare their support for the new Democratic
Societal Movement (Demokratik Toplum Hareketi) political
initiative declared recently by the four Kurdish former MP's,
including recent Andrei Sakharov award winner Leyla Zana.
Contacts say that the determination to take this
"transformational step" has emerged independent of pending court
cases which may result in orders to close DEHAP.

3. (SBU) They see the movement being buoyed by these
declarations of prominent support leading to a platform debate,
legal formation of a new nationwide, leftist party and
leadership decisions by February to early March 2005. They say
that DEHAP party resources will support this new party's
development and anticipate DEHAP rank-and-file "will follow
where we lead," one prominent DEHAP provincial party leader
said. Their goal is to establish a major leftist party with
nationwide reach by early 2005 "which can keep the Kurdish issue
on the national agenda as well as unify some (Comment: largely
unspecified. End comment) leftist national social issues." One
contact did speculate that the new political party also would
focus on better health and education services for Turkey's poor,
but clearly cautioned that no one can accurately prejudge the
outcome of anticipated province level party caucuses on the new
party's platform.

4. (SBU) Few DEHAP contacts would offer their thoughts on who
might eventually lead the new party, but several repeated Zana's
press comments that she would demur from doing so. Several
contacts, including one close to recently-elected and popular
Diyarbakir mayor Osman Baydemir, noted that Baydemir planned a
high profile endorsement announcement soon after his return from
an ongoing trip to EU countries to lobby on behalf of Turkey's
EU accession candidacy.

5. (SBU) Several DEHAP contacts projected fragmentation within
the leftist nationalist DSP and CHP party ranks over the coming
year or two, and anticipate receiving blocs of voters from those
parties to bolster their ranks. "(Current CHP party leader)
Deniz Baykal already sees this threat and that is why he is
trying to undermine the new movement before it even starts in
press comments now," one Diyarbakir mayor's office and DEHAP
official commented. They also pointed to a DEHAP victory in
Tunceli, a former CHP bastion where Alevi's shifted votes to
DEHAP in last March's municipal elections, as a harbinger of
future voting trends. Asked about DEHAP losses of former
prominent municipal posts in Van and Siirt, and elsewhere in the
southeast at sub-province levels during the past election, one
DEHAP strategist conceded that the vote showed the party that it
could not be complacent about its regional support. However, he
then offered that overall DEHAP votes changed little and
repeated the other contact's optimism about the "breakthrough
with the Kurdish Alevi bloc in Tunceli."

6. (SBU) Additionally, every Kurdish community contact whom PO
encountered last week dismissed the recent announcement by
Turkish tribal leader Dervis Akgul of a new Iraqi Kurdish
Democratic Party-aligned and Barzani-linked party as
"insignificant and politically unviable." One DEHAP province
level leader pointed out that this tribal connection yielded
only several thousand voters in recent municipal polling and
said that the tribal leader may even be pushing further on the
issue than Barzani himself would wish.

7. (SBU) In general, one contact with over a decade of DEHAP and
its predecessor party organizational experience, pointed that
small parties in southeast Turkey fare poorly. For example, he
noted how an independent Kurdish candidate, Melik Firat, had run
for parliament in the most recent national elections, spending
much money and time in a developed electoral campaign and still
received only three to five thousand votes.

8. (SBU) Comment: DEHAP has been preceded in recent years by
similar leftist, pro-Kurdish parties, such as HEP, DEP and
HADEP. Like DEHAP, each of these has been limited in scope and
ambition by its single region and single issue appeal. Reaching
beyond this regional focus and successfully embracing leftists
on a national scale is ambitious and would be a new Turkish
political development. Nevertheless, it is also a very tall
order for DEHAP. It will take more outreach and political
organizational skills than DEHAP or its predecessors has
demonstrated to date to develop this nascent movement into a
nationally viable party, but the possibility of this development
has energized DEHAP party faithful in southeast Turkey for now.
We will follow these reports to see whether DEHAP leadership
support declarations occur and party caucuses are widespread.
End Comment.

9. Baghdad minimize considered.


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