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Cablegate: Kurdish Based Party's Refoundation

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 006262

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM PREF TU
SUBJECT: KURDISH BASED PARTY'S REFOUNDATION

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.

EDELMAN

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