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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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DEPARTMENT FOR INR/R/MR, EUR/SE, EUR/PD, NEA/PD, DRL
JCS PASS J-5/CDR S. WRIGHT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 2, 2006

In Today's Papers

Lebanon Crisis
All papers give extensive coverage to the ongoing Israeli offensive
in Lebanon, reporting that Israel was aiming to advance its ground
operations some 30 km deep into the south of the country. Papers
criticize the Israeli cabinet for not backing off even in the face
of reactions to the Qana killings. Reports claim Israel is
preparing for an occupation. They point to the looming humanitarian
disaster for Lebanese civilians, reporting that thousands of
Lebanese people living in the south are fleeing to the north.

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President Bashar Assad reportedly ordered the Syrian army to raise
its level of readiness in the face of expanding violence in the
region. Papers quote deputy Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres as
praising Turkey at a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) meeting in
New York, saying Turkey was the best example of a "modern and
Muslim" country.

Humanitarian relief organizations operating in member countres of
the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) met in Istanbul to
discuss aid for Lebanon and Palestine. Professor Ekmeleddin
Ihsanoglu, the OIC Secretary General, qualified Israel's attacks on
Lebanon as a "crime against humanity," and stated that they gathered
in order to provide a cease-fire. Lebanese Ambassador to Ankara
Habib Siam said at the meeting that Lebanon wanted to take back its
lands now occupied by Israel, adding that they needed the help of
the international community to achieve this. Prime Minister Erdogan
will travel to Kuala Lumpur on Thursday to participate in an
extraordinary convention of the OIC to discuss the situation in the
Middle East.

In reaction to the Israeli offensive in Lebanon, 26 lawmakers from
ruling and opposition parties resigned from the 263-member
Turkey-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group. The head of the
group, AKP MP Vahit Kirisci, said before considering to dissolve the
group he would call on Israel to halt its attacks.

Editorial Commentary on Lebanon
Hasan Cemal, writing in the mainstream Milliyet, fears "what will
happen next" in the Middle East if "diplomacy does not prevail"
soon: "Is there any chance of stopping Hezbollah's strength?
Unlikely. At this point what could be the next step, I wonder. Can
Israel attack Iran and Syria as well? There is no limit to madness
especially when President Bush is in Washington."

Writing in liberal Radikal Ismet Berkan agues that the power
struggle in the Arab world is the root of the current crisis: "The
essence of the issue comes with a question and deserves an honest
answer: Should Israel continue to exist in the region or should it
be eliminated? As long as this question exists there will always be
a war. Arab nations should be proactive and prepare a plan which
envisions peace and stability in the region while respecting
Israel's right to exist. The Middle East region will not see peace
and tranquility as long as some Arab nations directly or secretly
support the elimination of Israel. Today the Arab world has even
failed to issue a real condemnation of Israeli attacks against
Lebanon. This is because it is about Shiites being killed, not
Sunnis. They see the situation as Israel fighting against Iran and
actually feel content. There would be no Palestinian problem at all
by now if this was not about a power struggle in the Arab world."

Commenting in the leftist Cumhuriyet, Oral Calislar warns of "more
disasters" if western powers don't act to "stop the madness":
"Because of the methods implemented by Israel, Hamas and Hezbollah
are becoming the most radical organizations in the world, which
means the escalation of tension and violence. Why is this so
obvious to us but not to the American neo-cons and Israeli
administration? It seems that their intention is to spread the war
as widely as possible and for this purpose Iran will be used as

ANKARA 00004448 002 OF 003


another pretext eventually. President Bush and his administration
are dragging the entire world into an enormous adventure. There
will be more disasters unless some of the western powers can stop
this ongoing madness."

Assad to Visit Turkey Late August
Hurriyet reports an official from the Syrian Information Ministry
said President Bashar Assad and his wife would visit Turkey in late
August as the guest of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Iraqi Administration Plans to Shut down PKK Offices
Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Vatan: Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar
Zebari told the Washington Times that his government was preparing
for serious steps against the PKK. Zebari was quoted as saying that
the PKK office in Baghdad called "Ocalan Strategic Studies Center,"
only 500 meters away from the Turkish Embassy, will be shut down
immediately. The offices of a number of political parties allied
with the PKK in Erbil and Sulaymaniya will be shut down too. "First
of all they are not Iraqis. Second, this is not the place for them
to operate or lobby. Third, there was a joint message delivered to
them from Iraqi Kurdistan leader Barzani and Iraqi President
Talabani, asking the PKK to stop fighting. We believe that these
measures will convince everybody that we are in business to fight
the PKK," Zabari said. Turkey had increased its warnings to both
the US and the Iraqi government last week following the death of
dozens of Turkish soldiers in PKK attacks, and had implied that it
would launch a cross border operation if there will be no immediate
and effective steps from Washington and Baghdad.

Gul-Erdogan at Odds over PM Advisors
Cumhuriyet, Vatan, and Aksam speculate a rift is growing between
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan over Gul's
uneasiness that advisors to Erdogan such as Professor Ahmed
Davutoglu and Cuneyt Zapsu were carrying out political contacts with
foreign ambassadors. Cumhuriyet says Gul declined to take a leading
role in the growing crisis in the Middle East, and unlike foreign
ministers of other countries, he did not visit Lebanon. Gul,
apparently hurt by the meetings Zapsu held with top foreign envoys
in Ankara, phoned Erdogan to ask "who is the foreign minister of
Turkey -- me or Zapsu?" says Cumhuriyet. The paper claims Gul had
come to the brink of resignation. Vatan says Turkish Foreign
Ministry (MFA) Spokesman Namik Tan said some ten days ago that the
MFA, too, learned about the contacts of Zapsu with foreigners from
the press. Papers say Davutoglu was sent to Damascus to meet with
President Assad and Hamas leader Mashal despite objections from the
MFA. Vatan claims Erdogan had been annoyed by the Gul remarks in an
interview with Hurriyet last month in which the FM said he was
constantly warning Erdogan to keep his temper at meetings with
foreigners.

Hazelnut Protests Lead to Security Director's Demotion
Cumhuriyet, Bugun, Radikal and others: Ridvan Guler, Ordu's deputy
police chief was reassigned to Ankara after facing accusations of
failing to act against the demonstrators in Ordu on Sunday.
Reportedly, he has been appointed as a police inspector, a post he
previously occupied. Meanwhile, the main opposition party CHP,
yesterday accused Prime Minister Erdogan and his aid Zapsu for being
responsible for the falling price of hazelnuts. Republican Peoples
Party (CHP) deputy chairman Kemal Anadol, at a press conference
yesterday accused the PM and his aid Zapsu by saying "just as he
created chaos in Turkey's foreign policy, Zapsu is also behind the
government's hazelnut policies." The government abandoned a
farmers' union that purchases hazelnuts at a price fixed every year
and caused the prices to fall. If prices go down on the domestic
market, exporters will make more profit. All hazelnut traders have
followed this policy, said Anadol. Claiming that an AKP deputy or
Ordu's governor ordered the police chief to disperse the
demonstrators, Anadol said 'if the chief had done that, many people
could have been injured.'


ANKARA 00004448 003 OF 003


TRT "Censors" Polanski's "The Pianist"
Aksam reports that fearing reaction from the nation, Turkey's public
broadcaster TRT television canceled a scheduled airing of Roman
Polanski's "The Pianist" after the Israeli bombing of the Lebanese
town of Qana which killed 60 civilians. On Monday, the
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak had criticized TRT for scheduling to
show "The Pianist," a film depicting the cruelties Polish Jews faced
during World War II, saying it was "bad timing."


TV Highlights
NTV (7 a.m.)

Domestic News

- Turkey's Supreme Military Council appointed First Army Commander
General Ilker Basbug as the new Land Forces Commander. Basbug is
the most powerful candidate for the post of General Staff Chief when
the newly-appointed TGS Chief General Yasar Buyukanit retires in
2008.

- Green Line, a coalition of environmental groups, said a huge oil
slick caused by the Israeli bombing may reach beaches in Turkey,
Cyprus and Greece. The 35,000-ton oil spill was caused by an
Israeli air strike on the Jiyyeh power plant 20 miles south of
Beirut.

- Environmentalists have been concerned over press reports that the
asbestos coatings of French aircraft carrier "Clemenso" and Mexican
ship "Otopan" will be dismantled at a private shipyard near the
Aegean city of Izmir.

- US Defense News magazine says Turkey is to buy 30 F-16 jets for
USD 1.5 billion to boost its air defense.

- Turkey plans to hold an auction for the bloc sale of the
state-owned Halkbank at the end of the year.

International News

- Tel Aviv said Israeli troops would advance about 18 miles into
southern Lebanon. Heavy fighting between the Israeli forces and
Hizbullah militias continue along the northern border with Lebanon.
Ha'aretz reports Israel will accept a ceasefire to be offered by the
UN Security Council on Friday.

- Tehran said yesterday's UN Security Council demand for Iran to
suspend its nuclear activities in a month or face sanctions was
"illegal."

- Bombings and armed attacks killed more than 50 people in Iraq on
Tuesday.

- President Bush said Venezuelan President Chavez is "not a military
threat" but a menace who "undermines democracy."

- Cuba's Fidel Castro has temporarily relinquished his presidential
powers to his brother Raul over health problems.

Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at

http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/ankara/

MCELDOWNEY

© Scoop Media

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