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Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

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RUEUITH/DET 1 39LG ANKARA TU
RHMFIUU/USDOCO 6ATAF IZMIR TU
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 001987

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

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
THURSDAY, AUGUST 2, 2007

In Today's Papers

Speculation Continues on Presidency
All papers continue speculating on the topic of Turkey's next
president. Mainstream papers say it is unclear whether Foreign
Minister Abdullah Gul is still the AKP's candidate for the top job,
or whether Gul will withdraw his candidacy due to opposition from
the military General Staff. Leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet claims
Prime Minister Erdogan has asked Gul to refrain from running for
presidency, but Gul turned the PM down by saying now there is "no
obstacle" left in front of him. Gul is expected to announce on
August 6 whether he will remain in the race, according to
Cumhuriyet. Papers say Gul may be given the post of Parliament
Speaker if he does not run for President. Papers also say Defense
Minister Vecdi Gonul is again emerging as a possible compromise
candidate if Gul withdraws.

Iraqi PM to Visit Turkey
Hurriyet, Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Yeni Safak and
others report that next week Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is
to visit Turkey as the official guest of his Turkish counterpart
Erdogan. Turkish Foreign Ministry (MFA) Spokesman Levent Bilman
told the press Maliki is expected to be in Turkey August 6-8. Yeni
Safak says Erdogan will give Maliki intelligence reports regarding
the PKK activities in northern Iraq and the organization's offices
in Baghdad. Erdogan is expected to call for coordinated action
among Iraq, Turkey and the US to fight against the PKK. The sides
will discuss a project for building a new natural gas pipeline
parallel to the Kirkuk-Yumurtalik line between the two countries.
Turks will also raise the issue of the problems Turkish contractors
face in the reconstruction of Iraq.

GAO Report: Thousands of US Weapons Missing in Iraq
Milliyet, Sabah, Radikal, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others report the US
government cannot account for 190,000 weapons issued to Iraqi
security forces in 2004 and 2005, according to a report made public
by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Wednesday.
Commenting on the GAO report, "Stabilizing Iraq: DOD Cannot Ensure
that US-Funded Equipment Has Reached Iraqi Security Forces,"
mainstream papers question wonder whether the weapons went to the
PKK and liberal Radikal says "the US blames Iran and Syria for
giving weapons to the Iraqi insurgents, but 190,000 of its own
weapons are unaccounted for." Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak quotes
US military spokesman in Iraq, General Kevin Bergner, as saying they
were investigating claims that some members of the Iraqi military
sold weapons from arms caches for which they were responsible.

Editorial Commentary on Alleged US-Turkey Operation against the PKK

Oktay Eksi writes in the mainstream daily Hurriyet: "While the AKP
figures use strong words about the urgent need for a cross-border
operation and ask the US to understand that, news came from
Washington. The Washington Post article by Robert Novak undermined
yet another plan to fight against the PKK. The PKK leadership in
Northern Iraq can now do business as usual and act freely. On the
other hand, such fiascos do not come as a surprise any longer since
we saw too many of them in the past. This is all about our
so-called strategic partner who keeps fooling the Turkish people all
the time. Going through the newspaper archives, starting in 2003,
one can see clearly how many times Turkey was told and promised by
the US that they would disarm the PKK and fight against the PKK in
Northern Iraq. Obviously the so-called efforts by the US against
the PKK did not bring any tangible result for us. Moreover while we
expected the US would collect the weapons from PKK, exactly the
opposite is happening -- the PKK has started using American weapons
against us. Given all this, the leak of the secret operation plan
against the PKK does not come as a surprise."

Turkey Files a Complaint to the UN Against Austria
Milliyet, Cumhuriyet, Radikal, Yeni Safak and others: During the

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weekly press briefing, MFA spokesman Levent Bilman said regarding
the release of PKK leader Riza Altun from Austria to Iraq that
Turkey had filed a complaint against Austria with the European
Security and Cooperation Organization and soon "will present the UN
with the same kind of complaint."

Water Shortage in Ankara
All papers report that Ankara Metropolitan Municipality implemented
a water rationing system, cutting off water to alternating halves of
the city every two days for a period of up to five months.
Mainstream Milliyet wrote the State Water Works (DSI) Director said
that if the drought continues water cuts could be increased to four
days a week. DSI stated that Metropolitan Mayor Melih Gokcek had
been warned about water problem in June 2004, in an official letter
saying that construction should start immediately to bring water to
Ankara from Gerede. Hurriyet claims that Treasury invited Melih
Gokcek to talk about the expenses of this project. However, Gokcek
rejected this proposal with a written statement saying that "as the
municipality, we do not want to increase our debt. Our priority is
not the drinking water but the metro [subway] project. We will
reserve all our financial resources for our privileged metro
project."

Editorial Commentary on US Arms Sales to Arab States
Sami Kohen wrote in the mainstream daily Milliyet (8/2): "The
recently-announced US military aid package is a clear indication of
the American long-term strategy to maintain its presence and
influence in the Middle East. Having strategic partnerships with
the countries in this region is certainly the most efficient way to
realize that goal. The trip by Secretary Rice and Secretary Gates
to the region is a significant step toward promoting this project.
The main question is whether these countries really need such a huge
weapons package? According to US strategists there is definitely a
need for arming Arabs given Iran's military power and threat. In
fact the US wants to create a regional front against Iran and
against its supporters, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas; not to even
mention the huge revenues that would result from this sale. However
this plan contains some risks. What if these 'friendly regimes'
change their stances and those weapons fall into the hands of
others? What if Russia wants to be a supplier in the arms race?
And what about the effect on the Sunni-Shiite conflict in the
region? The fact of the matter is that the Middle East needs fewer
weapons not more."

TV Highlights
NTV

Domestic News

- Three Turkish soldiers and five outlawed PKK militants were killed
in clashes in the eastern province of Tunceli.

- Prime Minister Erdogan was briefed on the current political and
military situation at the High Military Council meeting Wednesday.


- Finance Ministry will reduce public spending by the end of the
year.

- Nineteen people were killed and 64 others were injured in traffic
accidents across Turkey yesterday.

International News

- Turkey submitted a list of candidates for a vacant seat in the
European Court of Human Rights to the Parliament Assembly of the
Council of Europe.

- The USS Enterprise aircraft carrier arrived in the Middle East on
Wednesday, replacing two carriers that had left the Gulf after a

ANKARA 00001987 003 OF 003


months-long deployment.

- The UN Security Council has passed a resolution mandating a
26,000-strong "hybrid" force to take over peacekeeping in Darfur
from 7,000 Australian troops.

- A Hamas official said Wednesday Russia has invited a Hamas
delegation to visit Moscow in the next few days.


MCELDOWNEY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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