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Cablegate: A Professor of Generals Speaks of the Obligation

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DE RUEHIT #0987 3180841
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P 140841Z NOV 07
FM AMCONSUL ISTANBUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7666
INFO RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 7261
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD PRIORITY 0041
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UNCLAS ISTANBUL 000987

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER TU IZ
SUBJECT: A PROFESSOR OF GENERALS SPEAKS OF THE OBLIGATION
TO ATTACK KURDISH IRAQ

1.(SBU) At a lunch meeting, on October 30, professor Ercan
Citlioglu spoke to poloffs of the need to appease the Turkish
population-at-large, who increasingly demand that the GOT
take military action against the Kurdistan Workers Party
(PKK) in Iraq. Citlioglu, a terrorism expert and president
of the Strategic Research Center at Bahcesehir University,
claimed that intense domestic pressure on the government,
both from the military and from frequent street protests, has
pushed the current Justice and Development Party (AKP)
government to the point where a decision to launch a
significant cross-border operation (CBO) into Iraq is
inevitable. Citlioglu claimed domestic pressure is now
steering Turkish foreign policy. He said the military, still
feeling somewhat threatened by the election of President Gul,
dares not appear ineffective against the terrorist threat.
And, the current AKP administration simply does not have the
political capital to keep the military -- pressed to appear
relevant and effective -- from giving the people what they
are demanding.

2. (SBU) While the professor thought a CBO would be
ineffectual with regards to military objectives (destroying
or even seriously degrading the PKK's military capabilities)
he felt it was unavoidable if the GOT wanted to prevent
public outrage from boiling over. "Nothing short of a
full-scale incursion would satisfy the people." His fear is
that public anger and hatred towards the PKK, which has begun
to morph into anger at and hatred of Kurdish Regional
Government (KRG) President Barzani, may further mutate into
public anger and hatred towards Kurds in general. One
possible consequence, should the government fail to act,
could be an increase in anti-Kurdish internal conflict (e.g.,
bombings of Democratic Society Party (DTP) offices; massive,
commerce-choking protests in the streets, etc.). He
acknowledged that the benefits of undertaking a significant
CBO into Iraq would be largely symbolic. Even so, Citlioglu
felt the Turkish public was prepared to withstand casualties
resulting from such an operation. "It does not matter if
1,000 soldiers are lost in the offensive. The people will
gladly accept this to the handful of soldiers that would
continue to die at home should we do nothing."

3. (SBU) COMMENT As a former diplomat, and more
importantly as a professor currently teaching a security
issues seminar for some 25 Turkish general officers,
Citlioglu's opinions could hold considerable sway with senior
military officials. Citlioglu is savvy and experienced
enough to acknowledge that a military effort, geared towards
ending PKK violence, must be coupled with both economic and
social policies to persuade the local population to withdraw
support from the PKK and thus "win" the fight against
terrorism in the long-run. But he is convinced that the GOT
has no choice but to accede to the Turkish military's, and
Turkish population's, demand for a CBO in the very near term.
Although recent reports of a U.S. agreement to provide
"real-time intelligence sharing" and other operational
support in the fight against PKK terrorism have tempered
calls for a large scale CBO, Citlioglu's comments reflect the
intensity of the pressure felt by the Turkish military in the
run up to the November 3 Iraq Neighbors Meeting and the
November 5 POTUS-PM Erdogan meeting. END COMMENT


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