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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, DECEMBER 19, 2007


In Today's Papers

Turkish Troops Launch Limited Cross Border Incursion into Iraq
All papers report that yesterday approximately 700 Turkish troops
crossed five kilometers into northern Iraq. The operation came
after receiving reports from US intelligence that the PKK terrorists
were near the border area and were appeared to be planning to
infiltrate into Turkey. In a statement Tuesday, the Turkish General
Staff (TGS) said a heavy blow was dealt on a group of terrorists
trying to cross the Turkish-Iraqi border. The statement also
rejected news that "originated from north of Iraq" which argued that
10 villages were bombed and a woman was killed. "It is obvious that
hundreds of civilians would have been killed if the villages had
been targeted. Such allegations only serve the terrorist PKK as the
Turkish military demonstrated its affection for the people in north
of Iraq in the past."

Prime Minister Erdogan said the Turkish military would continue
operations against the PKK. "Our security forces will continue to
do whatever is necessary," Erdogan told a news conference yesterday.
President Abdullah Gul, when discussing the cross-border
operations, said "we did what was necessary... We are targeting
only the terrorist organization."

The government of Iraq's Kurdish region condemned the cross-border
incursion of Turkish troops. "We condemn this incursion. Turkey
wants to transfer the PKK problem onto the territory of Iraqi
Kurdistan," said Fuad Hussein, head of the office of Kurdish
regional president Massoud Barzani. Hussein stressed that the
Peshmerge forces had been ordered to defend the sovereignty of the
Kurdistan region and its people if the forces cause damage to the
villages.

Papers say the Kurdish region regional president Massoud Barzani
cancelled his meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice in
order to protest against the Turkish attacks on the Kurdish region.
Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani told reporters "there was supposed
to be a meeting between Rice and Barzani in Baghdad, but because of
the US position regarding the Turkish attacks, he preferred not to
go."

Rice, speaking later at a news conference with Iraqi Foreign
Minister Hoshyar Zebari, said "Turkey, Iraq and the US had a common
interest in stopping the activities of the PKK." Rice is also
quoted as warning against actions which would destabilize the north
of Iraq. Zebari said his country understands the "legitimate
security concerns of Turkey," emphasizing it would be better "if
Iraq, Turkey and the US work together on a plan to eliminate the
PKK."

Papers also quote US Ambassador Ross Wilson as saying at a reception
Tuesday that the US exerts all efforts to provide Turkey with
"effective information" and "instant intelligence," He also
emphasized that the intelligence sharing between the US and Turkey
would continue.

Editorial Commentary on Turkish Operations into northern Iraq
Sami Kohen observed in the mainstream daily Milliyet: (12/19): "The
Turkish operation carried the risk of the opening a new front in the
war in Iraq. Despite this risk, the Bush administration made a
difficult choice in the favor of Turkey. American strategic
interests played a part in Washington's decision-making mechanism
because the US does not want to lose Turkey as an ally. On the
other hand, Washington does not want to see the emergence of a new
conflict in northern Iraq. Finally, Washington does not want to see
anti-Americanism in the northern Iraqi administration or among Iraqi
Kurds. The surprise visit of Secretary Rice to Kirkuk and Baghdad
is part of the US effort to maintain the delicate diplomatic
balances. It will be interesting to see the extent to which the US
can control reaction from Baghdad and the regional Kurdish

ANKARA 00003020 002 OF 003


administration. Barzani's language indicates that he has returned
to his harsh rhetoric. Barzani, with Washington's persuasion, used
to be moderate, but now he is playing tough. I wonder if and when
he is going to realize that good relations with Turkey are in his
interest. "

Gungor Mengi commented in mainstream daily Vatan (12/19): "Turkey's
cross border operation has brought both military and political
results. However, given the current situation, political results
are more important than military results. The US used to suffer
from a negative image in Turkey because Turks thought America
pursued a deliberate policy to protect PKK camps in northern Iraq.
In addition, the Armenian genocide resolution in the Congress caused
a lot of negative reaction. Finally, Turks felt Barzani's arrogance
was fueled by US support for his administration. Meanwhile, the US
continued to suggest that Turkey solve the PKK problem through
politicization, a suggestion which the Turks felt lacked common
sense. In fact, the US has turned a blind eye to the PKK for years.
Fortunately, the US administration realized its mistake. Now
Washington is acting with common sense and is illustrating zero
tolerance against terrorism. With this attitude, we can hope for a
secure and just future. The more the US acts with common sense on
this issue, the more the US will gain the hearts and minds of the
Turkish people."

Imam Counsels Assailant
Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak reports Ramazan Bay, the youth who
stabbed Roman Catholic Priest Adriano Franchini after the on Sunday
mass in Izmir, fled to a nearby mosque after the attack. The Imam
of the mosque, after hearing Bay's confession that he regretted
stabbing the priest, convinced him to hand himself over to police.
On the other hand, Priest Franchini reportedly said the assailant
Bay has psychological problems. The paper says Bay has criminal
records in police.

Noted Pianist Warns against the Rise of Islam in Turkey
Hurriyet, Vatan, Cumhuriyet and Radikal report world-famous Turkish
pianist Fazil Say told a German daily last week, "Islamists have
gained power in Turkey. All the ministers' wives wear headscarves.
We are a minority now, I might leave Turkey." Say's remarks drew
mixed reactions from the ruling AKP government members as well as
intellectuals and the media. Professor Turkan Saylan, the head of
the Association for Supporting Modern Life, said they share the
concerns of pianist Fazil Say about the rise of Islamism in Turkey.
Several other intellectuals said Say revealed concerns shared by the
whole country.

Meanwhile, the Turkish Education Ministry filed a lawsuit seeking
compensation from pianist Fazil Say, who sparked a heated
controversy by saying that Islam was on the rise in Turkey, and that
the AKP government was gradually lifting music and painting
education in school. Say had blamed the Education Ministry for
blocking the appointment of new music teachers.

TV Highlights
NTV

Domestic News

- Nurettin Demirtas, leader of the pro-Kurdish DTP, has been
arrested by the military court for falsifying his medical report in
order to evade military service. Former DTP leader Ahmet Turk told
a news conference Demirtas' arrest was unlawful and politically
motivated.

- Turkish security forces have found six PKK shelters in the
southeastern province of Bingol and seized more than 50 kg of C-4
explosives.

- Eurobarometer's Fall Survey says Turkish support for EU accession

ANKARA 00003020 003 OF 003


declined from 54 to 49 percent over the last year. In Turkish
Cyprus, popular support for EU membership declined, for the first
time, from 54 to 47 percent over the same period.

International News

- The Israeli parliament has approved a law allowing the police to
establish a huge database based on citizens' telephone numbers.

- President Bush will embark on a nine-day tour of the Middle East
next month.

- Iranian President Ahmadinejad completed the Hajj, the annual
Muslim pilgrimage, in Saudi Arabia.

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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