Cablegate: Codel Rohrabacher Discusses Kurdish Issues,

DE RUEHIT #1028/01 3371058
P 031058Z DEC 07 ZFF4





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary. On November 26, CODEL Rohrabacher met ARI
Movement founder Kemal Koprulu to discuss Kurdish issues in
Turkey and Iraq. The Congressman was joined by Congressman
Louie Gohmert and former Chairman of the California
Republican Party Shawn Steel. Koprulu was accompanied by
Rifat Saricaoglu, Acting Vice President of the Board of
Trustees at Bilgi University. Koprulu noted that in recent
years, the Turkish government, military and people have come
to distrust U.S. motives with regard to Northern Iraq and the
Kurds, and urged the USG to engage in an enhanced public
diplomacy effort to counter widespread conspiracy theories.
Congressman Rohrabacher described his ideal scenario where
the U.S., Turkey and Kurds in Northern Iraq could unite to
combat Iranian influence in the region. End Summary.

Support for a Kurdish State?

2. (SBU) Explaining that he likes to challenge conventional
ideas with regard to internationally established boundaries,
Congressman Rohrabacher asked what percentage of Kurds in
Turkey would be in favor of creating an independent Kurdish
state. Koprulu noted that Southeast Turkey has poor
infrastructure, is economically depressed, and that if Kurds
in that region ever voted on such a referendum, they would
vote with emotion. Saricaoglu added there are 10-15 million
Kurds in Turkey, a number difficult to estimate because of
extensive intermarriage.

3. (SBU) Koprulu argued individual provinces in southeast
Turkey might be in favor of becoming part of a Kurdish state
(e.g., Diyarbakir), but the result would not be unanimous.
Saricaoglu mentioned Turkey's acceptance of a million Kurdish
refugees at various times throughout the 1980s and 90s. The
majority of these are now Turkish citizens, grateful for the
assistance Turkey provided them. Saricaoglu argued that one
possible long-term solution to the Kurdish question would be
to allow some provinces in southeast Turkey a greater level
of autonomy. Koprulu cautioned the Turkish Government is
very apprehensive about the idea of a Kurdish state and said
any action would first involve extensive research.

4. (SBU) Koprulu noted that during the last five years,
senior officials in the Turkish Government viewed the concept
of an independent Kurdish state as an idea proposed and
supported by the French and German Governments. During the
last few years, however senior Turkish Government officials
have started to believe the United States and Israeli
Governments also support this concept. Rohrabacher noted his
belief that if the United States had to choose between
supporting Turkey or the Kurds, the United States would side
with Turkey. He explained an ideal situation as one in which
the Kurds view both the United States and Turkey as
partners/allies and in which the three collectively unite
against Iran and Iran's allies in the region.

U.S. - Turkish Relations: Lack of Mutual Trust
--------------------------------------------- --

5. (SBU) Former Chairman of the California Republican Party
Shawn Steel asked about the state of Turkish-Israeli
relations. Koprulu responded that like U.S.-Turkish
relations, Israeli-Turkish relations had suffered greatly in
recent years. In both cases the biggest problem is a serious
erosion of mutual trust. Our bilateral mil-mil relationship
is seriously damaged, he argued. Many in the Turkish Army
believe the U.S. military has played into the hands of PKK,
and that the U.S. military supports the establishment of an
independent Kurdish state (in Northern Itaq).

6. (SBU) Congressman Gohmert asked why the Turkish Parliament
did not let the U.S. move troops through Turkey as part of
the invasion of Iraq. Mr. Koprulu offered several reasons
including bitter feelings stemming from the First Gulf War,
Cyprus, the Armenian Genocide Resolution (AGR) and general
disapproval of the U.S. Iraq policy, including the invasion.
Turkey lost five to eight billion dollars during the first
Gulf War due to lost trade and the closure of a major oil
pipeline, Koprulu said. After the Gulf War, the United
States wrote off large amounts of foreign debt for other
allies in the region, but not for Turkey. Many leaders in
Turkey feel that as a result, the 1990s were a lost decade
for Turkey.

Turkey feels betrayed and attacked by the U.S. on the Armenia
issue and feels that the United States gave up on serious

ISTANBUL 00001028 002 OF 002

efforts to resolve the Cyprus situation and ceded this issue
to the EU. Congressman Rohrabacher explained he voted for
the Armenian Genocide Resolution in the Foreign Relations
Committee, but noted he might have considered voting against
the resolution had Turkey allowed troops to pass through
Turkey in 2003. Finally Koprulu explained that opposition to
U.S. Iraq policy pre-dated the invasion. The Turks feel that
they were not adequately consulted regarding the 2003 Iraq
invasion, and take this as a signal that the United States
does not value Turkey or consider it an equal partner on the
international stage.

Turkey and the West

7. (SBU) Koprulu explained he is not a fan or an advocate of
full EU accession. He cited recent poll data that show the
approval rating for the United States is under 10 percent,
and that only 30 percent are in favor of joining the EU. The
Turkish mindset has shifted from a positive view of the
United States to one of strong dislike, skepticism and
betrayal. At the same time the Turkish pblic is suffering
from a lack of confidence, andtherefore is open to rampant
conspiracy theories nd a degree of paranoia.

8. (SBU) Congressmen Rhrabacher and Gohmert expressed
amazement at themajor shift in attitudes toward the U.S. on
the art of the Turkish public, and asked how it could e
reversed. Koprulu and Saricaoglu said that suc an effort
would require a massive public diplomcy campaign, featuring
education and exchange ofideas with Turkish young people.
Many older Turk have already formulated their ideas about
the Uited States. However, Turkey has a very large, youn
population in the midst of formulating their ow opinions and
impressions. Additionally, the Tukish higher education
system is only able to effctively educate 20 percent of the
young people wo want to pursue a university education. The
United States has a window of opportunity to educate mre
Turkish young people in the United States, esecially at the
graduate level. Turkey truly is t a turning point with
respect to whether the population and the government continue
to engage and cooperate with the western world or whether the
country changes course and begins to look east, Koprulu

9. (SBU) Congressman Rohrabacher asked about public diplomacy
efforts by the State Department and other senior government
officials. Koprulu argued current outreach efforts are
insufficient. The U.S. government needs to bring more
officials from all levels to Turkey to engage the public on
U.S. policy and counteract destructive conspiracy theories,
he urged.

10. (U) Codel Rohrabacher did not have an opportunity to
clear this cable.

© Scoop Media

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