Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR TU
SUBJECT: ANKARA MEDIA REACTION REPORT
MONDAY, AUGUST 4, 2008
In Today's Papers
'Gungoren Bombers' Arrested in Istanbul
All papers reported on Sunday eight suspects were arrested Saturday
evening in connection with last week's bombing that killed 18 people
and wounded more than 150 in Istanbul's Gungoren neighborhood.
Interior Minister Besir Atalay told the press it was now clear that
the bombing was perpetrated by the PKK. Huseyin Tureli, one of the
suspects arrested, reportedly said he was sent to Turkey three
months ago by the PKK after receiving bomb training in northern
Iraq. Monday's Taraf, however, points to the fact that the suspects
were arraigned by the court on charges of membership to an outlawed
organization, and not for murder.
Ankara-Tehran Working to Fix a Date for Ahmadinejad's Visit to
Sabah, Radikal, Taraf, Cumhuriyet, Zaman and others reported over
the weekend Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who reportedly planned to
visit Turkey on August 14, was reluctant to visit Ataturk's
Mausoleum in Ankara. Ahmadinejad prefers to visit Ankara on August
14 and attend Friday prayers in Istanbul on August 15. However, the
Turkish Foreign Ministry (MFA) was concerned that the Iranians'
demands to forego paying customary respects to Ataturk might stoke a
new political controversy in Turkey, so the MFA reportedly
recommends a one-day "working visit" for Ahmadinejad in Istanbul on
August 14. The MFA views the demands of the Iranian side as
"exaggerated," according to papers. Liberal Radikal comments
Saturday, "Tehran deems special importance to the visit in its
efforts to persuade the international community that Iran's nuclear
program is for civilian purposes."
Ahmadinejad: 'The U.S. in the Process of Destruction'
All papers report Syrian Head of State Bashar Assad met with Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran on Sunday. In "The U.S. in
the Process of Destruction," leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet writes
Ahmadinejad told the press in a news conference with Assad, "The
U.S. and Zionist Israel's powers have entered a process of decline,"
adding it would cause "important political developments in the
region." Assad said he did not carry any messages from the West to
Tehran, and that Syria supported Iran's nuclear program within the
framework of international laws. Islamist-oriented Yeni Safak
writes in, "Not an Atom of Concession in Ahmadinejad," that the
Iranian leader, "has started a new crisis," after making his
"harshest statement yet" regarding his refusal to abandon Iran's
nuclear ambitions. Mainstream Hurriyet reports Assad "gave support
to Iran regarding its nuclear ambitions," as the Syrian Leader paid
an official visit to Tehran over the weekend. Mainstream Sabah also
notes Assad's support for Iran as the two sides agreed "to continue
on the same road" together regarding politics in the Middle East.
Mainstream Milliyet carries the headline, "The Point of No Return on
the Nuclear Road," and notes, "Assad gave support to Ahmadinejad,"
and "was also received by Iran's religious leader Ayatollah Ali
Dormitory Collapses and Kills 18 Girls
All papers reported Saturday a three-storey dormitory in the
Balcilar town of Konya collapsed Friday night, killing 18 female
students. The building collapsed after an explosion was caused by a
gas leak from an LPG storage tank in the kitchen. The building did
not meet building code standards, and the school had no license or
accreditation to teach summer Koran classes for girls. Mufti Mehmet
Ak, the highest local religious authority, admitted he declined
inspecting the building because it was affiliated to an influential
Islamic sect, the Suleymancilar. In, "The AKP Protects Illegal
Koran Schools," Saturday's Radikal reported that the penalty for
operating unauthorized Koran courses was reduced from three years to
up to one year in prison, after intervention by the ruling AKP.
Mainstream Hurriyet reports former Religious Affairs Directorate
(Diyanet) head and former AKP lawmaker Tayyar Altikulac said he
couldn't convince his colleagues to abandon legislation reducing the
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penalties for conducting non-accredited Koran classes. Monday
papers report parents of the girls who were killed have filed no
complaints against the dormitory owners.
Forest Fires Rage in Antalya
All news outlets report efforts continue to contain the forest fires
that have burned for five days straight in the Mediterranean
province of Antalya. Fires have destroyed more than 4,000 hectares
of woodland. Thousands of people, including fire-fighters, forestry
officials and villagers, have fought the fire around the clock. The
fire broke out in Serik township on July 31 and has destroyed at
least 60 houses, dozens of farming buildings, a school and a mosque
in Manavgat and Serik. Six villages were evacuated. One person
died, and another is reported missing. The fire also destroyed
livestock in the villages and millions of trees in the woodlands.
Editorial Commentary on Kirkuk; AKP Closure Case Aftermath
"The Escalating Crisis in Kirkuk"
Ferai Tinc commented in mainstream Hurriyet (8/5): "The Kirkuk
crisis has erupted again and tensions are escalating. This
development comes as the AKP begins cooperation with northern Iraq
on a U.S.-supported plan to solve the Kurdish problem and as the KRG
are increasingly isolating the PKK. However, the Kirkuk problem
must be solved in order for other political problems to be solved.
On Saturday, the Iraqi President met with Kurdish leaders regarding
the issue of Kirkuk. During the meeting, tensions escalated so much
that, reportedly, President Talabani fainted during the meeting.
That night, Talabani left for the U.S. to seek medical care.
Tensions regarding Kirkuk have worsened since KRG President Massoud
Barzani announced that the Kirkuk Regional Government will merge
with the Kurdish Regional Government. Ankara follows all these
developments closely; in fact, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan
called Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari on Friday night
regarding the attacks in Kirkuk. The KRG's stubbornness regarding
Kirkuk could damage the new and fragile detente between Turkey and
Iraq. It is true that Kirkuk is mainly Iraq's issue. However,
anything that would deepen instability in Iraq becomes an issue for
Turkey as well."
"The Constitutional Court Decision on the AKP"
Emre Kongar wrote in leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet (8/5): "The
Yargitay Chief Prosecutor fulfilled his constitutional duties by
filing a case to close the AKP. The Constitutional Court also
fulfilled its duty by quickly reaching a decision and announcing it
to the public. Moreover, the Court agreed that the chief prosecutor
was right to file a case and noted that the AKP government had
engaged in activities that threatened Turkey's secularist
foundations. But, nothing has changed in Turkey with this court
decision. What would have changed if the Court had closed the AKP?
Nothing! Why? The solution lies not only with the judiciary but
with education, politics, and foreign dynamics. No one can resolve
the regime problems in Turkey with only one court decision as long
as a dogmatic religious education system continues to produce
graduates who will work in every state institution, as long as
anti-democratic mechanisms in politics are supported, and as long as
the democratic, secular and social state of law is damaged by
- On Monday, Turkey's High Military Council (YAS) decisions will be
announced by the outgoing military General Staff Chief General Yasar
- Eight PKK terrorists responsible for killing five village guards
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were killed in the southeastern border province of Sirnak. One PKK
militant was captured in Yuksekova in Hakkari province.
- King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain will visit Ankara August
4 as the guest of President Abdullah Gul.
- Despite intense U.S. pressure, Iraqi leaders fail to resolve
differences over how to govern the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.
- The Washington Post quotes an unidentified White House official as
saying the White House intends to show its commitment to a
diplomatic approach toward Tehran and its nuclear program.
- Al-Qaeda has posted a statement on the Internet saying one of its
commanders in Afghanistan was killed by a U.S. air strike.