Cablegate: Secretary Gates' Turkey Bilateral Visit:


DE RUEHAK #0126/01 0261123
P 261123Z JAN 10

S E C R E T ANKARA 000126



E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/22/2020

Classified By: Ambassador James F. Jeffrey, Reasons 1.4 (a,b,d)

1. (S) PM Erdogan welcomed President Obama's reiteration of
support to the fight against the PKK during the December 7
meeting in the Oval Office, but the Secretary should expect
questions about how we will operationalize that commitment as
plans to withdraw from Iraq move forward. A key issue will
be how to reduce the gap between the time when the U.S. is no
longer able to provide ISR support and when we will be able
to help Turkey acquire its own capability. On missile
defense, we will look for the Secretary's help in advancing
our work with Turkey to persuade the Turks to allow a key
radar system to be based here. The Turks are struggling to
define what they will need in terms of NATO political cover
to lessen the high cost - both in terms of domestic politics
and in relations with Iran - that Erdogan's government
believes it will have to pay should they agree.

2. (S) Although our agenda with Turkey is broad and complex,
the following issues are likely to come up during the
Secretary's trip:

"Need To Raise"

- Our commitment to continue sharing real-time intelligence
to support Turkey's counter-PKK fight, but caution that the
process for Turkey to acquire an armed UAV system from the
U.S. will be long and complex. (para 3-5, 14)

- The need for a NATO BMD system with Turkey's participation
and the Iranian threat against NATO interests. (para 6-9)

- Appreciation for Turkey's efforts on Afghanistan/Pakistan,
particularly for its new commitments to training security
forces. (para 10-11)

- Appreciation for support to OIF/OEF through Turkey's
territory, including the Incirlik Cargo Hub; easing transit
of non-lethal mil cargo shipments from Iraq to Afghanistan.
(para 12)

- Our advocacy support for Raytheon and Sikorsky on sales of
air defense systems and utility helicopters (para 13).

"Be Ready To Respond On"

- Pressure for direct U.S. milops against the PKK (paras 5)

- Turkish requests for 24/7 Predator coverage of the
Turkey-Iraq border to counter PKK operations and activities
(para 5).

- Turkish requests for immediate delivery of AH-1W
helicopters (para 15)

Counter - PKK Operations: Still Turkey's Top Priority
--------------------------------------------- --------

3. (C) Turkey's counter-terrorist efforts against the PKK
have evolved in the past year and have expanded beyond
military action alone. Although the government's renamed
National Unity Project (initially called the "Kurdish
Opening") was not fully developed when launched and appears
to be moving slowly, the government has increased social and
economic support to ethnic Kurds in southeast Turkey,
dramatically broadened the rights of Kurds to use their own
language, and increased educational opportunities as well.
It is post's view that the military success against the PKK,
supported by our intelligence-sharing operation, has given
the civilians the political space to explore this opening and
to deal directly with Masoud Barzani and other Iraqi Kurds.
Turkish military operations against the PKK continue,
however, and on October 6, 2009 Parliament extended the
government's mandate to conduct cross-border operations
against the PKK in Iraq for another year. Turkey's leaders
have learned from us and from their own experience that only

a whole-of-government approach will succeed against the PKK

4. (C) Our November 2007 decision to share operational
intelligence was a turning point for the bilateral
relationship, and President Obama's declaration before the
Turkish Parliament in April 2009 and during his oval office
meeting with Erdogan in December 2009 of our continuing
commitment to support Turkey's fight against the PKK were
warmly welcomed. Our cooperation has helped to improve the
bilateral relationship across the board, particularly by
making it difficult for PKK terrorists to use northern Iraq
as a safe haven. We can never reiterate enough our
continuing committment, as President Obama did effectively
with PM Erdogan in December.

5. (C) Nevertheless, Turkish causalities are still occurring.
Turkey still looks for more support, and will press us for
more concrete action before the U.S. completes its withdrawal
from Iraq. CHOD Basbug will likely repeat the GOT's request
for laser-designation of targets and/or direct U.S.
operations against the PKK. In December, PM Erdogan also
asked POTUS for 24-hour Predator coverage. At present we
provide approximately 12-hour coverage, with an occasional
surge to 24 hours to support specific Turkish operations,
such as against High Value Targets. A move to 24-hour
coverage is not easy due to resources requirements elsewhere;
however, we may be able to provide a few weeks of 24-hour
coverage during crucial spring months, and are working with
TGS to determine exactly where and when it would be most
useful to do so, and what assets the Turkish military would
employ if additional UAV support is made available.

Missile Defense

6. (S) The Turks asked us to postpone a return visit from
Ellen Tauscher, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and
International Security, as they are still considering how
best to respond to our request to base an AN/TPY-2 and
(potentially) other MD assets in Turkey. While some of the
Turks' technical questions remain unanswered, the key
questions are now political. During his meeting with
President Obama, PM Erdogan said that such a system must be
implemented in a NATO context to diminish the political cost
that his government will likely bear, both in terms of
domestic politics and in Turkey's relations with Iran. The
ball is now in the court of the civilian leaders here to
determine just "how much NATO" will be enough for them
politically; NATOs inability to fund an "interim capability"
makes it harder for us to show parallel development of a NATO
BMD system with PAA. Erdogan is concerned that Turkey's
participation might later give Israel protection from an
Iranian counter-strike.

7. (S) We have made the point to the Turks that a decision to
not base the AN/TPY-2 radar in Turkey is essentially a
decision to opt out of missile defense coverage for Turkey;
this would not be a political consequence, but just a fact
based on physics and geometry. It is important to make this
point again (gently) with PM Erdogan, but also underscore
that we value Turkey's participation and will try to
"NATOize" the system, if Turkey will tell us how much NATO
would be enough.

8. (S) Behind all this, we fear, is a manifestation of both
the Turkish government's, and to some degree the Turkish
public's, growing distancing from the Atlanticist world view
now that most dangers for Turkey are gone. While Turks are
not naive about Iran (see below), MD places them in a pickle,
forcing them to choose between the U.S./West and a Middle
East "vocation" - which, while not necessarily includes
coddling Iran, requires palpable space between Turkey and
"the West."


9. (S) Turkey understands and partially shares U.S. and
international concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions, but is
hesitant to use harsh language in public statements, in part
due to its dependence on Iran as an energy supplier and as a
trade route to Central Asian markets. It has worked quietly
with us to prevent some proliferation-sensitive shipments to
and from Iran. Turkey's top civilian and military officials
may have come to the conclusion that a military strike
against Iran would be more harmful for Turkey's interests
than Iran gaining a nuclear weapons capability; they believe
international pressure against Iran only helps to strengthen
Ahmadinejad and the hard-liners. PM Erdogan himself is a
particularly vocal skeptic of the U.S. position. However,
Turkey did press Iran (albeit quietly) to accept the P5 plus
1 Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) offer and FM Davutoglu had
been personally engaged in trying to rescue the TRR deal,
which would have removed a significant portion of Iran's
lowly-enriched uranium stockpile. As a current member of the
UNSC, the Turks would be very hesitant to support sanctions
against Iran. We need nevertheless to encourage PM Erdogan
to support UN actions if Iran does not comply with Iran's
international obligations while underscoring that we view
Iran's program as a serious threat to NATO interests in
Europe and would like to see a non-military solution
(including Turkish participation in NATO BMD).


10. (SBU) Turkey has been a dedicated partner in Afghanistan.
It has commanded ISAF twice since its inception and again
took command of RC-Capital in November. Turkey leads PRT
Wardak and plans to open a second PRT in Jawzjan (also
covering Sar-e-Pol) in mid-2010. Turkey has sponsored the
"Ankara Process" dialogue, one of several efforts to
encourage constructive communications between Kabul and
Islamabad, and is a leading participant in the Friends of
Democratic Pakistan. It hosted a trilateral summit on
January 25 and a Afghanistan Regional Summit (including all
of Afghanistan's immediate neighbors as well as select other
countries including the U.S.) on January 26, just prior to
the January 28 London Conference on Afghanistan.

11. (C) Turkey pledged significant aid to both countries:
USD 200 million to Afghanistan and USD 100 million to
Pakistan, as well as USD 1.5 million to the ANA. There are
1750 Turkish troops in Afghanistan, and Turkey has four OMLTs
currently in Kabul and, since December, pledged two more
OMLTs and one POMLT. Because of its culture, history and
religious orientation, as well as Foreign Minister
Davutoglu's strategic ambition, Turkey is well disposed to
act as an agent of the international community's goals in
Afghanistan and Pakistan. In 2010, Turkey has pledged to
offer 6-8 week trainings for up to a brigade's worth of
Afghan military and police personnel in Turkey and will
establish a training center in Kabul capable of training up
to 600 ANSA personnel at a time.

Retrograde through Turkey

12. (S) Turkey's agreement to allow us to use its territory,
facilities and airspace has been essential to our ability to
support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. We now look to
expand current capabilities to transit materiel from Iraq to
join up with the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) to
Afghanistan. CENTCOM logisticians, working with us and our
EUCOM Office of Defense Cooperation, seek to take advantage
of improved commercial ties between Turkey and Iraq to move
non-lethal equipment across Turkey to join the NDN. We are
working to expand our current retrograde agreements to
minimize the time and bureaucracy involved, and to expand
permissions to allow non-lethal military equipment, including
armored transport vehicles.

Advocacy for U.S. Defense Industry

13. (C) We much appreciate SecDef's help in advocating for
U.S. firms competing for key projects in Turkey, and hope he
can raise both Sikorsky's and Raytheon's cases in person.
Sikorsky's "International Blackhawk" proposal holds
remarkable benefits. This deal represents a new level of
industrial partnership; Sikorsky guarantees that it would
build in Turkey - for sale outside of Turkey - one Blackhawk
for each one the GOT builds and buys for itself; this is a
boon of hundreds of millions of dollars for the Turkish
economy. On Air Defense, Raytheon's PAC-3 is competing in a
tender for Turkey's air defense. Raytheon also seeks to take
advantage of Turkish industry's ability to co-produce complex
systems with us and would produce systems for sale in the UAE
and elsewhere. The benefit to Turkey's economy from such
co-production would likely exceed USD 1 billion. Technically
and operationally, there is no system which can compete with
the PAC-3, but Turkey's Defense Ministry seeks to broaden
competition to include lower-cost options from Russia and
even from European producers. Raytheon often asks us to
remind the Turks that a decision on requests for support on
Missile Defense should not necessarily affect a decision on

UAV's, Attack Helicopters, and Intel Surge

14. (C) Turkey seeks to acquire, on an urgent basis, its own
ISR capability to replace the US assets currently being used
in anti-PKK operations. President Obama told PM Erdogan in
December that we support Turkey's request to acquire armed
Reaper UAVs. Nevertheless, approval for armed Reapers is
complicated due to Hill concerns. We have explained this to
the Turks. However, even if those could be overcome, the
delivery pipeline for these systems is long, and Turkey's
leaders have sought reassurance that we will not pull our
intelligence support until they can replace it. While we are
working to enhance Turkey's ISR capabilities, we have not
made this commitment to date.

15. (C) Bad GOT procurement decisions led Turkey to a severe
shortage of dual engine, high altitude attack helicopters,
which it desperately needs to fight the PKK. PM Erdogan
raised this issue with the President in December 2009; SecDef
should expect this issue to be a top priority in meetings
with Minister Gonul and with GEN Basbug. The Turks took
SecDef's May 2009 letter to provide up to four AH-1W
helicopters each in 2011, 2012 and 2013 as a firm commitment,
and now have asked us to advance that date to 2010. They do
not accept our explanation that these aircraft are simply not
available from our inventory, as they believe they have --
just like the U.S. -- "troops in contact" and need the close
tactical support. While SecDef should make no commitment, we
should also explore whether we can persuade Taiwan to sell or
lease some of its own AH-1W aircraft now that Taiwan is
taking delivery of Apaches.

Support For The US-Turkey-Iraq "Tripartite Security Dialogue"
--------------------------------------------- ----------------

16. (S) SecDef's visit will take place just as USFI's GEN
Odierno will have left. We expect that GEN Odierno's visit
will give a political boost to the U.S.-Turkey-Iraq
Tripartite Security talks. Turkey's civilian leaders are
taking heat from their domestic political opposition for
pressing the "Kurdish Opening" while casualties from PKK
attacks continue. They hope to use GEN Odierno's visit to
show that their whole-of-government approach against PKK
insurgency is producing results and that it has the support
of senior USG officials in Iraq.

17. (S) Trilateral meetings continue regularly and a new
Tripartite operational office in Erbil, established to share
counter-PKK intelligence was established over the summer.
The most recent tri-lat meeting took place in Baghdad in
December, followed by a joint Turkey-Iraq visit in Erbil.
The Turks remain frustrated that, in their view, the KRG is
not doing enough to combat the PKK. The Turks remain shy in
sharing intelligence data; they are not convinced that they

can trust Iraqi/Kurdish individuals to keep information
concerning operations secret. Turkish officials have become
more strident in their calls for KRG officials to take action
against the PKK. The cooperation that does exist is a step in
the right direction; however, it will need to improve
significantly prior to the U.S. pullout of Iraq. CHOD Basbug
and PM Ergodan want the U.S. to put more pressure on the
Iraqis - and particularly Masoud Barzani - to take actions to
cut PKK supply and logistics lines in northern Iraq. We
should stress the need for more trust and collaboration
between Turkey and Iraq, eventually on Turkish CBOs. Absent
greater cooperation, we could see significant bilateral
problems post-2011, to include Iraqi claims of Turkey's
violation of its sovereign territory.

Northern Iraq

18. (C) Turkey will not consider any alternative to the
political unity and territorial integrity of Iraq, but has
become more flexible on how it engages "the local authorities
of northern Iraq" (how Turkey refers officially to the
Kurdish Regional Government (KRG)). Turkey's policy remains
focused on the government in Baghdad, but its outreach to the
KRG is expanding. This outreach is reinforced by the
continued dominance of Turkish products and investments in
the KRG's healthy economy.


19. (S) The signing of the Protocols to reestablish
Turkish-Armenian relations and open the common border in
Zurich on October 10 was a landmark for the region. However,
neither Turkey nor Armenia have taken steps toward
ratification; the GOT argues that progress toward withdrawal
of Armenian forces from Azerbaijani provinces surrounding
Nagorno-Karabakh is a pre-condition. (Note: This was
not/not part of the agreement, and not a position the U.S.
supports. End note.) Future relations will nevertheless
still be heavily linked to the 1915 "Armenian genocide"
issue. Any U.S. determination of the events of 1915 as
"genocide" would set off a political firestorm in Turkey, and
the effect on our bilateral relationship -- including
political, military, and commercial aspects -- would be


20. (C) While the Foreign Ministry and the Turkish General
Staff agree with us that a strong Turkey-Israel relationship
is essential for regional stability, PM Erdogan has sought to
shore up his domestic right flank through continued populist
rhetoric against Israel and its December 2008 Gaza operation.
His outburst at Davos and the last-minute cancellation of
Israel's participation in the Fall 2009 Anatolian Eagle
Exercise (a multilateral Air Force exercise which had US,
Turkey, Italy, and Israel as planned participants) were the
most noticeable examples of this rhetoric, which we and his
staff have sought to contain. The latest incident, a snub in
early January of the Turkish Ambassador by Israeli Deputy
Foreign Minster Danny Ayalon, almost caused the GOT to both
recall its Ambassador and cancel the visit of Israeli Defense
Minister Ehud Barak. However, the very public row was
resolved with an Israeli apology and Barak's visit on January
17 helped to stem the downward spiral for now. Nevertheless,
we assess that Erdogan is likely to continue anti-Israel
remarks and the issues will continue to cast a shadow on the
TU-IS bilateral relationship.

Political Environment

21. (C) PM Erdogan's Islamist-leaning Justice and Development
(AK) Party remains Turkey's strongest political party, but
its poll numbers are slumping, and it continues to fear an
erosion of its political base from more conservative/Islamist

parties. Civilian-military relations remain complex. Chief
of Staff General Basbug has worked out a modus vivendi with
PM Erdogan, but the long-running struggle between Turkey's
secularists (with the Army as its champion) and Islamists
(represented by the government) naturally puts them at odds.
Erdogan has the clear upper hand, a fact with which Basbug
has seemingly learned to live. Alleged past military
involvement in coup contingency planning or even deliberate
generation of internal chaos remains political theme number
one and preoccupies both Erdogan and Basbug and their
respective underlings. Public trust in the military is
starting to decline, the result of several very public
on-going investigations into the alleged planning against the

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