Cablegate: Ankara Media Reaction Report

Published: Mon 15 Aug 2005 03:40 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
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Friday, August 12, 2005
Diyarbakir Prepares for Erdogan Visit - Vatan
DEHAP Mayors Call on PKK to Leave Arms - Vatan
PKK Suspends Attacks During Erdogan's Diyarbakir Visit -
Israel Lifts Antalya Travel Warning - Hurriyet
Israel Grateful to Turkey for Recent Security Operations -
London to Deport al-Qaida Spiritual Leader Katada - Milliyet
New Signs of Division in Iraq - Vatan
New Constitution Hints at Farewell to a Unitary Iraq -
Al-Hakim Wants Federal Shiite Zone in South of Iraq - Sabah
50,000 Israelis Protest Gaza Pullout in Tel Aviv - Sabah
2 Turkish Troops Killed in PKK Ambush - Hurriyet
Turkish Police Deal Heavy Blow Against al-Qaida - Cumhuriyet
Diyarbakir Hopeful on Eve of Erdogan Visit - Radikal
US Warplanes Strike Civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan - Yeni
Iran Rejects Last Call from Vienna on Nuclear Program -
Iran Warns EU, US Against `Miscalculations' - Cumhuriyet
Bush Says US Visa to be Granted to Ahmedinajad - Radikal
Oil Prices Set New Record: 66 USD - Zaman
33 Million Children Hunger-Stricken in Africa - Cumhuriyet
Al-Qaida's Syrian Members Arrested in Turkey: A suspected
Syrian al-Qaida militant, Luia Sakra, appeared before a
court in Istanbul Thursday to face charges of supplying and
manufacturing the bombs used in the attacks against British
and Jewish targets in Istanbul in November 2003. Sakra is
believed to have received the order to stage the Istanbul
bombings from Abu Musa al-Zarqawi. Sakra was caught in
Diyarbakir yesterday and brought to Istanbul. Sakra shouted
to reporters from a courthouse window that he had been
planning to attack Israeli cruise liners. `I have no
regrets, I was going to attack Israeli ships. Turks would
not have been harmed -- only the Israelis,' he shouted in
Turkish with an Arabic accent. Sakra is believed to have
been al-Qaida's leading figure in Turkey. The lawyer for
Sakra, Osman Karahan, acknowledged that his client had been
preparing to stage attacks against cruise ships carrying
Israeli tourists. `750 kg of explosives were seized in the
Antalya raid. My client was planning to attack Israeli
ships in international waters with these explosives,'
Karahan said, adding that Sakra had purchased a small yacht
to carry out the attack. "Hurriyet" claims that Sakra
acknowledged during his interrogation that he had been among
a group of insurgents in Iraq who were responsible for the
beheading of several Turks working for coalition forces.
"Milliyet" reports that Sakra claimed he killed 10 US troops
in Fallujah. "Vatan" reports that Sakra said there were
nine other terrorists in Turkey preparing for attacks.
Hamid Obysi, another Syrian national, was also detained as
part of the same operation and is charged with being a
courier for al-Qaida. Obysi was brought to Istanbul and
arrested after being detained while attempting to flee to
Syria. Meanwhile, a travel warning urging Israeli citizens
to avoid Mediterranean Turkish resorts was lifted after
successful operations by the Turkish security against al-
Qaida terrorists, Israeli security sources said late
Thursday. A statement from Israel's counter-terrorism
center said that the threat level had dropped thanks to the
efforts of Turkish security forces. However, Israel still
urged its nationals to be cautious in visiting the region.
The Israeli Ambassador in Ankara, Pinhas Avivi, lauded
Turkish security operations against terrorists, adding that
he was grateful to the Turks for saving the lives of
thousands of Israelis. More than 300,000 Israelis visit
Turkey each year for holidays.
On Friday, Turkish Security Department Spokesman Ramazan Er
said that Sakra and Obysi had been planning to flee to a
neighboring European country after staging their attacks in
Turkey. `I don't want to name that country, but we gave the
necessary intelligence to them,' Er said. He noted that the
intelligence gathered was shared by some friendly countries,
adding that operations were carried out solely by Turkish
security forces. Er said that the Turkish police continue
to search for some suspects including Habib Aktas, Gurcan
Bac, and Azat Ekinci in connection with the Istanbul
bombings in 2003.
Syria: Sakra Won't Affect Syria-Turkey Ties: The Syrian
Information Ministry said on Thursday that the capture of a
Syrian national terrorist suspect in Turkey, Luia Sakra,
will not affect bilateral ties between the two countries.
`Syria deems Turkey's security to be very important. Syria
and Turkey maintain a high level of cooperation through
bilateral agreements on security matters,' a Syrian Foreign
Ministry official said.
US Citizen With al-Qaida Ties Working at Iraqi Embassy:
"Sabah" cites a "Newsweek" report claiming that an Iraqi-US
citizen, Tarik Hamid, is workign at the Iraqi embassy in
Ankara. Hamid allegedly took batteries for satellite phones
to bin-Ladin in Afghanistan in 1998. "Newsweek" claimed
there is an outstanding federal indictment against Hamid.
Erdogan Due in Diyarbakir: Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's
meeting with activists and intellectuals on the Kurdish
question on Wednesday has reversed the atmosphere in
Diyarbakir, dailies claim, noting that people in the mainly
Kurdish city of Diyarbakir had been encouraged by the PM's
remarks in which he acknowledged a `Kurdish problem.'
Erdogan also stressed that further democratization is the
sole remedy for the problems in the region. Mayors of 57
municipalities in Turkey's east and southeast Turkey
governed by pro-Kurdish DEHAP called on the PKK to end its
armed fight against the Turkish state `unconditionally.' In
a joint press statement, the DEHAP mayors welcomed
statements by the PM suggesting that the Kurdish question
would be solved without making compromises on
democratization. Osman Baydemir, the mayor of Diyarbakir,
said on behalf of the other mayors that the Turkish Republic
had been founded by the grandfathers of all, and that
everyone should learn to live together. Baydemir said the
growing uncertainties over Turkey's EU accession and the
rising armed conflict in the southeast placed
responsibilities on politicians, NGOs, and civilians in
Turkey. He stressed that the region is largely
underdeveloped, but said it would be wrong to see the
problem purely as a matter of security and economic
development. The PKK said yesterday that it will not stage
attacks during the stay of the PM in Diyarbakir. Kurdish
activist Leyla Zana and other former Kurdish
parliamentarians also welcomed Wednesday's statement by
Erdogan, describing it as `courageous, necessary and
important.' The former MPs said Erdogan's remarks were a
departure from Turkey's traditional state policies. An EU
ambassador in Ankara said Europe expected Erdogan to
announce a fresh package of measures to develop the region
and end terrorism. The main opposition CHP leader Deniz
Baykal lashed out at Erdogan for engaging in a `political
flirt' which may damage Turkey's struggle against terrorism.
`The AKP government cannot see the political project behind
terrorism, which lays out demands that go beyond a mere
recognition of identity,' Baykal said. He argued that
changes which are to be made under the pretext of
`democratization' will result in a partition of Turkey.
`Iraq is an example of this,' Baykal said. The northern
Iraq Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) representative in
Ankara, Bahros Galali, said the PUK is ready to provide full
support to the process pledged by Erdogan.
Survey on Social and Economic Conditions in Diyarbakir:
According to a survey carried out by the municipality,
chambers of trade, and NGOs in Diyarbakir, 55 percent of the
1,362,708 residents in the city are unemployed, "Hurriyet"
reports. The absolute poverty rate stands at 39.7 percent.
207,249 citizens applied to the governor's office to receive
food aid in 2003. The literacy rate is 69.57 percent, and
university graduates make up just 5.6 percent of the
population. The literacy rate among Diyarbakir women is
55.37 percent, but 42.38 of women in the city have received
no education. Only 38.60 percent of girls are allowed to
attend school, far below the overall rate of 68.10 in
Turkey. 15,000 children between the ages of 7-15 work on
the streets. 23 percent of them are not attending school,
and 43 percent are drug addicts. 68.6 percent of pregnant
women do not go to hospital for delivery. 0.57 percent of
babies in Diyarbakyr die at birth, higher than the average
figure of 0.43 percent for Turkey. 41.90 percent of the
buildings in the city are illegally constructed. There are
80,000 people living in shantytowns on the outskirts of
Diyarbakir. The priovince's per capita income is 1,313 USD,
making Diyarbakyr 54th among Turkey's 80 provinces.
Ereli on US, Turkey, Iraq Security Talks, PKK: US State
Department Spokesman Adam Ereli said that the three-party
security talks among the US, Turkey, and Iraq in Washington
were `very productive' discussions aimed at combating
terrorism. `A particular focus of the discussions was the
PKK and its affiliates, and how we could all cooperate to
eliminate the terrorist threat to Turkey from northern
Iraq,' Ereli emphasized. Ereli noted that two US army
commanders would travel to Ankara soon to discuss military
tactics for fighting the PKK. Ereli also said that the US,
Turkey, and Iraq had agreed to set up working groups for
further technical discussions.
US Seeks Breakaway Arab Republic in Iran: The US has
prepared war plans to break off the oil-rich province of
Kuzistan from Iran, "Hurriyet" reports from Washington.
According to the report, which is based on `intelligence
sources,' the US will first heavily bomb Iranian nuclear
facilities. US military operations will be supported by the
People's Mujahedin organization in Iran. Kuzistan, a
province with a majority of Shiite Arabs, will be declared
the `Ahvaz Democratic Arab Republic' following the initial
military operation. The US is also busy making plans to
incite a revolt of Azeris and other minority groups in Iran,
according to the report.
Iraqi Journalists Visit Turkey: A delegation of Iraqi
journalists visited the Turkish Journalists Association
(TGC) in Istanbul yesterday as the guests of the Turkish
Foreign Ministry (MFA) and the Directorate General of Press
and Information (BYEGM), papers report. The head of the 21-
member of Iraqi delegation, Azad Muhamed Ali, said that
there had been no press freedom during the former Saddam
Hussein regime in Iraq. `The Saddam Hussein regime meant
terror, restriction of freedoms, mass killings, and total
destruction of some villages and towns,' Ali stressed. A
woman Iraqi TV journalist, `Ms. Suzan' said that there had
been no occupation of Iraq. `Americans, the British, and
troops from other coalition countries came to Iraq to
establish of security. They will leave when peace is
established. Iraq has attained its position today with the
help of those you define as occupiers,' she said. The
director of Kirkuk TV, `Mr. Arif' said there no security
problem whatsoever in Erbil, Suleymaniye, and Dohuk. Arif
noted that press freedom in Iraq today has increased
drastically compared to the times of Saddam Hussein.
`Previously, there was not a single independent paper in
Iraq. Today, there are hundreds. We can write any news in
any way we like,' Arif said. The Iraqi journalists will
call on several newspapers and broadcasters for professional
consultations over the weekend.
Turkish Troops Killed in PKK Ambush: Two Turkish troops
were killed and four wounded on early Thursday when PKK
separatists opened fire on their convoy in eastern Turkey, a
military official said. The soldiers were ambushed outside
Turkey's eastern city of Tunceli. Meanwhile, police
detained two suspected PKK members who were reportedly
preparing to launch terrorist attacks in Turkey's Aegean
port city of Izmir. Police seized 800 grams of plastic
explosives and materials used in bomb-making at the
suspects' house.
Turkey to Buy 52 Aircraft: Turkey's Defense Industry
Undersecretariat is to put forward an international tender
in December for the purchase of 32 military helicopters and
20 planes to fight forest fires. The total package will be
worth around 700 million USD, "Sabah" reports. Officials
expect the US Sikorsky S-70 Blackhawk and the French NH90
helicopter to be the top contenders in the bid.
EDITORIAL OPINION: Iran, Turkey-US Relations/PKK
"A Dangerous Standoff with Iran"
Sami Kohen opined in the mainstream daily "Milliyet" (8/12):
"It is rather worrying to see Iran, despite the pressure of
the international community, is continuing its nuclear
program and is restarting the activities of the conversion
plant in Isfahan. The EU-3 efforts to get Iran to comply
with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) demands have
proven to be fruitless. Despite all of these efforts,
Iran's decision has increased the tension in the region.
From the beginning, Iran has claimed that its goal in
enriching uranium is to establish a new energy source.
Since Iran signed the nonproliferation agreement with 187
other countries, it has a right to enjoy the benefits of
nuclear energy. However, Iran's political record and its
recent attitude have convinced everyone that the real goal
of its enrichment program is to produce nuclear weapons.
Led by the US, the EU, and Russia, the international
community has increased the pressure on Iran to halt its
nuclear activities. Tehran has so far resisted these
demands. Most recently, the new Iraqi President rejected
the offer of the EU-3 for economic and social benefits in
return for relinquishing the enrichment program. As a
result, Iran and the international community have found
themselves in a dangerous confrontation. If Iran doesn't
stop its nuclear program soon, the issue will be taken to
the UN Security Council. The US might request that economic
and political sanctions be imposed against Iran. But it is
expected that China and Russia will not support these
demands in the Security Council. Such demands could cause
Iran to seek revenge. If Iran increases oil prices, for
exapmle, economic crises could be triggered around the
world. In short, any conflict stemming from Iran's nuclear
adventure could have serious consequences for everyone.
Before the crisis grows even bigger, the international
community should make every effort to achieve a solution
based on common sense."
"In the Eyes of the Americans"
Emin Pazarci wrote in the conservative-sensational "Dunden
Bugune Tercuman" (8/12): "The biggest problem between
Turkey and the US is the PKK issue. Turkey is bothered by
the PKK presence in Northern Iraq, and emphasizes its
expectations from the US on this issue at every opportunity.
The Turkish people have reacted against the US stance on the
PKK while the world is trying to coordinate efforts in the
war against terrorism. What is the Americans' opinion on
this issue? I had lunch with a high-level US official the
other day and talked about the PKK extensively. The
official described the PKK as an outlaw group and said `I
wish we had a button we could press to eliminate them.' The
same official reiterated that the US is sincere in its
stance against the PKK, and reminded us that the US has been
the only country to help Turkey in its fight against the
PKK. When we mentioned the PKK camps in the Kandil
mountains and PKK offices in Kirkuk, and asked how the
Americans would feel if the flag of a terrorist organization
like Al-Qaida was flying in Turkey, the official's reply was
rather interesting. The official pointed out that `the PKK
flag never flies anywhere in the US.' The official added
that Barzani and Talabani would take necessary actions
against the PKK in time. When we screamed that Turkey has no
patience to wait any longer, the US official said that the
US is taking necessary measures on the issue, and assured
that certain things would change in the region soon. Based
on these statements, we can surmise that the US has given us
some guarantees on the PKK. Now we are waiting to see what
steps the US is going to take. It is not good enough to say
that "Turkey is very important and valuable for us." Turkey
needs to see action from the US. The US is undergoing a
`test of sincerity' in the eyes of the Turkish public on the
issue of the PKK and Northern Iraq."
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