Değişik ülkelerde görevli Amerikan Büyükelçi ve Konsoloslarının Merkezle (Washington) yazışmalarından binlercesi Wikileaks (Hızlı Sızıntılar) tarafından İnternet yolu ile ortaya döküldü.
Bu yazışmalarda Merkezden kaynaklananlardan sonra, sayıca en fazla olan Ankara’dan merkeze gönderilenler. Bize bu kadar önem verdiklerine ve Obama’nın Erdoğan’a bu sıcak yaklaşımına da bakarsanız, Erdoğan’ın dediği gibi Türkiye “Butik Devlet” değil, “Dünyaya Açık Güçlü Devlet”.
Ankara’da Amerikan Büyükelçisini ziyaret ederek ve arzu ettiği bilgileri vererek bizi Butik Devlet olmaktan çıkarıp, değerimizi arttırarak böylesine Güçlü yapan kişilerin adları da bu belgelerde geçiyor. CIA kendi puan sistemine göre bu kişilere not vermiş. Aşağıda bunların karnesi var; hepsi sınıf geçecek not almış.
Karnelerine bakıp kişiler hakkında hemen gıyaben hüküm vermeyelim. Kişileri tanıyorsunuz, ülke için ne hizmetler verdiklerini biliyorsunuz; kafanıza fesat düşünceler sokmayın. Sakın ha, bunlar CIA ajanı gibi aşağılayıcı bir etiket takmayın, büyük haksızlık olur. Bizde, toplumun ahlak değerlerini çiğneyen işlere saplanmışlar için “kötü yola düşmüş kişi” derler. Bu vatandaşlarımızın ne zorunlu şartlar altında bu yükümlülük altına girdiklerini de bilmiyoruz, o yüzden böyle bir düşünceye de kapılmayın.
Bu durumlarını açıklayabilecek, aklıma gelen birkaç sebep şunlar olabilir:
• Geçim sıkıntısı var; çoluk çocuk evde aç beklerken ülkeye olan sorumluluk hissi biraz arka plana itilmiş, ekmek parası için bu yola düşmüş.
• Baskı altında; çek, senet mafyası gibi bazı kişilerin tehditlerinden çekinerek bu işe razı olmuş.
• Şantaj yapılıyor; gizli kamera çekimlerinin kayıtları var CIA’nın elinde, ele güne rezil olmamak için kabullenmiş.
Hiçbir şekilde, bu hizmetlerinin karşılığı bir maddi, politik kazanç ve mevki beklentileri olduğunu sanmıyorum. Zaten ABD’nin bizim iç işlerimize karışıp bu kişilere herhangi bir şekilde bir imkân doğurmaları da olası değil.
Siz, cari açık, dış borçlar büyüyor, vergiler artıyor, geçim zorlaştı diyen nankörlere kapılmayın. Ekonomik bağımsızlığımızın bize verdiği güçle pekişen siyasi bağımsızlığımızı ABD bile sorgulayamaz. Bakın Libya için neler söyledik, neler yaptık; şimdi aynı Güçlü politikayı Suriye’de uyguluyoruz, Obama ve Clinton hayranlıklarını ne şekilde anlatacaklarını bilemiyorlar.
|Kim Hakkında||Kontağın CIA değerlendirmesi||Ne zaman söylenmiş|
(hiçbir şekilde bilinmesin)
|uzun zamandır||2006, 2008|
|uzun zamandır||2004, 2005|
|Güvenilir ve uzun zamandır||2006|
–Deputy P.M. Mehmet Ali Sahin: Born in the coal and iron and steel region of Karabuk in 1950. Graduated from Istanbul U. Faculty of Law. Practiced law as a private attorney. Elected to Parliament in 1995 on the ticket of Islamist Refah Party of Necmettin Erbakan. Married with four children. An Embassy contact for several years.
–State Minister for Economy Ali Babacan: see ref (D). Good contact of Embassy. –State Minister for Foreign Trade Kursad Tuzmen: see ref (D). Long known to Embassy. –Justice Minister Cemil Cicek: Born in Yozgat in central Anatolia in 1946. Graduated from Istanbul U. Faculty of Law 1971. Practiced law for 10 years and has an excellent reputation as a jurist. Entering politics as a founder of Turgut Ozal’s ANAP, he was close to Ozal and served as Mayor of Yozgat during the early Ozal years (mid-1980′s). A state minister in the ANAP governments of Ozal, Yildirim Akbulut and Mesut Yilmaz. Was driven from ANAP after a dispute with Yilmaz and served as an independent M.P. Member of parliamentary Constitutional Committee. Joined AK only a few months before the November elections. Married with three children. Speaks English and French. Good contact of Embassy.
–State Minister for Economy Ali Babacan: see ref (D). Good contact of Embassy.
–State Minister for Foreign Trade Kursad Tuzmen: see ref (D). Long known to Embassy.
–Justice Minister Cemil Cicek: Born in Yozgat in central Anatolia in 1946. Graduated from Istanbul U. Faculty of Law 1971. Practiced law for 10 years and has an excellent reputation as a jurist. Entering politics as a founder of Turgut Ozal’s ANAP, he was close to Ozal and served as Mayor of Yozgat during the early Ozal years (mid-1980′s). A state minister in the ANAP governments of Ozal, Yildirim Akbulut and Mesut Yilmaz. Was driven from ANAP after a dispute with Yilmaz and served as an independent M.P. Member of parliamentary Constitutional Committee. Joined AK only a few months before the November elections. Married with three children. Speaks English and French. Good contact of Embassy. Probably a Naksibendi.
–Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul: Born in Erzincan in eastern Turkey 1939. Graduated from Ankara U. Political Sciences faculty (then the premier training ground for future high civil servants) 1962; earned an M.S. from University of Southern California. Joined the Interior Ministry; after service as an inspector and sub-governor, appointed governor of Kocaeli (Izmit), director general of security (National Police), governor of Ankara, governor of Izmir; was close to Turgut Ozal; a founding member of the High Education Council (YOK), Undersecretary of Interior Ministry under Minister Abdulkadir Aksu (see below); chairman of the Court of Accounts (Sayistay). Elected to Parliament 1999 on the ticket of Erbakan’s Islam-oriented Fazilet Party. Joined AK in 2002. Married, three children. Speaks English. Long-time contact of the Embassy. Did his military service with President Sezer (a classic bonding experience). No base in AK’s grass-roots. Considered an exemplar of Turkey’s Deep State, and thus someone who will smoothly manage AK’s relations with the Turkish military. Expected to be nominated by AK as its candidate for speaker of Parliament, but was brushed aside by party vice-chairman Bulent Arinc. Probably a Naksibendi.
–Interior Minister Abdulkadir Aksu: Born in Diyarbakir 1944. Of Kurdish origin. Graduated from Ankara U. Political Science Faculty. Joined Interior Ministry, served as Malatya police director, Kahramanmaras deputy governor, deputy director general of security (National Police), Rize governor and mayor, Gaziantep governor. Entered politics with ANAP, elected to Parliament from Diyarbakir. Served as Interior Minister 1988-91. Married, two children. Speaks German. Long-time Embassy contact. Probably a Naksibendi.
–Education Minister Erkan Mumcu: Born in Yalvac (former Pisidian Antioch) in south-central Anatolia 1963. Graduated from Istanbul U. faculty of Law. Entered politics as a rising star in ANAP, elected to Parliament on ANAP ticket 1995 and 1999. Served as Minister of Tourism for first part of the Ecevit government. Resigned from ANAP in summer 2002 after long-running dispute with ANAP leader Yilmaz and joined AK. Married, two children. Speaks English. Long-standing contact of Embassy. Has been sharply critical of the Kemalist State for years. Seen as too openly ambitious by many.
–Industry and Trade Minister Ali Coskun: see ref (D). Long-time Embassy contact. Possibly a Naksibendi.
–Energy Minister Hilmi Guler: see ref (D). Embassy contact.
–Culture Minister Huseyin Celik: Born in Gurpinar (Van) 1959. Graduated from Istanbul U. Faculty of Literature, Department of Turkish Language and Literature. Post-grad studies at the University of London. Chairman and staff member of Department of Turkish Language and Literature at Centennial U. (Van). Has also written history articles, including on the Armenian question. Elected to Parliament on the DYP ticket 1995. Joined Fazilet Party 1999. Joined AK when Fazilet was closed. Married, three children. Speaks English. Good contact of Embassy. Focused, sometimes intense, but good natured. Likes to pontificate. Has long urged restoration of the Armenian church on Akhdamar island in Lake Van.
Turkish Defense Minister Mehmet Vecdi Gonul is a long-time Embassy contact. His vast experience (below) with the organs of the state — and the Deep State (refs A,B) — have earned him the confidence of many in the Kemalist Establishment. Gonul also served in the military with President Sezer, a classic bonding experience. As a result, he is considered by Kemalists to be one of the most “acceptable” senior figures in the Islam-influenced AK (Justice and Development) Party government.
First, we have on good authority that Gonul has ties to the Naksibendi tarikat. This is a nominally illegal sufi Islamic order, generally dominated by Kurds and characterized now by tendencies toward quietism and serious religious piety. Gonul’s patron, the late P.M./President Turgut Ozal of the Motherland Party (ANAP) was a Naksibendi, as was Ozal’s Islamist brother Korkut — a long-time Embassy contact and senior Naksi figure in his own right. Gonul is reportedly close to Korkut. In private meetings with us, Gonul has evinced a remarkably intimate understanding of tarikat history — he sees the orders as a natural part of Anatolian society — and the current trends in tarikat politics in Turkey.
On April 7, the Government replaced two Central Bank Board members at the Central Bank’s regularly scheduled annual meeting. The two new Board members are: Durmus Yilmaz, a Deputy DG of the Central Bank’s markets department and Embassy contact; and Dr. Mustafa Ilker, an economics professor from Uludag University. Central Bank official Ikler Domac told us Yilmaz is a religious Muslim, but not known to be close to AKP and is well respected at the CBT. The second appointee, Mustafa Ilker is an AKP cadre and close to MP Nazim Ekren. There are six GOT-appointed Central Bank board members, each has a three-year term.
Elkatmis (Mehmet), an Embassy contact since 1996 and member of the more hard-core Islamist tendency in AK, has been a useful interlocutor in the past. However, this misstep, and a previous attempt by him to contribute to a smear campaign alleging USG support for the PKK (ref A), reflect the generally low quality and still embryonic understanding of democratic institutions shared by Elkatmis and other members of the Human Rights Committee. In this context, we note that Elkatmis and other Committee members: (1) profess to believe that the Committee’s work is somehow unconnected to the wider traffic of parliamentary activity and USG-GOT relations — despite their own sensitivities about U.S. Congressional attitudes towards Turkey; and (2) appear to derive considerable inspiration from fiery Speaker of Parliament Bulent Arinc, who has made no secret of his ambitions to challenge Erdogan for leadership of AK (ref B).
We will follow up with members of Gul’s delegation and with MFA contacts for first-hand readouts of what Gul said in his private contacts with the Syrians and Iranians when the del returns to Ankara week of June 2. But it is clear that Gul’s comments are significant in several respects, particularly in terms of the domestic political and policy battles shaping up in Ankara. First, the philosophical: Gul’s emphasis on “rational thinking,” though coming from a political leader with impeccable “Islamic” credentials, runs counter to a theme recently reiterated in the Turkish Islamist press. Abdurrahman Dilipak, a columnist and Embassy contact with great influence over the Islamist hardcore rank-and-file, took issue recently with the West’s allegedly “rationalist secular religion,” which he charged has no respect for “sacred values.”
Selma Acuner, former chairman of the women’s group Ka-Der, is a close Embassy contact with political ambitions whom Genc is trying to recruit. She told us recently that Uzan has quietly established a think tank-like organization in Ankara as a policy planning/propaganda center aimed at a more elite audience. According to Acuner, Genc is carefully trying to keep its distance publicly from this organization in order not to undermine its carefully-nurtured image as an “independent” — and thus credible — institution.
In a June 19 meeting with poloff, Gokcek chief advisor Murat Dogru explained that the mayor wants to be on AK’s ticket and that negotiations are still underway. Dogru claimed that there is resistance to Gokcek’s membership in AK from F.M. Gul and those close to him — including AK M.P. and Embassy contact Murat Mercan, who once worked for Gokcek. They view the incumbent as a potential national rival. Dogru expressed confidence that AK will eventually agree to make Gokcek its candidate. “It’s the only thing that makes sense,” he said. (Note: as reported reftel, Erdogan and Gokcek are seeking rapprochement. End note). According to an independent pollster/activist with excellent access to conservative circles, Gokcek, a skilled political operator, is assiduously lobbying AK party officials, including members of the Parliamentary group, to support his AK candidacy and legitimize his place as a national contender.
Sahin (Mehmet Ali) has been a long-time Embassy contact as an Istanbul M.P. from AK predecessor parties, Refah and Fazilet, and earlier as an Istanbul political bigwig (he served briefly as mayor of conservative Fatih district and later was Refah’s party boss for Istanbul in 1994). He has been an open, thoughtful interlocutor — and one not prone to blustering or hyperbole. Our contacts say Sahin has a certain entree to P.M. Erdogan. Their relationship likely grew out of their time working together in Istanbul, where Erdogan served as mayor 1994-1998.
The delegates approved the list of 50 Central Decision Making and Administrative Board (MKYK) members submitted by Erdogan. Notably, Erdogan excluded Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul, former Deputy PM Ertugrul Yalcinbayir, and Parliament Human Rights committee MP Ersonmez Yarbay, a close Embassy contact. Erdogan increased the number of women on the MKYK to 10 — up from five — which Erdogan had promised prior to the convention (Note: seven of the 10 women do not wear headscarves. End Note). Erdogan also included the AK provincial chairmen from Ankara and Istanbul — a nod to the party grassroots.
Our contacts — including a leading national security analyst, the Aksam journalist, and AK Ankara chief and MKYK member Nurettin Akman — confirm press reports that, in re-shaping the MKYK, Erdogan has begun the process of decreasing the influence of the Islamist Milli Gorus foundation, which they say Erdogan sees as exploiting religion for personal material gain. In doing so, they say Erdogan is attempting to bring in a more modern, forward-thinking, and responsive cast that is closer to the PM and the AK Party decision-making inner circle. The Aksam journalist argued that leaving Gonul off the MKYK will actually strengthen his position as a Minister, because Gonul will no longer have to devote his energy to party business. Akman told poloff Oct. 14 that Gonul simply did not have enough time to devote to party affairs. Yalcinbayir is considered a chronic naysayer by AK insiders. Meanwhile, Yarbay — a thoughtful observer — may have dug his own grave recently by criticizing Erdogan for authoritarian tendencies, a useful warning but one made too bluntly in the press, our contacts say.
In his address to the crowd, Bahceli strongly criticized the AK Government’s Iraq policy, claiming the GOT had surrendered to outside powers. He said the GOT has dishonored Turkey and has not pursued any policies that have benefited the Turkish nation. Opposition CHP Vice Chairman and close Embassy contact Sinan Yerlikaya, who attended the MHP convention, told poloff Oct. 17 that after hearing Bahceli’s speech, he believes MHP will react quickly and loudly to any Turkish casualties resulting from a troop deployment to Iraq (Note: CHP also opposes deploying Turkish troops. End Note). In a subsequent Oct. 17 conversation, Huseyin Kocabiyik, who once served as advisor to former PM Ciller and who maintains extensive contacts on the political right, echoed Yerlikaya’s sentiment, saying that Bahceli’s speech suggests the party will organize its extensive grassroots youth organizations in universities and elsewhere to demonstrate against the GOT, especially if Turkish troops take casualties.
Our contacts suggest that Bahceli will make at least some changes to the party administration. Mehmet Telek acknowledged that the party will bring in some new faces, but he does not believe there will be very many additions. MHP Vice Chairman and close Embassy contact Sevket Bulent Yahnici told us after the convention that the party assembly will choose MHP executives (Vice Chairmen, administrative board) next week. Yahnici, who has largely withdrawn from party activities and does not expect to serve as Vice Chairman again, was dismissive of any potential changes. He averred that any new party executives will be chosen by the current unsuccessful, Bahceli-led administration. As a result, the party will have the same uninspired leadership with little “vitality,” he claimed.
The inability to criticize the party reflected in the above comments will carry over into the party’s policies at least until local elections, according to our CHP contacts. In private conversations recently, several party deputies told us that they do not expect any major shift in the party’s direction following the late October general convention that manipulated Baykal’s reelection as CHP leader. Close Embassy contact and CHP M.P. from Hakkari Esat Canan, who admitted to poloff that he has contemplated leaving the party, said there will be no change in party policy before local elections. He asserted that while many in the party are looking for former State Minister Kemal Dervis — now CHP Vice Chairman — to assert himself and make the party more appealing to the public, Dervis lacks the courage and political skill to pull it off. He added that Dervis is not fit to lead.
Our ANAP contacts — including Kececiler, Dincerler, and long-time ANAP activist and Embassy contact Ali Turktas — tell us Nas has long been associated with former ANAP leader Yilmaz, who, along with several former Ministers, is about to be examined by a parliamentary high court (Yuce Divan) for corruption. Nas would only say to us that Yilmaz “does not oppose” her candidacy; in the past she has told us more openly that she favors his comeback. Dincerler, who Dec. 10 resigned his position as advisor to the ANAP chairman, told us Nas’ emergence probably means Yilmaz is planning an eventual comeback, which Dincerler claimed would destroy the party. Dincerler admitted that he privately hopes Nas becomes ANAP chairman, performs poorly, and is forced out so that the Yilmaz faction within the party will be discredited further. While acknowledging that Nas is likely paving the way for Yilmaz’ return, Kececiler pointed out that Yilmaz will do nothing to pursue his comeback while the corruption investigation continues.
FM Gul, the top GOT official responsible for human rights, personally asked Bicak to replace an ineffective predecessor as head of the Human Rights Presidency, according to our contacts. A long time Embassy contact, Bicak (Vahit) is sometimes seen as arrogant and aloof, which explains his failure to consult with human rights NGOs on this regulation. However, he is respected as an authority on human rights issues, and he is clearly trying to provide much-needed structure to a chaotic human rights monitoring system that to date has served as mere window-dressing. As an indication of the system’s low status in the GOT, Bicak’s office, part of the Prime Ministry, does not have a separate budget. And it is woefully underfunded — Bicak has asked a number of embassies to donate 10 computers to supplement the two his office currently has.
In an April 12 meeting, CHP Diyarbakir M.P. and close Embassy contact Mesut Deger confirmed to us that Baykal is not going anywhere soon. Deger explained that Baykal convened both the party assembly and provincial chairmen on April 10-11 in Ankara. Both groups — whose members owe their jobs to Baykal — gave the CHP leader a vote of confidence, according to Deger, suggesting that change is not in the offing. Deger added that the party is awaiting the results of a research committee — headed by Tanla — that is reportedly evaluating the election results in detail.
Like Baykal, Tanla was dismissive of opposition in the party, even though nine prominent M.P.s, including Embassy contact and party executive board member Hakki Akalin, had just called for Baykal to resign. Tanla suggested that discontent is the point of equilibrium for a CHP Parliament group, adding that opposition inside the party had always existed since the time of Ismet Inonu, Ataturk’s right-hand man. As if searching for any theme that could mollify the party’s critics, Tanla asserted that the party needs young faces, although he could not explain how that might happen. Without prompting, Tanla rejected the possibility that Dervis could mount a serious challenge: “I meet with Dervis all the time; he doesn’t even want to be leader.”
CHP Denizli M.P. Mehmet Nessar, who serves on Parliament’s NATO assembly and who is normally free of knuckleheaded thinking, told us recently that the thrust of Dervis’ criticism is that: 1) Baykal has refused to accept new members into the party; 2) CHP provincial and district level officials are only out to benefit materially from their positions; and 3) the party is stuck in the 1930′s. While conceding that Dervis’ points are true, Nessar nevertheless claimed that Dervis would have been better served if he had worked behind the scenes versus expressing his criticisms aloud.
MHP intellectual and long-time Embassy contact Riza Muftuoglu, who unlike most of his party colleagues is usually a free thinker, offered to us April 20 a more even-handed analysis of the party’s performance. Muftuoglu explained that MHP leaders can spin the results as a “victory” by noting that the party finished third in votes for provincial councils and that this is a tacit blessing of the party’s general direction. On the other hand, Muftuoglu argued that after factoring in the thirty percent of Turks who did not vote March 28, MHP’s showing is much less impressive. “If these had been national elections, we still would not have entered Parliament,” he asserted.
A key Embassy contact on Islam in Turkey is launching an effort within the Muslim world to turn Mecca and Medina into an autonomous zone. He seeks USG financial support to bring his project to fruition. We will inform him that the U.S. cannot support such an initiative unless Department instructs us otherwise by Aug. 20
Habiboglu (Bedreddin) has raised with us an idea to make Mecca and Medina an autonomous zone, somewhat similar to an Islamic Vatican. He asserts that the idea is different from proposals to re-establish the caliphate. He claims the idea as his own, and demands that we keep his approach and idea closely held. We note, however, that the idea has circulated in Turkey at various times over the past 30-35 years, including under the late PM/President Turgut Ozal.
Close Embassy contact Hak Is Labor Union President Salim Uslu, as well as other union contacts, accuse the MOLSS of unnecessarily shifting hospital facilities to the MOH and ultimately attempting to privatize state hospitals, a move which is expected to make the cost of health care more expensive for union members. Uslu, who portrays himself as close to PM Erdogan, alleges the “bureaucrats” misled the prime minister in citing a 22 quadrillion Turkish lira (approx. USD 1.5 billion) health care financing deficit for the first nine months of 2004. Uslu also cites “corruption” by pharmaceutical companies using a two-tier pricing system as contributing to cost overruns, possibly with reference to accusations that Roche has overcharged for medicines. Uslu does not see any practical benefit to be derived from transferring MOLSS-operated hospitals to the MOH and believes the central government could do a better job of managing hospitals and health care. He suggests it would be more efficient to consolidate various small non-MOLSS hospitals.
Yildirim Koc, special advisor to the President of Yol-Is (Highway Workers Union), affiliated with the more left-leaning Turk-Is Union, and another longtime Embassy contact, insisted to us that the U.S. and the EU want to dismember Turkey and carve it into several smaller states. Koc asserts the health care financial problems are related to MOLSS corruption and mismanagement and are being camouflaged under the pretext of making health care services more cost-effective by transferring them to the MOH. Koc describes this transition as going “from a republican system to a federal system” and cites what he calls failures to deliver good health care under privatized systems in Algeria, Egypt and the Palestinian Territories as examples of a vacuum in services that will set the stage for Islamists to take over and improve inferior quality state medical care in Turkey, as well.
Long-term Embassy contact with deep experience in intel and national security analysis has relayed to us from his sources the belief that (1) PKK and Sunni radicals collaborated in Dec. 17 murder of five Turkish security guards in Mosul; (2) PKK is readying a serious terrorism campaign in Turkish cities; (3) Turkish Jandarma intel is besieged by paranoid orders from Ankara to uncover “Armenian separatists” and an “Israeli land grab” in the southeast; and (4) a serious disinformation and psyops campaign against NATO is being waged on more junior Turkish officers. Our contact has proven accurate in the past but we caution that we have no corroborating evidence for much of the information in this cable — especially relating to the Mosul attack.
Just returned from two trips to Turkey’s southeast, where he is involved in a major anti-smuggling investigation at the behest of Turkey’s Energy Minister, a pre-eminent Turkish national security analyst (Faruk Demir — strictly protect) briefed us Dec. 20-21 on several aspects of current Turkish security questions, and, in particular, Jandarma intel (JITEM) ops and preoccupations. He based his report to us on meetings with approximately 40 JITEM officers — lieutenants, captains, and majors, some of whom were our contact’s students — involved in field investigations and ops from Mersin to Mardin.
Baykal’s ability arbitrarily to manipulate CHP rules and machinery makes it more difficult to predict the outcome of the current struggle. Erol Cevikce — a former CHP State Minister and longtime Embassy contact on intra-CHP politics who correctly predicted two weeks ago that the YDK would not convict Sarigul — estimates that 700-800 of the approximately 1,200 party delegates are currently in the pro-Baykal camp. He also believes, however, that the wind is blowing in Sarigul’s favor. Cevikce claims that Sarigul will muster 30,000 supporters to rally outside the party convention hall and pressure the delegates to back Sarigul. Cevicke also believes that the delegates’ own political ambition may aid Sarigul. Many delegates want to be elected to parliament or other public offices, where they anticipate they can benefit from Sarigul’s pork barrel largesse, and they believe that their chances are dim as long as the unpopular and elitist Baykal remains the leader of the party.
Oya Aydin, a Board member and attorney for Kaboglu, told us the AKP leadership is dismissing the 14 Board members early, but there is a deeper motive beyond the minorities report. Shortly after the controversy over the minorities report, FM Gul announced that he had selected a number of candidates to fill upcoming openings on the 78-member Board. The new appointees included bitterly anti-Western, Islamic fundamentalist columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak, of the daily Vakit, and others known for Islam-oriented views in line with those of the AKP leadership. They will replace members who generally hold leftist, or Kemalist/secular views. The MFA has refused to respond to our repeated requests for confirmation that Gul indeed appointed Dilipak.
TESEV’s report and conference may stimulate more debate among Istanbul academic and media circles, which have lagged far behind the rest of the country in questioning the Diyanet and its relation to Islamic thought and practice. The future of the Diyanet is central to the question of the relationship between Islam, the state, and society. Although near-term consensus is unlikely, TESEV has made an important contribution by placing the issue squarely in the public domain and stimulating an open debate. TESEV Chairman Can Paker told poloff that he was pleased with the cooperation they received from the Diyanet in preparing the report. Participation in the conference and comments by senior Diyanet officials, moreover, suggest that they themselves are preparing for change. Co-author of the report Irfan Bozan told poloff most agree that the current system has failed in its basic purpose – to control religion in Turkey. What remains to be seen is what will be done about it. We will continue to track the debate and government statements or proposals to assess whether Turkey is moving in the direction of securing religious freedom and equal treatment for all groups or whether reforms are used to advance the interests and influence of some vis-a-vis others.
A close Embassy contact in the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) retired early in frustration after being unable to overcome resistance within the ministry to EU reform; she returned at the insistence of the Justice Minister. The official, an expert on EU law, told us the MOJ Undersecretary has consistently blocked her efforts to enact regulatory reform required by the EU. She said the majority of MOJ bureaucrats openly oppose EU membership. GOT has thus failed to enact many reforms required for EU accession, including changes to the GOT’s High Council of Judges and Prosecutors, which the EU has criticized for restricting judicial independence. Moreover, the GOT failed to hold an interministerial meeting after the October EU progress report and December EU Summit to coordinate response to issues raised by the EU, leaving each ministry to develop its own approach. Her observations indicate that Turkey will be off to a slow start when accession negotiations begin in October.
We met with Ayse Saadet Arikan, director general of the MOJ’s General Directorate for EU Affairs, on March 4, shortly after Justice Minister Cicek persuaded her to reverse her decision to take an early retirement. Arikan (please protect), a close Embassy contact, is a key figure within the GOT bureaucracy working on the nuts and bolts of EU harmonization. She is one of Turkey’s top experts on EU law — she studied EU law in Amsterdam and London and wrote her Ph.D. thesis on Turkey-EU relations — and a strong advocate of EU-related reform. Over the past two years, she has expressed to us her increasing concerns about what she views as the sluggish, unprofessional approach of the GOT and ruling AK Party (AKP) to EU harmonization. Her experience serves as a gauge of Turkey’s capacity to meet the long-term demands of the EU accession process.
In a meeting March 31 with EconOff and Econ Specialist, Board Member Galip Zerey expressed enthusiasm for a yet-to-be-scheduled expert trip to the FCC Washington. Zerey met Ambassador David Gross at the recent 3GSM Conference at Nice, France. He stated that the specific purpose of the trip would be to gain knowledge on 3rd generation GSM; the more broad purpose would be to gain general best regulatory practices from the FCC. EconOff also encouraged the Turkish visitors to meet with State Department telecom experts. Zerey stated that the board has increased its outreach to EU members’ bodies. According to Zerey, the previous Board President’s term ended March 29 and the Prime Minister had not yet named a new one. Zerey said that his name was one of two on the short list. Faruk Comert (another regular Embassy contact, also eager to pursue contact with the FCC) is acting President.
As noted in reftel, the official unemployment figure published by the Turkish State Statistics Institute, which indicated Turkish unemployment was at 11.5 percent in January 2005, may understate the severity of the problem. Concurrently 13.1 percent (3,189,000 people) were working part-time because full-time employment was not available. One Embassy contact, economist and polling company owner Tarhan Erdem, suggests the real unemployment rate may be closer to 12 million, or approximately one-quarter of the work force. Most economists do not believe the official statistics are that far off. As noted reftel, unemployment data are difficult to capture with accuracy in Turkey because of high unemployment and the large unregistered economy.
There is substantial evidence, however, that MHP,s popularity is not on the rise. MHP deserves credit for hosting a rally with 500,000 attendees, but this is roughly the same number as have attended MHP,s Erciyes Mountain rallies in previous years. ANAR pollster Ibrahim Uslu, moreover, recently told POLOFF that his polls indicate that MHP is still below the 10 percent threshold for representation in parliament. Ozgur Unluhisarcikli of the ARI movement told POLOFFs that his liberal-nonpartisan organization,s recent surveys indicated that MHP is polling only around 6 percent. A recent TNS/PIAR poll published in Radikal newspaper also placed MHP,s support at around 6 percent. MHP member and longtime Embassy contact Riza Muftuoglu also believes that MHP remains below the 10 percent threshold and he blames this on the failure of the current party leadership.
Ozdag also argues in his book — and in conversations with POLOFFs — that the Europeans are trying to create a “Turkish Milosevich,” i.e. someone who will lead Turkey into an ethno-religious civil war that will result in the dismemberment of the country. Ozdag says that Turkey must resist this; but given the relish with which he discusses this scenario, we suspect he harbors dark fantasies of being Turkey’s nationalist leader during a time of ethno-religious civil war.
Dr. Riza Ayhan is a professor of international trade law at Gazi University in Ankara and another candidate to replace Bahceli. In manner and demeanor he is the exact opposite of Ozdag: Ayhan is very smooth and self confident with a patrician (if not imperial) style. Ayhan told POLOFF that nationalism must adapt to the realities of globalization, but he was unable to elaborate on what he meant by this phrase. As with Ozdag, Ayhan recognizes many of the problems facing Turkey and Turkish nationalism, but he is unable to come up with more than vague policy recommendations.
Sevket Bulent Yahnici is considered by many Turkish observers to be another leading MHP intellectual. Yahnici is a former MHP MP from Ankara, but he is not a candidate to replace Bahceli. Yahnici is slovenly and disorganized. He met POLOFFs in his office/apartment which was littered with books and papers. He sat in a large chair next to a nargile (Turkish water pipe) with ashes on the floor. He started the conversation by trying clumsily to bait POLOFF with anti-Christian rhetoric. He then complained about rural migration to Ankara and lamented that he was one of the few Ankara-born MP to represent the province in the last parliament. (Note. He claimed that most of Ankara’s twenty-nine MPs were born elsewhere. End Note.)
The former president of the Tunceli Bar Association, Huseyin Aygun, told us in an October 25 conversation that the military had been carrying out intensive operations in the province over the past seven or eight months. The military portrayed these operations as a continuation of ongoing operations, but Aygun believed the operational tempo had increased in recent months over the previous period. ¶9. (C) Tunceli Governor Erkal warned us in an earlier October 25 conversation that Aygun was under investigation on charges of fraudulently filing a case, that he was trying to get rich by suing the Turkish state and appealing , case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), and that he was not to be trusted. Aygun told us these charges are false. He explained that an elderly client who was living in Thrace had sent Aygun a power of attorney document allowing him to pursue the client,s Tunceli-based case regarding forced removal from his village in the 1980,s or 1990,s. The client died before Aygun opened the case in the ECHR, but the surviving family members neglected to tell Aygun that his client had passed away. The government claimed that Aygun had submitted fraudulent documents to the court. Aygun then obtained power of attorney from the client,s heirs to continue to pursue the case, which he successfully completed. Aygun added that public prosecutors and other state authorities believe that no case should be brought before the ECHR; they believe doing so shows disloyalty to Turkey.
In an October 26 conversation, Elazig Human Rights Association (HRA) President Nafiz Koc told us that he had personally seen some mutilated male bodies, including the body of a male Iranian national, which had since been retrieved by his parents who came from Iran for the body. Koc believed that some of the bodies he had seen showed indications of torture before being shot at close range or otherwise killed. Indicating that mutilation took place after death, some of the bodies had their eyes gouged out and some had parts of their skulls removed then re-attached. Koc mentioned that he had also seen the body of a female Syrian national whose face had been burned. Another member of the Elazig HRA told us he had seen three bodies that appeared to have been dragged behind a vehicle.
Oran (Baskin), a longstanding Embassy contact not known for humility, caustically mocked the prosecutor and ridiculed the indictment. He detailed what he said were the many factual errors in the document, which he said the prosecutor could have avoided by simply checking the encyclopedia. Oran asserted that he deserves a “better indictment,” adding, “I believe that I deserve better than this prosecutor, who pretended to be an academician and tried to undermine a scientific thesis, but in each case made himself look worse.” He told the court he wanted to issue a counter indictment accusing the prosecutor of violating free expression, interfering with academic autonomy, and abusing the power of the judiciary.
Yusuf Alatas, attorney and president of the Human Rights Association, told us he believes the draft bill is part of a broader effort by the security establishment to regain powers curtailed under recent legal reforms. Alatas averred that the long list of crimes included in the bill would give prosecutors broad leeway to assert that common criminal suspects are linked to terrorism, and thereby to try their cases in the specialized heavy penal courts that handle crimes against the state. These courts operate under special rules that favor the prosecution.
According to our contacts, the DTP remains the main political force in the region. The gains the Justice and Development Party (AKP) made locally in the run-up to the 2004 local elections appear to be softening as tension and violence have increased. (Comment: Diyarbakir AK officials claim just the opposite and bank on a previously untapped Islamic female vote to buoy their future numbers. Even if these predictions hold true, much urban Kurdish support and most village support squarely is in DTP,s corner. End Comment.) Close Embassy contact and former MP Hasim Hasimi, who himself has a wide range of contacts both among Kurds on the left and among more conservative, pious circles, told us that although the DTP was primarily run by leftist intellectuals who have little contact with man-on-the-street Kurds, the party is still the only legitimate political force in the region for now. Hasimi argued that DTP,s enduring popularity is tied directly to its relationship to the PKK. As clashes with the PKK have increased, support for the DTP has also gone up. Yet, Hasimi asserted, there is a significant portion of Kurds in the Southeast (he couldn,t say what percentage) who are disenchanted with DTP politics–particularly more religious Kurds, who see the DTP as Marxist-Leninist and therefore atheist, but also among moderate Kurds who want to distance themselves from PKK violence. Tanrikulu told us that there is a perception among many Kurds that neither the DTP nor the AKP has been able to address their concerns and they want an alternative.
Over the past few months, Prime Minister Erdogan and the senior leadership within AKP have repeatedly interfered in local AKP conventions. The AKP leadership wants local party conventions to nominate only a single individual for that province’s party chairmanship. In some cases, the AKP leadership is openly intervening in the process in favor of a handpicked candidate. The AKP leadership has further intervened to postpone conventions in Isparta, Bingol, and several other provinces when the delegates refused to nominate only one candidate for the chairmanship. Erdogan summoned the nine strongest of twenty-three candidates in Agri province to Ankara and ordered them to nominate a single candidate for their convention. In Ankara province, Erdogan and other senior party leaders openly intervened to support incumbent chairman Nurettin Akman — an AKP moderate and longtime Embassy contact — against a more radical challenger from the poor district of Altindag.
AKP whip and Ankara MP Salih Kapusuz, a reliable and longtime Embassy contact, reflected both party and public opinion in a July 19 conversation with us. Currently, Kapusuz said, Israel is killing peace and chances for peace. It was wrong for Hizbullah to kidnap the two soldiers, but Israel,s attacks on infrastructure and civilians are the biggest blow to the peace process. The Turkish public, he stated, did not welcome President Bush,s remarks on the Israeli attacks because they appeared one-sided. Although the public generally has little sympathy for Russia, people were attracted to Putin,s words. The U.S. must, he said, exert more pressure for peace.
An Embassy contact at the Turkish General Staff, J-5 Plans officer Colonel Oktay Bingol, claimed to be unaware of any extraordinary deployments. He noted that counter-terrorist operations against the PKK in southeastern Turkey continue, as is routine in the spring and summer months.
Long-time Embassy contact and Turkey’s German Marshall Fund director Suat Kiniklioglu, who holds the number two slot in Cankiri (all three of which went to AKP in 2002).
Prominent Alevis, including close Embassy contact Reha Camuroglu and Ibrahim Yigit, will work to tap the previously incompatible Alevi vote; Camuroglu has a safe place on the Istanbul list; Yigit is just three slots behind. In strongly Alevi Tunceli province, Alevi Haydar Dogan tops AKP’s list.
In a recent conversation, Yusuf Alatas, a long-time Embassy contact, independent thinker and outgoing president of Turkey’s Human Rights Association (IHD), was pessimistic about the current political situation and enormously skeptical as to whether the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) is capable of playing a constructive post-election role. He also focused on what he sees as many Turkish Kurds’ main desire: respect for their ethnicity, culture and language. He is worried about the military, worried about ultra-nationalism, and worried about the state of democracy in Turkey. For a person who calls himself an optimist, he is currently downbeat, perhaps natural for someone who has worked incessantly to try to improve the situation and now sees his country as taking two steps back rather than one forward. This cable represents one free-thinking man’s view.
TUNCA TOSKAY. A former academic elected with MHP in 1999, Tunca Toskay served as State Minister in the DSP-MHP-ANAP coalition. A good Embassy contact before the MHP defeat in 2002, Toskay returned to his hometown, Antalya, and taught at Antalya University after AKP came to power in 2002.
OKTAY VURAL. Also personally loyal to Bahceli, former Transportation Minister (1999-2002) Oktay Vural is now a deputy party leader. He is known for transcending intra-party feuds and will likely provide his boss with balanced council. He is pro-West but very skeptical of the EU. He was a member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and chairman of the TGNA Industry, Trade, Energy, Natural Resources, Information and Technology Committee. Vural has been a useful Embassy contact. He is intelligent and speaks English, though he prefers not to.
Turkey’s parliament elected Koksal Toptan, a widely respected moderate, its new Speaker in condensed voting on August 9. Toptan, the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Zonguldak deputy, is a former True Path Party (DYP) member with 30 years in government. Viewed across the board as fair, intelligent and clean, Toptan was mentioned as a consensus presidential candidate last spring. Nationalist Action Party (MHP) candidate Tunca Toskay and independent deputy Kamer Genc also ran but AKP’s 341 seats, bolstered by support from CHP and others, ensured an easy victory for Toptan. A well-respected Embassy contact, Toptan will bring a balanced, experienced approach to managing Turkey’s fractious new parliament. The every-man’s choice of Toptan as Speaker may be AKP’s attempt to smooth the way for FM Gul’s more contentious presidential candidacy. Debate continues on whether PM Erdogan will name his cabinet or his presidential candidate next.
Initial open insubordination by the military toward the new president had gradually been supplanted by a working relationship that Gul nurtured with strong language on national security issues. Gul’s apparent accommodation with the Turkish General Staff (TGS) was reflected in his recent invitation to Iraqi President Talabani, at which he had hinted for several months. In January, TGS chief Buyukanit restated his view that there was no benefit to meeting with Talabani, but in contrast to a similar statement made in February 2007, indicated that the TGS could not impose its view on other institutions of the state. Two days after Gul chaired his third National Security Council meeting (February 20), which the press portrayed as having been preoccupied by the headscarf controversy, the military launched a limited land operation (CBO) against the PKK into Northern Iraq while Talabani received his invitation to Ankara — he visited March 7, a week after the CBO wrapped up. Long-time Embassy contact Hasim Hasimi, who met with Gul for two hours on March 9, says Gul will reciprocate the visit sometime in the next two months.
Turkish Land Forces Commander General Ilker Basbug (pronounced BAHSH-boo) was named as Turkey’s next CHOD at the Turkey’s Supreme Military Council (YAS) that concluded on August 4 (full YAS results reported septel). Despite some shifts in civil-military relations, the CHOD is still one of Turkey’s top policymakers. A regular embassy contact since 2003 when he served as the Deputy CHOD, Basbug is favorably disposed to the U.S. In his capacity as DCHOD, Basbug was instrumental in overcoming strained bilateral mil-to-mil relations in the aftermath of the March 1, 2003 vote and the July 4, 2003 “hooding incident.” The change of leadership at TGS is unlikely to lead to any significant policy shifts at TGS. Basbug appears to understand the struggle against the PKK cannot be won by military means alone and has expressed support for the government’s initiative to begin Kurdish language broadcasts on state-run stations. While Basbug is a committed secularist, media reporting suggests he is philosophically opposed to military intervention in politics, a view reportedly shaped by the events during and following the 1960 coup, when he was still a cadet in the military academy. Basbug’s “secret” meeting with a Constitutional Court judge days before the filing of the closure case against the AKP (ref a) suggests he might have had prior knowledge of the case and provided at least tacit approval of it. Having someone with Basbug’s experience and understanding of the U.S. and NATO as the CHOD should be beneficial for overall bilateral relations.