|02ANKARA9129||2002-12-26 15:07:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Ankara|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L ANKARA 009129
1. (U) On December 25, the Turkish Parliament approved by a
show of hands the Prime Ministry's request to extend the
mandate of Operation Northern Watch for six more months as of
December 31, 2002.
2. (U) FM Yakis spoke on behalf of the GOT, explaining that
the flights conducted by ONW were within the framework of
principles and rules set by Turkey and that Turkey would
closely follow the activities of the operation. He noted
that ONW was necessary because the "conditions that would
eliminate the threat in the region have not been realized."
Furthermore, ONW prevented influxes of refugees from Iraq.
Yakis argued that the continuation of ONW was in Turkey's
national interest because tension and uncertainty continue in
northern Iraq. He noted that all UN members are committed to
the territorial integrity of Iraq, but if Iraq is found to
possess WMD or misinforms the international community about
its weapons, it would cause the US to intervene militarily.
Yakis added that such an operation should be based on
international law. Repeating Turkey's redlines on Iraq, he
said the presence of PKK-KADEK in northern Iraq had been a
problem for Turkey, and ONW has assisted Turkey in its fight
against terrorism. Yakis reiterated Turkey's desire for
Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, and Assyrians to live in freedom and
security in Iraq, emphasizing that the Turkmen should have
equal status with other ethnic groups, and traditional
Turkmen regions should be protected.
3. (U) MP Necati Cetinkaya, a former State of Emergency
Regional Governor, spoke on behalf of the ruling AK Party.
He outlined the history of ONW since 1991, briefing on its
predecessor "Operation Provide Comfort" and noting that ONW
is a limited force with 63 aircraft and helicopters.
Cetinkaya criticized NATO Allies for not supporting Turkey
when 500,000 refugees crossed into Turkey in 1991. Now there
was the possibility of another operation against Iraq, and he
urged Baghdad to comply with the UN resolutions. He stressed
that the extension of ONW would be useful in facilitating the
government's goal of establishing authority in northern Iraq.
4. (U) Sukru Elekdag, a former ambassador to Washington,
spoke on behalf of the opposition CHP. He criticized the
late President Ozal for allowing 500,000 refugees, some of
whom were armed PKK terrorists, into Turkey in 1991. He
noted that his party had always opposed "Operation Provide
Comfort" and "Operation Northern Watch" but said "in a period
during which an operation against Iraq is being discussed,
with the purpose of having freedom of movement in the region,
it would be reasonable to extend the mandate of ONW."
5. (C) Comment: The extension of ONW's mandate should have
been, and was, relatively simple for the AK Party to get
approved, given that it holds almost two-thirds of the seats
in parliament. As it happened, even the opposition CHP did
not use the opportunity to take a stand opposed to that of
the GOT at a time when public anxiety about US intentions in
Iraq persists. This support for ONW may reflect a continuing
concern about Iraqi refugees flooding into Turkey. The
Parliament also knows that this extension is only a
placeholder -- until they debate the larger issue of Turkish
support for a possible US-led operation against Iraq. (Note:
Embassy notes that the actual number of US and UK aircraft
and helicopters currently allocated to ONW is 53, vice 63 as
claimed by Cetinkaya.)