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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07ANKARA1651 2007-06-27 13:14:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Ankara
Cable title:  

PKK VIOLENCE -- AND PRESSURE FOR CROSS-BORDER

Tags:   PTER PGOV PREL TU IZ 
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1. (C) Summary: Ongoing PKK violence has made terrorism a top
issue in campaigning for July 22 parliamentary elections. PM
Erdogan faces pressure from nearly all sides to authorize a
cross-border operation into northern Iraq -- and that
pressure will inevitably increase in the days ahead. End
summary.



2. (C) PKK violence continues unabated in southeast Turkey,
and intense military counterinsurgency operations there
continue. As of June 26, 62 Turkish security forces have
been killed so far in 2007, with 37 in May and June alone.
The PKK is using insurgent techniques seen in Iraq, such as
detonating IEDs as convoys pass. On June 23, PKK terrorists
exploded a hijacked oil tanker near a Jandarma station in
Tunceli province. There were no security forces casualties,
but the PKK terrorist and the truck's owner were killed.
Turkish officials have for some time expressed concern that
the PKK -- from the comfort of its safe-haven in northern
Iraq -- is learning how to carry out even deadlier attacks.



3. (C) PM Erdogan's government continues to face pressure
from the military, opposition, press, and public to carry out
a cross-border operation (CBO) against PKK camps in northern
Iraq. Erdogan appears to be trying to create as little
public space as possible between himself and the military,
huddling with top commanders on June 12 (the "security
summit"), June 20 (National Security Council meeting), and
June 21. He has taken a hard line on Masoud Barzani (calling
him a "tribal leader" and ruling out any possibility he would
meet him) and praised the military. In June 24 remarks, he
emphasized "our priority is to meet in a timely way all the
needs of the Turkish armed forces."



4. (C) For its part, the military is anxious not to lose the
upper hand in the debate. While leading a June 27 media tour
of a commando training base in Isparta (to fend off recent
press allegations that military casualties at the hands of
the PKK are due to poor training), CHOD GEN Buyukanit
repeated his April 12 assertion that a CBO would be
militarily useful. He also repeated that the military was
awaiting guidance from the GOT, including what the desired
"political goal" of a CBO would be.



5. (C) In the meantime, opposition politicians -- especially
Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal and
National Action Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahceli -- have
been publicly hammering Erdogan at every opportunity. Baykal
in particular has ridiculed the PM for refusing to authorize
a CBO, and insinuated that Erdogan has no interest in
defending the country against terrorism. When Erdogan
questioned the wisdom of attacking PKK camps in Iraq instead
of dealing with the problem in Turkey, Baykal snidely
suggested that Erdogan was taking the same approach to the
PKK problem as Barzani, a particularly grave insult.



6. (C) Public concern about terrorism remains high (according
not only to polls but even to isolated villagers in central
Anatolia (septel)), though the public may also be distracted
by summer doldrums (including record heat) and other
developments in electoral politics. A call by the military
to demonstrate popular determination against terrorism
prompted anti-PKK rallies across Turkey over the past
weekend. However, turnout was surprisingly low, with only a
hundred or so turning out in Istanbul (perhaps due to
extremely high temperatures).



7. (C) As the parties limp toward July 22 elections, we
expect the pressure on Erdogan to mount. The PM faces a
harsh political calculus with likely negative consequences
from both action and inaction. He cannot maintain his
government's Iraq policy -- including seeking to solve the
PKK problem through political means -- if he is not

ANKARA 00001651 002 OF 002


re-elected. Polls here (albeit often unreliable) repeatedly
suggest that both CHP and MHP will get into parliament -- a
scenario that leaves Erdogan far less room to maneuver.

Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/ankara/

WILSON