Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07ISTANBUL70
2007-01-31 07:24:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Consulate Istanbul
Cable title:  

SAKARYA PROVINCIAL GOVERNOR: KIRKUK REFERENDUM

Tags:  PGOV PREL TU IZ IR 
pdf how-to read a cable
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DE RUEHIT #0070/01 0310724
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 310724Z JAN 07
FM AMCONSUL ISTANBUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6562
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ISTANBUL 000070 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/SE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/29/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL TU IZ IR
SUBJECT: SAKARYA PROVINCIAL GOVERNOR: KIRKUK REFERENDUM
WOULD INCREASE IRANIAN INFLUENCE IN TURKEY

REF: A. ISTANBUL 015

B. ANKARA 137

C. ANKARA 136

D. ANKARA 133

E. ANKARA 132

F. ANKARA 115

Classified By: Consul General Deborah K. Jones for reasons 1.4 (b) and
(d).

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ISTANBUL 000070

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/SE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/29/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL TU IZ IR
SUBJECT: SAKARYA PROVINCIAL GOVERNOR: KIRKUK REFERENDUM
WOULD INCREASE IRANIAN INFLUENCE IN TURKEY

REF: A. ISTANBUL 015

B. ANKARA 137

C. ANKARA 136

D. ANKARA 133

E. ANKARA 132

F. ANKARA 115

Classified By: Consul General Deborah K. Jones for reasons 1.4 (b) and
(d).


1. (C) Summary. We met Sakarya Governor Nuri Okutan on a
visit to the province's major city, Adapazari, on January 18.
What we had anticipated as a 30-minute courtesy call turned
into a one-and-a-half hour lecture on Iran's historical
influence in Anatolia, Turkish-Iranian relations and current
policy concerns respecting Turkey, Kurds and Iran. According
to Okutan, Kirkuk is a stumbling block; the U.S. should
support and coordinate closer dialogue and cooperation
between the Iraqi Kurds and the GOT. Otherwise, if the U.S.
mishandles Iran as it did its 2003 intervention in Iraq and
its "selfish" approach to Turkey that March regarding the
northern option, Turks risked turning their sympathies toward
Iran. This could lead to "regime change" in Turkey -- not to
an Islamic Republic, but to a secular government sympathetic
to Iran. This presentation by an Interior Ministry
bureaucrat appears to be part of broader GOT to have the U.S.
squelch the referendum later this year in Kirkuk. End
summary.


2. (C) We met Sakarya Governor Nuri Okutan alone in his
Adapazari office. The anticipated courtesy call turned into
a one-sided discourse on unrest in the Middle East, complete
with a history lesson. Okutan dated Iran's influence in
Anatolia from the 15th century. Iranian influence through
the Bektasi sect, popular in Anatolia's Alevi community,
continues to the present, according to Okutan (REF A). The
relocation of Kurds "from the south" into border regions of
the Ottoman Empire with Iran was designed to buffer Turks
from Persian influence. Since the 15th century, relations
between Turkey and Iran have been delicately balanced by a
simultaneous use of power and diplomacy.


3. (C) Okutan claimed Kurds were "natural" allies of Turkey.
This alliance should be preserved in the current situation
with Turks and Kurds working together cooperatively to oppose
Iranian expansion -- seen by Ankara as a real threat to
Turkey. Taking a shot at British statecraft after World War
I, and mentioning Israel as only an additional "irritant,"
Okutan said Britain laid the foundation for the chaos in
today's Middle East and warned the U.S. should not follow in
Britain's steps. The only real obstacle to cooperation
between the GOT and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) is,
he stressed, the planned referendum later this year in
Kirkuk. He said the "question has to be resolved in a
peaceful manner to protect the rights of all elements in
Iraq." While most seem to be focusing on the PKK, the
terrorist organization was really not as important an issue
as some others. Speaking as a former Governor of Siirt
Province, he said, "I can tell you that we know that your
government has a dialogue with the PKK, but this is in a way
understandable -- it's not a big deal." He said the U.S.
should support and coordinate a closer dialogue and
cooperation between the KRG and Turkey that would result in
important regional benefits.


4. (C) Okutan then criticized the manner of the American
request to launch a northern front attack against Iraq in
2003 through Turkey, which he termed "selfish and unkind."
In his view, the same selfishness and impatience is seen in
the overall U.S. approach to Iraq. If a similar path were
taken with respect to Iran, the U.S. -- and Turkey -- run a
great risk of Anatolians becoming more sympathetic to Iran.
Even if Turkey were to support the United States against Iran
in this situation, it was possible Turks could turn against
their own government; he raised the specter of regime change
in Turkey. A new government would not, according to Okutan,
be Islamist, but secular and pro-Iranian. Rather than let
events slide into this pit, Turks and Kurds could come
together under the coordination of the U.S. Given the
threat, the U.S. should take Turkey's concerns seriously.


5. (C) Comment. Others we met in Adapazari that day asked
if our visit was timed to some important announcement as it
unintentionally coincided with U/S Burns' meetings that same
day in Ankara. The message delivered by Governor Okutan
complements official GOT views delivered to U/S Burns and NEA
PDAS Jeffrey in Ankara (REFS B-F). While Okutan's
historiography and description of Turkey's politics was at
points creative, the veteran Interior Ministry bureaucrat
advanced a host of evidence to warn that the Kirkuk

ISTANBUL 00000070 002 OF 002


referendum could lead to a government in Ankara more
sympathetic to Iran. End comment.
JONES