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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08ANKARA1606 2008-09-05 15:15:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Ankara
Cable title:  

TURKEY: MILITARY CHIEF VISITS LARGEST KURDISH CITY

Tags:   PREL PGOV MARR TU 
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DE RUEHAK #1606 2491515
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P 051515Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7380
INFO RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD PRIORITY 1322
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JCS WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L ANKARA 001606 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/SE, NEA/I

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/05/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: MILITARY CHIEF VISITS LARGEST KURDISH CITY

REF: ANKARA 1057

Classified By: DCM Douglas Silliman, Reasons 1.4 (b,d)



1. (U) GEN Ilker Basbug, in his first domestic trip as the
new chief of the Turkish General Staff (TGS), traveled to 2nd
Army Headquarters (primary responsibility of which is to
prosecute the war against the PKK) in Malatya, and
Diyarbakir, Turkey's largest Kurdish city. During his visit
to 2nd Army Headquarters, Basbug said the 2nd Army is
critical, especially because of its role in confronting
separatist terrorism and in conducting internal security
operations.



2. (U) In Diyarbakir, Basbug told reporters, "We love
Diyarbakir and all people of Diyarbakir. This is the message
we want to convey." Basbug met for an hour and a half with
19 local business representatives and asked for their
recommendations on how to confront the PKK terrorist threat.
Basbug was accompanied by the Land, Naval, Air Force, and
Gendarme Commanders, the commanders of the 2nd Army and the
7th Corps, as well as Diyarbakir Governor Avni Mutlu. Basbug
told the press that he held the meeting to emphasize the
importance he attaches to civil society in the struggle
against terrorism, and to ask for its support. Diyarbakir
Chamber of Trade and Industry head Mehmet Kaya, who attended
the meeting, said this is the first time a TGS chief has met
with civil society representatives in Diyarbakir. According
to Kaya, Basbug stressed at the meeting that the fight
against terrorism is not just a military task, and that
extensive "social mobilization" was needed in order to
succeed.



3. (C) Diyarbakir-based NGO contacts who did not attend the
meeting were skeptical of Basbug's visit and viewed it as a
public relations effort. Nurcan Baysal (protect), head of a
NGO receiving USG funding, said, "These visits have become a
tradition recently." She said Turkish civilian or military
authorities visit the southeast and meet with business
leaders who do not represent the majority of the population.
Basbug, she claimed, was asking business organizations how to
prevent young people from joining the PKK, which shows that
he sees the challenge as primarily an economic issue. "In
this sense, what he said is not important; he is just echoing
his predecessors." Lezgin Yalcin (protect), the head of an
umbrella NGO organization working to coordinate the efforts
of regional NGOs, agreed: "There is nothing new in what
Basbug said. We expect both the GOT and the Turkish military
to take concrete action instead of giving remarks."



4. (C) Comment: By going to the South East on his first trip
as TGS chief, Basbug underscored that his top priority
continues to be defeating the PKK. As Land Force Commander,
Basbug expressed his support in June for starting Kurdish
language broadcasts on a state-owned television channel
(reftel). His willingness to seek out the views of business
representatives in Diyarbakir is a hopeful indication that
Basbug may support other non-military measures designed to
drain support away from the PKK. Coordination with civilian
authorities and implementation of policies that respond to
Kurdish concerns will remain a challenge.

Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at
http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/Portal:Turk ey

WILSON