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WikiLeaks: 2005-07-11: 05ANKARA4032: Southeast Turkey Update: Anti-PKK Operations and Political Trends

Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 07:02 PM CT


Viewing cable 05ANKARA4032, SOUTHEAST TURKEY UPDATE: ANTI-PKK OPERATIONS AND

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05ANKARA4032 2005-07-11 14:13 2011-08-30 01:44 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 SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 004032 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT. FOR EUR/SE 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/11/2015 
TAGS: PGOV PTER TU PKK
SUBJECT: SOUTHEAST TURKEY UPDATE:  ANTI-PKK OPERATIONS AND 
POLITICAL TRENDS 
 
 
Classified By: POL Counselor John W. Kunstadter
for reasons 1.4 (b) & (d). 
 
THIS IS A JOINT AMEMBASSY ANKARA/AMCONSUL ADANA CABLE. 
 
1.(C)  Summary:  During AMCON Adana's recent visit to several 
southeast Turkish provinces, observations of military 
activity and discussions with contacts confirm a large 
ongoing TGS counterterrorism offensive in both the vicinity 
of north Diyarbakir province and the mountainous areas of 
eastern Sirnak and western Hakkari province.  Contacts report 
heavy PKK losses and relatively light Turkish military 
losses.  Turkish National Police (TNP) and Interior ministry 
officials report little PKK activity in Diyarbakir or other 
regional small cities and towns where they have jurisdiction. 
 The Diyarbakir security director charged that PKK had tried 
to abuse TNP sensitivity toward funeral ceremonies to use 
them to promote pro-PKK propaganda, adding that he was 
determined that PKK not be allowed a new propaganda channel 
in otherwise relatively calm SE urban areas.  Regional civil 
society contacts reported relative calm in urban areas in 
contrast to a very mixed situation in rural areas, especially 
in Sirnak, Hakkari, Diyarbakir, Bingol and Tunceli provinces. 
 These contacts report widespread concern throughout the 
southeast region that the overall regional security situation 
is deteriorating and the populace's anxiety has risen 
noticeably.  End Summary. 
 
2.(C)  During AMCON Adana's 6/29-7/1 visit to Diyarbakir, 
Batman, Mardin and Sirnak  provinces in southeast Turkey, 
observations of military activity and discussions with 
contacts confirm a large ongoing TGS counterterrorism 
offensive in both the vicinity of north Diyarbakir province 
and the mountainous areas of eastern Sirnak and western 
Hakkari province.  AMCON Adana team members observed 4 UH-60 
and 2 UH-1 helicopters at Diyarbakir's main Army airfield, an 
increase from lift assets observed there in earlier June 2005 
and heard night helicopter lift operations from Diyarbakir on 
the evening of 6/29 and 6/30.  Both the Diyarbakir Security 
Director and a Sirnak sub-governor said that there had been 
heavy Turkish military operations in mountainous rural areas 
in SE Turkey since "early Spring" and independently reported 
heavy PKK losses and relatively light Turkish military 
losses.  The Sirnak sub-governor said that up to six PKK had 
been killed in clashes in western Sirnak in the last week 
with no Jandarma casualties. (Note:  this was generally 
confirmed by Syriac community contacts with strong local 
links in this region.  End Note.)  Asked whether the PKK had 
crossed the Iraqi  border to stage attacks or come from local 
levies, he said that it was hard to tell and that both 
scenarios were possible.  He said that no PKK had been 
captured alive in Sirnak this year to his knowledge.  He also 
said that the PKK killed so far had included both men and 
women and ranged in age from 20 to 45. 
 
3.(C)  Both the Sirnak sub-governor and UNHCR contacts in 
Silopi (strictly protect) suggested that travel in western 
Sirnak province, in the vicinity of Uludere and Beytussebap, 
was not advisable "on security grounds." Syriac community 
contacts in Mardin told AMCON Adana PO that Syrian diaspora 
vistors from the U.S. and western Europe had been denied 
travel access to the small Syriac villages in the vicinity of 
Uludere on 6/28. 
 
4.(C)  By contrast to heavy TGS operations,  Turkish National 
Police (TNP) and Interior ministry officials report little 
PKK activity in Diyarbakir or other regional small cities and 
towns where they have jurisdiction.  The Diyarbakir security 
director on 6/29 told AMCON Adana PO that, aside from bombing 
incident in Diyarbakir, the actual urban area of Diyarbakir, 
which is TNP jurisdiction, had been calm.  Mentioning recent 
funerary service-related "anti-PKK" violence in Van and 
Diyarbakir , he charged that PKK had tried to abuse TNP 
sensitivity toward funeral ceremonies to use them to promote 
pro-PKK propaganda, adding that he was determined that PKK 
not be allowed a new propaganda channel in otherwise 
relatively calm southeast urban areas.  He offered his 
account of the Diyarbakir incident in which TNP had monitored 
the funeral of the reported PKK member and, he said, only 
intervened after the family had left, when a small number of 
attendees started shouting pro-PKK slogans and criticism of 
Abdullah Ocalan's solitary imprisonment on Imrali island.  In 
contrast, he said that, to his admittedly second-hand 
knowledge, the Jandarma in the Van incident had been "less 
adept,"  intervening in a broader fashion, interrupting part 
of the funeral process and using force earlier than TNP would 
be inclined.  He said that Jandarma forces typically involved 
in these "security operations" have less training and less 
direct management than their TNP counterparts.  (Comment: 
Southeast Turkish human rights activists made similar 
observations to PO.  End Comment.) 
5.(C)  Regional civil society contacts In Diyarbakir and 
Batman reported relative calm in urban areas in contrast to a 
very mixed situation in rural areas, especially in Sirnak, 
Hakkari, Diyarbakir, Bingol and Tunceli provinces.  One civil 
society contact recounted his mid-June almost two-week family 
trip to Bingol, Van, Mus, Bitlis and Agri provinces in which 
he had encountered "little different (military presence) from 
the ordinary this time of year," although he had heard from 
other travelers of heavy clashes further northwest in 
Tunceli.  However, these contacts report widespread concern 
throughout the southeast region that the overall regional 
security situation is deteriorating and the populace's 
anxiety has risen noticeably. 
 
6.(C)  "No one wants to go back to the bad old days," one 
contact said," but many of us feel like the countryside is 
starting to head that way.  We almost feel like we cannot do 
anything to stop it and that is frustrating a lot of people." 
 "We just want to keep the calm of the last few years, to 
build some prosperity and for the government to keep up the 
democratic reform and give the Kurdish people some respect as 
a people," said a longtime Batman attorney contact and former 
IV program attendee.  He lamented that some reforms, like 
private Kurdish language schools, already were dying on the 
vine as they closed one by one based on low demand and 
financial insolvency.  He went on to criticize the closure of 
Egitim-Sen and to profess his disappointment that the GoT 
would not even discuss teaching some courses in non-Turkish 
in public schools.  He also said that many regional Kurds 
were disappointed that the GoT and the Turkish military had 
not embraced the recent call for a ceasefire and regional 
reform launched by 140 Turkish intellectuals.  "We did not 
expect the government to immediately change because of this 
call, but the TGS attacked it and the government ignored it. 
How can we believe that they are interested in the Kurdish 
issue with such a reaction?,"  he asked rhetorically. 
 
7.(C)  In a 6/29 meeting with the AMCON Adana PO, acting 
Diyarbakir mayor Yusuf Akgun reflected similar sentiments as 
reported in para. 6 regarding overall popular regional 
sentiment in the face of increasing TGS clashes with the PKK. 
 He also said that, "since about six months agao or roughly 
after the EU December 2004 decision, the AK party government 
stopped talking to DEHAP and other Kurdish leaders about 
reform or political initiatives concerning the Kurdish 
question.  There is no action from the GoT on the Kurdish 
issue now, other than growing fear of, and suspicion toward, 
the Democratic Society Movement (DSM). He noted that DEHAP 
had received clear indications that press reports of Interior 
Ministry instructions to TNP to monitor and report on DSM 
activities is true."  "(TNP) are filming meetings, asking 
people about the DSM and watching it closely.  They fear it 
because it will come from the grassroots and not have elites 
that the government can easily manipulate," Akgun said. 
(Comment: Other Kurdish contacts generally confirm growing 
TNP interest in DSM, but profess less confidence in the 
political movement's eventual strength or likely success. End 
Comment.)  AMCON Adana PO cautioned Akgun that the Diyarbakir 
mayor's office (Note: Mayor Osman Baydemir was traveling to a 
meeting in Istanbul on 6/29.  End Note.) should distance 
itself from the PKK and embrace calls for a political 
approach to the region's agenda.  Akgun, in response, offered 
a mixed defense of the Diyarbakir mayor's relative posturing 
based on "the need for a Kurdish armed struggle in the face 
of GoT aggression, an acceptance of the " necessity for a 
peaceful resolution of regional problems," and a realpolitik 
observation that" it was politically unrealistic for a 
prominent DEHAP or Kurdish leaders to distance himself too 
far from the PKK, which he called a 10,000-person strong 
political reality in southeast Turkish politics."  Another 
mayoral aide put it to the PO more succinctly, saying that 
"Baydemir knows that the PK violence is not the way out of 
the region's problems and wants a peaceful resolution, but 
there is not one being offered by the Turkish State.  In the 
meantime, Baydemir wants to have a political future in the 
region in wider electoral situations and the PKK is still 
very popular in the countryside and some towns.  Distancing 
himself from the PKK too much would be political suicide and 
he is a young man," the contact said. 
 
8.(C)  Comment:  TGS operations this year are heavier 
compared with Summer 2004.  In both periods, however, the 
basic reality is that the AKP government has no discernible 
policy and has abdicated action to the TGS.  Both the TNP 
(answerable to the government) and the TGS appear to be 
defining most of those in southeast Turkey who want to talk 
about regional political issues as suspected terrorists or 
terrorist sympathizers and using either force against them or 
marshalling police efforts to monitor them.   This approach 
risks undermining already shallow public faith in the GoT's 
commitment to meaningful long-term democratic reform and 
civil society growth in southeast Turkey and -- in the 
southeast, but not elsewhere -- decreases the perceived (and 
already limited) legitimacy of TGS counterterrorism 
operations against the actual PKK ( as well as DHKP-C and 
MLKP) cadres which it encounters in the region.  Unchecked by 
new reform momentum, the complete absence of political 
dialogue in the last six months further risks a regional 
drifting backwards toward more open confrontation.  The 
reason for this has less to do with any Iraqi/coalition 
counterterrorism offensive against the PKK, as GoT and TGS 
contacts largely suggest, than it has to do with the complete 
lack of a political engagement policy on the part of the AKP 
government. 
 
9.(C)  Comment, cont'd: When you add EU Commission Chief 
Barosso talking about Turkish accession in terms perceived in 
southeast Turkey as a softening EU commitment and TGS DCHOD 
Basbug's recent public rushing to squash any discussion of 
southeast political issues as something other than a topic 
for army planners to address, the mood in southeast Turkey 
among the fledgling civil society is fairly downbeat.  End 
Comment. 
 
 
MCELDOWNEY


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