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Viewing cable 05ANKARA7215, NO SPLITS IN TURKEY'S GOVERNING AKP PARLIAMENTARY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05ANKARA7215 2005-12-08 15:03 2010-11-28 18:06 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 007215 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/07/2015 
TAGS: ECON PGOV PINR TU POLITICAL PARTIES
SUBJECT: NO SPLITS IN TURKEY'S GOVERNING AKP PARLIAMENTARY 
GROUP -- FOR NOW 
 
REF: A. ANKARA 6543 
     B. ANKARA 6251 
     C. ANKARA 6337 
 
Classified By: PolCouns Janice G. Weiner, E.O. 12958, reasons 
1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C) Summary:  Despite media reports and opposition rumors 
of splits among PM Erdogan's Justice and Development Party's 
(AKP) 357 parliamentarians, the group remains intact )- for 
now.  Among AKP MPs, there are distinctive pious, pragmatic 
and nationalist currents, with crosscutting personal 
loyalties.  Recent events in Turkey's heavily-Kurdish 
southeast have heightened tensions between AKP,s 
Kurdish-origin MPs and the rest of the parliamentary group. 
While AKP MPs, numbers may slowly erode over the next year 
(ref A), a major split is unlikely as long as AKP -- and in 
particular PM Erdogan -- retain power and popularity.  End 
Summary. 
 
Despite Wishful Thinking, AKP Not Crumbling Yet 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
2.  (C) Over the past year, the Turkish press has repeatedly 
predicted open splits in the 357-member AKP parliamentary 
group.  While AKP has ideological and personality-based fault 
lines, there appears to be little chance of a major split 
while AKP remains Turkey,s number one party and Erdogan the 
country,s most popular politician.  Even Ankara AKP MP 
Ersonmez Yarbay, a maverick frequently openly critical of his 
own party, downplayed to us the rumors of party splits, 
saying they have been fueled by the opposition to force early 
elections. 
 
AKP,s Ideological Currents 
-------------------------- 
 
3.  (C) AKP,s parliamentary group is composed of politicians 
with widely differing viewpoints.  There are three main 
ideological currents:  pious, nationalist and pragmatic. 
Most AKP MPs do not fall neatly into any one category, and 
personal loyalties crosscut ideology, mostly among pious MPs. 
 
Pious 
----- 
 
4.  (C) Almost all AKP MPs are religiously observant to some 
degree; for example, the vast majority fast during Ramadan. 
However, there is a large and distinctively more pious group 
of MPs, comprising former members of the banned Islamist 
Virtue (Fazilet) Party, former members of the National View 
Islamist youth group, and members of a wide range of 
(officially banned) Muslim brotherhoods.  Most of AKP,s top 
leaders fall into this group:  PM Erdogan, DPM/FM Abdullah 
Gul, parliament Speaker Arinc, Vice Speaker Alptekin (former 
PM and Islamic Saadet Party head Erbakan's right-hand man) 
and all five of AKP,s parliamentary whips.  Pious MPs 
generally represent the central Anatolian heartland, speak no 
English, and have traveled little. 
 
5. (C) While most Turkish Islamists oppose the EU, AKP,s 
Islamist MPs toe the AKP line and support it, albeit less 
enthusiastically since October 3.  Typical of Turkish 
Islamists, they dislike Turkey,s military and have no ties 
to it other than their required military service.  Attitudes 
about the U.S. vary widely, from friendly to suspicious, but 
most favor better ties with the Muslim world.  Although the 
GOT, under Erdogan,s leadership, has taken a politically 
courageous public stand favoring privatization and foreign 
investment, many pious MPs oppose both. 
 
6.  (C) AKP,s pious MPs are widely rumored to be deeply 
unhappy about PM Erdogan,s inability to ease restrictions on 
the wearing of headscarves and on religious schools. 
However, since AKP came to power in November 2002, no AKP MP 
has resigned and gone over to the Happiness (Saadet) Party, 
on AKP's Islamist flank. 
 
Nationalists 
------------ 
 
7.  (C) It is hard to find a Turk who is not nationalistic. 
Yet a significant number of AKP MPs (as many as 50, according 
to one former MP), many of them former members of the 
ultra-nationalist National Action Party (MHP) or center-right 
True Path Party (DYP), are strong nationalists, even by 
Turkish standards.  This group includes Justice Minister and 
party spokesman Cemil Cicek, Deputy PM Abdullatif Sener, 
State Minister Kursad Tuzmen, and parliament Vice Speaker 
Sadik Yakut. 
 
8.  (C) Among AKP MPs, nationalists take the hardest line 
against &concessions8 to the EU and on Cyprus.  MFA 
officials have told us on several occasions that the GOT is 
delaying bringing the Ankara Agreement extension protocol to 
parliament for ratification out of concern for the reaction 
of nationalist AKP MPs (ref B).  Nationalist AKP MPs are 
deeply suspicious about the motives of Turkey,s ethnic Kurds 
and were vocal critics of PM Erdogan,s August declaration in 
Diyarbakir that Turkey has a &Kurdish problem.8  Like their 
pious colleagues, nationalists, attitudes about the U.S. 
vary widely, from friendly to suspicious.  However, even 
pro-U.S. nationalists become extremely prickly at any 
perceived U.S. slight to Turkish national honor. 
 
Pragmatists 
----------- 
 
9.  (C) AKP,s pragmatic MPs generally speak English, are 
foreign-educated, and tend to be better-traveled than their 
colleagues.  They often come from large cosmopolitan areas, 
particularly Ankara or Istanbul; some were previously members 
of the center-right Motherland Party (ANAP).  Three of AKP,s 
five vice chairs, who frequently deal with foreigners, are 
from the pragmatic wing:  Bulent Gedikli, Reha Denemec and 
Saban Disli.  All are U.S-educated and represent either 
Istanbul or Ankara.  The same is true for pragmatic Erdogan 
translator and foreign policy advisor Egemen Bagis, who 
accompanies the PM on his trips to Europe and the U.S. 
 
10.  (C) Although the pragmatic MPs are often AKP,s most 
visible face to foreigners, they have less influence inside 
AKP than their pious and nationalist colleagues.  In early 
2005, there were signs of frustration among AKP,s moderates, 
when a spate of AKP MP resignations went mostly to ANAP. 
Culture Minister Mumcu, AKP,s highest-profile resignation 
who went on become ANAP,s Chairman, said publicly he had 
only felt like a &guest8 in AKP (ref C). 
 
11.  (C) Erdogan can ill afford to lose the pragmatists.  In 
addition to giving AKP a reasonable, big-tent image that 
plays well in the U.S. and Europe, AKP,s pragmatists are 
links to Istanbul and Ankara elites.  These MPs are AKP,s 
friendliest face toward the U.S. (Bagis heads parliament,s 
Turkey/U.S Friendship Committee), and most receptive to 
liberal political and open market economic reforms needed for 
EU accession. 
 
Crosscutting Personal Loyalties 
------------------------------- 
 
12.  (C) AKP MPS are as divided by personality as by 
politics, but personality-based fault lines crosscut 
ideological ones.  PM Erdogan is the glue that holds AKP 
together; a chunk of AKP MPs were part of Erdogan,s team 
when he was Istanbul mayor and have followed him onto the 
national stage.  They include Finance Minister Unakitan, 
Transportation Minister Yildirim, State Minister Cubukcu, AKP 
whip Irfan Gunduz, and Erdogan speechwriter Huseyin Besli. 
All are personally pious or, in Cubukcu,s case, at least 
have consistently supported positions of the party,s pious 
wing.  Cubukcu, a female, was one of the few MPs who publicly 
supported Erdogan,s 2004 proposal to re-criminalize adultery. 
 
13.  (C) Erdogan has consistently protected all three 
"Istanbul" Ministers despite repeated calls for their 
resignation.  Many other AKP MPs profess staunch loyalty to 
&Tayyip Bey8 and seek to stay close to him.  One contact 
suggests that Erdogan's strategy is to keep subordinates 
competing with each other for his attention so they are too 
busy to be a threat to him. 
 
14.  (C) DPM/FM Gul remains Erdogan,s chief political rival 
within AKP.  Their differences are not ideological ) Gul and 
Erdogan are both pious ) but spring from Gul,s ambitions 
for greater power.  Gul, who represents the parliamentary 
faction of the banned Virtue Party, has a small, quiet 
following among AK MPs that includes whip Salih Kapusuz (from 
Gul,s home town of Kayseri), former AKP public relations 
vice chair Murat Mercan (sacked for incompetence by Erdogan 
earlier this year) and Taner Yildiz (also from Kayseri). 
 
15.  (C) Parliament Speaker Arinc is AKP,s third leading 
personality and potential future rival to Erdogan.  However, 
Arinc is well behind Gul in influence and, according to our 
contacts, currently without a significant group of MP 
loyalists. 
 
AKP's Kurdish MPs 
----------------- 
 
16.  (C) About 60 AKP MPs, mostly from Turkey,s southeast, 
are of Kurdish origin; Political and Legal Affairs Vice Chair 
Dengir Mir Firat is AKP's most visible Kurdish MP.  The Kurds 
who joined AKP and were elected to parliament tend to be 
pious, stressing the common bonds among all Muslims over 
Kurdish nationalism.  (The strongest Kurdish nationalists ran 
from the pro-Kurdish Democratic People,s Party (DEHAP) in 
2002 elections and failed to enter parliament because DEHAP 
did not cross the ten percent electoral threshold.)  One 
former Kurdish-origin MP, himself pious, has consistently 
told us even he considers AKP,s Kurdish MPs extraordinarily 
passive on Kurdish issues. 
 
17.  (C) Yet recent events in the southeast, including AKP 
nationalists' reaction against PM Erdogan,s August &Kurdish 
problem8 speech in Diyarbakir and alleged Jandarma 
involvement in a November bombing in the southeastern town of 
Semdinli, have created tension between AKP,s Kurdish-origin 
MPs and the rest of the parliamentary group.  An Ankara 
provincial AKP official told us recently that tension with 
AKP,s Kurdish-origin MPs has infected AKP's pious wing, 
weakening it relative to other AKP factions. 
 
18.  (C) Comment:  AKP's parliamentary strength, so far, 
springs from Erdogan's ability to keep such a diverse group 
of MPs united, and the lack of any viable opposition.  The 
question is whether Erdogan can continue to keep the 
parliamentary group together without turning AKP into an 
internally-undemocratic, personality-based party in the 
classic Turkish tradition.  AKP,s opposition will eventually 
come from inside AKP itself.  However, for now, Erodgan 
appears well in control and there is no viable political 
alternative for dissatisfied AKP MPs.  End Comment. 
WILSON