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Viewing cable 07ANKARA1091, TURKEY: FM GUL AS THE BEHIND-THE-SCENES MASTER

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07ANKARA1091 2007-05-09 11:11 2010-11-28 18:06 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Ankara
VZCZCXRO9827
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHAK #1091/01 1291142
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 091142Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2012
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUEHAK/USDAO ANKARA TU
RUEUITH/TLO ANKARA TU
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEUITH/ODC ANKARA TU
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J-3/J-5//
RHMFISS/39ABG CP INCIRLIK AB TU
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/425ABS IZMIR TU//CC//
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 001091

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/07/2022
TAGS: PGOV PINR TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: FM GUL AS THE BEHIND-THE-SCENES MASTER

REF: A. ANKARA 1006
B. ANKARA 1083 AND PREVIOUS 

Classified By: PolCouns Janice G. Weiner, reasons 1.4 (b), (d)

1.(C) In contrast to rumors that Turkish FM Abdullah Gul is depressed after having had to withdraw his presidential bid, a journalist xxxxx described his demeanor as relaxed, confident and determined. xxxxx it was clear that both Gul and Hayrunissa had long lobbied for him to be the ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) presidential candidate – and they still retain ambitions. xxxxx dismissed earlier press speculation that parliamentary speaker Bulent Arinc had forced the issue. It was instead Gul who went to Arinc to press his own case and ask for support. He reportedly told Arinc that he, Gul, did not want to see a bureaucrat (DefMin Gonul) in Cankaya.

2. (C) The way Gul's candidacy ultimately played out was a reflection of the long-running partnership – and rivalry – between PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Gul, according to our contact. From the outset, the biggest hurdle was Erdogan who, until the last minute, proved unwilling to renounce his personal presidential ambitions. The PM waited so long that there was no time to cushion a Gul candidacy via the media, whose initial reactions to Gul's candidacy had been positive. The PM squandered an opportunity better to prepare both the military and the public. At that point, the opposition People's Republican Party (CHP) could have savored its “anyone but Erdogan” victory and Gul, who enjoyed good relations both with CHP and with the military, could have helped smooth the way. (Comment: It's not clear that a Gul candidacy would ever have been acceptable to the military, though they certainly do not like surprises. End comment.)

3.(C) Once the Turkish General Staff released its e-memo late on April 27, it was allegedly Gul, not the PM, who persuaded AKP to take the democratic high road and hard line reflected in GOT spokesman Cemil Cicek's April 28 statement (ref A), which Gul reportedly penned. In the interview, Gul also reflected confidence in AKP's prospects for doing well in the upcoming general election.

4.(C) One frequent TGS accusation has been that AKP has a hidden agenda. Gul had rebutted it consistently, pointing to the raft of political and economic reforms the AKP government has passed, and asking rhetorically if they would be working hard to harmonize Turkish law with EU law if GOT's agenda were sharia. xxxxx

5.(C) According to xxxxx Gul was not a member of Milli Gorus, the old Necmettin Erbakan cabal of pious, anti-Semitic Anatolians who have little subtlety. Gul's initial political activity was with a serious student movement just prior to the 1980 coup (to which Erdogan also belonged), the Milli Turk Talebe Birligi (National Turkish Student Union - MTTB), a formerly leftist student group turned conservative/Islamist, then disbanded in 1980 as a result of the coup. After 1997, it was Gul's think-tank, Politik Arastirma Merkezi (Political Research Center - PAM) that planned AKP's split from Erbakan's Fazilet and mapped out the strategy that brought AKP to power in 2002. Gul is, per the journalist, the only one in the party whom Erdogan truly respects, in the Turkish sense of admiration, friendship and fear.

6.(C) Comment: This picture of Gul is one person's view (who has known the Gul family for a long time), and stands in contrast to how others, including some in AKP, have described Gul. xxxxx for example, told us the FM was devastated and had never wanted to run. Whatever the truth about his mood, it is hard to believe that Gul, a seasoned

Ankara 00001091 002 of 002

politician and operator, would let himself be pushed into something he didn't want to do, even “for the greater good for his party.” End comment.

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

WILSON