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Viewing cable 07ANKARA1842, TURKISH ELECTIONS: ANALYSTS ASSESS MILITARY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07ANKARA1842 2007-07-19 11:11 2010-11-28 18:06 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Ankara
VZCZCXRO7097
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHAK #1842/01 2001139
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 191139Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3032
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD PRIORITY 0993
RUEHKB/AMEMBASSY BAKU PRIORITY 1521
RUEHSI/AMEMBASSY TBILISI PRIORITY 3120
RUEHYE/AMEMBASSY YEREVAN PRIORITY 1293
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 5826
RHMFISS/39ABG INCIRLIK AB TU PRIORITY
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY 0785
RHMFISS/425ABS IZMIR TU//CC// PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 2427
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J-3/J-5// PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC//USDP:PDUSDP/ISA:EUR/ISA:NESA/DSCA// PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 001842 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/18/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREL TU
SUBJECT: TURKISH ELECTIONS: ANALYSTS ASSESS MILITARY 
CONFIDENCE IN ELECTION OUTCOME 
 
Classified By: DCM Nancy McEldowney for reasons 1.4 (b,d). 
 
1. (C) Summary: Experts on civil-military relations in Ankara 
contend the Turkish General Staff (TGS) is satisfied with the 
process set in motion by its April 27 warning and the 
Constitutional Court's subsequent decision on the presidency 
vote which brought Turkey to early elections.  Analysts claim 
that the military and pro-secular opposition parties, buoyed 
by mass pro-secular demonstrations in May and June, believe 
that even if the AKP emerges from July 22 elections able to 
form a single-party government, it will be forced to accept a 
consensus candidate for the presidency.  Despite these claims 
of confidence, the military continues to work to exploit 
debate over a cross-border operation against PKK terrorists, 
as well as press allegations that the US is either directly 
or indirectly providing weapons to the PKK, to make the AKP 
government appear weak on security.  And of course there is 
the possibility of a last ditch attempt by the military -- 
via public statements, policy maneuvering, or partisan 
manipulation -- to sway undecided voters towards secular 
opposition parties.  Military reaction to the elections may 
be affected by the TGS's all-consuming annual exercise of the 
Supreme Military Council, which starts August 1.  End Summary 
 
2. (C) The crisis atmosphere following the TGS's April 27 
warning, which led many to fear some kind of military 
intervention, has been replaced by more traditional 
politicking in the final stretch to July 22 national 
elections.  After public sparring with the government in May 
and June over who would take responsibility for a 
cross-border operation against PKK terrorists in northern 
Iraq -- designed to show the AKP government as soft on 
terrorism -- the TGS has refrained from public statements on 
domestic political issues for the past two weeks.  Chief of 
Defense Gen Buyukanit and Deputy CHOD Saygun enjoyed 
scheduled vacations on the coast in late June and early July. 
 
3. (C) According to Ankara University professor Tanel 
Demirel, the TGS achieved its primary short-term objective 
via the April 27 announcement: preventing Abdullah Gul from 
becoming president and ensuring a Constitutional Court ruling 
raising the vote threshold for president to 367.  The head of 
the secular and nationalist Ataturk Thought Association 
(ADD), retired General Sener Eruygur, pointed to the large 
turn-out at pro-secular rallies in Istanbul, Izmir and other 
cities as proof pro-secular forces are rising to challenge 
the AKP. 
 
4. (C) Several observers, such as Bilkent University 
professor and military analyst Umit Cizre, identify the 
pivotal moment in the AKP's relations with the military as 
the private May 4 meeting between PM Erdogan and CHOD 
Buyukanit at the Dolmabahce palace in Istanbul.  Although 
Cizre and other analysts are not sure what happened during 
the 2.5 hour session, they conclude that Buyukanit and 
Erdogan reached some understanding.  Ankara University 
professor Nuran Yildiz believes Buyukanit made military "red 
lines" over the presidency clear to Erdogan at that 
encounter.  All agree that the situation relaxed considerably 
after that. 
 
5. (C) Analysts' views vary widely on the significance of the 
military's April 27 internet warning that it was ready to 
intervene to protect Turkey's secular democracy.  Cizre and 
Demirel believe the April 27 statement was both harmful and 
unnecessary since the Constitutional Court was poised anyway 
to affirm a 367 quorum requirement for the presidency and 
thus defeat Gul's candidacy, precipitating early elections. 
Yildiz and others, including retired general Riza Kucukoglu 
at Ankara's Eurasian Studies Institute (ASAM), assert the 
military has played its role correctly in counterbalancing 
AKP attempts to monopolize all major power centers.  Even 
critics of the military's announcement, such as Ankara 
University professor Bedriye Poyraz, believe that the AKP 
provoked military intervention by blatant attempts to fill 
 
ANKARA 00001842  002 OF 002 
 
 
the government bureaucracy with its supporters and its 
ill-considered nomination of Gul for president.  They 
acknowledge that, despite criticism of the military's 
intervention by some intellectuals and pundits, most Turks 
see it as natural, if not appropriate, for the generals to 
make their political views known. 
 
6. (C) Looking at post-election scenarios, most observers 
with whom we have spoken tell us the military can live with 
another AKP government, as long as the president is a secular 
figure selected by consensus.  The prospect of the AKP 
cooperating with independent Kurdish deputies in order to 
form a government is more controversial, as this would bring 
together the military and secular establishment's two 
archenemies: "Islamists and separatists."  While Cizre 
believes the generals could tolerate an alliance of AKP and 
Kurdish independents as long as the president is secular, 
ADD's Eruygur termed such an alliance a "nightmare" for 
Turkey.  ASAM's Kucukoglu asserted that the military would be 
uncomfortable with independent Kurdish MPs, citing their past 
behavior (in the early 1990s, the previous iteration of 
pro-Kurdish MPs attempted to take the parliamentary oath in 
Turkish and made statements that triggered the lifting of 
their parliamentary immunity and eventual prosecution).  He 
claimed, however, that military coups are no longer 
necessary, now that the majority of Turks who favor 
secularism have found their voice. 
 
7. (C) Comment: Despite analysts' claims of military 
confidence, the generals are clearly working behind the 
scenes, using ongoing PKK terrorism and the debate over the 
necessity of a cross-border operation into northern Iraq to 
portray the AKP as weak on terrorism.  We also detect the 
military's hand behind recent allegations that the U.S. has, 
either directly or indirectly, provided weapons to the PKK in 
northern Iraq.   This is also designed to weaken AKP's 
national security credentials and encourage undecided voters 
to turn to "tougher" pro-secular parties.  While the military 
could roil the waters and make a public statement on the 
elections at any time, its post-election reaction may be 
delayed by the August 1 start of annual, and all-consuming, 
Supreme Military Council (YAS) promotions and assignments 
deliberations.  End Comment. 
 
Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at 
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/ankara/ 
 
WILSON