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Viewing cable 10ANKARA150, TURKEY: OF COUPS AND CONSTITUTIONAL REFORMS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
10ANKARA150 2010-01-29 07:07 2010-11-28 18:06 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Ankara
VZCZCXRO1068
PP RUEHSL
DE RUEHAK #0150/01 0290744
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 290744Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1927
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL PRIORITY 6870
RUEHAK/USDAO ANKARA TU PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEUITH/ODC ANKARA TU PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JCS WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 ANKARA 000150 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/SE 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/26/2020 
TAGS: PREL PGOV MOPS TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: OF COUPS AND CONSTITUTIONAL REFORMS 
 
REF: A. ANKARA 120 
     B. ANKARA 130 
     C. ANKARA 107 
     D. 09 ANKARA 1582 
     E. 09 ANKARA 834 
     F. 09 ANKARA 1839 
 
Classified By: Ambassador James F. Jeffrey, Reasons 1.4 (b,d) 
 
Summary 
------- 
 
1. (C)  Reports of coup plots against PM Erdogan's 
Islamist-leaning government have been a staple of the Turkish 
media since 2007.  Despite protests by Turkey's top brass 
that there is no substance to the allegations, a growing 
percentage of the population believes that at least some 
elements within the military have been plotting to undermine 
or even overthrow the AKP-led government.  The coup 
allegations have served as fodder for the Ergenekon 
prosecution team and some of the plots have been included in 
the formal indictments against senior retired military 
officers.  The net result of these allegations has been a 
gradual erosion of the public trust toward the military.  The 
latest reports related to the "Sledgehammer" plan (ref a) 
come at a time when the government is preparing the process 
of amending the constitution to allow military personnel to 
be tried in civilian courts (ref b).  With the pro-Islamist 
media fanning the flames and the Turkish General Staff's 
consistently inadequate responses to each allegation, public 
opinion is becoming less unquestioning vis a vis the 
military; this could help strengthen AKP's position as it 
mulls steps to amend the Turkish constitution in order to 
affect a shift in the civil-military balance in its favor, 
although AKP,s own support has eroded considerably over the 
past year.  End Summary. 
 
Coup Chronicles: A Review 
------------------------- 
 
2. (C) Over the course of the last two-and-a-half years, the 
Turkish military has faced a number of allegations of coup 
plotting having occurred within its ranks, especially in the 
2003 to 2004 period.  These allegations have increased in 
tempo over the last year, with the liberal daily "Taraf" 
("Side") -- whose tagline is: "To Think is to Take Sides" -- 
leading the charge in breaking many of the often-sensational 
stories that draw on leaked information from unnamed military 
or judicial sources.  (Comment: Taraf owner Basar Arslan has 
publicly dismissed claims that Taraf is secretly funded by 
the Fetullah Gulen movement. End Comment).  Paras 8-14 
outline the key allegations that have surfaced in the Turkish 
media since 2007. 
 
Common Threads 
-------------- 
 
3. (C) One of the common threads in this review is that the 
alleged plans are all variations on a theme: they all involve 
efforts to sow chaos or foment public opposition to the AKP 
and to create the conditions for a military intervention. 
None of the alleged plots involve a direct military takeover 
(Comment: The military's problem in such a scenario is that 
it knows its interventions and coup plots are not popular 
among the population.  The last "successful" coup -- in 1980 
-- occurred in response to a massive breakdown of public 
order as armed political, ethnic and criminal gangs engaged 
in violent attacks.  The core accusation in these current 
scenarios is the allegation that the military this time would 
foment the violence themselves, blaming radical, Islamic and 
other groups, and then step in to "restore order" after the 
government fails to do so.  End Comment.) 
 
4. (C) Another common theme is that all the allegations put 
the military in an almost impossible position of having to 
prove a negative -- that it did not engage in the planning 
actions alleged by the media reports -- to a public, some 
parts of whom are increasingly suspicious of the military 
with each new claim.  While we may never know the extent to 
which each of these allegations are true, it is clear from 
statements by former Turkish General Staff Chief Gen. Ozkok 
that, at the very least, there was serious consideration 
given within the military in 2003 to 2004 to overthrow the 
 
ANKARA 00000150  002 OF 004 
 
 
AKP-led government. 
 
Polling Data and Net Effect Thus Far 
------------------------------------ 
 
5. (C) The series of allegations has been eroding the 
public's confidence in the military.  While the military 
still enjoys strong support among the public -- one poll by 
Genar Polling in November 2009 indicated that 80.6 percent of 
those surveyed viewed the military as the institution that 
inspires most confidence, 15 points above the presidency, 
which came in second -- this support has slipped.  A poll 
conducted by A&G Polling in January indicated that while 
public support for the military was around 90 percent before 
the Ergenekon investigations began, public support has 
dropped to 63.4 percent.  Ipsos KMG also published a poll in 
early January indicating the trust in the military had 
declined from 85 to 90 percent before the Ergenekon 
allegations, to 73 percent in late 2009.  Another poll 
conducted in early January by Turkish polling firm MetroPoll, 
before the "Sledgehammer" story broke, found that 30 percent 
of respondents in the January poll indicated that their trust 
in the military has decreased.  55 percent of respondents 
also believed that "there is a group within the military 
which is preparing to stage a coup," a rise of 7 percent from 
July 2009 figures.  Despite the decreasing confidence in the 
military indicated by one of three respondents, 62 percent of 
respondents did not believe that the military would stage 
another coup. 
 
6. (C) Secularists who question the motives of the AKP and 
the timing of each new coup plot allegation are convinced 
that most of the claims are a combination of fabrication and 
manipulation of actual military documents and that there is a 
systematic campaign to erode the trust of the military.  TGS 
chief Basbug has led this charge, calling the series of media 
stories an "asymmetric attack" targeting the Turkish Armed 
Forces.  Even as he denounced the media reports, however, 
Basbug has also clearly committed the military to supporting 
democracy and the rule of law and has stated that the era of 
coups in Turkey is over (ref. b). 
 
Comment: Stage is Set for Constitutional Reform 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
7. (C) With the Constitutional Court's unanimous decision to 
overturn a law extending civilian jurisdiction over military 
personnel for crimes including coup plotting (ref c), the 
government has announced that it plans to seek a referendum 
to change Turkey's constitution to affect this change.  Many 
of the other possible constitutional reforms being considered 
by the government -- such as changing the structure of the 
Constitutional Court and limiting clauses often used to 
justify the prosecution of nationalist Kurds and Islamist 
politicians -- would attract the opposition of the military 
and its political supporters.  The apparent rise in distrust 
among the Turkish populace toward the military, particularly 
after "Sledgehammer," which allegedly would have targeted 
average Turks in an arbitrary manner, could work to the AKP's 
advantage as it looks to further shift the balance of power 
in civ-mil relations through constitutional reforms, although 
AKP,s own standing is greatly diminished from only one year 
ago. 
 
COUP DIARIES AND ALLEGED PLOTS 
------------------------------ 
 
8. (SBU) Excerpts of diary entries dating back to 2003 and 
2004 allegedly belonging to then-Naval Forces Commander 
Admiral Ozden Ornek were first published by the weekly 
"Nokta" in 2007 (Comment: The magazine was closed shortly 
after it published these documents.  End Comment).  The diary 
entries -- popularly known as the "Coup Diaries" -- laid out 
in detail discussions among senior military officers of steps 
the military needed to take to unseat the Islamist-leaning 
Justice and Development Party, which came to power in 2002. 
"Sarikiz" ("Blondie") was the initial coup plan developed by 
then-Jandarma Commander General Eruygur, which involved a 
coordinated effort among the military and other elements of 
Turkey's secular elite, to effect the removal of the AKP from 
power.  The plot allegedly had the support of all the other 
force commanders at the time (Land Forces Commander General 
Aytac Yalman, Air Forces Commander General Ibrahim Firtina, 
 
ANKARA 00000150  003 OF 004 
 
 
and Naval Forces Commander Admiral Ornek).  Then-Turkish 
General Staff (TGS) Chief General Hilmi Ozkok reportedly 
rejected the coup proposal, which led Eruygur and former 
First Army Commander General Hursuit Tolon to develop other 
plots entitled "Ayisigi" ("Moonlight") and "Yakamoz" 
("Phosphorescence"), which provided operational details of a 
coup that would involve the removal of General Ozkok and the 
restructuring of the military.  Other related plans related 
to the plot with code names "Eldiven" ("Glove") and 
"Demiryumruk" ("Iron Fist") reportedly provided more details 
about steps to be taken in the aftermath of a successful coup. 
 
9. (SBU) These plots were included in the Ergenekon 
prosecutors' second indictment in March 2009, and provided 
the legal basis for the detention of retired generals Eruygur 
and Tolon (who were initially arrested in July 2008 and were 
detained without formal charges until the release of the 
indictment).  Eruygur has been identified as the alleged head 
of Ergenekon while Tolon is considered a leading member. 
Retired force commanders Firtina, Ornek, and Yalman were 
interviewed by Ergenekon prosecutors in early December 2009, 
but have not been charged; Firtina publicly denied 
involvement in any coup plots.  According to press accounts, 
General Ozkok acknowledged during testimony to Ergenekon 
prosecutors in April 2009 that most of the contents of the 
"coup diaries" were true and that he was aware of plans to 
overthrow the government among elements within the military 
but did not have hard evidence to move against the plotters. 
 
"KAFES" (OPERATION CAGE) 
------------------------ 
 
10. (SBU) This plot involved senior navy flag officers and 
was uncovered during the April 2009 search of the home of 
retired Navy Lieutenant Commander Levent Bektas, an Ergenekon 
suspect, and was revealed by Taraf in November 2009.  CDs 
found in Bektas's home reportedly revealed a plot drafted in 
March 2009 headed by then-Sea Area North Commander Vice 
Admiral Feyyaz Ogutcu (now retired) and current Sea Area 
South Commander Kadir Sardic.  The plot included plans to 
assassinate prominent non-Muslim figures and blame these 
attacks on the AKP in order to increase foreign and domestic 
pressure for the AKP to step down.  Media reports indicated 
that the plan included setting off a bomb planted at the 
submarine exhibit at the Rahmi Koc Museum in Istanbul and 
using women to obtain information from other navy officers 
and entrap them into supporting Ergenekon.  Bektas has been 
under arrest as part of the Ergenekon probe, as well as 
several active duty officers, including Lt. Col. Halil 
Ozsarac, and colonels Levent Gulmen and Mucahit Erakyol. 
Thus far, neither Ogutcu or Sardic has been questioned about 
this plot. 
 
11. (SBU) Taraf reporter Mehmet Baransu, who broke the news 
about "Kafes," received an award from the Turkish Journalists 
Association for his "Kafes" reporting, but was also 
investigated for violating the confidentiality of an ongoing 
criminal investigation.  While those charges have been 
dropped, there is an ongoing case against Baransu and Taraf 
manager Adnan Demir for "openly insulting the military 
institution of the state," in violation of Section 301 of the 
Turkish Penal Code. 
 
ACTION PLAN AGAINST FUNDAMENTALISM (refs d and e) 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
12. (SBU) Photocopies of the alleged "Action Plan Against 
Fundamentalism" were published by Taraf as a front-page story 
in June 2009.  The plan outlined a psychological operations 
campaign to discredit the ruling Justice and Development 
Party (AKP) as well as other "sources of fundamentalism," 
including the Fetullah Gulen movement.  The action plan was 
allegedly drafted by Naval Infantry Colonel Dursun Cicek in 
2009 under orders of then-Deputy CHOD Igsiz, with the 
knowledge and tacit approval of General Basbug himself.  The 
TGS denied the existence of such a plan, with General Basbug 
dismissing the photocopied documents as "a piece of paper." 
The allegation came roaring back to life in November 2009 
when Taraf claimed that it had received -- from an anonymous 
military officer -- the original copy of the plan with 
Cicek's "wet" signature.  Cicek was detained in July 2009 for 
his role in drafting the plan, but was released due to lack 
of evidence.  He was again detained and interviewed by 
 
ANKARA 00000150  004 OF 004 
 
 
prosecutors in November 2009, but was again released without 
charges. 
 
ASSASSINATION PLOT AGAINST DEPUTY PM (ref f) 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
13. (SBU) On December 19, two active duty Turkish special 
forces officers were arrested by the police near the 
residence of Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc.  This led to 
allegations that the military was planning to assassinate 
Arinc.  As a result, the civilian judiciary issued a court 
order to search the offices of the officers which are located 
at the TGS Special Forces Mobilization Command.  After 
initial refusal by the military to allow a broader search of 
the premises, CHOD Basbug, along with Land Forces Commander 
(and likely successor to Basbug as CHOD in August 2010) 
General Kosaner, met with PM Erdogan on December 26. 
Following this meeting, a second search warrant was issued to 
allow a judge to review the classified documents stored at 
the Mobilization Command headquarters.  These searches are 
ongoing, but to date, the investigators have not announced 
any discovery of evidence that would support the claims of an 
assassination plot against Arinc. 
 
"BALYOZ" (SLEDGEHAMMER) (ref a) 
------------------------------- 
 
14. (SBU) "Sledgehammer," the latest alleged plot, was 
allegedly drafted in 2003 by the Turkish First Army, under 
its then-commander Gen. Cetin Dogan.  The plan, which has 
been denied by both the military and retired General Dogan, 
involved false-flag bombing of mosques and efforts to provoke 
a military crisis with Greece in order to create the 
conditions for a military intervention.  The plan, as 
revealed by "Taraf" on January 20 -- a day before the 
Constitutional Court's decision overturning the law allowing 
civilian jurisdiction over certain offenses committed by the 
military -- allegedly included lists of names of politicians 
and journalists to be arrested, as well as names of 
politicians who would serve in a new government after the 
removal of the AKP. 
Jeffrey 
 
           "Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at http://www.intelink.s 
gov.gov/wiki/Portal:Turkey"