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Re: INSIGHT - TURKEY - Dom & Fp Issues - TR5

Released on 2012-03-20 10:00 GMT

Email-ID 155109
Date 2010-04-28 16:58:20
pretty decent comments on domestic issues, except for Dogan's position.
The source tries to play down Dogan's opposition against AKP. AKP doesn't
forget how Dogan media group allied with the military before Gul's
election as the president.
Also, comments in the first paragraph (about who will get the U.S. as the
patron) is typical Turkish.


From: "Antonia Colibasanu"
To: "Analyst List"
Sent: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 5:32:54 PM
Subject: INSIGHT - TURKEY - Dom & Fp Issues - TR5

PUBLICATION: Not Applicable
SOURCE DESCRIPTION: Left-leaning secularist senior journalist with

ATTRIBUTION: Not Applicable

The following are responses to the questions in bold.

1) What is happening between the AKP and TSK in the light of the Ergenekon
and Sledgehammer probes. While the political position of the general staff
weakening, I doubt that they will go quietly into the night. At some point
they need to say a**this far and no furthera**. How do you see this
playing out moving forward in terms of the militarya**s response and how
far do you think the AKP will push (surely they want to avoid
miscalculating and hence over-stepping)?

We have to think this issue in the global context. In a nutshell, the
decades-old power struggle between TSK and governments has always been
about which side gets support from Washington. Throughout the cold war and
even until the end of 1990s, the military had the upper hand. Now, the
situation is changing as US is convinced it has found a strong ally in
AKP, after long tedious years of weak coalition governments. Some a**
unconfirmed a** talk between alleged coup plotters reveals the frustration
of the military, while columns written by pro-military columnists in the
past few years also reveal an effort to a**win back the hearts and
mindsa** of US. Ilhan Selcuk of Cumhuriyet comes to mind. Unless a
a**change of hearta** in Washington does not take place, the government
has the upper hand. Having said that, they are treading carefully, despite
all noise going on about the military getting weaker through arrests etc.
Over-stepping is really a danger for the government here, but if the
military decides to a**cross the linea** and go harsher against AKP, it
will have to do it a**despite the US.a** As a NATO-member, I doubt they
have the courage to do this. As I said, the issue has to be taken in the
global context. For example, if neocons were still in power in US, I doubt
they would let the government trample upon the military like this; they
have an understanding that a**governments come and go, but TSK is always

2) What do you make of the clamor over the increasingly influence of the
Gulenites in civil society and even the stat, e.g. security, educational,
media sectors. What is the nature of their relationship to the AKP? To
what extent does the AKP view the FG movement as an asset and a liability?

This is complicated. The a**Islamic rootsa** of AKP are far away from the
roots of Gulen movement in terms of Islamic schools. You wont see any
comment from the PM that praises Gulen, for example. But the two seem to
have found a common ground in that the AKP lets Gulenists roam free and
increase its influence, while the latter accepts to be a propaganda
machine for the government through media etc. As in all alliances, this
alliance inherently involves a rivalry. I believe Gulen knows his place
well and will not cross the lines here. But after he dies, that is another
question. The Kemalist view of a a**AKP-FG coalition governmenta** seems
too much stretching the reality to me. Still, Erdogan may be witnessing
the creation of a monster here. The picture may become clearer with the
death of Gulen and the position of an heir, I would say.

3) What is the status of the AKPa**s efforts to control the old secularist
business elite and thus promote a new conservative one? You guys are well
aware of how it is playing out in the media sector with the feud with
Dogan. But how is the struggle playing out in other sectors. Obviously
this is not a black and white issue as the AKP wants to maintain support
among the established business groups. How does this all work out?

AKP is an a**expansionista** movement, which runs contrary to the
traditional Islamic movements in Turkey. Old movements, especially the
Erbakan movement that Erdogan and co. were born out of, were
a**introvert,a** meaning they just wanted to protect their lifestyles,
practices etc. and were in essence a**on the defensive.a** AKP is not.
They are on the offensive, imposing their way on others, which is far more
dangerous for those who understand this. AKP knows that it has to have the
backing of big business to stay in power, while big business knows it
needs a a**stablea** government, similar to the case with the US here. If
you look at the governmenta**s attitude on labor regulations, trade union
policies, workplae relations etc. you will see this as a a**purely
capitalista** government, even one reminiscent of the 18th century UK.
Thus, they have full backing from big business. When people like Dogan a**
willingly or unwillingly, as no media boss could be able to control his
outlets on a regular basis a** challenge this through media criticism,
that means they have overstepped the line and have to be a**corrected.a**
On the other hand, the AKP also wants to have a**its owna** business elite
rising up, and they have taken important steps in this. But the a**rise of
the green capitala** or a**rise of the Anatolian tigersa** should not be
misleading, as Ia**d say the total wealth of all these a**greena**
holdings would barely reach the wealth of, say, SabancA 1/2 Holding. The
picture has been changing only in media, as pro-government newspapers and
TVs have much more clout now. Still, the Dogan group reigns supreme.

4) On the foreign policy front, STRATFORa**s view is that Iraq is the main
focus for Ankaraa**s efforts to expand geopolitically, especially since it
needs to counter the rise of Iran in its southeastern neighbor. How do you
see Turkey approaching this objective, especially with its problems over
the Kurdish issue and Tehran having far more influence because of
demographics? What is Ankara trying to achieve in terms of the new
coalition government. What is its relationship with former interim prime
minister Iyad Allawia**s al-Iraqiyah list, which came out in first place.
How much progress has been made in terms of seeking influence among the
Kurds and more importantly, the Shia. Since a key aspect of Turkish
foreign policy vis-A -vis Iraq is to secure an alternative source of
energy, reducing dependency on Azerbaijan and Russia. Where do Ankaraa**s
stand there?

As I write this, news came that Turkey has officially invited Barzani, the
KRG chief, to Ankara. This is a huge step for a state that still acts with
reflexes over a**breakupa** fears. Thus, the relationship with Iraqa**s
Kurds are bound to get better, followed by really strong trade and
commerce relations; in no time, Kurdistan has become the most important
source of income for Turkeya**s south-southeast cities. Iraq is fast
rising up as one of the top5 trade partners, and this is really because of
Kurdistan. Ia**d say the a**Kurdish openinga** of the government is linked
to these developments closely, as a Turkey that has not solved its Kurdish
problem cannot maintain the desired relation with Iraqi Kurdistan. But the
problem is that the Turkish public hasna**t got much idea of how strong
and rooted the PKK is, while the government insists that a**PKK and Kurds
are separate problems.a** So, my opinion is that the a**Kurdish openinga**
will collapse noisily, as it fails to address even the most basic demands
of Kurds and fails to recognize even the BDP as a party to the issue.
Turkeya**s relations with Iraqi Shia are, Ia**d say, sour, as the
government explicitly has tried to cultivate relations with the Sunni due
to its Sunni roots. This is where the a**pragmatic facea** of AKP went off
stage and the ideology face came up. Unless Turkey can have a balanced and
equal-to-equal relation with all factions in Iraq, its
a**micro-imperiala** aspirations are doomed. We have seen such initiatives
collapse many times, for exmple the a**Turkic openinga** in the aftermath
of the fall of the USSR.

6) What are Ankaraa**s goals with regards to its relationship with Israel?
Clearly, Turkey wants to have a relationship with Israel but how far is
Ankara willing to allow relations to sour? IF you could elaborate on the
various angles to this issue (Syria, Iran, and the Palestinians).

This is also a global issue, related to 1. Obamaa**s seeing the solving of
Mideast question as a lever to his overall regional policies and 2. A
diminishing power of the US in the Mideast due to the destructive Bush
policies. As the AKP has observed the needs of the US administration in
the Mideast, it has a**learneda** to change positions. Learning is a very
important aspect of this government, mind you. It can change positions
suddenly as it recognizes a global shift, and it does this well. The
position change allows to further convince the US to rein in Israel, while
also propping up Turkey as a a**regional power.a** Thus, crudely put, the
AKP is able to turn to Washington and say: a**Here is my clout, at your
service. But this clout is only sustainable if we solve this
problem.a**Again, if the clumsy military had its old power, Turkey could
never take such a stand, as the a**alliancea** between Israel and Turkey,
brokered by the US, is essentially a military one. The Palestinian
relation is different and I, as a supporter of the Palestinian cause, see
what is coming as very destructive to the rights of Palestinians. The
US-Israeli policies, with a**helpa** from Hamas, have managed to split
Palestine in two. The conflict is increasingly being perceived as one of
religion, not one of nation, a trend in accordance with the global shift
in perceptions. The AKP, due to its Islamist roots, has no objection to
this. So, the a**Palestine relationsa** are in essence relations with
Gaza. The Islamic NGOs out here are also working on a**the plight of
Gazaa** as opposed to the plight of Palestinians. This I could write a
book on. But suffice it to say that while pushing for a solution to the
Palestinian problem, the AKP is helping to shift the perceptions about
that very same problem for the worse, acting like an a**outsider Hamas.a**
This is a a**nation problema** and trying to cover it with an Islamic veil
will not change its nature, only postpone a solution.

7. What kind of role is Turkey playing in the U.S.-Iranian conflict? How
successful has Ankara been in mediating between DC and Tehran? How does
Turkey seek to balance its ties with the United States and Iran?

The problem with this government is that they are trying to be mediators
in everything, or posing as mediators, but are not being accepted as such
by parties of any conflict. Turkey could have convinced the US that it
could have some sort of role in solving the issue. But I really doubt it
has convinced Iran on being a mediator. It has not convinced Syria or
Israel in other problems, to remind you. a**Playing the mediatora**
without clout could be a dangerous game around here. Ia**d say that the
policy on Iran has been the most disastrous policy of this government, as
it does not contribute to a solution and may even be worsening the


Kamran Bokhari


Regional Director

Middle East & South Asia

T: 512-279-9455

C: 202-251-6636

F: 905-785-7985