Mon, Feb 07, 2011 | The Guardian/WikiLeaks
WikiLeaks: Turkey Used as Base to Transport Terrorism Suspects
Turkey allowed the US to use its airbase at Incirlik in southern Turkey as part of the “extraordinary rendition” programme to take suspected terrorists to Guantánamo Bay, according to a US diplomatic cable.
Turkey’s involvement in the controversial programme was revealed in a cable dated 8 June 2006, written by the then US ambassador to Turkey, Ross Wilson. The cable described Turkey as a crucial ally in the “global war on terror” and an important logistical base for the US-led war in Iraq.
The cable contradicts statements made at the time by Turkish officials. On 14 June 2006, a spokesman for Turkey’s foreign ministry told reporters: “The Turkish government and state never played a part [in the secret transfers] … and never will.”
Read related article “WikiLeaks cables: Turkey let US use airbase for rendition flights” in the Guardian here.
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 ANKARA 003352
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/05/2026
TAGS: MOPS, PREL, PARM, TU, IZ, IR, AJ, AF
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR JUNE 14 VISIT OF GENERAL SCHWARTZ TO TURKEY
Classified By: Ambassador Wilson for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (C) We look forward to your visit. Turkey is a strong ally in the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), facilitating the distribution of critical supplies and fuel to the coalition in Iraq and supporting the NATO Training Mission (NTM-I) there; publicly calling on Iran to comply with its IAEA commitments; and pressuring Syria and Hamas to renounce their support for terrorism. Later this year Turkey will take over command of ISAF-Central (with France and Italy) and open its first Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Afghanistan. But there are challenges. Bilateral defense industry cooperation is on the decline. An enhanced Turkish security presence along the Iraqi border to combat an increase in PKK terrorist activity has raised concerns that Turkey might act unilaterally across the border into Iraq, which we have discouraged.
2. (S/NF) Turkey is a key player in a number of issues that come under your command, chiefly connected to OIF and the GWOT:
–58% of all supplies flowing into Iraq by air use the multi-directional cargo hub at Incirlik Air Base.
–25% of sustainment fuel for the coalition flows over the Turkey-Iraq border crossing at Habur Gate, as do many other key supplies for our troops downrange.
–We are now in informal discussion with the GOT to use Turkish roads and ports to retrograde excess equipment and material from Iraq. Retrograding equipment via Turkey would provide an additional LOC to CENTCOM, relieve congestion at Kuwait, and ensure a more secure route. You should urge the Turkish General Staff (TGS) to continue to work with us on this issue.
–Turkey has signaled its interest in working with us on repairing Nasosnaya Air Base in Azerbaijan; you should seek senior Turkish military confirmation and sell them on the concept.
–The Turkish military had allowed us to use Incirlik as a refueling stop for Operation FUNDAMENTAL JUSTICE detainee movement operations since 2002, but revoked this permission in February of this year. We understand OSD and JCS have been discussing whether to approach Turkey to seek to reverse this decision. We recommend that you do not raise this issue with TGS pending clarification from Washington on what approach State/OSD/JCS/NSC wish to take. END SUMMARY.
Bilateral Relationship Improving
3. (S) During her April 25 visit to Ankara, Secretary Rice and FM Gul announced our intention to set up a formal and regular senior-level strategic dialogue consultative mechanism. The goal was to signal progress toward restoring confidence and strengthening our ability to work together in ways helpful to our goals in the region and in Turkey itself. We are now negotiating the final touches of our “Strategic Partnership” document, which should be made public soon. We have restored bilateral dialogue through many senior level visits over the past ten months. We have shifted our dialogue on Iraq from one dominated by Turkish whining about the PKK and Kirkk to one of constructive collaboration politically and logistically in support of our efforts there.
A PARTNER IN GWOT
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4. (SBU) Turkey’s agreement to allow the use of its territory as a logistical hub has been a crucial asset in our Iraq operations. Two-thirds of gasoline and diesel fuel shipments (3 million gallons per day) for the Iraqi people and 25% of sustainment fuel for the coalition crosses into Iraq through the Ground Line of Communication at Habur Border Gate. Since Turkey approved the use of Incirlik Air Base as a cargo hub to support coalition operations in Iraq in May 2005, over 152 million pounds of equipment has been shipped to US troops. 58% of all equipment provided to our troops in Iraq by air pass through Incirlik. Six C-17 aircraft now deliver from Incirlik the amount of supplies it took 9-10 planes to deliver from Germany. Additionally four KC-135 tanker aircraft based there since 2003 have run 2800 refueling sorties, delivering 192 million pounds of fuel in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Turkey has four personnel assigned to NTM-I in Iraq and, under this rubric, has trained 57 Iraqi military officers in Turkey. Iraqis have pledged to send officers to at least seven additional courses this year.
5. (SBU) On behalf of CENTCOM, we are informally coordinating with TGS and the MFA with respect to gaining Government of Turkey approval to use Turkish roadways and sea ports to retrograde excess equipment and material from Iraq. Retrograding equipment via Turkey provides an additional LOC to CENTCOM, relieves congestion at Kuwait, and is a more secure route. On May 26, TGS informed us that TGS and MFA are supportive of the retrograde concept. They requested that formal notification be made via diplomatic channels since the Government of Turkey is the approval authority. Additionally, they stated that our request to be exempt from customs fees, taxes and surcharges would require further discussion with Customs officials. The formal notification should occur soon. You should express your appreciation for TGS’s initial support and ask for their continued support once the formal request is presented.
Afghanistan: Good New Story
6. (SBU) Turkey has twice successfully led the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, most recently from February to August 2005. Later this year, it will take over joint command of ISAF-Central in Kabul for a two-year period, and will open its first PRT in the neighboring province of Wardak. PM Erdogan visited Afghanistan in spring 2005 and subsequently increased Turkey’s pledged assistance ten-fold to $100M. This will be allocated in $16M increments for five years to build schools, hospitals, medical clinics and drinking water wells throughout the country. Four hospitals have already been constructed. The GOT provides counter-narcotics training in Turkey to Afghan security forces and will initiate such training in Afghanistan this year under the auspices of the Wardak PRT. President Karzai demonstrated his gratitude for Turkey’s assistance by participating in a March counter-terrorism conference at Turkey’s NATO Center of Excellence for the Defense Against Terrorism.
7. (S/NF) The PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party, which seeks to carve off the primarily Kurdish portion of eastern Turkey by force of arms) has intensified its terrorist campaign in Turkey: over 150 Turkish security forces have died so far in 2006, a dozen in the past two weeks alone. This violence has
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increased pressure on the GOT to take decisive measures to cope with the problem, including attacking PKK strongholds in northern Iraq, which the organization uses as a command, control, and logistics base to infiltrate Turkey and carry out attacks. Turkey wants the new government in Iraq to take immediate, concrete steps to limit PKK freedom of action in the country. The PKK’s isolated location, the long list of priorities facing the GOI, and the attitudes of Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq make this complicated.
8. (C) Secretary Rice told GOT leaders April 25 that the U.S. will reinvigorate trilateral (U.S.-Turkey-Iraq) discussions on the issue. While recognizing that the insurgency prevents coalition troops from engaging the PKK in Iraq, the GOT remains frustrated at its inability, and U.S. unwillingness, to stop attacks by people coming from the other side of its border.
9. (S) If you are confronted with this issue, you can point to significant efforts the USG is undertaking to ameliorate the PKK threat:
–Sharing of sensitive intelligence on PKK activities within Turkey, which have led to successful Turkish COIN operations.
–MNF-I surveillance flights over PKK camps in northern Iraq, which have also had a salutary effect interms of psyops.
–An intelligence fusion cell which meets weekly in Ankara to pass information to the Turkish military on PKK activities.
–A new initiative to work with Turkey on building law enforcement cases against PKK operatives in Europe.
OTHER KEY ISSUES
10. (S) Secretary Rice personally informed Foreign Minister Gul May 31 of the U.S. initiative to join with the EU-3 in negotiations with Iran’s representatives once Iran fully and verifiably suspends its enrichment and reprocessing activities. Deputy National Security Adviser Crouch followed up with discussions in Ankara June 4. Official and public reaction to this initiative has been uniformly positive. The GOT has publicly supported this move and called upon the Iranians to respond positively. Turkish officials have taken a tougher line on Iran since the U.S. Ambassador to the IAEA, Greg Schulte, provided in-depth briefings and consulted with Turkey in February. Gul has told visiting Congressional delegations that Iran’s nuclear weapons aspirations are the single most important problem facing Europe and the Middle East, and he has emphasized the need for a united and decisive international approach. Ankara has called on Tehran to cooperate with the IAEA, adopt full transparency on its nuclear programs, and resume negotiations with the EU-3, most recently in Erdogan – Ahmadinejad encounters in Baku and Bali and during an early May visit by Iranian National Security Adviser Larijani.
An Opening on Nasosnaya?
11. (C) As part of a continuing effort in the Caucasus, the U.S. and allies continue to promote collective assistance to Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. A recent proposal — the upgrade of Nasosnaya Airfield located outside of Baku — has not taken hold with our Turkish counterparts (at least not in Ankara). Over the past 2-3 years, the idea of upgrading the airfield has been briefed in several venues (the Caucasus Working Group and the South Caucasus Clearing House). Additionally, the idea of a joint venture among allies to
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perform the upgrade has been informally sent to the TGS J5 on several occasions. While the military has not responded to our entreaties in Ankara, the Turkish DATT in Baku (a one-star general) recently told us that Turkey is enthusiastic about working with us on Nasosnaya. A push at the senior levels within TGS might help break this proposal loose. Any interest you can promote during your visit would be beneficial.
Defense Industry Cooperation Declining
12. (SBU) Defense industry cooperation, once the strongest aspect of our military-to-military relationship, is in decline. No U.S. firm has won a direct commercial sale since Boeing was awarded a contract for an Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft in 2002. In 2004, three tenders (UAVs, Main Battle Tanks, and attack helicopters) were canceled. Two U.S. firms, Boeing and Bell, were interested in a second attack helicopter tender, but declined to participate due to onerous liability and technology transfer requirements. (Several non-US firms did submit bids.) Sikorsky may choose not to participate in a tender for 54 utility helicopters for the Turkish Armed Forces and Forestry Service for the same reason, and Raytheon may bow out of contention for an aircraft trainer tender. Both in Ankara and in Washington, U.S. firms and the USG have raised the technology transfer and liability concerns with Turkey’s Ministry of Defense and Defense Industry Undersecretariat (SSM). Despite both Turkish military and government insistence that it wants US competition in these tenders, SSM has resisted making the necessary changes to the tenders to ensure it. Visit Ankara’s Classified Web Site at http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/ankara/