Mon, Feb 07, 2011 | WikiLeaks
WikiLeaks: US-Turkey Relations Improve
The tone of the relationship has been improving since PM Erdogan’s visit to Washington last June, but Iraq continues to dominate our agenda, including Turkey’s concerns regarding the PKK, the Iraqi Kurds, independence aspirations, and the fortunes of Ankara’s perceived constituents, the Iraqi Turkmen.
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 05 ANKARA 000331
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/27/2016
TAGS: MARR, MASS, MOPS, PREL, PGOV, TU, IZ, AF, RU
SUBJECT: SCENE-SETTER FOR THE VISIT OF MARINE CORPS COMMANDANT GENERAL HAGEE
REF: DCD PROFILER6 JAN. 19 EMAIL TO MAJOR CRAIG MILLER
Classified By: Ambassador Ross Wilson, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (S) SUMMARY: Your visit to Turkey comes at an important time. The tone of the relationship has been improving since PM Erdogan’s visit to Washington last June, but Iraq continues to dominate our agenda, including Turkey’s concerns regarding the PKK, the Iraqi Kurds, independence aspirations, and the fortunes of Ankara’s perceived constituents, the Iraqi Turkmen. While the Nov. 9-10 High Level Defense Group (HLDG) meetings in Ankara ) the first in two years ) helped move our defense dialogue away from “all Iraq all the time,8 the issues have not gone away. You will want to acknowledge Turkey’s contribution to the war in Iraq and the overall Global War on Terrorism (GWOT): the logistics hub at Incirlik, the Habur Gate GLOC, Turkey’s military and reconstruction contributions to Afghanistan and engendering regional cooperation in the Black Sea. It will be important to respond to complaints about US inaction against the PKK in Iraq by pointing to what we are doing to help Turkey to combat the PKK elsewhere and in other areas of the GWOT. Your visit also provides an opportunity to foster an atmosphere of increased engagement and cooperation in the near future. END SUMMARY.
2. (S) We aren’t out of the woods yet, but our bilateral relationship is on the upswing from the trough that deepened in fall 2004 with MNF-I operations in Tal Afar and Fallujah, repeated Turkish truck driver abductions and killings, and factually incorrect and biased Turkish press coverage which Turkish officials failed to refute and in some cases abetted. Despite the continued unpopularity of the war in Iraq (over 95% of the population opposes the war) this no longer dominates the news. Then DCHOD GEN Basbug took the first step toward improving relations in a January 26, 2005 nationally-televised press conference, in which he underscored the importance of the bilateral relationship. Following US and Turkish media stories in February 2005 about deteriorating bilateral relations, NSC Sec Gen Alpogan, FM Gul and others scrambled to match GEN Basbug’s words. In an April speech to the Istanbul War Academy, CHOD GEN Ozkok called the bilateral relationship &too broad and important to be defined by one issue.
8 With the visits of PM Erdogan, FM Gul and DCHOD Basbug to Washington in early June, the Sept. 8-9 visit of GEN Jones and then-CENTCOM Deputy Commander LTG Smith, the Sept. 24 visit to Ankara of APNSA Hadley, the December visits to Ankara of FBI Chief Mueller and CIA Director Goss, and most recently the Jan. 17 visit of EUCOM Deputy Commander GEN Wald, both sides have demonstrated our commitment to rebuild our historically strong ties through concrete actions and by improving the tone of our public statements.
PKK — GETTING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE —————————————–
3. (S) TGS Deputy Chief GEN Kosaner did not raise the PKK with EUCOM DCDR GEN Wald on January 17 and may not with you. However, the PKK was one of the themes of TLFC Commander GEN Buyukanit’s counterpart visit to the US in December, and he may raise the terrorist group’s presence in Northern Iraq with you. Your response should point to what we have done and what we have offered to do to address the PKK problem more widely. During the September visit of Generals Jones and Smith, TGS rejected EUCOM’s offer of aerial surveillance inside Turkey, but welcomed CENTCOM’s offer to continue aerial overflights of PKK camps on the Iraqi side of border; CF now carry out flights every two weeks. Turkey accepted EUCOM’s offer of Information Operations (IO”>IO”>IO) support; EUCOM staff is developing an interagency proposal that will assist TGS/MFA in developing a more effective IO”>IO”>IO program. TGS also welcomed an enhanced intelligence-sharing program on an intermittent basis tied to specific Turkish operations. Indications are the intelligence provided was beneficial to GOT. CENTCOM offered to expand the list of PKK HVI on the CENTRIX system and to facilitate TU/IZ mil-mil contacts, which may include joint border patrols. These offers remain under discussion, but will likely not bear fruit in the short term.
4. (C) The interagency initiative to partner with Turkey and the Europeans to pursue law enforcement cases against the PKK is continuing. A CIA/DIA/FBI/DOJ/Treasury team visited Ankara in December; they and the Turks identified two PKK operatives in Europe to pursue together. Your interlocutors may complain about the absence of kinetic action against the PKK, but we have a good story to tell and we should tell it.
5. (S) Despite our efforts, with PKK attacks continuing to cause casualties among Turkish military personnel, the Turkish public and the political class continue to clamor for US military action in Iraq against the PKK, or for a Turkish cross-border operation. There is widespread public belief that lack of US action against the PKK is “punishment” for Turkey’s March 2003 failure to give permission for US forces to transit Turkey en route to Iraq.
SPECIAL FORCES RE-ENGAGEMENT
6. (S) One of the casualties of the Iraq war was the relationship between our Special Forces (SF). The July 4, 2003 Suleymaniyah incident in which US forces hooded and handcuffed Turkish SF officers remains a wound in Turkey’s military and national pride and with the Turkish public that will possibly take a generation to fully heal. We welcomed the Joint Staff invitation to Turkish Special Forces for a Washington Sept. 19-27 visit to begin to restore that once close relationship, and we continue to support a SOCEUR-initiated SF JCET originally scheduled for March 2006, though budgetary constraints may force a postponement. Additionally, Turkish Land Forces Commander GEN Yasar Buyukanit has just returned from the first Counterpart Visit (CPV) with the U.S. Army Chief of Staff in nine years. GEN Buyukanit was accorded full military honors and had a substantive program as well. We believe that visit will contribute greatly to restoring post-OIF army to army relations.
BEHIND THE SCENES INVOLVEMENT IN IRAQ
7. (SBU) Despite the unpopularity of the Iraq war, Turkey has provided significant logistical support to both Operation Iraqi Freedom and to OEF in Afghanistan. Turkey has approved multiple requests for the use of Incirlik Air Base, including: a tanker refueling operation which has delivered over 28 million gallons since operations began in 2003 and flown over 2,600 sorties; the transit of 8,500 US troops on rotation from Iraq from January through April 2004; and the establishment in May 2005 of a logistics hub which allows 6 US military C-17 aircraft to move the amount of cargo it took 9-10 military aircraft to move from Germany. This hub has facilitated the movement of 41,339 tons of supplies since its inception; flown 1280 C-17 sorties; received 577 wide-bodies cargo aircraft; and houses 150 TDY support personnel. Turkey also approved the use of hub flights for the emergency evacuation of US soldiers from Iraq.
8. (SBU) The Habur Gate, the only border crossing from Turkey into Iraq, provides 25% of fuel shipments to Coalition forces in Iraq and two-thirds of gasoline and diesel fuel shipments for the Iraqi people. Significant shipments of food and water for coalition forces also pass over the border.
9. (SBU) The Turkish government has also demonstrated its support through its public announcements of support for the recent elections; its plans to re-open its consulate in Mosul in early 2006; provision of training in Turkey for Iraqi diplomats, political parties, and (as part of the NATO training mission) Iraqi Security Forces; hosting a conference for Iraqi constitution drafters in July, and a meeting of Iraqi Sunni leaders with Ambassador Khalilzad in Istanbul in December.
10. (C) Turkey currently maintains approximately 1300 of its own forces in Northern Iraq in camps established prior to OEF. These forces contain elements of armor, mechanized infantry, commando, and Special Forces units commanded by the Turkish Special Forces Brigade HQ located in Silopi, Turkey. This HQ also provides Turkish LNO teams to Coalition HQs in Kirkuk, Mosul, and Tal Afar while hosting a US Liaison officer and NCO at the HQ in Silopi.
PARTNER IN GWOT
11. (S/NF) Beyond its support for Iraq, Turkey has provided valuable assistance and cooperation to the GWOT. On Aug. 8, Turkey completed its second International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) command (II and VII) in Afghanistan, which it held for six months and during which time it contributed over 1,600 troops. Turkey, France and Italy have agreed on an eight month rotating command of the ISAF Kabul Regional Command starting the second half of 2006. The GOT permits OEF detainees (Operation Fundamental Justice Flights) to transit Incirlik AB. Turkey also contributes to reconstruction and training efforts in Afghanistan. It is involved in the reconstruction of schools and is exploring counter-narcotics training programs for Afghan police and alternative livelihood options for poppy farmers. Following PM Erdogan’s May 2005 visit to Afghanistan, the GOT increased its reconstruction budget for Afghanistan ten-fold, to $100 million. Turkey continues to provide significant personnel and assets for Operation Active Endeavor, KFOR, and Operation Althea.
12. (U) Together with the US, Turkey coordinates military assistance to Georgia and Azerbaijan, improving their abilities to protect key energy transport routes. Turkey subscribes to every security arrangement it is eligible to join, including the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). It will host the first PSI combined air, land and sea exercise (ANATOLIAN DEER) in May 2006 and the US is committed to participate in both the Command Post Exercise and the Live Exercise.
13. (C) Turkey continues to resist significant cooperation on Black Sea maritime security outside the context of BLACKSEAFOR and Operation BLACK SEA HARMONY (OBSH). The Turks argue that an active U.S./NATO role would be threatening to the Russians, who might respond negatively. That said, they raise no objection to our naval engagement in the region provided we abide by the Montreux Convention which imposes restrictions on Bosporus Straits passage.
14. (C) While U.S. Navy ship visits to Turkey fell drastically in 2004 and 2005, with only four port visits each year, 2006 looks more promising. CVN 71 Theodore Roosevelt and CG 56 San Jacinto are conducting a port visit in Marmaris during February with another port call proposed for DDG 51 USS Burke later in the month. The July 2005 visit of the LPD USS Nashville to the port of Aksaz included the embarkation of 30 Turkish Naval Infantry for training while continued use of Mersin port by coalition fuel tankers are essential for fuels flowing into Iraq.
IRAN AND SYRIA
15. (S) Turkey’s watchword for both Syria and Iran is “engagement.” While the military and Ministry of Foreign Affairs are concerned about the dangers of the Iranian nuclear program, PM Erdogan’s pro-Islam Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is not yet convinced. PM Erdogan told EU Ambassadors on January 20 that he does not believe Iran intends to develop nuclear weapons; one of his advisors had indicated the same sentiment one day prior. Part of the Turkish government’s motivation is a desire not to jeopardize its nascent trade development opportunities, including energy, or its renewed intelligence exchange with Iran on the PKK. Some AKP elements even admire Iran’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. According to TGS, Turkey and Iran began sharing intelligence this summer on the PKK, holding regular meetings at the border. As of September, Iran had turned over 40 suspected PKK members or sympathizers. Turkey touts its support for the EU-3 dialogue and multilateral efforts through the IAEA. Turkish officials stress to us the need to maintain dialogue and to identify a diplomatic solution. The tepid Turkish response to Iranian President Ahmedinejad’s initial statement about wiping Israel off the map have been followed equally weak statements against the re-start of Iran’s uranium enrichment program. However, recent equivocation on whether or not Turkey is planning for a visit by Ahmedinejad demonstrates that Turkey is trying to walk both sides of the line on Iran. Turkey’s tack toward Syria is much the same. They and others in the government regularly urge US engagement and stress the need to deal directly with, and support Asad ) whom they see as reform minded – against the hardline Ba,athists in the regime who seek to undermine him.
DEFENSE INDUSTRY COOPERATION WEAK
16. (SBU) Historically the strongest area of our bilateral relationship, security cooperation, is significantly declining. Under Turkey’s current policy, the emphasis is on Direct Commercial Sales at the expense of Foreign Military Sales and American companies are having difficulty competing. The last significant commercial tender won by a U.S. firm was the 2002 win by Boeing for an Air Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) system. In early 2004, SSM (the Defense Industries Undersecretariat ) Turkey,s major procurement agency) cancelled three tenders (UAVs, Main Battle Tanks and attack helicopters) all of which had American companies in contention. General Atomics (UAVs) and General Defense (tanks) have both pulled out of Turkey.
17. (SBU) The revised ATAK Helicopter tender was issued in February 2005 and was the first to contain new standard (i.e., non-negotiable) terms and conditions (T&Cs). (Note: The first tender was issued in 1995 and won by Bell Textron. SSM cancelled it over technology transfer issues. End Note.) The three US firms that took the tender (Bell, Boeing, Sikorsky) found the new T&Cs so onerous that they were unable to justify participation.
18. (SBU) The GOT,s goal is to develop an indigenous defense industry that can supply a significant portion of the Turkish military,s requirements, and has outlined an aggressive timetable to do so. To meet that schedule, SSM recently began requiring companies to confirm at the time of bid submission the host government’s willingness to allow transfer of the required technology. Although SSM understands the USG will not guarantee approval of technology transfer before a contract is signed, SSM has refused to revise the tender to remove that requirement. MND and SSM are requiring similar T&Cs on other tenders and American companies are frustrated. We have raised our concerns about the negative impact of the SSM program on US participation in the Turkish defense market with FM Gul, CHOD Ozkok, MND Gonul, the service chiefs and others. Across the board, the military pledged their preference for US equipment but professed an inability to influence the process.
19. (SBU) We are currently working with the GOT on some airspace management issues in northern Iraq. Over a 60 day period this fall, the TGS noted 17 incidents where, they claim, CF aircraft flew very close to the TU-IZ border. These incidents result in alerting of TU aircraft and other intensive actions, including scrambling F16s. After discussing this issue with TGS, as a short term solution we have coordinated to have the relevant information passed from CENTAF to the Turkish Air Force. We believe the long term solution is for the TGS/TUAF to use CENTRIX to obtain the daily Air Tasking Order and determine if CF flights may approach the Turkish border. At present, the Turkish military can access CENTRIX through its LNOs located with Coalition Forces, in Baghdad, Mosul, Kirkuk, and Tal Afar; There is also a CENTRIX terminal at the ODC in Ankara. TGS has yet to agree to the expense (about $35,000) to have us install a CENTRIX terminal at TGS HQ, allowing them to have full access to CENTRIX right here in Ankara.