Turkish Daily Press - December 3, 2010
The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.
ERDOĞAN EXTENDS A HELPING HAND TO ISRAEL
A fire that erupted near the Israeli city of Haifa on Thursday killed at least 40 people. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has issued an order for Turkey to send two fire fighting airplanes to Israel immediately.
FIRE FIGHTING AIRPLANES FROM TURKEY GO TO ISRAEL
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave an order to send two fire fighting airplanes to Israel after a major fire erupted near Haifa city on Thursday. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin "Bibi" Netanyahu expressed pleasure over Turkey's proposal for assistance.
WIKILEAKS DOCUMENTS SHOW CAPACITY OF DIPLOMATS, GÜL SAYS
Turkish President Abdullah Gül said that the impolite wording used by diplomats as seen in WikiLeaks documents showed the capacity of those diplomats. Gül added that no one should fall into the trap posed by WikiLeaks.
RUSSIA SOLD WEAPONS TO PKK
WikiLeaks documents revealed that the Russian military intelligence (GRU) used mafia leaders to sell arms to the terrorist organization PKK. The weapons were sold to the PKK to destabilize Turkey.
TENSION AT MEETINGS BETWEEN DAVUTOĞLU AND CONGRESSMEN
There was tension in meetings between Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and U.S. congressmen during Davutoğlu's visit to Washington, D.C. Some members of the U.S. House of Representatives criticized the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party's policies regarding Israel and Iran. Davutoğlu expressed his uneasiness that these two issues were continuously brought up. William J. Burns, the undersecretary for political affairs at the Department of State, gave a message that their partnership with Turkey was not perfect, but they would keep working with Turkey.
ASALA MAKES THREAT FROM YEREVAN
Armenian terrorist organization ASALA was in Yerevan on Thursday. One of the leaders of ASALA, Vazgen Sislan, appeared in a press conference in Yerevan and said that "if necessary, we will begin the war against Turkey again." ASALA assassinated dozens of Turkish diplomats, their family members and other Turkish citizens in the 70s and 80s.
PRESIDENT GUL: "YOU SHOULD NOT BE TRAPPED BY WIKILEAKS"
Turkish President Abdullah Gul said that the Turkish public should not fall into the trap of the website of WikiLeaks. After returning to Turkey from Kazakhstan, Gul held a press conference and said that the secret cables released by Wikileaks should not occupy Turkish politics and consume the country's energy in vain. Gul said the released cables contained the personal views of U.S. diplomats about the officials of countries they served in. He said some of the cables were accurate, noting however that the rest were very wrong and even ugly.
WIKILEAKS: US, UK ARGUED OVER USE OF GREEK CYPRUS AIR BASE
U.S. and British officials clashed over the use of a Greek Cyprus air base for U.S. spying missions in 2008, with London worried about complicity in potential rights abuses, leaked cables showed Thursday.
The British were particularly concerned about U2 spy plane missions to track militants in Lebanon, Turkey and northern Iraq that provided intelligence to Lebanese and Turkish authorities.
The newly-disclosed spat between the two close allies is the latest in a series of revelations stemming from the release of a trove of secret U.S. embassy cables by the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks.
The cables describe how British officials demanded to be kept better informed about covert missions out of Akrotiri air base and whether other governments were involved, so they could decide if the operations might carry legal or other risks, according to the cables.
The acrimonious discussions, during former president George W. Bush's administration, led a U.S. diplomat to write that an element of "distrust" had emerged in relations between the traditional allies, according to the 2008 documents, first reported in The Guardian newspaper.
Under political pressure at home over Britain's role in secret CIA flights to transfer terror suspects, British officials ordered Americans to provide in writing more details about planned spying flights out of the base to ensure London was not a party to "unlawful" operations, the cables said.
A British letter to Washington on April 18, 2008, said "recent U2 flights over Turkey/northern Iraq, and the Lebanon, have highlighted important legal and political issues which require much more careful consideration by HMG (her majesty's government)."
Britain believed "it is important for us to be satisfied that HMG is not indirectly aiding the commission of unlawful acts by those governments on the basis of the information gathered through the assistance we provide to the U.S.," said the letter, quoted in the cable.
The British were also concerned about "sensitivities" with the government in Greek Cyprus, to avoid operations that might anger the local government and lead to losing access to the air base, the letter said.
London's requests angered the Americans, who saw the requirements as hampering counter-terrorism efforts. "Embassy London is concerned by HMG's piling on of concerns and conditions, which portend a burdensome process for getting the rest of our intel flights approved," a cable said.
While the United States shared Britain's human rights concerns, "we cannot take a risk-avoidance approach to CT (counter-terrorism) in which the fear of potentially violating human rights allows terrorism to proliferate in Lebanon," the U.S. embassy in London wrote.
London's concerns were due to an earlier revelation that the U.S. government had transferred captured terror suspects through the British territory of Diego Garcia "without UK permission" and London's "need to ensure it is not similarly blindsided in the future," the U.S. embassy wrote.
The embassy urged a high-level U.S. diplomat to intervene after a British official said his government expected Washington to "ensure" any detainees captured in Lebanon with the help of spy flights would be "treated lawfully" by Lebanese authorities, the cables said.
A senior administration official then met with the Foreign Office's head of defense and intelligence, who appeared to strike a more conciliatory tone. The British official said the discussions over spy flights were "unnecessarily confrontational" and backed away from demands over detainees captured as a result of the Lebanon spy flights, the embassy wrote.
But the official said Washington had gotten "sloppy" in its use of the Greek Cyprus base, and that the Americans need to fully inform Britain about operations involving third countries, the cable said.
Despite U.S. objections, the official insisted that requests for future flights be made through the U.S. embassy in London and between both governments instead of only going through military channels, it said. The official said the then British foreign secretary David Miliband believed that "policymakers needed to get control of the military."
US ASKED TURKEY TO THWART ARMS TRANSFER FROM IRAN TO VENEZUELA
The United States warned Ankara last year that Iran would attempt to transport unmanned aerial vehicles to Venezuela via Turkey in violation of international sanctions, a new diplomatic cable released by the website WikiLeaks has revealed.
Washington sent the cable to its embassy in Ankara in March 2009, warning that the shipment was expected to arrive in Turkey within two months and would be loaded onto a maritime vessel for continued transport to Venezuela.
In the State Department cable, the United States asked its embassy to tell the Turkish government to investigate the activity and ensure that Iran did not make use of Turkish territory to transfer items "proscribed by U.N. Security Council resolutions."
The document additionally asked that "if the cargo is found to be in violation of UNSCR [U.N. Security Council Resolution] 1747 that the GOT [government of Turkey] use all available means to prevent the transshipment of this cargo and detain it."
The Turkish Foreign Ministry declined to comment Thursday on the leaked cable.
Fears of Iranian nuclear proliferation led the Security Council to adopt Resolution 1747 in 2007 to tighten sanctions against Iran. The council approved a new round of sanctions in June, over the opposition of nonpermanent members Turkey and Brazil.
"As of early March, Venezuelan officials believed that the equipment would be repackaged and labeled as electronic equipment," the cable dated March 2009 said. Washington underscored that the United States believed the shipment constituted arms and related material, which Iran is prohibited from transferring under Resolution 1747, paragraph 5.
The cable also revealed another incident in which Turkish officials intervened to block a similar transfer after receiving a warning from the United States.
"This case appears to be similar to one from January 2009 where Iran attempted to ship drums of nitrate and sulphite chemicals and dismantled laboratory instruments, which could possibly be used for making bombs to Venezuela, via Turkey," the document said.
"In response to U.S. concerns that the shipment may have been a violation of UNSCR 1747, Turkish officials inspected the cargo and made a decision to return it to Iran," the cable added.
Washington told its Ankara embassy to thank the Turkish government "for its willingness to interdict and take positive action with regards to a similar shipment in January."
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