What Leaked About Turkey?

After reading many leaked documents through Wikileaks, I am almost surprised that there is nothing too secretive that comes across, at least so far. Still the US Embassy mini reports on Turkey and the Middle East were interesting.

 Having read most of the reports on the Middle East, I made the below assessment.

US diplomats have great doubts about Turkey’s dependability. Their views on AKP and Erdoğan have changed over time.

In a report written in 2004, the tone clearly undermines Erdoğan, his crew and their ability or knowledge about the world.

 “Erdogan’s pragmatism serves him well but he lacks vision.  He and his principal AKP advisors, as well as FonMin Gul and other ranking AKP officials, also lack analytic depth.  He relies on poor-quality intel and on media disinformation.

 With the narrow world-view and wariness that lingers from his Sunni brotherhood and lodge background, he ducks his public relations responsibilities.  He (and those around him, including FonMin Gul) indulge in pronounced pro-Sunni prejudices and in emotional reactions that prevent the development of coherent, practical domestic or foreign policies.

In the same report Davutoğlu was explained as “exceptionally dangerous.” due to his Islamist views. Six years later, in another report in 2010, the tone and view on similar issues, seems to have changed.

“The idea of Turkey using its cultural and religious links to the Middle East to the advantage of both Turkish interests and regional stability is not new with the AKP, but has been given much more priority by it, in part because of the Islamic orientation of much of the party, including leaders Erdogan, Gul, and Davutoglu.  Moreover, the AKP’s constant harping on its unique understanding of the region, and outreach to populations over the heads of conservative, pro-US governments, have led to accusations of  “neo-Ottomanism.”  Rather than deny, Davutoglu has embraced this accusation.  Himself the grandson of an Ottoman soldier who fought in Gaza, Davutoglu summed up the Davutoglu/AKP philosophy in an extraordinary speech in Sarajevo in late 2009 (REF A).  His thesis: the Balkans, Caucasus, and Middle East were all better off when under Ottoman control or influence; peace and progress prevailed.  Alas the region has been ravaged by division and war ever since.  (He was too clever to explicitly blame all that on the imperialist western powers, but came close). However, now Turkey is back, ready to lead — or even unite.  (Davutoglu: “We will re-establish this (Ottoman) Balkan”).

The US diplomats do not seem to perceive Turkey’s foreign policy as narrow-viewed or irrelevant anymore, but consider it a strategic problem with sureness that Turks will not be able to compete against other players in the region.

 The greatest potential strategic problem for the US, however, and the one that has some of the commentators howling, is the Turks neo-Ottoman posturing around the Middle East and Balkans.  This “back to the past” attitude so clear in Davutoglu’s Sarajevo speech, combined with the Turks’ tendency to execute it through alliances with more Islamic or more worrisome local actors, constantly creates new problems.  Part of this is structural.  Despite their success and relative power, the Turks really can’t compete on equal terms with either the US or regional “leaders” (EU in the Balkans, Russia in the Caucasus/Black Sea, Saudis, Egyptians and even Iranians in the ME).  With Rolls Royce ambitions but Rover resources, to cut themselves in on the action the Turks have to “cheat” by finding an underdog (this also plays to Erdogan’s own worldview), a Siladjcic, Mish’al, or Ahmadinejad, who will be happy to have the Turks take up his cause.  The Turks then attempt to ram through revisions to at least the reigning “Western” position to the favor of their guy.  “

It seems that the response that Turkey received to its applied foreign policy; has surprised US diplomats within the last six years and may continue to do so.

 The Balkans, has been an issue for the EU as well.

“Levitte noted that of the five major conditions required to transfer authority in Bosnia from the UN High Representative to an EU High Representative, four have been fulfilled, and only the question of division of state property remains. This final condition should not alone “block all progress,” especially as the current UN team in Bosnia is no longer effective. France wants to see the transfer of authority to a new EU team in November, as the rapprochement to Europe is an effective “carrot” to encourage the Bosniaks to continue progress in necessary reforms.

 MACEDONIA AND CROATIA

Levitte expressed optimism that a new Greek government would be “more solid” and allow greater flexibility for progress in the Greek-Macedonian name dispute. A/S Gordon agreed that either a more solid Conservative government or a Socialist government would be a stronger, more flexible partner in the negotiations. He expressed hope that if the international community could convince Macedonia to abandon the idea of a referendum and get Greece to abandon the necessity of changing passports, then progress could be made.”

As the new map of the world is being formed, every party is trying to gain stregth as ever. EU wants to have power over Bosnia and ensure Greek –Macedonian power formulation. Turks are being accused a of a “Neo-Ottoman” agenda, yet the rest of the map seems also to be headed in a historically familiar outlook.

Meanwhile according to the US reports, Turkish diplomats are not happy with America’s stand on Turkey’s involvement in the Balkans.

“Sinirlioglu registered the GoT’s determination to resist perceived EU efforts to exclude Turkey from the Balkans, particularly Bosnia. He identified effecting rapprochement between Bosnia and Serbia as Turkey’s immediate diplomatic goal for the region. Towards that end, Sinirlioglu said, we convinced Haris Siladjdzic, who had been in Ankara the day before, to cease references to Serbian “genocide.” The United States and Turkey have “agreed to disagree” on the Membership Action Plan (MAP) for Bosnia; nevertheless, “we value your involvement in the Balkans.”

The leaks on Iran were no surprise. At least I have not come across anything that we did not know. The only thing is that stood out, was a report that portrays Turkey, as an ally of the US who manipulates the region, according to Israel’s agenda, in spite of recent disputes.

“Sinirlioglu contended Turkey’s diplomatic efforts are beginning to pull Syria out of Iran’s orbit. He said a shared hatred for Saddam had been the original impetus for their unlikely alliance. “Now, their interests are diverging.” Once again pitching Israel-Syria proximity talks, Sinirlioglu contended Israel’s acceptance of Turkey as a mediator could break Syria free of Tehran’s influence and further isolate Iran.”

Israel and the EU strongly believe that the regime has to be changed in Iran. The weak points of the nation have clearly been highlighted to create turmoil, thus change.

“Force Regime Change: Dagan said that more should be done to foment regime change in Iran, possibly with the support of student democracy movements, and ethnic groups (e.g., Azeris, Kurds, Baluchs) opposed to the ruling regime. Dagan stressed that Iran has weak spots that can be exploited. According to his information, unemployment exceeds 30 percent nationwide, with some towns and villages experiencing 50 percent unemployment, especially among 17-30 year olds. Inflation averages more than 40 percent, and people are criticizing the government for investing in and sponsoring Hamas, saying that they government should invest in Iran itself. “The economy is hurting,” he said, “and this is provoking a real crisis among Iran’s leaders.” He added that Iran’s minorities are “raising their heads, and are tempted to resort to violence.”

The current Iranian regime is effectively a fascist state and the time has come to decide on next steps. Levitte stated that this is why Paris is advocating a meeting of the EU3 PLUS 3 on the margins of the Pittsburgh G20 meeting. The French hope to approve a two-paragraph statement laying out next steps on negotiations or sanctions. He noted that German Chancellor Angela Merkel shares the view of the French President and is willing to be firm on sanctions.

EU has Boycotted Iran after the elections. They put a lot of effort into plotting the boycott.

 “If the Iranians find out beforehand that the EU will not send Ambassador-level representation, Paucelle told poloff early July 31, then they may rescind the invitations to the August 3 event, as they did in similar circumstances prior to former President Khatami’s inauguration in 1997. “It’s hard to keep a secret when 27 nations are involved,” Paucelle noted, “but we are trying.” Only the Swedish EU Presidency will be represented by an Ambassador, Paucelle said.

“On the one hand, we want to communicate that we do not approve of this illegitimate election. On the other hand, we need to be realistic: the power is in the hands of Khameini and Ahmadinejad, including the nuclear file, and we must negotiate with those in power. .”

 While all this is happening Turkey still acts as a friend of Iran, which is confusing to the rest of the world.

“Erdogan had been asked if he views Iran as a friend. If he had said “no,” it would not have been possible to convince Tehran to cooperate on this latest proposal. Only Turkey can speak bluntly and critically to the Iranians, Davutoglu contended, but only because Ankara is showing public messages of friendship.”

Another surprising report was that Britons were teaching US diplomats how to talk to Iran.

“Iranians are obsessed with the west and this obsession at times blinds them to their interests,” he told the Americans. “The US side should be aware of the following preconceptions on the Iranian side:

– The US seeks to remove the current regime and replace it with a pro-western one.

– US policymakers spend an inordinate amount of time and energy thinking about (and plotting against) Iran. As such, Iranians assume that everything we do or say has meaning and has been carefully thought out and co-ordinated, both internally and with the UK; there are no accidents.”

The tone of this report makes the Iranian sound like paranoid, for assuming that the US seeks to remove the current regime or plots against Iran. Ironically, all the other reports show that they were “right on spot” with their assumptions.

Meanwhile the Islam Brothers of the region, have issues among themselves.

Sinirlioglu registered the GoT’s increasing dissatisfaction with PM Malaki and fear that he is tending “to get out of control.” “He is preoccupied with his political survival;” nevertheless, Sinirlioglu continued, the GoT is in frequent contact with him.He noted Saudi Arabia is also “throwing around money” among the political parties in Iraq because it is unwilling to accept the inevitability of Shia dominance there. “

Although Turkey has good relations with all neighbors, military actions taking place in the region would affect Turkey as well.

Burns acknowledged Turkey’s exposure to the economic effects of sanctions as a neighbor to Iran, but reminded Sinirlioglu Turkish interests would suffer if Israel were to act militarily to forestall Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons or if Egypt and Saudi Arabia were to seek nuclear arsenals of their own.

So in short we can say that:

  • The US treats Turkey as an ally but does not perceive the relation as very dependable.
  • The US thinks that geographically, the US Bases, on Turkish soil are essential for the positioning against Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • US view on Turkish foreign policy’s success potential seems to have changed. Although they still do not believe, that Turks will realize the vision, now they seem to accept that there is a vision, which they did not in 2004.
  • Everyone wants a piece of the Balkans, as whoever takes control of the Balkans will have more power over the region.
  • Although Israel and Turkey’s relations are not well, some of their interest in the area might be more common than it seems, like getting Syria out of Iran’s orbit.
  • While Saudi Arabia does not get on with Iraq or Iran and most of the region does not get on very well, Turkey seems to be getting on with all except for Israel.
  • The fact that military action within the territory would not be in Turkey’s interest and Israel’s potential for such stroke is reminded to Turkish diplomats, according to reports.

Could we have made the above assessment without the leaks?

Of course we could!

I am not a big fan on conspiracies but I cannot help but question, if this is all part of a big PR campaign? No press conference would have made the world, read announcement of US strategy so carefully.

Nonetheless, it will be interesting to observe, the upcoming reactions to the leak.

Followme on Twitter@BanuGokyar 

Sources:

http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/cable/2004/12/04ANKARA7211.html

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,731590,00.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/120696

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/250705

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/235183

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/28/briton-us-diplomats-talk-iran

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/225319

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/219037

http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/cable/2010/01/10ANKARA87.html

 

 

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