US embassy cable - 97ANKARA8752

A "SPECIAL TEAM" VIEW ON THE PKK, OHAL, AND ISLAMIC SENTIMENT IN THE TNP

Identifier: 97ANKARA8752
Wikileaks: View 97ANKARA8752 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Ankara
Created: 1997-09-03 08:28:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL KISL PHUM PINS TU
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
P 030828Z SEP 97
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5128
INFO USEU BRUSSELS
AMEMBASSY ATHENS 
AMEMBASSY BONN 
USCINCEUR VAIHINGEN GE//ECJ3/ECJ5/ECPOLAD//
SECDEF WASHDC//USDP:PDUSDP/USDP/ISA:EUR//
ODC ANKARA TU//TCH//
USCINCCENT MACDILL AFB FL//POLAD//
AMCONSUL ISTANBUL 
AMEMBASSY PARIS 
AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 
CTF NORTHERN WATCH INCIRLIK AB TU//CC/CS//
AMCONSUL ADANA 
AMEMBASSY LONDON 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 008752 
 
 
LONDON FOR TUELLER 
PARIS FOR LEAF 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:09/03/17 
TAGS:  PREL, KISL, PHUM, PINS, TU 
SUBJECT:  A "SPECIAL TEAM" VIEW ON THE PKK, OHAL, 
AND ISLAMIC SENTIMENT IN THE TNP 
 
1.  CLASSIFIED BY ACTING POLCOUNS MARC SIEVERS, 
AMEMBASSY ANKARA.  REASON: 1.5(B)(D). 
 
2. (C) SUMMARY: ON THE EVENING OF SEPTEMBER 2, POLOFF 
DISCUSSED THE KURDISTAN WORKERS' PARTY (PKK), 
PROSPECTS FOR REFORM OF THE "STATE OF EMERGENCY" 
REGIME (OHAL), AND RELIGIOUS SENTIMENTS IN THE TURKISH 
NATIONAL POLICE (TNP), WITH A MEMBER OF THE ANTI- 
TERRORIST "SPECIAL TEAMS" POLICE FORCE.  THE OFFICER 
HAS CLOSE TIES TO SEVERAL OF POLOFF'S SOURCES 
AND CONTACTS IN THE ISLAMIST/RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY, 
INCLUDING PROMINENT MEMBERS OF THE ISLAMIST REFAH 
(WELFARE) PARTY OF NECMETTIN ERBAKAN AND A LOCAL 
SHAYKH OF THE NAKSHIBENDI TARIKAT (ONE OF THE 
WIDESPREAD BUT ILLEGAL SUFI ORDERS JUDGED BY THE 
MILITARY AS A PARTICULARLY DIRE THREAT TO TURKEY'S 
SECULAR KEMALIST INSTITUTIONS).  END SUMMARY. 
 
------------ 
PKK AND OHAL 
------------ 
 
3. (C) THE OFFICER, WHO ONCE SERVED IN THE COMMANDO 
FORCES OF THE TURKISH JANDARMA, JOINED THE SPECIAL 
TEAMS IN 1994, SERVING IN VARIOUS AREAS OF KURDISH 
SOUTHEASTERN TURKEY UNTIL HIS RECENT TRANSFER TO 
ANKARA.  DURING HIS YEARS IN THE SOUTHEAST, HE HAD 
WITNESSED A DECLINE PKK OPERATIONS, HE SAID.  HOWEVER, 
THE PKK WAS STILL QUITE ACTIVE AND WAS NOT ON THE 
VERGE OF BEING ELIMINATED AS A MAJOR FORCE IN THE 
REGION.  THE OFFICER ADDED THAT THERE WAS A WIDENING 
RIFT IN THE PKK RANKS BETWEEN THOSE WHO EXHIBITED 
UNQUESTIONING SUPPORT OF THE PKK LEADERSHIP'S 
TRADITIONAL MARXISM, AND THE INCREASING CADRES OF 
RELIGIOUS SYMPATHIZERS.   IF LEFT TO FESTER, THIS COULD 
POSE A PROBLEM FOR THE PKK IN THE FUTURE, HE OBSERVED. 
 
4. (C) ACCORDING TO THE OFFICER, THE YILMAZ 
GOVERNMENT'S TENTATIVE PROPOSALS TO END THE OHAL 
REGIME IN THE SOUTHEAST AMOUNTED TO A COSMETIC CHANGE 
THAT WOULD NOT IN ANY WAY RESTRICT THE SECURITY 
FORCES' REGIONAL DOMINANCE AND FREEDOM OF ACTION.  BY 
WAY OF EXAMPLE, HE VOLUNTEERED THAT ALTHOUGH THE OHAL 
FORMALLY HAD BEEN LIFTED IN MARDIN PROVINCE, NOTHING 
HAD CHANGED ON THE GROUND.  (COMMENT: MARDIN WAS 
DROPPED FROM THE LIST OF OHAL PROVINCES DURING THE 
TENURE OF THE PREVIOUS REFAH-LED GOVERNMENT.  REFAH, 
WHICH LONG HAS VISCERALLY OPPOSED THE STATE OF 
EMERGENCY REGIME, HAD HOPED THAT MARDIN WOULD SERVE AS 
A SYMBOL OF THE PARTY'S COMMITMENT TO ENACT REFORMS 
FOR ITS KURDISH CONSTITUENTS.  SHORTLY BEFORE TAKING 
POWER IN JULY OF 1996, HOWEVER, REFAH SOURCES 
INDICATED TO POLOFF THAT THE TURKISH GENERAL STAFF HAD 
MADE CLEAR TO THE REFAH LEADERSHIP THAT THE MILITARY 
WOULD HAVE THE FINAL SAY ON ANY PROPOSALS CONCERNING 
THE OHAL.  THE MILITARY'S REPEATED "RECOMMENDATIONS" 
IN FAVOR OF CONTINUING THE OHAL REGIME, AND THE 
ERBAKAN GOVERNMENT'S ACQUIESCENCE TO THE GENERALS' 
DEMANDS, GENERATED CONSIDERABLE DISCONTENT IN THE 
REFAH RANKS.  THE EXPERIENCE WITH LIFTING OHAL IN 
MARDIN PROVINCE ALMOST CERTAINLY WAS SOMETHING OF A 
DRY-RUN FOR THE MILITARY.  ACCORDING TO A VARIETY OF 
REPORTING, THE GENERALS HAVE GIVEN THEIR BLESSING TO 
THE YILMAZ GOVERNMENT'S TINKERING WITH OHAL -- NOW 
THAT REFAH IS SAFELY OUT OF POWER AND, PRESUMABLY, NOT 
IN A POSITION TO CAPITALIZE ON ANY GOT REFORMS IN 
THE SOUTHEAST.  END COMMENT.) 
 
-------------------- 
ISLAM AND THE POLICE 
-------------------- 
 
5. (C) ACCORDING TO THE OFFICER, THE TNP, UNLIKE THE 
MILITARY LEADERSHIP, WAS "COMFORTABLE" WITH THE 
RELIGIOUS INCLINATIONS OF SOME OF ITS MEMBERS.  THE 
TNP DID NOT CONDUCT ROUTINE PURGES OF RELIGIOUS COPS 
FROM THE RANKS, HE SAID.  THE TNP TOP BRASS KNEW 
BETTER: SUCH ACTIONS WOULD BE MET WITH WIDESPREAD 
HOSTILITY BY RANK-AND-FILE OFFICERS.  WHILE THE TNP 
WAS BOUND TO OUST FLAGRANT RELIGIOUS PROSELYTIZERS, 
THERE WAS CONSIDERABLE LATTITUDE GIVEN TO THOSE WHO 
KEPT A RELATIVELY LOW PROFILE, THE OFFICER EXPLAINED. 
 
6. (C) THE OFFICER COMMENTED THAT THE TURKISH POLICE'S 
STANDING IN THE EYES OF THE PUBLIC VARIED FROM 
NEIGHBORHOOD TO NEIGHBORHOOD.  HE VOLUNTEERED THAT IN 
SINCAN (AN ANKARA SUBURB NOTORIOUS FOR ITS ISLAMIST 
SYMPATHIES), THE LOCALS "KISS OUR HANDS," AND 
RECOGNIZED THE TYPICAL POLICE OFFICER AS "ONE OF THE 
PEOPLE."  BY CONTRAST, IN BASTIONS OF KEMALIST 
SECULARISM SUCH AS THE UPSCALE ANKARA NEIGHBORHOODS OF 
CANKAYA AND GAZIOSMANPASA, POLICE ROUTINELY WERE 
GREETED WITH DISDAIN.  (COMMENT: THESE ATTITUDES 
PROBABLY ARE IN THE FIRST INSTANCE MORE A MATTER OF 
SOCIAL STATUS THAN PURE POLITICS.  END COMMENT.) 
 
RICCIARDONE 

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