U.S embassy cables: US steps up pressure on Turkey over Iran- US fury at Armenia over arms transfers to Iran
|US embassy cables: US fury at Armenia over arms transfers to Iran
• guardian.co.uk, Sunday 28 November 2010
Wednesday, 24 December 2008, 21:58
S E C R E T STATE 134490
EO 12958 DECL: 12/23/2018
TAGS ETTC, MASS, OPDC, PARM, PREL, AM,
SUBJECT: (S) LETTER FROM DEPUTY SECRETARY NEGROPONTE
REGARDING 2003 ARMENIAN ARMS PROCUREMENT FOR IRAN
REFS: A. YEREVAN 657, B. State 97802
Classified By: EUR/FO DAS Garber, Reasons 1.4 (b), (c), and (d).
1. In a hard-hitting letter, senior US officials threaten wide-ranging US retaliation, including sanctions, if the Armenian government does not halt arms transfers, which they say have resulted in Iranian proxies killing US soldiers in Iraq. Key passage highlighted in yellow.
2. Read related article
1. (U) Please deliver the following letter from Deputy Secretary Negroponte. There will be no signed original. Embassy should also propose discussions with the Government of Armenia in coming weeks. Suggested dates and team composition will be provided septel. Embassy Yerevan is requested to report response.
2. (Secret/Rel Armenia) Begin Letter:
Dear Mr. President:
We value our positive relationship with your government, as we explore a range of shared interests, especially an agreement on Nagorno Karabakh and normalization of Armenia's relations with Turkey. At the same time, we are dismayed by a serious and, indeed, deadly - arms re-export case.
Secretary Rice, Assistant Secretary Fried, Deputy Assistant Secretary Bryza, and Ambassador Yovanovitch have raised with you our deep concerns about Armenia's transfer of arms to Iran which resulted in the death and injury of U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Notwithstanding the close relationship between our countries, neither the Administration nor the U.S. Congress can overlook this case. By law, the transfer of these weapons requires us to consider whether there is a basis for the imposition of U.S. sanctions. If sanctions are imposed, penalties could include the cutoff of U.S. assistance and certain export restrictions.
To avoid such sanctions, it is essential that you present compelling evidence that your government is now in partnership with us to ensure such transfers do not occur in the future.
To convince the United States that this will not happen again, we seek a written agreement from Armenia, memorializing its intent to implement measures that will prevent Armenia from becoming a source of weapons for Iran or other states or groups involved with terrorism and/or weapons proliferation. Such measures include:
-- Reform the Armenian Export Control Commission so its members are full time employees who exclusively work on export controls;
-- Establish, at each point of entry into Armenia, Armenian teams dedicated to detecting and interdicting dual-use commodities and other contraband;
-- Periodically accept unannounced visits by U.S. experts to assess the work of the teams;
-- Harmonize Armenia's export control legislation with that of the EU;
-- Update and make public Armenian export control lists, incorporating the control lists of the Wassenaar Arrangement, Missile Technology Control Regime, and other international control regimes;
-- Ensure that Armenian-based brokers do not facilitate arms related transfers; and
-- Consult with the United States on transfers to countries that are not member states of NATO or the EU, or participating states of the Wassenaar Arrangement.
We are prepared to send a team as early as possible in the New Year to discuss this proposal further. It is my hope that we can work together to forge a positive outcome which provides your government the opportunity to strengthen Armenia's export controls and for my government to assist you in this effort.
Sincerely, John D. Negroponte
End text of letter.
3. (S) Background: In 2003, Armenia facilitated Iran's purchase of rockets and machine guns. In 2007, some of these weapons were recovered from two Shia militant attacks in which a United States soldier was killed and six others were injured in Iraq. The Secretary discussed our concerns with President Sargsian on the margins of the UN General Assembly, but he denied any transfer occurred. The direct role of high-level Armenian officials and the link of the weapons to an attack on U.S. forces make this case unique and highly troubling. These transfers may provide a basis for sanctions pursuant to U.S. legal authorities. We propose a series of steps that Armenia will need to take to prevent future transfers, which will be weighed in the consideration of sanctions. We hope to use the threat of sanctions as a tool to generate Armenian responsiveness so that we will not be forced to impose sanctions measures.
4. (S) The Deputy Secretary is writing to President Sargsian and indicating that a team will be sent to Armenia to seek written agreement that Armenia will take steps to ensure that it does not become a source of weapons for Iran or other states or groups of concern. The team will also present additional information that will make clear why the United States is convinced that the transfers happened and make it unreasonable for Sargsian to continue his denials. We anticipate that the team will travel to Yerevan in the coming weeks, to provide sufficient time for the incoming Administration to be briefed on the situation.
5. (S) Objective: Our objective is to prevent Armenia from becoming a source of weapons for Iran or other states or groups of concern, without derailing a possible Nagorno-Karabakh settlement. Embassy Yerevan should seek to convey the seriousness with which the United States views this issue and emphasize that the transfer of arms to Iran and subsequently to terrorists in Iraq, in particular transfers that resulted in the death of an American serviceman, cannot be overlooked by the United States.
6. (U) Please contact EUR/PRA Matt Hardiman and ISN/CATR Margaret Mitchell with any questions or follow-up issues related to this case and slug any reporting on this issue for ISN and EUR. RICE
U.S Embassy cables: Azerbaijan leader in the soup
• guardian.co.uk, Sunday 28 November 2010
Thursday, 25 February 2010, 08:15
1. A coarse joke about political rivalry between Russia's president, Dmitry Medvedev, and its prime minister, Vladimir Putin, told to American diplomats may land Azerbaijan's leader, Ilam Aliyev, in trouble next time he meets one or both leaders. Key passage highlighted in yellow.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 BAKU 000134
EO 12958 DECL: 02/24/2020
TAGS PREL, PHUM, MARR, ETRD, AJ, AM, RS, IR, TU
SUBJECT: AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT TO U/S BURNS: "YOU CAN'T
BOIL TWO HEADS IN ONE POT"
Classified By: Charge Donald Lu, for reasons 1.4 (b,d).
1. (C) Summary: President Aliyev used this coarse street slang to describe the relationship between Russian President Medvedev and PM Putin, but he might well have used the same idiom to describe his concerns about Turkey-Armenia reconciliation and the Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) Peace Process. He told U/S Burns that the "Sword of Damocles" of the April 24 Armenian Remembrance Day is hanging over the NK Process, as well as the Turkey-Armenia normalization process. He suggested that it would be easier if the Turkey-Armenia normalization could be considered after April in order to allow more time for progress on NK. He also took the opportunity to press the USG to apply maximum pressure on Yerevan to make concessions on NK. He stressed, "Now we are trying to be even more flexible."
2. (C) Summary Continued: On Iran, President Aliyev said he supported economic isolation and believed it could be effective if enforced by a broad coalition. He complained about Iranian security provocations. On a proposed battalion-sized Afghanistan contribution, Aliyev said that he would support sending a team to Georgia to observe the training being provided by EUCOM to Georgian troops headed for Afghanistan. On energy cooperation, President Aliyev said that if the Turks demonstrate "constructive behavior" this year that a gas transit deal can happen. Finally, on the jailed youth activists, though he made no firm commitments regarding their release, he said, "I think (a pardon or amnesty) can be done. I had no intention to hurt anyone." End Summary.
Seeks Pressure on Yerevan to Resolve NK
3. (C) Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Bill Burns began his hour-long meeting with President Ilham Aliyev by stressing that he was sent with the simple message that Washington wants to build our bilateral relations and create a stronger partnership. He then offered his condolences for the three Azeri soldiers killed on the Line of Contact on February 18. Aliyev responded that such events show that there is no peace, no peace treaty and no peacekeepers enforcing the cease-fire. He worried more such incidents could happen. Burns commented that such incidents underscored the urgency of finding a political solution on Nagorno-Karabakh.
4. (C) The balance of Aliyev,s comments sought to convey that he was ready to move forward in the Minsk Group Process, but that international pressure would be needed if Armenia was to move forward. He said that it is now time to find a final resolution, but Armenian President Sargsian wants to walk away from the process. "I told the co-chairs that Armenia wants to delay as long as possible and escape at the end."" He said that Azerbaijan was prepared to do its part to propel the talks forward. "Now we will try to be even more flexible."
5. (C) Aliyev outlined several steps to persuade Armenia to agree to the Minsk Group Basic Principles:
-- the three co-chair countries should consolidate their efforts at a senior-level,
-- (C) the three co-chair countries should send a strong message that the independence of NK is not under review, and
-- (C) if these new proposals are not accepted, there should be consequences in terms of international isolation, especially in the form of Russia,s curtailing some of its economic support for Armenia.
6. (C) Aliyev noted that at Sochi, President Sargsian had inserted a proposal for specifying a definite date for a referendum or plebiscite on NK final status. This, Aliyev argued, undermined the entire framework of the agreement, which is premised on an eventual referendum ) with no definite timeframe ) in exchange for legalizing "the illegally established regime in NK."" He also noted that Armenia is vulnerable to isolation because it is dependent upon remittances from its diaspora, as well as imports of gas and electricity. "After 18 years of negotiation, we have tested all options. If this phase (of Minsk Group talks) ends, what is next?" the President asked aloud.
The Russian Role in NK and Russian Succession
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7. (C) In response to U/S Burns' question about the Russian role in the NK talks, Aliyev responded that he was convinced that Medvedev's efforts have been sincere. He said that Medvedev has personally met with the Azerbaijani and Armenian presidents five times. Thus any failure to make progress on this issue will damage Medvedev's credibility. He said that at Sochi, Medvedev tried to persuade Sargsian to achieve a breakthrough. He added, however, that it was strange that with so much pressure from Moscow and Lavrov's visit to Yeveran, the Armenians not only resisted progress, but actually backtracked on previously-agreed items. In response to a question, Aliyev said that he believes that PM Putin has his own separate opinion about the desirability of an NK resolution. "I have no evidence, but I can feel this," Aliyev remarked.
8. (C) Aliyev said that he considers Medvedev "a modern, new-generation intellectual," surrounded by people whom he does not control. He said that he has personally witnessed Medvedev taking decisions that then required further approval before they were implemented, referring specifically to a border demarcation agreement that he had agreed with Medvedev only to have it stymied by ""others,"" presumably in the prime ministerial office. He added, "Many high-ranking officials don't recognize (Medvedev) as a leader." He said that there are signs of a strong confrontation between the teams of the two men, although not yet between Putin and Medvedev personally. "We have a saying in Azeri, 'Two heads cannot be boiled in one pot'" (crude street slang suggesting that two leaders are spoiling for a fight).
Strong Pushback on the Turkey-Armenia Normalization
9. (C) U/S Burns stressed that the U.S. believes that progress on the Turkey-Armenia protocols could create political space for Sargsian to be more flexible on NK. He continued that the reverse was also true, that a failure of the Turkey-Armenia process would almost certainly result in serious negative consequences for the NK process. Aliyev said that NK progress would require a minimum of five or six months. He suggested that the entire Turkey-Armenia protocol ratification process be delayed until after April 24. He said that the "Sword of Damocles" of Armenian Remembrance Day is hanging unhelpfully not only over the Turkey-Armenia process, but also now the NK progress. "If there were no deadline, maybe we could see how to combine our efforts (to resolve NK)."
10. (C) Aliyev pushed back with his usual warnings about the negative effects of Turkey-Armenia protocol ratification without being proceeded by NK progress. He darkly predicted postponement of any NK settlement; no comprehensive regional security improvement; damage to Turkey-Azerbaijani relations; no real partnership between Turkey and Armenia; further isolation of Central Asia; the undermining of energy projects; and damage to Georgia, both in lost transit income, but also in its role as the sole land corridor between Russia and Armenia.
Relations with Iran Described as Tense and Unstable
11. (C) U/S Burns explained in detail the steps the U.S. had taken to initiate dialogue with Tehran and support the Tehran Research Reactor initiative. He ended by noting that, given the rejection of these overtures, the U.S. would move forward with another UNSC resolution that included new sanctions targeting the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Aliyev responded that although the visible side of Azerbaijan's relations with Iran appears normal, the substance was very different. "I do not exclude that relations will be become more difficult," the President added.
12. (C) "(German Chancellor) Merkel was very firm with me on Iran, trying to persuade me. I told her, 'No need,'" the President recalled. He said that he was supportive of Iran's economic isolation and believed it could work if the international community worked together. He said that earlier sanctions observance had been spotty with many European energy companies working in Iran. "Statoil supports Iran more than it supports us!" he complained. He noted that Russian President Medvedev once told him that Russia did not want the Americans to squeeze Iran, but also did not want a nuclear Iran.
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13. (C) Aliyev said that Iranian provocations in Azerbaijan were on the rise. He specifically cited not only the financing of radical Islamic groups and Hezbollah terrorists, but also:
-- the Iranian financing of violent Ashura ceremonies in Nakhchivan,
-- the organization of demonstrations in front of the Azeri consulates in Tabriz and Istanbul,
-- a violent religious procession recently in Baku,
-- the use of the President's photo alongside the Star of David on the Azeri-language Seher TV broadcast into Azerbaijan, and
-- conflict in the Caspian.
14. (C) The President added that Azerbaijan will not reciprocate on the liberalization of the visa regime with Iran. He also noted that Azerbaijan is planning to create a TV channel in Persian that will broadcast into Iran. He said that he did not understand why the Supreme Religious Leader chose Ahmadinejad over former President Moussavi. He joked that perhaps it was too dangerous to have two ethnic Azeris at the head of the Iranian state. He said that the election fraud was outrageous, with Ahmadinejad winning in Azeri-dominated Tabriz and Moussavi winning in Tehran, where it was harder to falsify the vote. He viewed the situation as very tense within Iran and believed it could erupt at any time.
Supports Afghanistan Troop Contribution, with Conditions
15. (C) U/S Burns asked for the President's support to continue our discussions about a battalion-sized contribution of troops to Afghanistan that would include a U.S. train and equip program. The President said that he is aware of this initiative and his foreign and defense ministries are working on it. He said that the fundamental problem is one of ""optics,"" claiming it was difficult for him politically if it looks like the Americans are only training Azeri troops to send them off to Afghanistan. He said that it would be easier if half of those trained would be sent to Afghanistan, while the second half would remain in Azerbaijan or be used for other purposes. U/S Burns noted that the President's suggestion would create problems involving the U.S. funding of the training. The Charge proposed that as an initial step, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Defense Ministry staff observe the training of Georgian troops headed to Afghanistan by U.S. Marines. The President thought this was a good idea and instructed his aide to look at this suggestion.
Pardon or Amnesty of the Youth Activists "Can be Done"
--------------------------------------------- --------16. (C) U/S Burns said that one of the ways Azerbaijan could show leadership as a tolerant and secular country was in advancing democracy and human rights. He specifically asked that, following the appeal process of the two youth activists, the President find a way on humanitarian grounds to release the two men. Aliyev made no firm commitment, but responded, "I think this can be done. I had no intention to hurt anyone." When U/S Burns expressed the hope that the government could quietly take this step, the President said, "Okay."
Russians are a Factor in Turkish Gas Transit
17. (C) On energy cooperation, President Aliyev said that if the Turks demonstrate "constructive behavior" this year that a gas transit deal can happen. He was clear, however, that nothing would be signed before April 24. He also professed to be worried that active Turkish-Russian cooperation could be one of the impediments to progress. He confided that Turkish Energy Minister Yildiz recently told the head the Azerbaijani State Oil Company, "Why do you want to ruin our relations with Russia? Do you really need Nabucco?"
18. (C) The President continued that it is imperative for Azerbaijan that formalities for the commencement of Shah Deniz Phase II gas development begin this year. This project will bring $20 billion in much-needed investment to Azerbaijan and potentially develop Azerbaijan into a major source of new gas, as much as 50 billion cubic meters.
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19. (C) Unprompted by U/S Burns, Aliyev spelled out the reasons Azerbaijan decided to sell gas to Russia last year, noting that ""Moscow had asked" and offered a good price for gas that was surplus anyway. But the real reason, Aliyev confided, was that the sale illustrated to "our Turkish friends" that they will not be allowed to create a gas distribution hub. "Aliyev made clear his distaste for the Erdogan government in Turkey, underscoring the "naivete" of their foreign policy and the failure of their initiatives, including the loss of support for Turkey among traditional international friends because of Ankara,s hostility to Israel. He noted that in his view, there had never been any merit to the notion of a "moderate Islamist" government in Turkey, and that Erdogan,s insistence on promoting Hamas and Gaza ) when other Arab countries were notably silent on these issues ) had brought Turkey no benefits.
20. (U) Lastly, U/S Burns asked for the President's assistance in resolving the long-standing difficulties in finalizing the lease for the new Embassy compound. The President responded positively that he thought this could be done.
21. (U) U/S Burns was accompanied by EUR Deputy Assistant Secretary Amb. Tina Kaidanow, NSC Director Bridget Brink, and Charge. President Aliyev was joined by his Foreign Policy Advisor Novruz Mammadov.
22. (U) This message has been cleared by U/S Burns. LU
U.S embassy cables: US steps up pressure on Turkey over Iran
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 28 November 2010
Thursday, 25 February 2010, 11:05
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 ANKARA 000302
DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/SE
EO 12958 DECL: 02/21/2020
TAGS PREL, PARM, MNUC, MASS, IR, TU
SUBJECT: U/S BURNS' FEBRUARY 18 MEETINGS WITH U/S
REF: ANKARA 263
Classified By: AMB James F. Jeffrey, for reasons 1.4 (b,d)
1. In a tense conversation, a senior US envoy presses Turkish officials to support US-led action to convince the Iranian government that it is on the wrong course. The Turks insist their mediation efforts are the best way forward but are forced to concede that most countries in the region see Iran as a threat. Key passage highlighted in yellow.
2. Read related article
1. (C) Summary: During February 18 "Shared Vision and Structured Dialogue" meetings in Ankara, Turkish MFA Undersecretary Sinirlioglu:
-- Appealed for "simultaneity" between Armenian Protocols ratification and the Minsk Process; -- Registered increasing GoT dissatisfaction with Iraqi PM Malaki; -- Expressed hope USF-I CG Odierno's engagement would elicit substantive cooperation from the KRG against the terrorist PKK; -- Urged higher profile USG involvment in the Cyprus reunification talks, and; -- Confirmed GoT interest in further dialogue on missile defense.
2. (C) Burns strongly urged Sinirlioglu to support action to convince the Iranian government it is on the wrong course. Sinirliolgu reaffirmed the GoT's opposition to a nuclear Iran; however, he registered fear about the collateral impact military action might have on Turkey and contended sanctions would unite Iranians behind the regime and harm the opposition. 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. He said the international community's patience with Iran had been met with the Iranian refusal, since October, to work with the P5-plus-1, the clandestine enrichment facility near Qom and Tehran's recent decison to enrich its low-enriched uranium to 20%. The IAEA's creative proposal to fabricate new fuel assemblies for the Tehran Research Reactor had stumbled on a technically unfeasible Iranian counter-offer for a simultaneous exchange in Iran of Iranian fuel for fuel assemblies. Carefully constructed sanctions, Burns argued, targeting the increasingly pervasive economic power of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, would convey the international community's unity and determination. "We'll keep the door open to engagement," he stressed. A visibly disheartened Sinirlioglu conceded a unified message is important. He acknowledged the countries of the region perceive Iran as a growing threat: "Alarm bells are ringing even in Damascus."
3. (C) Sinirlioglu appealed for "simultaneity" between Armenian Protocols ratification and the Minsk Process. He emphasized "a strong reaction" against the protocols among ruling party MPs had to be overcome before the government would hazard a ratification effort. He warned Congressional passage of an Armenian genocide resolution would "complicate" his government's domestic political calculations regarding ratification. He said if something acceptable to Azerbaijani President Aliyev can found, then "we can move" the protocols forward. Sinirlioglu suggested Azerbaijan and Armenia's announcement of an agreed framework for Minsk Group progress would provide the GoT with the necessary political cover. Burns inquired about the prospect for progress on a natural gas deal between Turkey and Azerbaijan. Sinirlioglu implied
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Aliyev is holding an agreement hostage to Turkey's handling of the protocols: "He doesn't trust us."
4. (C) 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. The MFA hosted Maliki advisors Sadiq al Rikabi and Tariq al Najmi to meetings 10 days prior. Sinirlioglu lamented Iran's efforts to influence the election. 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. "We want a free, transparent and fair election," he said, "we need to forestall a deepening of the sectarian divide."
5. (C) After the March 7 elections, Sinirlioglu said, Turkey would initiate an effort to connect Iraqi gas fields to the Turkish grid via a 300 kilometer pipeline, costing USD 500 million. He asserted the pipeline could begin pumping within two years. He alleged Iranian opposition to the pipeline because most of Iraq's gas fields are in Kurdish and Sunni areas. Sinirlioglu advocated a second pipeline that would give Iraqi oil an alternative to the Gulf as a route to Europe once the country is able to meet its OPEC quota. He asserted the piplines' construction would pull the several Iraqi communities together into a common project. The creation of new "common assets," he said, could be more important for its politically unifying effect than its economic impact.
6. (C) Sinirlioglu registered his appreciation for USF-I Commanding General Odierno's recent visit. He hoped for the early drafting of an action plan that would elicit more cooperation from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leadership harboring in northern Iraq: "We want the KRG to understand that working with us is important."
7. (C) Burns focused on Turkey's strained relationship with Israel. Sinirlioglu argued "the problem is not bilateral, but general." He attributed increasing regional country frustration with Israel to the stalled Peace Process, especially on the Palestinian track. He blamed the lack of progress on Israeli intransigence, which caused regional stake-holders to question Netanyahu's goals. He contended the "humanitarian situation in Gaza," which is not a punishment of Hamas, but of the Gazan people, fed Turkish popular anger against Israel. Even so, bilateral cooperation with Israel is continuing. Turkey is acquiring Israeli military equipment, notably Heron UAVs. Direct flights between the two countries are routine. Two-way trade is healthy, he said, tourism has dropped recently, but "will recover." Sinirlioglu described Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak's mid-January visit as "very good." He noted the MFA is exploring the possibility of arranging a meeting between the two prime ministers on the margins of an international gathering. Returning to a GoT obsession, he recalled the Turkey-brokered Syria-Israel proximity talks, "which were shattered by Cast Lead," Israel's December 2008 military operation in Gaza. Burns noted Syria places high value on Turkey's role as a mediator and repeated Senator Mitchell's statement that Turkey-brokered proximity talks can make an important contribution to the Peace Process.
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8. (C) 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.
EU, CYPRUS and GREECE
9. (C) Sinirlioglu said Turkey's EU accession is being obstructed by the politically motivated objections of several member states, notably France, Austria and Cyprus. He reserved special criticism for President Sarkozy. He accused France of changing the rules mid-game. He contended French opposition to Turkey's membership is "deepening the cultural divide" between Christian Europe and the Muslim world: "A wider audience is watching this."
10. (C) He regretted perceived Greek Cypriot complacency regarding the island's reunification talks: EU "membership makes them invulnerable." Greek Cypriots, he said, want the world to forget the progress achieved by the Annan Plan in 2004. They pretend relations between the island's two communities are an internal affair, even though, by treaty, it's been an international issue for 50 years. Talat's cross-voting proposal, Sinirlioglu continued, should have been a breakthrough, but the Greek Cypriots failed to react. Downer is frustrated, Sinirlioglu alleged, and so are the Turkish Cypriots. He implied the island's Turkish community would register its frustration by voting out Talat as TRNC "president" in April. He renewed Turkey's appeal for higher profile direct USG involvement in the negotiations.
11. (C) Sinirlioglu welcomed Greek PM Papandeou's belated response to Erdogan's October 30 letter seeking a frank new discussion of the two neighbors' several long-running disputes. He conceded Papandreou's delay is understandable in light of his likely preoccupation with Greece's acute financial crisis. Based on Papandreou's response, Sinirlioglu said, Turkey expects to begin new talks with Greece soon.
12. (C) Burns opened the discussion on Afghanistan with praise for Turkey's military, training and development contributions there. Sinirlioglu said Turkey had chosen to focus on three Afghan challenges: "the marriage of Wahhabism and Pashtun nationalism"; the chronic antagonism between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and; the country's security forces deficit. He said Turkey plans to address the first by ramping up its education programs in Afghanistan; the second by pursuing its trilateral Ankara Process, which sponsors meetings of senior Afghan and Pakistani ministerial and intelligence counterparts, and; the third by establishing a police training center in Kabul that aims for a throughput of 5160 trainees per year. Keying off the last point, AMB Tacan Ildem, who recently concluded an assignment as Turkey's NATO PERMREP, declared the EUPOL police training effort in Afghanistan a failure. He said the EU's criticism of Turkey's unwillingness to work directly with EUPOL is unjustified. He argued, since Turkey does not have a security agreement with the EU and is excluded from the
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European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP), the GoT lacks a legal basis on which to cooperate with EUPOL. "We would like the EU to involve us not as a third country, but, in view of our accumulated rights," as a candidate for membership. He urged the USG not to coordinate bilateral agreements to support EU operations but, instead, to route all cooperation with the EU on security issues through NATO.
13. (C) Deputy Undersecretary for South Asian Affairs Engin Soysal led the discussion on Pakistan. He described the Ankara Process and the recent Turkey-sponsored Afghanistan Neighbors Summit as Turkish efforts to assert regional responsibility for South Asia's inter-linked problems. He said Turkey had not invited India to the neighbors summit in deference to Pakistani sensitivities; however, he claimed, Pakistan understands attempting to exclude India from the nascent South Asian regional structures would be a mistake. He reported Indian Prime Minister Singh had requested President Gul's assistance with Pakistan during the latter's visit to New Delhi the previous week. Acting on that request, Gul had phoned Pakistani President Zardari, who was skeptical of Indian intentions. Gul is planning to visit Pakistan later this year. Soysal said Iran is proposing a quadrilateal summit, which would include Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but that proposal had yet to generate enthusiasm.
14. (C) Soysal, Turkey's former ambassador to Pakistan, said the Pakistani military, though displeased with Zardari, remains unwilling to intervene; nevertheless, senior officers' patience may not be infinite. Zardari needs to increase the democratic legitimacy of parliament. Soysal offered. Nawaz Sharif has become a much more constructive player.
15. (C) Soysal urged a NATO training role in Pakistan. Picking up from Soysal, Tacan Ildem suggested NATO invite Pakistani military officers to courses at Oberammergau.
16. (C) 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."
BILATERAL EUROPEAN RELATIONS, NATO
17. (C) Burns inquired about Turkey's bilateral relations with Europe. Sinirlioglu briefly recapped Turkey's unhappiness with Sarkozy. He described his country's relationship with Austria as infected by the latter's ethnic prejudice. He complained Belgium and Denmark are reluctant to suppress terrorist PKK-affiliated organizations active in their countries. Tacan Ildem added that, as part of the 2009 POTUS-brokered deal that had overcome Turkish objections to the appointment of Anders Fogh Rasmussen as NATO Secretary General, Denmark had promised to clarify its legal requirements prerequiste to acceding to Turkey's request for the closure of Roj TV, a PKK mouthpiece. This still needed to be done, Ildem said.
18. (C) Picking up from Ildem, Sinirlioglu recalled the
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POTUS-brokered deal had included an understanding that a qualified Turk would be considered for Assistant Secretary General. Instead, he said, a German of uncompelling merit was selected. "We suspect a deal between Rasmussen and Merkel." Ildem complained high-level positions should be part of NATO reform: "We missed an opportunity with the selection of the Assistant Secretary General." Sinirlioglu added: "We let Rasmussen have Secretary General, because we trusted you."
19. (C) Sinirlioglu inquired about Russia's reaction on missile defense. Burns said the Russians are much more relaxed towards the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) and we hope to have more conversations on missile defense bilaterally and, eventually, within the NATO-Russia Council. Sinirlioglu recalled PM Erdogan's request in his recent meeting with SECDEF Gates that the Iranian threat not be highlighted to justify PAA.
20. (U) Participants:
Undersecretary Feridun Sinirliolgu Deputy Undersecretary Engin Soysal Ambassador Reha Keskintepe, Director General for the Americas Ambassador Tacan Ildem, Director General for International Security Affairs Ambassador Aydin Sezgin, Director General for Intelligence and Security Affairs Ebru Barat Gokdenizler, Deputy Director General for the Americas Serhat Aksen, Department Head, Americas
Undersecretary William Burns Ambassador James Jeffrey Deputy Assistant Secretary Tina Kaidanow Bridget Brink, NSC Daniel O'Grady, Political Counselor Tamir Waser, P Staff Jeremiah Howard, Deputy Political Counselor - Notetaker
21. (U) Undersecretary Burns has cleared this cable.
Turkey’s perception problem continues, if not worsens in Washington
Friday, November 26, 2010
Following the Turkish agreement on the NATO missile defense system last week in Lisbon, contrary to expectations, Turkey’s perception problem and questions about its direction have not ended in Washington. Instead, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoðan’s stern messages to Israel from Lebanon, where he visited this week, the new matrix of Washington politics since the midterm elections, in which the Republican opposition is much more stronger, and a set of issues expected to stem from the missile shield system continue to promise a hideous winter for the Turkish-American & Israeli, or TAI, relations.
The big question this week was why Turkey’s consensual agreement on the NATO missile system did not ease the jittery relations between Turkey and the U.S. Wasn’t the biggest contemporary sticking point between the two allies just nicely resolved? Turkey’s opposition to the missile system would have indeed damaged the image of Turkey far worse than many would have anticipated. However, in the real world, Turkey had very few other options beside accepting the new NATO defense plan to begin with, as I concluded my Oct. 15 column, five weeks before the summit, “What will or can Turkey do beside support the new vision, willingly or unwillingly?” Turkey, indeed, could have not opposed the rest of the 27 members of the alliance’s decision to defend themselves just because it did not share the same concerns.
Nonetheless, despite last week’s agreement, it appears that discussions over Turkey’s position will be still up for debate for the next few months. This week, the most relevant senior American diplomatic and military officials, when asked, said that it is indeed not certain if Turkey will actually host the radar installment, and Erdoðan confirmed that the decision has not yet been determined by his government either.
Discrepancies over concerns, questions and statements about the NATO missile shield are the crisp indicators that shed light on the edgy relations between Washington and Ankara these days, and they come to the surface when one finds the audacity to compare notes and do sort of a cross-examining of the senior administration officials, as I just did this week in Washington.
For instance, at the Brookings Institution this week, U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO Ivo Daalder, who spent years preparing for the summit, chuckled and clearly rebuked me when I repeated Turkish President Abdullah Gül's statement over Turkey’s shaping role at the NATO summit, “If Turkey was not in the summit, the summit would have been concluded within 10 minutes.” Then he snubbed another question in which I, once more, voiced Ankara’s repeated concerns over an Israeli role related to the shield; Daalder stated coldly and briefly: “NATO is requiring this capability to protect its territory. Period.”
U.S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Adm. James Stavridis also gave a press briefing and one of my questions, a much-vocalized talking point in Turkey especially among pundits, was on which country will be making the most money out of the planned defense shield, which is expected to cost billions of dollars. The initial response by admiral, once more, was a spontaneous chuckle, then he continued: “The good news for NATO is that the United States has already borne a great deal of the cost of the research and development of the systems. For example, the Aegis defense system was developed here. That will be adapted and moved ashore. So a great deal of the costs have already been spent in the development of the R&D portion of this thing. In terms of the European side of this thing, the cost is actually relatively low, because it's a command and control system that plugs into hardware that is being offered up by the United States at this point. So the command and control side of this thing will be in the low hundreds of millions of dollars. The actual infrastructure is, indeed, in the billions of dollars, but much of those costs will be borne by the United States.”
Before the summit, senior U.S. officials shied away from giving any kind of description about the command and control structure of the new missile shield, and simply stated that this issue will be worked out in coming months. Immediately following the summit, this week, it sounded like they have a pretty good idea of what the system should look like. According to Daalder, the issue “is actually not that complicated. ... NATO already has an integrated air missile defense system that has been operation under the single command-control system for decades, with the NATO supreme allied commander in charge. And we are going to have a very similar set up for the missile defense system.”
In brief, where the radar component of the shield will be deployed, and whether the Turkish administration will be satisfied by the described-precise command structure and Israel’s role in the whole cast, will be still the sticking points that are expected to suck a lot of the oxygen from the TAI relations during the first half of 2011.
The other significant menace for the U.S.-Turkey relations is undoubtedly Turkey’s worsening relations with Israel. I had a lengthy phone conversation with Mr. Dan Mariaschin, executive vice president of B'nai B'rith International, a global Jewish community group, a week ago and one thing clear to me from the whole conversation was that vociferous Jewish Americans have no hope for better relations between Turkey and Israel, as long as the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, government in Ankara.
Make no mistake: I, among many other observers, do believe that Israel owes an apology and that reparations must paid to those families who experienced losses following the flotilla incident.
However, it is also clear to me that Ankara has no interest in giving the Israeli administration the chance to step in that direction. Because it is a well-known secret that if Ankara really wants to make things better between the two, it has plenty of diplomatic skills to create that environment.
Erdoðan’s attack on Israel was met with a great enthusiasm in the streets of the Middle East, as his hero’s welcome confirmed once more in Lebanon this week. Though the same attacks met with an even greater distaste and increased hostility in the streets of Washington and worse, the halls of the Congress.
The Nov. 2 midterm elections reverberated the Israeli lobby’s power in Washington and made it even stronger; however, the Netanyahu government appears to be isolated in many parts of the world. As Steve Clemons, director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation, wrote on his blog on Thursday: “Netanyahu is telling various close friends that he has the U.S. Congress in his pocket and can largely ignore the White House. ... Netanyahu wants to bring down President Obama, when it is Obama who should be destabilizing the far right coalition of the Netanyahu government.”
Some commentaries appeared this week in the Turkish press which suggested that the Turkey-U.S. relations are going through the toughest period in the last 40 years. I have not been around that long and cannot echo the statement fully. What I am afraid is to predict sadly that the TAI relations might be entering into one of the most gruesome winters of recent history.