The fresh installment of Wikileaks revelations on Sunday also dwelled on an episode which proved concerns that officials in Ankara sought to link their fence-mending policies with Armenia to a separate peace process between Yerevan and Baku in resolving the protracted conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.
A classified document leaked by the whistleblower and picked up by international media suggests that during February 18 “Shared Vision and Structured Dialogue” meetings in Ankara, Turkish MFA Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu “appealed for ‘simultaneity’ between Armenian Protocols ratification and the Minsk Process [on Nagorno-Karabakh].”
In a conversation with U.S. Under Secretary of State Burns Sinirlioglu “emphasized ‘a strong reaction’ against the protocols among ruling party MPs had to be overcome before the government would hazard a ratification effort”… and “suggested Azerbaijan and Armenia’s announcement of an agreed framework for Minsk Group progress would provide the Government of Turkey with the necessary political cover.”
Turkey not Dependability Partner
German Der Spiegel reported on Sunday that the leaked diplomatic cables reveal that US diplomats are skeptical about Turkey’s dependability as a partner. The leadership in Ankara is depicted as divided and permeated by Islamists, the report said.
According to Der Spiegel, US diplomats have grave doubts about Turkey’s dependability. Secret or confidential cables from the US Embassy in Ankara describe Islamist tendencies in the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The US diplomats’ verdict on the NATO partner with the second biggest army in the alliance is devastating. The Turkish leadership is depicted as divided, and Erdogan’s advisers, as well as Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, are portrayed as having little understanding of politics beyond Ankara.
The Americans are also worried about Davutoglu’s alleged neo-Ottoman visions. A high-ranking government adviser warned in discussions, quoted by the US diplomats, that Davutoglu would use his Islamist influence on Erdogan, describing him as “exceptionally dangerous.” According to the US document, another adviser to the ruling AK Party remarked, probably ironically, that Turkey wanted “to take back Andalusia and avenge the defeat at the siege of Vienna in 1683.”
The US diplomats write that many leading figures in the AK Party were members of a Muslim fraternity and that Erdogan had appointed Islamist bankers to influential positions. He gets his information almost exclusively from newspapers with close links to Islamists, they reported. The prime minister, the cables continue, has surrounded himself with an “iron ring of sycophantic (but contemptuous) advisors” and presents himself as the “Tribune of Anatolia.”
UK’s The Guardian, in leaked documents published on late Sunday said, 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.
According to the daily, the great Iranian-American struggle for control and influence in the Middle East is far from over – and may in fact be hotting up – and it was made plain again when US under-secretary William Burns held yet another meeting with the reluctant Turks in Ankara in February 2010. Burns insists Washington would prefer a negotiated settlement with Iran. Then, like Gates, he uses the spectre of an Israeli military attack to dramatise his arguments and unsettle the Turks.
”Burns strongly urged [Turkish foreign ministry under-secretary Feridun] Sinirlioglu to support action to convince the Iranian government it is on the wrong course. Sinirlioglu reaffirmed the GoT’s [government of Turkey] 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 neighbour 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. ‘We’ll keep the door open to engagement,’ he [Burns] stressed.”
And for once, it appears he has made some headway, the Guardian interpreted. “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.’ “
The report also said in Nov. 2009 that Davutoglu reportedly told US envoy Phillip Gordon that Iran cannot be bullied into compliance with western demands.
According to The Guardian, when Gordon says Ankara should send a stern public message to Tehran about the consequences of ignoring UN resolutions, Davutoglu replies that [Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan made just such a statement during a recent visit to Tehran. “Only Turkey can speak bluntly and critically to the Iranians, Davutoglu contended, but only because Ankara is showing public messages of friendship.”
The exchange continues: “Noting that Davutoglu had only addressed the negative consequences of sanctions or the use of military force, Gordon pressed Davutoglu on Ankara’s assessment of the consequences if Iran gets a nuclear weapon. Davutoglu gave a spirited reply, that ‘of course’ Turkey was aware of this risk. ‘This is precisely why Turkey is working so hard with the Iranians.’ “
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is currently on a visit in Washington and is supposed to have a meeting with the American diplomats questioning his credibility.