Author Topic: SECRET:Northern Iraq: Puk's Barham Salih: Worries Of Turkish Military... (2003)  (Read 2526 times)

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Offline jujyjuji

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Northern Iraq: Puk's Barham Salih: Worries Of Turkish Military Involvement In Niraq, Trouble With Itf, Views On Trilats, Krekar, Econ Crisis
Origin   Embassy Ankara (Turkey)
Cable time   Fri, 31 Jan 2003 12:40 UTC
Classification   SECRET
References   03ANKARA278
Referenced by   03ANKARA859

    Time unknown: Original unredacted version, leaked to Wikileaks
    Thu, 1 Sep 2011 23:24: Original unredacted version published, with HTML goodies


S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 ANKARA 000800
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/29/2013
 (U) Classified by DCM Robert Deutsch.  Reasons:  1.5 (B and
¶1. (S) Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) "Prime Minister"
Barham Salih briefed Operation Northern Watch POLAD in Ankara
Jan. 29 and 31 on his recent travel in Europe and his Jan. 30
meetings with Turkish officials.  Salih said his talks with
Turks were mostly positive, with the exception of the Turkmen
issue.  Salih told the Turks he believed Turkey was making a
"big mistake" by tying themselves only to the Iraqi Turkmen
Front (ITF).  In the long run Turkey would need the support
and friendship of Iraqi Kurds and Arabs more than the
Turkmen, who would always support Turkey in any case.  In
addition, he told the Turks, the ITF was defining Turkmen
rights on an anti-Kurd platform, an unhelpful and dangerous
move that indicated the ITF's political immaturity.  MFA
Under Secretary Ziyal told Salih that Turkey would permit
journalists to transit Turkey en route to the February
opposition conference in northern Iraq.  Finally, echoing
what Kurdistan Democratic Party leader Barzani told us
January 9 (reftel), Salih objected to Turkish troops
participating in military operations in northern Iraq unless
under US command, and even then, he was uncomfortable with
the notion.  "They are looking for a mission.  We don't want
to be their mission."  Salih said he hoped PUK leader Jalal
Talabani could discuss this bilaterally with Amb. Khalilzad
in Ankara on Feb. 6.  Salih also raised the release of Ansar
al-Islam leader Mullah Krekar and the PUK's current economic
crisis.  End Summary.
PUK Raises Turkmen Problems with GOT
¶2. (S) PUK "PM" Barham Salih briefed ONW POLAD January 29 and
31 on his travel to Europe and his Jan. 30 meetings with
Turkish MFA, TGS and TNIO officials.  He characterized his
meetings with Turks as good, with one problematic issue: the
Iraqi Turkmen.  Salih told the Turks they needed to cultivate
friendships with the Iraqi Arabs and Kurds, and that Turkey's
limited focus on Iraqi Turkmen was alienating other Iraqis.
"People in Iraq are exasperated with the Turks" he told us.
"We know they are one of the keys to our future and provide a
good example of secular democracy, but Turkish support of the
ITF and discussion of Turkish military involvement in Iraq
are creating many complications."  Calling the ITF
politically immature, Salih complained that ITF leaders are
defining Turkmen rights on an anti-Kurd platform, which was
ultimately dangerous, given Turkey's support for the ITF and
plans for military presence in northern Iraq.  Salih said the
KDP, PUK and other Iraqi opposition groups should give Turkey
assurances on everything they want, including on Kirkuk, to
avoid Turkish military involvement.
Salih Opposes TGS Involvement in Iraq
¶3. (S) Salih asked us if Turks in northern Iraq would be
under US military command.  When we told him we could not
answer that question at this stage and urged him and/or
Talabani to raise the matter with Presidential Special Envoy
Khalilzad during the latter's visit here Feb. 5-6, Salih
replied that he had consistently told US officials that he
and the PUK would be concerned about any increased Turkish
military presence in northern Iraq.  "They have no business
there."  Such a presence could only be acceptable under US
command, and even that made the Iraqi Kurds uncomfortable.
Repeating some themes raised with us by KDP leader Barzani
reftel, Salih said if the Turkish military comes into
northern Iraq, they will never leave.  Their presence will
draw in the Iranians, he said.  They will try to force the
undemocratic ITF down the Kurds' throats and restrict Iraqi
Kurds' political aspirations.  In short, he said, the Turkish
military "is looking for a mission.  We do not want to be
their mission."
Views on US-Turkey-Iraqi Kurds Talks
¶4. (S) When we discussed the Feb. 5-6 multi-party talks to be
led on the US side by PSE Khalilzad, Salih said the Iraqi
Kurds were interested in talking with the Turks about what
happens during military operations, but not about what
post-Saddam Iraq would look like.  He said if the Turks think
they have a say in that discussion they will think they can
"run" northern Iraq.  "That discussion is for Iraqis, not
foreigners."  He was very firm on the point and said that the
Turks want the Iraqi Kurds to be Iraqis first.  But when they
behave like Iraqis and try to discuss Iraq's future, Turkey
identifies them as Kurds and insists on inserting itself in a
discussion where Turkey does not belong.  Turkey, he said,
cannot have it both ways on this point.  Salih said that
including the ITF - even as observers - in the multi-party
talks will complicate things and could degenerate into
KDP-ITF bickering.  But more seriously, inclusion of the ITF
would give the Turks baseless claims to insist on getting
their way on every point "to protect the interests of the
Turkmen."  That said, he realized we may need to find a way
to check the ITF box in order to keep the Turks in the talks,
but he was decidedly unenthusiastic.
--------------------------------------------- --------
Turks: Conference Invite Should Come From KDP/PUK/ITF
--------------------------------------------- --------
¶5. (S) Turning to the upcoming Iraqi opposition conference,
Salih said MFA U/S Ziyal told him Turkey would permit
journalists to attend via Turkey.  Salih invited Ziyal to
send a GOT rep to the conference.  Ziyal said he would
consider the invitation.  TGS, Salih said, pushed him to have
the invitation to the conference jointly issued and signed by
KDP leader Barzani, PUK leader Talabani and ITF leader Sanan
Aga.  Salih told us the PUK was considering having the
invitation issued by all the opposition groups based in Iraq
to avoid a problem over this.  He said that including the ITF
in all the Advisory Committee sub-groups should not be a
problem.  "It is in our interest to have the ITF in all of
the opposition work, but not to have them shoved down our
throats by outsiders."  He noted that ITF leader Aga had in
the past supported autonomy for the region of "Iraqi
Kurdistan" and had even served on the region's autonomous
legislative council before the Gulf War.  That he now was
opposed to autonomy for the region was an interesting
indicator of his own lack of autonomy.
Readout from Davos - Surprising Support
¶6. (S) Salih said that the Iraqi opposition delegation at
Davos, in which he participated, got a great hearing and
spoke to a large and surprisingly supportive crowd.  He
complained that the European governments are "useless" on
Iraq.  He said that KDP/PUK cooperation was excellent and
that there was no way the parties would return to
confrontation with each other during hostilities.  "Those who
suggest so are hoping we will, but we're all playing this
smart."  The KDP and the PUK finally opened liaison offices
in each other's territory last week, fulfilling a Washington
Agreement reconciliation requirement.
Mullah Krekar - Offer of Additional Info
¶7. (S) Salih asked us why the Dutch had released Ansar
al-Islam leader Mullah Krekar and why the US had not tried to
extradited him.  Salih suggested Krekar had al-Qaeda
connections that should be sufficient for the US to hold him.
 Salih offered to provide any info necessary to help get him
in appropriate custody and said that Krekar and his relatives
are desparately looking for a way to get Krekar back to
--------------------------------------------- ---
PUK Econ Crisis - Appeal for Currency Assistance
--------------------------------------------- ---
¶8. (C) Finally, Salih said that the PUK regional
administration was in urgent need of economic assistance, was
grateful for what it had already received, but was now unable
to pay for public services and had a major currency crisis.
He said they could in theory go to a mostly USD-based economy
(many salaries are already paid in dollars), but they had
virtually no small denomination bills which made it
impossible to use the USD for daily commerce.  He asked if we
could help infuse into the region small USD bills.  He also
said the UK is holding a large amount of frozen Iraqi
accounts in old dinars and wondered whether there was any
chance of getting those released into circulation.  He said
he would follow up on this matter by phone with appropriate
USG officials.