ANKARA: Mr. General, They’re All Here For

By Murat Yetkin

Turkish Press
Published: 9/13/2007

RADIKAL- President Abdullah Gul paid his first domestic visit
as a president to the Southeastern region, which is a meaningful
behavior. If this is the sign that functions of the state are reviving
again following the crisis about the presidential election which
started in Ankara in April, this situation can be understood from
the liveliness of interpretations on this visit. According to an
interpretation, Gul is pursuing a stance of the state this way. The
facts that Ahmet Necdet Sezer also paid his first domestic visit as
a president to the Southeastern region, Gul plans to pay his first
visit abroad to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) as a
president and that he sent messages of solidarity to Algerian President
Abdulaziz Bouteflika, as he faced an attempt of assassination, are
viewed as evidences supporting this stance.

According to another interpretation, Gul is paying his first visit to
the Southeastern region in order to have better relations with the
Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and that he’s sensitive about fighting
terrorism and such issues as border safety and separation. As part
of this, there is a foreign dimension of this visit and actually the
president is also inspecting Iraqi and Iranian borders. The fact
that this visit started immediately after Chief of General Staff
Yasar Buyukanit’s first official visit to Gul is also meaningful for
this reason.

According to another comment, Gul is paying this visit for the purpose
of serving domestic peace, in other words, for solving the Kurdish
issue and fighting the understanding that all the Kurds are considered
as supporters of the terrorist PKK. The visit coincided with just the
beginning of Ramadan month, which also indicates this. The reality
probably lies just in the middle of these three interpretations.

Israeli jets violated the Syrian airspace last weekend and two fuel
tanks dropped on the Turkish territory; it was claimed in the Arabian
press that these jets took off from Turkey; the Foreign Ministry
requested information from Israel after two days of silence, when
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem wanted to visit Ankara and
then Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, who met with Walid al-Moallem,
condemned this stance of Israel by defining it ‘unacceptable’. These
incidents are all parts of this. It can be seen that neither the
Foreign Ministry, nor the General staff want to exaggerate this issue
at a time when the Armenian bill is about to reach the US Congress
again and certain cracks emerged within the Jewish lobby in the US. In
addition, interesting information about the Cabinet started to leak
within lobbies, where Gul paid a visit of thanks yesterday. It’s
said that there is an incredible competition between ministers about
duties and authorities of the Ministry of Environment, City Planning
and Water, and the Ministry of Forestry and Natural Resources, which
will be newly established. It’s also claimed that Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who isn’t glad with the functioning of customs,
want to attach the income part of customs to the Finance Ministry
and the security part to the Interior Ministry. Similarly, it’s also
claimed that the issue of sports was attached to Labor Minister Murat
Basesgioglu, who rejected Gul’s presidential candidacy and that this
is like a punishment, rather than a reward.

None of these things are as worth mentioning in terms of politics
as this incident: Indicating the reporters, President Gul said to
Gen. Buyukanit, who came to congratulate him yesterday following
a process which is full of debates, that they were all here for
him. Obviously, there is a part of reality about this joke. Gul
wants to show that debates which started in the process of a crisis
concerning the presidential election are over. Is the picture which
emerged yesterday indicating this? This is not certain.

However, it can be certainly said that a new period started yesterday.

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