ANKARA (Hurriyet Daily News)—US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates promoted Sikorsky helicopters and Raytheon Patriot PAC-3 systems in ongoing tenders during a meeting with Turkey’s defense minister and chief of General Staff in February, according to U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.
According to the cable, during his meeting with Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül, Gates advised that Turkey had opportunities to increase its military capabilities while gaining economic benefits by selecting U.S. companies in currently open tenders.
Detailing the U.S. offer in the cable, Gates says “Sikorsky was prepared to guarantee that for every helicopter produced in Turkey and bought by Turkey, Sikorsky would produce a second helicopter in Turkey for export.”
Gates said in addition to providing modern equipment for Turkey, “this offer would provide hundreds of millions of dollars in export revenue. Gönül believes Sikorsky has a good chance to win,” according to the cable
A second “opportunity” involved the co-production of Raytheon PAC-3 Patriot systems in the cable dated February 2010. “Demand for these systems in the Gulf States could potentially yield hundreds of millions of dollars in export revenue,” Gates said. “Nothing can compete with the PAC-3 when it comes to capabilities.
“These opportunities are a chance for Turkey to earn revenue while simultaneously enhancing capabilities and creating jobs,” said the leaked cable.
According to the cable, Gönül said this competition was between the U.S., Russia and China, but noted that French MoD Morin had indicated in Istanbul that the French would also make a bid including co-production arrangements.
In the cable, Gates said the Raytheon package “would be easier to integrate with the command and control of the U.S. and others using the same system.”
According to another cable from January 2010, the United States maneuvered to have Taiwan provide Turkey with Super Cobra AH-1W helicopters to enhance its war against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, (PKK).
The cable, disclosed by WikiLeaks on Thursday and also made public by British newspaper The Guardian, came out of the U.S. Embassy in Ankara with detailed information relevant to a visit from Gates.
Ankara was pressuring Washington to move up the delivery date of a shipment of AH-1W helicopters to 2010 because of a “shortage of dual engine, high altitude attack helicopters, which it desperately needs to fight the PKK,” according to the cable.
Washington’s explanation that “these aircraft are simply not available” from the U.S. inventory was unacceptable to Ankara. “As they believe they have – just like the U.S. – ‘troops in contact’ and need the close tactical support,” the cable said.
The cable disclosed that the U.S. sought an alternative means of supplying Turkey’s demand. “While SecDef should make no commitment, we should also explore whether we can persuade Taiwan to sell or lease some of its own AH-1W aircraft now that Taiwan is taking delivery of Apaches,” the cable said.
Another cable from the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, dated Feb. 16, revealed that Turkey wanted to end its struggle against the PKK before the U.S. withdrew from Iraq. The cable, which covered Gates’ Ankara visit, said Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ expressed concern about the U.S. draw down of forces from Iraq, “lamenting that while Turkey has been successful in reducing the PKK threat, it will be difficult to finish off the threat after U.S. forces leave.” Başbuğ reportedly concluded that, “Turkey would need to ‘finish the problem’ before the U.S. draw down was complete,” the cable said.
A different cable from the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul dated Nov. 19, 2009, disclosed that a Turkish businessman reportedly acted as an “insider” in Iran for U.S. officials, providing them with information about the Islamic Republic’s business environment.
“We met recently with Keyhan Ozdemir (please strictly protect), a director of Pars-Invest, a Turkish company with construction, real estate and energy investments in Iran,” the cable said. Ozdemir claimed to have Iranian business partners with direct connections to the family of Supreme Leader Khamenei, including an Iranian business partner who claims a close personal connection to Khamenei’s son Mojtaba, according to the cable.
“Most Turkish companies, which are not politically ‘plugged-in’ inside Iran, drew back from Iranian investment following the June elections out of fear of political risk,” Ozdemir reportedly told U.S. officials, adding that he expected Turkish-Iranian trade to increase in the remainder of 2009 and into 2010.
The key sector to watch was the banking sector, as Turkish-Iranian trade could not expand significantly without more efficient banking cooperation, the cable reported Ozdemir as saying.
Turkey wanted to open branches of state-owned Halk and Ziraat banks in order to offer banking services to Turkish companies and investors in Iran, the cable reported. “According to Ozdemir, the [government of Turkey] has cautioned Halk and Ziraat to ‘go slowly’ until it becomes clearer whether international diplomacy with Iran succeeds or fails, and thus whether the risk of significantly tougher banking sanctions on Iran lessens or increases,” it said.