SPEECHES AND PUBLIC EVENTS
Ambassador Ricciardone Press Roundtable – Ankara News TV Bureau Chiefs
October 16, 2012
Ambassador Ricciardone: (delivered in Turkish) [Welcome all. We came together before on various occasions. Some of you have come for the first time, welcome again. Unfortunately, we are not able to meet due to our busy schedules. My goal is to chat with you rather than have a press conference. Journalists are the ones who take the pulse in a country. As you know, I started my career as a diplomat in Turkey. The friendships I had since then made me know Turkey better and love Turkey more. Therefore, I would like to hear your thoughts.
I guess you have questions regarding Syria, but before we start, please let me call your attention to another issue. Believe me, there is another issue that I am engaged with on my daily agenda as much as politics - which is trade and investment. Although it is not always in news stories, giant investors come to Turkey all the time and ask me whether there the appropriate environment in Turkey. I tell investors that Turkey is a safe, strong, stable and independent country. I spend half of my time encouraging American businessmen for more investment. For example, you would all remember the renewable energy delegation’s successful visit last year. We are waiting for a delegation on aviation and defense in the upcoming days. My guess is early December in Ankara and Istanbul. Finally, you know 3M. It is a huge company. 3M made a $500 million investment. You might have heard that Russell 20/20 was in Turkey recently. This group consists of giant investors who have $9 trillion in capital. They had great interest. They ask me about three major topics: the rule of law, freedom of expression, and intellectual property rights. They did not just ask about economic statistics, but asked questions about the political environment.
As a friend, we always give great support to Turkey’s democratic reform process and continue to do so. Although it is considered domestic politics, this plays an important role for those who are interested in investing in Turkey. These are issues that you discuss as well. As a result of these discussions, we believe Turkey will come out of the process with a more liberal democracy. I would like to continue in English.] (delivered in Turkish)
Question(s): (asked in Turkish) [Now the most important subject is Syria for Turkey. One crisis one after the other and Turkey’s reactions due to the rules of engagement. Although the Government made several statements, what is your general opinion of these issues? Second, there is a general public opinion about the U.S. leaving Turkey all alone on Syria. Turkey is all alone because of the elections and the U.S. is not providing the necessary support to Turkey on Syria. It is not only the U.S., but also the UN and NATO. Do you agree with these criticisms? In respect of international public opinion, is there a two-sided attitude? Are you not taking the necessary/sufficient steps on Syria?]
Ambassador Ricciardone: Thank you. On the question of the Syrian airplane and all of the tensions in the confrontation that the Syrian regime evidently is trying to provoke with Turkey, I can repeat what Secretary Clinton has said very authoritatively as the American point of view: Turkey has responded very proportionately and calmly and confidently - which is obvious to us a position of strength. Turkey has not fallen into a trap that perhaps the Assad regime, in its desperation and its weakness, seems to be trying to set.
When I say that Turkey is confident and strong, that should be obvious to most people in Turkey as it is around the world. So it surprises Turkey’s friends, especially Americans, and honestly it disappoints us when we hear in Turkish public opinion some Turks seeming to doubt one of the great sources of Turkey’s strength. You have internal sources of strength - your economy, your democracy, your armed forces. One of the great external sources of strength is the solidarity of your allies, both individually as with the relationship with the United States, and collectively with your allies in NATO.
Your enemies are our enemies and whether you are thinking of Assad, a criminal regime condemned by all countries of the world except for three, or you are talking about the PKK, it is your enemies who are isolated, not Turkey. And it seems to me that your enemies would wish you to doubt your friendships and your alliances whereas it is your enemies who should fear the truth, which is that they stand alone and are isolated and they are failing.
As to the question of what we all can do together regarding Syria - We all share the frustration that there is no simple answer, that we cannot predict when the transition will come or how it will turn out. So together we are working in several areas to try to hasten the day of transition in Syria and to try to make the transition turn out positively for the people of Syria. I think we all have not only a common goal, but a common approach and common principals. We all recognize that the change must be lead by the Syrian people themselves and we see that they are doing this with real courage against impossible cruelty at the hands of their own government. And so both the Turkish government and the governments of your allies are working to strengthen the Syrian political opposition - those who live in exile.
Turkey was among the first countries to offer a safe place for Syrians to come and meet and discuss their future, safe from the oppression of the Assad regime over a year ago. And Turkey continues to take the lead in encouraging the opposition to unify. The rest of the world, including my country, stands in solidarity with Turkey and the Syrian people for a diplomatic process that Turkey is very much a leader of and not a follower. We also work together to try to provide relief to the Syrian people. We recognize - the United States recognizes - that Turkey has been extremely generous in keeping with an ancient Turkish tradition. Turkey has always acted with compassion and generosity to people in need and to victims of conflict around the world.
Whether we look at today’s terrible suffering of the Syrian people or the suffering of the Iraqis a decade and a half ago, or before that in the early 20th century when great waves of people came - the victims of the wars in the Balkans - or 500 years ago when Christian Spain was persecuting Jews - Turkey welcomed thousands of Jewish refugees. Turkish generosity toward those suffering from conflict is a well established tradition. The United Nations has recognized that and is contributing and has put out a call for more support not only to Turkey, but also to Jordan.
The U.S. is contributing in cash and in kind to these efforts. But no matter what we contribute in terms of cash support, it falls to Turkey as a neighbor to take up this heavy moral burden that you have always so generously taken up. As we look to what will happen in the future in Syria, I have to believe the Syrian people will not forget who gave them shelter in their time of need. And I think this lays a good basis for Turkish friendship with a future, let us pray democratic, Syria. So I think Turkish policy is far-sighted, generous, and ultimately wise. And we will do what we can to support you.
Question(s): (asked in Turkish) [Turkey faces a refugee problem which is over 100,000 now and is there any concrete thing that you could say like U.S. does this, should do this, UN does this but should do this? Are we not at that level? What would you like to say?]
Question: (asked in Turkish) [Maybe is it possible to establish a no fly zone or buffer zone?]
Question(s): (asked in Turkish) [Also, will the U.S. take steps to set up a safe zone besides a no-fly zone and delivering humanitarian aid to Syrian people at the UN? Besides what you said, will there be more concrete steps from the U.S.?]
Question(s): (asked in Turkish) [And also, in such a process, do Turkey and Syria need to have a relationship? There are messages from various countries - is there a need for such relationship? Diplomatically or militarily, does Turkey need to establish such a relation, is it necessary and with whom?]
Question: (asked in Turkish) [Because somehow the other side says they cannot find an interlocutor. Is it necessary to have such relation?]
Question: (asked in Turkish) [Mr. Ambassador, let us make an addition, because the first question is not complete. Is there a possibility of following a more concrete and more active policy after the elections?]
Question: (asked in Turkish) [Everyone is asking whether an active policy will follow, so the common point is that there is no common opinion. Is it because the U.S. hesitates to take a step because it sees an extreme religious Al Qaeda danger in a post-Assad period?]
Question: (asked in Turkish) [One thing is important on that point. While the U.S. was giving support, suddenly acting indecisive, focusing on the elections as an excuse, there are serious comments that Muslim Brothers and Al Qaeda are ruling there. Also, U.S. forces went to Jordan for support. Could it be on the agenda for Turkey border as well?]
Question(s): (asked in Turkish) [Are Russia and Iran part of the dialogue for solving the conflict? Do you try to make them part of the solution while somehow protecting their interests?]
Question(s): (asked in Turkish) [Then let us ask this as well. The plane that came from Russia and searched in Ankara: There are claims that the intelligence came from the U.S. Was it the U.S. who provided the intelligence? Did you have any role in the search? Do you know anything about the evidence? Also, there are claims in various papers that there are CIA agents in Turkey. It is claimed that there are troops at the Jordania border and troops and CIA officials in Turkey. Is it true?]
Question: (asked in Turkish) [Because some equipment comes from U.S. sources?]
Question: (asked in Turkish) [Were you asked for any support?]
Question: (asked in Turkish) [Also, for the last couple of days a potential war is being discussed, Middle East or Third World War. Do you think today the possibility of war is so close?]
Question: (asked in Turkish) [After the elections, which steps could the U.S. take? Could you share that with us?]
Ambassador Ricciardone: Ricciardone: These are all excellent questions. These really are all related. And many of the same questions arise to Americans but since you are here on the border, for Turks these are more immediate and frightening questions. I can say that I do not see a large probability of war. It does not mean Americans are complacent. It means Americans are confident in our alliance, confident in our partners including Turkey and also Jordan. And it seems to us the logic of the situation is powerful.
The Assad regime cannot survive at war with its own population. Its military forces are no match for Turkey’s alone, never mind for Turkey and its allies. Turkey is a state of law. It is a strong democracy where we naturally debate questions of war and peace very openly and passionately but I do not see a lack of confidence among Turks in your future.
And please see that Americans likewise keep coming here, as I said the outset. Investors keep coming. They are looking beyond momentary border conflicts. We even have American entertainers coming. We have sportsmen coming. We had Tiger Woods here last week. We had the Boston Celtics. We have a women’s tennis tournament coming from the U.S. They see a country that is at peace and is doing business.
So we just do not see a likelihood of war but I admit many Turks do. My own friends send me emails from America. Some have come to visit, but with trepidation. They read in the Turkish media anxiety about the prospect of war, but we have great confidence in you and we know that our enemy - our joint enemies, the PKK and Syria - are weak and will not prevail. So we have a very different view of the dynamics. I hope Turks will have confidence too.
As to the CIA role and covert issues, whether with respect to the Russian airplane or questions of intelligence cooperation on the Syria account, obviously we do not speak about things that are secret. Then they would not be secret. So I really cannot comment on any specific allegations or rumors of specific intelligence cooperation.
But we certainly do not deny that, as allies and friends, we do share intelligence on common threats, especially against terrorism, and especially against our enemies. This is what allies do. And it is one reason that if I were Assad, I would be very worried.
On any kind of covert action, CIA presence, this sort of thing, obviously I am not going to comment on those specific allegations. In fact, I want Assad to be terrified. I want him to believe that the world is organized against him overtly, covertly, and every other way.
On the question of engaging with Russia or Iran in finding a solution to this problem, it is not the U.S. or Turkey or our allies who have tried to make the Syria conflict into some kind of a game between us and the Russians and Iranians. In fact, we have urged the Iranians and Russians to cease their support for the Assad regime, join the rest of the world, and most importantly join the Syrian people in promoting a transition to a better future, to live under a government that at the very least will not make war on them. And we hope much better than that – a government that will represent them and serve them. Just as the Turks can live in a democracy and in security, we hope the Syrians very soon will live under a regime that does that. There is no reason why Russia and Iran cannot join the Syrian people in doing that. They could do it today. And if they decided to do that today, Assad would be gone today.
On the question of what will come after and what kinds of people and factions are fighting against Assad, the questions of the Muslim Brotherhood, various fanatics, jihadists of one sort or another - Of course we are concerned about the future of Syria and that is precisely why the United States, Turkey, and other countries are working, through non-violent assistance, to help Syrians who are not fanatics, who believe in their country, who want to live in peace with each other regardless of their religion or their ethnicity. That is precisely why we are engaged with such Syrians, both outside Syria and, to the extent possible, inside. So we are doing things like helping them train, how to organize at the community level, how to communicate internally, safe from the Syrian Muhabarad, and how to get the truth out of Syria.
If the Syrian government had listened to the Turkish government a year ago, they would have let in international journalists like you. That was one of the, I think thirteen, recommendations that Foreign Minister Davutoglu very wisely gave to the Syrian government and one of the thirteen promises that Assad made and broke, and broke again when the deadline was extended. Because he will not permit journalists to go in, the United States of America, working with other countries, is training, if you will, amateur Syrian journalists how to take pictures, video recordings, and safely get them out and expose the truth of what the Assad regime is doing to its people. We believe in your profession. We believe in the power of your profession to bring out the truth and in the end, the truth will always defeat dictators.
Several of you asked about the impact of the American elections and whether President Obama is likely to do anything differently. I am merely an Ambassador, not a prophet. I cannot predict how American politics will turn out or what will happen in Syria. But as an American and a government official, I can assure you that no American president acts in a cynical way. That is not the way one can lead in a democracy. Our leaders reflect what they believe to be the will of the American people and they do try to explain to the American people what they believe is necessary. We are at a great moment in the exercise of our democracy. Tonight maybe some of you will stay awake and listen to President Obama and Governor Romney and their debate. I think President Obama is accurately reflecting, and for that matter, candidate Romney, are accurately reflecting the concern of the American people toward the conflict in Syria.
We are deeply troubled by the suffering of those people. We worry about the instability and conflict spreading beyond Syria’s borders to other weak countries. As I mentioned, I do not see it spreading to strong countries - your democracy is too strong - and so we want to do something. President Obama, I believe, is acting extremely prudently and consistently with what Americans want in supporting the Syrian people both in reducing their suffering through humanitarian assistance and by working with the Syrian opposition in non-lethal ways. I do not expect that to change. I do not expect a lessening of our commitment. As to whether that commitment may shift to a more military one, I do not know.
On the buffer zone and the United Nations, they sort of go together. We have said time and again that we believe the UN Security Council should take action - strong action - under chapter 7 to confront the Syrian regime and its war against its own people. Secretary Clinton has expressed our own deep disappointment in the inability of the United Nations Security Council despite three attempts now to get such a resolution.
One of you asked, will we keep working on that? Yes, of course we will keep working in the United Nations, both the Security Council, and the General Assembly, to increase the Assad regime’s isolation and keep up the pressure on them. We stay in dialogue with the Russians. Sadly, Iran chooses not to engage in diplomacy with most countries of the world. In the one area where we are in contact regarding proliferation, the Iranian side seems reluctant to engage seriously. We do not expect much to come from the Iranians. I see that the Prime Minister of Turkey met today with the Iranian President. I do not know yet what they discussed. I would love to think that Turkey’s strong influence will come to bear on Iranian thinking. If anybody can influence Iran, it should be Turkey. They are a powerful neighbor, but so far we have not seen anything come of that.
On the buffer zone question, in the absence of a UN Security Council resolution, this becomes harder to do. And of course, a buffer zone implies enforcement of a buffer zone. It implies a no-fly zone and I would not want the Assad regime to think that they do not have to worry about that. If I were Assad, I would be worried every morning that I would wake up and read about the next step of pressure on me from the international community. But at the moment, as you know, there is no such UN resolution. Turkey will be speaking with the leader of Russia soon and stays in touch. We stay in touch with the Russian leadership, and we are going to keep working on this problem.
Question(s): (asked in Turkish) [Can you add on to that? If I am not mistaken, America has done this before. Turkey has redlines. For example, we said the maximum number of refugees would be 100,000. Then diplomatic sources said 200,000. Most recently the Prime Minister said 700,000. But along with these, if a possible influx happens, or if the influxes of refugees are fired upon, it is being said that Turkey will create a buffer zone without a UN decision. Is the United States considering this? How will you, or international law, respond to this?]
Ambassador Ricciardone: As to our understanding of the Turkish declarations of its policies, it is not for me to characterize Turkish policies here. Regarding a hundred thousand refugees or others, what I can say is that Turkey has responded in a strong, confident, measured, proportionate way to each of the provocations, whether they are deliberate or as they claim sometimes accidental, from the Syrian side. Turkey is a great power - has acted as a great power - and has responded responsibly and effectively to each challenge. I see no reason why that should change.
As to the question of a buffer zone - Will we consider it? - We consider everything. We are in close touch with Turkish authorities both bilaterally and in NATO. I can certainly assure you that our militaries, our military officers, are in contact. This week I know there is a special focus of our military experts talking about Syria. And what militaries do well is plan for every contingency and every eventuality. No political decision has been made regarding buffer zones or no-fly zones. But if it ever became necessary, I think you can be confident that between Turkish power, and the combined power of Turkey and its allies, we could handle any situation that might arise militarily.
Let me also make clear something that you raised earlier if I was not clear. There was one story floating around about American Special Forces being in Turkey that I can outright deny. We have Army, Air Force – we have American Marines although you do not have Marines - Navy officers, and we have Special Forces officers [who are in Turkey permanently] (Turkish). They are in my embassy as members of our embassy team. We have military officers who deal with Turkish counterparts on a daily basis - training programs, information exchanges, adopting equipment - the daily stuff of a military-to-military relationship. So in that context, yes we have Special Forces but we are talking two or three officers and they wear uniforms and suits. They do not have weapons. They are not fighting people.
So I do not mean to mislead you. And I am very happy about that. In fact, I may claim it is an innovation in my tenure. I have worked with American Special Forces in the Philippines, in Afghanistan, around the world, and they are brilliant, they use their heads - their weapon is their brains and their intelligence. Turkey likewise has Special Operations officers who are not just very athletic, but very smart. Now, as of the past year or two, Turkish and American Special Operations officers are participating in joint training in the United States with a lot of contact in Turkey. So that happens, but that is routine. Your question I think was about non-routine and I can tell you there is no presence of Special Operations forces here in Turkey.
Question(s): (asked in Turkish) [Are the sanctions really cornering Assad? And a second question is does Assad still have the support from some countries that can lead him to stay in power?]
Ambassador Ricciardone: There is no question that the sanctions are hurting him. One way that he stays in power that we can see is he has the money to keep paying people. He is running out of money and all of these economic and other sanctions are biting and shrinking, not just his human base of support, but his geographic control over the country. I believe any other way that the Allies find to tighten the sanctions - we will be looking to make them still stronger. Are they enough? No. Are there silver bullets, magic immediate solutions? Of course not. Sanctions take time to work. But these are the tools we have - the tools of diplomacy. Short of military force, these are the things we have to do.
Some countries are avoiding the sanctions, clearly. We have seen Iranian attempts to bring in weapons and soldiers. They have boasted about this openly. We have seen, evidently as the Turkish government has reported, an attempt recently via the Syrian airplane last week, according to what the Turkish government has released, to bring in military support to them that way. A few months ago, Russian ships landed at Tartus and off-loaded at least supplies if not also people. Those things continue. That is another reason we want the force of international law to make even stronger sanctions, and the way we do that is through a UN resolution.
So we hope to persuade our Russian friends that Russian interests - world interests - rely on the side of the Syrian people becoming free. Perhaps Turkey, and the United States, and other countries all working together will be able to persuade them. What else can we do?
In fact, I said I wanted your views. You are educated people. You reflect the opinion of Turks across the spectrum. What do educated compassionate Turks really expect or want? My understanding is that most Turks do not want a military confrontation. Most Turks do not want Turkish forces to enter Syria or to be patrolling the skies over Syria. Most Turks, I think, do not want Americans or other forces coming in to turkey to invade Syria or enforce a buffer zone. But tell me if I am wrong. Do you want, do you expect, the United States to undertake military action against Syria through Turkey? Is that what most Turks would like? Because I do not get that impression, honestly. You, like we, want a solution.
Question: (asked in Turkish): [I think you are correct. Turkey and the Turkish people want Assad to be gone, but they want this to happen without a war. In this sense, it is critically important to persuade Russia. For us, it is Iran, for you it is Russia.]
Ambassador Ricciardone: Both are difficult. You are right. We both want that same thing. We want the impossible. We want Assad to go without force, without violence. We want the suffering of the Syrian people to end. And yet none of us want to send our young men into Syria with guns and into war. It is a terrible dilemma. And we think it can only be solved diplomatically if the Russians, who have a Security Council vote, will do it.
I might pick up on one other important thing. You said Turks do not want to go to war with another Muslim country. Americans generally do not think in terms of religious war or sectarian war. It is not in our nature given our deep belief in freedom of religion. We do not think of a Muslim country or a non-Muslim country. For us that is not the issue. One of the anxieties we share with the government of Turkey, and I believe the Turkish people, is that Assad is trying to turn this into a religious war - a sectarian war - some kind of Shiite versus Sunni thing. We share that worry because we believe Syria, with all of its problems, and the Syrians, are basically a people who identify on a national basis as Syrians and used to be, and I hope still are, proud of the fact that they have Christians and Muslims, Alevis and Sunnis, Kurds, Arabs, living together in a kind of whole - almost on a Turkish model of [diversity] (Turkish) and an American model of [diversity] (Turkish).
We believe in diversity as a source of strength. So we are really worried about the Iranians’ attempts and perhaps the Assad regime’s attempts to make this into a sectarian war. And that too for Americans makes us anxious. We do not want to get into a fight between brothers. We want to help Syrians stop the violence and find a way to live together in peace again, but without a dictator. It is like the problem in Iraq as you mentioned.
Question(s): (asked in Turkish) [The rising levels of terror in Turkey? As long as Assad stays in power, Turkey will continue to suffer from this. He is working directly with the PKK now.]
Ambassador Ricciardone: (delivered in Turkish) [We are worried about the same thing]. A big part of the problem of terrorism in the world is the availability of what we call ungoverned spaces. So Afghanistan was that way under the Taliban and after the Taliban. Yemen was that way. Northern Iraq was that way. And you suffered. The PKK was able to gain a foothold. We do not wish to see Syria become or remain, as it already is partly, an ungoverned territory because not only the PKK but other terrorists could find space to breathe. This is not only bad for Turkey, it is bad for the region and the world. Turkish and American interests, in that regard, are identical.
Like Turkey, we are working together with others friends and allies, for example the Kurdish Regional Government of Northern Iraq, to try to prevent the Kurdish tribes of northern Syria to support the PKK - to tolerate them or work with them. I am confident in a post-Assad Syria that is truly democratic, where all the people of Syria feel respected and all of them feel like they are citizens who are participating, and that the PKK will have no space. Just as in Turkey, as your democracy is growing stronger, the PKK is losing support among the Turkish people. What support they had in Eastern Turkey seems to have faded greatly in these past years. I see that as a result of improving democracy in your country and I think that improving democracy in Syria will have the same effect in the future.
Question(s): (asked in Turkish) [A question regarding the PKK: It is being mentioned a lot by high-level officials -the capture of PKK ringleaders such as Murat Karayilan. In this respect, intelligence-sharing is being talked about. Someone talked about this as, “the body is useless once the head is cut off.” At this point, is there anything the United States can give to Turkey? Same for the Kandil bombings. What results were seen regarding intelligence sharing? What can you say about this when the United States has such good relations with Northern Iraq, especially Barzani, the Turkish public thinks. Is it really that hard to capture Murat Karayilan? Is it really that hard to conduct this operation? Maliki met with two high-level PKK administrators today. What do you think, as the United States, about Maliki’s Syrians policies, his PKK policies regarding Turkey?]
Ambassador Ricciardone: We are sharing with the government of Turkey all the intelligence we can get and have on Kandil and the PKK. We have actually offered a little more. We used a multi-disciplinary approach to go after Bin Laden. You saw, it took us many years of patient effort. We used intelligence, we used law enforcement, we used advance technology, we used military force, special operations in fact. We have kept our offer to the government of Turkey to share what we call our TTP - not only intelligence, but our tactics, our techniques, and our procedures. As we develop our TTP, the enemy also develops TTP. The enemy gets smarter. We have to stay ahead of the enemy.
So without divulging necessarily secret details of what we do with your government, we offer the benefit of our experience and our technology to the Turkish side if they wish to use it in going after a common enemy. The Turkish authorities go about this problem in keeping with Turkish law and experience and they do what they judge is appropriate for Turkey. We are willing to work even more intimately to the extent our Turkish ally wishes to do so.
Let me stress one thing. The failure to have defeated the PKK militarily so far is something both Turks and Americans regret. We should not let our enemy cast suspicion between us as allies. Whenever I hear Turks doubting the willingness of the United States to support Turkey in its fight against the PKK, it makes me sad and frankly it annoys me. It means your enemy is succeeding in poisoning perhaps your will and your thinking. That kind of conspiracy-thinking does not benefit Turkey or the Turkish-American relationship. Perhaps it gives hope to your enemies that indeed they can last longer or that they can survive longer. And we want to take away the hope of our joint enemies, not give them hope.
So to anyone who spreads this idea that Turkey stands alone, that the United States is not supporting Turkey, I have to ask why you believe that. Yes it is true - the Americans put a man on the moon – yes, we got Bin Laden, after many years of effort. These are hard problems. But we are willing to work hard and in increasingly clever and smart ways. We are willing to become even more intimately involved in how the information is used consistent with Turkey’s desires. I cannot say more than that specifically.
Question: (asked in Turkish) [There is something that I do not understand. You said that we share all intelligence but offered more, that the Turkish government will receive it if they want…]
Ambassador Ricciardone: It is the use. It is the exploitation. We give intelligence but we are not exploiting it together. We give intelligence and the Turkish side decides what to do with it. [However] (Turkish), when we went after Bin Laden - we have our intelligence providers, our collectors, who work and hand and glove with the Special Forces. Our war-fighter works with the collector intimately and not only the soldiers with the collector. We reach out to law enforcement people who might deal with the drug trafficking piece of it. We try to squeeze the ability to move money, weapons, people, across borders. That is not a military function. That is a law enforcement function. It is not an intelligence function. It is a law enforcement function. So to get Bin Laden, we had in the same room a physical space, with lots of computers and TV screens, our intelligence collectors, our law enforcement people, a diplomat or two, and our military people. And the power of this multi-disciplinary approach is what got Bin Laden in the end. And we would like to share that and exploit that intimately.
Question: (asked in Turkish) [Are you trying to say that we are giving intelligence, but want to also participate on an operational level?]
Ambassador Ricciardone: We do not participate in Turkish operations. There is much we can do to deepen our cooperation short of having American soldiers involved, with Turkish soldiers or Turkish police for that matter, in your operations. We respect Turkey’s sovereign rights and traditions to defend itself in the way that Turkey knows best. We are not looking to tell Turkey what to do or to join in the fighting in the sense that I think you mean. But we are very eager to share our experience that we have gained very painfully at great cost, and which in itself is not a magic solution. We do not want the enemy to know our capabilities. We want the enemy to feel our capabilities and to recognize that he cannot prevail against them. But I cannot describe to you in more detail than I already have, what we do.
Question(s): (asked in Turkish) [Was this officially offered to the Turkish government, did they accept it?]
Ambassador Ricciardone: Let me say that we have a very intimate and satisfactory cooperation with the government of Turkey in all of these areas and we respect Turkey’s traditions and laws and political decisions as to how, and to what extent it wishes to cooperate in this whole-of-government approach.