Monday, June 29, 2015

Current Turkish government faces internal and external challenges as a consequence of its foreign policy miscalculations

    Monday, June 29, 2015   No comments
 Army asks gov’t to work out political and diplomatic avenues before Syria incursion

The Turkish military has reportedly asked the government to lay the diplomatic groundwork to facilitate its pending operation along the Syrian border to neutralize emerging security threats posed by the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) as well as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Several Turkish dailies have reported over the weekend that the military was already given orders to take measures, including an incursion in Syria, to stem possible advances by ISIL or the PYD and prevent the change in demographic composition of the Syrian provinces near the Turkish border. Although the military in principle said it will comply with the order by the government and fulfill the task, it asked the government to work with the US, Russia and Iran in order to coordinate diplomatically and reduce the likelihood of further complications.

The Cumhuriyet daily on Sunday said military planning is currently under way and did not include the mobilization of tactical units for an incursion into Syria. It said the operation will take place in an area of some 100 kilometers along the border, possibly 20-30 kilometers deep into Syrian territory. Such an offensive requires corps-level deployment, as the troops in the border areas are not equipped to handle this operation. Mechanized and armored units will also need to be dispatched to support the operation. The daily said no such mobilization has taken place yet, indicating that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) is only involved in the operation planning stage for now.

Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) is strongly opposed to Turkey's involvement in Syria. Gürsel Tekin, the deputy chairman of the CHP, said, “Turkey should never be a part of a dirty war in Syria.” Accusing the government of supporting ISIL, Tekin said it is not clear which group Turkey would be interfering with in a military operation. Instead of engaging in Syria militarily, Tekin asked the government to work with the UN to find a political solution to the conflict.

Turkish move into Syria would destroy peace capability: Iran

Any violation of a U.N. member country’s territorial integrity would destroy Turkey’s capacity to maintain peace and stability in Syria, Iran’s ambassador to Turkey, Ali Reza Bikdeli, said elaborating on media reports that Ankara is mulling military intervention into the neighboring country.

Asked about reports that Turkey aims to intervene in the Syrian town of Jarabulus, the Iranian ambassador said Turkey refuted these claims earlier.

“This issue came up several times. And, at the time, Turkey’s official authorities refuted these allegations,” the ambassador said late June 26, speaking to members of the Diplomacy Correspondents’ Association.

Underlining that Turkey has a major capacity to maintain peace and stability in Syria, “violating the territorial integrity of a U.N. member country would destroy all these capacities. We hope Turkey and Iran will jointly use their capacities to achieve peace and stability,” Bikdeli stated.


Turkey mulls bombing ISIL without sending troops to Syria

The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) are not keen on sending forces into Syria in the near future unless its units are targeted despite a government directive encouraging an intervention, daily Hürriyet has learned, amid reports that the army is considering bombing the extremists from Turkey instead.

Having strongly indicated its reluctance to lend support to the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the TSK is inclined to engage in a bombing campaign against the front line of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and provide logistical support to the FSA only after the new parliament makes its stance clear.

Options for the TSK before the parliament elects its speaker and a new government is formed are limited to intensifying security measures at the border, upgrading the military presence near the border, increasing intelligence activity in the region and keeping units on full alert in line within the framework of the rules of engagement which are designed to treat any military approach from Syria as a threat, according to sources.

Arguments of civilian and military authorities

According to sources, the president’s office, the government, the Foreign Ministry and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) want the TSK to support the Syrian forces fighting the central government in a fashion similar to the support given by the United States to Syria’s Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Kobane and Tal Abyad so as to prevent ISIL from gaining Azaz and Marea, which are close to the Turkish border and the scene of intense clashes.

In this context, hitting ISIL’s frontline with long-range artillery deployed on Turkish territory or with aerial attacks, while also lending arms and ammunition support to opposing rebel forces, are expected. The TSK is also said to believe that because such a step would target ISIL, it would be welcomed by the U.S.-led international coalition.

Deploying Turkish soldiers into Syria is not among the steps expected to be taken by the TSK in the short term.

The seizure of the 90-kilometer-long front from Jarabulus to Azaz by rebel groups, not Kurdish groups, would also benefit Turkey, according to sources.


Why does the ruling party in Turkey wants to intervene in Northern Syria now when ISIL is pushed away from its border by Kurdish fighters? It would seem that Turkish government sees Kurds as a bigger threat than Kurds.

US official: Kurdish gains to cut off ISIL supplies, personnel coming from Turkey

A senior US official has claimed that recent Kurdish gains in the area of the Turkish-Syrian border will help cut off supplies and personnel coming from Turkey to Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

US Deputy Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said at the Center for a New American Security on Friday that Syrian Kurdish forces in recent weeks have shown "dramatic gains" in Syria, supported by US-led air strikes. The US Army said on Saturday that it conducted four air strikes near Kobani, a town on the border with Turkey, and hit ISIL targets. On Friday, US-led air strikes near Kobani hit eight units of ISIL fighters as well as several vehicles, fighting positions and staging areas used by the militant group.

Blinken said there is now a long stretch of the border between Syria and Turkey that is actually controlled by Kurdish forces which are allied with other Syrians. On Saturday, the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia in Kobani said they drove out ISIL militants from the town who had made an incursion on Thursday with suicide bombers and killed at least 200 civilians in ensuing clashes. The attack on Kobani followed a week after Kurds secured the town of Tel-Abyad, also on the Turkish border. The town's capture effectively restricted ISIL's ability to smuggle arms and fighters through Turkey to Raqqa.

Blinken said the capture of border areas by Kurds is "critical," because "if you can get that piece all across the border, you cut off the supply lines between Daesh and supplies and personnel coming in primarily from Turkey and going to Raqqa, their capital." Daesh is the Arabic acronym of ISIL.

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Erdoğan vows to prevent Kurdish state in northern Syria, as Iran warns Turkey

    Sunday, June 28, 2015   No comments
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed to prevent the establishment of a Kurdish state in northern Syria, while Iran warned Turkey over military intervention into its neighbor.

"I am addressing the whole world: We will never allow a state to be formed in northern Syria, south of our border," Erdoğan said at a Ramadan event organized by Turkish Red Crescent in Istanbul  late June 26.

"We will keep up with our struggle whatever the cost is. They are trying to complete an operation to change the demographics of the region. We will not condone," he said.

Turkey's pro-government media outlets have recently been claiming that Syrian Kurdish fighters who fought ISIL engaged in "ethnic cleansing" targeting Syrian Turkmens.

Erdoğan criticized those who supported the "#TerroristTurkey" hashtag on Twitter after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) launched on June 25 its second offensive to capture Kobane, a Kurdish town near Syria's border with Turkey.

"If you have honor and pride, how can you label a country as terrorist although it hosts people who fled Kobane?" Erdoğan asked, before slamming accusations that Ankara supported ISIL as "slander."

The president also accused the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and its Syrian affiliate PYD of preventing Turkey to help more to the people of Kobane.

"I strongly condemn the efforts to corner Turkey," he said, claiming that ISIL, the PKK and the Syrian regime were "aligned" to undermine Ankara.

The PYD's armed wing, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), expelled ISIL fighters from Kobane on June 27 and took back full control of the town on the Turkish border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.

Turkey’s government wants more active military action to support the Free Syrian Army (FSA) against the regime, Kurdish and jihadist forces in Syrian territory, but the military is reluctant to do so, playing for time as the country heads for a new coalition government, official sources told the Hürriyet Daily News.

Iranian ambassador speaks out

Elaborating on Turkish media reports, Iran’s Ambassador to Turkey Ali Reza Bikdeli said on late June 26 that any violation of territorial integrity of a UN member country would destroy Turkey’s capacity on maintaining peace and stability of Syria.

Asked reports that Turkey aims to intervene into Jarablus town of Syria, Iranian ambassador stressed that Turkey earlier refuted these claims.

“This issue came up several times. And at the time Turkey’s official authorities refuted this allegations,” Bikdeli said while speaking to members of Diplomacy Correspondents’ Association in Ankara.

“Violating territorial integrity of a UN member country would destroy all these capacities. We hope Turkey and Iran would jointly use their capacities to achieve peace and stability,” Bikdeli stated, referring to what he described as Turkey's "major capacity to maintain peace and stability in Syria."


Monday, June 08, 2015

‘False legitimacy’: Saudi Arabia hosting UN Human Rights Council slammed by watchdog

    Monday, June 08, 2015   No comments
The decision to hold a UN-backed human rights summit in Saudi Arabia in early June, attended by the Human Rights Council’s chief, has sparked an outcry from rights organizations, claiming that the visit gave the Gulf kingdom “false legitimacy.”

The main point of the international summit held in Jeddah June 3-4 was declared to be combating intolerance and violence based on religious belief.
 The conference was attended by the Human Right Council president Joachim Rücker, who said in the opening statement that “Religious intolerance and violence committed in the name of religion rank among the most significant human rights challenges of our times.”

Later, Rücker was accused by the Geneva-based human rights campaign group UN Watch of giving the summit “false international legitimacy.”

“It’s bad enough that the oppressive and fundamentalist Saudi monarchy was elected to sit on the UN Human Rights Council,” The Independent cited UN Watch executive director, Hillel Neuer, as saying.

Saudi Arabia is one of the few absolute monarchies left in the world. There is no legal code in the country, leaving it to individual judges to set the punishment for a crime in accordance with their interpretation of Islamic doctrine.

 The death penalty is stipulated for a number of crimes, including murder, blasphemy, denial of Islamic faith, treason, sorcery, drug smuggling and acts of homosexuality. Adultery is punished with 100 lashes, the penalty for stealing is the amputation of a hand, while drinking alcohol and slander are punished at discretion of the judge.

The Gulf monarchy is the world’s only country where women are not allowed to drive.

Human rights activists have also pointed out that the conference took place at a time when the Saudi Arabian Supreme Court had upheld the sentence for blogger Raif Badawi, condemning him to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam through religious channels.”


Sunday, June 07, 2015

Western and Gulf States fuelled the rise of ISIL to weaken regimes they don't like

    Sunday, June 07, 2015   No comments
 Now the truth emerges: how the US fuelled the rise of Isis in Syria and Iraq

by Seumas Milne

The war on terror, that campaign without end launched 14 years ago by George Bush, is tying itself up in ever more grotesque contortions. On Monday the trial in London of a Swedish man, Bherlin Gildo, accused of terrorism in Syria, collapsed after it became clear British intelligence had been arming the same rebel groups the defendant was charged with supporting.

The prosecution abandoned the case, apparently to avoid embarrassing the intelligence services. The defence argued that going ahead with the trial would have been an “affront to justice” when there was plenty of evidence the British state was itself providing “extensive support” to the armed Syrian opposition.

That didn’t only include the “non-lethal assistance” boasted of by the government (including body armour and military vehicles), but training, logistical support and the secret supply of “arms on a massive scale”. Reports were cited that MI6 had cooperated with the CIA on a “rat line” of arms transfers from Libyan stockpiles to the Syrian rebels in 2012 after the fall of the Gaddafi regime.

Clearly, the absurdity of sending someone to prison for doing what ministers and their security officials were up to themselves became too much. But it’s only the latest of a string of such cases. Less fortunate was a London cab driver Anis Sardar, who was given a life sentence a fortnight earlier for taking part in 2007 in resistance to the occupation of Iraq by US and British forces. Armed opposition to illegal invasion and occupation clearly doesn’t constitute terrorism or murder on most definitions, including the Geneva convention.

But terrorism is now squarely in the eye of the beholder. And nowhere is that more so than in the Middle East, where today’s terrorists are tomorrow’s fighters against tyranny – and allies are enemies – often at the bewildering whim of a western policymaker’s conference call.

For the past year, US, British and other western forces have been back in Iraq, supposedly in the cause of destroying the hyper-sectarian terror group Islamic State (formerly known as al-Qaida in Iraq). This was after Isis overran huge chunks of Iraqi and Syrian territory and proclaimed a self-styled Islamic caliphate.

The campaign isn’t going well. Last month, Isis rolled into the Iraqi city of Ramadi, while on the other side of the now nonexistent border its forces conquered the Syrian town of Palmyra. Al-Qaida’s official franchise, the Nusra Front, has also been making gains in Syria.

Some Iraqis complain that the US sat on its hands while all this was going on. The Americans insist they are trying to avoid civilian casualties, and claim significant successes. Privately, officials say they don’t want to be seen hammering Sunni strongholds in a sectarian war and risk upsetting their Sunni allies in the Gulf.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Obama under pressure to release secret pages of 9/11 report 'showing Saudi Arabia financed attacks'

    Friday, June 05, 2015   No comments
The Obama administration is facing renewed pressure to release a top secret report that allegedly shows that Saudi Arabia directly helped to finance the September 11 attacks.

Rand Paul, the Libertarian Republican senator from Kentucky, is demanding that Mr Obama declassify 28 pages that were redacted from a 2002 US Senate report into the 9/11 attacks.

Mr Paul, who been vocal in attacking the bulk NSA spying programmes revealed by the rogue security contractor Edward Snowden and is running for president in 2016, has now promised to file an amendment to a Senate bill that would call on Mr Obama to declassify the pages.

The blacked-out pages, which have taken on an almost mythical quality for 9/11 conspiracy theorists, were classified on the orders of George W. Bush, leading to speculation they confirmed Saudi involvement.

 According to Bob Graham, the former Florida senator who was chair of the Senate Intelligence committee at the time of the report, they show that Saudi Arabia was the “principle financier” of the attack.

The White House said in January that it was reviewing the file, said that it had set no timetable for the conclusions of its deliberations.

Some families of 9/11 victims have campaigned for several years for the declassification of the 28 pages, supported by Mr Graham who has now enlisted the high-profile Mr Paul to his cause.

“Information revealed over the years does raise questions about [Saudi Arabia’s] support, or whether their support might have been supportive to these Al Qaeda terrorists,” Mr Paul said at the press conference in Washington this week.

“We cannot let page after page of blanked-out documents be obscured behind a veil, leading these families to wonder if there is additional information surrounding these horrible acts.”

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, but previous investigations always failed to find a formal link between the country and the terrorist attack, which killed 2,996 people.

Many victims groups believe the full extent of Saudi involvement in 9/11 has long been covered up by both the Obama and Bush administrations to protect US-Saudi relations.

Terry Strada, who leads 9/11 Families and Survivors United For Justice Against Terrorism, said that the supposed Saudi funding link was not a surprise.

"Nearly every significant element that led to the attacks of Sept. 11 points to Saudi Arabia," he said. "Money is the lifeblood of terrorism. Without money, 9/11 wouldn’t have happened."



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