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Posts tagged ‘Turkish people’

Poconos Imam Roils Turkish Politics.


Image: Poconos Imam Roils Turkish PoliticsEmbroidered images of U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, left, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan are displayed in a shop in Gaziantep, Turkey, on Jan. 17.

By Lisa Barron

Turkish Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s grip on power is being threatened by a rift between his ruling party and a Pennsylvania-based imam who has supported him in the past.

Fethullah Gulen has lashed out at Erdogan from his base in tiny Saylorsburg in the Poconos Mountains, accusing him of impeding the country’s democratic reforms.

“Turkish people … are upset that in the last two years democratic progress is now being reversed,” the imam told The Wall Street Journal in emails.

“Purges based on ideology, sympathy, or world views was a practice of the past that the present ruling party promised to stop,” he added.

Gulen, 72, would like to see a challenge to Erdogan’s Islamist-leaning Justice and Development Party, the AKP, and did not rule out the possibility that followers of his Cermaat movement, which preaches tolerance, would support the secular Republican People’s Party.

He indicated that they, “just like any other citizen, will make their choices based on their values.”

The Journal described Gulen’s emails as “the strongest sign yet of an irreparable split” between the two men.

Under Erdogan, who has led the governing coalition since 2002, Turkey has become the West’s biggest ally in the Muslim world. Now members of his party say that aligning with Gulen’s followers was a mistake, saying Cermaat members “do not conform with the state hierarchy but take orders from the movement.”

But Gulen said it is Erdogan who has changed not him. “Whether the stance or actions of the political actors are consistent with their earlier record should be decided by the Turkish people and unbiased observers,” he said.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

Obama Brokers Netanyahu Apology to Turkey For Flotilla Deaths.


President Barack Obama helped broker an apology Friday from Israel to Turkey for a 2010 commando raid on a Turkish ship that killed eight.

The apology was issued by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a personal telephone call to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, The New York Times and CNN report.

“The prime minister made it clear that the tragic results … were unintentional and that Israel expresses regret over injuries and loss of life,” the Israeli government said in a statement.

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“In light of the Israeli investigation into the incident, which pointed out several operational errors, Prime Minister Netanyahu apologized to the Turkish people for any errors that could have led to loss of life and agreed to complete the agreement on compensation.”

The Times said that following the call, Israel and Turkey confirmed that diplomatic relations have been restored and ambassadors reinstated between the two countries.

The raid, which received international condemnation, occurred on May 31, 2010 when Israel intercepted six ships from the “Gaza Freedom Flotilla’’ in international waters.

The flotilla — carrying relief supplies and building materials to help break the blockade of the Gaza Strip by Israel and Egypt — fought back and eight Turkish nationals and an American of Turkish heritage were killed.

During his phone call, Netanyahu also offered compensation for the raid.

According to the Times, Obama got on the phone with Netanyahu and Erdogan at one point.

Later, Obama, who has been touring Israel and meeting with state leaders, said in a statement:
“The United States deeply values our relationships with both Turkey and Israel, and we attach great importance to the restoration of positive relations between them, in order to advance regional peace and security.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Bill Hoffmann

Syrian cross-border salvos send message to Turkey.


  • In this Sunday October 7, 2012 citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Free Syrian Army fighters sit on top of a military truck that was captured from the Syrian Army in the village off Khirbet al-Jouz, in the northern province of Idlib, Syria. The Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency said Sunday that the rebels had regained full control of Khirbet al-Jouz. (AP Photo/Edlib News Network ENN)

    Enlarge PhotoAssociated Press/Edlib News Network ENN – In this Sunday October 7, 2012 citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, …more 

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BEIRUT (AP)Syria‘s cross-border attacks on Turkey in the past week look increasingly like they could be an intentional escalation meant to send a clear message to Ankara and beyond, that the crisis is simply too explosive to risk foreign military intervention.

With Turkey eager to defuse the crisis, the spillover of fighting is giving new life to a longshot political solution, with the Turks floating the idea of making President Bashar Assad‘s longtime vice president, Farouk al-Sharaa, interim leader if the president steps aside.

A military option — which would involve foreign powers that already have expressed a deep reluctance to getting involved in the crisis — is still not on the table, analysts say, despite six consecutive days of Turkish retaliation against bombardment from inside Syria.

“Syria is aware that Turkey cannot go a step further,” said Ali Tekin, assistant professor of International Relations at Ankara’s Bilkent University. “The Turkish people don’t want a war and there are no vital national interests at stake to warrant a war. Syria sees this.”

The Syrian conflict has taken a prominent role in the U.S. presidential election at a time when the U.S. and its allies have shown little appetite for getting involved.

On Monday, Republican candidate Mitt Romney said the U.S. should work with other countries to arm the Syrian rebels, allowing the rebels to drive Assad from power themselves. Romney did not call for the U.S. to directly arm the Syrian rebels.

The most recent flare-up between Syria and Turkey started Wednesday, when a shell fired from Syria slammed into a house in the Turkish border village of Akcakale, killing two women and three children. That set off the most serious and prolonged eruption of violence along the frontier since the uprising began nearly 19 months ago.

Although it was not clear whether Wednesday’s shelling was intentional, Turkey responded swiftly by firing back and convening parliament for a vote that authorized further cross-border military operations if necessary.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan cautioned Damascus not to test Turkey’s “limits and determination.” But the Syrian shelling has continued every day — leading many observers to conclude the acts are intentional provocation.

“It’s not an accident. You can’t send shells across the border by mistake five days in a row,” said Mustafa Alani, a Middle East analyst of the Geneva-based Gulf Research Center, just hours before Syrian shelling struck Turkey for a sixth day.

There have been no other reports of casualties from the shelling since Wednesday’s deaths.

An activist group said Monday the number of people killed in the conflict crossed the threshold of 32,000 over the weekend, and the pace is accelerating.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it counted 32,079 dead as of Sunday — among them 22,980 civilians and civilians-turned fighters, 7,884 members of the Syrian military and 1,215 army defectors fighting alongside the rebels.

In the past week alone, more than 1,200 people were killed, according to the head of the Observatory, Rami Abdul-Rahman, who said he only counts named victims or those whose death is verified by other means, such as amateur video.

Also Monday, a suicide attacker detonated a car bomb near a compound of the Syrian intelligence service on the outskirts of Damascus, a Syrian official said. There was no immediate word on casualties, the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The pro-government Al-Ikhbariya channel said the explosion in the Harasta suburb was followed by armed clashes. Syrian rebels are increasingly targeting security compounds in Damascus, but there was no immediate claim of responsibility for Monday’s blast.

According to Alani, the analyst, escalating the crisis serves as a reminder to NATO, Turkey and the West that Syria’s civil war can inflame the region with lightning speed. The threat of a spillover is likely to pressure Western powers into drafting a political solution, part of which could involve Assad’s exit from power, rather than his being toppled by force.

A political solution, Alani said, could prevent Assad “ending up like Gadhafi.”

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was captured and killed by rebels on the outskirts of his hometown of Sirte last year, and his corpse was put on public display in a refrigerated locker for several days.

While Ankara maintains that the shells are coming from the regular Syrian army, Paul Salem of the Carnegie Middle East Center, a Beirut-based think tank, did not exclude the possibility of “other sources, a rebel unit, firing across the border, trying to create conditions for Turkey to intervene in Syria.”

As the border skirmishes intensified over the weekend and the world began to consider whether Turkey would respond more forcefully, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu tried to redirect attention away from the military developments.

On Saturday, Davutoglu said Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa was a figure “whose hands are not contaminated in blood” and therefore was a possible figure to head a transitional administration.

Abdulbaset Sieda, the head of the Syrian National Council, the main opposition group in exile, said Monday his group is willing to consider Ankara’s proposal.

Sieda’s comments appear to be a softening of the opposition’s stance that it will accept nothing less than the ouster of the Assad regime and the president’s inner circle. But this apparent change in heart could be a way for the opposition to appease its Turkish allies rather than a major shift toward a political settlement of the conflict.

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi scoffed at Davutoglu’s proposal, saying it reflects “obvious political and diplomatic confusion and blundering.”

“Turkey isn’t the Ottoman Sultanate; the Turkish Foreign Ministry doesn’t name custodians in Damascus, Mecca, Cairo and Jerusalem,” al-Zoubi said Monday.

Turkey, which shares a 566-mile (911-kilometer) frontier with Syria, nearly went to war with its neighbor over Syrian support for Turkish Kurdish rebels in the 1990s. The relationship improved dramatically since Assad came to power in 2000, and the two countries reached out to build economic ties. But now, Turkey has become one of the most vocal critics of the Assad regime, accusing it of savagery.

The rebels who are trying to bring down Assad have used Turkey as their base, enraging the regime.

Turkey, NATO’s biggest Muslim member, became a regional power in the past decade, backed by a growing economy, emerging democratic credentials and historical and cultural links to neighbors. It pursued pragmatic links with authoritarian leaders, but shifted to a pro-democracy position as uprisings swept the Middle East and North Africa.

From the outset of the Syrian crisis, Turkey has tried to position itself as a major player and power-broker — something some observers say was a miscalculation based on overconfidence in Ankara’s influence over Damascus. As recently as April, Davutoglu told Parliament that Turkey “will continue to guide the wave of change in the Middle East.”

On Monday, Turkish President Abdullah Gul pushed for a Syrian transition, warning that “the worst-case scenario we have all been dreading” is unfolding in Syria and along its borders.

“Sooner rather than later there will be change, a transition,” he told reporters in Ankara. “Our only hope is that this happens before more blood is shed, and before Syria self-destructs more than it already has.”

___

AP writers Barbara Surk and Bassem Mroue in Beirut, Albert Aji in Damascus and Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By ELIZABETH A. KENNEDY | Associated Press

Syria opposes escalation of violence with Turkey.


UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Syria‘s U.N. envoy said Thursday his government is not seeking any escalation of violence with Turkey and wants to maintain good neighborly relations.

Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari said the government hasn’t apologized for the shelling from Syria that killed five Turkish civilians because it is waiting for the outcome of an investigation on the source of the firing.

He read reporters a letter he delivered to the deeply divided U.N. Security Council that sent Syria’s “deepest condolences” to the families of the victims “and to the friendly and brotherly people of Turkey.”

It urged Turkey and its other neighbors to “act wisely, rationally and responsibly” and to prevent cross-border infiltration of “terrorists and insurgents” and the smuggling of arms.

The Security Council has so far failed to respond to Wednesday’s deadly attack from Syria.

The U.S. and its Western allies are seeking a strong statement condemning the attack on Turkey butRussia, Syria’s most important ally, is opposed and is seeking much weaker language that the West says is unacceptable, U.N. diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because talks have been private.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said the original draft, proposed by Azerbaijan and backed by theTurkish government, “adequately reflected the key points that need to be made.” But diplomats said many council members objected to Russia’s proposed amendments watering down the text. So council experts were meeting to see if they could bridge the differences.

“This sort of cross-border military activity is very destabilizing and must be stopped,” Rice said. “While I think it’s too early to say what will be the result of those negotiations, we think it’s very important that the council speak clearly and swiftly to condemn this shelling.”

The border violence has added a dangerous new dimension to Syria’s civil war, dragging Syria’s neighbors deeper into a conflict that activists say has already killed 30,000 people since an uprising against President Bashar Assad‘s regime began in March 2011.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed alarm Thursday at the escalating border tensions and warned that the risks of regional conflict and the threat to international peace is increasing, U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

The U.N. chief called on all parties “to abandon the use of violence, exercise maximum restraint and exert all efforts to move toward a political solution,” he said.

Nesirky said Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N.-Arab League envoy, has been in contact with Turkish and Syrian officials “in order to encourage an easing of tensions.”

Syria’s Ja’afari said the “Syrian government is keenly interested in maintaining good neighborly relations with Turkey.”

“The Syrian government is not seeking any escalation with any of its neighbors, including Turkey,” he stressed.

But he said Syria wants to explain to the Turkish people that their government’s policies supporting the opposition “are wrong and have been wrong since the beginning of the crisis.”

Ja’afari said Turkey responded to the incident by launching artillery shells into Syria starting at 7 p.m. local time Wednesday and stopping at midnight. Turkish troops then resumed artillery shelling Thursday morning until 7 a.m., injuring two Syrian army officers, he said.

“Our forces practiced self-restraint and did not respond to this Turkish artillery shelling,” Ja’afari said.

The Syrian ambassador said he delivered another letter to the Security Council seeking its condemnation for four suicide bombings in the country’s largest city and commercial capital, Aleppo, which killed scores of innocent civilians and took place about the same time Wednesday as the cross-border shelling.

But he said the council once again has been unable to condemn “these suicide terrorist attacks.”

Ja’afari urged the Turkish government to show “the same kind of sympathy” to the hundreds of innocent Syrian civilians killed in the suicide bombings as the Syrian government showed to the Turkish victims.

Some of the suicide bombers “came through the Turkish-Syrian border, so things should be balanced,” he said.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By EDITH M. LEDERER | Associated Press

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