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July 30, 2016 / 24 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘ankara’

Turkish Government Fires Tens of Thousands After Coup Attempt

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Tens of thousands of government employees have been dismissed by the Turkish government in the wake of last week’s failed coup attempt.

Every department, every area of government has been affected by the event, from the judiciary to security to administration.

Some 9,000 judges, prosecutors, security personnel, religious leaders and others were arrested and taken into custody earlier in the week. The courts ordered 85 generals and admirals jailed as well. In addition, 9,000 police officers were fired Monday by the Interior Ministry, which then dismissed another 8,777 more employees on Tuesday.

The Ministry of Education fired 15,200 employees, and the Board of Higher Education “requested” the resignation of 1,577 university deans across the country.

At least 3,000 military personnel were arrested and held in custody over the weekend. Nearly 500 clerics, imams and religious instructors were dismissed by the Directorate of Religious Affairs. Nearly 400 staff members were fired by the Ministry of Family and Social Policy.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meanwhile has continued to advocate for the restoration of the death penalty. His government has formally submitted an extradition request to the United States for the deportation of elderly Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused by the Turkish leader of fomenting and driving the attempted coup.

Gulen has denied any involvement in the plot and has said he will cooperate with the extradition if the U.S. decides to expel him.

Secretary of State John Kerry responded to the Turkish government with a request for concrete evidence connecting Gulen to the coup as a condition for cooperation by the U.S. with the extradition request.

Hana Levi Julian

Former Turkish Military Attache to Israel Recants ‘Confession’

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

Former Turkish Air Force Chief Akin Ozturk may have “confessed” alleged involvement in last week’s failed coup attempt earlier in the day on Monday, but he had a very different account to share later in the day when he made his statement to prosecutors.

Turkey’s former military attache to Israel insisted that he was “not the person who planned or led the coup,” according to a report by the BBC. The state-run Anadolu news agency earlier had quoted him as telling his interrogators that he had “acted with the intention to stage a coup.”

Ozturk served as Turkey’s military liaison to Jerusalem from 1996 to 1998. He and 26 senior officers were charged with treason and remanded in custody by a Turkish court Monday, the Anadolu news agency reported, though he denied involvement.

“I don’t know who planned or directed it,” he reportedly told prosecutors before appearing in court in Ankara, adding that perhaps the Gulen movement had a hand in it.

“But I cannot tell who within the armed forces organized and carried it out. I have no information. I have fought against this structure,” he said, challenging his accusers to produce evidence proving his involvement. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for reinstatement of the country’s death penalty, ostensibly in response to the “demands of the public” — but as he openly acknowledged at a public rally, also due to his own desires to see the return of capital punishment.

“Your request can never be rejected by our government,” Erdogan told the thousands of people gathered at a massive rally over the weekend. “But of course it will take a parliamentary decision for that to take action in the form of a constitutional measure so leaders will have to get together and discuss it,” he told CNN subsequently in an exclusive interview. “If they accept to discuss it, then I as president will approve any decision that comes out of the parliament,” he added.

Probably the first candidate for death row would be Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, if the United States accedes to Erdogan’s demand to extradite him to Turkey, although if Ankara approves the death penalty, its application for membership to the European Union will be denied with finality, according to a statement on Monday by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Erdogan blamed the failed coup on the U.S.-based Islamic cleric and has said he will measure the quality of America’s alliance with Turkey by its response to the request. Turkish officials have said Gulen formed a “parallel structure” in Turkey to overthrow the government.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry responded that he would not stand in the way of the extradition, if Turkey can provide concrete evidence of Gulen’s role in the attempted coup. “There must be a legal basis for such a move,” Kerry said.

During the attempted coup military forces shut down national access to social media, and sealed off the two bridges in Istanbul that link the European and Asian continents over the Bosphorus on Friday. They also shut down Istanbul’s main airport, and sent tanks to the parliament building in Ankara.

So far more than 200 people have died in the unrest that gripped the country during the attempt to overthrow the Erdogan government — and in the shock waves that continue in its aftermath. The deputy mayor of Istanbul remains in critical condition after an assassination attempt Monday in the city’s Sisli district. An unknown attacker shot the deputy mayor in the head during the day, but it was not clear whether the attack was linked to the failed coup attempt.

Hana Levi Julian

Turkish Tourism Worst Casualty of Failed Coup, Terrorism

Monday, July 18th, 2016

Turkish Hoteliers Federation head Osman Ayık told the Hürriyet Daily News that Turkey must improve its reputation abroad in order for its troubled tourism sector to prosper again. “The confidence factor that Turkey projected abroad has eroded,” Ayık said. “There is a certain perception in Europe about Turkey and arrivals from the continent have seen a sharp decrease. We need to take steps to reverse that trend.”

Tourism is an essential part of the Turkish economy, employing 8% of the country’s workforce, and it has taken a severe blow from the failed military coup this past weekend, and earlier in this year of relentless terrorist attacks, with a 10% decline in arriving tourists in the first quarter of 2016. According to Euromonitor International, the number of international visitors to Turkey is expected to decline by 5.2% overall in 2016.

Since the coup attempt, the Federal Aviation Administration has not allowed US airlines to fly to or from Istanbul and Ankara, and has blocked all carriers, foreign and domestic, from flying into the US from Turkey even indirectly. The State Department warned US citizens to avoid travel to the tourism sites in southeastern Turkey, and the UK Foreign Office issued an advisory to its citizens against travel to Turkey because terrorism threats are still high there.

Roenen Karaso, a VP in Israel’s tourism company ISSTA, told The Marker that Turkey is “a dead destination. Today we’re talking about bottom prices for mini-vacations to Turkey for 40% less compared with last year. For instance, three nights in motels, all included, in Topkapi or Kremlin in Antalya (Turkey’s resort destination on its southern Mediterranean region, known as the Turquoise Coast for its blue waters) will cost a family (two parents with two children) $400, compared with $600 a year ago — and there are still no takers.”

Karaso said that even connecting flights, the bread and butter of Istanbul’s international airports which until the coup continued to thrive despite the threat of terrorism, “are starting to show a decline of about 10% in orders compared with the previous Sunday.”

For Russian, European and Israeli vacationers, Turkey is not in the cards this summer, which will go down as Turkey’s lost summer. Efraim Kramer, CEO of tourism website Eshet Tours, told The Marker that tourism rates in Turkey “have come down because the Russians have stopped traveling to Turkey, and the Germans and English travel there less as well. We’re seeing an international phenomenon of tourists from Christian countries avoiding Muslim countries — we’ve seen it in Egypt, Tunisia and Marocco, and now in Turkey, too.”

Ayık told the Hürriyet Daily News that “the most fundamental lesson to be learned is to be in harmony with the world. It is the gist of our job. Our sector is one that goes hand-in-hand with peace. That’s why Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım’s statement that we will increase our friends and decrease our enemies will have a positive reflection on our sector. No matter how beautiful your country might be, if you don’t get along well with your neighborhood that means serious trouble for tourism.”

JNi.Media

Israel ‘Assumes Reconciliation to Continue’ With Turkey

Monday, July 18th, 2016

Israel is watching closely as Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to reassert control over the government and his nation after an attempted coup this past weekend. Officials are particularly concerned, given the long months of talks both nations invested in re-establishing the recent diplomatic ties between Ankara and Jerusalem.

The death toll in the weekend violence has risen to 290, according to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, including more than 100 who participated in the coup. At least 6,000 people have been arrested after the failed coup — half of which are judges and prosecutors; half are military officers and soldiers. Shots were heard Sunday at Istanbul’s second largest airport and at a military base in the central Konya province, according to local sources.

Among those in custody is Colonel Ali Yazici, the top military aide to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, General Bekir Ercan Van, commander of Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey — used by U.S.-led coalition aircraft for raids against Da’esh (ISIS) terrorists in Syria and Iraq — and former Chief of Air Staff Akin Ozturk, who served as military attache to Israel from 1996 to 1998.

Erdogan suggested the possibility that perhaps the United States had had a role in formulating the coup attempt — a suggestion firmly and swiftly rejected on Saturday by Secretary of State John Kerry.

Israel, meanwhile, is closely monitoring the situation since having completed a reconciliation agreement to restore diplomatic ties with Turkey after a six-year freeze barely three weeks ago.

Speaking at Sunday’s weekly government cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted that “Israel and Turkey recently agreed on a reconciliation process between them.

“We assume that this process will continue without any connection to the dramatic events in Turkey over the weekend,” he said.

Netanyahu went on to note, “we also experienced the shocking terrorist attack in Nice and it underscores the need for a unified and aggressive approach in the face of the murderous terrorism that is attacking the entire world.”

Last Thursday night, a Da’esh (ISIS) terrorist drove a massive truck down the main boulevard in the southern French Riviera city running down the thousands who were celebrating the nation’s Bastille Day, the equivalent of the U.S. Fourth of July holiday while opening fire at other hapless victims along the way. At the end of the nightmare, 84 people were dead, including 10 children, and 202 more were injured, many with critical injuries.

The prime minister said he sent condolences on behalf of the government and people of Israel and his wishes for a recovery to the wounded, via French President Francois Hollande.

“The Palestinian Authority also sent condemnations and condolences, but with one difference: Here, not only do they not condemn vehicular terrorism, they encourage it. They glorify the terrorists responsible and finance them and their families if the terrorists are dead,” Netanyahu said.

“Terrorism is terrorism, whether it is in France or Israel, and there must be a unified approach of condemnation and war on this terrorism – here and everywhere else.”

Hana Levi Julian

Turkey Under Martial Law; Coup Attempt by Turkish Military

Saturday, July 16th, 2016

Gunfire was heard in the Turkish capital of Ankara late Friday as the Turkish military announced it was seizing control of the country, Reuters reported.

The military released a statement saying its armed forces have ‘fully seized control’ Turkish state television was seized by an entity calling itself the “Turkish Peace Council,” and the military chief of staff was taken into custody.

It was not possible to reach Israeli or U.S. contacts via social media; international journalists said social media access has been blocked.

Some 2200 U.S. troops and 1500 foreign U.S. citizens were warned to “shelter in place and stay indoors” late Thursday night.

Military tanks were seen rolling through the streets and low-flying jets were flying sorties overhead, eyewitnesses told Reuters.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim confirmed that a group within the military has indeed engaged in an attempted coup.

Eyewitnesses told international media they saw the jets and helicopters flying above Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city and an ancient metropolis straddling both the continents of Europe and Asia, once known to historians as Constantinople.

According to the Turkish Daily Sabah website, both bridges in Istanbul that span the mightly Bosphorus strait that separates the two continents have been closed to traffic.

As of five pm Friday afternoon New York time, it was not yet clear what the outcome will be, but it is clear that whatever the outcome, the ramifications for the State of Israel will be serious either way.

Israel and Turkey had just reached a reconciliation agreement barely two weeks ago after a six year freeze in diplomatic ties. There are numerous Israeli business owners, artists and musicians who live in Turkey and/or travel to and from the country.

It remains to be seen how the current state of affairs will affect Israelis, Jews and Americans who are currently in Turkey, as well as those who regularly do business with their Turkish counterparts and travel in and out of the country.

Hana Levi Julian

Turkish Energy Ministry Officials Meet in Gaza, Then Israel

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

Officials from the Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Ministry have been meeting with Hamas officials in Gaza to discuss the current power crisis in the region, according to the Palestinian Authority-based Alresalah news outlet.

The Turkish delegation traveled to Gaza via the Erez Crossing two weeks after Israel and Ankara sealed an agreement to restore diplomatic ties between the two countries.

The delegation was also scheduled to meet with Israeli officials and members of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority government.

The discussions aimed at finding a way to relieve the power outages that have plagued the energy-starved enclave for more than a year.

Upon its return the delegation is expected to report its findings to Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak.

Hana Levi Julian

High Court Rejects Petitions Against Israel-Turkey Deal

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

Israel’s High Court of Justice rejected all three petitions to stay the agreement renewing diplomatic ties between Israel and Turkey. The court ruled the matter was one of statecraft rather than an issue for the courts, and something that in fact did not lay within the jurisdiction of the judiciary.

Under the agreement Israel promised to allow Turkey to send humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip via the Ashdod port in Israel. In turn, Turkey promised to stop allowing terror organizations such as Hamas to plot attacks against Israel or to raise funds from Turkish territory.

The first aid shipment from Turkey to Gaza was trucked through the Kerem Shalom Crossing Monday, July 4 after arriving by ship and going through inspection at Ashdod Port.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/high-court-rejects-petitions-against-israel-turkey-deal/2016/07/07/

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