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October 28, 2016 / 26 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Istanbul’

Israel, Turkey, Open Discussions On Natural Gas Pipeline and Explorations

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz met this week with his Turkish counterpart, Berat Albayrak, while the two were at the World Energy Congress taking place in Istanbul.

This is the first visit by an Israeli minister to Turkey since 2010, and is seen as another step in resuming diplomatic ties between the two nations.

In another week to ten days, Israel and Turkey are expected to exchange ambassadors as well.

Steinitz and Albayrak, meanwhile, have decided begin to look into the possibility of building an underwater pipeline to carry natural gas from Israel through Turkey and on into Europe.

“Exporting gas to our neighbors in the region or to Europe through different pipelines, this is of course very important, and of course one of the important options is connecting to Europe through a pipeline to Turkey,” Steinitz told reporters. “We discussed other issues of energy cooperation, but this is the most vital … We are ready to engage in the specific detailed dialogue between our two governments in the next coming months,” he said.

The pipeline would be laid along the Mediterranean sea bed, and carry Israeli gas to Turkish consumers, and then continue on to bring product for sale to Europe as well.

Steinitz told reporters at the briefing that it is estimated that the lion’s share of natural gas beneath Israel’s sovereign waters has yet to be discovered, possibly as much as 2,200 billion cubic meters of natural gas.

“This is a lot of gas — much more than we can consume,” he pointed out, adding that the gas fields are under the waters of Israel and Cyprus, and that Israel will require the cooperation of Turkey to take full advantage of the bounty that lies therein.

Albayrak is the son-in-law of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Hana Levi Julian

Terrorist Bombing Near Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

At least 10 people were injured Thursday in Istanbubl when a motorcycle blew up in a drive-by car bombing outside a police station in the Yenibosna neighborhood.

All of the victims of the attack, which took place near Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, were civilians. It is not yet known whether any of the injured were Jewish or Israeli citizens, both of whom live in Istanbul.

(H/T for the above video to Eurasia Diary.)

A bomb-laden motorcycle was detonated, causing the blast, according to a tweet by provincial governor Vasip Sahin.

Police are hunting for an individual wearing a black coat, jeans and a black helmet who fled the scene just before the explosion detonated, according to private broadcaster CNN Turk.

A witness who was at a metrobus station about 500 meters away from the explosion site told the Daily Sabah the blast shook the ground. Another witness, located in a private school next to the site, told the newspaper that gunshots were heard after the explosion.

There have been several bombings this year in Turkey. At least 41 people died, including a number of police officers, and 140 more were wounded in a major terrorist attack by three suicide bombers at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport in June. A major suicide bombing this past March in Ankara that killed 27 and wounded 75 others, and six days later, another suicide bombing by an ISIS terrorist in Istanbul which killed four people, including two Israelis, and which wounded 39 others.

Hana Levi Julian

Israelis Ignore Warnings, Flock to Turkey for High Holiday Vacation

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

Despite warnings by the counter-terrorism center against travel to dangerous Middle east destinations, Israelis this Rosh Hashanah are flocking to the clear blue waters of southern Turkey. Search indicators of the tourism website HotelsCombined show a 40% rise in searches from Israel for hotels in Turkey, again, despite specific warnings against going to Turkey this season. The demand is greatest for the coastal cities along Turkey’s southern Mediterranean shore: Antalya, Belek and Alanya, but demand for Istanbul vacations has also gone up by 30% compared with last year.

Israelis are taking warnings regarding Egyptian vacations more seriously, and while Israeli demand for Cairo hotels is up, requests for the Sharm Al Sheikh hotels at the southernmost tip of the Sinai peninsula have dropped by 22% compared with a year ago.

HotelsCombined CEO Eyal Segal says the sharp rise in Israeli demand for Turkish vacations is the result of an increase in the number of flights between Israel and Turkey, the thawing in the relationship between the two countries, and the reduced hotel prices in Turkey, just in time for the Jewish holidays.

“Israeli tourists by now have figured that every place is dangerous, which is why eco

nomic considerations overcome security concerns, and the average Israeli is not quick to panic about a flight to a country about which there have been warnings,” Segal said, noting that “regarding the Sinai, there we see a greater adherence to the warnings because tourists stand out and can be easily marked in the desert, as opposed to the big cities where they feel that the disappear in the crowd.”


Prominent Jewish-Turkish Businessman Ishak Alaton Dead at 89

Sunday, September 18th, 2016

Ishak Alaton, who served as Chairman of Alarko Holding, one of the largest business conglomerates in Turkey, from 1973 to 15 May 2015, passed away on Sunday, DHA reported.

Born in September 1927 in Istanbul, Alaton attended Şişli Terakki High School until 1942. After graduating from the French Saint Michel High School in 1946, he traveled to Sweden in 1951 and started a career as a weldier at the Motala Locomotive Factory. While working there, Alaton attended night courses to learn technical drawing, and then worked as a draftsman for two years at the same factory.

Alaton returned to Turkey in early 1954 and founded Alarko as an ordinary partnership in a small office of Vefai Han in Karaköy, laying the foundations of Alarko Holding together with Dr. Üzeyir Garih, with only two staff members.

Ishak Alaton was one of the founders of the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV) and the Open Society Foundation. He also served as Honorary Consul General of South Africa in Istanbul from 1998 to 2012 and was awarded the Order of the North Star, First Class, by Sweden and the Order of Civil Merit by Spain.

David Israel

Turkish PM Denies Russia Demanding to Use NATO Nuke Base

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Russia is not demanding to land its planes in the İncirlik air base in southern Turkey, as several Russian news services have claimed. “Russia had no demands to use İncirlik air base, those reports are not true,” Yildirim told foreign correspondents in Istanbul on Saturday, according to Hurriyet Daily News. However, the prime minister did agree that should Russia wish to use the base for its operations against ISIS, it would be welcome to do so. Still, Yildirim added, “Russia doesn’t need to use the base. They have bases in Syria.”

Yildirim’s statement concluded an anxiety-filled few days in which Russian news sources were announcing that Russia has been demanding that Turkey give its air force access to the NATO air base in İncirlik, which is where US and coalition air forces take off on their strikes in Syria. Located some 65 miles from the Syrian border, Incirlik is also where an estimated 50 US B-61 nuclear warheads (think 100 Hiroshimas times 50) are kept.

According to Izvestia, a Russian lawmaker named Igor Morozov said it was only a matter of time before Turkish president Erdogan hands over the NATO base at Incirlik to the Russians, to intensify the war against ISIS. “You’ll see, the next base will be İncirlik,” Morozov told Izvestia, shortly after the Kremlin had revealed that Russian bombers have been using an Iranian airbase for their attack on Syria. He predicted İncirlik would be “one more victory for Putin.”

Those statements came against the background of a report by EurActiv, a Belgian foundation focusing on European Union policies, that the US has begun to transfer its nuclear weapons stationed in Turkey to Romania, for fear of the worsening relations between Washington and Ankara.

EurActiv cites a Stimson issue paper from August 2016, suggesting that during the July failed coup in Turkey, the Incirlik base power was cut, and US planes were not allowed to fly in or out of the base. As the coup was being suppressed, the base commander was arrested. Another source told EurActiv that US-Turkey relations have so deteriorated after the coup that Washington no longer trusted Ankara with the nuclear weapons, and so the warheads are being moved to the Deveselu air base in Romania.

Foreign Policy on Friday debunked the story, quoting a tweet from nuclear weapons expert Jeffrey Lewis, the director of non-proliferation studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, that said Romania does not have the special WS3 vaults needed to store the weapons safely. Also, the Romanian Defense Ministry released a statement saying “so far there have not been any plans or discussions on this topic.”

Of course, this entire brouhaha is borne by Erdogan’s obsession with his former ally and current enemy Fetullah Gulen, whose extradition from the US the Turks have been demanding since the failing of the coup (which Gulen’s supporters may or may not been responsible for). As long as the US insists on following the rule of law on the Gulen extradition, the Turks will persist in these shenanigans, until someone gets seriously hurt.

So far, as that Moscow parliamentarian has put it so aptly, one more victory for Putin.


Turkish Parliament Reviews Normalization Deal with Israel

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

The agreement to normalize ties between Turkey and Israel was formally submitted Wednesday (Aug. 17) to the Turkish Parliament in Ankara for review and a final vote of approval, or not, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The debate on the issue has been delayed by several weeks due to last month’s failed attempt by part of the Turkish military to overthrow the government. Thousands of government employees and high-ranking officials were purged in the wake of the incident.

Tourism has taken a serious hit as a result of the coup and the ongoing purges, with numerous countries issuing advisories to its citizens against traveling to Istanbul, further damaging an already compromised economy. For this and other reasons, it is becoming more urgent than ever for Turkey to complete its agreement with Israel and improve its ties with Russia — which it is working on — as well as with others in the region.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said during a televised interview a week ago (Aug. 11) that the deal would be completed and signed before September, finalized by the Turkish Parliament “as soon as possible.”

Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News quoted Cavusoglu as saying during a joint news conference following a meeting with Palestinian Authority Minister Riyad al-Maliki in Ankara that Turkey is ‘eager to contribute to the Palestinian issue and the Middle East process.’ Cavusoglu added that Turkey had always ‘advocated a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue and would continue to contribute to permanent peace in the region.

“Now we have started a normalization process with Israel,” he said, according to Hurriyet. “According to our latest agreement, the two countries will mutually appoint ambassadors. After this step we will continue to support the Palestinian issue and the Middle East peace process.”

Upon ratification of the agreement by the Turkish Parliament, the two nations will exchange ambassadors to fully restore diplomatic ties. Turkey reportedly plans to build a hospital in Gaza and ratchet up efforts to build an industrial zone project in Jenin.

The deal to restore ties between the two countries was signed on June 28 after numerous repeated attempts to heal the wounds of a breach after a 2010 illegal flotilla that included a Turkish ship attempted to break the marine blockade on Gaza. Israeli commandos boarded the ship to redirect the vessel to Ashdod port, and a clash with armed “activists” ensued, leaving 10 Turks dead and numerous IDF commandos wounded.

Israeli and Turkish delegates spent the better part of 2015 and 2016 working on an agreement to renew the ties between their two nations.

At the end, Israel agreed to pay Turkey $20 million (17.8 million euros) within 25 days, in compensation to the families of those who died in the 2010 clash.

The legal case in Turkish court, targeting the Israeli commandos who boarded the Mavi Marmara flotilla vessel, will also be dropped, according to Anadolu news agency. In addition, individual Israeli nations will not be held criminally or financially liable for the incident.

Hana Levi Julian

Syrian Refugee Kidnapped, Raped, Stabbed and Beheaded in Istanbul

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

A young Syrian man who fled the certain dangers of his homeland to what he thought was the safety of a new life in Istanbul has been found tortured to death, so badly mutilated that his friends had to identify him by his pants.

According to the report in Pink News, Wisam Sankari was gay — a status not well tolerated in the increasingly conservative society developing in Turkey, led by the Islamist AK (Justice and Development) Party headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

There is also growing resentment among Turkish citizens against Syrian refugees, who are perceived to be a threat to employment and school opportunities for locals and other economic issues in the country.

Sankari arrived in Istanbul, the city once known as Constantinople, about a year ago after fleeing the civil war in Syria. The man was found dead during the last week in July, according to Cumhuriyet and other local news reports, which said his mutilated body was found in Yenikapi.

In fact, “They had cut Wisam violently… so violent that two knives had broken inside him. They had beheaded him. His upper body was beyond recognition, his internal organs were out. We could identify our friend from his pants,” said a friend, Rayan, who spoke with KaosGL.org.

This time they killed the young Syrian refugee, but it was not his first experience with abduction or torture at the hands of a band of men. His friends turned to alleged United Nations human rights advocates, who did nothing. Neither did local police.

“About five months ago a group kidnapped Wisam in Fatih. They took him to a forest, beat him and raped him,” Rayan said. “They were going to kill him but Wisam saved himself by jumping at the road. We complained to the police headquarters but nothing happened.”

Sankari and others had been threatened several times with rape, and more, several times by male groups armed with knives. They also had to leave a house in which they were living due to their obvious sexual orientation. “People around would constantly stare at us,” he said.

Another friend, Gorkem, told KaosGL.org that his friends had warned the victim not to leave the house due to recent threats, but he insisted on leaving “for 15-20 minutes.” When he didn’t return, the group panicked, and went to the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM), which sent them to Fatih police headquarters.

“On Sunday police called us,” he said. They took the group of friends to Yenikapi to identify the body. Needless to say, they were horrified. Another friend, “Diya,” talked about also having been kidnapped twice before.

“They let me go in Cerkezkoy and I barely got home one time. I went to the United Nations for my identification but they did not even respond to that. No one cares about us. They just talk. I get threats over the phone.

“It does not matter if you are Syrian or Turkish — if you are gay you are everyone’s target.”

Turkey is currently under a three-month state of emergency after an attempted but failed coup to bring down the government.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters last month that the move was aimed at effectively and swiftly taking steps to “eliminate the threat to democracy… the rule of law and the rights and freedom of our citizens.”

Any Syrian refugee will tell the reader, sadly, that such majestic concepts are not intended to cover the safety and well-being of those who fled to Turkey believing it a place in which to take shelter and begin a new life.

That, they discovered, was just another question mark at best.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/syrian-refugee-kidnapped-raped-stabbed-and-beheaded-in-istanbul/2016/08/04/

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