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August 31, 2016 / 27 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Turkey’

US Group Says Nukes At Incirlik Air Base At Risk of Seizure by Turkey Government

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

A Washington DC think tank has warned in a new report that American nuclear weapons stored at the Incirlik air base in southeastern Turkey are at risk of being seized by the Ankara government.

That is the conclusion reached by the Stimson Center, a nonpartisan Washington DC think tank dedicated to promoting “global peace and economic prosperity.”

The claim was made in a report issued by the group on Monday, entitled “B61 Life Extension Program: Costs and Policy Consideration.”

“Whether the U.S. could have maintained control of the weapons in the event of a protracted civil conflict in Turkey is an unanswerable question,” the center maintained in its report.

According to co-author Lacie Heeley, “it’s a roll of the dice to continue to have approximately 50 of America’s nuclear weapons stationed at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey.

“There are significant safeguards in place… But safeguards are just that, they don’t eliminate risk,” she told the AFP news agency. “In the event of a coup, we can’t say for certain that we would have been able to maintain control.”

In response, the Pentagon said in a statement, “We do not discuss the location of strategic assets. “The [Department of Defense] has taken appropriate steps to maintain the safety and security of our personnel, their families, and our facilities, and we will continue to do so.”

Thousands of members of the judiciary, police and military have been arrested in an ongoing purge taking place in the wake of a failed coup attempt in Turkey last month.

The government is also continuing its media crackdown on news outlets that appear to be critical of its policies in any way.

Authorities ordered the closing of 45 newspapers, 23 radio stations, 16 television channels and three news agencies this month. Arrest warrants were issued for 47 former employees and executives of Zaman, a media group accused of links to Fethullah Gulen, an elderly Turkish Islamic cleric in self-imposed exile in the United States.

Hana Levi Julian

#ThankYouHamas! Gaza Tourism Campaign

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

#Thank You, Hamas!

Readers who believe the fabrication that residents of Gaza are poverty-stricken Arabs living in muddy shacks with nothing to eat should find this article comforting.

Hamas has released its latest online campaign video to bring new tourists to Gaza.

The hashtag in Arabic reads: #ShukranHamas — #ThankYouHamas.

The ceaseless barrage by Hamas of rocket and mortar fire aimed at Israel and the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers in Gush Etzion prompted a military response from the Israel Defense Forces in July and August 2014. But since then, Gaza has been a very busy place.

Countries from around the world have poured money into the region to help rehabilitate the infrastructure. Israeli forces silenced the rocket fire emanating from the residential buildings, hospitals and schools, aimed by Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists. The two terror organizations deliberately embedded their military operations among civilians in order to use them as human shields. They maximized the destruction of their own cities and the deaths of their own citizens in order to exploit the media coverage for future fundraising.

It worked, of course.

After the war, Israel was excoriated for taking out the rocket launchers and other weaponry in order to neutralize the threat to its own civilian population.

And money poured in to Gaza from all quarters, as did construction supplies. Israel was forced to allow dual use materials into the region. That doesn’t include the daily in-and-out movement of people and the humanitarian aid shipments, foodstuffs, dry goods, and fuel that still flow through the border crossings, along with repeated attempts to smuggle weapons, explosives and military parts among the goods as well.

As the infrastructure and residential buildings were rebuilt, so too was the subterranean military structure of the ruling terrorist authority, which has been caught repeatedly siphoning off money and supplies intended for civilian use. This month, bona fide employees of the United Nations have been caught working for Hamas. But it hasn’t stopped the process; in fact, the United Nations has done absolutely nothing about it. Probably, it can’t and likely it wouldn’t anyway. During the last war more than a few UNRWA schools were used as storage facilities for missiles. Nothing concrete was done about that either, other than a public slap on the wrist, probably for having been stupid enough to get caught on camera. Israel, naturally, was condemned in a formal inquiry after the war.

But should anyone believe the fiction that residents of Gaza are still suffering due to restrictions by Israel, please don’t hesitate to retain the link to this article on your desktop, and review it periodically. Or at least, retain the link to the YouTube video so thoughtfully provided by Hamas. That, at least, should reassure such readers that nothing could be further from the truth.

Any resident of Gaza who is suffering today, is suffering due to restrictions by the Hamas government. Make no mistake about it.

Hana Levi Julian

Moscow Calming Israeli, American Fears of Russia-Turkey-Iran Coalition

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

Tuesday’s meeting in St. Petersburg between the two former feuding foes Russian President Putin and Turkish President Erdogan “drew considerable attention,” government-run news agency TASS reported, noting that the Russian-Turkish rapprochement is coming while Russia has been expanding its relations with Iran and Ankara and Tehran have also been bridging the gaps between them, born by almost four decades of a volatile Islamic Republic on Turkey’s border. In fact, right after the failed coup last month, Erdogan announced, “We are determined to cooperate with Iran and Russia to address regional problems side by side and to step up our efforts considerably to restore peace and stability to the region.”

Should Israel be concerned? Apparently, the Russian news organ is eager to spread a message of calm regarding the new developments in the northern part of the region. And so an unsigned article this week polled experts who were skeptical regarding a developing strategic triangle of those three powers. According to the TASS experts, the most that will come out of the current statements are tactical political interaction and an upturn in economic cooperation. But even if it were true, and Russia, Turkey and Iran were to forge a strategic alliance, TASS continues its calming message, it would be for the best, because “these three countries can play a positive role, for instance, in overcoming the Syrian crisis.”

It isn’t clear who is panicking more at the moment—Jerusalem or Washington—over the possibility that Turkey, a NATO member, would switch sides and coalesce with Russia and Iran. Clearly, the US has a whole lot more to lose from such an emerging outcome. US Middle East policy traditionally relied on the “three-legged stool” comprised of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey. As long as those three major local powers were in the Western camp, Soviet manipulations elsewhere could be mitigated. When Iran was lost under President Jimmy Carter in 1979, the US attempted for the longest time to substitute Iraq for the missing stool leg, but the Iraqi regime never provided the stability the US enjoyed with the Shah. This is why the US is so determined to keep Turkey in the Western camp, because without a Western-allied Turkey, the US presence in the region would be severely downgraded.

Hence the need for the TASS calming story. It interviewed senior research fellow Vladimir Sazhin, of the Oriental Studies Institute under the Russian Academy of Sciences, who reassured the Western readers “there will be no trilateral union, of course. It should be ruled out for many reasons. At best one can expect some tactical alliance. This is so because Iran, Turkey and Russia have certain problems in their relations with the West and with the United States.” That’s code for Turkey would be punished severely, economically and otherwise, if it ever jumped ship.

Sazhin continued, “If one takes a look at the economic interests they share, it should be remembered that Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan … are countries that produce and export hydrocarbons. They have a great deal to discuss in view of the current strained situation on the world market. As for Turkey, its role in delivering hydrocarbons to the West may be significant. But I don’t think that this triangle will be of strategic importance.”

Sazhin sees no fundamentally new geopolitical aspects in sight. “It’s about getting back to where we had been all the time. Arabs constitute an overwhelming majority of the population in the Middle East. Non-Arab countries are few – Israel, Turkey and Iran. They had very close relations up to [the emergence of] the Islamic revolution in Iran.”

“In Iran, with its 80-million population, Turks and Azerbaijanis, who are ethnically very close to Turkey, constitute an estimated 18 to 25 million,” Sazhin said. “Bilateral relations existed not only at the Tehran-Ankara level. There were very strong people-to-people bonds. Plus the long-standing economic ties. But in politics post-revolution Iran and NATO member Turkey have drifted apart, of course.”

Research fellow Irina Zvyagelskaya, of the Arab and Islamic Research Center at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Oriental Studies Institute told TASS, “I don’t believe in the emergence of new political triangles. I don’t think some strategic changes will follow overnight to bring about changes to the configuration of alliances. A number of steps we’ve seen our friends and partners and those we are not on very friendly terms with us take are tactical. They stem from the current situation.”

Zvyagelskaya believes that to a large extent this is true of Turkey. “It is to be remembered that Erdogan’s wish to have closer relations is a result of certain internal political events, on the one hand, and soaring tensions in his country’s relations with the United States and the European Union, on the other. These steps by Erdogan are purely pragmatic and we should treat them accordingly. As far as I understand, nobody has any illusions on that score.”

JNi.Media

US Journalist Arrested as Turkey Continues to Harass Reporters

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

A U.S. journalist has been detained, allegedly for trying to enter Turkey illegally from Syria, according to a report posted on the Hurriyet Daily News website.

The report by the official Anadolu News Agency quoted southern Hatay province governor Ercan Topaca on August 7, and said journalist Snell Lindsteyler was arrested in the Altinozu district, near the Syrian border.

“A U.S. journalist was captured while she was trying to cross the border illegally; she was taken to court and remanded. The trial phase is ongoing. For now, we do not know if she is a spy or not,” Topaca said.

Although Topaca said the journalist has a residence permit to live in Turkey, he claimed she was taken into custody because she had crossed into Syria illegally from Turkey and then tried to re-enter the country, also illegally. He also claimed that U.S. helicopters were seen flying over the border, allegedly to pick up the journalist before she was detained.

Dozens of journalists have been detained since last month’s failed coup; others have had their passports seized, effectively holding them hostage in Turkey.

National Turkish Police officials reportedly told a member of the Turkish Parliament last week that the passports of a number of journalists were cancelled as a “preventive measure” following the attempted coup.

The issue came up when the passport of a Turkish-Armenian journalist was seized upon his arrival in Turkey on August 6, as was the passport of Armenian journalist Hayko Bagdat, when he arrived in Turkey the same evening.

On Augusst 8, “security concerns” also led to unexplained closures at the entrances and exits at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, according to a brief report on Turkey’s Daily Sabah news website.

No further details were provided, and the report has since disappeared from the site.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Russia Admits the Drone was Theirs

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

On July 17, a drone entered Israeli airspace from Syria and flew over the Golan. As reported in JewishPress.com, Israel launched 2 Patriot missiles at the drone, as well as a missile launched from an aircraft.

All three missile missed, and the drone flew back into Syria.

Fragment from the missiles landed near Kibbutz Ayelet Hashachar, and a 14-year-old girl was injured when one of the missile fragments hit her in the leg.

At the time there was speculation that the drone was Russian.

A report released today in Haaretz says that according to the Israeli Defense Ministry, Russia admitted the drone was theirs and it entered Israeli air space due to human error.

Russia’s admission may explain how, despite three attempts, Israel “missed” knocking down the drone, as Israel wanted to send a message to Russia to stop the overflight, but not cause an international incident by actually knocking the drone down.

The infiltration happened soon after Turkey shot down a Russian plane near the Syrian Turkey, raising tension even higher between those two countries.

Jewish Press News Briefs

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

Turkey, Syria, And The Mess In The Middle East

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

The systematic and pervasive purge being conducted by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is fueling analyses in many quarters that Mr. Erdogan is using the recent abortive coup as a vehicle for realizing his long-held desire to assume near dictatorial powers.

Indeed, many now fear that the biggest casualty of the recent events in Turkey will likely be Turkey’s heretofore growing democracy. Given Turkey’s key role in NATO, this will force Turkey’s NATO allies, particularly the United States, to make a choice between working with a country liable to be led by a dictator for the foreseeable future or drumming Turkey out, thereby undermine the alliance.

It is also likely to lead to a revisiting of events surrounding the Arab Spring when the U.S. and other nations threw in their lot with domestic challengers of several dictatorial governments. The U.S. of course had by then already deposed Saddam Hussein.

Although many of the dictators in question were savage despots, they kept their countries together. Indeed, it was because Saddam Hussein was no longer on the scene that ISIS was able to come into existence, establish its pseudo-caliphate, and wreak the murderous havoc it has.

This is a singular moment for the United States. President Obama has vowed that Syrian president Bashar Assad will not survive in office, but that vow affects American efforts in the region to eliminate ISIS because it means Syrian rebels seeking to oust Mr. Assad will not be challenged by any firepower the U.S. directs at ISIS, which has seized much of Syria.

Yet the rebels’ success in diminishing Mr. Assad’s power works against the goal of defeating ISIS. Further, the Russians, who are also trying to defeat ISIS, are supportive of the Assad regime and opposed to the rebels.

So any possibility of joint and effective action to destroy ISIS is undermined by the U.S. refusal to accept the survival of Mr. Assad.

Editorial Board

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/turkey-syria-and-the-mess-in-the-middle-east/2016/08/03/

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