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May 31, 2016 / 23 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Turkey’

1 Israeli Victim Identified in Istanbul Terror Attack

Saturday, March 19th, 2016

One of the three Israeli victims has been identified in the suicide bombing attack in Istanbul on Saturday. A fourth national was also killed.

The attack by a suicide bomber who blew himself up in central Istanbul occurred near two tour groups who were walking on Istiklal Street. The blast left 11 Israelis and 26 others wounded, including seven in critical condition.

Among the dead was Simha Demri, 60, of Dimona, who was on a culinary tour with her husband Avi, who suffered wounds to his legs and a punctured lung.

The terrorist detonated his bomb about four meters away from the group, according to Demri, who had spoken with Ynet about the attack before he was told about his wife’s death. He noted that both his legs were broken and that he could “barely breathe.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told media, “There is information that this was an attack by a member of ISIS. But this is preliminary information. In cases like this, we cooperate with other countries’ intelligence agencies.”

Hana Levi Julian

3 Israelis Dead, 11 Wounded in Istanbul Terror Attack [video]

Saturday, March 19th, 2016

At least three Israelis were killed and 11 others were wounded in a terrorist attack shortly after 11 am on Sabbath (Saturday) morning in Istanbul.

The terrorist and an Iranian citizen was also killed and 28 other people were injured on Istiklal Avenue in the central Taksim section of Turkey’s largest city, where tourist hotels and cafes are located.

Fourteen of the victims were foreign nationals, according to Turkish officials. A number of foreign consulates are located along the avenue where the attack took place. However, officials were speculating the terrorist may have detonated the bomb too early, since the area was quiet at that hour. It is also possible he was targeting a Jewish tour group in the area.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that two Magen David Adom ambulance aircraft were leaving Istanbul to bring the wounded and deceased home to Israel.

Turkish Health Minister Mehmet Müezzinoglu said 39 people, including 14 foreign nationals and a child, were injured and seven of the victims in hospitals were in critical condition.

“We as a nation are unfortunately now face to face with a situation of unlimited, immeasurable acts that are inhumane, defy human values and are treacherous,” Müezzinoglu said.

In a later statement the Health Ministry said six Israeli, one German, one Icelander, one Iranian, two Irish citizens and one Dubaian were receiving treatment at hospitals.

Two of the deceased Israelis also hold dual US citizenship.

Turkish officials said Saturday night the attack may have been carried out by the ISIS terrorist organization, or by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist group.

Hana Levi Julian

27 Dead, Dozens Wounded in Ankara Terrorist Bombing

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

At least 27 people are dead and 75 are wounded after an explosion rocked the Turkish capital of Ankara shortly before 7 pm Sunday evening near the Justice Ministry.

The blast was caused by a bomb-laden car that reportedly exploded between two passenger buses in Ankara’s Kizilay Square, the Ankara Governorate announced in a statement Sunday evening.

Numerous vehicles were ignited and burst into flames at the scene. Several buses also were partly burned or completely incinerated.

The area was quickly evacuated as a precaution against a second attack, according to the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News site.

Wounded victims were rushed to 10 different hospitals across the city, according to CNN Türk.

Smoke could be seen rising above the city from a distance as far as 2.5 kilometers away, according to witnesses quoted by the Daily Sabah news site.

Kizilay Square serves as the city’s main square and main transportation terminus, where approximately 10 bus stops converge in one site.

It is known as the heart of the city’s commercial and entertainment center. The site is only one kilometer from the site of last month’s attack by PKK terrorists.

The government-controlled Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) declared a broadcasting ban on images of the scene and victims.

This is the third major explosion to hit Ankara since last October.

Last month on February 17, a suicide car bomber targeted a military shuttle bus carrying recruits to a facility in central Ankara near the parliament building. At least 29 people lost their lives and 81 others were wounded.

On October 10, 2015, at least 103 were killed in an attack by alleged Da’esh operatives from the ISIS terrorist group who bombed a peace rally near the Ankara Railway Station.

Hana Levi Julian

Turkey, Iran Talk Unity on Syria as Kremlin Punishes Tehran

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met Saturday in Tehran with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the final day of a two-day official visit to the Islamic Republic.

Rouhani said cooperation between Iran and Turkey will play a positive role in the settlement of regional issues, according to Iran’s official Press TV.

“Iran and Turkey have common objectives and interests and must strengthen the foundations for peace and stability in the region through [improving] bilateral cooperation and focusing on the fight against terrorism as a common enemy,” Rouhani said.

“We believe that regional problems should be settled by regional countries and nations and Iran-Turkey cooperation will undoubtedly play a constructive role in establishing sustainable peace in the region,” the Iranian president pointed out.

The Iranian president said Tehran and Ankara enjoy great potential to expand ties in different sectors including transportation, energy, trade, joint investment, tourism, science and technology and expressed the country’s readiness to bolster cooperation with Turkey.

Davutoglu arrived in Tehran at the head of a high-ranking political and economic delegation on Friday hoping to expand the trade between the two nations to $30 billion – triple the current amount.

He told Rouhani that Ankara is determined to open a “new chapter” in relations with Tehran, according to Press TV.

The Turkish prime minister also “expressed Turkey’s readiness to cooperation with the Islamic Republic in the campaign against terrorism,” the state news agency reported.

Since Iran is a generous sponsor of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist organization as well as the Hamas terrorist rulers of Gaza and their Palestinian Islamic Jihad allies, the statement raises questions.

The international headquarters of Hamas are still located in Istanbul, as they have been for about a year or more. Nevertheless, Turkish officials did deport a top Hamas official who masterminded the abduction and murder of three Israeli yeshiva teens in 2014 — the attack that launched Operation Protective Edge that summer.

Over the past several weeks, Turkish officials have been deeply involved in talks with Israeli representatives to resolve differences and repair the broken ties between the two nations. At last report, two of the three demands of the Turkish government had been met by Israel, and the third was allegedly well on the way towards resolution, according to an announcement by Turkish government officials.

That was a week prior to Davutoglu’s meeting with Rouhani. How is Israel to interpret this latest move?

“It is extremely important for Turkey and Iran to develop some common perspectives in order to end our region’s fight among brothers, to stop the ethnic and sectarian conflicts,” the Turkish prime minister told reporters in Tehran.

Although the two nations are backing different sides in the Syrian civil war, it seems they may have developed a common antipathy for Russia.

The Kremlin has been adamant that Iran withdraw its forces from Syria – including its proxy, the Lebanon-based Hezbollah guerrilla terrorist fighters – who are backing President Bashar al-Assad. Russia has reportedly told Iran their interests are different in Syria.

A highly-placed source told Kuwait’s daily Al-Jarida newspaper that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is retracting the sale of the S-300 anti-missile system. The moves comes as punishment to Iran for violating its pledge not to hand over any of its sophisticated weaponry to terrorist groups.

Israel brought Moscow clear evidence that Iran gave Hezbollah SA-22 surface-to-air missiles. The intelligence was confirmed by reports by Russian fighter pilots who flew sorties over Syria and Lebanon and whose radar could detect SA-22 systems in areas under Hezbollah control.

Hana Levi Julian

Erdogan Govt Seizes Turkey’s Biggest-Selling Newspaper

Saturday, March 5th, 2016

The White House has called on the Turkish government to “ensure full respect for due process and equal treatment under law” after riot police seized the offices of one of the largest newspapers in Turkey on Friday.

The violent crackdown is the latest in a series of moves over the past few years in the AKP government’s effort to control the media in Turkey. Although a member of NATO, Turkey has often behaved more like a member of the Arab League in its dealings with journalists and freedom of the press.

Police forced reporters out of their offices, beating some of them, while firing tear gas and water cannon on protesting readers as they forced open the gates to the building where Zaman and Today’s Zaman newspapers are headquartered.

“This is the latest in a series of troubling judicial and law enforcement actions taken by the Turkish government targeting media outlets and others critical of it,” White House said in a statement on Friday.

The paper’s Saturday edition defiantly warned “Yesterday marked one of the darkest days in the history of Turkish press” in its Saturday edition. Later in the day police used rubber bullets along with the tear gas this time to disperse a new protest. Demonstrators shouted in response, “Free press cannot be silenced!” An AFP photographer at the scene reported to Yahoo! the chaos involved some 500 protesters.

Sevgi Akarcesme, editor-in-chief of the paper’s English language ‘Today’s Zaman,’ tweeted on Saturday that all the Internet connections to the newspaper office were cut. “We are not able to work anymore,” she wrote.

The new administrators on Saturday fired Zaman’s editor-in-chief Abdulhamit Bilici, media reports said.

The Istanbul Sixth Criminal Court of Peace ordered the confiscation of the newspaper’s offices after a petition by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The court had appointed trustees to seize control of the Feza Media Group, which includes the Zaman daily, as well as Today’s Zaman daily and the Cihan news agency.

All are alleged to belong to the U.S.-based preacher Fettulah Gulen, a former friend who became a rival-in-exile, bitterly opposed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AK Party.

Two days before parliamentary elections last November, Turkish courts also appointed trustees to Koza Ipek Media Holding, effectively seizing two newspapers, two TV channels and a radio channel. This week the trustees bankrupted the papers and shut them down.

The moves came just two days in advance of a visit to Brussels by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu for a pivotal meeting with European Union leaders. Turkey has for years been trying to secure membership in the European body.

Davutoglu dismissed questions over the seizure while on an official visit to Iran, denying any government connection. “They are certainly not political but [rather] legal processes,” he said in a statement carried by Turkish television. “Turkey is a state governed by rule of law… It is out of the question for either me or any of my colleagues to interfere in this process.”

But he then warned in a clear reference to the Gulen movement, “We should not shut our eyes to … a parallel structure within the state using the press and other tools [to promote its agenda.]” Ankara has accused Gulen of seeking to overthrow the government via what it refers to as the Fethullahci Terror Organisation/Parallel State Structure (FeTO/PDY).

In response, Davutoglu received his own polite caution in a statement by the European Union, with whom he is expected to meet in Brussels on Monday.

“The EU has repeatedly stressed that Turkey, as (an EU) candidate country, needs to respect and promote high democratic standards and practices, including freedom of the media,” the EU’s diplomatic service said in a statement.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Turkey Blames PKK, Syrian YPG for Ankara Terror Attack, Vows Retaliation

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

Turkey is vowing to retaliate against the terror group who attacked its capital city Wednesday night.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the massacre. A powerful car bomb exploded in central Ankara, killing 28 people and injuring 61 others as it ripped through military buses carrying young personnel to facilities near the parliament.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu placed the blame for the attack squarely on the YPG Syrian Kurdish organization. Speaking to reporters in Ankara, Davutoglu identified the terrorist as Saleh Najar, a Syrian national born in the Hasakah province.

“It has been determined with certainty that this attack was carried out by members of the separatist terror organization PKK, together with a member of the YPG who infiltrated from Syria,” Davutoglu said.

Turkish security forces detained nine people in connection with the attack. Davutoglu added, “Their connection to the YPG has been confirmed” but said he could not comment further due to the ongoing investigation.

The Turkish Air Force conducted cross-border air strikes in northern Iraq, he said, killing more than 70 PKK terrorists, including senior members. “We will take all precautions under the scope of legitimate self-defense and will retaliate with no hesitation.”

Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mevlut Cavusoglu, has been instructed to forward documents about the attack to members of the United Nations Security Council, he said.

“It is our right to expect a common stance against a terrorist organization,” Davutoglu declared.

The comment was directed at members of the UN and NATO who do not see eye-to-eye with Turkey — another UN and NATO member — on the status of the YPG and PYD.

Turkey regards the YPG and PYD as terror groups linked to the PKK, but that is not the case in the rest of the world.

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is indeed recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union. However, the Syrian Kurdish YPG and PYD groups are not seen in the same light by the U.S., nor by the European Union. Turkey regards both as terrorist organizations as well.

Davutoglu warned that those ‘directly and indirectly supporting’ the YPG ‘risk losing Turkey’s backing, according to the Daily Sabah newspaper. He added that it “unacceptable for members of NATO and the United States to have relations with an organization which carried out terrorist attacks ‘in the heart of Turkey.’”

Hana Levi Julian

Analysis: Turkey Toning Down Hopes for Reconciliation With Israel

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

It appears that, like Israel, Turkey’s government is working to reduce expectations of a reconciliation between Ankara and Israel, just as Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has in Jerusalem.

The Ankara edition of ‘Today’s Zaman’ published an article Monday headlined: ‘Turkey FM says Israel wanted Erdogan ousted from power, put off deal.”

From the very first paragraph, the article laid the blame for any failure of reconciliation talks at Israel’s doorstep – as Turkey has consistently to this point.

“Turkey’s top diplomat has claimed that Israel has been cold to rapprochement with Turkey because of raised expectations about Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan being ousted from power,” the paper reported.

“Briefing lawmakers in Parliament last Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the framework agreement with Israel was already in place several years ago, saying his government has been in talks with the Israeli side on the same issues that were reported today. ‘In fact, there was a main agreement in place on all these issues, but why was Israel not approaching to [finalize the deal]?” he asked, adding that Israel has been waiting on the departure of Erdogan from power…’”

The foreign minister repeated Turkey’s conditions for the normalization of ties, which include the payment of compensation over the deaths of those who died in the 2010 Mavi Marmara debacle.

What is interesting and new is the position allegedly expressed by Cavusoglu, that Turkey insists on ‘lifting the Israeli embargo on Gaza (the use of language here, as with all diplomatic issues, is very important) and that “Turkey wants to help Gaza residents, including providing electricity to the strip.”

According to Today’s Zaman “the Turkish government’s priority is on lifting the embargo rather than the blockade and hopes to channel development assistance to rebuild Gaza.” (ed.-italics added)

This is the first time Turkey has changed its demand for Israel to drop its blockade of Gaza and instead moved to a request to lift the ’embargo,’ adding a suggestion that it be able to aid in supplying electricity to the enclave.

Despite Ankara’s leanings towards the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey nevertheless might prove helpful in preventing Hamas from stealing the construction supplies that now go missing to rebuild military infrastructure rather than residential neighborhoods.

On the other hand, one must question whether Turkey is hoping to play a role in Gaza in order to establish a presence in the face of another recently-demoted former ally, Egypt. Israel has in the meanwhile strengthened its relations with Cairo, which has increasingly lost patience with Turkey’s foster son, Hamas.

Cavusoglu also revealed that Israeli officials have expressed concern Turkey would continue its public criticisms after a deal is finalized.

“If Israel continues to implement these policies, including illegal settlements and attacks on Palestine, then we’ll naturally criticize; we are very clear and open about this,” the Turkish foreign minister was quoted as saying.

And herein lies one of the problems: Turkey seems to feel free to interfere in the internal domestic national security issues of other sovereign nations but takes great umbrage when others do the same.

For instance, Ankara has no problem taking on the role of advocate for Hamas, the terrorist organization spawned by the Muslim Brotherhood that rules Gaza, and which has been responsible for countless mained, wounded and dead in Israel. Turkey even welcomed Hamas to establish its international headquarters in Istanbul.

But were another sovereign nation to take the same stance on behalf of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), the internationally-recognized terrorist group located in Turkey’s southeastern sector, one wonders how Ankara would respond.

Somehow, Turkey fails to see the parallel.

Negotiators from Ankara and Jerusalem are once more trying to work out a way to regain the relationship the former allies once enjoyed. It has been mutually rewarding and is now needed by both as the region faces an impending onslaught by the hordes of Da’esh (ISIS).

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/analysis-turkey-toning-down-hopes-for-reconciliation-with-israel/2016/02/16/

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