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September 29, 2016 / 26 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Turkey’

Turkey Blocks Access to NATO Airbase

Sunday, July 31st, 2016

The US airbase in the İncirlik quarter of the city of Adana, in southern Turkey, were closed by Turkish police Saturday, Hurriyet reported. The report followed images on twitter showing Turkish police sealing off the airbase. Incirlik is a critical American airbase, from which NATO forces launch airstrikes against ISIS. It also contains nuclear weapons.

According to RT, some 7,000 police armed with rifles in heavy armored TOMA vehicles surrounded the Incirlik air base, a move which a Turkish government minister called a “security check.”

David Israel

Merkel Uses the I Word in Pointing Finger at Terrorist Refugees

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday has agreed publicly that Germany is “at war” with Islamist terrorists, but insisted that they would nevertheless not erode German values or cause her to change her refugee policy.

“A rejection of the humanitarian stance we took could have led to even worse consequences,” Merkel said at a press conference in Berlin, adding that the terrorists “wanted to undermine our sense of community, our openness and our willingness to help people in need. We firmly reject this.”

She defended her open door policy for refugees, said she feels no guilt for the violent attacks those refugees have carried out in Germany, and insisted she had been right to permit those hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees to enter a year ago.

Still, Merkel did call a spade a spade, berating Islamist extremists for biting the German hands that feed them. “Taboos of civilization are being broken,” Merkel said. “These acts happened in places where any of us could have been.”

She was referring to a string of attacks Germans have endured in the space of one week: an axe attack on a train, a mass shooting in Munich that left nine dead, a machete attack that killed a pregnant woman, and a suicide bomb in Ansbach. Three of the attacks were carried out by refugees.

“The fact that [the] men who came to us as refugees are responsible mocked the country that took them in, mocks the volunteers who have taken so much care of refugees. And it mocks the many other refugees who truly seek protection from war and violence with us, who want to live peacefully,” Merkel said.

“I didn’t say eleven months ago that it would be easy,” she said. “I am still convinced today that ‘We can do it’. It is our historic duty and historic task in these times of globalization. We have already achieved so much in the last 11 months.”

Merkel is counting on the EU migrant deal with Turkey, which she negotiated, and the closure of the Balkan Route, will slow down the rush of asylum seekers into Germany. “An influx like last year’s will not happen again, but I cannot say that we will not take in any more refugees,” she said.

Merkel introduced a nine-point plan to defeat domestic terror, including improved monitoring of suspects and improved intelligence co-operation with the US and the Europeans. She is also determined to speed up deportations of rejected asylum seekers. The Ansbach suicide bomber had been rejected but was able to stay in Germany.

“I believe we are in a fight, or for that matter at war with ISIS,” Merkel said. “We are not in any way in a fight or war with Islam.”

The next German federal elections will take place in late summer or early fall, 2017, unless the Merkel government loses a no confidence motion.

David Israel

Turkey Escalates Media Crackdown in Wake of Failed Coup

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

Two advocacy groups, NY based Committee to Protect Journalists, and DC based Freedom House, on Wednesday sounded an alarm about the arrests of more than a dozen Turkish journalists since the weekend, and the shutting down of dozens of media outlets by the Turkish government. The move was given a single, unified reasoning: all these individuals and outlets are accused of being affiliated with dissident Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen who is living in exile in Philadelphia but, according to the Edrogan government was behind the recent military coup attempt.

CPJ Europe and Central Asia program coordinator Nina Ognianova told the Voice of America: “We’re obviously extremely concerned about the developments, particularly against journalists, but this sort of behavior from the government is nothing new. For months, the Turkish authorities have gone after journalists who were critical of their policies. It’s escalated now and in the post-coup period.”

News outlets in Turkey reported on Wednesday that the Turkish government had ordered the closing of 45 newspapers, 23 radio stations, 16 TV channels and three news agencies. An Istanbul prosecutor issued detention warrants for 47 former employees and executives of Zaman, a media group accused of links to Gulen.

Journalist and former parliamentarian Nazlı Ilıcak, who was on the Zaman detention warrant, was arrested in the Bodrum district of the Aegean province of Mugla early on July 26. She was pulled out of her car and taken to the Bodrum Police Station, and then sent to Istanbul for legal actions.

Five other journalists: Yakup Sağlam, İbrahim Balta, Seyit Kılıç, Bayram Kaya and Cihan Acar, have also been detained so far, according to Hurriyet Daily News.

Freedom House official Nate Schenkkan told VOA that unofficial lists circulating on pro-government social media sites suggest at least 150 other journalists could be targeted, many of whom may have no ties to Gulen.

State Department spokesman John Kirby voiced the US concern about press freedom in Turkey: “I think we’d see this as a continuation of … a troubling trend in Turkey where official bodies, law enforcement and judicial, are being used to discourage legitimate political discourse.”

The crackdown on Turkish media dates back to December 2013, when Turkish prosecutors launched a massive corruption investigation of associates of then-Prime Minister Erdogan, which resulted in a government backlash and mass arrests of journalist. Since 2013, Freedom House has set Turkey’s press freedom status a at 71 out of 100, with 100 being the worst. This shameful score is certainly going to be increased soon.

David Israel

Liberman to Arab MK: Conditions at Checkpoints Are Unreasonable, Harmful

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

In a question-and-answer session in the Knesset this week, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman Addressed a question by MK Abd Al Hakeem Haj Yahya (Joint Arab List) about the conditions at checkpoints in Judea and Samaria, Liberman said “What’s happening at checkpoints is unreasonable, and there is no doubt it harms our security.”

“There are three authorities that deal with this issue — the Airports Authority, Defense Ministry and Public Security Ministry, and this creates a complicated chaos,” Liberman explained.

Liberman expressed his hope that the matter will be taken care of in next year’s budget, “to improve things from every perspective – security and humanitarian.”

Liberman was asked by MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Camp) about the reconciliation agreement with Turkey and whether it constitutes recognition of the Hamas’ regime in Gaza. “Our starting point must be Egypt,” the defense minister said. “It is our most important, serious ally in the Middle East. How will it affect our relations with Egypt? Personally, I’ve invested a lot of effort in building relations of trust and cooperation [with Egypt]. There are many other considerations here which we must take into account.”

MK Orly Levi-Abekasis asked Liberman why IDF soldiers who became disabled during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge have yet to receive the benefits they deserve. “There is an absolute commitment to this issue, and those who are dealing with it are doing so with dedication. It has been examined in the various committees, and as a minister I have to trust those professional echelons. The disabled themselves are part of the formulation of those benefits. Intense debates are being held in order to improve their situation,” Liberman answered.

MK Masud Ganaim (Joint Arab List) asked the defense minister about his summoning of Army Radio commander Yaron Dekel regarding a program on Arab poet Mahmoud Darwish which was aired by the station. “It is okay to air an episode on Darwish, but in the framework of ‘know your enemy,’ together with the mufti and Goebbels,” Liberman retorted.

Asked by MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) about his decision to revoke the entry permit to Israel of senior Palestinian Authority official Mohammed al-Madani, Liberman said, “Part of the tradition in the Palestinian Authority is that the same people who at nighttime deal with harming Israel and worked hard to annihilate the State of Israel, during the daytime speak a lot about brotherhood among the nations, peace, and so forth.”

The minister noted that he cannot make such a decision alone. “There is the opinion of the Shin Bet (General Security Service) and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. They are certainly not political people. Only after they tell me in writing that they strongly suggest [a permit be revoked] do I perform the formal act.”

Al-Madani, the minister said, “is not an innocent person who thinks about brotherhood and peace between Jews and Arabs.”

“Questions Hour” is a new parliamentary feature in the Knesset’s plenary sessions. Each year, the opposition has the right to invite 10 ministers to answer questions they did not see in advance. One of those times, it can be the prime minister. At least three-quarters of the questioners must come from the ranks of the opposition.

JNi.Media

Turkish Parliament Approves 3-Month State of Emergency

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

The Turkish Parliament approved a three-month state of emergency Thursday by a vote of 346-115. The last state of emergency in Turkey lasted from July 1987 to November 2002.

The approval came hours after the government declared the state of emergency late Wednesday (July 20), “in order to eliminate the terror organization which attempted to make a coup, swiftly and completely,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced.

The state of emergency allows law enforcement officers to shot individuals who violate surrender orders or attempt to exchange fire — or in self-defense.

Detentions can be extended beyond 48 hours, which is the normal maximum for detentions before suspects must be tried by a court under the Turkish Constitution.

A state of emergency allows authorities to impose limited or full crfews and to prevent gatherings, impose travel bans at certain times and in various places.

Body, vehicle and property searches and seizure of potential evidence has been authorized, and people have been ordered to carry identification with them at all times.

The government has been authorized to ban publication, distribution and replication of newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, books and leaflets, and to seize publications that were banned before.

Controlling, recording and banning certain speeches, scripts, pictures, films, records, theaters and films — as well as audio and image records and all audio-related broadcasts have also been authorized.

Individuals and groups can be blocked from entering certain places, and removed from others; public gatherings and meetings, marches and parades can be banned or postponed. Operations of association can also be stopped.

Erdogan urged Turkish citizens to be wary of “speculations,” according to an article posted on the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News website. He added the state of emergency was not synonymous with martial law.

“Restrictions on rights and liberties during the state of emergency are not in question. There is no such thing. We guarantee it,” Erdogan said.

But the move has already had an effect on everyday Turkish citizens: a Turkish business contact who was slated to travel to the United States abruptly “postponed” those plans, citing “recent developments in Turkey.”

In a brief email to a source who requested anonymity out of concern for his safety, the contact said he could not say when he might be able to reschedule. The source told JewishPress.com he was so concerned for his friend’s safety, he could not even respond with an email to ask for details about the family or what was happening in the company.

Hana Levi Julian

Erdogan Declares Three-Month State of Emergency Across Turkey

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday announced a nationwide three-month state of emergency after Friday’s failed coup. Speaking at the presidential complex in Ankara after back-to-back National Security Council and Cabinet meetings, Erdogan said the three-month state of emergency was being declared under Article 120 of the Turkish Constitution, which states that in the event of serious, widespread acts of violence aimed at the destruction of the free democratic order, a state of emergency may be declared in one or more regions or throughout the country for a period not exceeding six months, the Anadolu state news agency reported.

“The purpose of the state of emergency is to most effectively and swiftly take steps necessary to eliminate the threat to democracy in our country, the rule of law, and the rights and freedom of our citizens,” Erdogan said.

The president said the move was aimed at “eliminating coup-plotter terrorist group,” which he insists is led by followers of US-based Muslim cleric Fetullah Gulen. Gulen has denounced the coup, saying he believed only in change through democratic means, but Turkey has demanded his extradition from the US nonetheless, citing incriminating documents associating him with the plot to unseat Erdogan.

At least 246 people, including members of the security forces and civilians, were killed during the failed coup, and more than 1,500 were wounded.

“Never be worried,” Erdogan told Turks Wednesday night. “There is nothing to worry about.” He said that “it is out of the question” for the armed forces to seize power. “Quite the reverse, the authority and will of the [civilian] leaders will grow more in this process,” he said, adding, “We never compromise on democracy, and we will not compromise.”

Erdogan blasted Standard & Poor’s downgrading of Turkey’s rating in the wake of the failed coup. “Why are you even interested in Turkey? We’re not part of you… Don’t ever try to mess with us,” he said.

Turkey’s lira fell to an all-time low after the S&P downgraded its debt, slumping to 3.0973 against the dollar, then falling another 1.5 percent to 3.0898 on Wednesday.

International rating agencies Fitch and Moody’s have so far kept Turkey’s investment-grade rating where it had been before the coup attempt, but both agencies are also considering a downgrade. Turkey’s current rating with Fitch is already a troubling BBB.

But Erdogan insisted that S&P’s assessment does not adequately reflect the Turkish economy, which grew 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2016 compared with the same period last year. He vowed that Turkey will maintain fiscal discipline. “Turkey will continue its economic reforms without any interruption… There is no liquidity problem,” he said.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim tweeted: “This [state of emergency] decision is not for the daily life of our people, but rather is for the proper and swift functioning of state mechanisms.”

What those state mechanisms may be was left up to the Twitter followers’ imagination.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told reporters in Ankara: “The conditions of the state of emergency will only be used for fighting the parallel structure.” The term is part of Erdogan’s accusations of his arch-rival Gulen, whom he says is running a “parallel state” inside Turkey’s state institutions and media that poses a threat to his rule.

A National Security Council and Cabinet statement said, “Our body has once again confirmed its commitment to democracy, fundamental rights and freedoms, and the rule of law. The steps to be taken afterward were also discussed.” The statement added that the state of emergency was declared in order to implement measures to protect “citizens’ rights and freedoms, our democracy, and the rule of law.”

JNi.Media

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

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/turkish-government-fires-tens-of-thousands-after-coup-attempt/2016/07/20/

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