Turkey: The Truth Knowledge And History Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Turkey

Introduction Modern Turkey was founded in 1923 from the Anatolian remnants of the defeated Ottoman Empire by national hero Mustafa KEMAL, who was later honored with the title Ataturk or “Father of the Turks.” Under his authoritarian leadership, the country adopted wide-ranging social, legal, and political reforms. After a period of one-party rule, an experiment with multi-party politics led to the 1950 election victory of the opposition Democratic Party and the peaceful transfer of power. Since then, Turkish political parties have multiplied, but democracy has been fractured by periods of instability and intermittent military coups (1960, 1971, 1980), which in each case eventually resulted in a return of political power to civilians. In 1997, the military again helped engineer the ouster – popularly dubbed a “post-modern coup” – of the then Islamic-oriented government. Turkey intervened militarily on Cyprus in 1974 to prevent a Greek takeover of the island and has since acted as patron state to the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” which only Turkey recognizes. A separatist insurgency begun in 1984 by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – now known as the People’s Congress of Kurdistan or Kongra-Gel (KGK) – has dominated the Turkish military’s attention and claimed more than 30,000 lives. After the capture of the group’s leader in 1999, the insurgents largely withdrew from Turkey mainly to northern Iraq. In 2004, KGK announced an end to its ceasefire and attacks attributed to the KGK increased. Turkey joined the UN in 1945 and in 1952 it became a member of NATO; it holds a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council from 2009-2010. In 1964, Turkey became an associate member of the European Community. Over the past decade, it has undertaken many reforms to strengthen its democracy and economy; it began accession membership talks with the European Union in 2005.
History Antiquity

The Anatolian peninsula (also called Asia Minor), comprising most of modern Turkey, is one of the oldest continually inhabited regions in the world due to its location at the intersection of Asia and Europe. The earliest Neolithic settlements such as Çatalhöyük (Pottery Neolithic), Çayönü (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A to Pottery Neolithic), Nevali Cori (Pre-Pottery Neolithic B), Hacilar (Pottery Neolithic), Göbekli Tepe (Pre-Pottery Neolithic A) and Mersin are considered to be among the earliest human settlements in the world. The settlement of Troy starts in the Neolithic and continues into the Iron Age. Through recorded history, Anatolians have spoken Indo-European, Semitic and Kartvelian languages, as well as many languages of uncertain affiliation. In fact, given the antiquity of the Indo-European Hittite and Luwian languages, some scholars have proposed Anatolia as the hypothetical center from which the Indo-European languages have radiated.

The first major empire in the area was that of the Hittites, from the 18th through the 13th century BCE. Subsequently, the Phrygians, an Indo-European people, achieved ascendancy until their kingdom was destroyed by the Cimmerians in the 7th century BCE. The most powerful of Phrygia’s successor states were Lydia, Caria and Lycia. The Lydians and Lycians spoke languages that were fundamentally Indo-European, but both languages had acquired non-Indo-European elements prior to the Hittite and Hellenistic periods.

Starting around 1200 BC, the west coast of Anatolia was settled by Aeolian and Ionian Greeks. The entire area was conquered by the Persian Achaemenid Empire during the 6th and 5th centuries and later fell to Alexander the Great in 334 BCE. Anatolia was subsequently divided into a number of small Hellenistic kingdoms (including Bithynia, Cappadocia, Pergamum, and Pontus), all of which had succumbed to Rome by the mid-1st century BCE. In 324 CE, the Roman emperor Constantine I chose Byzantium to be the new capital of the Roman Empire, renaming it New Rome (later Constantinople and Istanbul). After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, it became the capital of the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire).

Turks and the Ottoman Empire

The House of Seljuk was a branch of the Kınık Oğuz Turks who in the 9th century resided on the periphery of the Muslim world, north of the Caspian and Aral Seas in the Yabghu Khaganate of the Oğuz confederacy. In the 10th century, the Seljuks started migrating from their ancestral homelands towards the eastern regions of Anatolia, which eventually became the new homeland of Oğuz Turkic tribes following the Battle of Manzikert (Malazgirt) in 1071. The victory of the Seljuks gave rise to the Anatolian Seljuk Sultanate; which developed as a separate branch of the larger Seljuk Empire that covered parts of Central Asia, Iran, Anatolia and Southwest Asia.

In 1243, the Seljuk armies were defeated by the Mongols and the power of the empire slowly disintegrated. In its wake, one of the Turkish principalities governed by Osman I was to evolve into the Ottoman Empire, thus filling the void left by the collapsed Seljuks and Byzantines.

The Ottoman Empire interacted with both Eastern and Western cultures throughout its 623-year history. In the 16th and 17th centuries, it was among the world’s most powerful political entities, often locking horns with the Holy Roman Empire in its steady advance towards Central Europe through the Balkans and the southern part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth on land; and with the combined forces (Holy Leagues) of Habsburg Spain, the Republic of Venice and the Knights of St. John at sea for the control of the Mediterranean basin; while frequently confronting Portuguese fleets at the Indian Ocean for defending the Empire’s monopoly over the ancient maritime trade routes between East Asia and Western Europe, which had become increasingly compromised since the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope in 1488.

Following years of decline, the Ottoman Empire entered World War I through the Ottoman-German Alliance in 1914, and was ultimately defeated. After the war, the victorious Allied Powers sought the dismemberment of the Ottoman state through the Treaty of Sèvres.

Republic era

The occupation of İstanbul and İzmir by the Allies in the aftermath of World War I prompted the establishment of the Turkish national movement. Under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Pasha, a military commander who had distinguished himself during the Battle of Gallipoli, the Turkish War of Independence was waged with the aim of revoking the terms of the Treaty of Sèvres. By September 18, 1922, the occupying armies were repelled and the country saw the birth of the new Turkish state. On November 1, the newly founded parliament formally abolished the Sultanate, thus ending 623 years of Ottoman rule. The Treaty of Lausanne of July 24, 1923, led to the international recognition of the sovereignty of the newly formed “Republic of Turkey” as the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, and the republic was officially proclaimed on October 29, 1923, in the new capital of Ankara.

Mustafa Kemal became the republic’s first president and subsequently introduced many radical reforms with the aim of founding a new secular republic from the remnants of its Ottoman past. According to the Law on Family Names, the Turkish parliament presented Mustafa Kemal with the honorific name “Atatürk” (Father of the Turks) in 1934.

Turkey entered World War II on the side of the Allies on February 23, 1945 as a ceremonial gesture and became a charter member of the United Nations in 1945. Difficulties faced by Greece after the war in quelling a communist rebellion, along with demands by the Soviet Union for military bases in the Turkish Straits, prompted the United States to declare the Truman Doctrine in 1947. The doctrine enunciated American intentions to guarantee the security of Turkey and Greece, and resulted in large-scale US military and economic support.

After participating with the United Nations forces in the Korean conflict, Turkey joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1952, becoming a bulwark against Soviet expansion into the Mediterranean. Following a decade of intercommunal violence on the island of Cyprus and the Greek military coup of July 1974, overthrowing President Makarios and installing Nikos Sampson as dictator, Turkey intervened militarily in 1974. Nine years later the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) was established. The TRNC is recognised only by Turkey.

Following the end of the single-party period in 1945, the multi-party period witnessed tensions over the following decades, and the period between the 1960s and the 1980s was particularly marked by periods of political instability that resulted in a number of military coups d’états in 1960, 1971, 1980 and a post-modern coup d’état in 1997. The liberalization of the Turkish economy that started in the 1980s changed the landscape of the country, with successive periods of high growth and crises punctuating the following decades.

Geography Location: Southeastern Europe and Southwestern Asia (that portion of Turkey west of the Bosporus is geographically part of Europe), bordering the Black Sea, between Bulgaria and Georgia, and bordering the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, between Greece and Syria
Geographic coordinates: 39 00 N, 35 00 E
Map references: Middle East
Area: total: 780,580 sq km
land: 770,760 sq km
water: 9,820 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than Texas
Land boundaries: total: 2,648 km
border countries: Armenia 268 km, Azerbaijan 9 km, Bulgaria 240 km, Georgia 252 km, Greece 206 km, Iran 499 km, Iraq 352 km, Syria 822 km
Coastline: 7,200 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 6 nm in the Aegean Sea; 12 nm in Black Sea and in Mediterranean Sea
exclusive economic zone: in Black Sea only: to the maritime boundary agreed upon with the former USSR
Climate: temperate; hot, dry summers with mild, wet winters; harsher in interior
Terrain: high central plateau (Anatolia); narrow coastal plain; several mountain ranges
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mount Ararat 5,166 m
Natural resources: coal, iron ore, copper, chromium, antimony, mercury, gold, barite, borate, celestite (strontium), emery, feldspar, limestone, magnesite, marble, perlite, pumice, pyrites (sulfur), clay, arable land, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 29.81%
permanent crops: 3.39%
other: 66.8% (2005)
Irrigated land: 52,150 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 234 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 39.78 cu km/yr (15%/11%/74%)
per capita: 544 cu m/yr (2001)
Natural hazards: severe earthquakes, especially in northern Turkey, along an arc extending from the Sea of Marmara to Lake Van
Environment – current issues: water pollution from dumping of chemicals and detergents; air pollution, particularly in urban areas; deforestation; concern for oil spills from increasing Bosporus ship traffic
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
Geography – note: strategic location controlling the Turkish Straits (Bosporus, Sea of Marmara, Dardanelles) that link Black and Aegean Seas; Mount Ararat, the legendary landing place of Noah’s ark, is in the far eastern portion of the country
Politics Turkey is a parliamentary representative democracy. Since its foundation as a republic in 1923, Turkey has developed a strong tradition of secularism. Turkey’s constitution governs the legal framework of the country. It sets out the main principles of government and establishes Turkey as a unitary centralized state.

The head of state is the President of the Republic and has a largely ceremonial role. The president is elected for a five-year term by direct elections. The last President, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, was elected on May 16, 2000, after having served as the President of the Constitutional Court. He was succeeded on August 28, 2007, by Abdullah Gül. Executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers which make up the government, while the legislative power is vested in the unicameral parliament, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature, and the Constitutional Court is charged with ruling on the conformity of laws and decrees with the constitution. The Council of State is the tribunal of last resort for administrative cases, and the High Court of Appeals for all others.

The Prime Minister is elected by the parliament through a vote of confidence in his government and is most often the head of the party that has the most seats in parliament. The current Prime Minister is the former mayor of İstanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose conservative AKP won an absolute majority of parliamentary seats in the 2002 general elections, organized in the aftermath of the economic crisis of 2001, with 34% of the suffrage. In the 2007 general elections, the AKP received 46.6% of the votes and could defend its majority in parliament. Neither the Prime Minister nor the Ministers have to be members of the parliament, but in most cases they are (one notable exception was Kemal Derviş, the Minister of State in Charge of the Economy following the financial crisis of 2001; he is currently the president of the United Nations Development Programme).

Universal suffrage for both sexes has been applied throughout Turkey since 1933, and every Turkish citizen who has turned 18 years of age has the right to vote. As of 2004, there were 50 registered political parties in the country, whose ideologies range from the far left to the far right. The Constitutional Court can strip the public financing of political parties that it deems anti-secular or separatist, or ban their existence altogether.

There are 550 members of parliament who are elected for a four-year term by a party-list proportional representation system from 85 electoral districts which represent the 81 administrative provinces of Turkey (İstanbul is divided into three electoral districts whereas Ankara and İzmir are divided into two each because of their large populations). To avoid a hung parliament and its excessive political fragmentation, only parties that win at least 10% of the votes cast in a national parliamentary election gain the right to representation in the parliament. As a result of this threshold, the 2007 elections saw three parties formally entering the parliament (compared to two in 2002). However, due to a system of alliances and independent candidatures, seven parties are currently represented in the parliament. Independent candidates may run; however, they must also win at least 10% of the vote in their circonscription to be elected.

People Population: 71,892,808 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 24.4% (male 8,937,515/female 8,608,375)
15-64 years: 68.6% (male 25,030,793/female 24,253,312)
65 years and over: 7% (male 2,307,236/female 2,755,576) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 29 years
male: 28.8 years
female: 29.2 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.013% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 16.15 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 6.02 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 36.98 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 40.44 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 33.34 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 73.14 years
male: 70.67 years
female: 75.73 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.87 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1%; note – no country specific models provided (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Turk(s)
adjective: Turkish
Ethnic groups: Turkish 80%, Kurdish 20% (estimated)
Religions: Muslim 99.8% (mostly Sunni), other 0.2% (mostly Christians and Jews)
Languages: Turkish (official), Kurdish, Dimli (or Zaza), Azeri, Kabardian
note: there is also a substantial Gagauz population in the European part of Turkey
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 87.4%
male: 95.3%
female: 79.6% (2004 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 11 years
male: 12 years
female: 11 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 4% of GDP (2004)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Turkey
conventional short form: Turkey
local long form: Turkiye Cumhuriyeti
local short form: Turkiye
Government type: republican parliamentary democracy
Capital: name: Ankara
geographic coordinates: 39 56 N, 32 52 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions: 81 provinces (iller, singular – ili); Adana, Adiyaman, Afyonkarahisar, Agri, Aksaray, Amasya, Ankara, Antalya, Ardahan, Artvin, Aydin, Balikesir, Bartin, Batman, Bayburt, Bilecik, Bingol, Bitlis, Bolu, Burdur, Bursa, Canakkale, Cankiri, Corum, Denizli, Diyarbakir, Duzce, Edirne, Elazig, Erzincan, Erzurum, Eskisehir, Gaziantep, Giresun, Gumushane, Hakkari, Hatay, Icel (Mersin), Igdir, Isparta, Istanbul, Izmir (Smyrna), Kahramanmaras, Karabuk, Karaman, Kars, Kastamonu, Kayseri, Kilis, Kirikkale, Kirklareli, Kirsehir, Kocaeli, Konya, Kutahya, Malatya, Manisa, Mardin, Mugla, Mus, Nevsehir, Nigde, Ordu, Osmaniye, Rize, Sakarya, Samsun, Sanliurfa, Siirt, Sinop, Sirnak, Sivas, Tekirdag, Tokat, Trabzon (Trebizond), Tunceli, Usak, Van, Yalova, Yozgat, Zonguldak
Independence: 29 October 1923 (successor state to the Ottoman Empire)
National holiday: Republic Day, 29 October (1923)
Constitution: 7 November 1982; amended 17 May 1987; note – amendment passed by referendum concerning presidential elections on 21 October 2007
Legal system: civil law system derived from various European continental legal systems; note – member of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), although Turkey claims limited derogations on the ratified European Convention on Human Rights; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Abdullah GUL (since 28 August 2007)
head of government: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ERDOGAN (since 14 March 2003); Deputy Prime Minister Cemil CICEK (since 29 August 2007); Deputy Prime Minister Hayati YAZICI (since 29 August 2007); Deputy Prime Minister Nazim EKREN (since 29 August 2007)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president on the nomination of the prime minister
elections: president elected directly for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); prime minister appointed by the president from among members of parliament
election results: on 28 August 2007 the National Assembly elected Abdullah GUL president on the third ballot; National Assembly vote – 339
note: in October 2007 Turkish voters approved a referendum package of constitutional amendments including a provision for direct presidential elections
Legislative branch: unicameral Grand National Assembly of Turkey or Turkiye Buyuk Millet Meclisi (550 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held on 22 July 2007 (next to be held on November 2012)
election results: percent of vote by party – AKP 46.7%, CHP 20.8%, MHP 14.3%, independents 5.2%, and other 13.0%; seats by party – AKP 341, CHP 112, MHP 71, independents 26; note – seats by party as of 31 January 2009 – AKP 340, CHP 97, MHP 70, DTP 21, DSP 13, ODP 1, BBP 1, independents 5, vacant 2 (DTP entered parliament as independents; DSP entered parliament on CHP’s party list); only parties surpassing the 10% threshold are entitled to parliamentary seats
Judicial branch: Constitutional Court; High Court of Appeals (Yargitay); Council of State (Danistay); Court of Accounts (Sayistay); Military High Court of Appeals; Military High Administrative Court
Political parties and leaders: Anavatan Partisi (Motherland Party) or Anavatan [Erkan MUMCU]; note – True Path Party or DYP has merged with the Motherland Party; Democratic Left Party or DSP [Zeki SEZER]; Democratic Society Party or DTP [Ahmet TURK]; Felicity Party or SP [Numan KURTULMUS] (sometimes translated as Contentment Party); Freedom and Solidarity Party or ODP [Hayri KOZANOGLU]; Grand Unity Party or BBP [Mushin YAZICIOGLU]; Justice and Development Party or AKP [Recep Tayyip ERDOGAN]; Nationalist Movement Party or MHP [Devlet BAHCELI] (sometimes translated as Nationalist Action Party); People’s Rise Party (Halkin Yukselisi Partisi) or HYP [Yasar Nuri OZTURK]; Republican People’s Party or CHP [Deniz BAYKAL]; Social Democratic People’s Party or SHP [Ugur CILASUN (acting)]; Young Party or GP [Cem Cengiz UZAN]
note: the parties listed above are some of the more significant of the 49 parties that Turkey had as of 31 January 2009
Political pressure groups and leaders: Confederation of Public Sector Unions or KESK [Sami EVREN]; Confederation of Revolutionary Workers Unions or DISK [Suleyman CELEBI]; Independent Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association or MUSIAD [Omer Cihad VARDAN]; Moral Rights Workers Union or Hak-Is [Salim USLU]; Turkish Confederation of Employers’ Unions or TISK [Tugurl KUDATGOBILIK]; Turkish Confederation of Labor or Turk-Is [Mustafa KUMLU]; Turkish Confederation of Tradesmen and Craftsmen or TESK [Dervis GUNDAY]; Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association or TUSIAD [Arzuhan Dogan YALCINDAG]; Turkish Union of Chambers of Commerce and Commodity Exchanges or TOBB [M. Rifat HISARCIKLIOGLU]
International organization participation: ADB (nonregional members), Australia Group, BIS, BSEC, CE, CERN (observer), EAPC, EBRD, ECO, EU (applicant), FAO, G-20, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OIC, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, SECI, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNMIS, UNOCI, UNOMIG, UNRWA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WEU (associate), WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Nabi SENSOY
chancery: 2525 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 612-6700
FAX: [1] (202) 612-6744
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador James F. JEFFREY
embassy: 110 Ataturk Boulevard, Kavaklidere, 06100 Ankara
mailing address: PSC 93, Box 5000, APO AE 09823
telephone: [90] (312) 455-5555
FAX: [90] (312) 467-0019
consulate(s) general: Istanbul
consulate(s): Adana; note – there is a Consular Agent in Izmir
Flag description: red with a vertical white crescent (the closed portion is toward the hoist side) and white five-pointed star centered just outside the crescent opening
Culture Turkey has a very diverse culture that is a blend of various elements of the Oğuz Turkic, Anatolian, Ottoman (which was itself a continuation of both Greco-Roman and Islamic cultures) and Western culture and traditions, which started with the Westernization of the Ottoman Empire and still continues today. This mix originally began as a result of the encounter of Turks and their culture with those of the peoples who were in their path during their migration from Central Asia to the West. As Turkey successfully transformed from the religion-based former Ottoman Empire into a modern nation-state with a very strong separation of state and religion, an increase in the methods of artistic expression followed. During the first years of the republic, the government invested a large amount of resources into fine arts; such as museums, theatres, opera houses and architecture. Because of different historical factors playing an important role in defining the modern Turkish identity, Turkish culture is a product of efforts to be “modern” and Western, combined with the necessity felt to maintain traditional religious and historical values.

Turkish music and literature form great examples of such a mix of cultural influences, which were a result of the interaction between the Ottoman Empire and the Islamic world along with Europe, thus contributing to a blend of Turkic, Islamic and European traditions in modern-day Turkish music and literary arts. Turkish literature was heavily influenced by Persian and Arabic literature during most of the Ottoman era, though towards the end of the Ottoman Empire, particularly after the Tanzimat period, the effect of both Turkish folk and European literary traditions became increasingly felt. The mix of cultural influences is dramatized, for example, in the form of the “new symbols [of] the clash and interlacing of cultures” enacted in the works of Orhan Pamuk, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Architectural elements found in Turkey are also testaments to the unique mix of traditions that have influenced the region over the centuries. In addition to the traditional Byzantine elements present in numerous parts of Turkey, many artifacts of the later Ottoman architecture, with its exquisite blend of local and Islamic traditions, are to be found throughout the country, as well as in many former territories of the Ottoman Empire. Sinan is widely regarded as the greatest architect of the classical period in Ottoman architecture. Since the 18th century, Turkish architecture has been increasingly influenced by Western styles, and this can be particularly seen in Istanbul where buildings like the Blue Mosque and the Dolmabahçe Palace are juxtaposed next to numerous modern skyscrapers, all of them representing different traditions.

Economy Economy – overview: Turkey’s dynamic economy is a complex mix of modern industry and commerce along with a traditional agriculture sector that still accounts for more than 35% of employment. It has a strong and rapidly growing private sector, yet the state still plays a major role in basic industry, banking, transport, and communication. The largest industrial sector is textiles and clothing, which accounts for one-third of industrial employment; it faces stiff competition in international markets with the end of the global quota system. However, other sectors, notably the automotive and electronics industries, are rising in importance within Turkey’s export mix. Real GNP growth has exceeded 6% in many years, but this strong expansion has been interrupted by sharp declines in output in 1994, 1999, and 2001. The economy turned around with the implementation of economic reforms, and 2004 GDP growth reached 9%, followed by roughly 5% annual growth from 2005-07. Due to global contractions, annual growth is estimated to have fallen to 3.5% in 2008. Inflation fell to 7.7% in 2005 – a 30-year low – but climbed back to 8.5% in 2007. Despite the strong economic gains from 2002-07, which were largely due to renewed investor interest in emerging markets, IMF backing, and tighter fiscal policy, the economy is still burdened by a high current account deficit and high external debt. Further economic and judicial reforms and prospective EU membership are expected to boost foreign direct investment. The stock value of FDI currently stands at about $85 billion. Privatization sales are currently approaching $21 billion. Oil began to flow through the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline in May 2006, marking a major milestone that will bring up to 1 million barrels per day from the Caspian to market. In 2007 and 2008, Turkish financial markets weathered significant domestic political turmoil, including turbulence sparked by controversy over the selection of former Foreign Minister Abdullah GUL as Turkey’s 11th president and the possible closure of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Economic fundamentals are sound, marked by moderate economic growth and foreign direct investment. Nevertheless, the Turkish economy may be faced with more negative economic indicators in 2009 as a result of the global economic slowdown. In addition, Turkey’s high current account deficit leaves the economy vulnerable to destabilizing shifts in investor confidence.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $930.9 billion (2008 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $798.9 billion (2008 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 4.5% (2008 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $12,900 (2008 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 8.5%
industry: 28.6%
services: 62.9% (2008 est.)
Labor force: 23.21 million
note: about 1.2 million Turks work abroad (2008 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 29.5%
industry: 24.7%
services: 45.8% (2005)
Unemployment rate: 7.9% plus underemployment of 4% (2008 est.)
Population below poverty line: 20% (2002)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2%
highest 10%: 34.1% (2003)
Distribution of family income – Gini index: 43.6 (2003)
Investment (gross fixed): 21% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budget: revenues: $164.6 billion
expenditures: $176.3 billion (2008 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Public debt: 37.1% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 10.2% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate: 25% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money: $64.43 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money: $254.3 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit: $358.1 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $286.6 billion (31 December 2007)
Agriculture – products: tobacco, cotton, grain, olives, sugar beets, hazelnuts, pulse, citrus; livestock
Industries: textiles, food processing, autos, electronics, mining (coal, chromite, copper, boron), steel, petroleum, construction, lumber, paper
Electricity – production: 181.6 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – consumption: 141.5 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – exports: 2.576 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – imports: 863 million kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 79.3%
hydro: 20.4%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0.3% (2001)
Oil – production: 42,800 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – consumption: 676,600 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – exports: 114,600 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – imports: 714,100 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – proved reserves: 300 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas – production: 893 million cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 36.6 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 31 million cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 35.83 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 8.495 billion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance: -$51.68 billion (2008 est.)
Exports: $141.8 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Exports – commodities: apparel, foodstuffs, textiles, metal manufactures, transport equipment
Exports – partners: Germany 11.2%, UK 8.1%, Italy 7%, France 5.6%, Russia 4.4%, Spain 4.3% (2007)
Imports: $204.8 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Imports – commodities: machinery, chemicals, semi-finished goods, fuels, transport equipment
Imports – partners: Russia 13.8%, Germany 10.3%, China 7.8%, Italy 5.9%, US 4.8%, France 4.6% (2007)
Economic aid – recipient: ODA, $464 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $82.82 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt – external: $294.3 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – at home: $124.8 billion (2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad: $13.97 billion (2008 est.)
Currency (code): Turkish lira (TRY); old Turkish lira (TRL) before 1 January 2005
Currency code: TRL, YTL
Exchange rates: Turkish liras (TRY) per US dollar – 1.3179 (2008 est.), 1.319 (2007), 1.4286 (2006), 1.3436 (2005), 1.4255 (2004)
note: on 1 January 2005 the old Turkish lira (TRL) was converted to new Turkish lira (TRY) at a rate of 1,000,000 old to 1 new Turkish lira; on 1 January 2009 the Turkish government dropped the word “new” and the currency is now called simply the Turkish lira
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 18.413 million (2007)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 61.976 million (2007)
Telephone system: general assessment: comprehensive telecommunications network undergoing rapid modernization and expansion especially in mobile-cellular services
domestic: additional digital exchanges are permitting a rapid increase in subscribers; the construction of a network of technologically advanced intercity trunk lines, using both fiber-optic cable and digital microwave radio relay, is facilitating communication between urban centers; remote areas are reached by a domestic satellite system; the number of subscribers to mobile-cellular telephone service is growing rapidly
international: country code – 90; international service is provided by the SEA-ME-WE-3 submarine cable and by submarine fiber-optic cables in the Mediterranean and Black Seas that link Turkey with Italy, Greece, Israel, Bulgaria, Romania, and Russia; satellite earth stations – 12 Intelsat; mobile satellite terminals – 328 in the Inmarsat and Eutelsat systems (2002)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 16, FM 107, shortwave 6 (2001)
Radios: 11.3 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 635 (plus 2,934 repeaters) (1995)
Televisions: 20.9 million (1997)
Internet country code: .tr
Internet hosts: 2.667 million (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 50 (2001)
Internet users: 13.15 million (2006)
Transportation Airports: 117 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 90
over 3,047 m: 15
2,438 to 3,047 m: 33
1,524 to 2,437 m: 19
914 to 1,523 m: 19
under 914 m: 4 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 27
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 17 (2007)
Heliports: 18 (2007)
Pipelines: gas 7,511 km; oil 3,636 km (2007)
Railways: total: 8,697 km
standard gauge: 8,697 km 1.435-m gauge (1,920 km electrified) (2006)
Roadways: total: 426,951 km (includes 1,987 km of expressways) (2006)
Waterways: 1,200 km (2008)
Merchant marine: total: 612
by type: bulk carrier 101, cargo 281, chemical tanker 70, combination ore/oil 1, container 35, liquefied gas 7, passenger 4, passenger/cargo 51, petroleum tanker 31, refrigerated cargo 1, roll on/roll off 28, specialized tanker 2
foreign-owned: 8 (Cyprus 2, Germany 1, Greece 1, Italy 3, UAE 1)
registered in other countries: 595 (Albania 1, Antigua and Barbuda 6, Bahamas 8, Belize 15, Cambodia 26, Comoros 8, Dominica 5, Georgia 14, Greece 1, Isle of Man 2, Italy 1, Kiribati 1, Liberia 7, Malta 176, Marshall Islands 50, Moldova 3, Netherlands 1, Netherlands Antilles 10, Panama 94, Russia 80, Saint Kitts and Nevis 35, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 20, Sierra Leone 15, Slovakia 10, Tuvalu 2, UK 2, unknown 2) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Aliaga, Diliskelesi, Izmir, Kocaeli (Izmit), Mercin Limani, Nemrut Limani
Military Military branches: Turkish Armed Forces (TSK): Turkish Land Forces (Turk Kara Kuvvetleri, TKK), Turkish Naval Forces (Turk Deniz Kuvvetleri, TDK; includes naval air and naval infantry), Turkish Air Force (Turk Hava Kuvvetleri, THK) (2008)
Military service age and obligation: 20 years of age (2004)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 20,213,205
females age 16-49: 19,432,688 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 17,011,635
females age 16-49: 16,433,364 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 660,452
female: 638,527 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures: 5.3% of GDP (2005 est.)
Military – note: a “National Security Policy Document” adopted in October 2005 increases the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) role in internal security, augmenting the General Directorate of Security and Gendarmerie General Command (Jandarma); the TSK leadership continues to play a key role in politics and considers itself guardian of Turkey’s secular state; in April 2007, it warned the ruling party about any pro-Islamic appointments; despite on-going negotiations on EU accession since October 2005, progress has been limited in establishing required civilian supremacy over the military; primary domestic threats are listed as fundamentalism (with the definition in some dispute with the civilian government), separatism (the Kurdish problem), and the extreme left wing; Ankara strongly opposed establishment of an autonomous Kurdish region; an overhaul of the Turkish Land Forces Command (TLFC) taking place under the “Force 2014” program is to produce 20-30% smaller, more highly trained forces characterized by greater mobility and firepower and capable of joint and combined operations; the TLFC has taken on increasing international peacekeeping responsibilities, and took charge of a NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) command in Afghanistan in April 2007; the Turkish Navy is a regional naval power that wants to develop the capability to project power beyond Turkey’s coastal waters; the Navy is heavily involved in NATO, multinational, and UN operations; its roles include control of territorial waters and security for sea lines of communications; the Turkish Air Force adopted an “Aerospace and Missile Defense Concept” in 2002 and has initiated project work on an integrated missile defense system; Air Force priorities include attaining a modern deployable, survivable, and sustainable force structure, and establishing a sustainable command and control system (2008)
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: complex maritime, air, and territorial disputes with Greece in the Aegean Sea; status of north Cyprus question remains; Syria and Iraq protest Turkish hydrological projects to control upper Euphrates waters; Turkey has expressed concern over the status of Kurds in Iraq; border with Armenia remains closed over Nagorno-Karabakh
Refugees and internally displaced persons: IDPs: 1-1.2 million (fighting 1984-99 between Kurdish PKK and Turkish military; most IDPs in southeastern provinces) (2007)
Illicit drugs: key transit route for Southwest Asian heroin to Western Europe and, to a lesser extent, the US – via air, land, and sea routes; major Turkish and other international trafficking organizations operate out of Istanbul; laboratories to convert imported morphine base into heroin exist in remote regions of Turkey and near Istanbul; government maintains strict controls over areas of legal opium poppy cultivation and over output of poppy straw concentrate; lax enforcement of money-laundering controls

Arab League Denounces Turkish Statements on Relocating US Embassy to Jerusalem

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Arab League Denounces Turkish Statements on Relocating US Embassy to Jerusalem

Sunday, 13 May, 2018 – 11:30
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. (Reuters)
Cairo, Ankara – Sawsan Abu Hussein and Asharq Al-Awsat

Arab League spokesman Mahmoud Afifi denounced on Saturday Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s recent statements about the US relocating its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

The minister had stated from Istanbul that there was a “decline and hesitation” within the Muslim world, especially within the Arab League, regarding the decision to relocate the US Embassy to occupied Jerusalem.

“We need to take a common stance against this wrong decision. We are seeing some hesitance within the Arab League recently, which is a mistake,” Cavusoglu stated.

Afifi expressed regret at the Turkish minister’s “insistence on negatively targeting the Arab League.”

The statements once again raise real questions about Turkey’s real stance on the regional Arab system, which the Arab League reflects, especially in wake of Turkey’s intervention in Arab territories, which was recently condemned by the Arab Summit in Dhahran, he said.

“Those issuing belligerent statements on the Palestinian cause should have first followed up the matters in a more balanced way to recognize the intense efforts made by the Arab League and its member states,” Afifi added.

He added that these efforts have been ongoing since the extraordinary ministerial meeting of the Council of the Arab League, which was held in December in wake of the US administration’s announcement that it was relocating its embassy.

At the end of his statement, Afifi noted that “such Turkish statements certainly do not serve the goal of establishing normal relations between the Arab League and Turkey during this stage.”

Cavusoglu had criticized on Saturday the US move on Jerusalem, saying it was wrong and that Ankara will continue to defend the Palestinian cause.

Turkey: Here Is Some Proof That President Erdogan Is A World Class Criminal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CHRISTIAN POST)

 

Food Video Is Evidence of ‘Terrorism,’ Turkey Claims in Pastor Andrew Brunson’s Trial

(PHOTO: ACLJ)American Pastor Andrew Brunson, a United States citizen from North Carolina, has been imprisoned in Turkey.

In the ongoing trial of American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was arrested in December 2016 on false charges of espionage and terrorism in Turkey, a video of a Middle Eastern dish that Brunson’s daughter sent him from the United States is being viewed as evidence.

This “evidence” is mentioned in the 62-page indictment of Brunson, on which the trial is based, according to Citizen Times.

The video is about the Middle Eastern dish Maklube, but the indictment claims it’s “a dish cooked by members of the organization (Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen and his FETO network — a group the Turkish government blames for a 2016 coup attempt) at meetings and religious gatherings at the FETÖ/PDY armed terrorist organization’s cell houses.”

The indictment further claims that American churches are linked to the FBI and the CIA, that around 40 percent of members of the U.S.’ armed forces serving overseas are Mormons, and that someone gathered some information about gas stations in Turkey which shows that Brunson was trying to overthrow the Turkish government.

Brunson, a North Carolina native who has led a small congregation in Izmir for the past two decades, has denied all the charges.

The indictment demands up to 15 years in prison for crimes in the name of the Gulen movement and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, and up to 20 years for obtaining state secrets for political or military espionage, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency. The government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan holds the banned group responsible for the failed coup.

Rights advocates believe that Brunson was arrested in an attempt to force the U.S. government to extradite Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who resides in Pennsylvania.

During his first hearing last month, Brunson declared his innocence and stated, “I haven’t done anything against Turkey. On the contrary, I love Turkey. I have been praying for Turkey for 25 years.”

The U.S. State Department has said it is convinced that the Turkish government does not have any “credible evidence” to convict Brunson of terrorism charges. Former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for Brunson’s release during a meeting in Ankara in February. And last May, President Donald Trump also pushed for Brunson’s release during a meeting with Erdogan.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Chairman Daniel Mark said last month that “Pastor Brunson is an innocent religious leader whose imprisonment for over 18 months on false allegations is an abomination. This latest development is yet another reason for the international community to condemn his imprisonment and for Congress and the administration to consider stronger steps against Turkey, including the imposition of targeted sanctions against those involved in this miscarriage of justice.”

Erdogan responded to the calls for Brunson’s release.

Referring to demands he has made in the past, Erdogan said that Brunson’s fate is directly tied with the extradition of Gulen, who is living in Pennsylvania and is accused by the Turkish government of staging a failed military coup in the country in 2016.

“The U.S. is behind [Gulen],” Erdogan told Turkish television news channel NTV, according to Sputnik News on Sunday.

He added that “if you want Brunson, look at the steps you have taken in the past. Why don’t you deport this man in accordance with the extradition treaty?”

Kurdish Officials’ Visit to Elysee Triggers French-Turkish Crisis

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Kurdish Officials’ Visit to Elysee Triggers French-Turkish Crisis

Saturday, 31 March, 2018 – 06:45
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: AP
Ankara, Paris- Said Abdul Razek and Michel Abu Najm
Paris was quick on Friday to reassure Ankara after President Emmanuel Macron was misquoted as saying that his country would deploy forces in the northern Syrian city of Manbij.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan quickly responded to the French statements, saying that Manbij would be the next target of his forces to liberate the city from Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG).

Ankara also rejected any French mediation between Turkey and the Syrian Democratic Forces, led by the YPG, which are considered by Turkey as terrorists.

On Thursday, an SDF delegation including Kurdish officials visited the Elysee Palace in Paris.

Macron told the delegation he hoped to build dialogue between the Democratic Forces and Turkey, with the help of France and the international community, according to a communiqué from the Elysee.

However, Turkey completely dismissed the suggestion, as Erdogan said: “We have no need for mediation… We are extremely saddened by France’s… wrong stance on this.”

“Those who go to bed with terrorists, or even host them in their palaces, will sooner or later understand the mistake they’re making,” Erdogan said in Ankara.

He also warned that Ankara did not need a mediator.

“Who are you to mediate between Turkey and a terror group?” Erdogan said at a meeting of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party in the capital, Ankara.

According to the Elysee, Macron reaffirmed the priority of the battle against “the terrorist threat” and assured France’s support to the SDF, particularly in stabilizing the security zone in northeast Syria “to prevent the resurgence of ISIS while awaiting a political solution to the Syrian conflict.”

The French show of support to Kurds is not new. Macron was the first Western leader to warn against the possibility of the Turkish operation in Afrin turning into an “invasion of Syrian territories.”

Turkish Forces Begin Besieging Syrian City Of Afrin

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI ARABIAN NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Turkish Forces Begin Besieging Syria’s Afrin

Tuesday, 13 March, 2018 – 10:30
Civilians drive through Ain Dara as they flee Afrin on Monday. (AFP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Turkish forces have begun the siege of the Syrian city of Afrin, nearly two months after launching an offensive in the region against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), announced the military on Tuesday.

The military said in a brief statement that the siege of Afrin, the main town in the enclave, had begun Monday.

The forces also captured “areas of critical importance” in the region as of Monday, it added.

Thousands of people had started to flee Afrin on Monday as the Turkish troops got closer to the town, heading toward nearby Syrian regime-controlled areas.

Afrin city is home to around 350,000 people, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says.

Turkey launched a military offensive into the border enclave on Jan. 20 to drive out YPG forces that it considers to be “terrorists” and an extension of Kurdish rebels fighting inside Turkey.

Ankara has threatened to push further east to Manbij, where YPG troops are stationed.

The Turkish foreign minister said on Tuesday that Turkey and the United States have reached an agreement on a plan to jointly station Turkish and US forces in Manbij.

Washington has not confirmed any such plan — and a small contingent of US forces is already in Manbij.

Hurriyet newspaper quoted Mevlut Cavusoglu as telling Turkish reporters during a visit to Moscow that the “YPG will leave Manbij, US and Turkish soldiers will joint ensure its security.”

Cavusoglu revealed that he and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would discuss the issue further when they meet in Washington on March 19.

US-Backed Kurdish Militia Now Fighting U.S. Ally, Turkey

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

(ANYONE WHO ACTUALLY BELIEVES THAT TURKEY IS A “U.S. ALLY” OR AN ALLY OF NATO IS EITHER TRULY IGNORANT OR THEY MUST BE SMOKING METH) (COMMENTARY BY oldpoet56)

Beirut, Lebanon (CNN)A US-backed Kurdish militia is diverting 1,700 fighters from the battle against ISIS and redeploying them to northwest Syria to repel an offensive by US ally Turkey, in a development could hinder the fight against the terror group.

Four branches of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), thus far tasked with defeating ISIS in Syria, have been transferred from east of the Euphrates Rivers to the Kurdish enclave of Afrin, SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali told CNN in a statement.
“We won’t abandon our positions, but since the beginning of the invasion of Afrin we have said that Turkey is trying to give ISIS another chance at life, and directly affects military operations and campaigns against ISIS,” said Bali.
“Now, offensive operations have ended and we have transformed from a force that hunted ISIS to a force that is concentrated in defensive positions,” he added. Bali said the “majority” of the alliance’s forces are moving to Afrin.
The US-led coalition warned that the SDF’s move could slow the campaign to defeat ISIS.
“The departure of some SDF forces from the Middle Euphrates River Valley highlights the potential costs of any distraction from the defeat-Daesh fight,” said coalition Director of Public Affairs Col. Thomas Veale, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.
“We remain undeterred in pursuing our mission to defeat Daesh, understanding the effort may take longer with the increased complexity of the situation in northern Syria.”
Turkey, a NATO ally, launched an operation targeting Kurdish groups in Afrin in January to clear the border area of militias it considers to be terrorist organizations. Three Kurdish militias — the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) — have borne the brunt of the offensive.
The YPG is considered the backbone of the US-backed SDF, which was instrumental in eliminating ISIS’ territorial foothold in Syria.
Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin has said it is Turkey’s “natural right” to ask the US to halt the SDF’s redeployment to Afrin.
The United Nations on Sunday said it was receiving “disturbing reports” of civilian deaths in the northwestern Syrian enclave, and that it believes “tens of thousands” have been displaced.
Syrian Kurds attend a funeral in Afrin in mid-February for Kurdish fighters.

Turkey has said that the nationwide ceasefire ordered by the UN Security Council last month would not affect its Afrin offensive. The ceasefire has also been ignored by Syrian government forces and rebel groups, mainly in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta, where fighting has caused heavy civilian casualties.
Redeployed SDF forces will be joining pro-Syrian government fighters who entered Afrin last month as part of a deal between the regime and Kurdish forces. Turkey’s deputy prime minister warned at the time of “disastrous consequences” should Syrian government forces intervene in Afrin.

An ‘apocalypse’ in Eastern Ghouta

Meanwhile, Syrian government forces continue to pummel the rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta, where the UN says more than 600 people have been killed in recent weeks.
In a strongly worded statement on Tuesday, UN human-rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein accused the Syrian government of planning an “apocalypse.”
“It is urgent to reverse this catastrophic course, and to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court,” said Al Hussein, according to a UN statement.
“Nearly half of the food” aid bound for besieged Eastern Ghouta, where reports of malnourishment are rampant, had to be returned, according to the United Nations.
A 46-truck aid convoy — some vehicles stripped of desperately needed medical kits — brought some supplies to the area on Monday, but activists said the convoy had to pull out before everything was unloaded.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on all parties in Syria to “immediately allow safe and unimpeded access” for aid convoys to “deliver critical supplies to hundreds of thousands of people desperate need” in the Damascus suburb, according to a statement from spokesman Stephane Dujarric on Tuesday.
Activists say that many of Eastern Ghouta’s residents have taken to makeshift shelters underground, rarely venturing above ground to seek food and water amid nearly incessant airstrikes.
The Syrian government continues to send reinforcements to the rebel enclave, where a ground offensive is underway and regime forces are reported to have captured large tracts of farmland.

Turkey’s President Shows Why I Learned To Spell His Name (Er-Dog’-an)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)

(THE ‘DOG’ SHOWS HIS TRUE SOUL, THAT OF A DEMON WITH THE FACE OF A DOG)

Turkish leader’s on-stage interaction with sobbing girl draws fire

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan kisses Amine Tiras, a young girl in military uniform as he speaks to his ruling party members, in Kahramanmaras, Turkey, Feb. 24, 2018.

 AP

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has come under criticism for telling a small girl dressed in a military uniform that she would be honored if she were “martyred” for Turkey.

Erdogan spotted the weeping-and-saluting 6-year-old Amine Tiras while delivering a speech at his ruling party’s congress in the city of Kahramanmaras on Saturday, and had her brought on stage.

Turkey Girl Martyr

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan holds Amine Tiras, a young girl in military uniform as he speaks to his ruling party members, in Kahramanmaras, Turkey, Feb. 24, 2018.

 AP

After trying to comfort the girl by kissing her on both cheeks, Erdogan told the crowd: “She has the Turkish flag in her pocket. If she becomes a martyr, God willing, this flag will be draped on her.”

Some people were appalled and took to Twitter to criticize the president.

One user said it was the state’s duty to protect children, not to “kill” them. Another said: “you don’t wish death for a child, you never say: ‘God willing.'”

His action comes as nationalist sentiment is running high over a Turkish cross-border military offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters that are affiliated with Kurdish rebels fighting inside Turkey. In recent weeks, children dressed in commando uniforms or reciting nationalist poems have been making appearances in many events that he attends.

Yasar Okutan, a former government minister, accused Erdogan in a television interview of using them to increase votes in presidential and local elections in 2019 and questioned whether the president would say the same for his own granddaughter.