Turkish Opposition Leader Ends 25-Day March With Istanbul Rally

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME.COM)

 

Turkish Opposition Leader Ends 25-Day March With Istanbul Rally

2:49 PM ET

Addressing huge throngs of people at a rally in Istanbul on Sunday, the leader of Turkey’s mainstream opposition, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, issued a thunderous demand for an end to an ongoing government crackdown.

The rally represented the largest public display of opposition to the clampdown by government of President Recep Erdogan since he survived a failed military coup attempt nearly a year ago. More than 47,000 people have been detained since the government suppressed the attempt seize power by a faction of the armed forces on July 15, 2016.

“This the era of dictatorship. This is the era of 1940s Germany,” said Kilicdaroglu, addressing a huge throng of demonstrators at a parade grounds along the Sea of Marmara. “With this rally we witness that we are not alone. Each one of us represents hope,” he also said.

Kilicdaroglu spoke at the rally after walking about 280 miles from Ankara in protest of the crackdown which has lead to the arrest journalists, academics, and members of parliament. Kilicdaroglu set out from the capital on June 15, a day after a member of parliament from his Republican People’s Party (CHP) was arrested, joining at least 11 other opposition lawmakers who have been detained in recent months.

After marching through the Turkish countryside for more than three weeks, Kilicdaroglu arrived in Istanbul on Saturday leading a throng of thousands of protesters. The protest raised fears of a confrontation when the crowd arrived in the city, but there were no signs of violence. Police had provided security for Kilicdaroglu and the protesters during their long walk from Ankara. On Sunday, Kilicdaroglu chose to walk alone on the final stretch to the rally.

“’I reached the end of my walk, but this is not the end. It is the beginning of a new era,” he said, speaking to a cheering crowd that chanted “Hak, hukuk, adalet!” (Rights, law, justice!) Though it was organized by the CHP, the organizers of both the march and rally eschewed party insignia, instead distributing signs reading “adalet,” justice. The crowd waved Turkish flags.

Kilicdaroglu has been criticized in the past for failing to organize a credible opposition to the crackdown in the aftermath of the July 15 coup attempt. However, his march across the country captured Turkey’s national political conversation. The demonstration in was a show of force for Turkey’s mainstream opposition, and CHP supporters were heavily represented in the crowd. The protest also attracted support from members of the broader Turkish public.

“I want justice for everyone in this country. I want justice for my children,” said Saime Zirik, 55, as she stood in in the afternoon sun awaiting Kilicdaroglu’s arrival. She said she had been unable to find work for five years.

A populist leader who has dominated Turkish politics for about 15 years, Erdogan is a deeply polarizing figure, equally loved and hated by rival political camps within Turkey. In recent years, he has sidelined other leaders within his own party and moved to restrict political opponents. The coup attempt lead to an acceleration of the clampdown, including the closure of dozens of news organizations and the firing of top military officers and tens of civil servants.

In April, Erdogan also won a disputed victory in a referendum on a constitutional overhaul to replace Turkey’s parliamentary system of government with one dominated by a powerful presidency. The government argued the changes were needed to impose stability, while the opposition denounced it as a power grab. The vote itself was also marred by widespread claims of fraud. The referendum marked another step in a larger struggle over the future Turkey’s democracy.

In his speech on Sunday, Kilicdaroglu issued a list of demands including freeing the judiciary from the influence of the ruling party, releasing journalists from prison, and greater prosperity for all Turks. He did not articulate a specific plan to achieve those goals, and even some of the protesters in the crowd expressed skepticism about whether the demonstration would result in concrete changes.

“Unless Erdogan says ‘yes,’ nothing will change in this country,” said a 60-year-old teacher from Istanbul who also stood in the crowd. She asked for her name to be withheld, for fear that she could lose her job for criticizing the government.

Others, however, left the demonstration energized.

“I feel like I’m more hopeful for the future. I feel like a new person now,” said Fahri Gokdal, 61, a retired civil servant who came to the rally from the town of Burhaniye, about a five-hour drive south of Istanbul.

Erdogan says Turks in Europe should defy ‘grandchildren of Nazism’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF YAHOO NEWS AND REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

Erdogan says Turks in Europe should defy ‘grandchildren of Nazism’

Reuters April 3, 2017

Turkish President Erdogan addresses his supporters during a rally for the upcoming referendum in the Black Sea city of Rize

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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters during a rally for the upcoming referendum in the Black Sea city of Rize, Turkey, April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
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ANKARA (Reuters) – President Tayyip Erdogan on Monday called on Turkish voters in Europe to defy the “grandchildren of Nazism” and back a referendum this month on changing the constitution, comments likely to cause further ire in Europe.

Erdogan has repeatedly lashed out at European countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, in campaigning for the referendum, accusing them of “Nazi-like” tactics for banning his ministers from speaking to rallies of Turkish voters abroad.

Both the Germans and Dutch have been incensed by the comparisons to Nazism and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said the references must stop.

“With this determination, we will never allow three or four European fascists … from harming this country’s honor and pride,” Erdogan told a packed crowd of flag-waving supporters in the Black Sea city of Rize, where his family comes from.

“I call on my brothers and sisters voting in Europe…give the appropriate answer to those imposing this fascist oppression and the grandchildren of Nazism.”

Erdogan is counting on the support of expatriates in Europe, including the 1.4 million Turks eligible to vote in Germany, to pass constitutional changes that would give him sweeping presidential powers.

But ties with Europe have deteriorated in the run-up to the campaign. Erdogan last month said Turkey would reevaluate its relationship with the bloc, and may even hold a second referendum on whether to continue accession talks.

On Monday, he said he could take the issue of whether Turkey should restore the death penalty to referendum if necessary.

“The European Union will not like this. But I don’t care what Hans, George or Helga say, I care what Hasan, Ahmet, Mehmet, Ayse and Fatma say. I care what God says… If necessary, we will take this issue to another referendum as well,” he told the rally.

Turkey abandoned capital punishment more than a decade ago as part of its bid to join the European Union, but Erdogan has repeatedly told crowds calling for it following the July 15 failed coup that he would approve its restoration if parliament passed it.

Restoring capital punishment would all but end Turkey’s bid to join the EU, officials from the bloc have said.

(Reporting by Ece Toksabay and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Humeyra Pamuk)

Turk President Er- Dog’ The Dictator Dares To Threaten EU Countries About Democratic Values?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

By Ercan Gurses and Humeyra Pamuk | ANKARA/ISTANBUL

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday warned the Netherlands that he could take further steps in a deepening diplomatic row, while a government spokesman in Ankara said economic sanctions could be coming.

Incensed by Dutch and German government bans on his ministers from speaking to rallies of overseas Turks, Erdogan also accused German Chancellor Angela Merkel of siding with the Netherlands in the fight between the NATO allies.

Turkey suspended high-level diplomatic relations with the Netherlands on Monday, banning the Dutch ambassador from the country and preventing diplomatic flights from landing in Turkey or using its airspace.

Those steps were taken after Erdogan branded the Netherlands “Nazi remnants” at the weekend for muzzling his ministers.

“The cabinet took action yesterday but there are many other things that could be done against the Netherlands,” Erdogan said in a speech broadcast live on television.

“We will show those who think they can get away with an apology that they are making a mistake,” said Erdogan, who is campaigning for an April 16 referendum on boosting his powers and has been looking to the large number of Turks living in Europe to help secure victory.

Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus later told broadcaster CNN Turk that economic sanctions could be in the works.

“Pressure will continue against the Netherlands until they make up for what they did. We’ve started with the political, diplomatic sanctions, and economic sanctions may follow,” he said.

Erdogan has threatened to take the Netherlands to the European Court of Human Rights over the ban on his ministers, which both the Dutch and Germans have imposed citing fears of unrest.

Dutch police used dogs and water cannon on Sunday to disperse hundreds of protesters waving Turkish flags outside the consulate in Rotterdam. Some protesters threw bottles and stones and several demonstrators were beaten by police with batons, a Reuters witness said. Mounted police officers charged the crowd.

SAARLAND, BELGIAN BANS

The small western German state of Saarland said on Tuesday it would ban political campaigning by foreign politicians.

“Internal Turkish conflicts have no place in Germany. Election appearances which put at risk domestic peace in our country must be banned,” State Premier Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said in a statement.

“The atmosphere that has been created by Nazi comparisons and insults must not be allowed to escalate,” she said.

The Belgian city of Antwerp said it would not allow a politician from the nationalist MHP party to speak at an event, although Ali Guler was still set to appear on Sunday at a Turkish restaurant in Genk, in the east of the country.

While Turkish law forbids election campaigning abroad and in diplomatic missions, ministers are circumventing the ban by holding what they say are cultural events with Turkish citizens.

Erdogan has said that those who oppose the referendum, are aligning themselves with terrorists. He has also accused European states, including Germany, of harboring terrorism, an allegation they deny.

SHARP WORDS FOR MERKEL

EU states are also unhappy with what they see as an increasingly authoritarian tone from Turkey and the spat is likely to further dim Ankara’s prospects of EU membership.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn called on Turkey to moderate its language and avoid further escalating the dispute.

Erdogan renewed his attack on Merkel after she criticized his “Nazi remnants” jibe against the Dutch.

“The countries that have embraced this thuggery have lost all their credibility. The Chancellor of Germany has come out and said she supported the Netherlands. We know that you are no different from them,” Erdogan said.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the Turkish sanctions, while “not too bad”, were inappropriate as the Dutch had more to be angry about.

Ankara’s foreign ministry said the European Union was exercising democratic values selectively.

“It is very grave for the EU to hide behind member country solidarity and stand by the Netherlands, which has clearly violated human rights and European values,” it said.

(Additional reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu, Ece Toksabay and Tulay Karadeniz in Ankara, Daren Butler in Istanbul; Toby Sterling in Amsterdam; Madeline Chambers in Berlin and Robert-Jan Bartunek in Brussels; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Jon Boyle and Toby Davis)

Syrian Army, Opposition Confirm Nationwide Truce

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY AND THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWSPAPER)

Syria army, opposition confirm nationwide truce

WORLD Updated: Dec 29, 2016 21:19 IST

AFP
AFP
AFP, Damascus

Highlight Story

A boy walks his bike near stacked sandbags in al-Rai town, northern Aleppo province, Syria. (Reuters)

Syria’s army said Thursday it would halt all military operations from midnight under a truce deal brokered by Russia and Turkey and supported by a leading Syrian opposition body.The agreement was announced earlier by Russian President Vladimir Putin who said the Syrian regime and “main forces of the armed opposition” had signed on.“The general command of the armed forces announces a complete halt to all hostilities on Syrian territory from the zero hour of December 30th,” Syria’s army said in a statement carried on state television.

It said that the ceasefire excluded the Islamic State group and the former Al-Qaeda affiliate previously known as Al-Nusra Front, now rebranded the Fateh al-Sham Front.

The National Coalition, a leading Syrian political opposition group based in Turkey, confirmed its backing for the truce.

“The National Coalition expresses support for the agreement and urges all parties to abide by it,” spokesman Ahmed Ramadan told AFP.

He said key rebel groups including the powerful Ahrar al-Sham and Army of Islam factions had signed the ceasefire deal, though there was no immediate confirmation from rebel representatives.

“The agreement includes a ceasefire in all areas held by the moderate opposition, or by the moderate opposition and elements from Fateh al-Sham, such as Idlib province,” he told AFP.

Idlib, in northwest Syria, is controlled by an alliance of rebel groups led by Fateh al-Sham.

Read| Turkey, Russia to implement Syria ceasefire before New Year: Turkish minister

The group, in its previous incarnation as Al-Nusra, was designated a “terrorist” organisation by countries including the United States, as well as the United Nations.

The ceasefire agreement follows the recapture by Syria’s government of the country’s second city Aleppo from rebels, in the worst blow to opposition forces since the war began.

It will be the first nationwide halt in fighting since a week-long truce from September 12-19 that collapsed after several incidents of violence.

A previous truce was implemented in February. Both of those deals were organised by Russia and the United States.

The latest agreement is the first nationwide ceasefire brokered with the involvement of Turkey, a backer of the Syrian opposition.

Russia is a key supporter of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and began a military intervention in support of his government in September 2015.

Despite backing opposing sides in the conflict, and a souring of relations after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane last year, Ankara and Moscow have worked increasingly closely on Syria.

They jointly brokered a ceasefire for Aleppo this month that allowed the last remaining rebels and civilians in the city’s east to leave to opposition territory elsewhere.

More than 310,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with protests against Assad’s government.

Successive bids to reach a peace deal to end the conflict have failed, but Moscow has said it is planning to convene new negotiations in Kazakhstan.

And the army statement said the ceasefire was intended to “create conditions to support the political track” in resolving the conflict.

Russia’s Ambassador To Turkey Shot Dead In Ankara Turkey

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME )

Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was shot dead in Ankara on Monday in an attack that will unsettle the delicate diplomacy over the regional crisis emanating from the civil war in Syria.

The shooting comes at a moment of high stakes negotiations between Turkey and Russia, with implications for the future of the conflict which has left as many as half a million people dead.

Ambassador Andrei Karlov was shot at an art gallery in Ankara on Monday. In video footage, the ambassador stands at a podium as gunfire rings out. He flinches and then drops to the floor. Standing behind him, a man wearing a dark suit and tie raises one finger skyward and shouts, “Allahu akbar.”

The gunman continues speaking. “Don’t forget about Aleppo, don’t forget about Syria!” he shouts in Turkish.

The attacker was killed following the shooting, according to Turkish state media. The Russian foreign ministry confirmed Karlov’s death.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called the assassination a “terrorist attack.” According to Russia’s TASS news agency, she said Russia was in contact with Turkish officials who had had pledged an “all-round” investigation into the shooting. “The attackers will be punished,” she said.

Russia’s support for the regime of President Bashar Assad has angered sections of the public in Turkey, where the government supports Syrian rebel groups who have been attempting to oust Assad.

The attack took place on the eve of a diplomatic summit in Moscow including the foreign ministers of Russia and Iran, a meeting of key regional powers that back opposing sides in the Syrian war.

Last week, Turkey and Russia negotiated an agreement to evacuate the remaining civilians and rebel fighters from a besieged enclave in the Syrian city of Aleppo, marking a victory for the Assad government and a turning point in more than five and a half years of crisis.

The Turkish and Russian governments recently set aside tensions following a period of deep discord. Turkey shot down a Russian warplane that crossed into its airspace along the Syrian border in November 2015, triggering months of hostility in which Russia imposed sanctions on Turkey.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan reached a rapprochement in June and Turkey hosted the Russian leader at an energy summit in Istanbul in September.

Massacre In Aleppo: Honestly How Can Anyone In The Whole World Be Surprised By This?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘MIDDLE EAST ONLINE’ NEWS)

First Published: 2016-12-02

Protests erupt in Istanbul over ‘Aleppo massacre’
Istanbul protests Syrian regime’s recent brutal assault on Aleppo, where Assad government aims to recapture all rebel-held areas.
Middle East Online

ISTANBUL – Around 1,000 people protested in Istanbul on Friday against the operation being waged by President Bashar al-Assad’s army in Syria’s second city of Aleppo, accusing them of committing a “massacre”.

“Stop the massacre in Aleppo!”, demonstrators chanted as they held placards saying “the bombing is not against Aleppo but our humanity” and “our brotherhood is besieged, not Aleppo”.

The protest outside Istanbul University had been organised by religious student associations who called for “imperialist Russia to leave Syria”.

In recent days, Assad’s army has pressed a fierce assault aimed at retaking the whole of the city which is currently divided between the regime in the west and the rebels in the east.

The offensive, supported by heavy artillery, has triggered an exodus of tens of thousands of residents from the rebel-held east as Assad made significant gains in the past week.

The assault has left 42 children dead, from a total of more than 300 civilians killed since November 15.

Moscow intervened militarily in support of Damascus last year but says it is not involved in the current assault on Aleppo. Turkey supports the Syrian opposition.

Protester Ramazan Kaya said Ankara should “raise its voice” against the regime offensive. “If we don’t react, if we stay like observers of this massacre — that is absolutely intolerable.”

On Friday Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu repeated Turkey’s opposition to Assad remaining president.

“We supported the Assad regime before he started killing his own people… But, at this stage, we have to be realistic that the person who kills almost 600,000 people should not rule any country,” he said during a visit to Lebanon.

Bomb targets Turkish city governor

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

Bomb targets Turkish city governor

TWO people died and 33 others were injured when a car bomb exploded in the car park of the governor’s office in the southern Turkish city of Adana yesterday.

The blast sparked a fire, with a cloud of dark smoke billowing into the sky, and caused damage to the building, state-run Anadolu news agency said, describing the incident as a “terror attack.”

It is believed to have been carried out by a woman, Adana governor Mahmut Demirtas was quoted as saying by Anadolu, without providing further details.

Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law, said one of the injured was in a critical condition.

Speaking to reporters after inspecting the site, Albayrak condemned the attack and said: “We have no fear from anything other than Allah.”

Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Omer Celik, a ruling party MP from Adana, wrote on Twitter: “This accursed terror continues to target our people. We will fight against terror until the very end in the name of humanity.”

Celik, who later visited Adana, claimed the atrocity targeted the governor.

With a population of almost 2 million, Adana is one of Turkey’s largest cities, located around 100 kilometers from the Syrian border.

In September, the US consulate in the city had warned its citizens of a potential threat targeting US-branded hotels.

“We strongly condemn the outrageous terrorist attack in Adana,” the US embassy in Ankara said on Twitter, adding that the United States stands “with Turkey against terror.”

Incirlik air base, just outside Adana, is used by American and coalition forces as a hub for air raids against Islamic State jihadists in Syria.

The attack came on the same day that three Turkish soldiers were killed and 10 wounded in an airstrike in northern Syria that Turkey blamed on the Syrian regime.

Turkey has experienced a bloody year of militant attacks in its two biggest cities that have left dozens dead and put the country on high alert.

Kurdish militants have twice struck in Ankara, while suspected IS suicide bombers have hit Istanbul on three occasions.

In June, 47 people were killed in a triple suicide bombing and gun attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, with authorities pointing the finger at IS.

Another 57 people, 34 of them children, were killed in August in a suicide attack by an IS-linked bomber at a Kurdish wedding in the southeast city of Gaziantep.

The country is also still reeling from a failed July 15 coup blamed on the US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen.

There was no immediate indication of who was behind the latest attack.

The Turkish military has stepped up operations against Kurdish militants after a fragile cease-fire broke down in the summer of 2015.

Since then, there has been a dramatic surge in violence that shows no sign of ending.

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), designated a terror group by Turkey and its Western allies, generally concentrates its attacks in the southeast of the country.

Although located in southern Turkey, Adana lies to the west of the southeastern region that has been the main theater of conflict with the PKK.

Turkey’s President Erdogan Blasts U.S.-Led Campaign Against Islamic State

 

While Defense Secretary Ashton Carter prepared for his trip to Turkey, a senior Iraqi general on Wednesday called on Iraqis fighting for the Islamic State to surrender as a wide-scale operation to retake Mosul entered its third day. Story.
– The Washington Times – Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter will be walking into diplomatic buzz saw Thursday when he arrives in Turkey a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a blistering critique of the U.S.-backed campaign to oust the Islamic State group from neighboring Iraq and demanded a bigger role for Turkish military forces.

Mr. Erdogan’s remarkable outburst was the latest sign of difficulties the Obama administration faces in keeping the various members of its regional coalition pushing in the same direction in the fight to oust the Islamic State from its strongholds in Iraq and Syria and find a way to end Syria’s bloody civil war.

The Obama administration has long sought to control Turkish involvement in the Iraq fight amid fears of a clash with American-aligned Kurdish forces near Mosul, but Mr. Erdogan threatened Wednesday to take unilateral action ifTurkey’s interests were threatened by chaos spilling from the battle to reclaim Iraq’s second-largest city.

“From now on, we will not wait for problems to come knocking on our door, we will not wait until the blade is against our bone and skin, we will not wait for terrorist organizations to come and attack us,” Mr. Erdogan said in a fiery speech from his presidential palace in Ankara.

His comments prompted concern among U.S. officials already wary about a series of provocative moves by Mr. Erdogan that analysts say have been driven — at least in part — by a desire to pressure Washington into giving Turkey its way against Syrian and Iraqi Kurds. Mr. Carter’s visit will also be his first to Ankara since a failed military coup nearly ousted Mr. Erdogan and his ruling AKP party from power this summer.

While Turkey remains a major NATO ally, Mr. Erdogan raised eyebrows in the West last week when he suddenly invited Russia to bid on providing his nation with its first-ever long-range air and anti-missile defense system.

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The Pentagon declined to comment Wednesday on whether Mr. Carter will raise the issue during his visit to Turkey. But it is likely to add to the thick tension over the Kurdish issue. Turkey has long battled the separatist Kurdish PKK movement in its south and fears an independent Kurdistan across the border in Iraq will only inflame the fight.

The Obama administration has relied on Kurdish militias to fight the Islamic State in both nations, but the Erdogan government views many of them as terrorists no less threatening than the group that has held Mosul and other territory in northern Iraq and Syria for the past 2 years.

Erdogan is trying to leverage political gain, and he wants Turkish troops in northern Iraq,” said Michael Rubin, a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official.

“He clearly wants to be in Mosul,” Mr. Rubin said Wednesday. “He wants Turkish boots on the ground so he can help determine the future of what happens there.”

Muscling the Pentagon?

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim made headlines Tuesday by claiming the country had reached an agreement with U.S. commanders to allow Turkish fighters to carry out airstrikes in Mosul against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL.

Turkish F-16 fighters based out of Incirlik Air Base, near the country’s southern border with Iraq, would execute airstrikes in Mosul under the command of the country’s military command node in Kuwait, Mr. Yildrim told the Hurriyet Daily News. The Iraqi government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has protested Turkish military actions inside its borders.

Mr. Erdogan reiterated the claim regarding Turkish air operations over Mosul, saying Baghdad “thought they could keep us out of Mosul by bothering us with the PKK and [the Islamic State].”

He said Iraqi leaders strove to “shape our future with the hands of terrorist organizations.”

U.S. defense officials told The Washington Times on Wednesday that no such agreement had been reached withAnkara on military air operations in Mosul.

“It’s not true,” one defense official said, noting there had been only one instance of Turkish aircraft entering Iraqi airspace — a surveillance drone — since the country’s forces deployed to northern Iraq.

Additionally, Russia has warned Turkish forces advancing through the Syrian border town of Jarablus to halt their advance south or risk being targeted by Russian aircraft operating in the country, the official added. Russia is allied with Syrian President Bashar Assad, a longtime adversary of Turkey.

Even if a military coordination deal included Turkey, it would require Iraq to sign off because any offer of foreign military support in the campaign against the Islamic State needs Baghdad’s approval, a second U.S. defense official told The Times.

Army Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky, commander of U.S. and coalition land forces in Iraq, said at the Pentagon on Wednesday that there were no orders directing Turkish fighters to take part in the fight for Mosul.

Roughly 300 to 400 Turkish soldiers are stationed at a small training camp outside Bashiqa, northeast of Mosul. Reports say smaller Turkish units are scattered across the city’s northern and eastern borders.

Turkish units have been training and equipping Sunni militias in the region, preparing them to defend against any threats posed by Kurdish members of the People’s Protection Unit, also known as the YPG, the armed faction of the Kurdish Workers’ Party in northern Iraq. Ankara considers the group to be on par with the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations.

U.S.-Turkish ties in the fight against the Islamic State began to fray in June, when Washington rebuffed an offer byTurkey to conduct joint operations to retake the strategically critical northern Syrian district of Manbij.

Since then, U.S. diplomats and defense officials have repeatedly tried to engage with their Turkish counterparts to quell any tensions among Washington, Baghdad and Ankara, the second defense official said.

But Pentagon officials say Mr. Erdogan’s recent tough talk is aimed less at the U.S. and Mr. Carter than at concerns over the fallout once the Islamic State is driven from Mosul. The caustic rhetoric coming out of Ankara over the past several weeks did not start “until [Mr. al-Abadi] announced the operation” to retake Mosul, one official added.

Footsie with Moscow

Turkey’s demand for a role in the Mosul fight has overshadowed its outreach toward Russia, which has generated growing concern among officials in Washington.

According to a Defense News report, Mr. Erdogan made the surprising move last week to invite Moscow to bid on a contract to provide a long-range air and anti-missile defense system for Turkey — three years after Ankara disqualified a Russian bidder.

Turkey’s pursuit of the system has been bumpy since 2013, when Ankara took bids from U.S., French and Chinese companies before selecting the China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp. to provide the air defense architecture.

But the deal with the Chinese was suddenly canceled amid heated criticism from Washington and other NATO allies.

One American official who spoke on the condition of anonymity Wednesday said U.S. officials were warily monitoring Mr. Erdogan’s call for a Russian bid ahead of Mr. Carter’s visit.

However, the official suggested that the Obama administration thinks it is highly unlikely that the Turks will go through with deal with the Russians.

“Obviously, we were concerned three years ago when Turkey decided to try to buy an air defense system from China,” said the official. “So we walked them off of that, telling them that if they were interested in getting an air defense system that could be interoperable with NATO and linked to intelligence aspects of the NATO network, then they would have to buy a NATO system, not a Russian or Chinese system.”

While the official lamented that the Turks have “invited the Russians to bid again,” they added that “there’s a big difference between Turkey doing things for optics and actually signing contracts.”

But Turkey’s overtures toward Russia may be more than just posturing, Mr. Rubin said.

“On one hand, Erdogan is trying to leverage political gain,” he said, but Turkey appears poised to take “a turn away from NATO.”

Mr. Erdogan, he noted, went out of his way after this summer’s failed coup to fire scores of Turkish military officials “simply because they had experience working with NATO.”

In addition to Turkey, the Pentagon said, Mr. Carter will stop in the United Arab Emirates, France and Belgium to meet with “key partners in the campaign to deliver [Islamic State] a lasting defeat.” He plans a major speech on the future of NATO next week in Brussels.

Explosion In Ankara Turkey Caused By 300 Kilogram (660 lb) Bomb

(This article is courtesy of the Ankara Turkey Daily Sabah News Paper)

The explosion that killed 37 people in Ankara on Sunday was caused by a 300 kilogram (660 pound) bomb consisting of a mix of RDX, TNT and ammonium nitrate, a security source said Wednesday.

Both RDX and TNT have military and industrial applications while ammonium nitrate is an explosive compound that mainly used as a fertilizer but is often added to homemade bombs.

The source, who spoke to Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media, said the composition and scale of the bomb was similar to the device used in an attack on military buses in Ankara on Feb. 17 that killed 29.

PKK terrorist Seher Çağla Demir, 24, has been identified as the bomber by the Turkish authorities, who are also investigating the possibility there was another terrorist in the car.

Police Chief Drives Stolen Car Around City For 3 Day’s Unnoticed By Cameras Or Officers

(This article is courtesy of the Ankara Turkey Sabah Daily News Paper)

Mahmut Karaaslan, the new police chief of Turkish capital Ankara who started his duty following the deadly car bombing on March 13 that killed 35 civilians, drove around the city unnoticed for three days with license plates belonging to stolen cars to test the city’s surveillance cameras and license plate recognition system.

According to an article of Turkish daily Sözcü, Karaaslan drove in the city’s main arteries and streets monitored by 1,400 surveillance cameras for three days in a row. 41 different license plates sought by the police were tried on the car driven by Karaaslan, all going unnoticed by the city license plate recognition system installed in 513 different places around the city. The police chief also went unnoticed in police checkpoints in different parts of the city.

Karaaslan warned related police commissioners regarding his inspection, and asked necessary measures to be taken. The article stated that the recognition system didn’t detect license plates with seizure orders or duplicated plates as it slowed the whole system down.

With its increasing involvement in the civil war in Syria and the anti-Daesh campaign in Iraq, the PKK started adopting new tactics in its armed insurgency against the Turkish state, which includes car bombings and erecting explosive-laden barricades in urban areas. The car bombing attack carried out on February 17 that killed 29 people in Ankara was carried out by a stolen car by a terrorist from hardliner PKK group named TAK, who was trained by the PKK’s Syrian offshoot YPG.

Another car bombing was carried out by PKK terrorists killed 35 civilians in Ankara on March 13.

The Turkish capital was also targeted by a twin suicide bombing carried out by the Daesh (ISIS) terror organization on Oct. 10, 2015, killing 103 people in a peace rally.

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