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

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.

Erdogan protesters beaten and ejected from New York speech

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Erdogan protesters beaten and ejected from New York speech

Media captionAnti-Erdogan demonstrators are punched as they are removed from a New York hotel

Violence erupted at a New York hotel after protesters heckled a speech by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with chants of “terrorist”.

Mr Erdogan was addressing supporters in Turkish at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square when he was interrupted by several demonstrators.

“You’re a terrorist, get out of my country,” one protester shouted before he was punched and dragged away.

Mr Erdogan is in New York for the UN General Assembly.

A protester is removed from a New York room during a speech by Turkey's President Recep Tayyip ErdoganImage copyrightVOA

In footage from the speech on Thursday, protesters are seen being pushed and punched in the head as they are ejected from the venue by suited men.

It is not clear at this stage if they were pro-Erdogan attendees, presidential bodyguards, or guards providing security at the hotel.

The demonstrators, who later posted images of the clashes on social media, said their aim was to publicly condemn the president’s policies in Turkey, Syria and Iraq.

Some protesters carried flags and banners in support of the Kurdish militant group, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Mr Erdogan sees the YPG as an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for three decades. He has repeatedly said that he will never accept a US alliance with Kurdish forces fighting in Syria.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan gives a thumbs up to supporters outside of The Peninsula hotel on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 20, 2017.Image copyrightREUTERS
Image captionPresident Erdogan is in New York for the UN General Assembly

Supporters of Mr Erdogan can be heard shouting the president’s name in the footage, in attempts to muffle the protesters’ chants.

One protester, Meghan Bodette, wrote on Twitter that she had been “thrown out” of the hotel.

“Yes. I stood up with YPJ flag… was pulled from chair and removed,” she wrote, adding: “I got escorted out and ran, some friends were briefly questioned.”

The YPJ is an all-female Kurdish military group – the women’s equivalent of the YPG.

Another Twitter user, Gissur Simonarson‏, posted images taken from amateur video footage showing a number of protesters being violently attacked.

One eyewitness, Halil Demir, said he saw a man being pushed to the ground after interrupting Mr Erdogan’s speech. Mr Demir said he later saw a second man outside the hotel in handcuffs on the floor, the New York Times reports.

Mr Erdogan was speaking at the invitation of the Turkish American National Steering Committee.

The New York Police Department said that about five protesters had been “briefly detained” but that no arrests were made.

In May, eleven people were injured and two arrested outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington DC, after a brawl broke out between supporters and opponents of Mr Erdogan.

The US summoned the Turkish ambassador over the incident, which Washington police called a “brutal attack on peaceful protesters”.

The Turkish embassy denied that, saying the demonstrators had aggressively provoked Turkish-Americans gathering to greet Mr Erdogan, and that they had responded in self-defense.

Erdogan Says Turkey, US Can Turn Raqqa into ISIS ‘Graveyard’

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

Middle East

Erdogan Says Turkey, US Can Turn Raqqa into ISIS ‘Graveyard’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that Ankara and Washington can join forces to turn ISIS’ de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria into a “graveyard” for the jihadists.

“The huge America, the coalition and Turkey can join hands and turn Raaqa into a graveyard for ISIS,” Erdogan told an Istanbul meeting.

“They will look for a place for themselves to hide,” he said.

Erdogan’s comments come ahead of a meeting with President Donald Trump on May 16 in Washington.

Erdogan said Friday that Washington’s support for Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria damaged “the spirit of solidarity” with Turkey, but that he believed a new page would be turned in ties under Trump.

The US believes the YPG is essential in the fight against ISIS.

But Turkey sees the YPG as a terrorist group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a deadly insurgency against Ankara since 1984.

Turkey this month announced that it had completed its half-year Euphrates Shield operation in northern Syria against jihadists and Kurdish militia, although it is keeping a presence to maintain security in towns now under control of pro-Ankara Syrian rebels.

Ankara is keen to join any US-led operation to clear Raqqa of ISIS jihadists, but without Syrian Kurdish militia forces.

Erdogan on Saturday said he would present Trump at their meeting next month with the “documents” proving YPG’s links to the PKK, which is designated as a terror group by Ankara and Washington.

“We are telling American friends so as not to take a terror group along with them,” the Turkish leader said.
Tension between Turkey and the YPG has been rising. Turkey conducted airstrikes against Kurds in Syria and Iraq on Tuesday, prompting clashes.

Turkey’s military said Saturday that it killed 14 PKK members in air strikes in northern Iraq.

Six fighters were killed around the area of Sinat-Haftan and eight in the countryside around Adiyaman in two separate air strikes, the military said in a statement.

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Turkish Military Bombs U.S. Backed Kurdish Militia Forces Fighting Against ISIS

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

(CNN) The Turkish military on Tuesday killed more than 20 members of Kurdish militia groups, some of which the United States is assisting in the fight against ISIS.

Five of the casualties were among Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq, known as Peshmerga.
Others were reported by the YPG, a Kurdish group in northern Syria.
Both groups have proven to be some of the most effective fighting forces on the ground against ISIS. Yet Tuesday’s airstrikes exposed the complicated tangle of Kurdish militant groups in the region, and the tough choices that the United States faces in its regional alliances in the battle against ISIS.
The five Peshmerga fighters were killed apparently in error when Turkish warplanes carried out airstrikes on nearby positions of another group that Turkey considers to be terrorists, the Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, which is usually based in Turkey.
The strikes hit at dawn on Mount Sinjar, west of Mosul, Iraq, according to a spokesman for the Peshmerga ministry.
Nine others were injured and transferred to a nearby hospital. The Peshmerga later released a statement blaming the strikes on the presence of the PKK group, which it said it has long asked to leave the Mount Sinjar area.
“One of our Peshmerga military posts is located very close to the airstrikes and was hit by mistake,” Halgord Hikmat, spokesman for the Peshmerga ministry, told CNN.

YPG calls attack ‘cowardly’

YPG militia members were also killed in Turkish airstrikes Tuesday.
In a statement, the YPG said Turkish planes launched a “large-scale attack” on its headquarters in Mount Karachok near Syria’s border with Turkey, killing “a number of our comrades.”
A YPG spokesman said in a later statement that 20 fighters were killed and 18 others wounded. But it’s not clear if all the dead and injured were members of YPG, or People’s Defense Units.

A YPG fighter surveys the site of Turkish airstrikes Tuesday in northeastern Syria near Turkey.

“We as the People’s Defense Units say that this cowardly attack will not discourage our determination and our free will to fight and confront terrorism,” the YPG said.
The YPG is a key component of the Syrian Democratic Forces — backed by the United States in the fight against ISIS in Syria. Those forces have been closing in on the ISIS stronghold in Raqqa.
But Turkey opposes the YPG because it fears Kurdish separatism.

Turkey says PKK was the target

Turkey’s operations Tuesday were targeting the PKK, which Ankara, the United States and the European Union consider to be a terror group.
For decades, Turkey has been facing a violent insurgency from the PKK — a banned group that first took up arms in 1984 seeking an independent state for the Kurdish minority concentrated in the country’s southeast.
Turkey has often suggested that the PKK and YPG operate closely, although the YPG denies such ties.
Tuesday’s airstrikes were not the first time that Turkish warplanes have targeted PKK positions in Iraq and Syria.
In a statement issued via Turkey’s state-run news agency, Anadolu, the Turkish General Staff said the airstrikes hit PKK targets in both countries.
It described the strikes as a “counterterrorism” operation “within the scope of the international law” to prevent the PKK from sending “terrorists, arms, ammunition, and explosives” to Turkey.

Gunman Identified In Istanbul Nightclub Attack, Turkish Authorities Say

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Gunman identified in Istanbul nightclub attack, Turkish authorities say

Story highlights

  • Authorities detain 20 alleged members of ISIS in connection with Sunday’s attack
  • ISIS claimed responsibility on Twitter, but CNN can’t independently verify it

Istanbul (CNN)Turkish authorities said Wednesday they have identified the gunman who killed 39 people in the New Year’s nightclub terror attack in Istanbul.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavusoglu announced the development but did not name the suspect or provide his nationality.
Nightclub attack: Full coverage
  • Victims from 14 countries
  • Dozens killed when gunman opens fire
  • Authorities have also detained 20 alleged members of ISIS in connection with Sunday morning’s attack at the Reina nightclub, state-run news agency Anadolu reported Wednesday.
    Counterterrorism officers arrested the suspected militants at four addresses in the Bornova and Buca districts of the Aegean province of Izmir, according to Anadolu. Eleven women were among those arrested.
    Anadolu said those detained are thought to have lived with the attacker in the central Anatolian city of Konya.
    Anadolu also reported that an array of military hardware was discovered during the raids, including night-vision equipment, a sniper scope, an ammunition belt and other items. Twenty children found at the addresses were taken into temporary care.
    Altogether, at least 36 people are being held in connection with the nightclub shooting, though the gunman who carried it out remains at large.
    ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted to Twitter, but CNN cannot independently verify it. The terror group boasted of carrying out the first major terrorist attack of 2017.

    Suspect seen in selfie video

    On Monday, police released a video that the suspected gunman apparently took of himself in a market near the nightclub.
    The “selfie video” featuring the man in Istanbul’s Taksim Square was first posted on a pro-ISIS Telegram account before Turkish media broadcast it, said Laith Alkhouri, a director at Flashpoint, an American business risk intelligence company tracking terrorist and cyber threats.
    Alkhouri told CNN that such a release suggests the attacker was part of a network supportive of or linked to ISIS, and that he had shared the selfie footage with the terror group before or after the attack.

    Growing threats

    On Tuesday, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told lawmakers that Turkish security forces had prevented 339 major terror incidents in 2016 — 80 of which came in the final three months of the year.
    In his speech to parliament, Soylu cited attacks launched by the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, as well as those by Daesh, the Arabic term for ISIS.
    Anadolu quoted Soylu as saying that “313 of the incidents were planned by PKK, 22 by Daesh and four by radical leftist groups.”
    He said that 247 improvised explosives and 61 bomb vehicles had been seized in 12 months.
    He also revealed the capture of 23 suicide bomber suspects as well as 42 terrorist group members who were preparing for attacks.
    Both ISIS and Kurdish militants have launched attacks in Turkey, which is reeling from a failed military coup in July.
    On Wednesday, Anadolu reported that authorities arrested four people, including a woman, in connection with a December 17 car bombing that killed 13 soldiers and wounded dozens in the central city of Kayseri.

    Victims from 14 countries

    At least 11 victims in this week’s attack on the upscale nightclub were from Turkey, according to Anadolu, while at least 27 victims hailed from 13 other countries, including Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Canada.
    Dozens of people were hospitalized. A handful of the injured were in critical condition.

    Expert: ISIS may have trained Istanbul gunman

    Expert: ISIS may have trained Istanbul gunman 02:23
    Witnesses described how the New Year’s Eve celebration turned into a bloodbath.
    “We were having fun. At first we thought it was a fight, then there was a lot of gunfire,” Yunus Turk told CNN.
    “After the gunfire, everyone started to run toward the terrace. We ran as well. There was someone next to me who was shot and fell on the floor. We ran away and hid under the sofas.”

    Turkey: Twin Bombs Outside Istanbul Football Stadium Kill Dozens

    (THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS)

    Turkey: Twin explosions outside football stadium kill 29 in Istanbul

    WORLD Updated: Dec 11, 2016 07:51 IST

    AFP

    Highlight Story

    Smoke rises from a car after a blast in Istanbul, Turkey. (Reuters Photo)

    Twenty nine people were killed — mainly police officers — and 166 wounded in double bombings that struck Istanbul on Saturday after a home football match hosted by top side Besiktas, Turkish interior minister Suleyman Soylu said.Twenty-seven of those killed were police and two were civilians, he told reporters in Istanbul, adding that 10 suspects had already been detained over the bombing.

    A car bomb detonated outside the Vodafone Arena football stadium on the shores of the Bosphorus after the Super Lig match between Besiktas and Bursaspor while a suicide attacker struck a nearby park, officials said.

    The authorities did not say who was behind the blasts but the attacks were the latest in a year that has seen Istanbul and other Turkish cities rocked by a string of attacks blamed on Islamic State jihadists and Kurdish militants.

    The health ministry said in a statement that 15 people were killed and 69 wounded.

    “An act of terror targeted our security forces and citizens at Besiktas tonight,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement. Besiktas is also the name of the neighbourhood around club’s arena.

    Erdogan said the blasts shortly after the end of the match sought to cause maximum loss of life.

    “We have witnessed once more here in Istanbul the ugly face of terror which tramples down any form of value and morals,” he said.

    Interior minister Suleyman Soylu said one blast took place outside the stadium and another at Macka Park, a popular meeting place just above the sports venue.

    “The explosion at Macka Park is believed to have been carried out by a suicide bomber.”

    He said the stadium attack targeted a bus of riot police.

    ‘We will stand firm’

    State broadcaster TRT showed images of the wreckage of a car, engulfed in flames with emergency services swarming around the scene outside the sports venue.

    Other footage showed severely damaged police vehicles, while witnesses said the force of the blast had shattered the windows of several nearby homes.

    An AFP correspondent near the stadium saw ambulances gathering in the aftermath of the explosion, as well as broken glass on the road.

    “I heard two explosions in less than one minute, followed by the sound of gunshots,” one witness told AFP on condition of anonymity.

    Police and ambulances arrive the scene after a blast in Istanbul. (Reuters Photo)

    Besiktas football club issued a statement condemning the attack and confirming none of the fans or players were hurt.

    “Terrorists… attacked our heroic security forces who ensure that both our fans and Bursaspor’s supporters are safe. We will stand firm against the vile attackers who will never achieve their goal.”

    Police cordoned off the area around the stadium immediately after the blasts, which occurred near the Ottoman-era Dolmabahce palace that houses Prime Minister Binali Yildirim’s offices in Istanbul.

    The scene is also about a kilometre (0.6 miles) from the busy Taksim Square, a magnet for tourists.

    Erdogan was in Istanbul at the time of the blast at his residence in the suburb of Tarabya further down the Bosphorus, state media said.

    The government slapped a broadcast ban on footage of the attack, as is becoming typical in the aftermath of major incidents in the country.

    ‘We will defeat terror’

    There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Saturday’s attack.

    In his statement, Erdogan said that “the name or the method of the terrorist organisation which perpetrated the vile attack” did not matter.

    “Nobody should doubt that we will defeat terror, terror groups, terrorists and of course the forces behind them, with God’s help,” he said.

    In June, 47 people were killed in a triple suicide bombing and gun attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport, with authorities blaming 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 southeastern city of Gaziantep.

    But there have also been deadly bombings claimed by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), seen as a splinter group of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

    The US embassy in Turkey condemned the latest attack.

    “Our hearts and prayers are with the people of #Istanbul tonight,” the embassy wrote on Twitter. “We condemn tonight’s cowardly attack, and salute the courage of the Turkish people as we stand with them against terror.”

    Turkey is still reeling from a failed July 15 coup blamed by the government on the US-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen that has been followed by a relentless purge of his alleged supporters from state institutions.

    Saturday’s attack came after the Turkish army and its Syrian rebel allies on Saturday entered the IS bastion of Al-Bab in northern Syria, according to a monitoring group.

    Wounded police officers are helped after a blast in Istanbul, Turkey. (Reuters Photo)

    Al-Bab is the last bastion IS has in Syria’s northern Aleppo province.

    The explosions also came hours after Turkey’s ruling party submitted a parliamentary bill that would expand the powers — and possibly the tenure — of Erdogan, a move his opponents fear will lead to one-man rule.

    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.

    Turkey’s Erdogan Will Not Tolerate Peace With The Kurdish People!

    (THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NEWSWEEK)

    TURKEY AIRSTRIKES KILL OVER 160 SYRIAN KURDS NORTH OF ALEPPO, MILITARY SAYS

    The Turkish military said its jets conducted 26 raids Wednesday night.

    The Turkish air force has conducted strikes against the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militia north of the besieged city of Aleppo, killing at least 160 members of the militia, Turkey’s state-run news agency said Thursday.

    The military conducted the raids late Wednesday and targeted 18 Kurdish positions in the Maarraat Umm Hawsh region, according to Anadolu news agency. The strikes mark a significant escalation in Turkish action against Kurdish forces in northern Syria and are likely to exacerbate tensions between Ankara and Washington, two NATO allies.

    It comes as Iraqi and Kurdish forces are battling to liberate the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) and Ankara instead backs Syrian rebels against ISIS in northern Syria, ratcheting up tensions with Kurdish forces who had also made advances against the radical Islamist group.

    AleppoMembers of the Syrian Civil Defence search for victims amid the rubble of a destroyed building following reported air strikes in the rebel-held Qatarji neighborhood of the northern city of Aleppo, October 17. Turkey conducted airstrikes against Syrian Kurdish forces Thursday north of Aleppo.KARAM AL-MASRI/AFP/GETTY

    Turkey is suspicious of Kurdish intentions in northern Syria. The Kurdish YPG militia says it is defending the region from ISIS, beating them back into Raqqa province near its de-facto capital of the same name. But Ankara views Kurdish advances as an attempt to join up two administrative blocs to form a semi-autonomous state, known locally as Rojava, on the country’s southern border.

    Turkey opposes any Kurdish moves towards self-determination, viewing the militiamen as linked to the Kurdish militant group outlawed in Turkey, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The group has waged a decades-long insurgency against Turkish authorities in a conflict that has left tens of thousands of people dead.

    A fragile two-year ceasefire between the PKK and Turkish forces collapsed in July 2015, leading to further PKK attacks and a Turkish military operation in southeastern Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish areas. Turkey subsequently sent Syrian rebels into northern Syria in August to oust ISIS from territory but to also slow Kurdish advances in the region and prevent what it viewed as a land grab.

    While Turkey views the YPG as an extremist organization, Washington views them as valuable partners on the ground in the battle against ISIS, and the most effective fighters to combat the group in Syria.

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