Articles by "Turkey"

This file photo taken on September 02, 2016 shows Turkish soldiers driving back to Turkey from the Syrian-Turkish border town of Jarablus. (Photos by AFP)
Turkey has deployed military reinforcements, including soldiers, vehicles, and equipment to northern Syria, says a UK-based monitoring group.
The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday that the Turkish reinforcements had entered Syrian soil over the last 24 hours and headed in the direction of the town of A'zaz, which has been seized by Ankara-backed militants.
The regions to the south of the town are currently in the hands of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).
The observatory said the fresh Turkish deployments are aimed at bolstering Turkish forces who plan to launch an offensive against the YPG which Ankara deems as the Syrian branch of the militant Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been battling to establish an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.
"Turkish forces are now inside Syria... the forces are huge reinforcements that have been entering since last night,” said a member of one the militant groups backed by Turkey.
Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up of an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, walk in a neighborhood on the eastern front of Daesh’s Syrian bastion of Raqqah after seizing the area from the terrorists on June 14, 2017. 
The YPG is currently the dominant force behind the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) currently engaged in operations aimed at liberating Raqqah – Daesh’s remaining stronghold in Syria.
In August 2016, Turkey began a unilateral military intervention in northern Syria, code-named Operation Euphrates Shield, sending tanks and warplanes across the border. Ankara claimed that its military campaign was aimed at pushing Daesh from Turkey's border with Syria and stopping the advance of Kurdish forces, who were themselves fighting Daesh.
Turkey officially ended its military campaign in northern Syria in March 2017 but did not rule out the possibility of yet another act of military intervention inside Syria, which has been gripped by deadly foreign-sponsored militancy since 2011.


Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu gives his weekly speech in the town of Camlidere in the Ankara Province, on June 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Turkey's main opposition leader has challenged President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to resign if it is proven that the government influenced the judiciary in the post-coup crackdown in the country.
Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu made the remarks in a Tuesday speech for hundreds in the town of Camlidere on the outskirts of Ankara on the sixth day of his "walk for justice" protest march from Ankara to Istanbul.
"If I prove you and your government gave instructions to the courts, will you resign from your role as an honest and honorable person?" he said.
"I give my word as well. I will leave politics if I do not prove (these claims). Because I am an honest and honorable person,” he added.
The 68-year-old Kilicdaroglu leads the march in protest at a heavy jail sentence handed down to former journalist turned CHP lawmaker Enis Berberoglu.
A court sentenced Berberoglu to 25 years in jail on Wednesday for leaking classified information to a newspaper.
The 450-kilometer (280 miles) trek is expected to take almost a month and will culminate at Maltepe prison in Istanbul where Berberoglu is being held. The march represents Kilicdaroglu’s biggest challenge to Erdogan since he took over the CHP in 2010.

Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu (C with white cap) participates in the "walk for justice" from Ankara to Istanbul against the government in the town of Saray north of Ankara on June 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Kilicdaroglu said he was "walking for everyone who seeks justice," vowing, "We are a party who will defend democracy until the end."
The opposition accuses Erdogan of shifting towards authoritarianism, especially since last year's failed coup which was followed by a massive crackdown and the April referendum which expands the president’s power.
Kilicdaroglu calls Erdogan the "July 20 coup plotter", referring to the date when the president declared a state of emergency.
Erdogan said Saturday that actions like the march by Kilicdaroglu would bring no good for Turkey, saying the opposition leader should not "be surprised" if legal proceedings were opened.
Kilicdaroglu said he was undeterred by Erdogan’s threats that the action might lead to legal proceedings against him.
Turkey has seen a surge in political fighting since a failed coup attempt on July 15 last year. The opposition has constantly criticized a crackdown launched since the coup which has seen more than 40,000 people arrested and over 100,000 discharged from their jobs. Kilicdaroglu even once accused Erdogan of being the "July 20 coup plotter", saying he had used the deadly coup by military renegades to consolidate his rule in Turkey.
Tensions rose again on April 16 when voters endorsed changes to Turkey’s constitution and gave Erdogan more powers as president. The CHP has censured Erdogan’s narrow victory in the referendum while warning that Erdogan would slide Turkey into a one-man rule system.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (R) bids farewell to his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim after their talks in Athens on June 19, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Greece's prime minister has told his Turkish counterpart that airspace violations over the Aegean must stop as they increase the risk of a military accident in the sea between the two uneasy neighbors and NATO allies.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he and Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim, who was on a one-day visit to Greece, agreed to maintain open channels of communication between them in an effort to reduce potential military tensions arising from airspace violations.
The two countries have come close to war three times in the past half-century. The most recent time was in 1996, over who owns a couple of uninhabited islets in the eastern Aegean Sea.
Greece and Turkey stand far apart on many fronts, including Aegean boundaries, undersea exploration rights and the war-divided island of Cyprus, which is split between Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities.
Athens also says Turkish fighter jets frequently infringe the airspace under its civil aviation control, and often violate its national airspace. Both air forces have lost planes and personnel in accidents during fierce simulated dogfights over the Aegean in which the pilots, although often flying armed aircraft, refrain from using their weaponry.

This file photo shows a Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jet flying over a military airbase in Dalaman near the southwestern Turkish city of Mugla. (Photo by AP)
"I stressed to Mr. Yildirim that this situation isn't helping at all, and that these infringements cannot continue," Tsipras said during joint statements to the media after the two men met for talks. "(They) increase the risk of an accident, which I honestly believe is the last thing either side wants."
Yildirim said Greece also engaged in violations and flyovers in the Aegean Sea.
"Of course these are not one-sided. The violations are mutual," Yildirim said. "Of course, the point is that the tension should not escalate. Our quick and direct contact will help to resolve tensions at an early phase.
"Another source of tension between the two neighbors recently has been the fate of eight Turkish servicemen who sought asylum in Greece following last year's failed coup in Turkey. Ankara says the helicopter crewmen had participated in the coup, an accusation the men deny.
Greece's high court has refused to extradite the eight, who claimed they would not face a fair trial in Turkey amid a widespread post-coup-attempt crackdown that has seen about 50,000 people arrested and more than 100,000 suspended from their jobs.
Asked about Greece's refusal to extradite the servicemen, Tsipras noted that his country's judicial system was independent of its political system.
"We respect the decision the judiciary has made but we hope the coup-plotters don't deliver a blow to Turkey-Greece relations," Yildirim said.
Referring to who should exploit suspected large natural gas deposits in the Aegean and off Cyprus, Yildirim said these energy sources are "the common heritage of all humanity."

Russia's new ambassador to Turkey, Alexei Yerkhov
Moscow has appointed a new ambassador to Ankara, six months after the killing of Russia's previous envoy Andrei Karlov.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Monday, appointing Alexei Yerkhov as Moscow’s new ambassador to Turkey.
"Alexei Yerkhov shall be appointed Russia’s new ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to the Turkish Republic," the decree said.
Yerkhov, 57, was the head of Russian Foreign Ministry's Crisis Management Center and worked with Karlov as the Russian consul in Istanbul.
Russia's Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov (now deceased) speaks during the opening of an art gallery in Ankara, Turkey, on December 19, 2016. (Photo by AP)
Karlov was assassinated while delivering a speech at the opening of an art exhibition in Ankara in December last year. The 62-year-old was shot nine times at point-blank range by a 22-year-old assailant, identified as Mevlut Mert Altintas, who was shot dead by Turkish guards afterwards.
The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that it treated the assault as a "terrorist act."
The photo shows the shooter of Russia's Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov after gunning down the envoy during the opening of an art exhibition in Ankara, Turkey, on December 19, 2016. (Photo by AP)
Ankara blamed the assassination on the network of the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is also accused by the Turkish government of having orchestrated an abortive coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July 2016.
The murder, condemned by the Turkish and Russian leaders as an attempt to sour Ankara-Moscow ties, came as the countries were maintaining cooperation over the Syrian crisis. The two sides have been partaking in several rounds of talks over the war-ravaged Arab country and agreed to set up safe zones there.

File photo shows Turkish military troops. (Via EPA)
Turkish troops have taken part in planned joint military exercises in Qatar amid a widening rift between the Arab country and its neighbors in the Persian Gulf region.
Qatar's Defense Ministry said in a statement on Monday that the first joint drills took place on Sunday at the Tariq bin Ziyad military camp in Doha.
The drills aim to raise "Qatari and Turkish fighting efficiency amid plans for joint operations to fight extremism and terrorism, as well as peacekeeping operations before and after military operations," the statement read.
The exercises had "been planned for some time," it added.
The military exercises come amid a crisis revolving around Qatar and certain Arab countries.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates severed ties with Qatar on June 5, officially accusing Doha of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region -- charges which Qatar strongly denies.
Turkey had initially stayed neutral in the dispute, but soon became more assertive in its support for Doha. On June 7, Turkey's Parliament approved the deployment of troops to a Turkish military base in Qatar.
Back in 2014, Turkey and Qatar signed an agreement, which allowed the construction of a Turkish base in Qatar. Officials say up to 3,000 Turkish troops could be deployed in Qatar as part of Ankara’s program to increase its military cooperation with Doha.
This file photo shows a US F-15 warplane landing at a Qatari base in Doha. (Photo by AFP)
Meanwhile, relations between Saudi Arabia and Turkey have begun to deteriorate over the Qatar rift.
On Saturday, Saudi Arabia said a Turkish military base would not be welcome on the kingdom's soil after Ankara offered to build such a facility.
The announcement was made in response to remarks made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said he had offered to build a base in Saudi Arabia “with the same idea” as Turkey’s military base in Qatar.
Saudi Arabia is also unnerved by Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood movement, which Erdogan has promoted for long. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) shakes hands with Saudi King Salman in the presidential palace in Ankara, April 12, 2016. (Photo by Xinhua)
Relations between Saudi Arabia and Turkey have begun to deteriorate over the Qatar rift, with Riyadh leading a blockade on the Persian Gulf emirate and Ankara sending troops to the small country.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates severed ties with Qatar on June 5, officially accusing Doha of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region -- charges which Qatar strongly denies.
Turkey had initially stayed neutral in the dispute but soon became more assertive in its support of Doha. On June 7, Turkey's parliament approved the deployment of troops to a Turkish military base in Qatar.
Saudi Arabia is also unnerved by Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood movement, which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdgoan has promoted for long. 
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu arrived in Saudi Arabia on Friday in an attempt to defuse the growing diplomatic crisis in the Persian Gulf region, but the visit further exposed their gaping gap.
A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on June 16, 2017, shows Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (R) meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in the holy city of Mecca. (Photo by AFP)
As Cavusoglu held a meeting with King Salman in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi authorities detained reporters for Turkey's state-run English language channel TRT World who were covering the visit.
The Hurriyet daily said correspondent Hasan Abdullah and cameraman Nihat Yayman were released after being held for some 10 hours after Cavusoglu personally intervened with the Saudi king.
Abdullah said in a statement the pair "were detained from our hotel by Saudi police in Mecca after a live analysis" on the crisis with Qatar.
"The ordeal lasted nearly 10 hours during which we faced multiple interrogations and lock-up," he added.
On Saturday, Saudi Arabia said a Turkish military base would not be welcome on the kingdom's soil after Ankara offered to build such a facility.
“Saudi Arabia cannot allow Turkey to establish military bases on its territories,” said a statement released by the official Saudi Press Agency. The statement added that Saudi Arabia “does not need such thing.”
The announcement was made in response to remarks made by Erdogan, who said he had offered to build a base in Saudi Arabia “with the same idea” as Turkey’s military base in Qatar. Erdogan said King Salman agreed to consider the offer.
Tour guides Khalid Abdullah and Edris Ismail said Sunday some Saudis were canceling planned visits to Turkey for the upcoming Eid al-Fitr holiday, which begins next week. Last year, about 250,000 Saudis visited Turkey.
An Arabic hashtag on Twitter has also appeared urging Saudis to sever relations with Ankara.
Turkey, Qatar hold joint military drills
Amid the escalating tensions, the Qatari Defense Ministry said the first group of Turkish soldiers had arrived in Doha to take part in joint military drills. The troops conducted their first training at Tariq bin Ziyad military base on Sunday, it said.
According to observers, the recent fallout in relations came in the wake of Qatar's apparent break with past policies and its leaning toward Russia and Iran -- similar to Turkey's turnabout on the Syria crisis.
The worsening of relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia deals a serious blow to their efforts to forge a new alliance following King Salman's visit to Ankara in April, which came in response to Erdogan's visit to Riyadh last December.    
At the time, the visit was hailed a landmark event by the two countries, on an exceptionally grand scale during which the king’s delegation took over an entire high-rise hotel and a fleet of 500 Mercedes at its disposal.
From the Saudi angle, these exchanges of trips appeared directed towards creating a NATO-like military alliance of friendly countries.
However, the recent escalation consigned "Arab NATO" into a stillborn child given the state of Turkish-Egyptian relations, which have been at a very low ebb since a military coup in Egypt overthrew President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen gives a statement in Berlin, May 17, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Germany says it will start pulling out its troops and aircraft from a Turkish airbase in July and will move them to a base in Jordan, following a bitter dispute over Turkey’s refusal to allow German lawmakers to visit the soldiers at the base.
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday that the troops as well as tanker aircraft and jets will begin pulling out from the Turkish air base in Incirlik and will be moving to Jordan’s Muwaffaq Salti airbase.
The European country has about 280 troops stationed at the Incirlik airbase along with six Tornado fighter jets and a tanker plane used for refueling.
Von der Leyen said the military plans to carry out operations against Daesh militants are set until the end of June. “After that, we’ll be transferring our tanker aircraft as quickly as possible to Jordan.”
She said the tanker aircraft will be operational again after the transfer approximately in the second half of July. But the relocation is expected to disrupt operations by the Tornados for at least two months, she said, reassuring, however, that all the jets would be expected to become fully operational before October.
A technician is seen working on a German Tornado jet at the air base in Incirlik, Turkey, on January 21, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
The German defense minister said moving heavier equipment would take longer.
Germany deployed the contingent to the Turkish airbase in December 2015, as part of a US-led coalition that has purportedly been fighting the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.
Berlin started to look for possible alternatives for the base as its ties with Ankara took a new hit in mid-May, when Turkey for the second time blocked a scheduled meeting of German lawmakers with the German soldiers stationed at the base.
Ankara made the decision in response to Berlin’s move to grant asylum to Turkish military personnel whom Ankara had accused of participating in a failed coup to overthrow the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July 2016.
Ankara made a similar move last year after the German parliament in June 2016 recognized the Ottoman Empire’s World War I-era massacre of Armenians as “genocide.”
In response to Belin’s decision to leave the Turkish airfield, Ankara has said Germany will be able to carry out the withdrawal according to its own plans and “their own way.”
The Jordanian airbase, which is now to host the German forces, is situated near the northern town of al-Azraq. It had been used by Belgian fighter jets between 2014 and 2015 and is currently being used by US and Dutch forces.

A soldier is transported to hospital after a mass food poisoning at the Manisa First Infantry Training Brigade Command, western Turkey, on June 17, 2017. Photo by Anadolu news agency)
More than 700 soldiers have fallen sick in a mass outbreak of food poisoning at a military barracks in the western Turkish province of Manisa.
Manisa Chief Prosecutor Akif Celahattain Simsek announced in a statement on Sunday that none of the soldiers are displaying life-threatening conditions after 731 troopers at the Manisa First Infantry Training Brigade Command complained about nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
They were rushed to hospital with stomach pains and dizziness.
The soldiers at the barracks had eaten a meal of soup, rice, chicken and yogurt for Iftar, a meal with which Muslims break their dawn-to-dusk fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.  
Police have detained 21 employees, including executives, of the catering company that provides food to the military compound in connection with the incident.
This is the second time in less than a month that soldiers at the Manisa First Infantry Training Brigade Command have been struck by food poisoning.
One soldier died in the May food poisoning incident, which was caused by salmonella bacteria.
Local opposition lawmaker Tur Yildiz Bicer posted pictures on Twitter of soldiers slumped on benches in the hospital, and others on a drip.
Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik visited the sick soldiers in hospital overnight, saying they were all set to make a full recovery.
“We don't see a significant problem; just some of our soldiers are being kept in for observation. No one is in intensive care or has their life in danger,” he pointed out.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu attends a press conference in Kuwait City on June 15, 2017 as part of his tour of Persian Gulf Arab countries. (Photos by AFP)
The Turkish foreign minister has arrived in Saudi Arabia in an attempt to defuse a growing diplomatic crisis in the Persian Gulf region, as Qatar accuses its neighbors, particularly Riyadh, of imposing a crippling "siege" on the emirate.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu's plane landed in the western Saudi city of Jeddah on Friday ahead of a meeting with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in the holy city of Mecca in a bid to broker a solution to the unprecedented crisis.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates severed ties with Qatar in early June, officially accusing Doha of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region, which Doha strongly denies. In their apparent bid to secure US support and that of Israel, they further suspended all land, air and sea traffic with Qatar, expelled its diplomats and ordered Qatari citizens to leave their countries.
Cavusoglu's visit to Saudi Arabia came a day after he met with his Kuwaiti counterpart to find a solution to the crisis. Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, whose country did not sever ties with Doha, has also been engaged in shuttle diplomacy to help mediate between the two opposing sides, but so far all to no avail.
Ahead of his Saudi trip, Cavusoglu also paid a visit to Doha on Wednesday, when he called for dialogue after meeting with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.
To further pressure Qatar, Saudi Arabia has totally closed its land border with its tiny neighbor, through which much of Qatar's food supply crossed. Iran and Turkey are now providing Qatar's required food supplies. The Persian Gulf Arab states further gave Qataris two weeks to leave their countries and ordered home their own citizens living in Qatar.
A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on June 6, 2017, shows Saudi's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (R) meeting with Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.
The punitive measures against Qatar have drawn condemnation from rights groups, including Amnesty International. On June 10 and 13, the UK-based prominent rights group slammed Saudi measures against Qatar, saying the diplomatic dispute has been toying with thousands of lives.
'Saudi siege harsher than Berlin Wall'
Meanwhile, Qatar's National Human Rights Committee Chairman Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri said at a press conference in the Swiss city of Geneva that the so-called punitive measures amounted to "collective punishment," citing one case of a mother being separated from her baby.
Qatar's National Human Rights Committee Chairman Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri gives a press conference in Doha, Qatar, on June 8, 2017.
Describing the measure as "harsher than the Berlin Wall" in separating members of families, he further said the siege had led to "gross violations of human rights."
The coordinated move against Qatar is spearheaded by Saudi Arabia, which often manages to have its vassal states fall into line. Saudi Arabia itself is known as the main sponsor of the violent Wahhabi terrorists it has accused Qatar of supporting. Some analysts believe the Saudi anger is rather because Qatar acts more independently of Riyadh, including partially in its relations with Iran.

File photo shows a view of Novovoronezh nuclear power plant built by Rosatom in central Russia.
Russia's State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) has won approval from Turkey's energy market regulator to go ahead with building its $20 billion Akkuyu nuclear power plant in the south of the country.
The project to construct four nuclear reactors has repeatedly run into delays, including being briefly halted after Turkey downed a Russian jet near the Syrian border in November 2015. Ties have since normalized between the two countries and work on the plant has resumed.
It is now expected to be completed by 2023 and should meet 6-7 percent of Turkey's electricity demand once it is fully operational, energy regulator EPDK said in a statement.
Rosatom has sold several nuclear reactors to developing countries under a model by which Russia finances, builds and operates the nuclear plant and sells power to its customer.
EPDK said it had given Rosatom's project company Akkuyu Nukleer AS a 49-year production license.
Dependent on imports for almost all of its energy, Turkey has embarked on an ambitious nuclear program, commissioning Rosatom in 2013 to build the four 1,200 megawatt (MW) reactors.
With Turkey's energy imports costing about $50 billion annually, Ankara wants at least 5 percent of its electricity generation to come from nuclear energy in under a decade, cutting dependency on natural gas largely bought from Russia.
Rosatom initially pledged to have the first of the four reactors in Akkuyu ready by 2019 before it suffered delays.
EPDK said on Thursday that Akkuyu Nukleer had agreed to accelerate construction so that all four reactors would be built by 2023, the centenary of the foundation of the Turkish Republic, rather than 2025 as previously agreed by Russia and Turkey.

File photo shows Aydin Sefa Akay, a retired Turkish ambassador and a judge at the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT).
A top United Nations court has expressed deep concern about an imprisonment sentence handed down to one of its judges in Turkey, saying Ankara has clearly trampled on the judge’s diplomatic immunity.   
In a statement on Thursday, the UN's Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) condemned Turkey for sentencing Aydin Sefa Akay, a retired ambassador and a top judge at the MICT, to seven years in jail on charges of links to a movement led by an opposition cleric, whom Ankara blames for last year’s failed coup.
The president of the Hague-based tribunal, Theodor Meron, said that he remained "gravely concerned” about the verdict given to Akay.
The statement said actions by the Turkish authorities since the arrest of Akay in September, including his detention and the legal case against him, were “inconsistent with the assertion of his diplomatic immunity by the United Nations.”
Meron said the court decision on Wednesday, to jail Akay for seven years and six months, was “deeply regrettable.”
Although Meron welcomed “as a humanitarian matter” that Akay was provisionally released pending confirmation of his verdict by Turkey's top appeals court, he called on Ankara to “take urgent steps to respect the protected status of Judge Akay and to resolve the situation consistent with international law.”
Akay’s charges, which he vehemently denies, include "membership in an armed terror group," reference Turkish authorities often use to designate the movement of Fethullah Gulen, the US-based cleric who is blamed for the abortive coup of July 15, 2016.
More than 40,000 people have been arrested and over 100,000 discharged from their jobs on charges of having links to Gulen.
Reports said Akay has also been convicted of using a communications service known as Bylock, which Ankara says was especially created for Gulen’s supporters.
Turkey has yet to determine a date for deciding on Akay’s verdict in the supreme appeals court.

Deputy Chairman of Turkey’s opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Enis Berberoglu
A Turkish court has sentenced a prominent lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) to 25 years in jail for his role in leaking secret documents to a newspaper showing the country's National Intelligence Organization (MIT) shipped weapons to foreign-backed Takfiri terrorists in Syria.
On Wednesday, Istanbul’s 14th Heavy Penal Court handed down the sentence to CHP Deputy Chairman Enis Berberoglu for releasing secret documents with the purpose of political or military espionage.
Berberoglu was arrested in the courthouse after the hearing. He will remain under arrest while waiting for the appeal process to conclude.
CHP spokesman Engin Altay sharply condemned the decision, saying he saw the verdict as an attempt by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government to intimidate the opposition.
"This decision is intimidation to the opposition. This decision is intimidation to all who are displeased with the Justice and Development Party (AKP)," Altay told reporters outside the Caglayan Justice Palace in Istanbul.
He said the decision was a sign that the judiciary in Turkey was under the command of government executive organs.
Back in May 2015, Cumhuriyet daily posted on its website footage showing Turkish security forces in early 2014 intercepting a convoy of trucks carrying arms for the militants in Syria.
The paper said the trucks were carrying some 1,000 mortar shells, hundreds of grenade launchers and more than 80,000 rounds of ammunition for light and heavy weapons.
A still image grabbed from a video published on the website of the Turkish Cumhuriyet daily on May 29, 2015 shows mortar shells in boxes intercepted on a truck destined for Syria.
Ankara denied the allegation and claimed that the trucks had been carrying humanitarian aid to Syria. However, Berberoglu defended the video, saying it was genuine.
The incident triggered a huge controversy in Turkey with many bashing the government for explicitly supporting terrorism in neighboring Syria.
Cumhuriyet’s former editor-in-chief Can Dundar and Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul were among other defendants in the case.
Last year, Dundar and Gul were sentenced to at least five years in jail for revealing what was said to be state secrets. The prosecutor is now seeking an additional 10 years in prison for the two over the report on MIT trucks.
Turkey arrests 78 lawyers in post-coup crackdown
Meanwhile, Turkish forces have arrested 78 lawyers as part of an investigation into suspected links to the movement of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of having orchestrated last year’s failed coup against Erdogan.
A security source, who asked not to be named, said the detentions were carried out across eight provinces.
Istanbul's chief public prosecutor had earlier issued arrest warrants for 189 lawyers on charges of affiliation to Gulen’s movement. Some are also accused of using ByLock encrypted messaging application for communication with fellow opposition members. 
Also on Wednesday, a Turkish court sentenced Aydin Sefa Akay (shown in the picture above), a top judge attached to the UN's Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, to seven years and six months in jail on charges of links to the failed July 15 coup.
The court also placed an overseas travel ban on Akay, effectively making his cooperation with the UN courts system impossible.
He was released pending the ruling from the Supreme Appeals Court.
Turkey witnessed a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, when a faction of the Turkish military declared that the government of Erdogan was no more in charge of the country.
A few hours later, however, the coup was suppressed. Almost 250 people were killed and nearly 2,200 others wounded in the abortive coup.
Gulen has censured the coup attempt and strongly denied any involvement in it.
Turkey, which remains in a state of emergency since the coup, has been engaged in suppressing the media and opposition groups, who were believed to have played a role in the failed putsch.
Over 40,000 people have been arrested and more than 120,000 others sacked or suspended from a wide range of professions, including soldiers, police, teachers, and public servants, over alleged links to the failed coup. 
Many rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have denounced Ankara’s heavy clampdown.

Protesters have rallied in front of the Saudi embassy in Ankara to denounce the kingdom's sudden rupture of diplomatic relations with Qatar.
The protesters on Saturday held up banners depicting US President Donald Trump and leaders of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, in which they were seen placing their hands on a globe during a ceremony last month.
The banners referred to the controversial opening of the so-called Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology in Riyadh during Trump's visit which culminated in the US signing of a $110 billion of arms deal with Saudi Arabia. 
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt broke off ties to Qatar on Monday. They also suspended all land, air, and sea traffic with Qatar, ejected its diplomats, and ordered Qatari citizens to leave their countries.
Turkey has sided with Qatar in the dispute and sent troops to the tiny Persian Gulf country amid fears of a possible coup or military invasion by Saudi Arabia and its allies similar to their attacks on Yemen.
Saudi Arabia cut its diplomatic relations with Iran following angry protests held outside its diplomatic missions in the Islamic Republic after the kingdom executed prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr in January 2016. 
US President Donald Trump (3L), US First lady Melania Trump (2L), Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (C), and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (3R) pose for a group photo during the inauguration of the so-called Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology in the Saudi capital Riyadh on May 21, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Saudi Arabia is angry at Qatar’s perceived support for the Egyptian opposition movement Muslim Brotherhood, which the current Turkish government also views positively. 
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that his country would continue to support Qatar in the dispute. Earlier in the week, the Turkish Parliament ratified a bill allowing the deployment of troops to Qatar, which also received Erdogan's endorsement. 
The recent diplomatic fallout has exposed deep divisions among perceived allies which had mobilized around a common call to topple the Syrian government.
Frictions had already emerged over their support for assorted militant groups which have occasionally turned their arms against one another as they have fought for spheres of influence.

The file photo shows a general view of the main hall of the Turkish parliament in Ankara. (AFP photo)
Turkey's parliament approves a measure to deploy troops to a Turkish military base in Qatar amid a widening rift between the Arab country and neighbors in the Persian Gulf region.
The parliament approved the deployment on Wednesday with 240 lawmakers in favor, most of them from the ruling party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The deployment had been drafted before a spat surfaced between Qatar and three main allies in the Persian Gulf, namely Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The three countries, plus Egypt and the Maldives, have cut ties with Doha over what they call Qatar’s support for terrorism. Qatar has denied the allegation.
However, the debate on the legislation was moved up the agenda of the Turkish parliament while a separate bill was introduced to the chamber on increased military cooperation between Turkey and Qatar.
Turkey, which initially moved to mediate between the Arab countries, has declared its support for Qatar, rejecting claims that the country is financing terrorism.
Erdogan said on Tuesday that Qatar was a leading force in the regional fight against terror and criticized others for pursuing the policy of isolating the oil-rich country. He even hailed Qatar for a “cool-headed and constructive” stance in dealing with regional issues.
The vote in the Turkish parliament on Wednesday would be a fresh sign that Turkey is supporting Qatar in the dispute with the Saudis and allies.
Erdogan and other Turkish officials have said that they will continue efforts to resolve the dispute.
Turkey and Qatar signed an agreement in 2014 which allowed the construction of a Turkish base in Qatar. Officials say up to 3,000 Turkish troops could be deployed in Qatar as part of Ankara’s program to increase its military cooperation with Doha.

Taner Kilic, Amnesty International’s Turkey representative
Ankara has arrested Amnesty International’s point man on Turkey on suspicion of links to the US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen blamed for the 2016 abortive coup.
Taner Kilic was detained along with 22 other lawyers in the western city of Izmir on Tuesday, all on similar charges, the UK-based rights group cited a detention order as saying.
“We are calling on the Turkish authorities to immediately release Taner Kilic along with the other 22 lawyers, and drop all charges against them,” said the Amnesty’s Secretary General Salil Shetty in reaction.
It is not yet clear whether the rest of the arrestees were Amnesty’s personnel.
Gulen used to be Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s mentor and ally before disagreements arose between them.
He has been in self-imposed exile in the United States for decades, and now the Erdogan government accuses him of having masterminded the failed July 2016 coup against Ankara.
“Taner Kilic has a long and distinguished record of defending exactly the kind of freedoms that the Turkish authorities are now intent on trampling,” Shetty added, and said the arrests proved how “arbitrary” Ankara’s post-coup crackdown had become.
Amnesty International and Reporters without Borders’ activists pose with portraits of Turkish journalists detained in Turkey, holding up banners in front of the Turkish Embassy in Berlin on May 3, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
He was referring to sweeping apprehensions countrywide in the aftermath of the putsch.
Around 47,000 people have been placed in detention and more than 100,000 public sector employees summarily dismissed since the coup attempt.
Amnesty has been critical of Turkey’s post-coup purge. It published a 21-page report on May 22, censuring Turkey over the dismissal of thousands of public employees in the wake of the abortive coup.
It said Ankara’s heavy-handed crackdown has had a “catastrophic impact” on the lives of opposition figures and dissidents.

This file picture shows a view of the Turkish Foreign Ministry building in Ankara.
Turkey says it will revoke the citizenship of 130 overseas nationals, including the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, over allegations of terror activities and crimes against the constitutional order, unless they return to the Anatolian country within a three-month period beginning from June 5.
According to Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency, citing a notice by the Interior Ministry published in the Official Gazette on Monday, pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) legislators Faysal Sariyildiz and Tugba Hezer, and former HDP lawmaker Ozdal Ucer, were also included in the released list.
Shortly after the attempted coup in mid-July last year, Ankara blamed Gulen of masterminding and orchestrating the botched putsch, in which some 250 people lost their lives and about 2,200 sustained injuries. However, Gulen, 76, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, since 1999 and strongly opposes Ankara, denies any involvement in the coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Furthermore, the Turkish government, has branded the Gulen's movement, as the "Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO)." Ankara has also tried for a number of times to convince Washington to extradite Gulen, but all to no avail.  
A few days after the coup attempt, Turkey imposed a state of emergency, under which 150,000 people, most of whom accused of supporting the so-called FETO, have been sacked or suspended from the public sector, including teachers, academics, doctors and members of the armed forces. The state of emergency has been renewed three times.
More than 50,000 people have also been imprisoned on suspicion of having links to the coup and the FETO.
US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen
The notice further said the suspects should return to Turkey within the time limit and apply to the "relevant authorities" upon their arrival.
More than a dozen of HDP's legislators are already behind bars in Turkey, including opposition party's co-leaders, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, facing hundreds of years inside for alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is perceived by Ankara as a terrorist group and is in a middle of a bloody war with the Turkish government.
Meanwhile, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu claimed that a trend had commenced in Europe for spy agencies to employ journalists for espionage activities.
Turkish top diplomat, who made the remarks during a joint presser with his German counterpart in Ankara, also commented on the case of German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel, whom Turkey held in police custody in February over a charge of spreading terrorist propaganda.
"Our independent judiciary is carrying out the process. The judiciary will make the decision on Yucel," Cavusoglu added.
Ankara is under fire, both inside and outside of the country, for mounting heavy post-coup crackdown. Turkish authorities argue that measures are necessary due to the gravity of the failed putsch, however, critics President Erdogan is using the coup as a pretext to muzzle dissent and purge opponents.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (L) and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu give a press conference in Ankara, on June 5, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Turkey says it will continue to prevent German lawmakers from visiting Incirlik Air Base, with Germany responding that it would pull out its troops from the key NATO base in the Anatolian country.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Monday made it clear for German leaders that Ankara would definitely not allow German legislators to visit the base, which has been at the center of a dispute between the two NATO allies for the past three weeks.
The top Turkish diplomat made the remarks at a joint press conference with his German opposite number Sigmar Gabriel in the Turkish capital of Ankara, suggesting another base in the Middle Eastern country for German lawmakers to visit.
"Right now it is possible to visit the NATO base in Konya (in central Turkey), not Incirlik," Cavusoglu further noted, adding, "Conditions are not ripe right now to visit Incirlik."
The fresh diplomatic row broke out between the two NATO member states on May 15, when Berlin announced that Ankara had turned down a request for German lawmakers to visit their country's troops at Incirlik Air Base. German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the time denounced the Turkish government's decision and described it as "unacceptable."
Germany has more than 250 troops deployed to Incirlik, using the airbase for flying Tornado jets over Syria and refueling flights as part of the US-led coalition allegedly battling the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.
This file photo taken on July 28, 2015, shows a military aircraft on the runway at Incirlik Air Base, on the outskirts of the city of Adana, southeastern Turkey. (Photo by AFP)
On May 16, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim officially unveiled the reason behind Incirlik's decision, saying Germany was free to choose Turkey or coup plotters. He referred to Berlin’s move to grant political asylum to several hundreds of military officials and alleged supporters of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for staging the failed coup in July 2016. Furthermore, Ankara has branded the Gulen movement, as the "Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO)."
Echoing Yildirim's argument, Cavusoglu further said at the presser that Ankara would not like to "see members of FETO" had taken a sanctuary inside "friendly" Germany. He also maintained that some facts could not be ignored, adding that over 400 Turkish diplomatic or official passport holders, all linked to FETO, had allegedly received asylum in the European country.
However, Cavusoglu, without giving details, requested Berlin's cooperation with Ankara over the issue, saying, "If Germany takes one step forward toward us, we will always take two steps further."
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (L) and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu give a press conference in Ankara, on June 5, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The German foreign minister, whose visit to Turkey was mainly paid in an attempt to resolve the current dispute and try to pave the way for German legislators to visit the air base, for his part, said that he regretted Ankara's decision. “Turkey has made clear that, for domestic political reasons, it cannot approve visits of all lawmakers,” he said.
Gabriel went on to say that Ankara "must understand that in this situation, we must transfer German soldiers out of Incirlik.”
On May 20, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen proposed the possibility of moving Incirlik-based German troops to an airbase in Jordan if the Turkish ban lingered on.
But Gabriel on Monday maintained that no decision whatsoever had yet been made or "concrete plan" drafted for the relocation of the German soldiers from Incirlik.
“In this situation, the Bundestag (parliament) will ask the government to find another location for the German soldiers in Incirlik” he added.
This file photo taken on January 21, 2016 shows German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen chatting with soldiers during a visit to the German Armed Forces Bundeswehr at the air base in Incirlik, Turkey.
Meanwhile, Premier Yildirim's office cancelled a planned meeting with the German minister, citing Yildirim's "busy schedule."
Last month, Germany, the European Union’s most powerful country, had threatened that it might withdraw its troops from Incirlik if Turkey kept denying German lawmakers access to the site, a warning that did not have any effect on Ankara's firm stance.
Turkey-Germany relations worsened soon after a chain of diplomatic rows. Berlin has severely criticized Ankara for a widespread crackdown that began in the wake of the coup attempt and has so far affected hundreds of thousands of people.
Turkey, for its part, severely criticized German authorities' decision to prevent a number of Turkish ministers from holding rallies to secure a 'Yes' vote in the April 16 referendum on expanding the powers of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, citing public safety concerns.
Berlin seems to be more willing to repair ties with Ankara in the face of the current row. Turkey is perceived by Germany as an important country, in part because of some three million ethnic Turks in the European country, by far the largest Turkish diaspora community in the world, after a "gust worker" program initiated in the 1960s and 1970s.

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