MENA WATCH NEWS : PKK DEUTSCHLAND MIT SYMPATHIEN ZUR RAF !

5.9.2021 – Mit einem Interview der Herausgeberin Gisela Dutzi weist der Kurdistan Report auf das neu erschienene Buch „Briefwechsel“ hin. Zwischen Christa Eckes, eine ehemalige Gefangene aus der RAF, und Hüseyin Çelebi,

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MENA WATCH NEWS : EN ROUTE ALEMANIA – Die Türkei als Etappenziel nach Europa – UN rechnen mit über 500.000 Flüchtlingen aus Afghanistan

Die EU wollte eigentlich, dass Menschen aus Afghanistan in den Nachbarländern versorgt werden, wenn sie vor den Taliban fliehen. An der türkischen Ostgrenze zeigt sich: Das ist wohl eine Illusion.  Ozan Demircan HANDELSBLATT 4.9.2021

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MENA WATCH NEWS : Turkish President Erdoğan: ‘We Have No Hesitation At All In Getting The Second Shipment’ Of S-400s; Central Asian Countries ‘May Want To Join Together As Partners In The Positive Steps That The Taliban Will Take’

   

On August 29, 2021, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke to Turkish journalists about the second shipment to Turkey of the Russian S-400 air defense system, Turkey’s relations with the Taliban and a possible Turkey-Taliban agreement on the joint management of Hamid Karzai International Airport, and a forthcoming new law to prevent what he calls “lying terrorism” by the opposition parties in Turkey. Erdoğan spoke to the journalists on a flight returning from a diplomatic trip to the Balkans in which he visited Bosnia Herzegovina and North Macedonia. This report will review some of his statements.

“We Have No Hesitation At All In Getting The Second Shipment” Of S-400s

Following a June 11, 2021 meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and President Erdoğan on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Brussels, President Erdoğan said that he had told Biden: “As Turkey, do not expect us to change course, either on the F-35 or on the S-400, because we did our part for the F-35.” Following the same line, Erdoğan recently announced that Turkey would be getting a second shipment of S-400s from Russia, a decision that has been criticized by some in the opposition press. In the August 29 meeting with journalists on his plane, he said of the S-400: “On the subject of Russia, we have no hesitation at all in getting the second shipment [of S-400s]. We have many steps [taken] with Russia, be it on the matter of the S-400 or concerning the defense industry.”

“If [The Taliban] Take Care Of The Security, Then If Many People Are Killed There, How Are We Going To Explain This To The World?”

President Erdoğan also spoke to journalists about relations between his government and the Taliban as the group establishes its governance of Afghanistan. Among other Turkish military personnel in Afghanistan, there had been 600 Turkish soldiers stationed at the airport in Kabul. Following Biden and Erdoğan’s June meeting, the two leaders agreed on Turkey’s role in securing the airport following the withdrawal of American military forces from Afghanistan. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said after the meeting: “The clear commitment from the leaders was established that Turkey would play a lead role in securing Hamid Karzai International Airport and we are now working through how to execute to get to that.” An article in the Turkish press reported that “those with news of the meeting” were saying that Erdoğan agreed to secure the airport in exchange for, among other things, U.S. recognition of Turkey’s positions in Libya and Nagorno Karabagh, and U.S.-Turkey cooperation in Idlib.

The prospect of Turkish troops remaining in Afghanistan after an American withdrawal provoked a brotherly yet uncompromising response from the Taliban, who have insisted that all foreign troops leave Afghanistan in accordance with the agreement signed in Doha in February 2020 and threatened military action against Turkish forces. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid also said: “We want to see Turkey as Turkey, not as a part of NATO. Turkey is treating us like it treats the Syrian opposition. Whereas, at the least we want a relationship like [that of Turkey’s relationship with] Libya. We want to meet with President Tayyip Erdoğan. Erdoğan is a very distinguished leader for us and for the world of Islam. We want to share the realities of Afghanistan with him.” In the past week, there have been claims in the Turkish press that Turkey and the Taliban are close to an agreement over the joint management of the airport. However on August 29, it was reported that the Taliban had said that “it is still early” for such an agreement. On August 31, spokesman Mujahid said to Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu Ajansı: “We want Turkey’s support to continue. To have good relations with Turkey is one of our goals. The people and government of Turkey are our friends. There are many reasons for this friendship to continue.”

It is in this context that President Erdoğan said to journalists on August 29: “What does the Taliban say about the airport issue? [they say]: ‘We’ll handle the security and you handle the operation [of the airport].’ How can we let you handle the security? If you take care of the security, then if many people are killed there, how are we going to explain this to the world? This is not an easy task. We talked about such things, and then just the next day close to 200 people died.” He was likely referring to the August 27 twin suicide bombing at the airport that killed over 100 people, including 13 U.S. service members.

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MENA WATCH ANALYSIS : BY CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT – RUSSIA BACK IN MIDDLE EAST !

1.9.2021 – Russia may be back in the Middle East, but is it a truly strategic player? The picture is decidedly mixed. After abandoning most of its presence in the Levant and North Africa during the late 1980s, the Kremlin has alarmed Western policymakers in recent years by filling power vacuums and exploiting the missteps of the United States and the European states. Moscow panders to the insecurities and ambitions of local regimes, trying to enrich itself along the way. While Russian activism is part of a broader push for great power status, most of its policies are rooted more in opportunism than grand strategy.

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MENA NEWS WATCH : Turkey’s economy grows at record pace after virus contraction

Ahval – Sep 01 2021 – Turkey’s economy grew by a record 21.7 percent annually in the second quarter after posting a contraction at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

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MENA WATCH NEWS :Erdogan lobt den Kampf seiner Taliban-Brüder

„Die Überzeugungen der Türkei stehen nicht im Widerspruch zu denen der Taliban.“ Mit diesem Satz sorgte der türkische Präsident Recep Tayyip Erdogan kürzlich für Aufregung. Die Türkei stehe an der Seite ihrer „afghanischen Brüder gegen alle imperialistischen Kräfte“, sagte er Ende Juli.” Von Aron Sperber 31.8.2021

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MESOP NEWS : AFGHAN FENCES Turkey bolsters special ops division at border to block Afghan migrants

AHVAL – Aug 24 2021 Turkey has intensified security measures at its border with Iran to stem the flow of Afghans fleeing the Taliban.

A special operations division of the Security Directorate has received night vision cameras, dozens of armoured vehicles, drones, thermal cameras and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to keep the Iranian border secure, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said on Tuesday.

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THE TURKISH COUNTERTERRORISM FACTSHEET TWO DECADES AFTER 9/11- THE SOUFAN CENTER

Monday, August 23, 2021
Bottom Line Up Front:

 

  • The events of 9/11 encouraged al-Qaeda attacks in Turkey and led to the rise of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS), issues that majorly impacted Ankara’s foreign and security policy.
  • U.S.-Turkey relations suffered in the post-9/11 era as a result of the power vacuum in northern Iraq, which helped the PKK gain a stronger foothold and divergence over the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
  • The gradual advances of militant Wahhabi-Salafi ideology and the lack of comprehensive repatriation plans for foreign fighters in Turkey’s regional proximity are major issues in the country’s future security agenda.
  • For Turkey, the diminishing U.S. military presence in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan may engender security and socioeconomic concerns about new waves of refugees, making the issue a Turkish policy priority.

 

Of the countries most affected by the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001, Turkey quite likely makes the top five. The country not only experienced al-Qaeda-linked attacks and arrests in 9/11’s aftermath, but also dealt with the secondary consequences of the attacks with respect to Turkey’s regional policies; domestic terror incidents; local, regional, and global counterterrorism efforts; and the country’s foreign military and diplomatic engagement. Al-Qaeda’s transformation into a decentralized network, combined with jihadist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s move toward Northern Iraq —where he would sow the seeds of the so-called Islamic State and the export of the al-Qaeda brand to Iraq and Syria —deeply impacted Turkey, both inside and outside its borders.

While U.S.-Turkey relations were initially strong following the 9/11 attacks, a series of events later strained relations between the nations. After 9/11, Turkey was one of the first countries to condemn the attacks and support the discourse and implementation of the so-called Global War on Terror. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks, Turkey opened its airspace for flights in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and later took over the command of the United Nations-mandated and NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) military mission in Afghanistan twice. The U.S.-Turkey relationship became strained in 2003 and 2004 following Turkey’s rejection of direct involvement in the U.S. invasion of northern Iraq. This rejection came at a time when Turkey was struggling with an economic crisis, and the Iraq invasion became one of the first and most significant tests of the new Turkish government. Relations continued to suffer as the overall power vacuum in Iraq allowed al-Qaeda, ISIS, and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to find safe havens and sanctuary in the region, which was crucial to the PKK’s survival, particularly after its leader Abdullah Öcalan was captured in 1999. The public image of the U.S. in Turkey seriously suffered from not only PKK and northern Iraq-related tensions, but also the abuses uncovered from the Abu Ghraib Prison scandal.

The Syrian Civil War provided fertile ground for al-Qaeda and ISIS recruitment and operations. Turkey’s domestic and cross-border engagement with ISIS and the spill-over of People’s Protection Units (YPG) and ISIS fighting in Syria resulted in ISIS attacks on Turkish soil. These attacks included but were not limited to the Ankara Train Station attack of late 2015; the mid-2016 attack at the İstanbul Atatürk Airport; the Gaziantep wedding attack of August 2016; and the mass shooting at an İstanbul nightclub on New Year’s Eve 2017. Additionally, Turkey was forced to deal with hundreds of YPG rocket attacks to its border towns and increased number of PKK attacks. The local, regional, and global dynamics of the Syrian Civil War also had a direct impact on Turkey’s relations with other actors such as Russia and the U.S., as evidenced by the YPG divergence; S-400 purchase and F-35 crisis—of which Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CATSAA) and NATO-related concerns still prevail—and cross-border operations, during which Turkey experienced varying levels of tension with both Moscow and Washington. Additionally, in order to take advantage of the regional instabilities, Iran’s opportunistic moves to empower its proxies in the region also plagued the two countries’ bilateral relationship and inflamed the rivalry over regional superiority.

Turkey’s counterterrorism portfolio has also expanded and improved since 9/11. Over the past two decades, Turkey has combated a myriad of groups, including the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C), the PKK, al-Qaeda, and ISIS, among others. Accordingly, Turkey has been forced to re-evaluate and upgrade its counterterrorism toolkit. From this toolkit emerged policies and tactics such as stricter border controls, counter-narrative efforts, effective use of Advance Passenger Information (API) data, entry-bans and risk analysis units, intensified domestic law-enforcement efforts, and cross-border operations—all of which Turkey had to devise and implement quickly as the Syrian Civil War erupted across the border. The country has also been an active player in international efforts as the first co-chair of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) and a member of the D-ISIS coalition and its Foreign Terrorist Fighters Working Group. Lastly, Turkey proved to be one of the most effective NATO allies on the ground with its several cross-border operations, including Euphrates Shield, which cleared ISIS’s presence on the Turkish border and crippled some of the group’s key strongholds.

The prestige afforded to al-Qaeda and its militant Salafi brand after the 9/11 attacks also impacted Turkey’s interests outside of its regional proximity. For example, the militant Salafi brand spread to the African continent where Turkey had deepened its diplomatic and military engagement. Over the past two decades, Turkey has been forced to grapple not only with al-Qaeda, but also its offshoots and affiliates like ISIS, Boko Haram, and Al-Shabaab. Furthermore, Turkey’s ethnic and religious ties with Central Asia adds an additional front where Wahhabi-Salafi interpretations and their violent manifestations need to be monitored, which has been a concern for Turkey in the Caucasus and the Balkans since at least the 1990s. At the same time, the country must keep an eye on its efforts to absorb and manage the massive refugee influx resulting from the civil wars and insurgencies plaguing its neighbors. Additionally, ongoing global hesitancy concerning the repatriation of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) has also become a major issue on Turkey’s security agenda.

The diminishing U.S. military presence in Iraq and Syria raises concerns that power vacuums could grow and benefit various terrorist groups. Additionally, the U.S. troop withdrawal and Taliban takeover in Afghanistan will undoubtedly provide opportunities for al-Qaeda due in no small measure to its close links with the Taliban. And since Turkey has been a key destination for Afghan refugees, new refugee waves resulting from a U.S. withdrawal could also raise security concerns and stoke negative social and economic fallout. However, Turkey should prepare itself for the possible mid- to long-term consequences of the return of FTFs or insurgents currently hiding out in Turkey, who offer continuing logistical support to ISIS and against whom arrests have been made almost on a daily basis in the last several years. Given the challenges of collecting accountable battlefield evidence, prison sentences are relatively short, and repatriation of FTFs seems to be the exception rather than the norm, which might well help the next generation of militant Salafi terrorists to rise.

Overall, due to the Wahhabi-Salafi encirclement risk, the direct threat to its soft and hard power instruments from Africa to the Balkans and Caucasus, the migrant flows from Afghanistan, and the fate of FTFs in Iraq and Syria, Turkey will remain at the forefront of the global fight against terrorism. This reality not only requires Turkey’s security structure to consolidate and deepen its active engagement in and out of its borders, it also highlights the importance of the country’s future posture in the international system. It will be important to watch how key players approach Turkey’s fight against terrorism, and how its relations with NATO, the U.S., Russia, and even China, will play out on the global stage.

 

Guest Author:

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Goktug Sonmez – Director; Center for Middle Eastern Studies (ORSAM), Security Studies/ Faculty Member, Necmettin Erbakan University (Turkey) focuses on Radicalization and Terrorism, Non-State Armed Actors, and Turkish Foreign Policy. He publishes, comments, and teaches on those subjects in various national and international outlets and universities. 

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MESOP NEWS : PKK Turns Refugee Camp into Base with Military Court

ERBIL — The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has turned a refugee camp into a military base with a military court as well, preventing the UN and other agencies from opening their offices in there.

More than 12,000 Kurdish refugees from Turkey are based in Makhmour camp which is located in the territories disputed between Erbil and Baghdad. The PKK fighters are also present at the camp, a Kurdish official said.

 

According to the information BasNews has learned, the PKK has been turning the Makhmour camp into a military base since 2014 when the Islamic State (IS) emerged in Iraq and the war against the jihadist group began. In 2017, BasNews revealed that the PKK had closed all offices belonging to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the United Nations.

Outlawed armed groups run some bases in the camp

On Wednesday, 18 August, 2021, Dindar Zebari, KRG’s Coordinator for International Advocacy, responded to a statement by a PKK-affiliated organization, which had criticized the deteriorated humanitarian situation in the camp, and pointed out that the KRG has no offices in the camp while it allows the movement of citizens from the camp to Erbil and vice versa.

He also noted that despite the fact that the number of refugees at Makhmour camp continues to increase, the KRG has no official registration of the refugees’ identities, revealing that there are some bases in Makhmour camp which are run by outlawed armed groups.

Although the refugee camp is recognized by the UNHCR, it has no offices in the camp currently, but the Mosul branch of the UNHCR visits the camp from time to time, the KRG official added.

The camp refugees hold no official Iraqi identity documents

According to available statistics by the KRG, 928,674 IDPs and refugees have been registered until June 2021, with %30 of them living in the camps while the rest have chosen areas across the region for living. Refugees in Makhmour camp hold no official Iraqi identity documents.

Hundreds of PKK fighters present at the camp

The PKK has been focusing on the Makhmour camp over the past years, viewing it as a military base for training its fighters on one hand, and recruiting underage children on the other hand. Kirmanj Abdullah, a Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) official in the area, told BasNews in November 2020 that they spared no efforts to provide the refugees with a safe and comfortable life but that nearly 300 PKK fighters have been brought to the camp who have created a militarized environment for the locals.

Abdullah further revealed that the PKK has also established a court, and that they “kill and bury people alive while they have contact with the Hashd al-Shaabi.”

 

 

 

 

MESOP NEWS : ANTI SYRIAN RIOTS IN TURKEY

12.8.2021

“A Turk is the brother to a fellow Turk. Turks don’t have any brother other than a Turk,” said one of the locals after riots in Ankara where a Turkish boy was stabbed to death allegedly by 2 Syrians 

Syrian homes and businesses in Ankara attacked in riots after stabbing

Death of a Turkish man allegedly at the hands of Syrians triggered riots in city amid continued attacks by politicians against refugees

 

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