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Arming the Syrian Opposition Is No Solution

Mar 29, 2013 | Comments Off

No one seems to have a clear road map as to how to end the bloodshed in Syria. Just a quick recap to what happened in the past week is enough to illustrate how the international community has been unable to find a solution. The Arab League decided to arm the Syrian rebels on Tuesday [March 26], but the New York Times revealed two days earlier on Sunday that Turkey and the Arab governments had already been sending arms to the rebels with the blessings of the US for the past year — despite the White House statements claiming that they are against providing lethal weapons to the rebels. In the meantime, during an informal meeting [March 22] discussing how to bring an end to the Bashar al-Assad regime, 25 of the 27 foreign ministers of EU member countries remained opposed to the proposal by France and the UK to lift sanctions and allow arms delivery to the Syrian rebels, while Russia insisted on a politically negotiated settlement to see through this crisis.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/03/arming-syrian-opposition.html#ixzz2R0jhNYPR

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Did Turkey Deport Syrians?

Mar 28, 2013 | Comments Off

“Syria is as important as our domestic affairs,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Jan. 19. His government put strong emphasis on the moral responsibility that Turkey has in caring for the nearly 200,000 Syrians who fled to Turkey for safety from the atrocities of the Bashar al-Assad regime, but a recent incident at a Syrian refugee camp risks putting Turkey’s good name on the line and has the potential to cause some international repercussions.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/03/turkey-denies-deporting-600-syrian-refugees.html#ixzz2R0jNZWdq

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Turkey’s Top Religious Official Backtracks on Critique of Izmir

Mar 27, 2013 | Comments Off

When someone says something and then feels that it needs an explanation, it is a clear signal that something is wrong.

That is exactly what happened to Mehmet Gormez, Director of Religious Affairs. What he touched upon was something so sensitive that it mirrored all the arguments concerning what Turkish democracy really means if the state is controlling religious practices, and whether there is a way forward under an Islamist-oriented ruling party for people to also exercise the right of freedom from religion. In a free society after all, everyone should be free to choose how they reach God, or not.

“Izmir has a different kind of religiosity. This religiosity is in need of wisdom of the [religious] traditions,” Gormez said on Tuesday [March 26] when he addressed the members of his directorate in Izmir. “Therefore, it is no coincidence that a mufti raised by this [religious] tradition of wisdom is appointed to Izmir.”

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/03/turkey-izmir-religious-freedom.html#ixzz2R0iq3NgQ

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Kurdish Politicians Ask Erdogan For Assurances in Talks With PKK

Mar 25, 2013 | Comments Off

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan remains cautious in engaging Turkish parliament in any way on the steps taken in talks with the jailed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan, which got under way in Oct. 2012, and denies sharing direct information with any of the parliamentary political parties on this issue. While the Erdogan government stresses that the process is very sensitive and needs encouragement and support from all segments of society, Gultan Kisanak, pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chairwoman, however, is asking for legal guarantees that they will not face any legal ramifications for helping the government’s initiative, and therefore, calls for assurances acknowledged and approved by parliament.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/03/bdp-turkish-kurdish-ceasefire-legal-guarantees.html#ixzz2OdwIqaey

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Syrian Crisis Plays Major Role In Israeli Apology

Mar 24, 2013 | Comments Off

The rapprochement between Turkey and Israel on Friday [March 22] included an official apology from Israel — an attempt to make amends for the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident. And while some will see the apology as a clear victory for Turkey over the Jewish state, the truth is that this diplomatic development is a way to keep Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan both on the side of the United States and Israel, and in line.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/03/israel-apology-turkey-flotilla-syrian-crisis.html#ixzz2OaJsOf00

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Obama Brokers Apology From Netanyahu to Erdogan

Mar 22, 2013 | Comments Off

Much has been said about whether US President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel and the West Bank this week served any good for revamping the peace process.

While the jury is still out on what happens with the peace process, Obama will return to Washington from his Middle East tour with one solid victory.
Turkey and Israel decided on Friday [March 22] to renew their friendship for the sake of regional security and stability, and therefore agreed to put behind their differences over the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/03/netanyahu-apology-erdogan-gaza-flotilla-obama-trip.html#ixzz2OaJTwpec

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Ocalan Calls For ‘New Era’ In Turkish-Kurdish Relations

Mar 21, 2013 | Comments Off

Jailed Kurdistan Workers Party [PKK] leader Abdullah Ocalan’s Newroz message to a large crowd in Diyarbakir on March 21 revealed some significant overlaps with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s lecture in the same city at Dicle University on March 15 asking Kurds to give their full support to the government’s new initiative and aiming to end the bloodshed in the country.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/03/ocalan-turkey-talks-new-era-kurdish-issue.html#ixzz2OaIvXtUD

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Erdogan Softens Zionism Remarks As Obama Lands in Israel

Mar 20, 2013 | Comments Off

As US President Barack Obama arrived in Israel on March 20, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan began an official visit to Denmark with an effort to clarify the controversial remarks he made on Feb. 27 at a UN conference in Vienna referring to Zionism as a crime against humanity. “Let no one misunderstand what I said. Everyone knows that my criticism [of Israel] focuses on some critical issues. It’s directed especially toward Israeli policies on Gaza,” Erdogan said in an interview with Politiken, a Danish newspaper. “As long as Israel denies Palestinians the right to statehood, our criticisms will continue. On the other hand, we have recognized Israel’s existence within 1967 borders based on a two-state solution.”

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/03/erdogan-zionism-remarks-obama-israel-visit.html#ixzz2OaIarEuH

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Resignation Signals New Low For Turkish Journalism

Mar 19, 2013 | Comments Off

The state of the freedom of the media in Turkey has sunk to a new low with Hasan Cemal’s resignation from the daily newspaper Milliyet. Since Milliyet broke the biggest scoop on the latest talks between the government and the imprisoned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan the tension could not be contained. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan publicly slammed Milliyet for reporting Ocalan’s side of the approach to the talks, and considered it an attempt to sabotage the successful ending of the bloodshed in the name of the Kurdish rights in the country.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/03/turkey-freedom-of-press-milliyet-journalist-cemal-resigned.html#ixzz2OaIG6C9n

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Uncertainty Lingers Over Turkey’s Negotiations with Ocalan

Mar 18, 2013 | Comments Off

Speculation abounds as to what (and how) Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan will or will not say on March 21, when Kurds in Turkey mark Newroz, their new year’s celebration. A most likely scenario is that Ocalan will reassert that he is in direct negotiations with the Turkish government to gain constitutional guarantees for Kurdish rights and that it is time to end the use of violence as a tactic in the Kurdish movement in Turkey.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/03/turkey-negotiations-ocalan.html#ixzz2OaHin7I5

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