Syria Tomb Operation: A Change In Turkish Policy?

Turkish army vehicles drive through the Syrian town of Kobani during an operation to evacuate soldiers guarding the Suleyman Shah mausoleum in northern Syria.

About 600 Turkish troops entered into Syria to save the tomb of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of Ottoman Empire founder Osman I, located about 20 miles south of the Syrian city of Kobani.

The operation, described by Damascus as an act of “flagrant aggression”, was meant to rescue a number of Turkish soldiers and move the tomb.

The Turkish government said it did not seek the permission of anyone in Syria but had informed the coalition fighting ISIS, according to Al Jazeera.

Could this signal similar operations in future?

Brawl In Turkish Paliament

Turkish lawmakers got into an fight during the first day of debate over a homeland security bill, with people throwing office chairs and gavels, leaving five people seriously injured.

The fighting took place early on Wednesday, February 18th, during a closed-door session as opposition political parties proposed motions to delay the beginning of their debate, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.

Lawmaker Mahmut Tanal, who was hit, described the fighting as unprecedented.

According to lawmaker Ertugrul Kurkcu, the fighting legislators threw chairs and used the assembly’s gavel and bell to hit others.

The brawl comes amid tensions between the opposition and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) over the security bill that the government is pushing for an approval, according to Press TV.

Press TV: “Under the bill, which was presented to the parliament last month, the prime minister of the country and other cabinet ministers would be able to shut down websites for reasons including ‘national security’ without a court order.

“The legislation would also expand certain powers of the police, which would allow officers to conduct searches during protests and to detain people for up to 48 hours without a prosecutor’s authorization. In addition, the police would be permitted to use firearms to prevent an attack in public against people using Molotov cocktails or other similar weapons.”

Secular Talk

Did Turkey Provide Weapons To ISIS?

In another twist to the complicated system of allies and enemies of the Middle East, an Islamic State fighter currently under trial in a Turkish high criminal court has implicated Turkey’s state intelligence service in the willful transfer of weapons and military hardware to the terror organization.  This was reported by Today’s Zaman on Monday.

Turkey is also a NATO ally of the U.S.

Mehmet Askar, who was detained together with another 11 suspects belonging to Islamic State and other jihadist groups revealed that in 2011, a planned transfer of arms was hampered by the capture of a key border town by the Syrian army, blocking the route often used to infiltrate the war-torn Arab country.

Askar’s accomplice, Haisam Toubalijeh, also known as Keysem Topalca, who was involved in a weapons transfer thwarted in 2013 by Turkish forces, reassured him that contacts inside MIT, Turkey’s intelligence organization, would help facilitate the movement of the cache, which included some 100 NATO rifles across the border.


Who Was Hrant Dink?


Hrant Dink was a highly-esteemed Turkish-Armenian editor-in-chief of weekly Agos. According to Wikipedia, Agos is an Armenian bilingual weekly newspaper published in Istanbul, Turkey.

Dink was murdered in broad daylight in front of his newspaper’s building on January 19th, 2007, by a 17-year-old Turkish nationalist. The triggerman, Ogün Samast, was convicted of premeditated murder and sentenced to 22 years and 10 months of prison after a two-year trial.

The trial into the murder resumed Sept. 17, 2013, after the Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that all suspects in the case had acted as part of a criminal organization, rather than individually.

Istanbul’s 5th High Criminal Court, which is overseeing the case, announced on Oct. 30, 2014, that it will focus on the “criminal organization” allegations against suspects, a move that lawyers representing the victim’s family have demanded since the start of the retrial.

Yusuf Hayal and Erhan Tuncel are accused of convincing Samast in Trabzon to shoot Dink.

Turkey’s Constitutional Court stated that civil servants and institutions allegedly implicated in the murder of Dink should be investigated. Its detailed ruling on the case was on Nov. 12, 2014.

Thousands of people recently have taken to the streets of Istanbul to commemorate the death Dink, who was shot eight years ago on January 19th, 2007.

Turkish President: Charlie Hebdo Guilty Of Provoking Muslims, Inciting Racial Hatred

The Turkish President Erdogan, continues to make waves with his public comments in the wake of the Paris terrorist atrocities last week.

Erdogan was quoted by the AFP news agency as telling a group of businessmen in Ankara that Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical newspaper whose cartoonists and writers were targeted by jihadist gunmen last week, was guilty of “wreaking terror by intervening in the freedom space of others.”

According to the Jerusalem Post, the first edition of Charlie Hebdo since the killing of 12 of its staff members at its central Paris offices last week aroused anger across the Muslim world, since it depicts the Prophet Mohammed shedding a tear while holding a sign that reads, “Je suis Charlie.”

“This magazine (is) notorious for its provocative publications about Muslims, about Christians, about everyone,” Erdogan is reported to have said.

The Turkish leader said that Charlie Hebdo abused its freedom of expression in order to insult an entire religious group.

“They may be atheists,” Erdogan said of the Charlie Hebdo journalists. “If they are, they will respect what is sacred to me. If they do not, it means provocation which is punishable by laws. What they do is to incite hatred, racism.”

Turkey Bombs PKK Kurdish Rebels


Is Turkey bombing the wrong people?

In yet another twist to the war against ISIS, Turkish F-16 and F-4 warplanes have bombed Kurdish PKK rebel targets near the Iraqi border, as their ceasefire comes under increasing strain.

This comes as Kurdish forces have been fighting ISIS at the town of Kobane and Turkey has refused to join the fight against ISIS. Kurds are furious at Turkey’s inaction as Islamic State militants attack the Syrian border town.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organisation by the EU and the US and has links to Syrian Kurdish militia fighting against ISIS, the YPG.

Turkey has been reluctant to join US-led coalition against ISIS despite U.S. insistence. Yesterday the government made a surprise u-turn denying Washington the use of its air bases to attack the Islamist group.

Its main concern was linked to the possibility of Turkish and Syrian Kurds fighting together against ISIS, laying out the foundation of a future independent state.

Fighters from the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) have been aiding Kurdish YPG militia in Kobane and Turkey has refused to help supply its long-standing enemy with weapons or allow Kurdish fighters to enter Syria.

Both sides have been observing a truce and it is the first major air raid on the PKK since March 2013.

It was the first major airstrike against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militia since peace talks started two years ago, and the F-16 and F-4 jets fighter jets hit rebel targets in Diyarbakır province.

The Turkish General Staff said the Kurdish militants were involved in “assassination, armed incidents and attacks on security bases” in the wake of a nationwide wave of Kurdish unrest last week, Hurriyet newspaper reported.

The ISIS offensive on northern Syria has already caused 150,000 Syrian Kurds to flee to Turkey, heaping pressure on the Nato member to intervene, amid fears that Kobane’s fall might result in the massacre of civilians.

The standoff over Kobane has also endangered and could ultimately destroy a fragile two-year-old peace process with the PKK. That began as an initiative of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to end a 30-year-old insurgency by militants who are demanding greater autonomy and Kurdish rights.

Last week, the jailed leader of the PKK Abdullah Ocalan, who is serving a life sentence on the Imrali prison island, said in a statement that the peace process with Turkey will be over if ISIS takes over Kobane.

i24, Guardian, WSJ: Turkey may offer ‘military help’ to fight against I.S.

The Guardian stated:  “Turkey could give military or logistical support to US-led air strikes against Islamic State insurgents in Syria, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was quoted as saying on Tuesday.”

i24 News:  “Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday welcomed US-led air strikes against Islamic State (IS) jihadists in Syria, saying Ankara could provide military or logistical support for the campaign.

“‘I look at it (the air strikes) in a positive way. It would be wrong if they stopped. This roadmap should be continued,’ he told Turkish reporters in New York in comments broadcast by Turkish television.”

The Wall Street Journal stated that Turkey’s President Erdogan said Sunday that the release of 49 hostages held by Islamic State had removed the main obstacle to joining a U.S.-led coalition against the extremist group, spurring hopes that Ankara would take a more robust role.