THE organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has said it is responding with serious concerns to the alleged chemical weapon assault in town of Douma,Syria

Reuters quoted the organisation’s head Ahmet Umzumcu as saying they were trying to see whether dozens of people were gassed to death in an attack.

The OPCW’s fact-finding mission, which was already investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria’s civil war, was gathering all available material to establish whether chemical weapons were used, it said in a statement

Part of the Hague-based OPCW’s work will be to clarify what chemical agent may have been used, including the possibility that a cocktail of toxins may have been dropped on the neighborhood.

The suspected attack over the weekend killed at least 60 people and injured more than 1,000, according to a Syria medical relief group said.

The Syrian government denied its forces had launched any chemical assault, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said such allegations were false and a provocation.

In Douma, witnesses spoke of smelling chlorine, while doctors said the symptoms looked more like that of a nerve agent.

Professor Raphael Pitti, a doctor who viewed videos taken at the scene, said patients appeared to have had convulsions more typical of sarin poisoning.

“Everything suggests that during the second attack, chlorine was used to conceal the use of sarin at the same time,” Pitti said

A doctor at the scene said some patients had also suffered from hemoptysis, or coughing up blood, a symptom that has never been seen in previous chemical attacks in Syria.

Saudi Arabian missile attack concerns SA

The South African Government says it is concerned about the attempted missile attack that targeted the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh.

The attempted missile attack on 25 March 2018 is the third such incident following similar attempts in November and December 2017.

The missiles are believed to have originated in Yemen.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation said South Africa shares the concern that the domestic conflict in Yemen is impacting on regional stability.

Furthermore, the missiles appear to have been destroyed over urban areas in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and have resulted in a casualty.

South Africa condemns any use of lethal force targeting civilian populations and calls upon the parties involved to respect international humanitarian law.

“South Africa reiterates its calls to all parties involved in the conflict in Yemen to demonstrate restraint and consider peaceful alternatives.

“We remain forthright in our belief that the only sustainable resolution will be a negotiated, Yemeni-led, inclusive and fair political settlement,” the department said.

[OPINION] Turkey’s Erdoğan enlists Tuaregs in his proxy battle

 

Turkey’s Erdoğan enlists Tuaregs in his proxy battle
Turkey’s Erdoğan enlists Tuaregs in his proxy battle

Abdullah Bozkurt/ Turkishminute.com

Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who helped destabilize Syria by supporting al-Qaeda-linked groups in Syria including the Nusra Front has been courting the Tuaregs for some time to create a new proxy group to promote his policies in the Sahel and North Africa regions, a worrying pattern that should raise red flags.

A visit to Turkey of 10 Tuareg sheikhs and leaders from Libya that started on April 1 is the latest example of a series of contacts that have been arranged by operatives of Erdoğan as part of efforts to woo the Tuaregs in recent years. The goal is to use Tuaregs — who enjoy considerable control over vast swaths of empty desert that are often exploited by kidnappers, drug traffickers and radical Islamists — for advancing the policies of the current Turkish government in general and the personal ambitions of the Turkish president in particular. Just like Gaddafi, who once manipulated the Tuaregs for his own policies, influence over the Tuaregs may provide Erdoğan with a new set of tools to blackmail a few African countries including Libya, Mali, Algeria and Niger and to hit back at Western allies.

The man who is in charge of the Tuareg file in the Turkish government is Emrullah İşler, the point man who Erdoğan has trusted with managing Libyan affairs since he was deputy prime minister in the previous government. İşler made several trips to Libya as a special envoy, often meeting with Islamist faction leaders as well as others. He was dubbed an apologist for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, ISIS or Daesh with its Arabic acronym) when he said ISIL is more humane because at least it does not torture its victims. He currently serves as chairman of the parliamentary Commission on Education, Youth and Sports. He was one of the planners of the visit of the Tuareg delegation to Turkey.

The Tuaregs’ schedule included meeting with İbrahim Kalın, an Islamist ideologue who works in the palace as Erdoğan’s spokesperson. He was rumored to be the next chief of Turkish intelligence agency MİT. On behalf of his boss, Kalın coordinates the activities of most Islamist groups abroad, often meeting with them in Ankara in order to advise and guide their operations. When the Turkish government hired shadowy lawyer Robert Amsterdam to go after Erdoğan’s main opponent, Fethullah Gülen, and his network of schools, Amsterdam was told to connect with Kalın to coordinate clandestine operations in Africa. According to verified email leaks from Erdoğan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak, Kalın was to provide contacts and resources developed by the Turkish government in Africa for the use of Amsterdam and his associates. This notorious lawyer even filed a frivolous lawsuit against Gülen in the US based on a complaint from al-Qaeda-affiliated Turkish group Tahsiyeciler, a group that is supported by Erdoğan, only to be tossed out by a US judge.

While the official Turkish government contacts with the Tuaregs are handled discreetly by İşler and Kalın, the second track contacts are maintained by a controversial charity group, the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri ve İnsani Yardım Vakfı, or IHH, in Turkish). The IHH, backed by Erdoğan and working closely with Turkish intelligence, was accused of smuggling arms to jihadist groups in Syria according to United Nations Security Council documents. The IHH was also involved in moving supplies to al-Qaeda groups in Syria according to a two-year-long confidential investigation file that was made public in January 2014. The Albayrak emails revealed how the IHH has been acting as a contractor in shipping arms to Libyan factions since 2011.

When the Tuareg delegation landed at İstanbul Atatürk Airport at 11 p.m. on April 1, it was IHH representatives led by member of the board of directors Ahmet Sarıkurt who met the group in the VIP section. Among the delegates was Moulay Iqdeedi Amaa Quineedi, president of the Libyan Supreme Tuareg, who has been a participant in tribal reconciliation efforts maintained by a Rome-based NGO called the Ara Pacis Initiative. Ahmad Matku Neenu Moustafa, Tuareg tribal sheikh, and Aboulbakr Alfaqi Anqidazin Abkidah, chairman of the Tuareg Cultural Assembly, were among the members of the delegation. On the first day of their weeklong stay in Turkey, the Tuaregs visited IHH headquarters to discuss Libyan matters.

As part of the program, on April 6, historian Fnayet Alkoni, a Tuareg who accompanied the delegation, delivered a speech on how the Tuaregs had helped expand Islam in Africa at an event organized by the IHH and the theology faculty of Istanbul University. He explained how France is to be blamed for divisions and separation among Tuaregs, who are scattered among several African countries. Because of 1960s nuclear arms experiments conducted by France in places where Tuaregs live, the environment was damaged, diseases were spread and underground water sources were contaminated, he noted.

To consolidate his position in the Sahel and North Africa, it is clear that Erdoğan has been courting the Tuaregs, who once enlisted their help with Libyan strongman Gaddafi in exchange for the use of Libyan territory for a rear base from which to organize, train and run operations in neighboring countries from Mali to Niger. Erdoğan offers political, diplomatic and military support that the Tuaregs need, given the state of affairs in the region, especially in Libya. Turkey’s strongman Erdoğan might have found new allies in this part of Africa just like he did in Syria, where he funded and armed diverse groups, from the Muslim Brotherhood to al-Qaeda factions. Considering how Syria was destabilized with Turkish Islamist intervention, one should be very concerned about the prospect of Erdoğan closely aligning with the Tuaregs in order to advance his caliphate ambitions in the Sahel and North Africa regions.

A confidential source I talked to from Africa last week expressed a different concern on these developing relations with the Tuaregs. He said a criminal syndicate in the Sahel was largely run by Tuareg tribes and that Erdoğan may very well use them to abduct his opponents, more specifically members of the Gülen movement, from African nations and kidnap Western nationals to put pressure on Turkey’s allies and partners and stir up trouble to keep them busy in a region that was already troubled with Islamist militants of al-Qaeda and Boko Haram. He said Erdoğan’s growing criticism of France and Ankara’s harsh rhetoric targeting French relations with Kurds in Syria may potentially develop into a proxy war in the Sahel between Turkey and France. Although there is no direct evidence to suggest that this may be happening, it is certainly worth a close monitoring of this front.

In any case, when the profiles of Turkish operatives in the first and second tracks that are involved in the engagement with the Tuaregs are looked at, there are ample reasons to be very much concerned about the prospect of these growing ties with African tribes. By the way, this would also be a great sell to Erdoğan’s core Islamist constituency in Turkey because the Tuaregs would be portrayed as pioneers in expanding Erdoğan’s proselytizing efforts in Africa, just like historian Alkoni told university students in the theology faculty, which trains the nation’s top clerics, imams and academics.

The Cape Law Society reacts Turkey’s mass arrest of legal professionals

The Cape Law Society issued the statement on Turkey’s mass arrest of judges, prosecutors and lawyers. This is the official statement:

THE CAPE LAW SOCIETY EXPRESSES CONCERN WITH WIDE SPREAD ARRESTS AND DETENTION OF JUDGES AND LAWYERS IN TURKEY

THE CAPE LAW SOCIETY EXPRESSES CONCERN WITH WIDE SPREAD ARRESTS AND DETENTION OF JUDGES AND LAWYERS IN TURKEY

The Cape Law Society (“CLS”) has noted with concern the wide spread and systemic arbitrary arrest and detention of judges and lawyers in Turkey.

Reliable reports indicate that since July 2016:

  • approximately 1525 lawyers have been prosecuted, 578 have been arrested and held in pre-trial detention and 99 have been sentenced;
  • more than 4400 judges and prosecutors have been investigated with over 2400 held in pre-trial detention;
  • legal professionals have been subjected to ill-treatment, torture and excessive solitary confinement; and
  • state officials have been granted immunity for acts of ill-treatment and torture committed during their scope of duties under state of emergency decrees.

These gross violations of international norms and standards are a violation of the independence of the judiciary and an erosion of the rule of law in Turkey, and are of extreme concern to the legal community in South Africa.  This conduct is accordingly condemned in the strongest terms possible and the government of Turkey is called upon to cease these unlawful practices with immediate effect.  The CLS calls on the international community of nations to express its displeasure at such conduct and to regard such conduct of the Turkish government as a gross violation of fundamental entrenched rights in international law.

 

Issued by:

Mr Lulama Lobi, President of The Cape Law Society

on behalf of the Council of The Cape Law Society

09 March 2018

The Cape Law Society

Tel: (021) 443 6700│Fax: (021) 443 6751/2│

Email: cls@capelawsoc.law.za│Website: www.capelawsoc.law.za

 

Swiss investigate alleged Turkish attempt to kidnap Gülen-linked businessman

 

Switzerland is investigating whether Turkish diplomats planned to drug and kidnap a Swiss-Turkish businessman as part of a crackdown after a 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, federal prosecutors said, according to a Reuters report on Wednesday.

The Swiss Tages-Anzeiger daily said one of the two diplomats linked to the plot to snatch the Swiss-based businessman — who was active in the Gülen movement, which Ankara blames for the coup bid — remained at their job in Bern while the other had since returned to Turkey.

“The Office of the Attorney General can confirm that in this context a criminal case is being conducted on suspicion of political intelligence gathering … and prohibited acts for a foreign state,” the OAG said in an emailed statement. The investigation began in March 2017, it added.

The OAG said it had asked the foreign ministry to clarify whether the suspects enjoyed diplomatic immunity now or at the time of the alleged crime. Waiving any immunity was necessary to carry out further investigations, it added.

The Turkish Embassy in Bern did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment from Reuters.

The OAG said a year ago that it had begun a criminal inquiry into possible foreign spying on Switzerland’s Turkish community.

Swiss intelligence got wind of the 2016 kidnapping plot while it was being hatched, Tages-Anzeiger reported, adding that the intended victim remains under police protection.

The military coup attempt killed 249 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Amid an ongoing witch-hunt targeting the Gülen movement, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Jan. 5 said 48,305 people were jailed in 2017 alone over Gülen movement links.

Turkish Minute 

80 women reportedly subjected to inhumane treatment at Mersin police station

At least 80 women, including high school and university students, were reportedly subjected to torture and other forms of ill treatment at the hands of officers at the Mersin police station, according to several Twitter accounts and media outlets.

The women were believed to be affiliated with the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

The alleged victims were reportedly detained by police from the Smuggling and Organized Crime Directorate (KOM) after “helping Gülenist families in need of food and resources” in Mersin province, according to a Twitter account named @Turkeydeiskence (Torture in Turkey).

The claim has neither been confirmed nor denied by the Turkish authorities.

The same Twitter account also tweeted that among the detainees are a mother and her 2-month-old infant who have been held in police custody for four days. Also, a 15-year-old high school student has been held in detention at the juvenile facility of the provincial police department.

The Twitter account also claimed that a lawyer representing the detainees fainted at the police department exit after witnessing the torture and ill treatment of their clients in police custody. (Turkey Purge)

Turkish Family Still Missing After Capsized Boat Incident On Turkish-Greek Border

 

Three members of Turkish family has gone missing after their boat capsized in the Evros/Meriç/Maritsa River, an incident that has already resulted in confirmed death of three members of another Turkish family. Both families were trying to escape the vicious witch-hunt persecution by Turkish government that targeted the vulnerable group Gülen movement.

According to a report by Turkish online news outlet TR724, the members of Doğan Family, Fahrettin Doğan (30), Aslı Doğan (28) and their son İbrahim Selim Doğan (3), who were on the same rubber boat together with drowned members of the Abdurrezzak Family, are missing.

It was also reported that the man, who could land on the Greek side by swimming, was a Turkish citizen and a Gülen movement volunteer Fatih Yaşar.

According to the information shared in the social media, Fatih Yaşar said that the person organizing the risky travel did not give life jackets to the members of Doğan and Abdurrezzak families. According to Yaşar, the boat crashed the trees, capsized and he managed to survive by clinging to the trees.

It was previously reported that Ayşe Abdurrezzak (37), who was dismissed from her teaching profession by a government decree and released by a Turkish court with judicial probe including an international travel ban after she detained for a while, was one of the three corpses found in the river. While the bodies of two boys and their mother were washed up onto the shore of the river, the other 4 people are still missing. Uğur Abdurrezak, the father of the found children who lost their lives, was also released from jail in January 2018 after 11 months of imprisonment over his alleged links to the Gülen movement.

According to the report, the process that took the family on this dangerous journey began after the failed military coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Uğur Abdurrezak, a 39-year-old English language teacher, and his wife Ayşe Abdurrezak, a 37-year-old Turkish language teacher, were among some 30,000 teachers who were dismissed from their professions by a government decree under the rule of emergency that was declared by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Both of them have lost their jobs on the grounds that they were alleged members of the Gülen movement.

The report said that Uğur Abdurrezak was detained by police during a raid to his home after six months of his dismissal from his duty and was imprisoned in Kandıra Prison for 11 months. He was reportedly released in January 2018 but the case continued with the charge of “being a member of terror organisation.” Uğur Abdurrezak, who was tried with a demand of prosecutor for prison sentence between 6,5 years and 22 years, decided to leave the country with his family.

Together with their 11-year-old son Abdülkadir Enes and 2-year-old son Halil Münir, Abdurrezzak Couple was set to flee Turkey through the Maritsa/Evros River at the midnight of February 13, 2018. After a long walk accompanied by human traffickers, there was another family walking along with them, the families reached the Maritsa/Evros River around 05:00 a.m.

Fatih Yaşar, who has now resided in a refugee camp in Greece, told Euronews the details of the tragic incident as follow: “The boat was not big enough to carry all of us. Therefore, we insisted for two rounds but the smugglers did not listen to us. Also, the level of water was too high. The boat was constantly spinning. We first hit a tree branch and were driven away. Then the boat capsized when we hit a tree branch for the second time. The water was so cold… I could not hear any sound when the boat overturned. I thought that I was going to die, too. Fortunately, I could hold a piece of branch. I could hardly took myself to the shore. I roamed around for about 5 hours with my wet dresses. All my stuff and phone were gone. Then, I found a Greek soldier.”

The identities of the corpses found by Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) teams, were announced as Ayşe Abdurrezzak (37), Halil Münir (3) and Abdulkadir Enes (11). Father Uğur Abdurrezzak (39) was also in the same bot. Beside of Abdurrezzak Family, Fahrettin Doğan (30), his wife Aslı Doğan (28) and their son İbrahim Selim Doğan (2) were also on the boat. However, no traces of the members of the Doğan Family and Uğur Abdurrezzak could have been found.

Fahrettin Doğan, his wife Aslı Doğan and the couple’s 2-year-old son İbrahim Selim Doğan were also reportedly escaping from persecution and ill-treatment by Turkish government due to their alleged membership to the Gülen movement.

The Aegean Sea and the Maritsa/Evros River have been a graveyard for many Syrian refugees in the recent years. However, the latest victims of the sea separating the two countries have been the Turkish citizens. Five members of the Maden Family had drowned while they were trying to cross the Aegean Sea to reach the Greek island of Mytilene on November 1, 2017.

Thousands of refugees and migrants enter Greece every year from Turkey on their way to Europe. Most choose the sea crossing in flimsy smuggling boats to the eastern Aegean islands. However, Evros/Maritsa river has also been used for passage from Turkey to Greece.

In recent years, beside of refugees from other countries using Turkey as a transit route, some Turkish citizens, who had to fled Turkey due to a massive witch-hunt launched by Turkish government against sympathizers of the Gülen movement, have also used the same route. Many tried to escape Turkey via illegal ways as the government cancelled their passports like thousands of others.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, Erdogan government pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Interior Minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665  people have been arrested. Previously, on December 13, 2017, The Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, said Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Dec. 2, 2018. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “Even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.”

Activists Call On Turkish Gov’t To Release Jailed Babies, Mothers On World Children’s Rights Day

A silent demonstration was held by a group of activists in The Hague, the Parliamentary Capital of the Netherlands, on November 20 World Children’s Rights Day. The protesters called on Turkish government to release over 668 babies and their mothers from Turkish prisons.

Stating that more than 668 children aged between 0-6 year-old have been staying in Turkey’s prisons together with their mothers, the activists have voiced the dire conditions of the imprisoned babies and their tragedies through banners. During the protest, organized by a group of activists named ‘Project 668’, a small cell model was also set up in front of the Assembly Building.

Mehmet Doğanbaş, a volunteer of ‘Project 668’ has stated that in order to create public awareness about at least 668 babies who have to live together with their jailed mothers under difficult circumstances in prisons, they performed the protest. “We gathered in front of the Assembly Building in the Hague as Project 668 volunteers on November 20 World Children’s Rights Day.

“The Dutch public is unaware of the 668 children in Turkish prisons. We participated in this protest to express the situation to the public. Here we placed a model cell in front of the Assembly Building. The Dutch Public Television NOS paid a close attention to the protest and made interviews with the protesters. Without hurting or slandering anyone, we just drawn attention to that the jailed children must be released,” said Doğanbaş.

The silent protest lasted about 4 hours in The Hague and the activists presented flower seeds in packages to the Dutch people during the protest. “We distributed a flower with a note on their boxes in Dutch: ‘Vergeet Me-Niet.’ It means ‘Don’t forget me.’ We distributed about 500 pieces of flowers in this way.”

Meanwhile, a demonstration was also held in Durban, South Africa’s third largest city, for 668 imprisoned babies in Turkey. The events was supported by pantomime artists, demonstration groups representing indigenous people and the people of Durban.

Various activities were held for the babies who were kept in Turkish prisons together with their mothers. Along with the artworks made of sand representing babies, the pantomime artists presented their shows. While the situation of infants was explained by the Africans, the difficulties of reaching a doctor especially in cases of illness were highlighted.

The prison facilities provided to pregnant women and the women having babies under who were imprisoned in contravention of the laws are very limited. Many prisons are struggling to meet the needs of babies. In some prisons, 20 female prisoners with 4 infants have to stay in 8-person ward. Some women lye with a baby on a blanket laid on the concrete floor.

According to accounts of those who released from the prisons, the crib rate for babies is very low, the mother and the baby are lying together in the bunk. They need to entrust their babies to their friends in order to use the bathroom.

Moreover, there are no additional foods such as yogurt, eggs or soup to be given to babies. There are no areas where children would crawl and play. Needs like baby cloth, wet wipes are delayed for weeks and given insufficiently. Infants who have fever or are sick can have up to one day waiting time to go to the hospital. Needs like a walker are not given. There is no additional time for babies in open visit.

Following the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 more than 17,000 women with 668 babies were jailed over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. Women are being accused of giving scholarships, arranging sales, depositing money into private lender Bank Asya, sending their children the schools affiliated with the Gülen movement, subscribing to Zaman and Bugün newspapers, using smart phone messaging application ByLock.

Women who come to hospitals for birth control or birth are clear target for the police officers. However, according to the Turkish Penal Code numbered 5275, “the sentence of imprisonment is left behind / postponed of women who are pregnant or have not passed six months since the conception of birth.” Experts say that according to the law, the arrest of pregnant women and those who have infants smaller than 6 months is not possible at all. The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) also takes born or unborn child under protection.

More than 17,000 women in Turkey, many with small children, have been jailed in an unprecedented crackdown and subjected to torture and ill-treatment in detention centers and prisons as part of the government’s systematic campaign of intimidation and persecution of critics and opponents, a report titled “Jailing Women In Turkey: Systematic Campaign of Persecution and Fear released in April by SCF has also revealed.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Kalın says Russia postponed Syria meeting due to Turkey’s objections

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s spokesman, İbrahim Kalın, said on Sunday that Russia had postponed a meeting on Syria that was scheduled to take place on Nov. 18 in the Russian city of Sochi due to Ankara’s objections to the proposed participation of Syrian Kurdish groups.

“The Kremlin has contacted us. They announced that they have postponed the meeting [congress of Syrian people],” Kalın said in an appearance on a program aired by NTV.

Reuters reported on Oct. 31 that Russia invited the Kurdish-led authorities in northern Syria to its proposed congress of Syria’s rival parties in November as Moscow seeks to launch a new initiative to end the Syrian conflict.

The spokesperson said President Erdoğan also might make some contacts on the issue next week.

Underlining that an invitation to the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) to the congress of Syrian people is not acceptable to Turkey, Kalın said: “From the beginning we have emphasized this to the US, Russia and İran. This is a redline for us. Why? Because the PYD is a terrorist organization. It is a proxy of the PKK [the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party in Turkey] in Syria.”

Kalın also said Turkey might send a representative to the congress.

TM

Paradise Papers Show Turkish PM’s Sons Involved In Offshore Holdings

Data released on Nov. 5 by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) on the offshore activity of current or former leaders of famous companies and various countries indicate that the sons of the Turkish prime minister are involved in offshore holdings.

The data, known as the Paradise Papers, include over 13.4 million documents containing information on close to 120 political figures around the world and “show how deeply the offshore financial system is entangled with the overlapping worlds of political players, private wealth and corporate giants … that avoid taxes through increasingly imaginative bookkeeping maneuvers,” said ICIJ in its report.

According to the materials published by ICIJ, Erkam Yıldırım and Bülent Yıldırım are the adult sons of the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, whose family made its fortune in the shipping industry. The brothers are the sole shareholders of two companies registered in Malta: Hawke Bay Marine Co. Ltd., which was set up in April 2004 and according to public records owns or manages shipping vessels; and Black Eagle Marine Co. Ltd., incorporated in January 2007.

Record show that Erkam Yıldırım, who was the majority shareholder of the companies, is also the director of both and in addition operates his own shipping business.

The companies were listed as active in the Malta Registry of Companies in October 2017.

The Yıldırım brothers did not respond to a request for comment from ICIJ and its media partner in Turkey, Cumhuriyet.

The new files come from two offshore services firms as well as from 19 corporate registries maintained by governments in jurisdictions that serve as waystations in the global shadow economy. The leaks were obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with ICIJ.

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) parliamentary group deputy chairman Özgür Özel lambasted Turkish PM Yıldırım on Monday over the Paradise Papers, which indicate that the sons of the Turkish prime minister are involved in offshore holdings, while CHP deputy Faik Öztrak called on Yıldırım to respond to revelations in the Paradise Papers.

Recalling that Binali Yıldırım always uses the terms “national” and “indigenous,” Özel said: “In order to conduct trade, their children establish companies in Malta. They call on people to use ‘national’ and ‘indigenous’ money, but they use American money.”

Özel claimed that Prime Minister Yıldırım will not discuss the visa crisis but will instead talk about marketing Turkey’s Wealth Fund and will seek support from the Jewish lobby during a visit to the US on Nov.7-11.

Strongly criticizing Yıldırım on Twitter, CHP deputy Öztrak has also said that “The prime minister, who recently presented a new budget bill to Parliament to collect TL 614 billion in duty from the public in 2018, should immediately issue a statement to the public regarding the revelations about his family’s offshore companies.” (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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