Turkey to bridge the Dardanelles in new mega project

Updated 21 November 2014
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Turkey to bridge the Dardanelles in new mega project

ISTANBUL: Turkey is planning to build a bridge across the famed Dardanelles strait to help ease traffic congestion in Istanbul, a minister said, revealing the latest in a string of mega projects under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The straits, which separate Europe and Asia, were last bridged by Xerxes the Great, the Persian “king of kings” in 480 BC on his way to defeat the Greeks at Thermopylae.
“We are planning to construct a new bridge across the Dardanelles strait,” Transport Minister Lutfi Elvan said in an interview with Turkish television.
The Dardanelles lead into the Sea of Marmara which then goes into the Bosphorus in Istanbul itself. The waterway is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, and is 1.2 km wide at its narrowest point.
So far the Dardanelles strait can only be crossed by ferry.
“We will turn the entire Marmara region into a ring road, so this ring system will ease the Istanbul traffic to a great extent,” Elvan added.
The Dardanelles, which played a key role in the great sea battles of ancient history, were also the site of one of the most famous battles of World War I when Ottoman troops resisted an invading Allied force.
It was also where the founder of modern Turkey Mustafa Kemal, the man who would later become known as Ataturk, made his name as a heroic military leader.
Turkey’s Islamic-rooted government is under fire for its ambitious construction projects for the mega city of 16 million, which critics have condemned as wildly excessive and damaging to the environment.
The projects include a massive new Istanbul airport, a third road bridge across the Bosphorus, and a canal parallel to the waterway to ease the permanent bottleneck of tankers and freighters waiting to pass through it.
Erdogan has said the projects are needed to create a fast-developing and prosperous “new Turkey” that will be one of the world’s top 10 economies by 2023.
The building industry has boomed in recent years but while Erdogan was prime minister, his government was shaken by a now-stalled corruption probe into allegations of high-level bribery linked to some construction projects.
Elvan vowed that the government would move ahead with mega projects, saying the government was planning a 17 billion Turkish lira ($7.6 billion/6 billion euros) investment in Istanbul.
Among the new projects is a direct metro line from Kadikoy to the Sabiha Gokcen airport on the Asian side of Istanbul, he added.
Last year amid great fanfare the government opened the first ever undersea metro link beneath the Bosphorus connecting the European and Asian sides of Istanbul.
This year it opened the first high-speed train link between Istanbul and Ankara.


Iraq slams Exxon for evacuating staff amid Gulf tensions

Updated 19 May 2019
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Iraq slams Exxon for evacuating staff amid Gulf tensions

BAGHDAD: Iraq on Sunday slammed as “political” a decision by US energy giant ExxonMobil to evacuate staff from a southern oil field after Washington ordered personnel to quit its Baghdad embassy.
“The temporary withdrawal of employees has nothing to do with security in southern Iraqi oil fields or any threats,” Oil Minister Thamer Al-Ghadban said.
“The reasons are political and probably linked to tensions in the region,” he added in a statement released by the oil ministry.
Ghadban called the move to pull out staff from the West Qorna oil field west of the southern port city of Basra “unacceptable and unjustified.”
Exxon did not confirm the withdrawal.
“We are closely monitoring. As a matter of practice, we don’t share specifics related to operational staffing at our facilities,” a spokeswoman said.
“ExxonMobil has programs and measures in place to provide security to protect its people, operations and facilities. We are committed to ensuring the safety of our employees and contractors at all of our facilities around the world,” she added.
On Wednesday the United States ordered the evacuation of non-emergency staff from its Baghdad embassy and Irbil consulate, citing an “imminent” threat from Iranian-linked armed groups in Iraq.
It came 10 days after the Pentagon deployed an aircraft carrier task force and B-52 bombers to the Gulf to fend off an unspecified alleged plot by Tehran to attack US forces or allies.