Suicide bomber strikes Iraq cafe as attacks kill 47

Updated 17 July 2013
0

Suicide bomber strikes Iraq cafe as attacks kill 47

KIRKUK, Iraq: Violence in Iraq killed 47 people on Friday, with the deadliest attack a suicide bombing that ripped through a crowded cafe, leaving 38 dead, police and doctors said.
The bomber struck at a cafe in the city of Kirkuk as people thronged the streets after the iftar meal that breaks the fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Thirty-eight people were killed and 29 wounded in the south Kirkuk blast, police and Dr. Ibrahim Shakur said.
Dozens of family members of the victims gathered in front of the main hospital in Kirkuk, some with blood on their clothes.
People cried and screamed, waiting to know the fate of their relatives.
“While people were gathered in this cafe, a fat man entered ... and we didn’t hear anything except ‘Allahu akbar’ (God is greatest), and then everything was destroyed,” said Ahmed Al-Bayati, who was wounded in the leg.
“There were burned wounded people and burned martyrs,” he said.
All cafes in Kirkuk closed after the attack, the first time a suicide bomber targeted a cafe in the city.
“We closed our cafe in case there were more attacks,” said Yahya Abdulrahman, the owner of a cafe in the same area as the bombing.
“We don’t know why we were targeted today,” he said.
“Those that were targeted today are people of Kirkuk from all its components,” Abdulrahman said, referring to the various ethnic and religious groups that make up the city.
Police and Kurdish security personnel deployed in force around the site of the attack and the hospital.
Iraq has been hit by a surge in violence that has killed more than 2,500 people have been killed this year, including over 300 this month alone.
Analysts point to widespread discontent among Iraq’s minority Sunni community, and the Shiite authorities’ failure to address their grievances, as the main factors driving the increase in violence.
Attacks mainly targeting security forces killed nine people earlier on Friday.
Gunmen shot dead police Brig. Gen. Sabri Abed Issa on his way to a mosque near Sharqat, northwest of Baghdad. Others killed a retired policeman outside his home in Muqdadiyah, northeast of the capital.
In the northern city of Mosul, a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle at a police checkpoint, killing four policemen and wounding two more.
A magnetic “sticky bomb” also killed a civilian in Mosul, while a roadside bomb south of the city killed a policeman and wounded another.
And a “sticky bomb” killed an anti-Al-Qaeda militiaman and wounded another person near Baquba, also north of the capital.
Friday’s attacks came a day after a wave of violence killed 56 people, 31 of them members of the security forces.
In Thursday’s single worst incident, gunmen shot dead 11 police charged with protecting the country’s vital oil infrastructure and three soldiers on the road between Haditha and Baiji, northwest of Baghdad.
In another bloody attack on Thursday, a car bomb ripped through a funeral tent where family members of a Shiite man were receiving condolences in Muqdadiyah and a suicide bomber detonated explosives when emergency personnel arrived.
Sunni militants including those linked to Al-Qaeda frequently target members of Iraq’s Shiite majority, whom they regard as apostates.
Iraq was plagued by sectarian violence that killed tens of thousands of people in past years, and there are persistent fears that tensions will again boil over into all-out conflict.
Violence in the country has declined from its peak at the height of the sectarian conflict in 2006 and 2007, but the number of deaths in attacks has been rising since January.


Speculation mounts over Abdullah Gul’s election ambitions

Former Turkish President Abdullah Gul, left, is seen with Saadet Party leader Temel Karamollaoglu during a ceremony in Istanbul on Tuesday. (Reuters)
Updated 27 April 2018
0

Speculation mounts over Abdullah Gul’s election ambitions

  • Gul and Erdogan have mostly followed the same political paths and a religiously conservative ideology
  • A split between the two men recently erupted when Gul criticized the controversial state of emergency decree law

 ANKARA: Rumors are rife in Turkey that former President Abdullah Gul could emerge as a possible contender against his once close political ally President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the June elections.

Gul, who along with Erdogan was among the founders of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2001, has met with opposition leaders amid speculation he could run as a presidential candidate for the main opposition alliance.

Erdogan called the snap election, which will select the president and Parliament members, last week, catching opposition parties off guard. 

Gul and Erdogan have mostly followed the same political paths and a religiously conservative ideology.

However, Gul, who served as Turkey’s president from 2007 to 2014, has increasingly criticized Erdogan’s handling of the aftermath of an attempted coup in 2016. 

A split between the two men recently erupted when Gul criticized the controversial state of emergency decree law that exempted civilians who fought against the coup attempt in 2016 from criminal liability. 

Slams Erdogan

He also openly slammed the repeated extension of the state of emergency in Turkey, which has been in place since the coup, and called for normalization in the country.

With his conciliatory approach to politics and leadership in the rapprochement process with Armenia and the Kurds in Turkey, Gul was widely respected by the international community as president.

Asked about speculation on Gul’s candidacy, Erdogan said on Tuesday: “I don’t have a problem with that.”

“Alliances with the sole motivation of hostility toward Erdogan are being formed,” he added. 

If nominated by the opposition camp, Gul is expected to announce a manifesto that promises a return to the parliamentary system by abolishing the executive presidential changes to the constitution approved by a controversial referendum last year. 

He is also said to be announcing a new constitutional draft and suggesting an alternative council of ministers focused on improving the Turkish economy.

The deadline to submit applications for the presidential candidacy is May 4.

Gul held talks with the leader of the Islamist Felicity Party (SP), Temel Karamollaoglu, on Wednesday and met former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara a day earlier, according to Turkey’s pro-government daily Haber Turk.

Other opposition figures are also meeting to discuss alliances for the election on June 24. Karamollaoglu met Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Meral Aksener, who heads the right-wing nationalist Good Party (Iyi Parti).

Electoral opportunity

Kilicdaroglu has described the upcoming elections as an opportunity to salvage the country from what the opposition claims is Erdogan’s increasingly draconian rule. 

“Abdullah Gul’s name is not on the CHP agenda,” said Ozgur Ozel, parliamentary group leader of CHP. But the SP still insists on his candidacy. 

According to experts, for the other candidates to surpass Erdogan they will need the votes of all the other opposition parties and some of the AKP constituencies.

Polls show that Erdogan, who has dominated the top rungs of power in the country for more than 15 years, enjoys about 50 percent of voter support. 

“This means that a candidate would need to appeal to Turkish nationalists, Kurdish nationalists, Islamists and secularists in order to get more votes than Erdogan who has a much more solid base,” Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, Ankara director of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, told Arab News. 

Gul appears to be the best alternative in this regard, experts said.

However, the decision by the newly founded Iyi Party on whether they would join other opposition parties to nominate Gul as the opposition block candidate would be critical. 

If Erdogan does not win the presidency in the first round of voting — by securing at least 50 percent plus one vote — then a second round will be held within two weeks. 

If the race is between more than two candidates, Erdogan would win the presidency again, said Dr. Emre Erdogan, co-founder of an Istanbul-based research company, Infakto Research Workshop.

“Hence, the calculus of Gul’s move is simple: Exchanging mid-to-long-term uncertain gains, with certain short-term victories, namely being the next president of Turkey,” he told Arab News.

Nominating conservative Gul will cost the CHP some ultra-secular votes, but considering the discipline of its voters, the price will be minuscule and easily compensated by Kurdish voters who favor Gul, Dr. Emre Erdogan said.

“Among all alternative scenarios, only the nomination of Gul seems to be the one with the highest potential to influence the outcome,” he said.