Iraq: Deal reached over Turkish forces’ pullout from Bashiqa

Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim meets with his Iraqi counterpart Haider Al-Abadi in Baghdad, Iraq. (Hakan Goktepe/Prime Minister's Press Office/Handout via REUTERS)
Updated 08 January 2017
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Iraq: Deal reached over Turkish forces’ pullout from Bashiqa

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi said on Saturday an agreement had been reached with Turkey over an Iraqi demand that Turkish forces withdraw from a town near Mosul in the north of the country, Iraqi state TV reported.
Abadi met his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim in Baghdad.
State television did not provide further details about the agreement over the town of Bashiqa, where Turkish forces have been stationed since before a recent offensive against Daesh in northern Iraq.
It said Turkey had pledged to “respect the sovereignty of Iraq” and that Baghdad and Ankara agreed not to interfere in each other’s domestic affairs.
Iraq and Turkey came to blows in October over the continued presence of Turkish forces in Bashiqa and elsewhere in northern Iraq, with each government summoning the other’s ambassador just as the US-backed campaign to drive Daesh out of Mosul was set to begin.
The issue grew into a rare and bitter public feud between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Abadi.
At one point, Erdogan gave a speech telling Al-Abadi to “know his place,” and adding, “you are not at my level, you are not my equivalent, you are not of the same quality as me.”
Al-Abadi responded by mocking Erdogan’s use of a video messaging app during Turkey’s failed coup last year.
An Iraqi court later issued an arrest warrant against the former governor of Ninevah province, of which Mosul is the capital, Atheel Al-Nujaifi, accusing him of facilitating the entry of the Turkish forces.
Meanwhile, Iraqi special forces closed in on the Tigris river that runs through central Mosul on Saturday, advancing in parallel with other troops and forcing Daesh retreat in its last major stronghold in the country.
Daesh has been driven out of more than half the areas it held east of the Tigris river, which bisects the city, but is still in control of the west. It will be harder for the terrorists to defend Mosul once Iraqi forces reach the river.
Detailed report — Page 4


Vulture with GPS tracker held in Yemen on suspicion it was used for spying

Updated 25 April 2019
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Vulture with GPS tracker held in Yemen on suspicion it was used for spying

  • The bird migrated from Bulgaria, to Turkey, to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and then Yemen
  • Govt forces detained the bird on suspicion that the attached GPS tracker was a spy device for Houthi militants

SANAA: Griffon vulture Nelson crossed into war-torn Yemen in search of food but ended up in the hands of Yemeni fighters — and temporarily in jail for suspected espionage.
The sand-colored bird came down in the country’s third city of Taiz, an unusual move for a young vulture that can soar for long distances across continents in search of food and moderate weather.
Nelson, approximately two years old, embarked on his journey in September 2018 from Bulgaria, where his wing was tagged and equipped with a satellite transmitter by the Fund for Wild Fauna and Flora (FWFF).
But he seems to have lost his way, eventually coming down into Taiz — under siege by Houthi rebels but controlled by pro-government forces, who mistook Nelson’s satellite transmitter for an espionage device and detained the bird.
Forces loyal to the government believed that the GPS tracker attached to the bird may have been a spy device for the rebels.
Hisham Al-Hoot, who represents the FWFF in Yemen, traveled from the rebel-held capital Sanaa to Taiz to plead with local officials to release the helpless animal.
“It took about 12 days to get the bird,” he told AFP.
“The Bulgarian foreign ministry reached out to the Yemeni ambassador, who in turn contacted local officials (in Taiz) and told them to immediately give the organization the vulture.”
Hoot said that the bird migrated from Bulgaria, to Turkey, to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and then Yemen — where the FWFF lost track of the bird.
Nelson was MIA until April 5, when the conservation group received hundreds of messages from Yemenis concerned about the creatures’ welfare.
Today, the locally-famous vulture is being properly fed and getting stronger every day.
“When we first took him, he was in very bad condition,” said Hoot, adding that the bird was underweight.
Smiling, he puts on gloves and carefully handles the majestic creature — blowing it a kiss.
Hoot said the bird will be released in two months when he believed Nelson will have regained his full strength and his wing — broken somewhere during his journey — will have healed.
“We thought at first it would take six months for him to heal, but now we don’t think it will be more than two months,” he said.
Hoot said that Nelson was not able to find any source of sustenance in Yemen.
“They can eat carcasses of dead animals, but now there is no more with the current situation of war.
“This is what forced him to come down and stopped him from completing his journey.”
The four-year conflict in Yemen has unleashed the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations, with millions facing famine.
The war escalated in March 2015 when a coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, intervened to bolster the efforts of Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi.
Since then, at least 10,000 people — most of them civilians — have been killed and more than 60,000 wounded, according to the World Health Organization. Other rights groups estimate the toll could be much higher.