NATO seeks closer ties with Gulf, opens new center

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (C-R) and Kuwaiti First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Sabah (C-L) attend the meeting between members of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) and the Islamic Cooperation Initiative (ICI) at the NATO Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) Regional Centre in Kuwait City on January 24, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 24 January 2017
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NATO seeks closer ties with Gulf, opens new center

KUWAIT CITY: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday called for boosting security cooperation with the Gulf states as the Western military alliance opened its first office in the region.
“It will be a vital hub for cooperation between the alliance and our Gulf partners,” Stoltenberg said at the inauguration of the center in Kuwait in the presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah.
The center is based on the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI), which was launched by the NATO leaders in 2004 and aims to boost security links with the Middle East, in particular Gulf Arab states.
Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are members of ICI while the remaining two Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states — Saudi Arabia and Oman — plan to join.
Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Sabah said the region is facing serious challenges that require cooperation with international organizations.
“We face common security threats like terrorism, weapons proliferation, and cybertattacks. And we share the same aspirations for peace and for stability,” Stoltenberg said.
“So it is essential that we work more closely together than ever before. We have now developed individual cooperation programs with all our Gulf partners,” he said.
Stoltenberg said that over the past year, NATO has trained hundreds of Iraqi officers in Jordan to better fight the Islamic State jihadist group.
“We are now extending our training and capacity-building efforts into Iraq itself,” he said.
NATO continues to fight terrorism in other ways, including with direct support to the anti-IS coalition, he said.
The center will strengthen the military-to-military cooperation and the fight against terrorism and extremism, Stoltenberg said.
The center will help the Gulf states by providing advanced training courses on cyber security, energy security, chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.


Turkey bans rally for Kurdish MP on hunger strike

A member of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) reacts next to policemen during a demonstration in solidarity with a HDP lawmaker on hunger strike in the Turkish city of Diyarbakir, on February 15, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 16 February 2019
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Turkey bans rally for Kurdish MP on hunger strike

  • Ocalan, one of the founders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has waged a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, has not been allowed to see his lawyers since 2011

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey: Turkish police on Friday prevented supporters from rallying outside the home of a pro-Kurdish lawmaker on hunger strike for 100 days.
The protest bid coincides with the 20th anniversary of the capture of Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is jailed in a notorious prison island near Istanbul.
Leyla Guven of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), launched her action on Nov. 8 while in jail to protest against Ocalan’s prison conditions.
She was freed last month under judicial supervision but continued her protest, refusing any treatment. Guven, 55, is consuming only sugared or salted water.
Police on Friday blocked supporters from approaching Guven’s house in the Kurdish-majority city of Diyarbakir after a rally called by the HDP, an AFP correspondent said.
“The biggest task ahead of us today is to turn every aspect of life into an arena for struggle and support hunger strikes at the highest level,” HDP MP Dilan Dirayet Tasdemir said.
“This dark picture and severe conditions of fascism can only be broken through our organized struggle,” Tasdemir said.
More than 200 prisoners are on hunger strike to protest what they call Ocalan’s isolation, according to the HDP.
Ocalan, one of the founders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has waged a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, has not been allowed to see his lawyers since 2011.
The PKK is blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.
Ocalan was caught in Kenya outside the Greek Embassy in Nairobi on Feb. 15, 1999 by Turkish secret service agents after attempting to seek asylum in Europe.
Turkish authorities last month allowed Ocalan’s brother Mehmet to see him, the first visit in over two years.