Turkish, US, Iraqi military officials discuss security challenges

Turkey is part of EUCOM, and has long provided its southern Incirlik base for anti-Daesh airstrikes by the US-led coalition. (Shutterstock)
Updated 14 December 2017
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Turkish, US, Iraqi military officials discuss security challenges

ANKARA: Senior Turkish, Iraqi and US military officials met in Ankara on Thursday to discuss regional developments and security challenges.
Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, his Iraqi counterpart Othman Al-Ghanimi, Commander of US European Command (EUCOM) Curtis Scaparrotti and Commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM) Joseph Votel attended the meeting.
The focus was on Iraq, Syria and counterterrorism efforts, said the Turkish General Staff. The meeting comes six days after Baghdad’s announcement of the total defeat of Daesh in Iraq.
The main items on the agenda were the need to prevent the emergence of any terror movements post-Daesh, and recent US promises to stop delivering weapons to the Syrian-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and take back heavy weapons already delivered.
Turkey is part of EUCOM, and has long provided its southern Incirlik base for anti-Daesh airstrikes by the US-led coalition, thereby assisting CENTCOM. Both Turkey and the US have military bases in Iraq.
“The US wants to see Turkey and Iraq on its side against terrorism,” Nursin Atesoglu Guney, dean of the faculty of economics, administrative and social sciences at Bahcesehir Cyprus University, told Arab News.
“But Turkey’s priority is now the elimination of the YPG, seen by Ankara as an offshoot of the outlawed PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) terror group.”
Washington does not want to push Ankara away, and intends to pull Baghdad away from Tehran, she said.
“For this, the US uses counterterrorism cooperation as a general framework for regional cooperation,” she added.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis recently said the US would stop arming the YPG, its main local partner in Syria.
Ankara’s main concern is that weapons supplied to the YPG will end up in PKK hands in Turkey.
Erol Bural, a former military officer and a terrorism expert at the 21st Century Turkey Institute, said Ankara and Washington regularly hold security meetings.
“But the inclusion of Iraq in this framework shows that the meeting essentially focused on Iraq’s security post-Daesh,” Bural told Arab News.
“It’s clear that there’s an effort to continue the US-Turkish relationship through military channels, as the political channels are currently blocked.”
Bural said he does not expect a joint operation against PKK militants in Iraq in the short or medium term, as this requires further coordination and an improvement in relations between Ankara and Baghdad.
“But they can take steps to ease and accelerate airspace usage to conduct airstrikes against PKK hideouts in Iraq,” he said.
“Post-Daesh, the common security concern of the three countries may be the possibility of a Daesh comeback or the emergence of similar radical terror organizations.”
Accordingly, Bural said the three countries should boost border security and intelligence sharing against the PKK and other terror organizations.
“It’s also important to take proactive steps to counter violent extremism in the region,” he added.


Egypt probes images of naked couple atop pyramid

Updated 48 min 50 sec ago
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Egypt probes images of naked couple atop pyramid

  • Danish photographer Andreas Hvid appears to scale the 4,500-year-old tomb on the outskirts of Cairo at night with an unidentified woman who is later seen taking off her top

CAIRO: Egyptian authorities have launched an investigation into images said to show a naked couple who scaled the Great Pyramid that has sparked outrage in the conservative Muslim country, an official said Tuesday.
In a video titled “Climbing the Great Pyramid of Giza,” Danish photographer Andreas Hvid appears to scale the 4,500-year-old tomb on the outskirts of Cairo at night with an unidentified woman who is later seen taking off her top.
Hvid says the video was taken in late November but it was published on YouTube on December 8.
A photograph released by Hvid appears to show the couple completely naked on top of each other while looking in the direction of a nearby pyramid with the horizon illuminated.
“The public prosecution is investigating the incident of the Danish photographer and the authenticity of the photos and video of him climbing the pyramid,” Mostafa Waziri, the secretary general of Egypt’s supreme antiquities council, told AFP.
If the video was actually filmed at the top of the pyramid, that would make it a “very serious crime,” Waziri said.
The nearly three-minute video has taken social media by storm and has been the subject of late night talk shows. It has notched up almost three million views on YouTube alone.
“A 7,000-year-old civilization has turned into a bed sheet,” a Twitter user in Egypt lamented.
Another protested that “they want to soil the dignity and pride of Egyptians because the pyramid reflects the glory and grandeur of the Egyptian people.”
The authenticity of the images has been disputed with some arguing the photograph showing the pair naked appears to be very bright whereas the video showed them scaling the pyramid at night.
Antiquities Minister Khaled el-Enany told government newspaper Al-Ahram that the video has stirred “anger and outrage among Egyptians,” and that officials in charge of guarding the pyramids would be punished if found to have been negligent.
Hvid, 23, explained back home to the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet that he had “dreamed for many years of climbing the Great Pyramid” as well as of taking a naked photograph.
“I’m sad that so many people have got angry but I’ve also received a lot of positive responses from many Egyptians,” he said in an interview.
The young Norwegian, who runs his own YouTube channel, said he had absolutely no interest in stirring up a crisis such as that triggered by cartoons in Western newspapers of the Prophet Muhammad.
As for the girl in the video, she was not his girlfriend. “It was just a pose. We did not have sexual relations,” Hvid said.
The Great Pyramid, also known as the Khufu pyramid, is the largest in Giza, standing at 146 meters (480 feet) tall, and the only surviving structure of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.
Climbing pyramids is forbidden in Egypt.
In 2016, a German tourist was barred from entering the country for life after he posted online footage of climbing one of the ancient structures.