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.


Tortured, persecuted, deported: a tribe’s ordeal at the hands of Qatar

Updated 20 September 2018
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Tortured, persecuted, deported: a tribe’s ordeal at the hands of Qatar

  • The tribe’s ordeal began in 1996, when some of their members voiced support for Sheikh Khalifa Al-Thani
  • Another member of the tribe twice lost his job at Qatar Petroleum, in 1999 and 2003, simply because he was a member of the Al-Ghufran tribe

GENEVA: Members of a prominent tribe told an audience in Geneva on Thursday how they were stripped of their nationality and suffered torture, forced displacement and deportation in a 22-year campaign of systematic persecution by authorities in Qatar.
“My story is about wanting my rights, and I hope my story reaches your hearts,” said Hamed Al-Ghufrani, whose family was forced to flee Qatar for the UAE in 1996.
Another member of the tribe twice lost his job at Qatar Petroleum, in 1999 and 2003, simply because he was a member of the Al-Ghufran tribe, and had his nationality revoked in 2005. 
His 14-year-old son spoke of being a “stateless person” and called on the UN to end the persecution so he could return to Qatar.
The press conference at the Swiss Press Club, organized by the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, came two days after the Al-Ghufran delegation staged a protest in front of the UN building in Geneva during the 39th session of the UN Human Rights Council.
The tribe’s ordeal began in 1996, when some of their members voiced support for Sheikh Khalifa Al-Thani, the Qatari emir deposed the previous year by his son Hamad, father of the current emir, Sheikh Tamim.
About 800 Al-Ghufran families, more than 6,000 people, were stripped of their citizenship and had their property confiscated. Many remain stateless, both in Qatar and in neighboring Gulf countries.
“They have taken away our social, political and economic rights,” said
Jabir bin Saleh Al-Ghufrani, a tribal elder. “The Al-Ghufran tribe has been subjected to unjust treatment.
“I left on a vacation in 1996, and now I can never go back to my country. I can go to any place on this earth, but not my home, not Qatar.”
Members of the delegation produced passports, certificates and other documents to show that their right to Qatari citizenship was being denied.
“I ask for my rights. Our people have been asking for our rights for a very long time now and no one has even explained to us why this is happening to us,” said Hamad Khaled Al-Araq.
Jaber Hamad Al-Araq, the tribe member fired twice by Qatar Petroleum, said: “The consequences of revoking our citizenship came in waves. They took away health care, education and public services. They took away all the tools that would allow us to live in Qatar with dignity, as human beings.”
Many of the tribe have suffered from depression and other medical conditions as a result of their ill-treatment. “I was rejected many times for jobs because of the injustice we face,” said Jaber Mohamed Al-Ghufrani. “They would reject me, the interior ministry office would reject me, just for being from the tribe. We are marginalized, without value, and left on the sidelines in our own country.
“I am responsible for my family, consisting of my wife and children, and we have faced many injustices that led us to have psychological trauma. We have suffered enough.”
Abdul Hadi Jaber Al-Ghufrani, another member of the tribe, told the press conference: “All members of the Al-Ghufran tribe without exception suffered from the decision to revoke their nationality.
“Those who remained in Qatar are unable to work, travel, or act like normal human beings, they cannot trade, they cannot even give their identity.
“Those who were expelled and forcibly displaced live in exile. They cannot apply or work in any job where they can get money for they basic needs, and most of them have no official identity papers. They can no longer see their families and loved ones.
“We are here to demand our rights and we will not stop until we get our rights. From today for the next 20 years, we will not stop.”
The youngest member of the delegation, Mohammed Ali Amer Al-Ghufrani Al-Marri, 14, said: “My nationality was revoked when I was less than one year old.
“I did not have the right to grow up in my own country, I was not given the right to stay there. I wish to return to my country and enjoy my rights as a citizen.”