Turkey to open ‘embassy to Palestine in Jerusalem’: Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech during the awards ceremony for National Employment Mobilisation as part of an Employment Council meeting in Ankara, in this December 14, 2017 photo. (AFP)
Updated 17 December 2017
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Turkey to open ‘embassy to Palestine in Jerusalem’: Erdogan

ISTANBUL: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed hope on Sunday that Turkey would soon be able to open an embassy to a Palestinian state in East Jerusalem, as he stepped up his attacks on Donald Trump’s recognition of the city as the Israeli capital.
Erdogan has sought to lead Islamic condemnation of his US counterpart’s move, calling a summit of the leaders of Muslim nations last week in Istanbul who urged the world to recognize East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.
East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel after it seized control of the area in the 1967 war, in a move never recognized by the international community.
“Because it is under occupation we can’t just go there and open an embassy,” Erdogan said in a speech to his ruling party in the city of Karaman.
“But, God willing those days are near and... we will officially open our embassy there,” he said, without giving any precise timescale.
Turkey currently has a general consulate in Jerusalem. Ankara has full diplomatic ties with Israel, and like other nations, its embassy is in Tel Aviv.
Erdogan again slammed Trump’s decision to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel and move the US embassy there, saying it smacked of a “Zionist and evangelist logic and understanding.”
He said Jews had no right to “appropriate” Jerusalem which was the “capital of Muslims.”
“Please stop where you are and don’t attempt any Zionist operation,” he said. “If you try, then the price is going to be high.”

Erdogan hailed the outcome of the December 13 summit which he said showed the “world a vote of unity.”
However the meeting was overshadowed by the level of attendance from close US allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who sent lower-level officials rather than leaders.
Erdogan had warned Muslims, in a speech earlier this weekend, against “internecine warfare,” saying fighting with each other “only helps terror states like Israel.”
Israel has reacted relatively cooly to Erdogan’s repeated broadsides over the last days, although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was “not impressed” by statements made at the summit.
Contacted by AFP, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson declined to comment on Erdogan’s latest remarks.

Protests which have been taking place almost daily in Turkey against Trump’s move continued at the weekend.
In the mainly Kurdish southeastern city of Diyarbakir, thousands of people turned out Sunday, waving Palestinian flags and brandishing slogans like “the massacres will not stop if all Muslims are not together.”
In a separate speech also Sunday, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that “from now on we declare that occupied East Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine,” adding Turkey wanted to see a solution for Jerusalem that satisfied both sides in the conflict.
Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin — a key foreign policy adviser of the president — wrote in a newspaper article that Trump’s move represented “a toxic mix of populism and unilateralism.”
But he wrote in Daily Sabah that one positive consequence was that the issue of the Palestinians was again at the center of global debate.
“This new momentum should now be utilized to find a fair and lasting peace,” Kalin said.
Last year, Turkey and Israel ended a rift triggered by Israel’s storming in 2010 of a Gaza-bound ship that left 10 Turkish activists dead and led to a downgrading of diplomatic ties.
The two sides have since stepped up cooperation, particularly over a planned gas pipeline in talks spearheaded by Erdogan’s son-in-law and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak.
But Erdogan, who regards himself as a champion of the Palestinian cause, has kept up his verbal attacks on Israel’s policies.


Iraq’s Shiite rivals agree on prime minister

Updated 18 September 2018
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Iraq’s Shiite rivals agree on prime minister

  • Veteran Shiite politician Adel Abdul Mahdi informally nominated to replace Haider Al-Abadi
  • Decision reached after extensive negotiations between pro and anti-Iran factions

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s rival Shiite blocs in parliament have agreed on who they want as the next prime minister after making progress in negotiations towards forming a government, negotiators told Arab News.

The two factions, one pro Iran and the other anti, have agreed to work together as a coalition, negotiators told Arab News on Tuesday.

The veteran Shiite politician and former vice president Adel Abdul Mahdi was informally nominated to replace Haider Al-Abadi, negotiators said. 

He will be assigned on Sept. 25 to form a government if his nomination is approved by the Kurdish blocs. 

Before the appointment of prime minister, the president has to be selected. There is no indication that the Kurds, who get the post according to the Iraq’s power sharing agreement, have decided on who to nominate. 

Iraq’s parliament has been split between the Reform alliance and Al-Binna’a alliance after elections in May.

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READ MORE: Iraq parliament elects Sunni lawmaker Al-Halbousi as speaker, breaking deadlock

Rival Iraqi factions make coalition deal and end Al-Abadi’s prime minister hopes

Rival Shiite factions trade blame for who drove the burning of buildings in Basra

Iran accused of hijacking Basra protests after a week of violence that shook Iraq

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Reform is controlled by Muqtada Al-Sadr, one of the country’s most influential Shiite clerics who opposes Iranian influence in the country.

Iran-backed Al-Binna’a is led by Hadi Al-Amiri, the head of Badr organization, the most prominent Shiite armed faction.

At the first parliamentary session earlier this month, both coalitions claimed they have the most number of seats which would give them the right to form a government.

Within hours, violent demonstrations erupted in Basra, Iraq’s main oil hub, killing 15 demonstrators and injuring scores of people. The Iranian consulate was set on fire along with dozens of government and party buildings.

The violence on the street reflected the stand-off in parliament and threatened to erupt into fighting between the armed wings associated with the different Shiite groups.

The agreement between the two blocs was the only way to end the violence and prevent a slide into intra-Shiite  fighting, senior leaders involved in the talks said.

Several meetings between Al-Sadr and Al-Amiri were held in Al-Sadr’s residency in the holy city of Najaf last week to defuse the crisis.

Both parties’ desire for a truce seemed clear on Saturday at a parliament session to elect the speaker and his deputies. The two blocks showed their influence without colliding with each other. Al-Binna’a presented its candidate for the speaker post and stepped down after winning to make way for the Reform bloc to present its candidate for the post of first deputy of the speaker without competition.

The negotiations teams continued their meetings over the following days to agree on the details of the government program and select the nominee for the prime minister among the dozens of candidates presented by the forces belonging to the two alliances.

The first results of talks between the two blocs came out on Tuesday when Al-Amiri withdrew from the race “to open doors for more talks,” and avoid  conflict between the alliances.

“We will not talk on behalf of Al-Binna’a or the Reform. We both will agree on a candidate. Compatibility is our only choice,” Al-Amiri, said at a press conference in Baghdad.

“Today, Iraq needs to be saved, as we saved it from Daesh, so we have only two options, either we choose to impose the wills and twist each others arms or choose the understanding between us.”

 Iraq has been a battleground for regional and international powers, especially Iran and the United States, since 2003 US-led invasion. 

Brett McGurk, the US envoy to Iraq and Syria, and General Qassim Soleimani, commander of Iran's Al Quds Force, are deeply involved in the negotiations. 

The candidate for prime minister should also enjoy the blessing of the religious powers in Najaf, represented by Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, the Shiite spiritual leader and most revered figure in Iraq, negotiators said.

“The situation is complicated as there are three different sides that enjoy the right to use veto. They are Iran, US and Najaf,” a key negotiator of Al-Sadr’s negotiation team told Arab News.

“One ‘no’ is enough to exclude any candidate. Not only that, Sadr and Amiri also have their conditions and we still have difficulty reconciling all of them.”

The marathon negotiations, which run every day until late at night, finally reached a shortlist for prime minister.

The three names reached were Adel Abdul Mahdi, a former leader of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, Falih Al-Fayadh, the former national security adviser, and Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, the head of the intelligence service.

Adel Abdul Mahdi was the chosen one, three negotiators from different sides told Arab News.

“We have agreed to nominate Adel Abdul Mahdi as he is the only one who was approved by the three sides (Iran, the US and Najaf),” an Al-Sadr negotiator told Arab News.