Turkey unveils route of 45-kilometer ‘Istanbul Canal’

Above, a US Navy destroyer sails on Bosphorus Strait on its way to the Black Sea. Turkey hopes the new 45-kilometer canal would ease the pressure on Bosphorus, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. (Reuters)
Updated 15 January 2018
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Turkey unveils route of 45-kilometer ‘Istanbul Canal’

ISTANBUL: The Turkish government on Monday unveiled the route of its planned new canal for Istanbul, a hugely ambitious 45-kilometer project designed to be its answer to the famed artificial shipping lanes in Panama or Egypt’s Suez.
The project, first announced by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan while he was prime minister in 2011, is by far the most complex of a string of new ventures for the city.
The government argues it will create attractive new living areas and take pressure off the Bosphorus Strait that splits the European and Asian sides of the city and is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
Transport and Communications Minister Ahmet Arslan said that the canal would begin in the Istanbul district of Kucukcekmece on the Sea of Marmara, where there is already an inland lake.
It will then head north toward the Sazlidere reservoir before emerging into the Black Sea just north of Durusu.
“The aim is to reduce the risks that can arise from vessels in the Bosphorus carrying dangerous materials,” Arslan told a televised news conference.
“Another aim is to create an urban transformation for our citizens in this area... and also to increase the attractiveness of Istanbul as a global metropolis.”
Some environmentalists have warned the project risks wrecking the maritime ecosystem and could also increase the risk of earthquakes in an area of high seismic activity.
But Arslan insisted that all precautions had been taken, saying the route had been chosen only after thorough earthquake risk assessment and computer modeling studies were undertaken.
Erdogan, whose rise to national political prominence began while he served as mayor of Istanbul, is presiding over a string of ambitious infrastructure projects in Turkey and especially its largest city.
With Erdogan fondly dubbing the schemes his “crazy projects,” the last years have already seen the opening of metro and road tunnels underneath the Bosphorus as well as a third bridge across the waterway.
Construction of a massive new airport is meanwhile proceeding, with the facility set to see its first flight land in late February before opening officially in October.


US to send 1,500 more troops to Middle East amid Iran threat

Updated 14 min 52 sec ago
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US to send 1,500 more troops to Middle East amid Iran threat

  • Donald Trump says the additional troops would serve a 'mostly protective' role
  • The US began reinforcing its presence in the Arabian Gulf region earlier this month

WASHINGTON:  Donald Trump said Friday the US will send 1,500 extra troops to the Middle East in a "mostly protective role" amid heightened tensions with Iran.

"We want to have protection in the Middle East. We're going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective," Trump said as he left the White House for a trip to Japan.
"Some very talented people are going to the Middle East right now. And we'll see what happens."

Officials said earlier that members of Congress were notified following a White House meeting Thursday to discuss Pentagon proposals to bolster the US force presence in the Middle East.
Earlier this week, officials had said that Pentagon planners had outlined plans that could have sent up to 10,000 military reinforcements to the region. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan later said planners had not settled on a figure.
The US began reinforcing its presence in the Arabian Gulf region this month in response to what it said was a threat from Iran.

More to follow...