UN Security Council refrains from condemning Turkey

The UN Security Council discussed Turkey’s intensifying offensive against Kurdish militias and the worsening humanitarian crisis in Syria but did not condemn or demand an end to the sensitive Turkish operation. (AFP)
Updated 23 January 2018
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UN Security Council refrains from condemning Turkey

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council discussed Turkey’s intensifying offensive against Kurdish militias and the worsening humanitarian crisis in Syria on Monday but did not condemn or demand an end to the sensitive Turkish operation.
Already scheduled to hear a report from UN aid chief Mark Lowcock on his recent visit to Syria, at France’s request the Security Council also touched on the latest Turkish offensive as well as the Syrian campaign in Idlib and Eastern Ghouta.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed no stepping back to the air and ground offensive seeking to flush out the People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia from its enclave of Afrin, despite concern from Ankara’s allies and neighbors.
“It was of course part of the conversation,” French Ambassador Francois Delattre said of Afrin after the closed-door talks at UN headquarters in New York.
“The call for restraint, I believe, was widely shared during the discussion,” he added, saying that France was “attentive to the security of Turkey, its territories and its borders.”
US Ambassador Nikki Haley did not attend the meeting in person, a diplomatic source said.
Turkey’s operation “Olive Branch” is sensitive as Washington relied on the YPG to oust militants from Daesh from their Syrian strongholds and the Kurdish militia now holds much of Syria’s north.
Western capitals fear the campaign against the YPG could shift the focus away from eliminating Daesh after a string of successes in recent months.
“It’s vital to keep the unity of the allies in what remains the number one priority, which is the fight against terrorism and against Daesh in particular,” Delattre stressed, using another term for the Daesh militant group.
“The number one party responsible for the humanitarian tragedy in Syria is the Syrian regime,” he added. “The number one tragedy happening before our eyes happens in Eastern Ghouta and Idlib.”
“If things continue this way, Eastern Ghouta might be the new Aleppo in terms of humanitarian disaster,” Delattre added.
Turkey considers the YPG a terror group and the Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party which has waged a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state.
Russia and the United States have expressed concern about the operation, which Erdogan said Turkey had discussed in advance with Russia and Moscow was in “agreement.”


Bahrain court acquits opposition leaders in Qatar spy case

Updated 14 min 1 sec ago
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Bahrain court acquits opposition leaders in Qatar spy case

  • Public prosecution will appeal the verdict, says public prosecutor Osama Al-Oufi
  • The court did not properly assess the evidence, he says

JEDDAH: A Bahraini court on Thursday acquitted three members of an opposition group of spying for Qatar.
In November, public prosecutor Osama Al-Oufi accused Al-Wefaq’s Ali Salman and Hassan Sultan of conspiring with Qatari officials to carry out “hostile acts” in Bahrain.
The High Criminal Court acquitted them along with a third Al-Wefaq member, Ali Al-Aswad, said Al-Oufi, the state Bahrain News Agency (BNA) reported.
The public prosecution had submitted strong and varied evidence, including communication records between the defendants and Qatari officials, which proved beyond any doubt intelligence links between them with the purpose of inciting the violence that struck Bahrain in 2011, Al-Oufi added.
The conspirators also worked to undermine national efforts to control and eliminate subversive acts of violence, he said.
Witness testimonies supported the material evidence presented by the public prosecution, he added.
In deciding to acquit the defendants, the court did not properly assess the evidence, Al-Oufi said, adding that the public prosecution will appeal the verdict.
Bahraini law allows the prosecution and defendants to appeal a ruling at the Court of Appeals and the Court of Cassation.