Turkey launches air strikes against Kurdish militants in Iraq ‘planning attack’

Above, Turkish soldiers at Mount Bersaya north of the Syrian town of Azaz during their operation “Olive Branch” against the Kurdish People's Protection Units militia. Turkey also launched air strikes in northern Iraq against Kurdish militants, which Ankara claimed were planning na attack. (AFP)
Updated 23 January 2018
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Turkey launches air strikes against Kurdish militants in Iraq ‘planning attack’

ANKARA: Turkey launched air strikes in northern Iraq on Kurdish militants planning an attack, the army said on Tuesday, just days after Ankara began an offensive against a Kurdish militia in Syria.
The strikes took place on Monday in the Zap region of northern Iraq, not far from Turkey’s southeastern border, the Turkish military said in a statement.
The army said it was targeting members of the “separatist terrorist organization” — Turkey’s official term for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The militants were planning an attack on border security posts and bases, the military said, adding that the strikes destroyed weapons emplacements and shelters.
The PKK has been waging an insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, and is blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies.
After a two-year cease-fire collapsed in 2015, the Turkish army intensified its military operations against the PKK in the Turkish southeast.
The Turkish air force has regularly carried out raids on PKK rear bases around the Qandil mountains in northern Iraq since then.
Turkish troops also sometimes stage ground incursions into the area.
The strikes in Iraq come four days after Turkey started a military operation, supporting Syrian rebels, against the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in a bid to remove it from its western enclave of Afrin in northern Syria.
Ankara views the YPG as an offshoot of the PKK and repeatedly calls them “terrorists.”


Tunisia fishermen turn tide to cash in on blue crab menace

Updated 15 October 2018
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Tunisia fishermen turn tide to cash in on blue crab menace

  • Tunisians have named the fearsome-looking blue crabs as Daesh
  • The blue crab, once a native of the Red Sea, first showed up in the Gulf of Gabes off Tunisia’s coast in 2014

DJERBA, Tunisia: Tunisian fishermen saw the blue crab wreak such havoc on their catches when it first appeared that they nicknamed it after the terrifying militants of the Daesh group.
But now — four years after these scourges of the sea invaded their waters — the predators have turned into prey as fishermen in the North African country cash in on the crustaceans.
Jamel Ben Joma Zayoud pulls his nets out of the water off the Mediterranean island of Djerba to find them full of blue crabs with their fearsome-looking spikes.
“Look, there are only Daesh, they’ve destroyed everything,” he says, using the term for the militant group that has become the crabs’ nickname.
The blue crab, once a native of the Red Sea, first showed up in the Gulf of Gabes off Tunisia’s coast in 2014 and immediately set about snapping up the rich pickings it found.
“It quickly became a curse,” Zayoud, 47, tells AFP. “It eats all the best fish.”
There are two explanations for how the blue crab, or Portunus Pelagicus, made it all the way to the shores of Tunisia, says researcher Marouene Bedioui, at the National Institute for Marine Sciences and Technologies.
Either their eggs were transported on boats to the region or they arrived as part of a lengthy migration that started when the Suez Canal opened in 1869.
However the crabs turned up, their impact has been damaging.
The hard-up fishermen along the coast, already struggling to make ends meet, felt the pinch as the crabs attacked their nets and the local fish.
“One thousand, one hundred fishermen have been hit by this plague in Gabes,” said Sassi Alaya, a member of the local labor union.
“Nowadays we change our nets three times a year, while before it was once every two years.”
In 2015 and 2016, fishermen demonstrated over the issue — and eventually the government took notice.
The authorities last year launched a plan aimed at helping fishermen to turn the pest into profit.
They were taught how to trap the crabs and the government began subsidising the cost of purchasing what was caught.
Plants popped up to freeze the crabs and ship them to markets in the Gulf and Asia where customers are willing to shell out for their meat.


Blue crabs investment
One of them is managed by a Turkish company — putting to use the experience it gained dealing with an influx of the crabs back home.
Each afternoon a line of refrigerated vans forms outside the facility delivering the crabs caught that morning from nearby harbors.
“When the crab appeared we didn’t know how to make money from it,” said Karim Hammami, co-director of the firm Tucrab.
“Tunisians didn’t consume it so the fishermen avoided catching it — but when investors came in and the authorities began moving we started targeting foreign markets.”
In the first seven months of this year, Tunisia produced 1,450 tons of blue crab worth around three million euros ($3.5 million), the ministry of agriculture says.
For those making their livelihoods from the sea, the transformation has been stark.
“The situation has completely changed,” said fisherman Zayoud.
He has now started going after fish with his nets, and crabs with cages.
So succesful have the fishermen been that they are now even planning to limit themselves in order not to deplete crab stocks too much.
And even they have got a taste for their former foe.
For their lunch, Zayoud and his crew select, cook and tuck into a healthy male crab.
“Daesh eat all the best fish,” explains the fisherman.
“So their meat has to be delicious.”