Turkey should drop ‘disproportionate’ emergency powers: EU parliament

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan waves to members of his ruling party at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. (AP/Burhan Ozbilici)
Updated 09 February 2018
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Turkey should drop ‘disproportionate’ emergency powers: EU parliament

STRASBOURG:The European parliament on Thursday called on Turkey to scrap the emergency powers which members said were being used to stifle “legitimate and peaceful opposition” and a free press.
Meeting in Strasbourg the MEPs denounced, in a resolution, the hundreds of arrests by the Turkish government, which they said were being carried out “in an attempt to censor criticism over its military assault” in the Syrian town of Afrin.
The assembled deputies criticized the “deterioration of freedoms and fundamental rights and the rule of law in Turkey.”
According to the parliament, the state of emergency in place since a failed coup in 2016 is “being used to further stifle legitimate and peaceful opposition.”
Since then, more than 160 media outlets have closed and Turkey’s civil society faces a massive crackdown, the MEPs agreed, by a show of hands.
EU funds destined for Turkey should be conditional on Ankara improving its record on human rights, democracy and the rule of law, they added.
The parliament also condemned the recent arrests of journalists, activists, doctors and ordinary citizens for expressing their opinions.
Turkey on January 20 began a major operation aimed at ousting fighters from the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) from their enclave in the northwestern Syrian town of Afrin.
At least 68 civilians have been killed in the offensive according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Turkey has strongly rejected any civilian casualties, saying that its military is showing utmost care not to harm any civilians in the Afrin region.
The Turkish foreign ministry described the EU parliamentary resolution as “nothing but a patchwork of ungrounded claims compiled... just for the sake of criticism.”
The emergency measures are still needed “to fully eliminate the threats against the existence of our state and our nation’s right to democratic life,” the ministry insisted.
On Tuesday EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini also denounced the continuation of Turkey’s emergency measures and Ankara’s military action in Syria.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to meet top European Union officials next month in the Bulgarian city of Varna, officials said Tuesday, in a bid to repair strained ties.
Relations between the EU and Turkey have taken a nosedive since the July 2016 failed coup as well as Brussels’ continued objections to Ankara’s crackdown. Over 140,000 people have been suspended or sacked over alleged links to coup-plotters.
Turkey’s EU membership talks that officially began in 2005 have stalled since the coup bid, to the chagrin of Erdogan who previously said the wait was “exhausting.”
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Jordanians fight back against terrorism

King Abdullah and Crown Prince Hussein during their visit to the Gendarmerie and Public Security Directorates headquarters in Amman on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 15 August 2018
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Jordanians fight back against terrorism

  • Militants from Daesh and other radical groups have long targeted Jordan and dozens of militants are serving long prison terms
  • Jordanian security forces have been extra vigilant having warned that sympathizers of Daesh could launch revenge attacks after militants were driven out of most of the territory

JEDDAH: The terrorist attacks in Jordan over the weekend shocked the country but the people support the security agencies in countering extremist ideologies, political analysts told Arab News on Tuesday.
The chain of events in Jordan began on Friday when assailants detonated a homemade bomb under a police car guarding a music festival in the predominantly Christian town of Fuheis, west of the capital, Amman. The blast killed a police officer.
Security forces chasing the Fuheis suspects raided a multi-story building in the nearby town of Salt on Saturday.
The militants opened fire and set off explosives, killing four members of the security forces and collapsing part of the building. Three suspects were killed and five were taken into custody.
The assailants had hoarded large quantities of explosives that were apparently intended for attacks on civilians in public places and on security installations. The explosives “were ready, on a timer, and could be detonated immediately,” government spokeswoman Jumana Ghuneimat told reporters at a press conference on Monday.
According to university professor and geopolitical analyst Amer Sabaileh, the attack in Fuheis and the subsequent clashes in the city of Salt indicated that the terrorists were currently targeting the security services.
“The explosive device planted under a security patrol’s vehicle in Fuheis did not target civilians, although there were large numbers participating in the Fuheis Festival. They insisted on sending a clear message that the target of terrorism at this stage are the security services,” Sabaileh said.
This trend indicated that there was an internal decision among the members of these terrorist organizations that the “enemy” was the security members but not civilians.
This puts the members of the security services in direct confrontation with this pattern of terrorism, which was clearly evident in other countries where the security services were targeted directly, he said.
However, this did not mean that the terrorists might not also target civilians in the future.
Sabaileh praised the timely security operation to unveil and swiftly counter the terrorist cell behind the Fuhais attack in less than 24 hours.
“The logical reading of the events of Salt indicates the high effectiveness of the anti-terrorism squad at the Jordanian intelligence department, which was able to read the facts of the Fuheis attack and identify the people and the point of their presence very quickly,” he said.
Nevertheless, he said, the high number of casualties among the security task force that responded to the terrorists requires the Jordanian authorities to revise all security plans, training and tactics.
Officials said on Monday that the suspected militants who killed members of Jordan’s security forces over the weekend were Jordanian citizens who support the ideology of the Daesh group but did not have proven links to foreign funding or foreign extremist organizations.
“It is clear that all the conferences, seminars and funds spent on strategies and plans to combat extremism and terrorism, and the establishment of a special unit (the anti-extremism unit), were in vain and had no real value, and this requires those responsible to reconsider all training programs and anti-terrorism strategies,” he said.
Hassan Barari, a professor of political science at the University of Jordan, said that there were lessons to be learnt from the recent attacks.
“First, there is a consensus among Jordanians that the stability and security of the country is a top priority. The solidarity expressed by Jordanians is a statement of a strong domestic front, and this should be reinforced by sound policies by the government,” Barari said.
“Second, there is a pressing need to nip radicalism in the bud. We all know that there are some incubating environments for radicalism in at least three sites in Jordan. Given the gravity of the situation, the government should adopt a deradicalization strategy. True, the security approach is a key pillar for this strategy; yet, it is far from being sufficient,” he said.
He underlined that many young Jordanians were susceptible to radicalization due to their perception of the weakness of the current political reality and a lack of a stake in the political order, and it was time to admit that there was an ideological component to this that could not be confronted by force alone.
On Tuesday, King Abdullah visited the General Directorate of the Gendarmerie and the General Security Directorate, where he said: “We are not worried about the security of our country’s present and future. Our society rejects the extremist ideas and those carrying it and trying to force it on our society.”