Turkey renames US embassy street amid row over Syria operation

A woman walks in front of the United State Embassy in Ankara. (File Photo: AFP)
Updated 19 February 2018
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Turkey renames US embassy street amid row over Syria operation

ANKARA: The street in Ankara where the US embassy is located was renamed after Turkey’s offensive against a Kurdish militia on Monday, just days after the two sides agreed on the need to normalize relations.
Already tense ties were strained further when Ankara started a ground and air offensive dubbed “Olive Branch” last month against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in its enclave of Afrin in western Syria.
Ankara views the YPG as a terrorist offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an insurgency in Turkey which is listed as a terror organization by the US and the European Union.
But in Syria, Washington has been providing arms to the YPG against the Daesh group, much to Ankara’s chagrin in a dispute that has ignited the biggest crisis in bilateral ties since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.
The US has previously called on Ankara for restraint and said operation “Olive Branch” risked becoming a distraction from the fight against jihadists in Syria.
The renaming of the street follows a visit by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Ankara last week when he met Turkish officials including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the two sides agreed to cooperate in Syria.
“We are not going to act alone any longer, not US doing one thing, Turkey doing another,” Tillerson said after talks with Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.
The two sides said they would set up working groups to solve key issues affecting relations.
Ankara mayor Mustafa Tuna mooted the plan to change the name from Nevzat Tandogan (a former Ankara governor) to Olive Branch avenue before Tillerson arrived on Thursday.
City workers switched the actual signs on Monday.
Although the American embassy is located on what is now Olive Branch avenue, the mission’s official address is given as the street behind the building, which is named after Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish republic.
Renaming streets has become a favored diplomacy tool for Ankara.
Tensions with the UAE flared last month when the emirate’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan retweeted a post on Twitter critical of the former Ottoman rulers of the region.
In response Ankara renamed the street where the UAE embassy is located after the Ottoman governor of the time.


Amnesty says Daesh group decimated rural Iraq

Updated 1 min 53 sec ago
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Amnesty says Daesh group decimated rural Iraq

  • Amnesty reported Daesh fighters burnt or chopped down orchards, sabotaged wells and stole or destroyed vital farming equipment
  • The extremists seized control of much of northern Iraq in the summer of 2014

BAGHDAD: Amnesty International says the Daesh group’s deliberate destruction of agriculture in northern Iraq has hindered the return of hundreds of thousands of residents.
The New York-based rights group issued a new report on Thursday, saying Daesh fighters burnt or chopped down orchards, sabotaged wells and stole or destroyed vital farming equipment.
The extremists seized control of much of northern Iraq in the summer of 2014. US-backed Iraqi forces gradually drove the militants from all the territory under their control, declaring victory a year ago.
Amnesty is calling on the Iraqi government to repair rural infrastructure and compensate the displaced so they can return to their homes. It warns that the failure to address rural poverty could allow the extremist group to stage a comeback.