Erdogan says Turkey to continue military operation against N.Iraq PKK

Photo showing banners with Turkish President Tayyip Rajab Erdogan and Turkey’s ruling AK Party (AKP) flags hang over Galata bridge in Istanbul, Turkey, June 10, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 11 June 2018
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Erdogan says Turkey to continue military operation against N.Iraq PKK

  • Erdogan: “We have begun our operations in Qandil and Sinjar a...twenty of our planes destroyed 14 important targets.
  • The PKK has waged a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984.

ISTANBUL: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday said Turkey was pressing an operation against bases of outlawed Kurdish militants in northern Iraq with intense air strikes that were far from over.
Speaking less than two weeks ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections, Erdogan told a rally that the Turkish air force had destroyed 14 key targets of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Qandil mountain area of northern Iraq.
There has been growing expectation in Turkey that the government was preparing a major operation against the PKK in Qandil although Ankara has denied any link with the looming June 24 polls.
“We have begun our operations in Qandil and Sinjar,” Erdogan told a rally in the Anatolian province of Nigde.
“Twenty of our planes destroyed 14 important targets. They struck and came back. It’s not over and it will continue,” he said.
The Turkish army on Sunday had already announced it had hit 14 targets in air raids on Qandil.
A presidential source later specified that Erdogan’s comments related only to Qandil and not Sinjar, another area in northern Iraq where the PKK has a presence.
Analysts say that a major operation against the PKK in northern Iraq would give Erdogan a welcome boost in the snap polls which are expected to be tighter than initially predicted.
But an extensive ground operation would also be fraught with risk, given the complex mountainous terrain of the Qandil region which is well known to the PKK but not the Turkish army.
It is in this area that the PKK’s military leadership such as Murat Karayilan and Cemil Bayik are believed to be based.
Outlawed by Ankara and its Western allies, the PKK has waged a bloody insurgency against the Turkish state since 1984, and the army is battling the group’s militants both inside Turkey and in northern Iraq.
Ankara earlier this year successfully carried out a major cross-border incursion into Syria along with allied Syrian rebels, taking the Afrin region in the northwest from a Kurdish militia.
Erdogan accused his main election rival Muharrem Ince of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and its leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu of being opposed to the Afrin operation, charging: “This country cannot be managed by the likes of you.”


Another Turkish journalist jailed over Gulen links

Ali Unal was chief writer at the now-defunct Zaman newspaper. (Supplied)
Updated 15 November 2018
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Another Turkish journalist jailed over Gulen links

  • About 250 people were killed in the coup attempt and in the subsequent crackdown, Turkey jailed 77,000 people pending trial

ISTANBUL: A court sentenced Turkish journalist Ali Unal to 19 years in jail on Wednesday on a charge of being a leader in the network accused of carrying out a failed coup in July 2016, the state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.
The ruling followed a sustained crackdown in the wake of the coup attempt, but also came amid steps by the government that appear aimed at improving ties with the US and Europe, strained by the sweeping campaign of arrests.
Unal was chief writer at the now-defunct Zaman newspaper, widely seen as the flagship media outlet for the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara says orchestrated the attempted putsch. Gulen denies any involvement.
Speaking by video link from jail to the court in the western province of Usak, Unal denied being a founder or leader of the network and denied involvement in the putsch, Anadolu said.
“I have no link with any terrorist organization,” he said, adding that he had spoken five or six times to Gulen and that he was being tried over his writing.
He was sentenced to 19 years and six months for “leading an armed terrorist group.” Six other Zaman journalists were convicted on similar charges in July.
About 250 people were killed in the coup attempt and in the subsequent crackdown, Turkey jailed 77,000 people pending trial. Authorities also sacked or suspended 150,000 civil servants and military personnel and shut down dozens of media outlets.Illustrating the scale of its actions, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday his ministry had dismissed 23 percent of its career personnel over links to Gulen.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said some journalists helped nurture terrorists with their writing, and that the crackdown is needed to ensure stability in a NATO member bordering Syria, Iraq and Iran. Critics say Erdogan has used the crackdown to muzzle dissent and increase his own power. The European Union, which Turkey aspires to join, has also criticized the crackdown. The verdict came a day after another court threw out the conviction of former Wall Street Journal reporter Ayla Albayrak, annulling a verdict sentencing her to two years in prison in absentia on charges of carrying out propaganda for Kurdish militants.