Turkey set for new ‘anti-terror’ law after emergency

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech to MPs of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Saturday, July 7, 2018. (File Photo:AP/Burhan Ozbilici)
Updated 16 July 2018
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Turkey set for new ‘anti-terror’ law after emergency

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s ruling party on Monday submitted to parliament a new “anti-terror” bill that would bolster the powers of the authorities in detaining suspects and imposing public order even after the current two-year state of emergency ends.
The state of emergency, imposed in the wake of the July 2016 failed coup aimed at unseating President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been extended seven times and seen tens of thousands arrested.
With the government indicating that no new extension will be sought after Erdogan won a new mandate in June 24 presidential elections, the emergency is due to end overnight Wednesday to Thursday.
But state-run Anadolu news agency said that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had submitted amendments to existing laws to parliament to deal with the “fight against terror after the state of emergency.”
Turkey considers itself to be simultaneously fighting several groups deemed by Ankara to be terror outfits, including Islamic State (IS) jihadists, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the group of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen blamed for the 2016 putsch bid.
Under the proposed new legislation, authorities will be able to prohibit individuals exiting and entering a defined area for 15 days on security grounds, Anadolu said.
It says a suspect can be held without charge for 48 hours or up to four days in the case of multiple offenses.
But this period can be extended up to twice if there is difficulty in collecting evidence or if the case is deemed to be particularly voluminous.
The head of the AKP’s parliamentary group Bulent Turan said that the 28-article bill had been sent to opposition parties and expressed hope that it would be put to a vote next week.
The AKP fell short of a majority in the 600-seat parliament in the polls but is able to push through legislation with the support of its hard right allies, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
“The state of emergency is going to end in the next days. But the end of the state of emergency does not mean our fight against terror is going to come to an end,” said Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul.


Killings, abductions feed frustration in Idlib

Residents are falling victim to infighting between rival groups in Idlib. (FIle/AFP)
Updated 6 min 30 sec ago
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Killings, abductions feed frustration in Idlib

  • Activists and analysts blame most of the violence on two rival umbrella groups, also attributing some to the Daesh group and alleged regime collaborators
  • In June, doctors and pharmacists in Idlib city announced a three-day strike to protest against “chaos and a lack of security,” including the kidnapping of doctors for ransom

BEIRUT: Targeted killings and kidnappings for ransom have for months rattled Syria’s Idlib province, with angry residents blaming dominant opposition and terrorist forces for the chaos.
Even as the regime says it aims to retake the northwestern province on Turkey’s border, its inhabitants are falling victim to infighting between the rival groups controlling most of it.
Car bombings, roadside explosives and gunfire have targeted and killed more than 200 fighters, but have also cost the lives of dozens of civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says.
These mostly unclaimed killings, as well as increasingly frequent abductions, have left inhabitants in constant fear of being caught up in the violence.
“Every time I want to take my car somewhere, I inspect it thoroughly... to make sure there’s no explosive device planted in it,” said a media activist in southern Idlib.
“Whenever I drive by a dustbin, I accelerate, afraid it’s going to blow up,” he said, asking to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals.
At the mosque on Fridays, he sits at the front of the congregation, as far away as possible from the entrance, in case a car or motorbike blows up outside.
Since April, 270 people — including 55 civilians — have been killed in assassinations of rebels and commanders from all sides in Idlib, and adjacent parts of Hama and Aleppo provinces, the Britain-based Observatory says.
Activists and analysts blame most of the violence on two rival umbrella groups, also attributing some to the Daesh group and alleged regime collaborators.
The Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) alliance, which is led by terrorists from Al-Qaeda’s former Syrian affiliate, controls more than 60 percent of Idlib. Part of the rest is held by the National Liberation Front, a rival umbrella group backed by Turkey, while Daesh also has sleeper cells in the area.
The regime holds the southeastern tip of the province that is home to some 2.5 million people — more than half displaced by Syria’s seven-year war or bussed into Idlib under surrender deals.
As the rampant insecurity in opposition areas reaches all walks of life, residents have grown increasingly angry.
The media activist from southern Idlib said he mostly blamed the dominant force of HTS for the chaos.
“As the most powerful force on the ground, it is responsible for guaranteeing security,” the activist said.
Medical staff in the HTS-held provincial capital have also had enough.
In June, doctors and pharmacists in Idlib city announced a three-day strike to protest against “chaos and a lack of security,” including the kidnapping of doctors for ransom.
In one of the latest incidents, on Aug. 7, masked men abducted Khalil Agha, a hospital director in the southwest of the province, said district spokesman Mahmud Al-Sheikh.
He was only released a week later after payment of a $100,000 ransom, Sheikh said.
A second activist said that, in the street, residents changed their route if they saw men with scarves wrapped around their faces, fearing an attack.
In recent weeks, HTS as well as other combatants have arrested not only alleged Daesh members, but also dozens of people accused of collusion with the regime.
Rebels fear loyalists could help broker a surrender deal, but HTS official Khaled Al-Ali also accused regime forces of helping to foment instability.
President Bashar Assad on July 26 said regaining control of Idlib was a priority. But analysts say any offensive is likely to be limited to Idlib’s peripheries, to allow Turkey and regime ally Russia to eke out a deal for the rest of the province.
A report for the Turkey-based Omran Center for Strategic Studies said the chaos was due to “competition between a flurry of local forces,” as well as IS and regime sleeper cells.
The instability was affecting the popularity of all rebels, the report’s author Nawar Oliver told AFP, especially HTS.
“Many areas in Idlib hate HTS and are ready to revolt against them at any time,” said the analyst.
Popular anger “could help the regime if it tried to take back the province,” Oliver said.
But discontent over the violence could also “make civilians more favorable to an alternative” put forward by Ankara and Moscow, he said.