US senator warns against further Turkish incursions in Syria

A picture taken on April 2, 2018 shows a general view of a US military base in the al-Asaliyah village, between the city of Aleppo and the northern town of Manbij. (AFP file photo)
Updated 05 July 2018

US senator warns against further Turkish incursions in Syria

  • Turkey has launched two military incursions into northern Syria in the last two years, driving back Kurdish YPG and Daesh fighters.
  • US Senators Lindsey Graham and Jeanne Shaheen toured the town with members of the Manbij Military Council on July 2. 

BAGHDAD: Turkey could find itself in a quagmire if it deepens its involvement in Syria’s multi-sided civil war, a US senator said on Wednesday after meeting President Tayyip Erdogan this week.

Lindsey Graham, a Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Reuters on a visit to Baghdad that Turkey should support a continued US presence in Syria.

Turkey has launched two military incursions into northern Syria in the last two years, driving back Kurdish YPG and Daesh fighters.

Ankara is outraged by US support for the YPG, considering the militia a terrorist organization. It has threatened further operations against the militia across northern Syria, including in the town of Manbij where US troops are stationed alongside YPG fighters.

“I tried to make the case that you want America in Syria because the outcomes of us leaving are not good,” Graham said after meeting Erdogan in Turkey on a regional tour that also included northern Syria and Iraq.

“You don’t want any further incursions in Syria by the Turkish military, you’ll get yourself in a quagmire,” he added.

Graham and Senator Jeanne Shaheen from the US state of New Hampshire toured the town with members of the Manbij Military Council on July 2. 

Last month, Washington and Ankara endorsed a tentative deal in which the YPG would withdraw from Manbij while Turkish and US forces would jointly maintain security and stability. Turkey says its forces and the US military are now carrying coordinated but separate patrols there.

Keeping YPG fighters east of the Euphrates River, about 20 km from Manbij, “should be sufficient,” Graham said.

Turkish officials did not immediately respond to his comments.


Bangladeshi migrants to be repatriated from Libya

Updated 14 November 2019

Bangladeshi migrants to be repatriated from Libya

DHAKA: One hundred and seventy-one Bangladeshi migrants are waiting to be repatriated from two detention centers in Libya after being rescued from the Mediterranean coast on Oct. 30 as they tried to make their way into Europe, officials told Arab News on Wednesday. 

In all, 200 migrants were rescued during the operation.

“The registration process of all the Bangladeshi migrants has been completed and we are expecting to start the repatriation by the end of November,” ASM Ashraful Islam, councilor at the Bangladesh embassy in Libya, said.

He added that, due to the ongoing war in Libya, airports in Tripoli remain non-operational. The Bangladeshi migrants will fly from Misrata airport, 300 kilometers away.

“There are frequent incidents of bombardment and long-range missile strikes (at Tripoli airport),” Islam explained. He said no international airline was currently willing to fly from Libya to Bangladesh, so the embassy intends to charter a flight to repatriate the migrants.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) will bear the expenses for the rescued Bangladeshis, who are currently being held at detention centers in Zanzur and Abu Salim, he said, adding, “Bangladesh mission staffers in Tripoli are in constant touch with the returnees and providing necessary food and other assistance for them.”

In recent years, human traffickers have used Libya as a gateway through which to send illegal migrants to Italy and other European countries. According to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency — Frontex — around 30,000 Bangladeshi migrants have been arrested while trying to enter Europe in the last decade. The organization said that, in recent years, Bangladesh is one of the countries from which the most illegal migrants have tried to enter Europe. The IOM has facilitated the repatriation of Bangladeshi citizens from Libya in the past — 924 in 2017, 307 in 2016, and 521 in 2015.

“Among unemployed Bangladeshi fortune seekers, there is a (desire) to migrate to Europe by any means, and human-trafficking syndicates at home and abroad (have grabbed) this opportunity,” Shariful Hasan, head of the migration program at the Bangladesh-based development organization BRAC, told Arab News. “There needs to be an integrated effort by all concerned countries, with the support of Interpol, to curb this human trafficking.”