Erdogan should be prosecuted over Syrian offensive: former UN investigator

Former UN investigator Carla del Ponte said Turkey’s intervention had broken international law and had reignited the conflict in Syria. (AFP)
Updated 26 October 2019

Erdogan should be prosecuted over Syrian offensive: former UN investigator

  • Former UN investigator Carla del Ponte: Turkey’s intervention had broken international law and had reignited the conflict in Syria
  • Turkey’s NATO allies, including the United States, have criticized its military incursion in northeast Syria

ZURICH: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan should be investigated and indicted for war crimes over his country’s military offensive in Syria, former prosecutor and UN investigator Carla del Ponte said in an interview published on Saturday.
Del Ponte, a former member of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said Turkey’s intervention had broken international law and had reignited the conflict in Syria.
Ankara says its incursion — launched after US troops withdrew from the Syrian-Turkish border area — solely targeted the Kurdish YPG militia, which it regards as terrorists linked to Kurdish insurgents operating in southeast Turkey.
“For Erdogan to be able to invade Syrian territory to destroy the Kurds is unbelievable,” said del Ponte, a former Swiss attorney general who prosecuted war crimes in Rwanda and former Yugoslavia.
“An investigation should be opened into him and he should be charged with war crimes. He should not be allowed to get away with this scot free,” she told the Swiss newspaper Schweiz am Wochenende in an interview.
Ankara halted its military offensive last week under a US-brokered cease-fire. Erdogan then negotiated an accord with Russian President Vladimir Putin whereby Syrian border guards and Russian military police began clearing the YPG from within 30 km (19 miles) of the Syrian-Turkish frontier.
From Tuesday Russian and Turkish forces will start to patrol a narrower, 10-km strip of land in northeast Syria where US troops had been deployed for years alongside their former Kurdish allies.
Turkey’s NATO allies, including the United States, have criticized its military incursion in northeast Syria, fearing it will undermine the fight against Daesh militants.
But del Ponte said European nations were reluctant to confront Turkey over its actions after Erdogan threatened to “open the gates” for refugees to head to Europe.
“Erdogan has the refugees as a bargaining chip,” she said.
Del Ponte joined the three-member Syria inquiry in September 2012, chronicling incidents such as chemical weapons attacks, a genocide against Iraq’s Yazidi population, siege tactics, and the bombing of aid convoys.
She quit in 2017, saying a lack of political backing from the UN Security Council made the job impossible.


Turkey’s Erdogan takes on former ally with foundation takeover

Updated 22 min 10 sec ago

Turkey’s Erdogan takes on former ally with foundation takeover

ANKARA: The Turkish government has taken over the management of a foundation set up by a former ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as hostility between the two men heats up.
Erdogan is punishing Ahmet Davutoglu, who is also former prime minister, for breaking away from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and launching a new rival party to appeal to  disillusioned voters.
Davutoglu co-founded the Foundation for Sciences and Arts (BSV) in 1986, but on Tuesday it was taken over by a government ministry-affiliated body.
The BSV said the decision was “arbitrary” and a “dangerous initiative.”
The government recently appointed a government official to the privately-owned Istanbul Sehir University, which is also affiliated with Davutoglu, after it failed to pay back loans to state-run Halkbank.
But Davutoglu has come out swinging despite the setbacks to his legacy. This week he criticized the government’s handling of the economy, alleging that Erdogan's team was manipulating inflation figures to paint a rosy picture.
“Think about a doctor who tells his patient that he is fine by changing his test results. The patient says ‘I'm dying,’ but the doctor says, ‘Look at the figures, your test results are fine.’ The economic administration in Turkey is doing precisely the same,” the former prime minister said.