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 may suspend ties with UAE over Israel deal, Erdogan says

Updated 9 min 18 sec ago

Turkey may suspend ties with UAE over Israel deal, Erdogan says

  • Turkey has diplomatic and trade ties with Israel, but relations have been strained for years

ISTANBUL: Turkey is considering suspending diplomatic ties with the UAE and withdrawing its ambassador over the Gulf state’s accord to normalize ties with Israel, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.
The Turkish foreign ministry said history would never forgive the UAE’s “hypocritical behavior” in agreeing such a deal, which recasts the order of Middle East politics.
Under the US-brokered deal, the first between Israel and a Gulf Arab country, the Jewish state agreed to suspend its planned annexation of areas of the occupied West Bank. Palestinian leaders have denounced it as a “stab in the back” to their cause.

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READ MORE: UAE, Israel reach ‘historic deal’ to normalize relations

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“The move against Palestine is not a step that can be stomached. Now, Palestine is either closing or withdrawing its embassy. The same thing is valid for us now,” Erdogan said, adding he gave orders to his foreign minister.
“I told him we may also take a step in the direction of suspending diplomatic ties with the Abu Dhabi leadership or pulling back our ambassador,” he told reporters after Friday prayers.
The Foreign Ministry had earlier said Palestinians were right to reject the deal in which the UAE betrayed their cause.
“History and the conscience of the region’s peoples will not forget and never forgive this hypocritical behavior,” it said. “It is extremely worrying that the UAE should, with a unilateral action, try and do away with the (2002) Arab Peace Plan developed by the Arab League.”
Turkey has diplomatic and trade ties with Israel, but relations have been strained for years. In 2010 Israeli commandos killed 10 Turkish activists trying to breach a blockade on the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.
The deal makes UAE the third Arab country to establish full relations with Israel, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.