Erdogan to meet Trump in Washington on Nov. 13

Turkey Islamic State Thu 07 Nov 2019 05:54 AST (Dated Wed 06 Nov 2019) Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, on Nov. 6, 2019. (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)
Updated 07 November 2019

Erdogan to meet Trump in Washington on Nov. 13

  • Trump issued a tweet saying he’d had a “very good call” with Erdogan and would “look forward” to hosting him

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan will travel to the United States next week to meet Donald Trump, the Turkish presidency said Wednesday, amid heightened tensions between the two countries.
In a telephone conversation, “the two leaders reconfirmed that they will meet in Washington on Wednesday, November 13, on President Trump’s invitation,” the Turkish presidency said.
Erdogan had threatened to cancel his visit due to disputes over the Syrian conflict and the US House of Representatives recognizing the mass killing of Armenians a century ago as genocide.
Trump issued a tweet saying he’d had a “very good call” with Erdogan and would “look forward” to hosting him.
Trump said that during the phone call, they discussed the Syrian-Turkish border, “the eradication of terrorism, the ending of hostilities with the Kurds, and many other topics.”
On the call, Erdogan also discussed the detention of the wife of the late Islamic State (IS) group leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, who was killed during a US raid in Syria.
“He informed me that they have captured numerous Daesh fighters that were reported to have escaped during the conflict — including a wife and sister of terrorist killer al Baghdadi,” Trump tweeted, using an acronym for IS.
In his comments, Erdogan took a swipe at the United States, saying “we didn’t make a big fuss” about the capture of Baghdadi’s wife.
By contrast, he said, the United States “started a very big communication operation” after Baghdadi’s death.
The IS leader was killed in a US special forces operation carried out with the help of Kurdish fighters in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, just across the border from Turkey.
It came in the wake of a Turkish military offensive against the Kurdish forces, who have been a close ally of the West in the fight against IS, but are viewed as terrorists by Ankara.


A tale of two cities: Project aims to retell lost stories from Lahore, Delhi

Updated 48 min 7 sec ago

A tale of two cities: Project aims to retell lost stories from Lahore, Delhi

  • Will give migrants a virtual tour of their childhood towns and homes torn apart by partition of 1947

NEW DELHI: Sparsh Ahuja and Ameena Malak grew up listening to their grandparents narrate stories of the partition from 1947.
Ahuja’s grandfather, Ishar Das Arora, was 7 years old when the Indian subcontinent was divided into two by the British, creating India and Pakistan. 
More than 14 million people were displaced at the time, and about one million perished in the fighting that followed.
Arora moved from a Pakistani village, named Bela, to Delhi after living in several refugee camps and escaping the violence.
Meanwhile, Malak’s grandfather, Ahmed Rafiq, moved from the Indian city of Hoshiarpur to Pakistan’s Lahore.
Now in their 70s, both the grandparents yearn to go back home and see the places where they were born and spent their childhoods. 
However, the constant uncertainty in the relationship between India and Pakistan and their old age has made the task of visiting their respective birthplaces extremely difficult.
To fulfill the wishes of their grandparents, and several others who yearn to visit their ancestral homelands, Ahuja and Malak decided to launch Project Dastaan (story).
“What started as an idea for a student project last year at Oxford University became a larger peace-building venture,” Ahuja, the director of the project, said.
Project Dastaan is a university-backed virtual reality (VR) peace-building initiative reconnecting displaced survivors of partition with their childhood through bespoke 360-degree digital experiences.
Backed by the South Asia Programme at Oxford, it uses VR headsets to give these migrants, who are often over 80 years old, a virtual tour of their childhood towns and homes. It shows them the people and places they most want to see again by finding the exact locations and memories that the survivors seek to revisit, and recreates them.
“It is a creative effort to start a new kind of conversation based on the direct experience of a now-foreign country in the present, rather than relying upon records and memories from the past,” Ahuja told Arab News.
He added that Pakistan-based Khalid Bashir Rai “teared up after his VR experience, and told us we had transported him back” to his childhood.
“At its heart, the project is a poignant commentary on its own absurdity. By taking these refugees back we are trying to highlight the cultural impact of decades of divisive foreign policy and sectarian conflict on the subcontinent. This is a task for policymakers, not university students. In an ideal world, a project like this shouldn’t exist,” Ahuja said.
Other members of Project Dastaan — Saadia Gardezi and Sam Dalrymple — have a connection with partition, too. Gardezi grew up with partition stories; her grandmother volunteered at refugee camps in Lahore, and her grandfather witnessed terrible violence as a young man.
Dalrymple’s grandfather had been a British officer in India during the twilight years of the British Empire. So scarred was he by the partition that he never visited Dalrymple’s family in Delhi, even after 30 years of them living there.
“I think Dastaan is ultimately about stripping away the layers of politics and trying to solve a very simple problem: That children forced to leave their homes, have never been able to go back again,” Dalrymple told Arab News.
Ahuja added: “The partition projects are a peace offering in the heart of hostility. It is an attempt at creating a wider cultural dialogue between citizens and policymakers of the three countries.”
The project aims to reconnect 75 survivors of the partition of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh with their childhood memories, when the subcontinent observes 75 years of partition in 2022.
Project Dastaan is also producing a documentary called “Child of Empire” that will put viewers in the shoes of a 1947 partition migrant, and will be shown at film festivals and museums.