Erdogan demotes military architect of Turkey’s Libya policy

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (Reuters File Photo)
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Updated 17 May 2020

Erdogan demotes military architect of Turkey’s Libya policy

  • Rear Admiral Cihat Yayci is said to be the architect of Turkey's aggressive behavior in the Mediterranean

JEDDAH: A key military leader behind Ankara’s naval policy regarding Libya was suspended from active duties in a surprise move by the Turkish president on Friday night.

The rear admiral and chief of staff of the Turkish Navy, Cihat Yayci, was assigned to the Turkish General Staff in the decision signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A recent close adviser to Erdogan on Mediterranean issues, Yayci was the architect of Turkey’s controversial maritime policy with Libya.

Whether the downgrading of his post is a sign of change in Turkey’s eastern Mediterranean policy remains uncertain.

In a recent book, “Requirements of Greece: The Problems in the Aegean with Questions and Answers,” Yayci argued that as the successor to the Ottoman Empire, Turkey should claim sovereignty over some islands and islets in the Aegean Sea. This angered Greek officials and made headlines in Turkey’s western neighbor.

In a statement in December, Erdogan had expressed gratitude to Yayci for his work on his country’s Libya policy, and for introducing the Turkish-Libyan maritime deal that was signed on Nov. 27.

The bilateral agreement was criticized by many as a fait accompli aimed at changing regional dynamics.

Yayci gained much popularity in pro-government circles. He also suggested drawing up a similar maritime delimitation agreement for Israel — a surprise move that was covered by Arab News.

According to an Ankara-based ex-military officer turned analyst, the clique that once supported Yayci within the establishment may have lost influence.

“Now the main question is whether he’ll submit his resignation or wait for August when Turkey’s Supreme Military Council will be held,” he told Arab News.

“Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar either pushes for the retirement of the generals who contradict him or reassigns them to passive duties.”

The Supreme Military Council, a committee convened by senior army officials and presided over by the Turkish president, is usually held in the first week of August and announces the promotions and dismissals of top brass.

All eyes were on Yayci for this year’s council, where he was expected to be promoted to vice admiral.

Another Ankara-based military analyst told Arab News: “His (Yayci’s) controversial books covering suggestions for Turkish maritime policy infuriated Akar, as he was outspoken in voicing his ideas about military moves.”

The analyst said: “However, the final straw was his (Yayci’s) insistence on pushing for negotiations between Israel and Ankara over the delimitation of maritime borders. The Turkish Foreign Ministry was against such a deal.”

Yayci was prevented from attending a critical strategy meeting at the presidential palace in December. Another admiral was sent in his place without any official explanation.


Yemen prisoner exchange talks open in Switzerland

United Nations Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths. (AP)
Updated 19 September 2020

Yemen prisoner exchange talks open in Switzerland

  • The Yemen conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, and sparked what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis

GENEVA: Rival parties in Yemen’s war opened UN-sponsored talks on Friday aimed at an exchange deal for the release of more than 1,400 prisoners, the UN said.
The internationally recognized government and Iran-backed Houthi rebels agreed to exchange some 15,000 detainees as part of peace deal brokered by the UN in Sweden in 2018.
The two sides have since made sporadic prisoner swaps, but the release of 900 loyalists in exchange for 520 insurgents — if it materializes — would mark the first large-scale handover since the war erupted in 2014.
“The #Yemen Prisoners & Detainees Committee meeting started today. I am grateful to #Switzerland for hosting it & to @ICRC for co-chairing,” UN envoy Martin Griffiths tweeted, without giving an exact location for the talks.

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The two sides have since made sporadic prisoner swaps, but the release of 900 loyalists in exchange for 520 insurgents — if it materializes — would mark the first large-scale handover since the war erupted in 2014.

“My message to the Parties is: conclude discussions, release detainees swiftly, bring relief to thousands of Yemeni families,” he wrote.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), for its part, said it was ready to help with the return of detainees to their families.
A source close to Yemen’s presidency said on Wednesday that the talks in Switzerland would “lay out the final touches” after agreement was reached with the ICRC “on all logistical arrangements.”
Gen. Nasser Mansour Hadi, brother of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, along with several politicians and journalists, would be among those released, he said.
A former senior intelligence official, the general has been held by the rebels ever since they overran Sanaa in late 2014.
The Yemen conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, and sparked what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.