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.

Hezbollah responds to Netanyahu with a media tour of steel factory

Updated 31 min 24 sec ago

Hezbollah responds to Netanyahu with a media tour of steel factory

  • The local and international media accompanied the official of media relations in Hezbollah

BEIRUT: A few hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Hezbollah, during his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, of having "secret headquarters in the southern suburbs of Beirut," the party organized a media tour of the Jnah area that Netanyahu referred to, to deny the information he provided.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah responded to Netanyahu in a live speech on Tuesday night, and called on the air the media to tour the facility that Netanyahu talked about and said: "We do not place our missiles, neither in the Beirut port, nor near a gas station, nor between homes, and we know." Well, where should we place our missiles? "

The local and international media accompanied the official of media relations in Hezbollah, Muhammad Afif, to the facility that Netanyahu talked about in Jnah area and it turned out to be a steel-cutting factory and said: "We are not scouts for the enemy and we do not provide him with information, but this tour aims to reveal that these facilities have no connection with storage Weapons of resistance. "

The media tour accompanied by supporters of the party chanting for Nasrallah, during which Muhammad Afif said: "The enemy's claims are false, and this industrial facility has existed for decades."

The owner of the industrial facility in the Janah, who came in hastily at night to open the plant to the media, said: "This is a steel-cutting factory. We have workers and we work normally. Our doors are always open to everyone, and there are no missiles in it as you can see."

This plant is located in the industrial area of ​​Jnah, on the administrative borders of Beirut. Netanyahu had said of it that has "missile depots a meter away from gas depots near Beirut airport."

In information released by its spokesman, Avichai Adrai, the Israeli army identified two additional sites, which he claimed "Hezbollah used to manufacture parts for precision-guided missiles."

“One of the two sites is an underground facility built under four seven-story residential buildings in which 70 families live in the Al-Laylaki neighborhood east of Beirut International Airport, and next to it is a church and a medical center, and the second facility is under a complex of five residential buildings in which about 50 families live in Choueifat, located about 90 meters from a mosque.