Erdogan ‘trying to start a war in the Med’

Erdogan ‘trying to start a war in the Med’
The Oruc Reis, escorted by military ships, has become the symbol of Ankara’s quest for natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean. (File/AFP)
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Updated 01 November 2020

Erdogan ‘trying to start a war in the Med’

Erdogan ‘trying to start a war in the Med’
  • The Greek Foreign Ministry condemned the Turkish move
  • Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias is to inform the country’s allies about the developments

ANKARA: Turkey has extending research activities of its Oruc Reis seismic research vessel in the disputed waters of the eastern Mediterranean until Nov. 14.

The move is likely to re-ignite regional tensions after the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Turkey and Greece last week, which was expected to lead to a period of earthquake diplomacy, as happened in 1999.

The new navigational alert (Navtex) issued by Turkey covers sea surveys 16 nautical miles off the Greek island of Rhodes and 50 nautical miles from the island of Kastellorizo.

The Greek Foreign Ministry condemned the Turkish move.

“This action creates further tension in a vulnerable region in which attention is now focused on the provision of assistance and on expressions of support and solidarity,” it said in a press release.

“These actions show once again that Turkey is continuing to act in defiance of the appeals of the international community, including the conclusions of the October meeting of the European Council, which called on Turkey to cease these actions,” it added.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias is to inform the country’s allies and partners about the latest developments.

EU leaders agreed on Oct. 2 to give Turkey until early December to reconsider its moves in eastern Mediterranean before considering economic sanctions.

Evangelos D. Kokkinos, an Athens-based geopolitical expert, thinks Turkey issued its Navtex to take advantage Europe’s inability to impose sanctions.

“Most European nations are expected to ‘condemn’ Turkish aggression, but sanctions are out of the question. So, Turkey extending its research activities in the region is another example of ignoring international law and Greek sovereignty,” he told Arab News.

As to what regional tensions it might trigger, Kokkinos thinks that Turkey is already causing serious problems for most of its neighbors, but since both Greece and Turkey are NATO member countries, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s strategy is to provoke Athens into starting a military conflict, so that NATO supports Turkey.

“This is why the tension will remain in what seems like the Mediterranean Cold War,” he said.

According to Seth J. Frantzman, executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis, “the renewal of a provocative Navtex is the latest crisis pushed by Ankara.”

“It had already declared a Navtex in early October. Greece and European countries have condemned the use of these navigational notifications,” he told Arab News.

Frantzman thinks that Turkey uses the Navtex as a way to challenge Greece at sea, which is an abuse of the concept of the Navtex.

“Turkey has done it numerous times in the past several months, shifting from one crisis to another each time. Now Turkey is moving on from having incited against France and Armenia to attacking Greece,” he said, and added:

“It is made even more shameful by the recent earthquake where Greece and others had offered Turkey aid and Ankara’s response is a naval provocation and threat.”

The maritime dispute escalated in August when Turkey first sent its Oruc Reis vessel into waters claimed by Greece and Cyprus. Ankara then withdrew its drilling vessel last month to allow more room for diplomacy ahead of an Oct. 2 European Union summit, where Cyprus and Greece demanded for tough sanctions against Turkey.

Insisting on its rights in the energy-rich Mediterranean region, Turkey dispatched its vessel again on Oct. 12, inciting reaction from the international communit. It sparked concerns about a potential military conflict between the two neighbors who argue over the extent of their continental shelves and claims about regional hydrocarbon resources.


Deputy commander of Iran’s Quds Force dies from ‘heart condition’

Deputy commander of Iran’s Quds Force dies from ‘heart condition’
Updated 10 min 23 sec ago

Deputy commander of Iran’s Quds Force dies from ‘heart condition’

Deputy commander of Iran’s Quds Force dies from ‘heart condition’

RIYADH: The deputy commander of Iran’s military wing that oversees its foreign proxy militias has died from a “heart condition.”
Brig. Gen. Mohammad Hejazi’s death was announced by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Iranian media reported. No further details were given about his death.
He was a senior figure in the Quds Force, the overseas arm of the IRGC, whose overall commander Qassem Soleimani was killed by a US airstrike in January 2020.
The statement said Hejazi, who was 65, was involved in operations in Lebanon where Iran supplies and funds Hezbollah.
The Quds force is considered a terrorist organization by the US, Europe and many countries in the Middle East.


Abducted Yemeni model in Houthi prison threatens hunger strike

Abducted Yemeni model in Houthi prison threatens hunger strike
Entesar Al-Hammadi. (Social media)
Updated 3 min 20 sec ago

Abducted Yemeni model in Houthi prison threatens hunger strike

Abducted Yemeni model in Houthi prison threatens hunger strike
  • The organizations said that the Houthis are still holding hundreds of people inside small, insanitary and overcrowded cells in the military prison in Sanaa

AL-MUKALLA: Abducted Yemeni model Entesar Al-Hammadi has threatened to launch a hunger strike as the Houthis refuse to release her or allow local prosecutors to question her, the model's lawyer told Arab News on Sunday.

Khaled Mohammed Al-Kamal said that the Houthi-controlled Central Prison, where the model has been held since Feb. 20, has rejected a request to transfer the model to the court for investigation.

“My client has threatened to go on hunger strike if she is not released. She has also complained about [verbal] abuses by her [female] captors,” Al-Kamal said, adding that the Central Prison officials gave no convincing reasons for not transferring the model to the court.

“The prison has rejected three demands to transfer my client to the court. I believe that they refused to release her due to the huge media coverage of the case,” the lawyer said.

The 20-year-old model and actress was on her way to a film set when a Houthi checkpoint stopped her vehicle and abducted her and two friends.

“There are no clear charges brought against my client,” he said.

The abduction has triggered outrage on social media as activists renewed demands for designating the Houthis a terrorist organization for their crimes against Yemenis.

The Mothers of Abductees Association, an umbrella organization for thousands of female relatives of war prisoners, strongly condemned the abduction, saying that the Houthis prevented the model’s relatives and lawyer from visiting her.

In a statement, the organization demanded the international community and right groups to pressure the Houthis to stop abusing women and release all abductees.

“The Houthi group is fully responsible for the lives of Entesar and all kidnapped women in its prisons,” the organization said.

Several prisoners have launched a hunger strike in Houthi-held Sanaa to force the Houthis to release them, complaining about prison treatment and the refusal of their captors to set them free, two right groups said.

SAM, the organization for rights and liberties, and the Mothers of Abductees Association said in a joint statement on Saturday that several prisoners who were abducted by the Houthis in 2015, were transferred from the military prison to an unknown location after they launched a hunger strike, and they cautioned that their captors might torture them to force them to end their strike.

The organizations said that the Houthis are still holding hundreds of people inside small, insanitary and overcrowded cells in the military prison in Sanaa.

In March, hundreds of African migrants were killed or wounded when the Houthis caused a fire inside their overcrowded detention center in Sanaa in aa attempt to suppress a riot.

The rebels later used force to disperse a protest by survivors of the fire who demanded justice and compensation, and then deported them to government-controlled areas in southern Yemen.


Iran hit by 5.9-magnitude quake in nuclear plant province

Iran hit by 5.9-magnitude quake in nuclear plant province
Updated 18 April 2021

Iran hit by 5.9-magnitude quake in nuclear plant province

Iran hit by 5.9-magnitude quake in nuclear plant province

TEHRAN: A 5.9-magnitude earthquake Sunday hit Iran's southwestern Bushehr province, which houses a nuclear power plant, injuring five people but causing no major damage, state media said.
The 10-kilometre (six mile) deep quake hit 27 kilometres northwest of the port city of Genaveh at 11:11 am local time (0641 GMT) and was felt in nearby provinces, Iran's seismological agency said.
State news agency IRNA reported that the quake and several aftershocks caused power blackouts and cut phone lines nearby but caused "no damage" at the Bushehr nuclear complex about 100 kilometres away.
"The minor damage to Genaveh's water, electricity, telecommunication and gas infrastructure has been repaired," the head of the province's crisis management told IRNA.
Iran sits astride the boundaries of several major tectonic plates and experiences frequent seismic activity.
In 2003, a 6.6-magnitude quake in southeastern Iran levelled the ancient mud-brick city of Bam and killed at least 31,000 people.
Iran's deadliest quake was a 7.4-magnitude tremor in 1990 that killed 40,000 people in the north, injured 300,000 and left half a million homeless.


Rockets hit Iraqi air base, 2 security forces wounded

Rockets hit Iraqi air base, 2 security forces wounded
Updated 18 April 2021

Rockets hit Iraqi air base, 2 security forces wounded

Rockets hit Iraqi air base, 2 security forces wounded
  • Two crashed into a dormitory and a canteen of US company Sallyport
  • There have been around 20 attacks against US interests since Biden took office

BAGHDAD: Multiple rockets hit an Iraqi air base just north of the capital Baghdad Sunday, wounding two Iraqi security forces, an Iraqi military commander said.
In comments to Iraq’s official news agency, Maj. Gen. Diaa Mohsen, commander of the Balad air base, said at least two rockets exploded inside the base, which houses US trainers. The attack comes days after an explosives-laden drone targeted US-led coalition forces near a northern Iraq airport, causing a large fire and damage to a building.
Mohsen said the attack resulted in the injury of two security forces, one of them in serious condition and the other only slightly. There was no material damage inside the base from the attack, he added.
The incident was the latest in a string of attacks that have targeted mostly American installations in Iraq in recent weeks. There was no immediate responsibility claim, but US officials have previously blamed Iran-backed Iraqi militia factions for such attacks.
American forces withdrew from Iraq in 2011 but returned in 2014 at the invitation of Iraq to help battle Daesh after it seized vast areas in the north and west of the country. In late 2020, US troop levels in Iraq were reduced to 2,500 after withdrawals based on orders from the Trump administration.
Calls grew for further US troop withdrawals after a US-directed drone strike killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and an Iraqi militia leader in Baghdad in January 2020.
Last month, a base in western Iraq housing US-led coalition troops and contractors was hit by 10 rockets. One contractor was killed.


Eleven dead, 98 injured after train derails in Egypt

Eleven dead, 98 injured after train derails in Egypt
Updated 18 April 2021

Eleven dead, 98 injured after train derails in Egypt

Eleven dead, 98 injured after train derails in Egypt
  • 58 ambulances rushed to the site and moved the injured to three hospitals in the province

CAIRO: A train derailed in Egypt's Qalioubia province north of Cairo leaving eleven dead and 98 injured, the health ministry said in a statement.
58 ambulances rushed to the site and moved the injured to three hospitals in the province, it said.

 

Egypt’s health minister Hala Zayed visited the injured in hospital after the incident and 14 wounded people have been discharged from hospital. 
The train departed Cairo at 1:20 P.M. and was due to arrive in Mansoura at 5:00 P.M. 
At least 20 people were killed and nearly 200 were injured in March when two trains collided near Tahta in Sohag province.