Turkish opposition politician investigated for criticizing Qatar military deal

Turkish opposition politician investigated for criticizing Qatar military deal
Ali Mahir Basarir. (Photo/Twitter)
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Updated 01 December 2020

Turkish opposition politician investigated for criticizing Qatar military deal

Turkish opposition politician investigated for criticizing Qatar military deal
  • MP accused of ‘humiliating’ Turkish government and army

ISTANBUL: A Turkish opposition politician who is being investigated for criticizing a military deal with Qatar has defended his remarks.

MP Ali Mahir Basarir, from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said the Turkish army had been sold to the Qataris under a series of deals that were signed between the two governments on Nov. 26.

“We have reached a point where the state’s army is sold to Qatar in a first for the country’s history,” he said during a TV interview.

He criticized a contract that was signed last year with military vehicle producer BMC, a Turkish-Qatari joint venture, for the mass manufacture of the Altay tank, Turkey’s first new generation main battle tank.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office on Nov. 29 launched a probe into the opposition politician for “humiliating the Turkish government and the army.”

But Basarir denied his remarks were critical of the army. “I stand behind my words,” he tweeted on Sunday. “Selling a military factory of our army to another country is treachery. It is betrayal.”

There have been strongly worded statements from government officials, and even accusations of him of being “a lover” of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“This deputy is not worthy of representing our sacred nation,” Mahir Unal, deputy leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), tweeted. “He should quickly apologize.”

AKP spokesman Omer Celik blamed Basarir for “using poisonous language devoid of morals about the heroic Turkish army.”

The Turkish Defense Ministry is expected to file a complaint about the MP for “insulting the army and Turkish soldiers,” while Turkey’s media watchdog will investigate the broadcast.

Turkey’s top tank factory was transferred to a Turkish-Qatari private venture in 2019 to produce armored vehicles.

The Turkish partner of BMC, Ethem Sancak, is known to be a close confidant of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The plant was leased by BMC, which will operate the national tank factory for 25 years, but the lease price has never been made public.

The deal was criticized by opposition figures at the time, and they emphasized the strategic importance of such a factory for Turkey’s defense capabilities.

Qatar also signed a billion-dollar contract last year to buy about 100 tanks from Turkey.

But Germany is reluctant to share its engine expertise technology - which is critical for making these tanks - with Turkey due to political concerns.

“This government likes Qataris more than Turkish people,” CHP lawmaker Alpay Antmen tweeted. “It is totally ‘emotional.’”


UN says 12 murdered in Syria camp in two weeks

UN says 12 murdered in Syria camp in two weeks
Updated 22 January 2021

UN says 12 murdered in Syria camp in two weeks

UN says 12 murdered in Syria camp in two weeks
  • The foreigners are families of jihadists from the Daesh group

BEIRUT: Twelve murders have taken place at a displaced camp in northeast Syria in just over two weeks, the UN said Thursday, sounding the alarm over an “increasingly untenable” security situation.
Held by Kurdish forces, Al-Hol camp — Syria’s biggest — holds almost 62,000 people, of whom more than 80 percent are women and children, including Syrians, Iraqis and thousands from as far afield as Europe and Asia.
The foreigners are families of jihadists from the Daesh group, which seized swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014. The Iraqi and Syrian residents of the camp largely fled subsequent fighting between Daesh and Kurdish forces.
“Between 1 and 16 January, the UN received reports of the murders of 12 Syrian and Iraqi camp residents,” said the UN statement, adding that an Iraqi woman was among those killed.
“The disturbing events indicate an increasingly untenable security environment at Al-Hol,” it added.
The camp had already witnessed several security incidents in recent months, sometimes involving Daesh supporters.
These have included escape attempts and attacks against guards or staff employed by NGOs, sometimes with knives, other times with firearms.
The UN statement published on Thursday said that Imran Riza, its Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria, and Muhannad Hadi, the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, expressed their “serious concern over the deteriorating security conditions” at the camp.
The two UN officials also stressed the “urgent need for durable solutions to be found for every person living in the camp.”
Since the fall of IS’ self-proclaimed caliphate in March 2019 after a US-backed Kurdish offensive in eastern Syria, Kurdish authorities have repeatedly demanded that countries repatriate women and children.
But most countries, especially European nations, are reluctant to take back their citizens. Some, including France, have brought home a limited number of French jihadists and children.
“The recent rise in violence... jeopardizes the ability for the UN and humanitarian partners to continue to safely deliver critical humanitarian assistance,” the UN statement added.
Syria’s civil war erupted in 2011 after the violent repression of protests, quickly spiralling into a multi fronted conflict that pulled in numerous actors, including jihadist groups and foreign powers.