Diplomatic row heats up in Turkey over envoys’ joint declaration

This undated handout file photograph released on October 15, 2021, by the Anadolu Culture Center via AFP)
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This undated handout file photograph released on October 15, 2021, by the Anadolu Culture Center via AFP)
An undated handout file photograph released on Oct. 15, 2021, by Anadolu Culture Center shows Osman Kavala speaking during an event in Istanbul. (AFP)
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An undated handout file photograph released on Oct. 15, 2021, by Anadolu Culture Center shows Osman Kavala speaking during an event in Istanbul. (AFP)
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Updated 25 October 2021

Diplomatic row heats up in Turkey over envoys’ joint declaration

Diplomatic row heats up in Turkey over envoys’ joint declaration
  • President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ordeed the Foreign Ministry to declare the envoys “persona non grata”
  • Ankara’s foreign policy being driven by domestic political considerations, analyst tells Arab News

ANKARA: The joint declaration by 10 ambassadors of Western countries urging the release of the 64-year-old jailed philanthropist Osman Kavala continues to shape domestic politics in Turkey, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordering the Foreign Ministry to declare the envoys “persona non grata.”

The move is expected to have domestic and international political and economic repercussions.

Kavala, who denies the charges, is behind bars for four years, accused of financing nationwide anti-government protests in 2013.

The ambassadors of France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Finland, New Zealand, the US, Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands called for a quick and just resolution of Kavala’s case on Oct. 18 — the day marking four years of the start of his detention.

We “believe a just and speedy resolution to his case must be in line with Turkey’s international obligations and domestic laws. Noting the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights on the matter, we call for Turkey to secure his urgent release,” the ambassadors’ statement read, echoing the European Court of Human Rights ruling on its member country Turkey.




An undated handout file photograph released on Oct. 15, 2021, by Anadolu Culture Center shows Osman Kavala speaking during an event in Istanbul. (AFP)

The ambassadors were summoned by the Foreign Ministry after the release of the statement.

“I gave the necessary instruction to our foreign minister and said what must be done: These ten ambassadors must be declared persona non grata immediately,” Erdogan said in a speech on Saturday.

“They will know and understand Turkey. The day they do not know and understand it they will leave,” he added, noting that these ambassadors would not release “terrorists” in their own countries.

A declaration of “persona non grata” — an envoy who is no longer welcome — is a diplomatic move that is one step before expulsion.

The Turkish government considers the ambassadors' declaration as direct interference into domestic politics, rather than reminding European top court's ruling.

In the meantime, Kavala, who served on the advisory board of US philanthropist George Soros’ Open Society’s national foundation in Turkey until 2018, released a statement on Friday saying that he would not attend his next trial on Nov. 26 to deliver his defense, as he believes his hearing would be not fair in light of recent circumstances.

The ambassadors referred to the ECHR in their declaration. The top European court urged the immediate release of the Turkish philanthropist in late 2019, saying that his detention was aimed at silencing him.

Last month, the Council of Europe warned that infringement proceedings against Ankara would begin at the end of November if Kavala was not released.

The Danish, Dutch and Norwegian embassies in Turkey said that they had not received any notification from Turkish authorities and would continue to urge Turkey to comply with its international obligations.

Experts, however, note that the expulsion of 10 European and North American ambassadors — unprecedented in Turkish political history — may trigger actions in kind from these countries.

“As elsewhere in the world, all politics is local,” Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, Ankara director of the German Marshall Fund of the US, told Arab News.

“Turkish foreign policy has been driven excessively driven by domestic political considerations and this case is no different,” he said.

According to Unluhisarcikli, Erdogan’s instruction to the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to declare these ambassadors as “persona non grata” may please his voters and divert attention from domestic troubles, but it will also contribute to Turkey’s international isolation at a time when the country is already under US sanctions and came close to being sanctioned by the EU last year.

Last year, the US administration sanctioned the Turkish defense industry over its purchase of the Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missile system. The action was taken under the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

“Moreover ,Turkey is going through a currency crisis, which could trigger a financial crisis about 18 months before the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for June 2023,” Unluhisarcikli said.

In public statements, Turkey’s former ambassadors underlined that although harsh reactions could be given in diplomatic proceedings, the main goal should be the management and resolution of the crises.

Abdurrahman Bilgic, a retired envoy who served as the ambassador to Tokyo and the UK, said the ambassadors in Turkey had the right to declare their countries’ stance on Kavala’s release, either individually or through a joint declaration.

“In return, the Turkish Foreign Ministry can also retaliate with a declaration to show their uneasiness. But in the meantime the ambassadors should not target our ruling government and judiciary with their consecutive social media statements,” he told Arab News.

However, for Bilgic, declaring these diplomats “persona non grata” would not serve Turkey’s interests and could trigger retaliation.

“If the process is being handled like this, Turkey could not only loose its voting rights at the Council of Europe but even its membership,” he said.

Article 90 of the Turkish Constitution provides that in the case of conflict between international agreements in the area of fundamental rights and freedoms, the provisions of international agreements shall prevail.

“Expelling ambassadors is not the way to defend national interests or to explain one’s position on any given matter. Impulsive foreign policy with an eye on domestic politics has only served to aggravate Turkey’s isolation. This should not be deepened through rash action,” tweeted Alper Coskun, the former Turkish ambassador to Azerbaijan and senior fellow at Washington-based think-tank Carnegie Endowment.

In the past 50 years, Turkey has declared only three diplomats — one from Libya in 1986, Syria in 1986, and Iran in 1989 — as persona non grata, while the last foreign ambassador Ankara declared persona non grata was an Iranian envoy.


Egypt tries man over murder of student who refused advances

Egypt tries man over murder of student who refused advances
Updated 22 sec ago

Egypt tries man over murder of student who refused advances

Egypt tries man over murder of student who refused advances
  • The murder has triggered widespread anger in the Arab world, as a similar killing of a female Jordanian student occurred a few days later

AL MANSURAH: A trial began Sunday for an Egyptian man accused of stabbing a woman to death in a public street after she rejected his advances — a case that has sparked widespread outrage.
A video went viral last week appearing to show the victim, identified as student Nayera Ashraf, being stabbed by a young man outside her university.
The crime has triggered widespread anger both in Egypt and beyond, having been followed a few days later by a similar incident in which Jordanian student Iman Irshaid was shot dead on a university campus.
Social media users immediately drew comparisons between the two murders, decrying cases of femicide in the Arab world.
At the Mansoura Criminal Court, 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Cairo, Mohamed Adel was accused of “premeditated murder,” after confessing to intentionally killing the victim, an AFP correspondent said.
Ashraf had previously reported the alleged perpetrator to the authorities, fearing that he would attack her, according to her father and witnesses.
The maximum penalty for murder is death in Egypt, which carried out the third highest number of executions in the world in 2021, according to Amnesty International.
“He stabbed her several times,” said the prosecution, which found “messages threatening to cut her throat” on the victim’s phone.
The next hearing is set for Tuesday, the defendant’s lawyer, Ahmed Hamad, told AFP.
In a rare occurrence among cases involving violence against women, authorities allowed television cameras to film the hearing on Sunday.
On social media, many Jordanian and Egyptian users called for the perpetrator to be sentenced to death, while others said men must “learn to take no for an answer.”
Egyptian preacher Mabrouk Attia sparked outrage last week after suggesting that the victim would not have met the same fate had she been veiled.
Nearly eight million Egyptian women were victims of violence committed by their partners or relatives, or by strangers in public spaces, according to a United Nations survey conducted in 2015.


Jordanian woman stabbed to death by husband in UAE

Jordanian woman stabbed to death by husband in UAE
Updated 11 sec ago

Jordanian woman stabbed to death by husband in UAE

Jordanian woman stabbed to death by husband in UAE
  • CCTV footage shows the victim being stabbed 15 times in her car before the attacker drove off in it
  • Killing triggered widespread anger in Arab world, follows murder of female Jordanian student occurred a few days earlier

LONDON: A Jordanian woman was stabbed to death by her husband in Sharjah, UAE on Friday, local media reported.

The 20-year-old woman was stabbed 15 times following a dispute with her husband, according to the Sharjah Police.

The suspect, who fled in the victim's car, was arrested on a beach within two hours of the crime.Col. Faisal bin Nassar, the head of Sharjah Police CID, said CCTV footage from the young woman's residence parking lot showed the suspected killer attacking the woman inside her car.

After the suspected attacker was seen leaving in the vehicle, police were able to trace it where the found her body inside it.

The man confessed to killing the woman due to personal differences and has now been transferred to the Public Prosecution.

Following the incident, people took to Twitter to express their outrage.

One user tweeted: “The World is no longer safe for us women.”

Another wrote: “Now tomorrow who is the next victim?”

Only two days prior, a female student was killed by a male shooter inside a private university in Amman, Jordan.


Qatar ‘likely’ venue for Iran, US nuclear deal talks: Report 

Qatar ‘likely’ venue for Iran, US nuclear deal talks: Report 
Updated 26 June 2022

Qatar ‘likely’ venue for Iran, US nuclear deal talks: Report 

Qatar ‘likely’ venue for Iran, US nuclear deal talks: Report 
  • Iran’s indirect talks with the US on reviving the 2015 nuclear pact will resume soon, the Iranian foreign minister said

Talks between the US and Iran on the 2015 nuclear deal are “likely” to be held in Qatar, Iran International reported on Sunday, citing a website close to Iran’s security council.

Efforts by Qatar to help restart talks for lifting US sanctions on Iran made “Doha’s chances for hosting the upcoming negotiations higher” than other countries, Iran International website said, quoting Nour News.

Nour News, according to Iran International, reflects the views of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Secretary, Ali Shamkhani.

Iran’s indirect talks with the US on reviving the 2015 nuclear pact will resume soon, the Iranian foreign minister said on Saturday amid a push by the EU’s top diplomat to break a months-long impasse.

“We are prepared to resume talks in the coming days. What is important for Iran is to fully receive the economic benefits of the 2015 accord,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said, adding that he had held a “long but positive meeting” with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

Borrell met Iran’s top diplomat on Saturday, Iranian state TV reported, as the bloc seeks to break an impasse between Tehran and Washington over reinstating a nuclear pact.

The pact appeared close to being revived in March when the EU — which is coordinating negotiations — invited foreign ministers representing the accord’s parties to Vienna to finalize an agreement after 11 months of indirect talks between Tehran and President Joe Biden’s administration.

(With Reuters)


Israeli PM convenes Cabinet before parliament is dissolved

Israeli PM convenes Cabinet before parliament is dissolved
Updated 26 June 2022

Israeli PM convenes Cabinet before parliament is dissolved

Israeli PM convenes Cabinet before parliament is dissolved
  • Benjamin Netanyahu, the current opposition leader, who now has an opening to return to lead the country

TEL AVIV: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett convened what is likely his last Cabinet meeting as premier on Sunday, with parliament expected to dissolve itself this week, triggering new elections in the fall.
Bennett’s decision to head to elections puts an end to an ambitious political project that united eight ideologically disparate parties that chose to put aside their differences to oust former leader Benjamin Netanyahu, the current opposition leader, who now has an opening to return to lead the country. The elections, the fifth the country has held in three years, deepen an unprecedented political crisis in Israel.
At the meeting, Bennett listed a series of accomplishments under his year-old government and thanked his coalition partners, which included dovish parties that support Palestinian statehood, nationalist ones who don’t, and for the first time in Israeli history, an Arab political faction.
“It was an excellent government that relied, yes, on a complicated coalition. And here in this room there is a group of people that knew how to put aside ideological disagreements, to rise above, and to work for the state of Israel,” he said.
As part of the power-sharing agreement that brought Bennett to power, he is set to hand over the premiership to Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, a centrist former broadcaster, once parliament is dissolved. Elections are expected around the end of October and polls show Netanyahu’s Likud party is expected to garner the most seats.
But as in most rounds of voting during the current political turmoil, Netanyahu, who is on trial for corruption, has been unable to muster a majority to form a coalition government, with some of his traditional allies refusing to join him. That could further extend the crisis after the upcoming vote.
While Bennett’s government helped steady the economy and navigated the last year of the coronavirus pandemic, it was beset by disagreements over the very issues it sought to avoid, particularly Israel’s 55-year occupation of the West Bank. Bennett said he decided to put an end to his political experiment because the government was unable to renew regulations that enshrine separate legal systems for Jewish settlers in the territory and Palestinians.
Bennett’s own nationalist faction, Yamina, was dogged by defectors, legislators who said the prime minister, a former settler leader, had veered too much toward the center in his bid to keep the coalition intact.
Bennett, who entered politics a decade ago, hasn’t said whether he’ll run in the upcoming elections.


Detained Tunisia ex-PM Jebali hospitalized: lawyer

 Hamadi Jebali. (AFP)
Hamadi Jebali. (AFP)
Updated 26 June 2022

Detained Tunisia ex-PM Jebali hospitalized: lawyer

 Hamadi Jebali. (AFP)
  • Jebali, a former senior official in the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party that is a key rival of President Kais Saied, was detained in relation to transfers of large sums of money from overseas to a charity in Tunisia

TUNIS: Tunisia’s former prime minister Hamadi Jebali, on hunger strike after being arrested earlier this week on money-laundering allegations, was rushed to intensive care on Saturday, his lawyer said.
“His condition rapidly deteriorated because he is on an intense hunger strike and he didn’t take his medicine” for cardiovascular conditions and diabetes, lawyer Zied Taher told AFP.
Police had not delivered the drugs in question to Jebali’s cell despite prosecutors allowing the family to take them to the police station, he added.
Jebali, a former senior official in the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party that is a key rival of President Kais Saied, was detained in relation to transfers of large sums of money from overseas to a charity in Tunisia.
Ennahdha has dismissed the allegations and said the arrest was part of a campaign of settling political scores.
Saied in July last year sacked the government and suspended the Ennahdha-dominated parliament in moves opponents have called a coup in the only democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring uprisings.
He later dissolved the assembly, extended his powers over the judiciary and moved to change the constitution.
Many Tunisians have backed Saied’s moves against a system seen as corrupt and self-serving.
Jebali is not the first senior Ennahdha figure to be detained since Saied’s power grab — former justice minister Noureddine Bhiri was also held under house arrest for two months before being released without charge.