ERBIL, Iraq—Turkey and the United States might be headed for a showdown: NATO army against NATO army—the two biggest armies, in fact, in the alliance. But this is the Middle East, where nothing is simple. And precisely because the potential for catastrophic violence is so high, conflicts often fester rather than explode. The scene of the looming confrontation, moreover, is Syria—a battleground where alliances, allegiances, tactics, and strategies shift like flow charts seen through a kaleidoscope. The proximate cause of the looming crisis is an offensive by the Turkish army and forces it supports against the largely Kurdish-controlled city of Afrin in Syria’s Aleppo province near the Turkish border. The offensive started over the weekend after U.S. officials revealed plans last week to stay in Syria and develop what was described as a “border force” of some 30,000 Syrian Kurdish soldiers. This was portrayed in Washington as a key development in the … [Read more...] about Turkey Closes in on U.S. Allies in Syria—This Could Get Really Messy
ISTANBUL—Islamic militants have stepped up their assault on the Syrian border town of Kobani, challenging once again the American-led efforts to help defend it from the air. On Saturday fighters from the so-called Islamic State launched five suicide bomb attacks and used tanks to shell Kurdish defenses on the west of the besieged town. Kurdish commanders claimed the jihadists used Turkish territory to mount one of the suicide attacks—the Turkish government has been accused of favoring the Islamic militants—but Ankara flatly denied that was the case. The redoubled offensive began when a suicide bomber driving an armored vehicle detonated his explosives on the main border crossing between Kobani and Turkey, says Nawaf Khalil, a spokesman for Syria’s Kurdish Democratic Union Party. He claimed fighters from the self-styled Islamic State, widely known as ISIS or ISIL, also used grain silos just inside Turkey in the assault. The militants “used to attack the … [Read more...] about Did ISIS Attack Kobani from Turkey?
ISTANBUL - The future of Turkey's second-largest opposition party is hanging in the balance, with mass arrests and growing calls for its closure. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses the pro-Kurdish HDP of militant links, but the party says it's a victim of increasing government authoritarianism. The HDP claims it's facing an unprecedented legal crackdown with 16,000 members detained and dozens of deputies ousted from parliament and jailed under Turkey's anti-terror legislation. Erdogan routinely refers to the HDP as the "pro-PKK party." The PKK is a Kurdish insurgent group waging a decades-long war for minority rights in Turkey and is designated as a terrorist group by the United States and European Union. The progressive left pro-Kurdish HDP, which denies PKK links, secured six million votes in the 2018 election and 67 parliamentary deputies, making it Turkey's second-largest party. The HDP local elected representatives are facing the brunt of the … [Read more...] about Turkey’s Opposition HDP Faces Ban
WASHINGTON - Saudi Arabia says Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman spoke Monday by telephone with the son of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi to express condolences for the killing. Khashoggi died after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on October 2. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is vowing to reveal details about the case in a Tuesday speech to his parliament. He told an Istanbul rally Sunday, "We are looking for justice here and this will be revealed in all its naked truth, not through some ordinary steps." Erdogan spoke to U.S. President Donald Trump by telephone Sunday. Turkey's state-run news agency said both leaders agree the Khashoggi case needs to be "cleared up with all aspects." Saudi Arabia called Khashoggi's killing inside its Istanbul consulate "a huge and grave mistake" and vowed those responsible for it would be held accountable. Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told Fox News Sunday that Saudi agents … [Read more...] about Turkey’s President Promises to Reveal ‘Naked Truth’ About Khashoggi Killing
ANKARA - Turkish prosecutors investigating the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi questioned Turkish employees of the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Friday, widening the hunt for clues in a case straining Riyadh's alliance with Western powers. Khashoggi went missing more than two weeks ago after entering the consulate to obtain documents in relation to a forthcoming marriage. Turkish officials believe he was killed in the building on October 2, but Riyadh has denied the allegations. In an expanding quest for evidence, police searched a forest on Istanbul's outskirts and a city near the Sea of Marmara for Khashoggi's remains, two senior Turkish officials told Reuters, after tracking the routes of cars that left the Saudi consulate and the consul's residence on the day he vanished. Investigators have recovered samples from searches of both buildings which it will analyze for traces of Khashoggi's DNA. State-run Anadolu news agency said the Turkish prosecutor's … [Read more...] about Turkey Questions Employees of Saudi Consulate on Khashoggi