The following are translated excerpts from articles that appeared in the Turkish press.


The number-two man after Osama Bin Laden in Al-Qaeda, Ayman Al Zavahiri, calls on Turks to become the leaders of the Islamic world. A recently distributed tape recording of his words says: "Turks were the protectors of Muslims for centuries during the Ottoman Empire. Turkish people should press their government to untie relations with Israel, and pull back itss forces from Afghanistan. The Turkish people's duty to protect the Islamic world should not be limited only to sending couple of ships to Gaza".


CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu talks to reporter Hadi Ozisik on BEST FM radio channel. Kilicdaroglu says: "Former Chief of TGS Gen. Yasar Buyukanit should be put on trial. The secret meeting with PM Erdogan at the Dolmabahce Palace on May 4, 2007 is still being kept secrect. There is no record about that meeting on State Logs. We are going to take this to court, and Gen. Buyukanit will answer questions about that meeting."


Turkey's new special task force to protect borders in the country's southeastern region is set to become operational by the end of this year. The special border guards will cooperate with the National Intelligence Organization in both intelligence-sharing and military operations. The new task force will make important contributions to the fight against terrorism.


German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Wednesday voiced support for Turkey's European Union bid, saying: "Turkey is directed toward Europe. However, both sides should comply with their obligations." Westerwelle had earlier said, in a speech in Germany, that Turkey was not yet ready to join the EU. Westerwelle met with his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoğlu, as part of a visit to Turkey. The two top diplomats discussed issues such as PKK terrorism, the IHH, a banned charity organization in Germany, and Iran.


German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who met with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in Istanbul, said Turkey's direction was Europe. Westerwelle focused on deepening ties between Turkey and EU, rather than full membership. With regard to Hamas, Westerwelle said that Germany did not regard Hamas as political group as it did not keep its distance from violence


Political tensions ahead of the Sept. 12 referendum have fueled the social turmoil that hit both western and southern Turkey over the past few days, experts have said.

"The Kurdish problem is being exploited by some groups, including nationalists, ahead of the approaching public referendum on the government's constitutional amendment package and the elections next year," Sırrı Sakık, a deputy with the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.

As long as the Kurdish issue is seen as a security problem and politicians continue to exploit the issue, the Kurdish question cannot be solved, Sakık said.

The weakening of the military, due to ongoing probes, and the resurgence of violence by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party [PKK], have also contributed to the problem by spurring individuals to develop their own self-defense mechanisms, said psychologist and social scientist Şükrü Alkan.

"Once the state loses its function and the individual loses his or her belief and confidence in the state, individuals get caught up in an understanding that they can provide justice with their own power, which encourages riots, violence and terror," Alkan said.

"The perception among Turkish nationalists and Kurds that 'they do npt understand us' is another factor that leads to violence," the psychologist added.

Clashes in the southern province of Hatay's Dörtyol district took place Monday after four police officers were killed in an alleged PKK attack. The turmoil followed street conflicts on Sunday in the northwestern province of Bursa, where Turks and Kurds fought in the İnegöl district after a quarrel in a coffee house, according to initial media reports.

The incidents of conflict have reached such a degree that the Hatay governor had to call on locals not to go out at night.

The ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP] has described the incidents in both places as provocations fueled by nationalists, while the main opposition Republican People's Party [CHP] and the Nationalist Movement Party [MHP] have blamed the government, saying it has failed in its Kurdish move to end the terror problem and has pursued discriminatory policies.

"It is pretty unjust to accuse the BDP for the turmoil in the districts. The BDP is the victim," Sakık told the Daily News. "[The government] targets the BDP in its speeches, but it excluded our party from its Kurdish opening process, which is a factor in the recent incidents."

The political tension ahead of the referendum combined with the controversy over the government's Kurdish move and the increased attacks to spread the tension into the public arena, according to political analyst Nihat Ali Özcan from the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey [TEPAV].

"The tension increased as the psychological atmosphere changed. We moved from a period in which we discussed terrorism to a period in which we began to discuss ethnic and identity conflicts based on the government's Kurdish move," Özcan said.

Sedat Laçiner, the president of the Ankara-based think tank, the International Strategic Research Organization [USAK], said the attacks and clashes that have occurred in the country's eastern and southeastern regions have been fueled by the PKK, but he called those in the west, including İnegöl, "the result of provocative actions triggered by some who call themselves nationalists and pretend to be against the PKK."

Provoking such conflicts also helps move the ongoing "Balyoz" (Sledgehammer) and Ergenekon investigations off the country's top agenda, Laçiner added.

"Society expects solutions from the government. But the government is trying to gain time for guaranteeing its existence," Mustafa Avcı, the Istanbul provincial head of the BDP, said at a press conference in Istanbul on Wednesday, calling the recent incidents in İnegöl and Hatay the "result of the government's insistence on war and deadlocked policies."

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