TURKEY'S 4 CONDITIONS FOR NATO INVOLVEMENT
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke at Mecca and outlined four conditions to support NATO, which readying itself to join air operations over Libya.
1- NATO should enter the operation in order to confirm that Libya belongs to Libyan people;
2- Libya's underground resources and riches should not be distributed to outsiders;
3- The air operation should end as soon as possible; it should not turn into occupation; and
4- The Libyan people should have the opportunity to build a sound, stable and peaceful future.
Famous war correspondents Anthony Shadid, Lynsey Addario, Tyler Hicks and Steve Farrel were arrested in Ajdabiya last week. Turkey has been trying to secure their release from captivity.
The United States transferred its right of representation in Libya to Turkey. Gadhafi may be convinced after long bargaining.
Ambassador Şahinkaya went to a military base in Tripoli to take custody of the journalists on Sunday evening, but he had to come back when the bombing started. However, Turkey did not give up and the four journalists were due to be transferred on Monday to Tunisia.
WE WILL NOT BOMB THE PEOPLE OF LIBYA, ERDOĞAN SAYS
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan evaluated the developments in Libya and the NATO meeting in Brussels after returning from Saudi Arabia.
"We will not bomb the people of Libya. We will not be a combat force in Libya. We may assume the responsibility of distributing humanitarian assistance in Libya," Erdoğan said.
THEY ARE BOMBING OUR BILLIONS
The military operation against Libya has negatively affected the hopes of Turkish businesspeople who had have projects worth $16 billion in Libya.
Turkish contractors said that it would be very difficult for them to return to Libya as internal clashes turned into an international war.
WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT IS HAPPENING TO SARKOZY, GÖNÜL SAYS
Turkish National Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül said that they did not understand why France was at the forefront of implementing a United Nations decision to use force against Libya.
THE ANTI-GADHAFI COALITION IS NOT LEGAL
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, commenting on the formation of the coalition against Libya, said he did not think that procedure in the international law was followed adequately.
Davutoğlu said Turkey did its best to prevent bloodshed in Libya.
SARKOZY MAKING INVESTMENT FOR ELECTIONS
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused French President Nicolas Sarkozy of making an investment for the French elections by acting as a hawkish politician in the air operation against Libya.
"Libya should not be divided. Turkey will not send combat troops to be used against Libya," Erdoğan said.
SARKOZY IS IN TROUBLE AND IS USING THE EU
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that French President Nicolas Sarkozy is doing everything to attack Libya.
"Sarkozy has used the European Union in order to improve his badly damaged image in France. No one has assigned any task to Sarkozy," Erdoğan said.
OBAMA PHONES ERDOĞAN ON LIBYA
U.S. President Barack Obama phoned Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday night and listened to Turkey's concerns regarding NATO intervention in Libya.
PARLIAMENT MEMBERS HURL STONES AT POLICE
The atmosphere became tense when some groups threw stones at police following the Nevruz celebrations in southeastern province of Batman on Sunday. Security forces used pressurized water and tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.
When police cameras were examined, Peace & Democracy Party (BDP) MP Bengi Yıldız was seen throwing stones.
Another BDP MP Sebahat Tuncel argued with a chief inspector Murat Çetiner in Silopi town of southeastern province of Şırnak and slapped him in the face during Nevruz celebrations.
POLL PREDICTS VOTE VICTORY FOR AKP
The upcoming general elections in Turkey are unlikely to result in any shakeup in parliament, with the ruling party continuing to dominate, a recent poll suggests.
If the June election was held today, the ruling Justice and Development Party(AKP), would garner 46.4 percent of the vote, while the main opposition Republican People's Party(CHP), would receive 25.8 percent, according to a recent survey conducted by pollsters Konsensus for daily Habertürk.
The survey anticipates that the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), will increase its votes from 11.1 percent to 13.6 percent, passing the 10 percent electoral threshold to enter Parliament. The poll, which surveyed 1,500 people in 81 provinces between March 4 and 10, estimates support for the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), at 5.7 percent.
The poll indicates a 1 percent decrease for the CHP and a 3.2 percent decline for the AKP compared to last month.
In the 2007 general election, the AKP garnered 46.5 percent, the CHP 20.8 percent and the MHP 14.2 percent of the votes.
Despite political observers' warnings about possible fluctuations ahead of the June 12 election, the CHP seems to have created the biggest difference among the parties with an increase of nearly 5 percent compared to the 2007 results.
The current political tension and the CHP's recent proposals on family insurance, civil society and paid exemption from military service are seen as having contributed to this rise and have the potential to raise the party's vote totals as well.
Another poll, conducted by İKsara from March 8 to 12 of 2,032 participants, likewise showed the CHP's family insurance project is supported by 57.2 percent of housewives who backed the AKP in the poll company's February survey, daily Akşam reported Monday.
Political tension, the recent arrests of journalists and the CHP's specific projects on family insurance and paid exemption from military service have contributed to the boost for the main opposition, according to daily Milliyet columnist Aslı Aydıntaşbaş.
In her column Monday, Aydıntaşbaş wrote that the CHP's proposals on education and "zero bureaucracy," which aims to minimize bureaucratic procedures and bribery in the state apparatus, are likely to win voters from different segments of society, including students.
'CHP's projects positive but not enough'
The changing image of the recent CHP, which stands in stark contrast to its former image as the party backing the "status quo," is a positive development for the main opposition, said Muharrem Sarıkaya, the Ankara representative for daily Habertürk.
"In the past, the CHP constantly displayed a critical approach to the projects of its political rivals. It took a stance in favor of the status quo. Finally, after many years, the party has produced a platform and the political debate is revolving around what it has produced," Sarıkaya told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.
"However, it put itself in a controversial position by highlighting the paid military exemption, which doesn't receive the same positive reaction from all segments, while it has a family insurance project that was welcomed by all," Sarıkaya said.
Sedat Bozkurt, Fox TV's Ankara representative, acknowledged the growing interest in the CHP but also pointed out that the surveys put the AKP at around 45 percent, the CHP between 23 and 25 percent and the MHP between 12 and 15 percent.
"This situation hardly changes unless some unexpected events such as a big economic crisis take place. People have long been politicized and have already made their choice. I don't think they will change their preferences," Bozkurt told the Daily News.
"The CHP's initiatives are positive but lack the potential to make people run after it. The CHP keeps its 25 percent vote rate and it is hard for it to steal further votes from the conservative segments in the light of the fact that Turkey is becoming conservative," he said.
The CHP was criticized in the past for not producing new proposals, said daily Hürriyet columnist Şükrü Küçükşahin. "Now it produces proposals and they seem to have found support in society. But it is also not clear whether the party will run Ergenekon suspects for deputy posts in the election," he said, implying that their possible candidacy would likely eradicate the positive image created by the projects.
FBI INVESTIGATING GULEN SCHOOLS IN THE U.S.
The FBI and other U.S. federal agencies have been investigating whether a Turkish religious community, operating hundreds of schools worldwide, is involved in a H1-B visa fraud to bring teachers from Turkey to the United States.
The claim was made in a broad analysis by the Philadelphia Enquirer on religious leader Fethullah Gülen, who the paper describes as "a major Islamic political figure in Turkey," and the more than 120 charter schools in the United States that are linked to his movement.
"Religious scholars consider the Gülen strain of Islam moderate, and the investigation has no link to terrorism. Rather, the investigation is focused on whether hundreds of Turkish teachers, administrators and other staffers employed under the 'H1-B visa program' are misusing taxpayer money," the newspaper wrote. H1-B visas are meant to be reserved for workers with highly specialized skill sets.
The charter schools are funded with millions of taxpayer dollars, according to the daily. "Truebright Science Academy in Pennsylvania alone receives more than $3 million from the Philadelphia School District for its 348 pupils," said the newspaper.
The Departments of Labor and Education are also involved in investigating the claims of kickbacks to the Muslim movement founded by Gülen, known as "Hizmet" (Service), according to the paper.
Gülen, who has been living in the United States since 1999, is a Turkish religious leader whose movement is considered one of the strongest fronts in the civilian struggle for power in Turkey, especially because of its influence over state structures in the country.
Worldwide, the Gülen movement is known mostly for the schools it has established in Turkey and in more than 80 countries.
Federal officials declined to comment on the nationwide inquiry, which is being coordinated by prosecutors in Pennsylvania's Middle District in Scranton, the Philadelphia Enquirer wrote. A former leader of the parents' group at a Gülen-founded charter school in State College, Pennsylvania, confirmed that federal authorities had interviewed her.
Although many have posited links between the Gülen movement and the charity schools around the world, followers deny the links.
The newspaper wrote that Bekir Aksoy, who acts as Gülen's spokesman, said last Friday that he knew nothing about charter schools or an investigation.
Gülen schools were among the nation's largest users of the H1-B visas, the newspaper said. In 2009, the schools received government approvals for 684 visas – more than Google Inc. (440) but fewer than technology powerhouse Intel Corp. (1,203).
The newspaper drew attention to the fact that the visas were used to attract foreign workers with math, science, and technology skills to jobs for which there are shortages of qualified American workers. Officials at some of the charter schools, which specialize in math and science, have said they needed to fill teaching spots with Turks, according to parents and former staffers.
School parents described "how uncertified teachers on H1-B visas were moved from one charter school to another when their 'emergency' teaching credentials expired and told of a pattern of sudden turnovers of Turkish business managers, administrators and board members," according to the daily.
"The charter school application that Truebright filed with the Philadelphia School District in 2005 mentioned that its founders helped start similar schools in Ohio, California and Paterson, N.J.," said the newspaper.
Ohio, California, and Texas have the largest numbers of Gülen-related schools. Ohio has 19, which are operated by Concept Schools Inc., and most are known as Horizon Science Academies. There are 14 in California operated by the Magnolia Foundation. Texas has 33 known as Harmony schools, run by the Cosmos Foundation.
"In their investigation, federal authorities have obtained copies of several emails that indicate the charter schools are tied to Hizmet and may be controlled by it," the newspaper said.
New York Times on Gülen
In 2008, The New York Times wrote a story on the Gülen movement in Pakistan under the headline "Turkish Schools Offer Pakistan a Gentler Vision of Islam." There have been other stories on the movement in major U.S. papers.
The Philadelphia Enquirer said Gülen had gained his green card by convincing a federal judge in Philadelphia that he was an influential educational figure in the United States.
According to the newspaper, Gülen's lawyer pointed to the 125 charter schools that his followers, including Turkish scientists, engineers and businessmen, have opened in 25 states.
U.S. AMBASSADOR VISITS OPPOSITION PARTY LEADER
U.S. Ambassador in Ankara Francis Ricciardone visited Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu said on Monday.
Following the meeting, which was closed to press, Ricciardone told reporters that he was continuing to pay courtesy visits and he had a nice meeting with Kilicdaroglu.
Ricciardone said that an important and high-level delegation from CHP would pay a visit to the U.S., adding that there was a great interest toward Turkey and its democracy in the U.S.
The ambassador said that he would continue his visits, adding that he would meet executives of other political parties also.
When asked his views about Turkey's stance towards the operation on Libya, Ricciardone said that the two countries should cooperate, adding that the U.S. and Turkey were working together in NATO to apply UN resolution no. 1973, and that the most important thing was to maintain the safety of the Libyan people.