French Interior Minister Claude Gueant said in a TV program that [French President] Sarkozy is leading a crusade to Libya: "Thank god our president led a crusade to Libya and first United Nations, then Arab Union and African Union joined the crusade."

On the other hand, Russian Prime Minister's spokesman Dimitri Peskov said Putin's use of the word crusade is his own opinion, while official Russian opinion is given by President Medvedev.


U.S. President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reached a consensus: The Arab world shall join the operations on Libya, which will be pursued under the command of NATO. This consensus reflected to the statement of White House that was made yesterday regarding the phone conversation of the two leaders.

Here's the most striking part of the statement, which includes very diplomatic expressions:

"Obama and Erdoğan agreed that this will require a broad-based international effort, including Arab states, to implement and enforce the UN resolutions, based on national contributions and enabled by NATO's unique multinational command and control capabilities to ensure maximum effectiveness."


Regarding Libya operations, Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said: "The western world bypassed Turkey and directly contacted the Arab League and African Union. Turkey, which is supposedly a player, cannot even be a [minor figure]."


James G. Stavridis, the current Commander of the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), is set to pay a visit to Turkey to persuade Turkey to approve a NATO plan for military action in Libya. Stavridis is scheduled to arrive on Thursday. He is set to meet with Chief of the Military Staff Gen. Işık Koşaner.


Turkey said "yes" to the intervention of NATO in Libya within the scope of the resolution of the United Nations. Turkey is planning to send a ship to Benghazi. The ship will act there to bring medical assistance or ensure the arms embargo.


Criticizing the Western-led airstrikes in Libya, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed Tuesday that Turkey would never point guns at the Libyan people, a position he said Ankara would make clear to NATO.

Speaking to his party's parliamentary group amid ongoing debate about how NATO should proceed on the issue, Erdoğan said the United Nations should only head up humanitarian operations, not military ones, in Libya.

"We saw in the past such [military] operations increasing the loss of lives. We will, of course, question and criticize the Paris meeting," the prime minister said to deputies from his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), referring to the summit Saturday that preceded France's launch of the first air strikes on the crisis-hit North African nation.

"The operation should proceed on legitimate grounds," Erdoğan said, adding that Ankara's position would be explained to its NATO allies Tuesday at a meeting in Brussels.

Disagreements on the intervention among NATO member states have largely been eliminated, with Turkey's reservations taken into consideration, according to news reports from Brussels. The private channel NTV meanwhile reported that Adm. James Stavridis, NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe, will visit Turkey on Thursday.

NATO officials met again Tuesday in Brussels after failing to reach a consensus agreement Monday among the alliance's 28 member states about intervention in Libya. Erdoğan said Monday that his government would give conditional support to a NATO-led operation, as long as it is done to ensure that Libya belongs to its people, not to distribute the country's natural resources to outside powers, and as long as the intervention does not turn into an occupation.

On Tuesday, Erdoğan said Turkey was willing to be involved in the distribution of humanitarian aid in Libya, to manage the Benghazi airport and to deploy naval forces to control the area between Benghazi and the Greek island of Crete.

"We do not want Libya to become a second Iraq ... A civilization in Iraq collapsed within eight years. More than a million people were killed there," the daily Hürriyet quoted him as telling reporters Monday on a flight back from a visit to Saudi Arabia.

"We will not participate with our fighting forces. It is impossible for us to think that our fighters would drop bombs over the Libyan people," he said.

Erdoğan discussed the situation in Libya with U.S. President Barack Obama in a telephone conversation late Monday after chairing a summit with his ministers and military commanders. The prime minister did not give details of the talks.

France taking the lead in the Libya operation drew criticism from Ankara, with Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül on Monday, saying: "We are having difficulty understanding [France] acting like it is the only executor of the U.N. resolution."

U.N. Security Council Resolution No. 1973 established a no-fly zone over Libya.

A Libya session in Parliament

The Turkish government is planning to hold a Libya session in Parliament, according to Erdoğan. Sources said the session could be a closed one. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu will meanwhile brief opposition parties about the government's stance on an operation in Libya, meeting with Republican People's Party, or CHP, leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu at 11 a.m. Wednesday. The Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, however, rejected Davutoğlu's request for a briefing.

The fact that the Libya operation is being perceived as targeting the country's oil resources proved the rightness of Turkey's position, Erdoğan said in Parliament.

"We see the well-being and domestic peace of the Libyan people as fundamental goals. Turkey will never be a party that points a gun at the Libyan people," the prime minister said. "Turkey's policy is very clear, its attitude is clear ... Our relations with Libya have nothing to do with oil or [other] interests. Our Libyan brothers know very well Turkey has made no such calculations."


The new U.S. envoy to Turkey queried Turkey's main opposition about freedom of the press in the country during a Monday meeting, according to the party's leader.

"[Ambassador Francis Ricciardone] asked for our opinion on the [freedom of the press] issue. We mentioned the pressure put on the media. We then presented him both our brochure and the report prepared by the Turkish Journalists Association on the journalists in prison," Republican People's Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu told reporters.

Speaking to the media after meeting, Kılıçdaroğlu said the ambassador told him that they were very sensitive about the situation of freedom of the press and that they saw freedom of the press as a critical part of democracy, daily Radikal reported Tuesday.

"[Ricciardone] said it seemed democracy in Turkey was developing. He also asked for our opinion on the issue," he said.

"I told him about the politicization of the judiciary and the decay of the separation of powers due to the concentration of powers in one hand. I told him democracy was harmed because of them," Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Ricciardone also asked about the economic policies of the party, Kılıçdaroğlu said.

"I told him we will unveil our economic policies in detail during our presentation at the TÜSİAD [Turkish Industry and Business Association] next week," Kılıçdaroğlu said.

The CHP leader said the two also talked about recent developments in Libya but declined to give further details on the talks, citing security reasons.


The Turkish prime minister has warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and advised him to make democratic reforms as Turkey's close neighbor is shaken by anti-government protests inspired by the popular uprisings sweeping the Arab world.

Turkey is anxious about the possibility the protests could turn into a sectarian clash. "The winds of change are everywhere. During my last visit to Syria I talked with Assad and mentioned that a similar process might develop in his country and that there was a threat of a sectarian approach. Now we see that situation is happening," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told the daily Hürriyet on Tuesday.

"I told him to take lessons from what has been happening in the region," he said. Assad should find a different way than the other leaders in the region, by approaching his people with a democratic attitude, Erdoğan said.

Protests spread on Monday in Syria from the city of Deraa, where five people have been killed, to three nearby towns. The protests are the most serious domestic challenge yet to President Assad. The Assad family, members of the prominent Alevi minority, rules the Sunni-dominated country.

After improving its relations with Middle Eastern countries in recent years, especially with its neighbors, Turkey in this respect had taken significant steps for Turkish-Syrian relations. Two countries, which once came to the brink of waging war against each other because of terrorism issues, are now walking on a path for economic integration.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu also pointed out how vital for Turkey it would be if a wave of unrest hit Syria. "Syria is on an important threshold. We hope problems between the people and the administration [in Syria] can be handled without trouble," Turkey's foreign minister said in an interview on CNNTürk.

"Although a couple of people have died in the clashes, we should not expect these protests in Syria to have as much influence as those in other countries," an expert said.

"From time to time protests arise in Syria; however, it seems difficult for protests in this country to reach the potential of Egypt and Tunisia," Bilkay Duman, a Middle East expert from the Center for Middle East Strategic Research, or ORSAM, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Tuesday.

Elaborating the factors that meant Syria could less affected by regional turmoil, Duman said the reforms the Syrian administration had enacted in domestic politics and mentioned how Damascus has solidified its regional bonds. "Syria has developed political, social and economic relations with both Iran and Turkey, and this will have an impact on this issue," he said.

Duman also said there was no significant opposition to Assad in Syria, as there was with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. "There has been as yet no opposition movement in Syria that will guide protests."


Turkey has suspended an order it had placed to the United States to buy F-35 fighter jets. A defense industry committee chaired by the Turkish prime minister on Tuesday said it had suspended the ongoing $16 billion project to buy 100 F-35 fighters. Pentagon has refused to share with Turkey critical information on the plane's flight codes and other software.


An Iranian plane left Tuesday evening after Turkish officials impounded part of its cargo containing weapons and munitions. The Iranian plane was made to land last Saturday at an airport in Turkey's Southeast while it was passing through the Turkish airspace en route to Syria. "The plane was cleared to take off for Iran after the seizure of the cargo banned under the UN sanctions on Iran," said an official with the Turkish Foreign Ministry.

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