Syrian refugees who sought shelter in Turkey say Syrian President Bashar al-Assad did not keep his word on reforms. "We have fled the Baath regime, not gangs. People, who believed in Syrian government and returned home, have been killed. We will not make the same mistake."
Report: Turkey to Send Warning Letter to Damascus
A Turkish envoy will travel to Damascus in the coming days to deliver a "warning letter" to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, telling him to enact reforms and to remove his brother Maher Assad from the command of Syria's Republican Guard and the Fourth Armored Division, Al-Arabiya reported on Saturday. Maher Assad is largely believed to be behind the three-month violent crackdown on anti-regime protesters.
The Turkish envoy will ask Assad to grant Syrians freedom to demonstrate, freedom of expression and to lift the ban on political parties, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, according to the report.
Turkey is willing to give refuge to Maher Assad or organize a refuge for him in a European country, promising he will not face criminal prosecution, Al-Arabiya reported.
Turkish officials did not confirm the report, saying that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's special envoy, Hasan Turkmani, already held talks with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in Ankara last week.
United States Ready to Help Turkey With Mass Influx of Refugees
A senior United States diplomat said Friday that the U.S. government was in close contact with Turkish authorities and the U.S. would help Turkey if Ankara made a request on mass influx of Syrian people.
More than 10,100 Syrian nationals have crossed into Turkey in the last two weeks to escape Syrian government's crackdown on anti-Assad protesters. Syrian people, mostly women and children, have been sheltered at tent-camps a few kilometers from the border.
The U.S. diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Washington was closely monitoring the situation on Turkey's border with Syria. The diplomat also said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a meeting with her Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, in Abu Dhabi last week.
Earlier this week, Davutoglu visited the campsites to meet the Syrian people.
Another visitor of the tent-site was Angelina Jolie. On Friday, the Hollywood actress, who is also a UN goodwill ambassador, traveled to Turkey's border with Syria to meet Syrian people sheltered in tent-camps. Accompanied by UNHCR staff and Turkish government officials, Jolie visited the Altinozu camp in Hatay province.
"The people in this camp have fled in fear for their lives, and many told me they were distraught about the safety of loved ones still in Syria," Jolie said in a UNHCR statement.
The American actress praised Turkey for welcoming the Syrians, saying it was critical in these situations that people have access to safety. She said: "I am really grateful for the open-door policy of Turkey in allowing these people to enter and the assurances that there will be no forced returns."
Meanwhile, another U.S. diplomat from the Department of State said Friday the U.S. government had made offers to Ankara on the issue.
Spokesperson Victoria Nuland told a daily press briefing the United States was ready to help Turkey, and welcomed Turkey's willingness to shelter Syrian people and the hospitality that they have shown so far.
Journalist Talks Middle East With Reduced U.S. Presence
In an article on the prospects of a reduced U.S. presence in the Middle East, Newsweek's Niall Ferguson talks about a third possible outcome, "a revived Ottoman Empire," apart from "a happy ending" and "a worst case scenario" for the region.
In his article, "The Mideast's Next Dillemma," Newsweek's current edition, Ferguson says the U.S. president and the Republicans agree that their country should reduce its military presence in the Greater Middle East, with consequences that no one can predict, however.
"The question no one wants to answer is what will come after the United States departs. The 'happily ever after' scenario is that one country after another will embrace Western democracy. The nightmare scenario is either civil war or Islamist revolution. But a third possible outcome is a revived Ottoman Empire," Ferguson says.
Ferguson says Turkey's traditional western-oriented foreign policy has shifted since Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan came to power in 2003.
"The founder of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Erdogan is a seductive figure.To many, he is the personification of a moderate Islamism. He has presided over a period of unprecedented economic growth. He has sought to reduce the power of the military. It was no accident that one of President Obama's first overseas trips was to Istanbul. It was no surprise when the AKP won a third consecutive general election earlier this month," Ferguson said.
"And yet we need to look more closely at Erdogan. For there is good reason to suspect he dreams of transforming Turkey in ways [Ottoman Sultan] Suleiman the Magnificent would have admired.
"...His ambition, it seems clear, is to return to the pre-Ataturk era, when Turkey was not only militantly Muslim but also a regional superpower," Ferguson said.
"This explains his sustained campaign to alter the Turkish Constitution in ways that would likely increase his own power at the expense of the judiciary and the press as well as the military, all bastions of secularism. It explains his increasingly strident criticism of Israel's 'state terrorism' in Gaza, where pro-Palestinian activists sent a headline-grabbing flotilla last year. Above all, it explains his adroit maneuvers to exploit the opportunities presented by the Arab Spring, chastising Syria, seeking to check Iran, and offering himself as a role model."
Influenced by Turkey's AK Party
The leader of the Syrian Justice and Development movement, Anas Abdullah, said that the Justice and Development movement will soon play a major role in Syria by benefiting from the experiences of Turkey. Abdullah said that the Justice and Development Movement in Syria was influenced by the Justice and Development Party (AK) in Turkey.
Angelina Jolie: Grateful for Turkey Refugee Policy
During her visit to the Altinozu town of Turkey's southern province of Hatay, where Syrian people took shelter, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie said, "It is important that Turkey allows these people to enter the country and assures that they will not be forced to return to Syria. I'm grateful for Turkey's open-door policy."
Just Like Tabula Rasa
The new constitution will be No.1 on Turkish Parliament's agenda in the coming term. Ahmet Iyimaya, chairman of the parliamentary committee on justice, says: "Everybody should come to the table to discuss the new constitution without prejudices and preconditions. Just like tabula rasa, which means a blank slate in Latin."
Syrian Intelligence Keeping Tabs on Anti-Assad Movement
The pro-Assad rallies in Turkey were organized by the Syrian Intelligence, Muhaberat. The secret agents of Muhaberat infiltrated into Turkey to observe the activities of anti-Assad movement. Muhaberat agents are closely watching the activities of anti-Assad movement in Gaziantep, Hatay, Adana, Kilis and Istanbul. Muhaberat is working closely with Iran's intelligence service.
Syrian Snipers Wound Two Refugees in Turkey Shelter
Snipers with the army have wounded two Syrian refugees who took shelter in a tent site in Turkey. Syrian soldiers fired with long range Canas rifles at the tent camp near the Turkish-Syrian border. One of the wounded was in critical condition.
PKK Terrorist Trial Begins in French Court
A French court will begin the trial of 18 PKK terrorists on Monday. Among the terrorists to be on trial is Nedim Seven, who is regarded to be the financial coordinator of the terrorist organization PKK in Europe.
Turkey Looks to Take Central Role in Arab World Transformation
Turkey will seek to play a key role in influencing transformations in the Arab world that are emerging as a result of the uprisings in the region, the country's envoys determined Thursday during a 12-hour gathering.
Ankara will boost cooperation and coordination with international partners regarding developments in countries, which have been in the process of institutional and economic transition.
Turkey's ambassadors to the Middle East, North African countries, the United States, Russia, Britain, France, Belgium and Italy, as well as permanent representatives to the U.S., NATO and the European Union, came together under the chairmanship of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to evaluate a possible course of developments in the region, and Turkey's further policies regarding uprisings there.
The Foreign Ministry released a statement, which said the political change and democratic transformation in the Middle East and North Africa was a late normalization process. Turkey was a source of inspiration and a focus of interest in its region with its successful democratic and economic performance and active foreign policy, it said. Therefore, Turkey should take a central role in managing the waves of transformation in the region in a manner serving peace, stability and property.
"A peaceful transformation process is of vital importance for regional peace and security," the statement said. The statement also noted that all regional countries and international actors were closely monitoring Ankara's constructive contributions.
"Participants stressed importance of an institutional and economical reconstruction in the countries that were undergoing a transitional process," the statement said, adding that the international community should give a priority to extending assistance to those countries which must meet the daily economic needs of their peoples.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had telephone conversations with leaders of some Middle East countries late Thursday.
Erdoğan exchanged views with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati regarding the developments in Syria and also talked with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Hamas administration in Gaza. The Turkish Prime Minister is also expected to pay a visit to Egypt in the near future.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel also phoned Erdoğan on Thursday to congratulate him on his election victory last week.
Main Opposition Head Calls for Dialogue in Election of New Parliament Speaker
Leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has called for dialogue and consensus over the election of the new speaker for the Turkish parliament. "The election of the speaker is an opportunity for consensus on the road to making a new constitution. The government should talk to all parties about its candidate for the speaker," Kilicdaroglu told the Daily.
Turkey Wants Leading Position from IMF
A race for the office of IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who resigned after being charged with attempting to rape a New York hotel maid, has been in full swing. But Turkey, for the very first time in its history, wants no money but a leading position from the IMF. Meanwhile, Turkey will be able to draw a loan of up to $42 billion from the Fund.
Turkey Develops Domestic Missile, Rocket
Two Turkish state-run defense companies have reported major progress in what analysts view as crucial locally designed and developed missile and rocket programs.
Earlier in June, Tübitak Sage, the missile specialist operating under the state's Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey, or TÜBİTAK, exhibited the country's first domestic cruise missile during an air show in İzmir marking the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Air Force's foundation.
The missile, which has a range of 180 kilometers, was designed and developed by Turkish engineers, including its software, company officials said. The program was launched in 2006.
The missile carries guided stand-off munitions, or SOM, and targets mobile and immobile land and naval targets. It features a mixed light metal, composite body, and a GPS guidance system.
In the future, the missile could replace similar imported SOM-based missiles installed on F-16 Block 40 and F-4E 2020 fighter aircraft, company officials said. Tübitak Sage plans its first deliveries to the Turkish military by the end of 2011.
The company also plans to certify the missile for future use on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Lightening II. Turkey is a member of a U.S.-led multinational consortium producing the F-35. It eventually plans to buy about 100 aircraft worth around $14 billion.
In a parallel effort, state-run missile maker Roketsan launched a domestic rocket in May, testing the weapon on AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters. The 2.75-pound, semi-active, laser-guided rocket has a range of eight kilometers.
Roketsan officials have boasted about the rocket's complete local design, development and engineering, as well as high accuracy, during field tests. The rocket, dubbed the Cirit (javelin in Turkish) has been designed to hit light armored targets.
The Cirit will be most extensively used on the T-129, the Turkish version of Italian AgustaWestland's AW-129 Mangusta International attack helicopter. AgustaWestland, which won two contracts awarded in 2008 and 2010 totaling billions of dollars, is leading the manufacture of 60 T129s, whose deliveries should start next year.
Roketsan officials expect foreign demand for the Cirit once the company has met the Turkish military's requirement, mainly for the T-129 program. The Cirit, which can carry two different warheads, could be installed on aerial and land platforms, they said.
One company official said design and development tests were completed in 2010 and that serial production would start this year. "This will mark the passing of a critical stage in our domestic rocket design and production ambitions."
Analysts have said the indigenous missile and rocket programs are part of a broader policy to locally design, develop and produce various weapons systems, including helicopters, naval platforms, unmanned aerial vehicles and military satellites.
"It is by no means surprising that the Turkish government, among other systems, has ambitions to produce indigenous missiles and rockets," an Ankara-based analyst said. "The policy was established to make advances in domestic missile technology and export equipment to foreign buyers in the future."