Rached Ghannouchi, leader of Tunisia's Ennahda Party and winner of Tunisia's first free elections, said the party was taking lessons from Turkey.
"Turkey is a model country for us in terms of democracy," Ghannouchi said. "There are very good relations between Turkey and Tunisia, and I hope there will be a proper environment in the future where we could foster those relations."
The Ennahda party vowed Wednesday to form a new government within a month as preliminary results gave it a commanding lead, but not a majority, in the Arab Spring's first election. As coalition negotiations got under way in earnest, the biggest secular party defended its negotiations with Ennahda, saying the Islamist party was neither the devil nor the Taliban.
"No, no, no. It is not the devil and we do not make pacts with the devil," Congress for the Republic, or CPR, leader Moncef Marzouki told reporters in Tunis. "One must not take them for the Taliban of Tunisia. It is a moderate party of Islam."
Ghannouchi said a preliminary vote tally put Ennahda in the clear lead with 53 seats of the polling districts, making the party the "natural" choice to lead the new executive government.
Government to be put together within a month
The CPR was the second-placed party with 18 seats so far in a new 217-seat assembly that will rewrite the constitution, appoint a caretaker government and prepare for fresh elections. As the Tunisian ISIE election body said it expected to announce the final results Thursday, the country appeared headed for complicated coalition negotiations, with all of Ennahda's possible partners on the leftist, liberal side of the political spectrum.
Ghannouchi said a government would be put together "within no more than a month." An executive party member said Ennahda has put forward its No. 2 , Hamadi Jebali, as the next head of government.
The new assembly will decide on the country's system of government and how to guarantee basic liberties, including women's rights, which many in Tunisia fear Ennahda would seek to diminish despite its assurances to the contrary. Leftist parties may yet seek to form a majority bloc against Ennahda. Ennahda has sought to reassure investors of stability and said it was open to a coalition with any party "without exception."
Ankara Will Not Tolerate Syrian Repression, Foreign Minister Says
Turkey has no intention of permitting any chaos or oppression in Syria, Turkey's foreign minister said, adding that Ankara would do everything to ensure that the Syrian people realize their rightful demands.
"We will not allow any chaos or oppression in Syria, this is our responsibility toward the Syrian people," Davutoğlu said in a joint press conference with his Jordanian counterpart, Nasser Judeh, in Amman.
Calling on the Syrian administration to halt its military operations on Syrian dissidents, Davutoğlu also said Turkey wanted to boost relations with Arab countries, without any intention on trying to control its southern neighbors. He also reiterated Turkey's lack of tolerance for terrorism.
Judeh, meanwhile, said Jordan also opposed the treatment of civilians in Syria and demanded that the regime's oppression should be halted as soon as possible. Jordan's only goal is the establishment of a free Palestinian state, the Jordanian minister said.
The recognition of a Palestinian state by the United Nations would pave the way for peace, he said, adding that Turkey and Jordan would work together not just for the Middle East peace process, but also for the rights of Palestinians.
Meanwhile, talks between envoys of the international peacemaking quartet and Israeli and Palestinian officials in Jerusalem ended with a pledge to introduce "comprehensive proposals," but no deal on new peace talks.
In a statement released Wednesday, the peacemaking group, which comprises the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia, said its envoys had met separately with both sides in a bid to kick-start long-stalled negotiations. Last month, the quartet had called for talks to begin by Oct. 23 with the goal of reaching a deal within a year.
Iraqi Kurdish Administration Ignoring Turkish Operations Against PKK
Iraqi Kurdish officials will ignore Turkey's military operation in northern Iraq targeting outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, camps, unless the Turkish military targets civilians.
"We have no intention of sending any reinforcements to the site of the conflict on the border," Jabbar Yawar, spokesman for the Kurdish peshmerga defense force, told McClatchy Newspapers on Oct. 20. He added that this was "because force is not the answer."
Massoud Barzani, leader of the Iraqi Kurdish administration, is expected to pay a visit to Turkey in mid-November at the request of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, administration officials told Today's Zaman.
Barzani and his administration have developed good relations with Turkey recently and this has been key to securing the Kurdish administration's support in Turkey's fight against the PKK. The Iraqi regional administration was previously opposed to Turkey's military operations in the region.
The Iraqi Kurdish regional administration is pursuing a policy of not aiding the PKK, but avoiding a crackdown on the organization. But some reports claim that peshmerga forces frequently provide the Turkish side with intelligence regarding the PKK's hideouts.
Armenia to Aid Foe Turkey After Earthquake
An Armenian plane carrying 40 tons of emergency supplies was set to take off for Turkey late Thursday to help the survivors of the devastating earthquake, despite decades of enmity between the two, the emergency situations ministry in Yerevan said.
According to the ministry statement, Turkey officially requested the aid from Armenia.
On Sunday, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian offered his Turkish President Abdullah Gul assistance and condolences after the quake, which has killed more than 500 people.
"I was saddened to learn the news about the loss of human lives, the devastation and people buried under debris that resulted from the earthquake," Sarkisian said in his message to Gul.
Relations between Yerevan and Ankara have suffered for years over Turkey's refusal to recognize the World War I-era mass killings of Armenians as genocide. Armenians say that up to 1.5 million of their kin fell victim to Ottoman Empire forces. Turkey counters that 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians rose up against their Ottoman rulers and sided with invading Russian forces.
The border between the two countries is closed and Armenia last year halted the ratification process of a landmark 2009 accord aimed at establishing diplomatic relations.
CHP Leader Hits at Government on NATO Radar
Main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has said intelligence gathered from a United States radar system to be stationed in eastern Turkey as part of NATO's missile defense project will be shared with countries outside the alliance.
"We've learned once more that our concerns [on the radar] are genuine," Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the Republican People's Party, or CHP, told reporters Wednesday at the 50th anniversary reception of the Hürriyet Daily News, shortly after he met with U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone.
"Please be informed that the intelligence gathered from the radar base will be shared not only with NATO members but also with other countries," Kılıçdaroğlu said in a veiled reference to Israel. He also said Ricciardone had expressed readiness to share "important details" of the radar deal with the CHP on condition that the government gave its consent.
A memorandum of understanding signed last month by Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu and Ricciardone envisioned the deployment of an early-warning radar system at a military installation at Kürecik in the eastern province of Malatya as part of the NATO missile-defense project.
The CHP slammed the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, government over the deal, arguing that the radar base will serve the interest of Israel, not Turkey.
Parliamentary Speaker Slams Germany over PKK
While taking part in a nostalgic train journey marking 50 years of Turkish immigration to Germany Thursday, Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek criticized Germany for its alleged inaction toward outlawed groups on its territory.
Çiçek expressed his discomfort regarding the alleged ease with which members of outlawed groups from Turkey, such as the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Frontm, or DHKP/C, are able to move around Germany.
"There are twice as many PKK [and] DHKP/C members in Germany as in the Kandil Mountains," he told a German embassy official while aboard the train, lashing out at the German official when the latter said Turks and Germans had always acted in unison.
"We lost an empire because of that unity. I hope Germans are aware of that," Çiçek said.
The train set off from Turkey to Germany on Wednesday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first Turkish immigrants' arrival in the federal republic. The event is being organized by the Turkish state broadcasting company TRT.
Çiçek further criticized Germany for not allowing Turks to open a university in Germany even though Germans are allowed to establish universities in Turkey.
"Germany is the fastest operating country in Europe when it wishes to be so," Çiçek said, adding that they could also become the slowest operating country when it suited their desires.
U.S. Gun Ships for Turkey Need Approval from Congress
The three AH-1W attack helicopters the United States plans to transfer to the Turkish Army to fight the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, requires approval of the deal from Congress, a senior American official said.
"We plan to transfer three AH-1Ws, but this needs to be approved by Congress and our officials are working on that now," the official told Hürriyet Daily News late Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The choppers are expected to cost Turkey around $75 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, or DSCA, the Pentagon's arms-selling office, notifies Congress of a planned sale only after it becomes certain that the deal will face no obstacles. Just a single senator can halt an arms sale indefinitely. If no veto comes in the Senate against a planned arms transfer, the deal is confirmed automatically 15 days after the DSCA notification.
The three gun ships to be given to Turkey would be new, the U.S. official said. Earlier, the U.S. rejected Turkish requests for the gun ships, saying its Marine Corps had around 170 AH-1Ws and was using all of them in the war in Afghanistan.
Turkey acquired 10 AH-1W Super Cobras from the U.S. in the 1990s and has been using them effectively against the PKK. But a few crashes has left only six operational choppers and Ankara has been asking Washington to transfer more.
Turkey has more than 20 earlier models of the Cobra family, all produced by Bell Helicopter Textron. These earlier attack helicopters, however, have single engines and their performances are very limited compared to those of the AH-1Ws.
Bell Helicopter Textron began production of the AH-1Z, the latest member of the Cobra family, in recent years and delivered the first batch to the U.S. Marine Corps in January. Turkey's efforts to obtain more attack helicopters have been continuing since the late 1990s. Bell Helicopter Textron won Turkey's first tender with the AH-1Z in 2002, but the U.S. company and the Undersecretariat for Defense Industriesm, or SSM, Turkey's procurement agency, were unable to agree on the features and price for three years.
As a result, SSM canceled tender contracts and opened a new bidding process, which was boycotted by U.S. manufacturers. Eventually, Turkey selected the Italian AgustaWestland's T-129, a Turkish version of the A-129 Mangusta International, over South Africa's Denel, maker of the AH-2 Rooivalk.
Presently, AgustaWestland and Turkish Aerospace Industries, its Turkish partner, are manufacturing a total of 59 T-129s, worth billions of dollars, for the Turkish Army. The first deliveries are scheduled for late next year while the gunship is expected to enter service in the Turkish Army in 2013.
Summer Fighting Season
Defense analysts suggest that to be useful in the fight against the PKK, the planned three AH-1W Super Cobras need to enter service by the beginning of next summer. Each year, PKK-related fighting worsens by the summer and dies down in November because of winter conditions.
"The Super Cobra matter is another reason why the relations between Turkey and Israel should be warm. Otherwise, any pro-Israeli senator may kill it," said one Turkish defense analyst.
The PKK intensified attacks on Turkish targets this summer, killing hundreds of soldiers and civilians. Turkey's recent decision to host a radar for NATO's planned missile shield against possible missile attacks from rogue states has begun to produce equipment benefits, including the AH-1W.
Turkey's Religious Affairs Head Criticize Violent Killing of Gadhafi
Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate head Professor Mehmet Görmez has strongly criticized the violent killing of ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi and the display of his dead body for days, which he said does not befit Muslims.
Gadhafi, a fugitive since August, was killed on Oct. 20 after fighters for the National Transitional Council, or NTC, captured his last stronghold and hometown of Sirte. His captors found him hiding in a drainage culvert, and amateur video footage showed a dazed and bloodied Gadhafi being manhandled by an angry crowd. Minutes later he was dead.
His body was put on public display in a cold storage locker in a Misrata warehouse for four days before he was buried in an unmarked grave on Tuesday.
When asked about the brutal killing of Gadhafi by the Anatolia News Agency, Görmez said there are rules for putting tyrants on trial.
"No matter how cruel a person is, brutally killing him through torture does not bring justice. On the contrary, this hurts justice. The way Gadhafi was killed and the exposure of this to the whole world trough social media did not befit Muslims. This did not befit the grandsons of Omar Mukhtar," Görmez said.
Omar Mukhtar is a legendary national hero in Libya and leader of the resistance during the Italian invasion in the 20th century. He was killed by Italians in 1931.