Instead of seeking to wipe out Daesh terrorists in Syria and Iraq, it seems that the United States’ real agenda is to enlist local proxies to counter the initiatives of Russia, Turkey and Iran in the region, according to Erdogan and his PM Metiner.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met Pope Francis as part of his two-day visit to the Vatican which saw him being welcomed with an official ceremony at the Apostolic Palace. During the visit, they discussed the status of Jerusalem, regional issues, the humanitarian tragedy in Syria, and the fight against terrorism, xenophobia and Islamophobia. The two leaders underlined that “equating Islam with terror is wrong”, according to Turkish sources, with Erdoğan telling the pope that Turkey values people from all religions, including Catholics, living in harmony and peace. Turkish sources said Erdoğan and Pope Francis agreed that “joint steps are needed to mobilize the international community to forge regional peace and stability” and to not be silent to ongoing humanitarian crises. A Vatican statement said the talks “[included] the status of Jerusalem, highlighting the need to promote peace and stability in the region [Middle East] through dialogue and negotiation, with respect for human rights and international law”. In fact, Pope Francis was one of the international leaders criticizing the United States’ decision last December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Following his visit to the Vatican, Erdoğan will meet his counterpart Italian President Sergio Mattarella at a working lunch in Rome. Italian Deputy Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni will also be present.During the meetings, the leaders will discuss cooperation in various areas, including politics, the economy and the defense industry. Some 3,500 police and security forces were Rome and authorities declared a no-go area for unauthorized demonstrations. An authorized demonstration of about 150 people including Kurds and their supporters outside nearby Castel Sant‘Angelo turned violent. Italian police said two people were detained after demonstrators tried to break through cordons to get closer to the Vatican from an authorized protest several blocks away.
The Minister of Internal Affairs of Republika Srpska (RS), Dragan Lukač, has denied the existence of paramilitary formations in RS reminding that the organization “Serbian Honor” was registered in Niš, Serbia. Moreover, Lukač emphasized the absence of groups or organizations that could pose a threat to the security of the citizens of RS. According to him, eight of the 17 radicalized people who departed from BiH to join the war (presumably in Syria) have returned but are being closely monitored by the Minister of Internal Affairs.
The return of foreign fighters from Iraq and Syria is worrying more and more many countries facing this phenomenon. Visiting Algeria, whose experience in the fight against terrorism is recognized, the Deputy Prime Minister, Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said on Tuesday that he had discussed with his Algerian counterpart the “ways to exchange information to deal with this phenomenon”: the return of foreign fighters (from Syria and Iraq). Reynders said at the end of the working session with Abdelkader Messahel that they will exchange best practices to deal with them”.In the same context, he announced a meeting with the Minister of Religious Affairs and Wakfs, Mohamed Aissa, to discuss the issue of de-radicalization.Referring to the migration issue in which he noted the similarity of the situation between Algiers and Brussels – “country of destination and transit” – the Belgian diplomat said, according to his words quoted by the official agency, that “there has a will to reinforce the bilateral relations, through, in particular the multiplication of the visits of high level,on both sides, and in this context, he announced the next visits to Algeria.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said the U.S. has chosen the “wrong partner” in the fight against Daesh terror group in Syria as he referred to the YPG/PKK terror group. To the New York Times, Cavusoglu said: “American reliance on the People’s Protection Units (YPG) is a self-inflicted error when the United States already has a capable partner in Turkey. “We have no doubt that the United States will see the damage this policy is inflicting on the credibility of the NATO alliance and correct its policy by putting its allies and long-term interests first again”. He said Turkey, however, could not afford to wait for “eventual and inevitable course corrections”. Cavusoglu said: “The victory against the group could not have been possible without Turkey’s active contributions”. In the article, Cavusoglu talked about how an impasse between U.S. and Turkey. He said the YPG/PKK terrorists across the borders in Iraq and Syria were using weapons and training provided by the United States. About the Operation Olive Branch, he said that Turkey will continue the operation until terrorist are wiped out. Furthermore, according to Cavusoglu, Turkey will not consent to the creation of separatist enclave or terrorist safe heavens.
People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said that Turkish government should make contact with the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. “The way to make peace between Turkey and Syria, to create rapprochement between the two countries and to jointly focus on maintaining [Syria’s] territorial integrity is [to establish] dialogue between Turkey and Syria. We should engage with Syria one way or another if we do not want terror organizations finding shelter in this country”, Kılıçdaroğlu told the Ankara bureau chiefs of media outlets on Jan. 29. The CHP has announced its support to the operation but has also reiterated criticism of the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) policies since the beginning of turmoil in Syria in March 2011. Kılıçdaroğlu accused the AKP of jumping into what he calls “the Middle East swamp” by intervening into Syria’s internal affairs, accusing the government of helping the YPG gain international legitimacy. Kılıçdaroğlu also voiced discomfort for the participation of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), drawn from various opposition groups mainly of Sunni Arabs and Turkmens. His remarks followed CHP deputy Öztürk Yılmaz’s statement that the FSA is “partially made up of jihadist terrorists” including al-Qaeda and al-Nusra militants. Meanwhile, Kılıçdaroğlu revealed that he plans to visit to Damascus in the coming period, in order to help restore broken ties between Turkey and Syria. Kılıçdaroğlu reiterated his expectation that the government could opt to call early presidential and parliamentary elections this year, warning that “Operation Olive Branch” must not be “politicized” for political gain.
The leadership of the internal security forces has captured a suspicion of links to the terrorist group of the Islamic state in the eastern city of Bekaa, Majdal Anjar. This is a Lebanese citizen identified by his initials as R.A, said the statement of the ISF. The suspect is wanted for several arrest warrants: terrorism, fraud, arms trade and the transfer of foreigners, in particular from Syria to Lebanon. During the interrogation, the defendant admitted having witnessed the infiltration of a terrorist from the Syria to Lebanon, to carry out bombing operations in Lebanon and smuggling 100 wireless devices for fighters in Syria.
The Interior Ministry reported the arrest of six individuals in the delegation of Sidi Ali Ben Aoun, governorate of Sidi Bouzid for incitement to terrorism. Their age is between 21 and 27 years old, and these individuals are suspected of belonging to a “takfirist” cell of 9 members.The suspects pledged allegiance to the terrorist organization “Daesh” and confessed their continued contact with terrorist elements in Libya and Syria. They held secret meetings in a mosque in the area to encourage young people to join terrorist groups in conflict zones.
On Saturday Turkey started its second campaign in northern Syria. In their offensive against the Kurdish militia YPG also german Leopard 2 tanks are in use. An armament expert from the German Armed Forces confirmed that the tanks Leopard 2 A4 showed in the pictures are from German production. The federal government did not want to confirm the reports. “Apart from the images from the media that you all know, we have no own insights into the use of Leopard tanks”, said Defense Department spokesman Holger Neumann. From 2006 to 2011, Turkey received 354 Leopard 2 tanks and has more battle tanks than the German Army. The restraint of the Federal Government in view of the continuing Turkish offensive is increasingly met with criticism. “The federal government should unmistakably condemn the violent war of aggression of Turkey”, demanded the left-wing faction leader in the Bundestag, Sahra Wagenknecht.
The U.S. is willing to work with Turkey to adress its “legitimate” security concerns in northern Syria, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said. He was speaking after Turkey’s military incursion into northern Syria to fight the Kurdish YPG militia at the weekend. Turkey sees the group as terrorists, but they have been crucial in a US-led coalition against the Islamic State (IS) group. Ankara said the US had to stop backing the YPG if they wanted cooperation.