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Turkish Press Review, 08-03-03

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From: Turkish Directorate General of Press and Information <http://www.byegm.gov.tr>

Summary of the political and economic news in the Turkish press this morning

03.03.2008


CONTENTS

  • [01] GUL, BUYUKANIT DENY N.IRAQ PULLOUT DUE TO US PRESSURE
  • [02] ERDOGAN: “THE FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM HASN’T ENDED”
  • [03] PM ERDOGAN SET TO TRAVEL THE COUNTRY
  • [04] NGOS CRITICIZE GOVT MOVE TO EASE HEADSCARF BAN
  • [05] BAYKAL: “THE CROSS-BORDER OP SHOULD HAVE GONE FOR LONGER”
  • [06] IRAQI PRESIDENT TO VISIT ANKARA LATER THIS MONTH
  • [07] IS ARM WRESTLING WITH IRAN UNAVOIDABLE?

  • [01] GUL, BUYUKANIT DENY N.IRAQ PULLOUT DUE TO US PRESSURE

    The General Staff announced on Friday that Turkish troops had started to pull back from northern Iraq, and yesterday released new photos on its official website of the cross-border operation. Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit said on Saturday that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) had withdrawn its troops from northern Iraq on schedule and also denied any foreign influence on the decision. Speaking to Milliyet daily, Buyukanit said that the army decision to withdraw from Iraq was taken on strictly military grounds. “If someone says that the army withdrew early, then let them go there (northern Iraq) and stay for 24 hours,” he added. “The government knew about the pullback from northern Iraq, but needless to say they didn’t know the exact time. The army killed 242 rebels out of 300 targeted in the operation, and PKK communications were cut off.” Speaking to reporters on Sunday before leaving for an official visit to Romania, President Abdullah Gul also said that the decision to end to the operations was in no way made under pressure from the United States. Asked if he had known the time the operation would finish, he said that he knew the date, as the military gave briefings, and how it was planned, and finally that it ended that way. /Hurriyet- Aksam/

    [02] ERDOGAN: “THE FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM HASN’T ENDED”

    Speaking to his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Youth Branches Congress in Ankara yesterday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated that the recent cross-border operations in northern Iraq were done with parliamentary authorization. “This government didn’t take orders from anyone, and will not do so,” he said. “The fight against terrorism hasn’t ended. What is necessary will continue in a determined way, as before. ” /Milliyet/

    [03] PM ERDOGAN SET TO TRAVEL THE COUNTRY

    In apparent preparation for local elections set for a year from now, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced plans to travel the country. Erdogan will visit 10 provinces in a first stage, and will address people in Diyarbakir on March 22, the day after Nevruz. The premier will also visit Usak on March 7, Izmir on March 9, Siirt and Batman on March 15, Gaziantep on March 22, and Sanliurfa, Mardin and Manisa on March 23. /Turkiye/

    [04] NGOS CRITICIZE GOVT MOVE TO EASE HEADSCARF BAN

    The Turkish Bar Association (TBB), Union of Istanbul Women’s Institutions (IKKB) and Union of National Non-Governmental Organizations yesterday released a joint statement criticizing the government’s recent constitutional changes meant to lift the university headscarf ban. The statement said the push for the amendments was raising concerns that the principle of secularism and the founding philosophy of the republic are under threat. /Milliyet/

    [05] BAYKAL: “THE CROSS-BORDER OP SHOULD HAVE GONE FOR LONGER”

    Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal yesterday lamented as premature the end of a land-based cross-border operation into northern Iraq after eight days. Speaking to a crowd in Ankara’s Temelli district, Baykal said, “Excellent results were gained through the operation, but it should have been carried out until all resources of the terrorist PKK were destroyed.” /Turkiye/

    [06] IRAQI PRESIDENT TO VISIT ANKARA LATER THIS MONTH

    Following the Turkish Army’s pullback from northern Iraq, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has firmed up a visit to take place later this month. A Turkish delegation had conveyed the invitation from President Abdullah Gul last week, but while accepting it, Talabani said he couldn’t set a date until the end of Turkey’s cross-border operation, which ended last Friday. Talabani praised the pullback. An agreement on Turkish-Iraqi energy cooperation, supported by the US, could be signed during his visit. /Cumhuriyet/.

    FROM THE COLUMNS...FROM THE COLUMNS... FROM THE COLUMNS...

    [07] IS ARM WRESTLING WITH IRAN UNAVOIDABLE?

    BY ARDAN ZENTURK (STAR)

    Columnist Mehmet Altan comments on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Baghdad this week. A summary of her column is as follows:

    “Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in Baghdad! This is the biggest diplomatic maneuver since 1979, when Ayatollah Khomenei returned to Iran from exile in Paris. In other words, Iranians and Iraqis who are nearly 30 years old today have never seen an Iranian president set foot in Baghdad. The late dictator Saddam Hussein committed his first crime against humanity in 1980 by attacking Iran. If a neighbor of yours is experiencing a process of revolution within its borders, attacking it in that weakened state would be a big crime. Saddam did this in the thought that he would end the Islamic revolution on behalf of the West and the hope he would capture one of the most important oil fields in the Gulf. Of course, ‘modern’ and ‘contemporary’ forces backing him back then had already given him chemical weapons to be used against Iranian soldiers.

    Things didn’t work out as he planned. International balances never gave Hussein any chance of victory. Israel didn’t want any Arab country to emerge stronger, and so millions of Muslims in Iran and Iraq killed each other, and nothing was accomplished. Hussein, unable to find what he expected in Iran and feeling trapped by the West, invaded Kuwait following the 1988 ceasefire and this started the current process. Ahmadinejad is now the leader of a few states which can determine Baghdad’s fate in Iraq. Ahmadinejad is setting his foot in Iraq’s south, where the only accepted currency is the Iranian riyal. Iran has organized groups that are politically close to it in the world’s most strategic enemy region, and also created an economic area attached to it beyond its borders by using its own national currency.

    Interestingly, Ahmadinejad’s visit to Baghdad shows open support to Iraq’s Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The number one supporter and protector of the same government is the US, which is Iran’s biggest enemy. Philip Reeker, spokesman for the US Embassy in Baghdad, said that the US sees the Iranian president’s visit to Baghdad as part of normal relations between two neighboring countries. Even these remarks are highly important, as they show Tehran’s importance in Iraq’s future. We should also never forget that the US, which called Iran the leader of an ‘axis of evil,’ has sat at the table with Iranian negotiators in Baghdad and negotiated the stability to be ensured in the country’s south.

    Obviously Ahmadinejad is trying to increase his country’s bargaining power, as it is under pressure due to its nuclear program that he seems to be determined to continue. His visit to Iraq actually aims to prove that Iran is really a country which can come to an agreement and make real efforts for stability when necessary. Anyway… but it would be useful to follow one point closely and possible developments in the future very well: Common conclusions reached by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Ahmadinejad. This issue is also very important. Maybe the arm wrestling has just started over Iraq.”


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