Muslims leaders want East Jerusalem to be recognized as Palestinian capital  

Reuters |

Muslim leaders on Wednesday condemned U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and called on the world to respond by recognising East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who hosted the summit of more than 50 Muslim countries in Istanbul, said the U.S. move meant Washington had forfeited its role as broker in efforts to end Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“From now on, it is out of the question for a biased United States to be a mediator between Israel and Palestine, that period is over,” Erdogan said at the end of the meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation member states.

Trump’s declaration has been applauded by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said Washington had an irreplaceable part to play in the region.

“We need to discuss who will be a mediator from now on. This needs to be tackled in the U.N. too,” Erdogan said. A communique posted on the Turkish Foreign Ministry website said the emirs, presidents and ministers gathered in Istanbul regarded Trump’s move “as an announcement of the U.S. Administration’s withdrawal from its role as sponsor of peace”.

It described the decision as “a deliberate undermining of all peace efforts, an impetus (for) extremism and terrorism, and a threat to international peace and security”.

Leaders including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Jordan’s King Abdullah, a close U.S. ally, all criticised Washington’s move.

Read more: Muslims in Asia protest against Trump’s Jerusalem decision

“Jerusalem is and always will be the capital of Palestine,” Abbas said, adding Trump’s decision was “the greatest crime” and a violation of international law.

Asked about the criticism at a State Department briefing in Washington, spokeswoman Heather Nauert said that despite the “inflammatory rhetoric” from the region, Trump “is committed to this peace process.”

“That type of rhetoric that we heard has prevented peace in the past,” she said, urging people to “ignore some of the distortions” and focus on what Trump actually said. She said his decision did not affect the city’s final borders, which were dependent upon negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians.

A communique posted on the Turkish Foreign Ministry website said the emirs, presidents and ministers gathered in Istanbul regarded Trump’s move “as an announcement of the U.S. Administration’s withdrawal from its role as sponsor of peace”.

But when asked whether East Jerusalem could similarly be recognised as the capital of a future Palestinian state, Nauert said that determination should be left to final status negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. “We’re taking a position on how we view Jerusalem,” she said. “I think it’s up to the Israelis and Palestinians to decide how they want to view the borders – again final status negotiations.”

Abbas told OIC leaders in Istanbul that Washington had shown it could no longer be an honest broker.

“It will be unacceptable for it to have a role in the political process any longer since it is biased in favour of Israel,” he said. “This is our position and we hope you support us in this.”

Palestinian capital

Jerusalem, revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, is home to Islam’s third holiest site and has been at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades. Israel captured Arab East Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it in an action not recognised internationally.

The communique on the Turkish ministry website and a separate “Istanbul Declaration” distributed to journalists after the meeting said the leaders called on all countries to recognise East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

“We invite the Trump administration to reconsider its unlawful decision that might trigger…chaos in the region, and to rescind its mistaken step,” the declaration said.

Iran, locked in a regional rivalry with Saudi Arabia, said the Muslim world should overcome internal problems through dialogue so it could unite against Israel. Tehran has repeatedly called for the destruction of the Israeli state and backs several militant groups in their fight against it.

Leaders including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and Jordan’s King Abdullah, a close U.S. ally, all criticised Washington’s move.

“America is only seeking to secure the maximum interests of the Zionists and it has no respect for the legitimate rights of Palestinians,” Rouhani told the summit.

King Abdullah, whose country signed a peace treaty with Israel more than 20 years ago, said he rejected any attempt to alter the status quo of Jerusalem and its holy sites. Abdullah’s Hashemite dynasty is custodian of Jerusalem’s Muslim sites, making Amman sensitive to any changes in the city.

Not all countries were represented by heads of government. Some sent ministers and Saudi Arabia, another close ally of Washington’s, sent a junior foreign minister.

Read more: Jerusalem in trouble

Summit host Turkey has warned that Trump’s decision would plunge the world into “a fire with no end in sight”. Erdogan described it as reward for Israeli actions including occupation, settlement construction, land seizure and “disproportionate violence and murder”.

“Israel is an occupying state (and) Israel is a terror state,” he told the summit. “I invite all countries supporting international law to recognise Jerusalem as the occupied capital of Palestine,” Erdogan told OIC leaders and officials. Trump’s declaration has been applauded by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said Washington had an irreplaceable part to play in the region.

Kurds in Iraq vote in Independence Referendum: regional tensions will stoke up

referendum

News Analysis |

Amid rising tensions and intense international opposition, Kurds in the autonomous region of Kurdistan in Northern Iraq in an independence referendum. The polls opened Monday morning in the disputed areas between the northern city of Erbil and the capital Baghdad, as well as the ethnically-mixed oil-rich province of Kirkuk. The results of the non-binding referendum will be announced on Tuesday.

Will an independent Kurdistan use oil to increase its clout in the region? This factor is likely to impede Kurd independence in the near future but it remains to be seen if virulent nationalism overrides opposition

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq set September 25 as the date for a referendum on Kurdish independence, something which went unnoticed. The government in Baghdad sought control of the area’s border posts and airports ahead of the polls.

The Iraqi government has urged all foreign countries to stop importing oil from Kurdistan. “This is an unconstitutional decision against the social fabric of our citizens. We will not recognize the referendum, nor its results. We will take follow-up steps to protect the unity of the country and the interests of every citizen living in a unified Iraq,” said Iraq’s prime minister, Haider al-Abadi.

Read more: The Kurdish Kaleidoscope

Pandering to the sentiments of the Kurds throughout Iraq, President of KRG, Masoud Barzani endorsed his decision to conduct the referendum. History vouches that charged up nationalists stop at nothing less than their quest for freedom. He asked: “Is it a crime to ask people in Kurdistan to express in a democratic way what they want to have for the future?”

Iran’s backing of Iraq in the poll may be seen differently by the US and Israel. Despite US opposition to the poll, it has long supported Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the fight against the Islamic State

However, Barzani was open for talks to deal with the aftermath of the poll. He said: “If we have a constructive dialogue, then we can give it, even more, time, in order to secure better relations between the Kurds and Baghdad.”

5.6 million voters will be asked: “Do you want the Kurdistan region and Kurdish areas outside the region to become an independent state?” The upbeat voting process will most probably translate into an overwhelmingly affirmative answer to the poll question.

However, tensions are likely to simmer. Apart from Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria have opposed the referendum vociferously. Iran closed its border with Northern Iraq. “At the request of Iraq, we have closed the airspace and ground borders with the Kurdish Regional Government,” foreign ministry spokesman Behram Qasimi said at a news conference in Tehran.

Read more: Kurdish aspirations in the wake of changing US foreign policy

Besides, Iran also halted flight operations in Kurdistan. Iran’s backing of Iraq in the poll may be seen differently by the US and Israel. Despite US opposition to the poll, it has long supported Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the fight against the Islamic State. While Israel has voiced support for the referendum, something which has kept US’ opposition a tad nuanced. If anything, the overt opposition of Iran may open up yet another Israel-Iran-US front especially as ties between Tehran and the US are at the lower ebb.

Pandering to the sentiments of the Kurds throughout Iraq, President of KRG, Masoud Barzani endorsed his decision to conduct the referendum. History vouches that charged up nationalists stop at nothing less than their quest for freedom

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan said: “After this, let’s see through which channels the northern Iraqi regional government will send its oil, or where it will sell it.We have the tap. The moment we close the tap, then it’s done.” Kurdistan exports plenty of oil barrels to Turkey daily, thus giving the region a geopolitical significance one which can stoke tensions.

Read more: How Kurdish hopes became Turkey’s fears

The referendum is likely to flare up tensions in the region. The KRG currently controls 20% of Iraq’s oil resources. If it pushes for independence it could become an oil power to be reckoned with. Will an independent Kurdistan use oil to increase its clout in the region? This factor is likely to impede Kurd independence in the near future but it remains to be seen if virulent nationalism overrides opposition. However, if anything, Middle East will see another or rather a series of fronts opening up in the days to come.

Pakistan, Turkey agree to increase cooperation over peace efforts in Afghanistan

cooperation

News Analysis |

Pakistan and Turkey have agreed that a military-heavy policy cannot solve the seemingly intractable Afghan problem. Both countries have reiterated the need for regional players to join hands and bring about a negotiated end to the conflict by enabling and Afghan-led peace process to kick-off.

The pledge was made during Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif’s visit to Turkey in a bid to garner support against Trump’s plans for Afghanistan, which entail stern warnings to Pakistan. Asif traveled to Turkey as part of his diplomatic engagement campaign which first took him to China and then Iran.

As it stands, the US only has India which has bought its Afghan strategy. However, the lackluster support makes this policy untenable at best

The Turkish President, Tayyip Erdogan reiterated his country’s unwavering commitment to strengthen and expand brotherly ties with Pakistan. Both agreed to maintain robust contact at the highest level for coordinating efforts in Afghanistan. While Khawaja Muhammad Asif asserted the need for both countries to enhance strategic ties. Asif also met premier Binali Yildirim and foreign minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu; matters of mutual interests were discussed.

Read more: Pakistan Is Uniting China, Russia, and Turkey against Trump’s Afghan strategy

Turkey joins China, Iran, and Russia in the club of countries who have rejected Trump’s military-heavy panacea for Afghanistan. These countries are certain that bullets would not alter the dynamics in that country.

The US could find regional players firmly pitted against its scheme for Afghanistan. Geopolitical rivalries taking shape in other theaters will also have a direct impact on how these actors play out in Afghanistan

The progress made in strategic relations between the two countries under the aegis of High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC). During his meeting with his Turkish counterpart, the plight of Kashmiris and the Rohingya Muslim was discussed. Asif was grateful for Turkey’s  principled support for the just struggle of the Kashmiri people for their right to self-determination. Both countries also stressed upon the international community to take cognizance and actions to alleviate the sufferings of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

Pakistan besides showing defiance to US ramped-up pressure over its alleged support for terrorism has successfully convinced regional heavyweights that Trump’s plan for war-torn Afghanistan will be futile. Turkey has once again batted for Pakistan. Last week, President Erdogan said that Pakistan is an integral and indispensable part of the Afghan solution. The fact that Erdogan personally has a great affinity for Pakistan has added to the strength of bilateral ties.

Read more: The rise and fall of secularism in modern Turkey

Iran and Turkey are moving towards greater cooperation While Turkey’s ties with Russia are strengthening especially in the field of defense

With Turkey in the mix, chances of Pakistan chalking out an alliance have risen. Iran and Turkey are moving towards greater cooperation. While Turkey’s ties with Russia are strengthening especially in the field of defense.

The US could find regional players firmly pitted against its scheme for Afghanistan. Geopolitical rivalries taking shape in other theaters will also have a direct impact on how these actors play out in Afghanistan. As it stands, the US only has India which has bought its Afghan strategy. However, the lackluster support makes this policy untenable at best.

German Foreign Minister Says Turkey further away from EU membership than ever before

EU membership

BERLIN (Reuters) – German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in an interview with news magazine Der Spiegel published on Saturday that Turkey has never been less likely to join the European Union than now, as relations between Ankara and Berlin hit a low point.

“Today Turkey is definitely further away from becoming a member of the European Union than ever before,” Gabriel said in the interview.

He also said that he always had doubts about whether Turkey should join the EU but found himself in the minority in his Social Democrat (SPD) party.

Before taking power in Germany in 2005, Chancellor Angela Merkel was an outspoken opponent of Turkey’s membership and instead called for a “privileged partnership”.

Gabriel disliked that idea because he thought it would make Turks feel like second-class Europeans but he said his opinion had changed since Britain’s decision to leave the EU.

Read more: With German-Russian relations hitting rock bottom: Merkel heads for Moscow

“Today the situation is totally different due to Brexit. We’d be well advised to bring about a ‘special relationship’ with Great Britain after its exit from the EU,” Gabriel said.

“That will be an important learning process for the EU and perhaps some of it can serve as a blueprint for other countries in the long term,” Gabriel said.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is courting Turks abroad for support in an April 16 referendum that would grant him sweeping new powers.

He infuriated Germany and the Netherlands by describing bans on planned rallies by Turkish ministers as “fascist”. The arrest of a Turkish-German journalist in Ankara has also caused upset.

Gabriel said Erdogan was taking advantage of a sentiment many people of Turkish origin have in Germany that they are neither accepted nor welcomed.

Read more: Erdogan expects Turkish parliament will restore death punishment

He said Germany should avoid reacting in kind to provocations from Turkey because that would only give Erdogan the “who needs a bogeyman for his campaign”.

He also warned Turkish politicians that they could be banned from holding rallies in Germany if they do not stick to German laws: “Whoever crosses these lines cannot expect to be allowed to propagate his political ideas here.”

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Julia Glover)

Over 400 Turkish Staff ordered to Leave after Erdogan Pressure on Pakistani Government

Imran Khan | Nov 21, 2016

ISLAMABAD: As Recep Tayyip Erdogan reached Pakistan on his two-day official visit, the interior ministry of Pakistan has informed the Turkish staff of Pak-Turk schools and colleges to leave the country by Nov 20. ZainulAbideen, media coordinator of Pak-Turk schools, told media outlets that there were 13 teaching faculty staff in the two branches in Peshawar who had applied for the annual renewal of their visa, but had been rejected. In October, the foreign affairs ministry had informed the Islamabad High Court that the government was not going to shut down the institutions and that it had not received any request from the Turkish government for the transfer of their management to a third party.

Backdoor talks between the Pakistani and Turkish governments has come to an accord that the control of overseeing of these schools will be transferred from the Pak-Turk Education Foundation, the current Gulen-owned administration, to the Turkish government’s subsidiary, Maarif Foundation, a government charity.

582cd1bea9ea2The question is why has Pakistan done this and on whose saying? What illegal action if any were these schools and administrations involved in Pakistan. Political and human right’s violations in Turkey are at an all time high in decades. After July’s failed coup attempt, Erdogan’s government has shut down more than 160 media outlets and arrested over 100 journalists. But that is just half the story. Away from shuttered news rooms and busy police stations, trolls have intensified a campaign to intimidate journalists online, hacking social media accounts, and threatening physical and sexual abuse, as well as orchestrating “virtual lynch mobs” of pro-government voices to silence criticism.

The Turkish government alleges that Fethullah Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, USA orchestrated the military coup attempt in July.  US has confirmed it has received a formal extradition request from Ankara for the Turkish cleric FethullahGulen, but not over the July coup attempt the Turkish authorities has accused Gulen of orchestrating. Turkey has submitted four extradition requests for Gulen which detail at length the formal charges against Gulen. The files include two arrest warrants issued by the 14th Central Criminal Court in Istanbul, another from Bursa’s 2nd Central Criminal Court and one from a magistrate judge at the request of Ankara’s chief prosecutor. The charges against Gulen include embezzlement, aggravated fraud, the forging of official documents and violations of the right to privacy.

pak-turk-teachersAccording to Turkish officials additional extradition request for Gulen based on the coup has not yet been submitted. Turkish officials said that Turkey would eventually file the request once the legal process in Turkey has been finalized.

There are 28 Pak-Turk schools in Pakistan, 108 Turkish citizens are working as teachers alone and in other capacities in Lahore, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Multan, Karachi, Hyderabad, Khairpur, Jamshoro and Quetta. The total number of these teachers and their family members amounts to around 400. The schools have over 11,000 students, from pre-school to ‘A’ Level ages. The Pak-Turk International Schools and Colleges network has issued a clarification denying any political affiliation with the FethullahGulen- inspired Hizmet Movement.

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen,” Lenin

It is very clear under Erdogan Turkish polity is going towards an authoritarian direction. But, what is surprising is Pakistan’s governments current actions. While previously they would only bow down to American administrations current actions against the Pak-Turks suggest that they have started bowing down to any government they consider their ‘friend’.

This is a disappointing trend that needs Pakistani civil society and foreign policy analysts to join hands to show the government that this is not acceptable direction for the country to move towards. On the Pak-Turk Schools case we look towards the courts to provide relief.

[The writer is Researcher and Program Coordinator at Governance and Policy Advisers, Islamabad. Can be reached at imran31255@hotmail.com and tweets @imrankhanniazai]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

Is Erdogan Really Serious About Bringing Back Death Penalty?

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to respond to calls from his supporters for the plotters of the July 15 attempted coup to receive the ultimate punishment, and he is signaling his keenness on seeing the death penalty reinstated in Turkey. It is not clear, though, whether he is doing this for its own sake or if he is using the topic to increase his support base as the debate on changing Turkey from a parliamentary system to an executive presidencygathers steams. Turkey, a Council of Europe member and a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, abolished the death penalty in 2002, except in times of war. It subsequently abolished it in times of war in 2003, under Erdogan as prime minister, which is ironic from today’s perspective.

 

To read full article click on this link: Al Monitor

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.