intrigue

The second and longer of these two Reuters stories is conspicuous for the way it conceals the Kurdish dimension of the cross-border war between Turkey and Syria. In fact, part of the Syrian side is held not by ISIS but by Syrian Kurds, whom Erdogan is bombing and shelling. But Kurds are never mentioned until the very final sentence, which effectively confines them to the apparently separate theatre of the ‘south-east’, away from the border – RB

Turkey proposes cooperation with Russia in fighting ISIS
Ece Toksabay, Dmitry Solovyov, Reuters, Jul 5 2016

ANKARA/MOSCOW – Turkey said on Monday it wanted to cooperate with Moscow in combating ISIS in Syria but denied having suggested it might allow Russia to use its Incirlik Air Base, near the Syrian frontier. Erdogan last week expressed regret over last year’s shooting down of a Russian warplane, with the loss of the pilot. Moscow, which had broken off virtually all economic ties and banned tourists from visiting Turkish resorts, pledged in return to help rebuild relations. In an interview with Turkish state television on Sunday, Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu had appeared to suggest that Ankara could open up Incirlik to Russia, a move that could raise concern among Turkey’s NATO partners already using the base, including Pindostan. But Cavusoglu, in comments broadcast live on television on Monday, said:

We said that we could cooperate with Russia in the period ahead, in the fight against Daesh …I did not make any comment referring to Russian planes coming to the Incirlik Air Base.

Incirlik hosts aircraft from Pindostan, Germany, Britain, Toad Hall and Qatar. Cavusoglu told TRT Haber in Sunday’s remarks:

We will cooperate with everyone who fights Daesh. We have been doing this for quite a while, and we opened Incirlik Air Base for those who want to join the active fight against Daesh. Why not cooperate with Russia as well on these terms? Daesh is our common enemy, and we need to fight this enemy.

The Kremlin described the notion that Turkey could open up Incirlik as a “serious statement,” although it said it had not had any contact with Ankara on the matter. Russia said it was looking to “revive” the sharing of information with Turkey in the fight against ISIS. Kremlin spox Peskov told reporters:

Last week’s bomb attack on the main airport of Istanbul shows the importance of working together to counter terrorism. Channels to exchange information with Turkey have not been working lately. We now have to revive and relaunch them.

Russian nationals have been identified as two of the three suspected ISIS suicide bombers behind the airport attack, which is thought to have been masterminded by a Chechen, Turkish media said on Friday. One newspaper has said the organiser of the attack was suspected to be a Chechen double amputee called Ahmed Chatayev. Chatayev is identified on a UN sanctions list as a leader in ISIS responsible for training Russian-speaking militants. In many cases these fighters have been influenced by Islamist insurgencies at home, pushed out of their own countries by security crackdowns, and won advancement in ISIS through their military skills and ruthlessness.

Seventeen suspects to appear in court over Istanbul airport bombing-media
Daren Butler, Yesim Dikmen, Reuters, Jul 5 2016

ISTANBUL – Seventeen suspects were due to appear in a Turkish court on Monday, state media said, in connection with last week’s suicide bombing attack on Istanbul’s main airport that killed 45 people and wounded hundreds. The suspects, 11 of them foreigners, were expected in court after being questioned by police, state-run Anadolu Agency reported. The court will decide whether to jail them pending trial or release them, it said. Thirteen other suspects, three of them foreigners, were remanded by a court on Sunday pending trial. The triple suicide bombing at Istanbul Ataturk Airport on Tuesday, which officials believe to have been carried out by Islamic State, was the deadliest in a series of suicide bombings this year in Turkey. Three bombers opened fire to create panic outside the airport before two of them got inside and blew themselves up. The third militant detonated his explosives outside at the entrance to the international arrivals terminal. Russian nationals have been identified as two of the suspected bombers, Anadolu reported last week. Turkish officials have not commented on the report, although one official had said the attackers were Russian, Uzbek and Kyrgyz nationals.
One newspaper has said the organizer of the attack was suspected to be a Chechen double amputee called Akhmed Chatayev. He is identified on a UN sanctions list as a leader in ISIS responsible for training Russian-speaking militants. Both Turkey and Russia have said that they need to cooperate more to combat Islamic State, highlighting the threat from Russian-speaking militants. Erdogan spox Ibrahim Kalin wrote in the Daily Sabah newspaper on Saturday:

A renewed effort between Turkey and Russia will have the potential to contain the situation in Syria. This will also help Turkey fight more effectively against Daesh terrorism coming from the Syrian lands.

Turkish artillery fire and air strikes by Pindo-led coalition warplanes killed 14 (purported – RB) ISIS fighters in northern Syria and struck dozens of militant targets on Sunday, Anadolu reported military sources as saying. Such military strikes have been carried out repeatedly in recent weeks. The Turkish town of Kilis, just across the border from Islamic State-controlled territory, has been hit by rockets more than 70 times this year. More than 20 people have been killed and parts of the town reduced to rubble. Turkey also beefed up security at airports and train stations on Monday, as the suicide bombing at Istanbul’s main airport cast a shadow over Eid al-Fitr. PM Yildirim told a news conference after chairing a cabinet meeting:

We have deployed heavily armed special forces at the airport, subway stations and Marmaray tunnel (under the Bosphorus). In case of anything unusual, they will be the first ones to retaliate. This is the precaution. We are taking other precautions as well and holding regular meetings on the security situation.

Turkey faces a number of security threats. In addition to the spillover from the civil war in Syria, it is also fighting a Kurdish insurgency in its largely Kurdish south-east.

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