Simon's Feed
Feb 1, 2012

Turkey’s PM takes aim at writer Paul Auster over Israel

ISTANBUL, Feb 1 (Reuters) – Prime Minister Tayyip
Erdogan branded acclaimed novelist Paul Auster as ignorant on
Tuesday for refusing to visit Turkey in protest at the jailing
of journalists, accusing the Jewish American writer of
double-standards for visiting Israel.

Though a foreign novelist made an easy target, there is
rising unease over press freedom under Erdogan among Turkish
liberals, many of whom had supported his mission to strengthen
democracy and tame Turkey’s coup-making generals.

Jan 9, 2012

Ghalioun given month more as Syrian opposition head

ISTANBUL/AMMAN (Reuters) – Syrian opposition leaders meeting in Istanbul gave Burhan Ghalioun a one-month extension as head of the Syrian National Council (SNC) on Monday, after earlier rejecting a draft accord he had signed with a rival opposition group.

“Ghalioun’s three-month tenure was renewed for another month until a better mechanism to elect a head of the council is devised,” the source, in direct contact with delegates attending the closed meeting, told Reuters in Amman.

Jan 7, 2012

Turkey’s custody laws draw flak after general held

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – A day after the jailing of Turkey’s former military chief, pending possible trial on accusations he tried to overthrow the government, newspaper columnists criticized the authorities for failing to reform sweeping pre-trial custody laws.

An Istanbul court sent shockwaves through Turkey by sending General Ilker Basbug to Silivri prison, west of Istanbul, on Friday. The prosecution has yet to lay formal charges against the man who was chief of staff from 2008 to 2010.

Jan 4, 2012

Iran dealings put Turkey’s Halkbank in spotlight

ISTANBUL, Jan 4 (Reuters) – Turkish lender Halkbank
, little known outside Turkey, has gained a reputation
in the oil market over the past 18 months for handling
transactions that other banks fear to touch – trade deals with
Iran.

Now a new law signed by President Barack Obama last
Saturday, which imposes U.S. sanctions on financial institutions
dealing with Iran’s central bank, has put the bank squarely in
the spotlight.

Dec 12, 2011

Politics enters science in Erdogan’s Turkey

ISTANBUL, Dec 12 (Reuters) – There was a time when candidates to the Turkish Academy of Sciences needed above all the respect and acceptance of their peers, but these days the government can largely choose who gets in.

The change, according to some academics, is symptomatic of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s move towards an increasingly centralised form of government as he settles into a third term in office after the AK Party’s easy election victory in June.

Dec 12, 2011

Analysis: Politics enters science in Erdogan’s Turkey

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – There was a time when candidates to the Turkish Academy of Sciences needed above all the respect and acceptance of their peers, but these days the government can largely choose who gets in.

The change, according to some academics, is symptomatic of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s move toward an increasingly centralized form of government as he settles into a third term in office after the AK Party’s easy election victory in June.

Nov 25, 2011

Turkey seen as door to Syrian “humanitarian corridor”

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – The border wends 800 km (500 miles) eastwards through hilly Turkish terrain, much of it mined. On squat concrete buildings across the valley, the Syrian flag flutters and soldiers clamber over rooftops watching for movement. Villages around are occupied by military.

The frontier between Turkey’s Hatay province and Syria offers the probable site for the “humanitarian corridor” proposed by France to help civilians caught in the spiraling violence as President Bashar al-Assad fights to stay in power. But the Syrian military shows no sign of yielding control.

Nov 19, 2011

Turkish papers highlight contingency plans for Syria

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkish newspapers said on Saturday Ankara had contingency plans to create no-fly or buffer zones to protect civilians in neighboring Syria from security forces there if the bloodshed worsens.

Turkey opposes unilateral steps or intervention aimed at “regime change” in Syria, the reports said, but it has not ruled out the possibility of more extensive military action if security forces began committing large-scale massacres.

Nov 17, 2011

Syrians would accept Turkish intervention – Brotherhood

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – A leader of Syria’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood said on Thursday the Syrian people would accept military intervention by Turkey, rather than Western countries, to protect them from President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces.

Mohammad Riad Shaqfa, who lives in exile in Saudi Arabia, told a news conference in Istanbul the international community should isolate Assad’s government to encourage people in their struggle to end more than four decades of Assad family rule.

Nov 17, 2011

Syrians would accept Turkish intervention: Brotherhood leader

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – A leader of Syria’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood said on Thursday the Syrian people would accept military intervention by Turkey, rather than Western countries, to protect them from President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces.

Mohammad Riad Shaqfa, who lives in exile in Saudi Arabia, told a news conference in Istanbul that the international community should isolate Assad’s government to encourage people to press their struggle to end more than four decades of Assad family rule.