Simon's Feed
Nov 16, 2011

U.S. election ups risk of Israeli strike on Iran: expert

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – An Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear sites may become likelier in 2012 if Israel calculates it has more room to act alone in a U.S. presidential election year, a former U.S. official and nuclear diplomacy expert said.

Mark Fitzpatrick, an Iran watcher at the International Institute of Strategic Studies, told Reuters the latest report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog made him more worried that Iran was closer to mastering how to use nuclear power as a weapon.

Nov 1, 2011

Turkey wants Afghan-Pakistan summit to reduce mistrust

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey hopes talks it is hosting between the presidents of Pakistan and Afghanistan in Istanbul on Tuesday will reduce their deep mutual mistrust and begin a new period of cooperation between the two neighbors.

Bilateral relations have been marred by accusations that each is helping militant enemies of the other, and Afghan officials have said they suspect Pakistani intelligence of backing the Taliban and its insurgent ally the Haqqani network.

Oct 31, 2011

Afghans, Pakistan may use talks to ease tensions: Turks

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan and Pakistan have a chance at talks in Istanbul to end a blame game over a series of militant attacks that have deepened their mutual mistrust, officials from the Turkish host government said on Monday.

Presidents of the three countries meet on Tuesday as Afghanistan enters a critical phase in its transition, with the United States planning to pull its combat troops out by the end of 2014, and some Western countries already withdrawing theirs.

Oct 7, 2011

Analysis: Turkey takes sides on Syria, faces new risks

ANTAKYA, Turkey/ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey is piling pressure on Syria with border military exercises, economic sanctions and the harboring of Syrian opposition groups and army defectors, but Ankara must tread carefully to avoid arousing the suspicion of Arab states or spurring Syrian counter-measures.

Turkey has shifted, in the space of six months, from being Syria’s new best friend forever to a center of gravity for opposition to President Bashar al-Assad outside the country.

Sep 15, 2011

Syria opposition unites, finds international voice

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Syrian opposition activists meeting in Istanbul announced on Thursday the members of a Syrian National Council to provide an alternative to President Bashar al-Assad’s government as a brutal crackdown continued in their homeland.

Addressing a news conference at the end of four days of talks, Basma Kadmani, a Syrian exile living in France, said the council aimed to help topple Assad’s dictatorship within six months and form a interim government thereafter.

Aug 8, 2011

Erdogan: The strongest man in Turkey

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has an unspoken pact with the Turkish electorate: he delivers rapid economic growth, jobs and money, and voters let him shape what kind of democracy this Muslim nation of 74 million people becomes.

So far, the deal has served him well.

Erdogan has overseen a near tripling of per capita income in the last decade. That has helped blunt misgivings over the way he deals with dissent, and allowed him to subordinate Turkey’s powerful military, which has long seen itself as guardian of the country’s secular soul. Last year he used a plebiscite on constitutional reform to break the cliques in the judiciary, another bastion of Turkey’s secular old guard.

Aug 8, 2011

Special Report: Erdogan: The strongest man in Turkey

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has an unspoken pact with the Turkish electorate: he delivers rapid economic growth, jobs and money, and voters let him shape what kind of democracy this Muslim nation of 74 million people becomes.

So far, the deal has served him well.

Erdogan has overseen a near tripling of per capita income in the last decade. That has helped blunt misgivings over the way he deals with dissent, and allowed him to subordinate Turkey’s powerful military, which has long seen itself as guardian of the country’s secular soul. Last year he used a plebiscite on constitutional reform to break the cliques in the judiciary, another bastion of Turkey’s secular old guard.

Aug 8, 2011

Turkey’s friendship with Syria nears breaking point

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey’s friendship with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stood near breaking point as Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu prepared to visit Damascus on Tuesday in a last-ditch effort to persuade Assad to stop his security forces attacking civilians.

On Sunday, one of Assad’s advisers warned Davutoglu would be given short shrift after Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said his minister would deliver a “decisive message,” having seen past entreaties to halt the violence ignored.

Jul 31, 2011

Turkey’s leaders deny crisis as top generals quit

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – For Turkey’s political leaders it was business as usual on Saturday, denying any crisis, or simply not mentioning the resignation of the country’s four top military commanders.

Chief of General Staff General Isik Kosaner stepped down on Friday along with the commanders of the army, navy and air force in protest at the detention of 250 officers on charges of conspiring against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

Jul 30, 2011

Turkey’s military in turmoil as top brass quit

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey faced turmoil within its military on Saturday after the country’s four most senior commanders quit in protest over the detention of 250 officers on charges of conspiring against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

Chief of General Staff General Isik Kosaner stepped down on Friday evening along with the army, navy and air force commanders, plunging NATO’s second largest armed forces into uncertainty just days before a key promotions board convenes.