Daily Archives: May 2, 2014

Turkey heading to totalitarian regime, main opposition CHP leader says

Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (2R) speaks during a meeting with foreign media members in Istanbul on May 2. CHP deputy chairs Faruk Loğoğlu (R) adn Gürsel Tekin (2L) and CHP Istanbul provincial head Oğuz Kaan Salıcı (L) were also present at the meeting.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (2R) speaks during a meeting with foreign media members in Istanbul on May 2. CHP deputy chairs Faruk Loğoğlu (R) adn Gürsel Tekin (2L) and CHP Istanbul provincial head Oğuz Kaan Salıcı (L) were also present at the meeting.

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said the country is heading to a totalitarian regime, referring to the pressures on the press in Turkey during a meeting with foreign media members in Istanbul on May 2.

“Turkey is heading rapidly toward a totalitarian regime. One cannot speak of democracy in a country if there is no freedom of the press. The bans on Twitter, YouTube, the pressure on the newspapers and TV channels are unacceptable,” said Kılıçdaroğlu upon a question at the meeting in Istanbul.

Recalling that May 3 is World Press Freedom Day, Kılıçdaroğlu said Turkey is passing through a pressure regime which has practices fiercer than that of the times of the military coup.

“There are 44 journalists in jail today. Around 1,150 journalists have lost their jobs in past five years. We see practices harsher than those of the military rulers in this country,” said Kılıçdaroğlu in his address to foreign journalists.

The main opposition leader, however, voiced optimism over the end of his party’s struggle against totalitarianism.

“This is a difficult struggle. But I am sure of one thing: We will win in the end. An oppressive regime has never been successful in history. Societies have paid the price and we are ready to pay the price on this road,” said Kılıçdaroğlu during the meeting.

CHP deputy chair Gürsel Tekin, CHP deputy chair Faruk Loğoğlu, CHP deputy chair Sezgin Tanrıkulu, CHP deputy Şafak Pavey and CHP Istanbul provincial head Oğuz Kaan Salıcı were also present at the meeting held at a hotel in Istanbul’s Taksim neighborhood.

Kılıçdaroğlu said that there is no freedom in a country if people are not allowed to hold their celebrations at the place they want to, referring to the banning of Taksim Square to unionists on May 1. “There was martial law in Istanbul yesterday [May 1]. Workers should be allowed to celebrate their day wherever they want to. Besides, Taksim has a symbolic meaning for the workers,” said Kılıçdaroğlu criticizing the government’s efforts in blocking Taksim to workers and unions on May 1.

Presidential elections

Kılıçdaroğlu told foreign media members that the CHP will nominate the candidate who will get the most votes from the voters of other parties in the second round of the presidential elections scheduled for August.

“All parties will nominate their own candidates in the first round of the elections. This will have advantages and disadvantages. We believe that our candidate should be able to get votes from the voters of other parties in the second round,” said Kılıçdaroğlu.

He also criticized the fact that the debates over the presidential elections are reduced to one point, whether Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan or current President Abdullah Gül will run.

“We should discuss what characteristics our president should have. It is very dangerous if someone who is not acquitted in the court from the allegations against him becomes president. This will be a legitimization of the corruption,” said Kılıçdaroğlu referring to the recent corruption probe opened against high-profile names, including the sons of three former ministers.

Kılıçdaroğlu said the Erdoğan’s recent statement offering condolences to the relatives of the victims of the 1915 incidents should be seen as a humane act.

“It is very humane to give a statement of condolence to those who died during the 1915 incidents. All of these people who lost their lives were Ottoman citizens. We have already stated our opinion about the prime minister’s statement,” said Kılıçdaroğlu referring to Loğoğlu’s remarks that said these statements should have been said earlier regarding the issue.

Upon a question about a probe opened against Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who is in self-exile in the U.S., Kılıçdaroğlu said if there is any structure that damages the state, it should be tried before the court. However, Kılıçdaroğlu also stated that the rift between the Gülen movement and government is mainly caused by the fact that Erdoğan is attempting to create an enemy because “dictators tend to create enemies.” He also said it is ridiculous for Erdoğan to say that the Gülen movement has ruled the country for 12 years.

May/02/2014 via – hurriyetdailynews.

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​Ron Paul: Western powers fomenting Ukrainian conflict, US should ‘stay out’

Former United States congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul has called on the US to stay out of the intensifying Ukraine conflict, saying it was Western powers that initially stirred unrest there and which continue to incite the tense situation.

On the brink of what he calls a “civil war,” Ukraine must be allowed to resolve its differences free of Western forces antagonizing and incentivizing further clashes, Paul said, especially in the nation’s east where pro-Russian Ukrainians are moving to protect the area from the Western-backed government in Kiev.

Western Ukraine right now is being urged on by its Western supporters, meaning its NATO supporters, the European Union, the United States and the IMF (International Monetary Fund),” Paul wrote on his website, ronpaulchannel.com.

Paul said the US and its allies provoked the Ukrainian conflict in the first place, despite what American media outlets and Western leaders claim about Russia’s culpability.

“The truth is, the coup of several weeks ago to overthrow the elected leader Viktor Yanukovych was stirred up by the same group: NATO, the European Union, the U.S., and the IMF,” he wrote.

Paul said that Washington’s role in pumping $5 billion into the effort to “control Ukraine” is plain interventionism and meddling which could easily result in disaster.

“The current fighting looks like a serious escalation that may get out of control, even though it’s in the interest on both sides, the West as well as Russia, not to escalate,” he wrote. “There have been a lot of threats and intimidation on sanctions and economic penalties, which very well could get out of control.”

He adds that the IMF has dangled $17 billion in front of the Kiev government if it can rid eastern Ukrainian cities of “Russian supporters.” These kinds of measures, Paul said, explain “more aggressive activity by the Western Ukrainians to try to conquer these cities” and show that Western powers do not have the Ukrainian people’s best interests at heart.

“Ironically, the IMF doesn’t seem to have much common sense in trying to help the Ukrainian people because, in order to get this $17 billion, not only must they fight and control the East, they also have to raise taxes and increase oil prices—which will not help the people,” he wrote. “This is generally the case when there are sanctions placed on a country, or when war breaks out: the people suffer and the special interests seem to thrive.”

Paul said that the western Ukrainian move to institute a military draft also proves it is not on the defensive against Russian incursion, as the US and its allies claim.

“In all seriousness, if a country is defending itself, then the people rally and you don’t have to use conscription to get fighters.”

Paul concluded by saying the US has helped create and exacerbate divisions in Ukraine, and that Washington needs to refrain from offering money and weapons or picking sides, and let Ukraine “settle this on their own.”

“It would be much better for the Ukrainians, for the Europeans, for the Russians, and for the Americans, for us to just stay out and follow the principles of a non-intervention foreign policy.”

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Where was Obama? Question resurfaces of president’s whereabouts during Benghazi attack

Obama and Dog Bo Playing Football

Obama and Dog Bo Playing Football

Republican senators on Friday put pressure on President Obama to confirm his whereabouts during the night of the Benghazi attack, after an ex-White House spokesman revived the debate by telling Fox News he was not in the Situation Room.

The detail about the president’s location the night of the attack is just one of many revelations that have, in a matter of days, kicked up the controversy to a level not seen since last year. After new emails were released raising questions about the White House response to the attack, a key panel on Friday subpoenaed Secretary of State John Kerry and House Speaker John Boehner announced a special investigative committee.

On Friday afternoon, three GOP senators wrote a letter to Obama asking about his whereabouts and spokesman Tommy Vietor’s comments to Fox News.

“Last night, the former Communications Director for the National Security Council, Tommy Vietor, stated that on the afternoon and night of September 11, 2012 — while the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya was under attack — that you never visited the White House Situation Room to monitor events,” they wrote.

Claiming that Americans still do not have an “accounting of your activities during the attack,” the senators asked him to confirm Vietor’s account. The letter was signed by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.

In the earlier interview with Fox News, Vietor said he was in the Situation Room during the Benghazi attack — where four Americans including the U.S. ambassador died — but Obama was not.

He said Obama was in the White House.

“It is well known that when the attack was first briefed to him it was in the Oval Office and he was updated constantly,” Vietor said Thursday, adding he did not know where the president was at all points in the night because he does not have a “tracking device on him.” He said Obama does not have to be in the Situation Room to monitor an ongoing situation.

Though officials have described the president as being in the loop that night, Republicans have questioned those claims. The matter was last debated during congressional testimony in February 2013.

At a hearing, top Defense officials said they had just one conversation with Obama during the course of the attack.

Then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said they spoke with Obama at 5 p.m. ET on Sept. 11 that night. They were both on the same call, and said it lasted about 30 minutes.

Dempsey said they did not speak again until the attack was over.

Graham, at the time, said Obama “has to account for his leadership” and questioned whether Obama showed “any curiosity” as the attack unfolded.

Panetta said there was “no question” Obama “was concerned about American lives,” and he assumed the chief of staff was keeping him updated.

The new letter questioning the president on his whereabouts marks just one front in Republicans’ revived effort to get answers on the 2012 attack.

The decision by Boehner to call a vote on forming a select committee was a significant development, as Boehner for months has resisted calls by rank-and-file lawmakers to do so.

The new emails apparently pushed him to change his mind.

The emails in question were obtained and published by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, following a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. One email showed White House adviser Ben Rhodes discussing a “prep call” with then-U.N. ambassador Susan Rice, before she went on several Sunday shows and made controversial and flawed statements linking the attack to an anti-Islam Internet video

Top Republicans said those emails should have been turned over to Congress months ago.

But Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid blasted Boehner’s decision as an election-year stunt.

“There have already been multiple investigations into this issue and an independent Accountability Review Board is mandated under current law,” Reid said in a statement. “For Republicans to waste the American people’s time and money staging a partisan political circus instead of focusing on the middle class is simply a bad decision.”

Fox News.

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NATO ships arrive in Lithuania amid rising tensions over Ukraine

A group of NATO ships has arrived in the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda to “ensure regional security,” the Lithuanian Ministry of Defense has said. Russia has already voiced its concern over the “unprecedented” buildup of NATO forces in the region.

The group is composed of 4 minesweeping ships from Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium and Estonia as well as one supply vessel. The ships will take part in intensive military drills, stopping off at various ports in the region. They will also participate in operation “Open Sprit” deactivating underwater explosives.

The Lithuanian Minister of Defense Juozas Olekas said in a statement the drills will “ensure our national and regional security and collective defense.”

The contingent of ships is not the only NATO force to have been deployed in the region recently. Last week, the United States announced the deployment of 600 soldiers who will participate in military drills in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to show solidarity with NATO members that border Russia.

In addition, Britain and France have sent 8 fighter jets to Poland and Lithuania to step up aerial patrol in the region. As well as the increased aerial presence, NATO has also deployed ships in the Black Sea, Baltic Sea and East Mediterranean.

Russia views this recent escalation in NATO forces so close to its border as a provocation and counter-productive in the struggle to de-escalate tensions in Ukraine. On Monday, Russia’s Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu appealed to his American counterpart, Chuck Hagel, to cool down the rhetoric over Ukraine and work together to defuse the situation.

He denied accusations that Russia was somehow involved in inciting the unrest in eastern Ukraine. As a response to the amassing of NATO troops, Moscow declared it had been forced to begin its own military drills close to the Russian border with Ukraine.

Hagel has urged NATO’s EU members to increase their defense spending in light of the recent events in Ukraine.

“We must see renewed financial commitments from all NATO members,” Hagel said in a speech on the NATO alliance to be delivered at the Wilson Center and released by the Defense Department.

Russia said that the coup-appointed government in Kiev had irreparably severed the peace deal struck on April 17 in Geneva, after it launched a special operation in the Ukrainian city of Slavyansk.

“While Russia is making efforts to de-escalate and resolve the conflict, the Kiev regime has chosen military aviation strikes on peaceful residential areas and started a punitive operation, literally destroying the last hope for the viability of the Geneva accords,” Dmitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson, said in a statement on Friday.

The Ukrainian army began a special operation against anti-government activists in the eastern town of Slavyansk on Friday morning. The city was blockaded by the Ukrainian military, with helicopters and APCs deployed to crack down on self-defense forces. Moscow has urged an immediate halt to the “punitive operation” and violence on Ukrainian civilians.

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US, EU’s support of Kiev’s tactics blocks peaceful resolution of Ukraine crisis – Russia

Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin

The West has cut all paths to a peaceful solution of the Ukrainian crisis by supporting the Kiev authorities and their violent crackdown on protests in the eastern part of the country, Russia’s envoy Vitaly Churkin told the UN Security Council.

Catastrophic consequences are inevitable if Kiev authorities do not stop their “criminal venture,” Churkin stressed at the emergency UNSC meeting summoned by Moscow on Friday.

He pointed out that Kiev has flagrantly violated its obligations that were established under the Geneva agreement on April 17. The “punitive measures” carried out by the government are evidence of Kiev’s inability and unwillingness to fulfill these obligations, he added.

“Particular concern is raised by data that, during the punitive operation of the Ukrainian military and illegal ultra-nationalist groups, English speech was heard on air, and among the assailants on Slavyansk, English speaking foreigners were seen,” the Russian UN envoy said.

He stressed that Moscow “insists on avoiding any external interference in what is happening in Ukraine.”

“Kiev regime, encouraged by its Western sponsors, used massive use of military force, practically destroying the last hope for the viability of the Geneva agreement,” Churkin said.

The Russian envoy to the UN has urged Kiev and all sides who took part in the Geneva deal – the US and EU – to “refrain from making grave mistakes” and “soberly assess the full responsibility of the possible consequences of their actions.”

“Supporting the organizers of the Kiev government coup and their military crackdown on protesters, the US and EU take great responsibility practically cutting all paths to resolve the crisis peacefully,” Churkin concluded.

Against this background, “Washington’s flat refusal” to support the proposal on organizing an OSCE-supported dialogue between Kiev and southeastern Ukraine looks “not coincidental,” Churkin said.

Kiev has intensified its military operation in eastern Ukraine, with the country’s new authorities unleashing heavy weaponry on Slavyansk on Friday morning. Helicopters and APCs blockaded the city, preventing the evacuation of civilians. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has urged for the creation of humanitarian corridors.

In response, Russia summoned an emergency UNSC meeting aimed at ending the violence and bloodshed.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he is very concerned about the events in eastern Ukraine and urged all sides of the conflict to show “restraint.”

“The escalation of violence and reports of further casualties in Slavyansk today is a vivid reminder of how dangerous the situation has become,” Ban said in a statement, adding that he “calls on all parties to exercise maximum restraint and to express dissatisfaction peacefully to avoid further bloodshed.”

In turn, Russia’s envoy called on the UN to publish a statement urging an end to all violence, including the use of military force in eastern Ukraine.

 

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Ukrainian army launches assault on Kramatorsk

Ukraine’s National Guard is reportedly storming the eastern town of Kramatorsk. Meanwhile, the army has resumed its special operation in Slavyansk, where two soldiers have been killed.

“The assault is starting now,” a Kramatorsk self-defense activist has told RIA Novosti by phone. Another activist told the news agency that the National Guard opened fire on self-defense forces.

Dozens have been killed or injured in Kramatorsk, a doctor told RIA Novosti. The medic added that the fighting has now stopped and all of those injured have been taken to hospitals in Kramatorsk and Slavyansk. At least two died on the way to the hospital, she said.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military’s special operation has resumed in the nearby town of Slavyansk. The headquarters of the people’s self-defense is under snipers’ fire, according to Itar-Tass. There are reports of injuries among protesters.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry said that two military personnel were killed on Friday in the village of Andreyevka, not far from Slavyansk, Donetsk region. According to the ministry, they came under an attack with the use of small arms.

“The violent military confrontation is ongoing. To date, information about the deaths of two Ukrainian servicemen has been confirmed,” the ministry said in a statement, as quoted by Interfax-Ukraine.

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Car bomb kills one in fourth explosion to hit Egypt Friday

A bomb blast near a court building in Cairo killed at least one policeman and wounded a few others on Friday

A bomb blast near a court building in Cairo killed at least one policeman and wounded a few others on Friday

CAIRO: One was killed when a car exploded in downtown Cairo in the late hours of Friday, the fourth explosion to rock the turmoil-hit Egypt on a day where Islamist demonstrations usually take place against the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi.

The number of casualties was not immediately clear after a car blast in Cairo’s Ramsis street near a subway station, an interior ministry spokesman told state-run news agency MENA.

“A car with no plates exploded, killing its owner. Explosive experts are combing the area to make sure there aren’t any explosive devices,” the spokesman added.

Earlier on Friday, at least four were killed after triple explosions struck the restive Sinai Peninsula and Cairo.

Two suicide attacks in South Sinai targeted a checkpoint and a tour bus, leaving at least one conscript dead and nine others injured.

The first attack happened when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the “Wady El Tor” security checkpoint, killing himself and a conscript as well injuring five other security personnel. The “Wady El-Tor” security checkpoint is operated by both the police and the armed forces.

Shortly after the first attack, a suicide bomber targeted a bus carrying workers of a tourist company in “Ras Gara” area in the South Sinai governorate.

In Cairo, a low ranking police officer was killed and four other security personnel – an officer and three conscripts – were injured following the explosion of a bomb in Heliopolis district at a traffic checkpoint.

A bomb blast near a court building in Cairo killed at least one policeman and wounded a few others on Friday

A bomb blast near a court building in Cairo killed at least one policeman and wounded a few others on Friday

Hundreds of police and army personnel have been killed since the toppling of Morsi in July 2013 following mass protests against his rule. Militants, including Al-Qaeda-inspired group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, have vowed to increase their attacks in the run-up to Egypt’s presidential elections later this month.

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