Turkey

A member of the 324 Squadron during the ANZAC Day Dawn Service at Coogee Beach in Sydney
A member of the 324 Squadron during the ANZAC Day Dawn Service at Coogee Beach in Sydney, Australia, April 25, 2019. AAP Image/Steven Saphore/via REUTERS

April 25, 2019

WELLINGTON/SYDNEY (Reuters) – Tens of thousands gathered in Australia and New Zealand at Anzac Day memorials on Thursday amid heightened security following the shooting massacre at Christchurch mosques and deadly suicide bombings of churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.

A Sri Lankan government minister says the bombings on Easter Sunday were retaliation for the Christchurch massacre on March 15, in which a lone gunman killed 50 Muslim worshippers at two mosques. New Zealand says it has no evidence of a link.

Turkish authorities arrested a suspected member of the Islamic State group they believe was planning to attack an Anzac Day commemoration at Gallipoli attended by hundreds of Australians and New Zealanders, Turkish police said on Wednesday.

Anzac Day commemorates the bloody battle on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey during World War One. On April 25, 1915, thousands of troops from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) were among a larger Allied force that landed on the narrow beaches of the Gallipoli peninsula, an ill-fated campaign that would claim more than 130,000 lives.

While the Gallipoli campaign against the Turks failed, the landing date of April 25 has become a major day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand for their troops killed in all military conflicts.

Addressing thousands gathered for a dawn service at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that, in the wake of the Christchurch massacre, Anzac Day 2019 should be an even greater uniting force.

“Let us recommit to always remembering our shared humanity that there is more that unites us than divides us,” Ardern said.

“Our sense of independence is as strong as our sense of responsibility to each other and not just as nation states but as human beings. That is part of the Anzac legacy,” she said.

Heavily armed police surrounded the function area and snipers were positioned on rooftops during the ceremony.

Britain’s Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, paid tribute at the Auckland War Memorial alongside Ardern. He will travel to Christchurch later on Thursday to honor the 50 victims of the shooting.

Heightened security saw about 1,000 police deployed across New Zealand at hundreds of locations and security concerns meant Anzac Day events in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, and elsewhere were scaled back.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressed a dawn service in Townsville, Queensland, where he shared memories of his grandfather, who served in World War Two.

“Our heroes don’t just belong to the past, they live with us today,” Morrison said.

(Reporting by Praveen Menon in WELLINGTON and Will Ziebell in MELBOURNE; Editing by Michael Perry)

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FILE PHOTO: Iranian Material Display at a Military Base in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Brian Hook, U.S. special representative for Iran, in Washington, U.S., November 29, 2018. REUTERS/Al Drago

April 25, 2019

By Florence Tan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – U.S. sanctions against Iran have denied its government more than $10 billion in oil revenue since President Donald Trump first announced the move last May, a U.S. official said on Thursday.

Brian Hook, U.S. Special Representative for Iran and Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of State, made the comment during a call with reporters days after Washington said it would end all exemptions to the sanctions. The United States demanded importers halt purchases from Tehran from May 1 or face punitive action.

“Before sanctions…Iran generated as much as $50 billion annually in oil revenue. We estimate that our sanctions have already denied the regime more than $10 billion since May (2018),” Hook said.

The United States re-imposed sanctions against Iran’s oil exports last November after Trump last spring unilaterally pulled out of a 2015 accord between Iran and six world powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear program. But Washington initially allowed the eight biggest buyers of Iranian oil limited imports for another half-year.

Iran’s biggest oil buyers are China, India, South Korea, Japan and Turkey. Taiwan, Greece and Italy stopped imports despite being given waivers.

China is the biggest buyer, and Beijing has criticized the move to re-impose sanctions.

U.S. officials speaking during Thursday’s call that they were confident China would be able to find alternative supplies to Iran.

Before the reimposition of sanctions, Iran was one of the top five producers among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) at close to 4 million barrels per day (bpd). Iran’s oil exports have now dropped to about 1 million barrels per day (bpd).

The tightening of U.S. sanctions announced this week pushed crude oil prices to their highest levels this year. [O/R]

South Korea is heavily reliant on Iran supplies as its petrochemical facilities are designed to use Iranian condensate, a super-light form of crude oil.

The U.S. officials said the U.S. government was working closely with South Korea to ensure supply for its petrochemical facilities.

(Reporting by Florence Tan; Writing by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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A cargo train loaded with coal dust, moves past the port area near City Station in Karachi
A cargo train loaded with coal dust, moves past the port area near City Station in Karachi, Pakistan September 24, 2018. Picture taken September 24, 2018. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

April 24, 2019

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – People living in countries along China’s new “Silk Road” favor investment in renewable energy over the construction of coal-fired power plants, according to a poll released on Wednesday ahead of a major summit in Beijing.

Environmental group E3G, which commissioned the poll, said the results showed there was little support for investment in coal, despite China’s role as a major funder of new plants.

“China should now work with governments, business and investors at the upcoming forum to make sure these demands are met,” said Nick Mabey, chief executive of E3G.

The survey was released ahead of China’s second international forum on its 2013 Belt and Road initiative, which is designed to build infrastructure and encourage trade and economic cooperation along the old Silk Road route connecting China to Europe and elsewhere.

According to a draft communique seen by Reuters, world leaders attending the summit will call for sustainable financing that promotes green growth.

But concerns have been raised that China is using the program to export substandard polluting technologies, even as it boosts the share of renewable power at home in a bid to cut smog and climate-warming greenhouse gases.

The YouGov poll of more than 6,000 people covered Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, South Africa, Turkey and Vietnam, which are among the top 10 locations for the construction of new coal-fired power plants, with many backed by Chinese developers.

Over 85 percent of those surveyed said they favored investment by foreign governments, banks and companies in renewable projects, while less than a third said they favored investments in coal.

More than 90 percent said solar power should be a priority. Coal-fired power was less popular than nuclear in four of the six countries.

In a separate announcement on Wednesday, a coalition of Chinese environmental groups urged Beijing to draw up green guiding principles for investment in Belt and Road countries.

“The host country’s climate objectives and the long-term impact of investment activities on the local environment must be taken into consideration,” said Yang Fuqiang, a senior climate advisor with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

(Reporting by David Stanway; editing by Richard Pullin)

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Supporters of the main opposition CHP pose in front of a party bus with a picture of their leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu on it, in Istanbul
Supporters of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) pose in front of a party bus with a picture of their leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu on it, in Istanbul, Turkey, April 22, 2019. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

April 22, 2019

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey has arrested nine people, including a member of the ruling AK Party, after the country’s main opposition leader was punched and his car was stoned at a soldier’s funeral at the weekend, the interior minister said on Monday.

Kilicdaroglu was attacked on Sunday as he attended a funeral in a northern district of Ankara for a soldier killed in clashes with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants.

The incident took place after his Republican People’s Party (CHP) defeated President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party in March 31 mayoral elections in the capital Ankara and Turkey’s largest city Istanbul, painful losses for the ruling party.

During campaigning, Erdogan often accused the CHP and Kilicdaroglu of links to terrorism because it had election deals in some constituencies with the pro-Kurdish opposition party HDP, which Erdogan said has ties to the outlawed PKK.

The HDP denies links to the PKK, which has waged an insurgency for autonomy in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast since 1984, and is deemed a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said that nine people had been detained, adding that Kilicdaroglu’s recent “contacts” with the Kurdish party (HDP) made him a target.

“CHP’s contacts with the HDP, and HDP’s policy that doesn’t distance itself from the PKK are all happening before the public eye. Kilicdaroglu should have informed the authorities if he wanted to attend the funeral,” Soylu told a new conference.

“It’s wrong to blame the interior ministry for such incidents while partnering with the political arm of the PKK at the same time,” Soylu added, saying Kilicdaroglu’s party was trying to make political gains from the attack.

Kati Piri, the European Parliament’s Turkey rapporteur, said heated political rhetoric had fueled the attack. “Likely inspired by hate speeches of ruling politicians. This radical polarization must end,” Piri said.

(Writing by Ece Toksabay; Editing by Dominic Evans)

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FILE PHOTO: Gas flares from an oil production platform are seen at the Soroush oil fields.
FILE PHOTO: Gas flares from an oil production platform at the Soroush oil fields in the Persian Gulf, south of the capital Tehran, July 25, 2005. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/File Photo

April 21, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is preparing to announce on Monday that all importers of Iranian oil will have to end their imports shortly or be subject to U.S. sanctions, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.

The U.S. reimposed sanctions in November on exports of Iranian oil after President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of a 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers. Washington is pressuring Iran to curtail its nuclear program and stop backing militant proxies across the Middle East.

Along with sanctions, Washington has also granted waivers to eight economies that had reduced their purchases of Iranian oil, allowing them to continue buying it without incurring sanctions for six more months. They were China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece.

But on Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will announce “that, as of May 2, the State Department will no longer grant sanctions waivers to any country that is currently importing Iranian crude or condensate,” the Post’s columnist Josh Rogin said, citing two State Department officials that he did not name.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the report.

On Wednesday, Frank Fannon, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources, repeated the administration’s position that “Our goal is to get to zero Iranian exports as quickly as possible.”

Other countries have been watching to see whether the United States would continue the waivers. Last Tuesday, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said that Turkey expects the United States to extend a waiver granted to Ankara to continue oil purchases from Iran without violating U.S. sanctions.

Turkey did not support U.S. sanctions policy on Iran and did not think it would yield the desired result, Kalin told reporters in Washington.

Washington has a campaign of ‘maximum economic pressure’ on Iran and through sanctions, it eventually aims to halt Iranian oil exports and thereby choke Tehran’s main source of revenue.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Susan Thomas)

Source: OANN

The United States is preparing to announce on Monday that all importers of Iranian oil will have to end their imports shortly or be subject to U.S. sanctions, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.

The U.S. reimposed sanctions in November on exports of Iranian oil after President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled out of a 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers. Washington is pressuring Iran to curtail its nuclear program and stop backing militant proxies across the Middle East.

Along with sanctions, Washington has also granted waivers to eight economies that had reduced their purchases of Iranian oil, allowing them to continue buying it without incurring sanctions for six more months. They were China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece.

But on Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will announce “that, as of May 2, the State Department will no longer grant sanctions waivers to any country that is currently importing Iranian crude or condensate,” the Post’s columnist Josh Rogin said, citing two State Department officials that he did not name.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the report.

On Wednesday, Frank Fannon, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources, repeated the administration’s position that “Our goal is to get to zero Iranian exports as quickly as possible.”

Other countries have been watching to see whether the United States would continue the waivers. Last Tuesday, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said that Turkey expects the United States to extend a waiver granted to Ankara to continue oil purchases from Iran without violating U.S. sanctions.

Turkey did not support U.S. sanctions policy on Iran and did not think it would yield the desired result, Kalin told reporters in Washington.

Washington has a campaign of ‘maximum economic pressure’ on Iran and through sanctions, it eventually aims to halt Iranian oil exports and thereby choke Tehran’s main source of revenue.

Source: NewsMax Politics

FILE PHOTO: Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), greets his supporters during a rally for the upcoming local elections, in Istanbul
FILE PHOTO: Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), greets his supporters during a rally for the upcoming local elections, in Istanbul, Turkey March 24, 2019. REUTERS/Huseyin Aldemir/File Photo

April 21, 2019

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – The leader of Turkey’s main opposition party was attacked by several shouting men on Sunday before security guards led him safely away from a crowd in Ankara on Sunday, according to the party and video footage of the incident.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, head of the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) that pulled off upset local election victories on March 31, had been attending a funeral for a Turkish soldier killed in clashes with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Video of the incident showed Kilicdaroglu hit on the head at least twice as a clutch of security guards attempted to keep dozens of shouting and fist-pumping men away. He managed to leave the scene and enter a nearby house, according to broadcaster NTV and Demiroren News Agency.

A crowd then gathered outside the house chanting “PKK out”, NTV said.

“In the incident, we were all scattered. Kemal Kilicdaroglu is alright. He is taken to a safe place,” Levent Gok, CHP member of parliament from Ankara, told Haberturk TV. “We must keep calm. Kilicdaroglu will make a statement.”

The CHP’s mayoral candidates in Ankara and Istanbul defeated those from President Tayyip Erdogan’s AK Party, according to initial results and a series of recounts of the elections three weeks ago.

The AK Party has submitted two petitions to cancel and re-run the vote in Istanbul, citing what is says are irregularities and illegal votes.

(Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Alison Williams)

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People walk past by AK Party billboards with pictures of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and mayoral candidate Binali Yildirim in Istanbul
FILE PHOTO – People walk past by AK Party billboards with pictures of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and mayoral candidate Binali Yildirim in Istanbul, Turkey, April 1, 2019. The billboards read: ” Thank you Istanbul “. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

April 20, 2019

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey’s ruling AK Party submitted a second petition to cancel and re-run Istanbul elections it lost three weeks ago, citing thousands of ballots cast by people it said were ineligible to vote due to previous government decrees, state-run Anadolu news agency said on Saturday.

Based on initial results and a series of recounts, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) won the mayoralty in Turkey’s largest city, in a defeat for President Tayyip Erdogan who began his political career there and served as its mayor in the 1990s.

The new CHP mayor Ekrem Imamoglu took office on Wednesday, despite a formal request submitted a day earlier by the AK Party (AKP) to annul and repeat the mayoral elections over what it said were irregularities.

Erdogan had said his AKP would keep up its challenge, and on Saturday it filed an additional petition to the High Election Board because of some 14,000 votes cast by those it said were ineligible due to the decrees, according to broadcaster NTV.

Citing AKP Deputy Chairman Ali Ihsan Yavuz, NTV said the party also found 424 people who had voted illegally.

(Reporting by Jonathan Spicer and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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Iraq's Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi attends the opening of the Saudi-Iraqi Business Forum in Riyadh
Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi attends the opening of the Saudi-Iraqi Business Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia April 18, 2019. Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office/Handout via REUTERS

April 20, 2019

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq will host senior parliamentary officials from arch-rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran on Saturday as Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi seeks to bolster his country’s nascent role as a mediator in the region.

Delegations including the heads of parliament from Turkey, Kuwait, Syria and Jordan will also attend the one-day conference in the Iraqi capital to discuss regional security, diplomacy and economic issues.

Abdul Mahdi recently returned from visits to Iran and Saudi Arabia, both oil-super-powers that have long been vying for dominance in the Middle East. It is unusual for Saudi and Iranian officials to attend the same events.

The premier has said Iraq will maintain strong ties with Iran, but also with the United States and regional neighbors, many of which, like Saudi Arabia, consider Tehran a foe.

Abdul Mahdi met King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during his visit to Riyadh, his first official trip to the kingdom since taking office six months ago.

Iraq and Saudi Arabia have been at loggerheads since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, but they have recently undertaken a diplomatic push to improve ties.

Abdul Mahdi’s visit to Riyadh came 10 days after he visited Iran. During his trip to Tehran, he met President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Many of Iraq’s leaders, from its Shi’ite majority, have close ties with Iran, the main Shi’ite power in the Middle East.

(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed and Raya Jalabi; Writing by Raya Jalabi; Editing by Helen Popper)

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FILE PHOTO: A demonstrator holds a poster with a picture of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul
FILE PHOTO: A demonstrator holds a poster with a picture of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, Turkey October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Osman Orsal/File Photo

April 19, 2019

By Orhan Coskun

ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey has arrested two suspects who confessed to spying on Arab nationals for the United Arab Emirates, and is investigating whether the arrival in Turkey of one of them was related to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a senior Turkish official said on Friday.

One of the two men arrived in Turkey in October 2018, days after Khashoggi was murdered inside Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, the official said, adding the other had arrived later to help his colleague with the workload.

“We are investigating whether the primary individual’s arrival in Turkey was related to the Jamal Khashoggi murder,” said the official, adding the person had been monitored for six months before the arrests in Istanbul on Monday.

“It is possible that there was an attempt to collect information about Arabs, including political dissidents, living in Turkey.”

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed in the consulate on Oct. 2 by a team of Saudi operatives, provoking an international outcry.

The CIA and some Western countries believe the Crown Prince, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, ordered the killing, which Saudi officials deny. The Saudi public prosecutor has indicted 11 unidentified suspects, including five who could face the death penalty on charges of ordering and committing the crime.

A representative of the UAE’s foreign ministry could not immediately be reached for comment at the weekend.

A spokesman for Turkey’s interior ministry declined to comment. An Istanbul police spokesman confirmed it was involved in the operation.

As part of the counter-intelligence investigation, Turkish officials seized an encrypted computer located in a hidden compartment at what the official told Reuters was the spy ring’s base in Istanbul.

The official, who requested anonymity, said statements by the detained men suggested their intelligence operation targeted political exiles and students.

“We have extensive evidence of the individuals’ covert activities on Turkish soil,” the official said, calling it an “airtight” case. “They also confessed to have been employed by the UAE’s intelligence services.”

The suspected spies said they had recruited informants and paid them for information, the official added.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has urged the United States to put its weight behind the investigation into the killing of Khashoggi and not to set the matter aside because of its ties with Riyadh.

(Reporting by Orhan Coskun; Writing by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Daren Butler and David Evans)

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