Region

Turkey and the Levant

Stories under this heading cover Turkey as well as the Levant – a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia, consisting of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Palestine.

Editor's choice
News
Turkey to take over Somalia's naval defence for a decade

Turkey to take over Somalia's naval defence for a decade

The Somali cabinet formally approved a defence and economic cooperation agreement with Turkey on Wednesday, authorising Ankara to build, train and equip the Somali navy and reportedly defend its territorial waters amid tensions with Ethiopia. The agreement strengthens Turkish political and military position in the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea region amid increasing concerns about security in the strategic waterway. Somali Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre described the agreement at the cabinet meeting as a “historic” one that would become a “legacy” for the Somali nation in the long run.  “This agreement will put an end to the fear of terrorism, pirates, illegal fishing, poisoning, abuse and threats from abroad,” he said, according to the local reports. A Turkish defence official declined to comment, saying that the contents of the agreement would be public simultaneously as it is ratified by the Turkish parliament and the president. “We cannot reveal the details as it has a long way to be ratified,” the official added.  The Turkish Navy already operates off the shore of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden under a UN mission to combat piracy and armed robbery since 2009. 
Editor's choice
News
800 western officials say the policies of their governments on Gaza "are contributing to grave violations of international law, war crimes and even ethnic cleansing or genocide"

800 western officials say the policies of their governments on Gaza "are contributing to grave violations of international law, war crimes and even ethnic cleansing or genocide"

The BBC is reporting that more than 800 serving officials in the US and Europe have signed a statement warning that their own governments' policies on the Israel-Gaza war could amount to "grave violations of international law". Many are describing the statement as an unprecedented move that reflects great concern in official circles in western countries about the the position of their governments on the situation in Gaza. The "transatlantic statement", a copy of which was passed to the BBC, says their administrations risk being complicit in "one of the worst human catastrophes of this century" but that their expert advice has been sidelined. It is the latest sign of significant levels of dissent within the governments of some of Israel's key Western allies. One signatory to the statement, a US government official with more than 25 years' national security experience, told the BBC of the "continued dismissal" of their concerns. "The voices of those who understand the region and the dynamics were not listened to," said the official. "What's really different here is we're not failing to prevent something, we're actively complicit. That is fundamentally different from any other situation I can recall," added the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The statement is signed by civil servants from the US, the EU and 11 European countries including the UK, France and Germany.

Filter archive

Publication date
Editor's choice
News
Russian airstrike on Idlib market in Syria kill at least 13, injures dozens

Russian airstrike on Idlib market in Syria kill at least 13, injures dozens

A Russian airstrike launched on a market in the north-western Syrian city of Idlib on Sunday (25 June) have killed 13 people, reports Arab News. At least nine civilians are among the dead, including two children. Around 30 people are understood to have been injured in the Russian strike on the rebel-held city, and it is expected that the death toll will rise. The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad - backed by Russia and Iran - has won back most of the territory that it lost to various groups in the early years of the Syrian Civil War that began in 2011 after the regime violently surpressed pro-democracy protests that had swept through a number of Arab countries. The violent repression of the protests led to President Assad and Syria being a pariah state for a number of years, although a process of the country's rehabilitation has recently taken place with Syria re-joining the Arab League in May this year, at the 32nd summit of the group in Jeddah. You can read more about this here. Over the years, Russia has repeatedly launched airstrikes across rebel-held regions of Syria. Although deadly Russian airstrikes on civilians in Syria have been limited this year - likely due to its ongoing invasion of Ukraine - Sunday's strike is the deadliest attack on Syria this year.
Editor's choice
News
Swedish negotiators head to Ankara for renewed talks on NATO membership

Swedish negotiators head to Ankara for renewed talks on NATO membership

Swedish negotiators are in the Turkish capital city of Ankara today, on Wednesday (14 June), for the first set of talks with Turkey on its NATO membership bid since President Erdogan's election victory on 28 May. Sweden applied for NATO membership alongside Finland on 18 May 2022, almost three months after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February. While Finland joined the military alliance on 4 April, Sweden's bid continues to be held up by objections from Turkey and Hungary. Sweden's chief NATO negotiator Oscar Stenström and top civil servant in the Swedish foreign ministry, Jan Knutsson, are expected to meet Akif Cagatay Kilic, the new security advisor appointed by President Erdogan following his 28 May victory. The two sides will discuss Sweden's membership of NATO, and the extent to which the country has fulfilled its promises in the so-called "trilateral memorandum" between Turkey, Sweden and Finland signed at NATO's summit in Madrid on 28 June last year. Last Sunday (4 June), NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg urged Turkey to approve Sweden's membership ahead of the bloc's summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on 11-12 July.
Editor's choice
News
Erdogan wins another five years as Turkish president after hotly-contested campaign

Erdogan wins another five years as Turkish president after hotly-contested campaign

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won another five years as the President of Turkey in a run-off against his main challenger, Kemal Kilicdaroglu. The first round which took place on 14 May saw Erdogan winning just shy of an outright majority, forcing a second round vote yesterday (28 May). According to the state-run Anadolu Agency, incumbent Erdogan won 52% of the vote while Kilicdaroglu won 48% of the vote. Erdogan's victory means that, assuming he sees out his coming five-year term as the Turkish President, he will have been either Prime Minister or President of Turkey for 25 years. Speaking to a victory rally in the Turkish capital, Ankara, President Erdogan said "today nobody has lost. 85 million have won as a whole. As required by the responsibility that our nation gave us, we are not upset, sad, resented or raged against anybody." "Now it is time to leave all the discussions and debates from the election campaigning process. And to unite and get together around our national goals and dreams," he said. Meanwhile, responding to Erdogan's victory, defeated challenger Kilicdaroglu complained about what he called the "most unfair election in recent years".
Editor's choice
News
Erdogan falls short of outright majority in first round of Turkey presidential election

Erdogan falls short of outright majority in first round of Turkey presidential election

Turkey's highly anticipated presidential election held yesterday (14 May) has left incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan falling short of securing the necessary votes for a first-round victory.  Despite polls having predicted an initial first round victory for Erdogan’s challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the outcome sets the stage for a runoff between the two, the outcome of which may have huge implications for Turkey's political landscape and its role on the international stage. The second round will take place on 28 May.  Erdogan, who has been either Prime Minister or President for 20 years, failed to reach the required 50% of votes in the first round to declare outright victory. With 97.95% of votes counted, Erdogan secured 49.34%, while Kilicdaroglu garnered 44.99%, according to state-run Anadolu news agency. The third candidate, Sinan Ogan, received 5.28% of votes This election marks a significant test for Erdogan, who has faced economic challenges and criticism regarding the government's handling of the earthquake on 6 February. Kilicdaroglu on the other hand fronts a coalition of six parties who are seeking to oust Erdogan with promises to address economic issues and restore democratic institutions.
Editor's choice
News
Syria readmitted to the Arab League 11 years after suspension

Syria readmitted to the Arab League 11 years after suspension

Syria has been readmitted to the Arab League 11 years after its membership was suspended over the government's violent crackdown of pro-democracy protests in 2011 that led to the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War. In a meeting of 13 out of 22 foreign ministers at the Arab League's headquarters in the Egyptian capital Cairo on Sunday (7 May), they agreed to "resume the participation of the delegations of the government of the Syrian Arab Republic in the meetings of the Council of the League of Arab States", according to a statement.  The Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit also told journalists on Sunday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could participate in the upcoming Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia if he is invited and if he wants to attend. In the statement released after the vote to readmit Syria, which was reportedly not unanimous, the Arab League said that the "resolution of the Syria conflict is a step-by-step matter", of which Syria's readmission to the group was only a first step. The statement added that the Arab League supports Syria's territorial integrity and the "withdrawal of all foreign forces" from the country.
Editor's choice
News
Ten days to go until Turkish presidential election with opposition leader ahead in polls

Ten days to go until Turkish presidential election with opposition leader ahead in polls

There are now ten days to go until Turkey heads to the polls for the first round of the Turkish presidential election on 14 May. The main race is being fought between incumbent president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has served as either Prime Minister or President since 2003, and Kemal Kilicdaroglu, a former bureaucrat from the country's social security authority who is leading a coalition of six parties from across the political spectrum. The election is expected to be tight. Over the weekend, Istanbul-based opinion pollster TEAM released its April report, according to Al-Monitor, which put challenger Kilicdaroglu at 47.4% and Erdogan at 44.4%. If no candidate reaches a majority in the first round of voting, the election will head to a second round. If it were to reach this stage, Kilicdaroglu is predicted to beat Erdogan by a 5% margin, according to TEAM. Turkey is currently experiencing major challenges that have dented Erdogan's hopes of winning May's election.