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latest Kurdish news

1. President Barzani: Iraq will fall apart if constitution violated
2. Iraqi-Kurdish lawmaker lashes out at ‘Turkish interference’
3. Barzani and Ahmadinejad Discuss Reinforcing Bilateral Ties
4. Kurdish rebels ‘threaten more attacks’ after pipeline blast
5. Kurdish Rebels Claim Responsibility for Turkey Pipeline Blast
6. Roadside bombing in Turkey kills 9 soldiers
7. Turkish military Cargo train derailed by the PKK fighters near Mush city
8. HPG launches retaliatory attacks against the Turkish police atrocities and oppression of the People-Six Turkish commandos killed in Osmania province
9. Turkey’s ruling AKP plans to push for a wider democratization package
10. Iraqi president to pursue talks with US on Iran
11. Kurdish leader calls on Kurds, Arabs to live peacefully in Kirkuk
12. Slain Syrian aide supplied missiles to Hezbollah
13. Ahmadinejad’s visit to Turkey is welcome
14. Jerusalem protests Iranian president’s visit to Turkey
15. Turkey to launch Kurdish-language TV in 2009: report
16. EU concern over Iran detentions, death sentences
17. Iran: Prominent Kurdish journalist arrested
18. Iran: Kurdish activists condemned to death
19. Iran allocates IRR 30 billion to reinforce border security
20. Trial of Syrian dissidents begins
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1. President Barzani: Iraq will fall apart if constitution violated

7 Aug. 2008

Erbil, Kurdistan – Iraq (KRG.org) – Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani yesterday in Erbil said that Iraq is in danger of falling apart if the constitution is violated.

He said, “We will not allow the Kurdish people’s achievements to be wrecked by the Iraqi parliament. Iraq will fall apart if the Iraqi constitution is violated.”

He was referring to a secret ballot on Kirkuk in the Iraqi parliament on 22nd July that violated the parliament’s procedures and the Iraqi constitution, and angered many MPs who boycotted the vote and walked out in protest. The violation has stalled the provincial elections law.

At a press conference in Erbil following 10 days of meetings in Baghdad, President Barzani said, “The vote was a chauvinistic act, it was an attempt to kill Article 140 [of the constitution] and remove Kirkuk provincial council’s authority. We accepted postponing the elections in Kirkuk, but we will never accept the removal of the council’s rightful authority.”

The section on Kirkuk in the Iraqi Provincial Elections bill called for seats in Kirkuk ’s provincial council to be divided equally among Kirkuk’s ethnic groups, rather than allowing voters’ ballots to decide the number of representatives for each group. This would have violated Article 140 of Iraq’s constitution which already sets out how Kirkuk ’s future status will be decided. President Barzani said that he is in favour of holding provincial elections in Iraq as long as they are carried out according to and within the framework of the constitution. He said, “”The distribution [of seats in Kirkuk] should be decided by election results.”

Tens of thousands of people in the Kurdistan Region demonstrated against the secret ballot. For many Kurds the democratically approved Iraqi constitution enshrines the new federal democratic state and a just and equal relationship between all of its peoples. They fear that actions violating the constitution may relegate Kurds once again to second-class status in Iraq.

The President added that despite the disagreement, the Kurds will continue to support the Iraqi government coalition and play a positive part in the new Iraq. He said, “Kurds do not have any plan to dismantle the Iraqi government because we have played a significant role in forming that government.”
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2. Iraqi-Kurdish lawmaker lashes out at ‘Turkish interference’

Monday, August 11, 2008
SULAIMANIYAH – Agence France Presse – AFP

An influential Kurdish member of the Iraqi parliament on Saturday accused Turkey of undermining the influence Kurds have gained since the fall of the regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
“Turkey has maneuvered to create an anti-Kurdish (Iraqi) parliament,” Mahmoud Othman told a press conference in Sulaimaniyah, one of the main cities of the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq.
“It is behind the adoption of article 24 of the electoral law as it is trying by all means to reduce the gains made by the Kurds after the fall of Saddam Hussein,” he said.
Iraq’s parliament proposed under article 24 of the election bill a deal that will share power equally between Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen in the oil-rich Kirkuk region, a move bitterly opposed by the Kurds, given their numerical superiority.
Othman did not elaborate on how he thought Ankara had managed to influence Iraqi MPs to write a clause in the electoral bill, though Kurds have long complained of Turkish efforts to undermine them through alliance with ethnic Turkomen and Sunni Arabs.
Saddam placed Kirkuk outside the Kurdish region, which has behaved essentially as an independent entity since 1991.
But Iraqi Kurds, many of whom see Kirkuk’s oil wealth as vital to the future viability of their region, have called for the city to be placed within the autonomous region.
Kirkuk has a large population of Sunni and Shiite Arabs, as well as Turkomen, making for a fragile ethnic mix.
The failure to find a solution to Kirkuk has forced the postponement of local elections in Iraq initially scheduled for Oct. 1.
Othman also singled out the United States and Britain, claiming they had played negative roles.
He said the United States had “not reacted” to Turkish attempts to push the bill through parliament, while Britain had pressured the Kurds to accept the demands of the Arabs and Turkomen.
Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution is related to the normalization of the situation in Kirkuk city and other disputed areas. The article also calls for conducting a census to be followed by a referendum to let the inhabitants decide whether they would like Kirkuk to be annexed to the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region or having it as an independent province.
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3. Barzani and Ahmadinejad Discuss Reinforcing Bilateral Ties

PUKmedia
11-08-2008

Today the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Premier, Nechirvan Barzani, and his accompanying delegation separately met with President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani.
The latest political developments in Iraq and the area were discussed during the meeting, where they stressed on boosting joint relations- commercial ties in particular.
On his part, the Iranian President expressed his happiness for the visit by KRG delegation, expressing his readiness to cooperate with the KRG.
“Although until now, a large number of Iranian companies are investing in the Kurdistan region, but that is not enough and there are more opportunities,” ISNA quoted Barzani as saying.
Larijani expressed his county’s readiness to cooperate with Iraq in political and economic aspects, saying that Iran’s main policy is solidarity with Iraq for establishing security in the country.
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4. Kurdish rebels ‘threaten more attacks’ after pipeline blast

Aug 8,
ANKARA (AFP) – Kurdish rebels threatened more attacks on economic targets Friday after claiming responsibility for a blast in eastern Turkey that shut down a strategic oil pipeline, an agency close to the rebels reported.
Attacks on economic interests have a deterring effect (on Turkey)… As long as the Turkish state insists on war, such acts will be naturally carried out,” Bahoz Erdal, a commander of the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), told the Firat news agency.
The PKK claimed responsibility for a blast Tuesday night at a section of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline near Refahiye, in Erzincan province.
The explosion sparked a fire, which continued to burn Friday, triggering fresh jitters at the world oil markets.
The conduit, which supplies oil to Western markets, is expected to remain shut for about 15 days.
The PKK said the explosion was “an act of sabotage” by its militants, details of which would be revealed later, according to Firat.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community, has sabotaged gas and oil pipelines in the past as part of its armed campaign for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeast.
Erdal said the pipeline blast and other PKK attacks in recent weeks were in response to an intensified Turkish crackdown against the rebels both inside Turkey and neighbouring northern Iraq, where they take refuge.
Turkish military action “has required us to boost our resistance in self-defence,” he told Firat.
The Turkish authorities have played down the possibility of a sabotage at the BTC pipeline, and the Anatolia news agency Friday quoted unnamed officials as saying that the PKK might be seeking publicity.
An official from Turkey’s state-run oil and gas company, BOTAS, said Thursday that no trace of a sabotage had been found but a definite conclusion could be reached only after the fire at the pipeline was extinguished.
The Refahiye’s sub-governor had earlier ruled out sabotage, saying a fault had been detected before the blast.
Inaugurated in 2006, the 1,774-kilometre (1,109-mile) BTC pipeline is the world’s second longest.
It carries Azeri oil from the Caspian Sea fields, the world’s third largest reserve, to Turkey’s Mediterranean port of Ceyhan, from where tankers transport the crude to Western markets.
It was pumping about 1.2 million barrels of oil per day before the blast.
Analysts suggested the shutdown could last longer than Turkish officials estimate and British energy giant BP said it was looking at alternative means of delivering supplies to Western clients.
The PKK took up arms for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey’s southeast in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed more than 37,000 lives.
Turkish warplanes have staged air raids against PKK bases in northern Iraq since December, helped by US intelligence on rebel movements in the region.
In February, the army also conducted a week-long ground incursion in northern Iraq, killing at least 240 PKK militants and destroying dozens of hideouts, training camps and ammunition depots.
Last week, the Turkish authorities blamed the PKK for two bomb blasts in Istanbul on July 27, which killed 17 people, including five children, and injured more than 150.
On Wednesday night, the rebels fired rockets at a police station in the eastern town of Malazgirt, killing a policeman and wounding three others.
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5. Kurdish Rebels Claim Responsibility for Turkey Pipeline Blast

By VOA News
07 August 2008

The Kurdish news agency Firat Thursday said the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, claimed it sabotaged the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline in eastern Turkey late Tuesday.

Turkish authorities had earlier ruled out a terrorist attack.

The fire forced the operator, British Petroleum, to close a section of the pipeline running through Erzincan province, which helped boost oil prices.

Turkish oil officials say it could be two weeks before the pipeline is operational again, as the fire continues to rage.

They say repairs cannot begin before the fire burns out all the oil left over in that section of the pipeline.

There have been no reports of casualties.

The pipeline stretches from Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, through Georgia and to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. It carries an estimated 1.2 million barrels of oil a day and is the world’s second longest oil pipeline after the Russian pipeline Druzhba.

The PKK has been listed as a terrorist organization by a number of countries, including Turkey, the United States and the European Union. The group has been fighting for autonomy in eastern Turkey for more than two decades.
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6. Roadside bombing in Turkey kills 9 soldiers

The Associated Press
Published: August 11, 2008

ANKARA, Turkey: A roadside bomb exploded in eastern Turkey on Monday, killing nine soldiers who were on their way back from an operation against Kurdish rebels, an official said. Two other soldiers were wounded.
There was no claim of responsibility, Erzincan provincial Gov. Ali Gungor said, but the blast occurred in an area where Kurdish rebels are fighting Turkish soldiers and often use roadside bombs in their attacks.
The military vehicle the soldiers were traveling in was struck by the bomb on a road near Kemah, a town in the province, Gungor said. A lieutenant colonel was killed in the attack, he said.
The governor said seven of the soldiers were killed instantly, while one died on the way to a hospital and another died while being treated at a hospital.
The Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, has been fighting for self-rule in southeast Turkey since 1984. The fighting has killed tens of thousands of people.
In recent months, Turkish warplanes have repeatedly attacked suspected rebel positions in northern Iraq, and carried out a weeklong ground offensive there in February. The rebels use bases in northern Iraq as a springboard for attacks in Turkey.

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7. Turkish military Cargo train derailed by the PKK fighters near Mush city

Media and Communication Center of the people’s Defense Forces of Kurdistan (HPG)
8 August, 2008,
Military Dispatch 1674:

1. On the 6 of August our HPG fighters attacked a Turkish military cargo train carrying ammunitions and equipments to the Turkish army. The train was going from Tokh to Mush to supply the Turkish army with ammunitions and military equipments. The operation destroyed one tanker and derailed another four tankers.
2. On the 7 of August our fighters attacked a Turkish military convoy moving from Shamzinan to Ghurdia to participate in the Turkish military operation in that area. During the operation 3 Turkish soldiers were killed and three others wounded.
Media and Communication Center
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8. HPG launches retaliatory attacks against the Turkish police atrocities and oppression of the People-Six Turkish commandos killed in Osmania province

Media and Communication Center of the people’s Defense Forces of Kurdistan (HPG)
2 August, 2008,
Military Dispatch 1672:

1. Our HPG fighters at noon, ambushed and attacked a Turkish military convoy moving from the commandos forces in the town of Kanly Kiget near Osmania city, the convoy was going to Iskandroun province to help the Turkish army’s military operation against our forces. Six Turkish army soldiers were killed between them an officer and other five soldiers wounded in this ambush. In addition two military REO type vehicles were destroyed.
2. In the center of the city of BokseK Ofa, in ormanlik Ave. our fighters ambushed a Turkish police moving unit. Two police officers were killed and one injured in this ambush.
3. On 31 of July 2008, the Turkish army launched a large scale military operation against our fighters in the areas of Ofajik/Dersim. A clash between our fighters and the Turkish army took place in the area of Kahpri/Polor. Two of our fighters martyred in this clash: Aylam Amed (Aynoor Ardam) and Zilan Amed (Kadar Javet ji).
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9. Turkey’s ruling AKP plans to push for a wider democratization package

11-Aug-08
hurriyet

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is planning to amend nearly 40 provisions of the constitution in a democratization package, instead of preparing a new constitution, Vatan daily wrote on Monday.
The AKP, unable to carry earlier works on similar packages to the agenda during the closure case process, is currently preparing to put a wider democratization package into force, Vatan wrote.
The package would be in accordance with EU criteria and cover the provisions that will toughen party closure conditions, it said.
Turkey’s Constitutional Court chairman Hasim Kilic urged political parties to take the necessary legal steps to toughen party closure conditions when he announced the court’s decision not to close the ruling party on claims that it became the focal point of anti-secular activities.
The AKP reportedly seeks compromise with the opposition and plans to form a commission to debate the planned constitutional amendments.
The package would also cover amendments on the election of members of the Constitutional Court, the structure of the Higher Education Board (YOK) and the removal of the threshold in parliamentary elections, the report added.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan later on Monday denied the report. He said the AKP would make it public if such a package was prepared.
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10. Iraqi president to pursue talks with US on Iran

By Basil Adas,
August 07, 2008, 21:18
Baghdad: Iraqi president Jalal Al Talabani is in the United States to receive medical treatment, but he will make time during his journey to follow up secret talks with American officials on the Iranian nuclear issue, sources from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, headed by Al Talabani, revealed to Gulf News.
The sources said the escalating Iranian nuclear issue since Iran’s response on western incentives to stop uranium enrichment may push President Al Talabani into further talks with the Americans.
Fouad Massoum, a prominent Kurdish leader who is close to Talabani, told Gulf News Iraqi leaders have always tried to bridge the gap between Iran and the US and they have succeeded in the past.

“The goal is to support security in Iraq, to create an atmosphere inducive to dialogue between Iran and the US on issues of interest to the region, because the security of the region serves the security of Iraq,” he said.
But some Iraqi politicians have different views.
“I am among those who accompanied Vice-President Adel Abdul Mahdi to Iran on many of his visits. The goal of these visits was to bring the position of Iran and the US closer and to encourage dialogue between the two sides on the nuclear question. After taking part in this, I think Iraq should not be part of any mediation because the political and security situation in Iraq does not allow effective mediation,” Hassan Al Shamri, a leader of the Shiite Virtue Party, told Gulf News.
Faced with the possibility that Iraqi political leaders might not be effective in influencing the Iranian side, some interested parties in the Shiite city of Najaf, where the supreme Shiite authority Ali Al Sistani is based, raised the possibility that Shiite clerics in Iraq should talk to Shiite clerics in Iran so that any Iraqi moves toward mediation between Iran and the US will be accepted by the Iranian government.
“Iraqi leaders, headed by President Al Talabani sent envoys to Al Sistani in the previous months and asked him for support in resolving the Iranian nuclear question with the Americans. I think Talabani and other Iraqi officials realised … the need to talk directly to clerics in Iran who have a strong influence on politics in Iran,” Mahdi Al Shubani, a Shiite researcher in Najaf, said.
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11. Kurdish leader calls on Kurds, Arabs to live peacefully in Kirkuk

Aug 8, 2008,
DPA

Baghdad – The President of the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan Massoud Barzani called on Kurds and Arabs on Friday ‘to have an open dialogue and find a consensus solution for the city, away from any foreign interventions.’
During his few-hours-visit to Kirkuk on Friday, Barzani said: ‘We do not accept any side imposing its agenda on us, and likewise we do not want to do the same.’
The Kurdish leader described Kirkuk as ‘Iraq’s Kurdish city,’ and asked people to live peacefully together.
‘Claiming that Kirkuk is part of Kurdistan does not mean it is not an Iraqi area,’ Barzani was quoted by the Voices of Iraq news agency as saying.
Barzani’s visit comes two days after Iraqi lawmakers failed to agree on the adoption of a controversial new provincial election law affecting the multi-ethnic city.
The bill failed because the sides were unable to come to terms on a power-sharing deal for the oil-rich city that lies some 250 kilometres north-east of Baghdad.
Speaking at a press conference, Barzani told reporters that ‘he wanted to convey a peaceful message from Kirkuk, an Iraqi and Kurdish city, where people of different ethnic origins have lived together.’
During his visit, in which he met with several senior figures including the governor, Barzani said: ‘We came to Kirkuk in a bid to overcome the crisis and dispel fears that Kurds are trying to seize authority and dominate the province.’
The failure in passing a provincial election law is expected to delay Iraq’s provincial elections, scheduled for October 1, to at least 2009.
On July 22, Kurds objected to the law that also provides for an equal division in the number of seats in Kirkuk’s governorate council, in which the city’s population of 1 million Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens would get one-third of the seats representing each group.
Before he left, Barzani visited the families of those people killed during bombings that took place in Kirkuk on July 28. The attack left 22 dead and 150 injured.

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12. Slain Syrian aide supplied missiles to Hezbollah

10-Aug-08

timesonline.co.uk) -A KEY aide to the Syrian president who was assassinated last weekend in mysterious circumstances had been supplying Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, with advanced Syrian SA-8 anti-aircraft missiles, according to Middle Eastern sources.
Once operative, the mobile missiles will threaten the dominance of the Israeli air force over Lebanon.
The assassinated aide, Brigadier-General Muhammad Suleiman, 49, was “more important than anyone else”, wrote the London-based Saudi paper Al-Sharq al-Awsat last week: “He was senior even to the defence minister. He knew everything.”
He was killed by a single shot to the head as he sat in the garden of his summer house near the northern port city of Tartus.
Nobody heard the shot, which appears to have been fired from a speedboat by a sniper, possibly equipped with a silencer. The expertise required to execute such a long-distance sniper murder has led suspicion to fall upon the Israelis.
Suleiman had been President Bashar al-Assad’s personal mentor since 1994, after the death of the president’s brother Basel in a car accident. Assad later appointed Suleiman as his operations officer and made him responsible for protecting the regime.
If Syria has passed Russian-made SA-8 mobile launchers to Hezbollah, the Shi’ite militia that came close to defeating the Israeli army two years ago, it is in possession of a potent weapon to defy Israeli air power.
Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, recently warned that Hezbollah was straining his country’s patience in Lebanon. Hezbollah announced last week its next military step would be “to stop Israeli fighter planes flying over our land”.
Despite the risk of jeopardising peace negotiations between the two countries, the attack appears to have been intended as a warning to the Syrian regime.
According to Israeli sources, during Assad’s visit to Paris last month Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, asked President Nicolas Sarkozy to tell Assad that he was “crossing a red line supplying arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon”.
Last week the Israeli defence cabinet was presented with an intelligence report on Syria’s arms supplies to Hezbollah.
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13. Ahmadinejad’s visit to Turkey is welcome

ŞAHİN ALPAY
11.08.2008
Today’s Zaman

Justice and Development Party (AKP) governments have made some important achievements for Turkey. Achievements in the field of economy, such as high growth and significantly increased per capita income between 2002 and 2007, coupled with efficient services by the AKP-run municipalities, are the main reasons why the share of the party’s vote in national elections climbed from 34 to 47 percent in the same period.
Perhaps the most remarkable achievements of the AKP government are, however, in the sphere of foreign policy. With AKP-led reforms, Turkey “sufficiently” fulfilled the Copenhagen political criteria and started accession negotiations with the EU at the end of 2005. Thanks to the AKP government’s support for the UN-sponsored plan for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem, Ankara can no longer be held responsible for failure to find a solution on the island. I believe that an even more significant achievement in foreign policy is the “soft power” gained by Ankara as a regional power that promotes peace, stability and (yes also) democracy in the greater Middle East.
Remember the 1990s. In the latter half of that decade Turkey’s only friend in the region was Israel, and Ankara was in conflict with almost all of its neighbors. It was relying mainly on military threats as a foreign policy tool. There was talk of an impending war on “two-and-a-half fronts” (Greece, Syria and, of course, the Kurdistan Worker’s Party [PKK]). The world perceived the PKK not as a terrorist organization, but as Kurdish “freedom fighters.”
Today the situation is far different. Turkey has friendly relations with nearly all neighboring countries. Bilateral problems with Athens have yet to be solved, but both state-to-state and society-to-society relations with Greece have improved immensely. Compared with the previous decade, relations with Syria, Iraq and Iran have markedly changed. Friendly relations with all of these neighbors prevail, and they are cooperating with Ankara against the PKK instead of manipulating it against Turkey. Relations with Armenia have not yet normalized, and the Cyprus problem is yet to be settled. But there is at least movement in both directions. Ankara has managed to avoid involvement in the invasion of Iraq and yet still maintains close relations with the US.
With rare exception, Turkey today has earned the trust of all governments as well as non-state actors in the region from Morocco to Afghanistan, enabling it to contribute to stability and to the solution of conflicts. Ankara is currently a facilitator for dialogue and conflict resolution between Syria and Israel, Israel and Palestine, Pakistan and Afghanistan, between parties in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine, even between Iran and the West. The role played by Ankara is surely appreciated both in Brussels and (neocons aside) in Washington.
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is coming to Istanbul on Aug. 14 for a working visit to meet with Turkish President Abdullah Gül. The visit may hopefully contribute to a resolution of the international crisis with Iran over its nuclear program. Ankara surely has no sympathy for the “theodemocratic” (partly theocratic and partly democratic) regime in Tehran. But Iran is Turkey’s neighbor. Maintaining friendly relations with Tehran is essential not only for securing its respect for Turkey’s regime and integrity, but also for economic reasons. Iran is a major supplier for Turkey’s increasing energy needs, and a growing market for Turkish industries.
The major issue in the talks between Gül and Ahmadinejad will surely be Iran’s nuclear program. Ankara is against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and thus against Iran acquiring them. But, rightly or wrongly, Ankara does not object to the development of nuclear energy by Iran or any other nation. For this reason it supports Iran conducting its nuclear program under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Ankara is, however, strongly against the bombing of Iran’s nuclear facilities by the US or Israel, since that would contribute to further escalation of conflicts in the region.
It finally has to be emphasized that the contribution of Dr. Ahmet Davutoğlu’s vision, wisdom and energy to Turkey’s new foreign policy is substantial. He is the prime example of how highly competent and qualified advisors are an invaluable asset to governments.
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14. Jerusalem protests Iranian president’s visit to Turkey

Turkey 9-Aug-08

Israel has officially protested against the planned visit of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Turkey next week. Israel’s ambassador to Turkey, Gabi Levy, presented the protest to officials in Ankara, and the Turkish ambassador to Israel was summoned to Jerusalem
Israel is disappointed that Turkey has invited for an official visit a leader who denies publicly the Holocaust, and thus grants him legitimacy,” was the message given to the Turkish ambassador to relay to his government.
Iran’s president has sought an official invitation to Turkey for four years, but every time such a visit was scheduled, it was postponed.
In recent months ties between Ankara and Tehran grew closer as Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan attempted to play mediator between the Iranian regime and the United States.
Erdogan offered the Americans indirect negotiations with Iran in Turkey, along a model similar to the Turkish mediation between Israel and Syria.
Ahmadinejad’s planned visit also drew severe criticism in Turkey because of the Iranian president’s criticism of the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk. As a way of containing the furor, Ankara downgraded the visit from “official state visit” to “working visit.”
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15. Turkey to launch Kurdish-language TV in 2009: report

11 August 2008
FOCUS News Agency

Ankara.Turkey’s state broadcaster will launch a Kurdish-language television channel in 2009, its director said in an interview published Monday AFP reports.
The 24-hour channel will also air programmes in Arabic, Farsi and Zazaki, a Kurdish dialect, the head of Turkish Radio and Television (TRT), Ibrahim Sahin, told the Aksam newspaper.
“Our objective is to reach not only our Kurdish and Arab citizens but also regional countries,” Sahin said.
Turkey’s southeast, which borders Iran, Iraq and Syria, is populated predominantly by Kurds as well as ethnic Arabs.
The channel was made possible by a law passed in June that eased restrictions on TRT’s foreign-language broadcasts.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government is under pressure to back up military measures against armed Kurdish rebels fighting for self-rule in the southeast with political and economic overtures to the Kurdish community to erode popular support for separatism.
Seeking to boost Turkey’s bid to join the European Union, TRT launched 30-minute weekly broadcasts in Kurdish in 2004, breaking a taboo in a country where public use of the language was banned less than 15 years ago.
The programmes, however, have been criticised for poor quality and shallow content.
Private local television and radio stations have also been allowed to air in Kurdish.
The government has said it will spend up to 15 billion dollars (10 billion euros) over five years on infrastructure projects and economic incentives in the southeast, Turkey’s poorest and least-developed region.
The southeast has been the scene of bloody unrest since the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), took up arms in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed more than 37,000 lives.
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16. EU concern over Iran detentions, death sentences

11 August 2008
New Europe
The European Union said that it was “deeply concerned” by what it saw as further breaches of human rights in Iran following the condemnation to death of members of the Kurd minority and the arrest of two prominent AIDS campaigners. In separate statements, the French government, which currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, highlighted the arrest of anti-AIDS campaigners Arash Alaei and Kamiar Alaei and the condemnation to death of Kurdish minority members Farzad Kamangar, Farhad Vakili, Ali Heidarian, Hivar Botimar and Anvar Hosein Panohi. The statements called on the Iranian authorities to release the Alaei brothers, bring in an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty, and release two other human-rights activists and three supporters of women’s rights detained in Iran’s Kurdistan province.
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17. Iran: Prominent Kurdish journalist arrested

Tehran, 8 August (AKI) – On a day dedicated to journalists in Iran, a Kurdish human rights activist and journalist Massoud Kordpour was arrested late Thursday on allegations that he spied for foreign powers.

This is not the first time that Kordpour was arrested. In 2007 he was imprisoned and accused of “instigating teachers to strike”.

This time authorities accused him of being a spy after he gave interviews to foreign news sources that broadcast in Farsi and Kurdish languages.

Kordpour is the founder of the Foundation for Democracy and Human Rights in Iranian Kurdistan. He is also a contributor to various Iranian newspapers and other Farsi-language dailies published abroad.
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18. Iran: Kurdish activists condemned to death

Tehran, 7 August (AKI) – Two Kurdish activists have been condemned to death in a closed court hearing in the Iranian city of Sanandaj.
The activists, Anwar Hossein Panahi and Arsalan Oliaii, both teachers, were found guilty of collaborating with organisations considered illegal by Iranian authorities.
A total of seven Kurdish activists have been sentenced to death for the same reason, including the two journalists, Hiwa Boutimar and Adnan Hassanpour.
In a report released last week the human rights organisation, Amnesty International expressed concern about the increased repression of Kurdish Iranians, particularly human rights defenders.
The report cited examples of religious and cultural discrimination against the estimated 12 million Kurds who live in Iran.
“We urge the Iranian authorities to take concrete measures to end any discrimination and associated human rights violations that Kurds, indeed all minorities in Iran, face,” Amnesty said in its report.
“Kurds and all other members of minority communities in Iran, men, women and children, are entitled to enjoy their full range of human rights.”

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19. Iran allocates IRR 30 billion to reinforce border security

TEHRAN, Aug 9 (KUNA) — National police Chief General Ismail Ahmadi-Moqaddam said Saturday that Iran has allocated IRR 30 billion to reinforce the country’s border security. IRR oneXSSCleaned= USD 0.000106011.
Speaking to the press, Ahmadi-Moqaddam said that the most challenging area to maintain security in was the Biranshar area in the Kurdistan province which saw an increase in infiltrations last year, adding that the borders in that area would be completely sealed.
Illegal immigration by Pakistani and Bangladesh nationals, who are seeking a chance to reach European states through Iran, was a threat for the nation’s security, affirmed the Iranian official. He pointed out that Iran is determined to stop illegal immigration which could cause the spread of diseases or an increase in smuggling narcotics and illegal substances.
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20. Trial of Syrian dissidents begins

BBC NEWS:
2008/07/30

Twelve opposition activists have gone on trial in Syria’s capital, Damascus.
A local rights groups said the accused denied charges including spreading false information to weaken national morale, and joining a secret group.
The accused are linked to a pro-reform body know as the Damascus Declaration group. They were arrested in the months following a group meeting in December.
Rights groups condemned the prosecution and called for their release. The trial was adjourned until 26 August.
The Damascus Declaration, signed by a group of Syrian and Lebanese intellectuals and activists in 2005, called for relations between the two countries to be improved.
The document urged democratic reform and called for Syria to recognise Lebanon as an independent state by demarcating the border.
Spring symbol
The National Organisation for Human Rights in Syria (NOHRS) said the 12 had appeared in court and denied all of the charges against them.
“[They] stressed that the Damascus Declaration was not an undertaking [carried out] in a secret manner and that its aim was to defend the homeland,” the NOHRS said in a statement.
Among the accused are journalist Ali Abdallah and former MP Riad Seif.
The NOHRS has described Mr Seif as “one of the symbols of the Damascus Spring”, the period of political dialogue after the death of former President Hafez al-Assad in 2000.
The president’s successor, his son Bashar, initially tolerated the discussion groups which came into being, but a tough clampdown began in 2001.
The NOHRS says the current trial is the biggest collective prosecution of Syrian dissidents in the past seven years.
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