Presidential aide slams Newsweek article on Turkey

By Kubra Chohan

ANKARA (AA) – Turkey’s presidential aide Ibrahim Kalin on Saturday called an article by U.S.-based Newsweek magazine “one of the worst pieces on Turkey”.

“PKK and Gulenist/FETO propaganda presented as facts and ideological paranoia as analysis,” Kalin said in a tweet.

He added: “Now the June 24 elections are over, is Newsweek calling for another coup attempt in Turkey?”

PKK is a designated terrorist group in the U.S. and Turkey, while U.S.-based Fetullah Gulen and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) are the group behind the defeated July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey which martyred 251 people and injured thousands.

Turkey slams Israeli PM for trying to 'lecture' Erdogan

By Cansu Dikme

ANKARA (AA) – A Turkish presidential aide on Tuesday slammed the Israeli premier for trying to 'lecture' President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on human rights when he criticized Israel’s controversial new “Jewish nation-state” law.

“The prime minister of a Zionist apartheid state, built on racism, occupation and displacement, is in no position to lecture our president on human rights,” Ibrahim Kalin wrote on his official Twitter account.

Last week, the Knesset approved the law, which describes Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people".

The legislation further states that a “united Jerusalem” is the capital of Israel and that Hebrew is the country's official language, stripping Arabic of its earlier designation as an official language, while recognizing its “special status".

“Turkey's criticism against the Nation State Law, a shameless attempt to institutionalize discrimination against the Palestinian people, is a universal call for justice and peace. Mr. Netanyahu may not know the meaning of these words but the world is aware of what is happening,” Kalin added.

While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the legislation, calling its passage as a “defining moment for Zionism and Israel”, Turkey’s Erdogan criticized it, saying, “This law is evidence that, without doubt, Israel is the most Zionist, fascist, and racist state in the world.”

Erdogan aide hails African stance on Palestine issue

By Cansu Dikme

ANKARA (AA) – A top aide to Turkish president has praised Africa’s stance on the Palestine-Israel conflict, saying it is “beyond short-term political and economic interests”.

In a column titled “Connecting with Africa in a multipolar world” for Daily Sabah newspaper Saturday, Ibrahim Kalin said: “The overall African perspective on the Palestinian question demonstrates that African nations follow regional and global issues with a clear sense of justice and conscience beyond short-term political and economic interest.”

The column was published after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s four-day Africa tour, which included Sudan, Chad and Tunisia.

Kalin, who is also Erdogan’s spokesman, said African countries played an “extremely positive role” during the recent vote at the United Nations General Assembly on Jerusalem by rejecting the U.S.'s unilateral decision to declare the contested city as Israel’s capital.

Praising the social, economic and geographic diversity of the continent, Kalin said “no single blanket model of partnership” can make the best of its richness.

“Engaging Africa requires a multileveled approach in a multipolar world. It is with this principle in mind that Turkey has been seeking to connect with Africa over the last decade,” he said.

He also said Africa deserves to be treated as an equal partner on the world stage.

In his article, Kalin emphasized Erdogan’s visits to 24 African countries over the last several years and two Turkey-Africa summits.

He added that Turkey had increased its number of embassies in Africa from 12 to 39 (to be 41 in 2018) and increased its trade fivefold-sixfold over the last decade.

Kalin said Erdogan’s Africa tour, a first at the presidential level from Turkey to these countries, focused on improving bilateral political and economic relations and saw the signing of several dozen agreements in various fields.

Mentioning the works of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) in Sudan, including the restoration of two mosques and a port building on the island, he said a big agricultural initiative in Sudan is among major projects of Turkey.

He also said that investment opportunities, economic relations, Jerusalem issue, and Qatar-Gulf relations were among the topics discussed during Erdogan’s Chad and Tunisia visits.

Kalin: Referendum secured Turkey’s future stability

By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

LONDON (AA) – Turkey’s new presidential system will end weak coalition governments and strengthen checks and balances, Ibrahim Kalin, chief aide to the Turkish president, has said.

Kalin wrote an article for U.K. newspaper the Guardian which said Turkey’s short-lived coalition governments of the past had crippled its economy, weakened national institutions and paved the way for coups.

“The new system of government, which will come into effect in November 2019, will make Turkish democracy more resilient by putting an end to weak coalition governments and strengthening checks and balances,” Kalin wrote.

“Since 1960 at least four elected governments have been removed from power by the military,” Kalin noted, adding Turkey’s parliamentary system had been engineered by the military “to keep the political arena fragmented”.

Pointing out that Turkey voted 51.4 percent in favor of constitutional reform in the April 16 referendum, Kalin said turnout was 85 percent.

“What made the vote exceptional was that, for the first time in Turkey’s modern history, the people, rather than coup plotters, got to decide with which system the country would be governed,” he wrote.

Kalin also said there were “conspiracy theories” against the result but Turkey’s main opposition (Republican People’s) Party had no evidence “showing the referendum result did not reflect the people’s preferences”.

“Their main argument was that the failure of polling station officials to stamp the ballot forms would render them invalid.

“Ironically, the same party, in an application filed with the SEC in 2015, argued that procedural mistakes made by polling station officials did not invalidate the votes. The council agreed, as it has numerous times since 1984.”

Kalin also cast doubt on the impartiality of some international observers.

“At the same time, it became clear that multiple international observers, whose preliminary report on the referendum was cited by the No campaign and the international press as proof of foul play, had taken sides in Turkish politics,” he said.

“Pictures of international observers posing with flags of the PKK — which Turkey and the European Union consider a terrorist organization — have surfaced on social media,” he added.

“All the noise aside, Turkey, whose constitutional tradition dates back to the mid-19th century, took a giant leap forward toward a stronger, more consolidated democracy. Now it’s time to focus our attention on pressing issues,” Kalin wrote.

“Every nation faces a unique set of challenges and learns from their past. For the Turkish people, one of the most valuable lessons of the 20th century was that political stability was the driving force behind progress.

“Tens of millions of Turks have now voted to secure our country’s stability for generations to come,” he added.

UPDATE – Afghan presidential aide threatens war after dismissal

UPDATED WITH ANALYST QUOTE

By Shadi Khan Saif

KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) – President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has sacked his top aide, who in turn warned the move may lead to another civil war in the country.

Ghani fired Ahmad Zia Massoud, the brother of legendary slain military commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, late Monday.

The president had made Massoud his top aide following the 2014 presidential elections, which were marred by irregularities and rigging claims.

On Tuesday, Massoud told a news conference in the capital Kabul that the president could not just sack him because he had joined the National Unity Government in a bid to avoid civil unrest in the country.

“Based on the agreement of the National Unity Government, the president has no right to dismiss me.

“The government formed (after the 2014 elections) was a compromise, so whoever is doing this is paving the way for instability, and God forbid, it can lead to civil war,” he said.

Massoud is also the vice president of the Jamiat-e-Islami Afghanistan party, which has enjoyed power since the fall of the Taliban.

During the presidential election campaign, Massoud had faced criticism from his political allies, including his brother Ahmad Wali Massoud who was in the opposite camp, for aligning himself with Ghani.

Top Afghan officials have so far not commented on the latest development.

According to a decree issued by the presidential palace, Massoud was dismissed from his post in line with Article 64 of the constitution. The reasons for his dismissal were not mentioned in the decree.

Shah Hussain Murtazawi, spokesman for the president, told Anadolu Agency the president has the authority to appoint and dismiss top officials for the sake of good governance.

“The constitution is very clear about it, it grants the president the authority to appoint or dismiss officials, there is no ambiguity in this regard,” Murtazawi said.

Atiq-ur-Rahman, a Kabul-based analyst, told Anadolu Agency that the Afghan president first picked Massoud for his team to balance the ethnic mix, i.e. a Pashtun (Ghani) leading the team with an ethnic Uzbek (Vice President Gen. Abdul Rasheed Dostum) and an ethnic Hazara (Second Vice President Sarwar Danish) and Massoud as representatives of the Tajik ethnic group.

“Now Abdullah Abdullah [Tajik-Pashtun] is there at the top position in the unity government as the chief executive officer, so Ghani took the decision to consolidate his position,” he said.

Ghani’s friends and foes alike criticize him for consolidating power. The Afghan leader, a former World Bank adviser, is widely known for his extra-long work hours, going through literally each and every file, and even personally interviewing candidates for top posts.

Afghanistan has a bloody past when various armed factions turned their guns on each other in a struggle to take power after the fall of a pro-Soviet regime in the 1990s.

The relative peace since the fall of the Taliban in 2001 has given some respite, and has led to notable reconstruction and the development of institutions, but the ethnic and ideological fault lines remain.

Afghan presidential aide threatens war after dismissal

By Shadi Khan Saif

KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) – President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has sacked his top aide, who in turn has warned the move may lead to another civil war in the country.

Ghani fired Ahmad Zia Massoud, the brother of legendary slain military commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, late Monday.

The president had made Massoud his top aide following the 2014 presidential elections, which had been marred by irregularities and rigging claims.

On Tuesday, Massoud in a news conference in the capital Kabul said the president could not just sack him because he had joined the National Unity Government in a bid to avoid civil unrest in the country.

“Based on the agreement of the National Unity Government, the president has no right to dismiss me.

“The government formed [after the 2014 elections] was a compromise, so whoever is doing this is paving the way for instability, and God forbid, it can lead to civil war,” he said.

Massoud is also the vice president of the Jamiat-e-Islami Afghanistan party, which has enjoyed power since the fall of the Taliban.

During the presidential election campaign, Massoud had faced criticism from his political allies, including his brother Ahmad Wali Massoud who was in the opposite camp, for aligning himself with Ghani.

Top Afghan officials have so far not commented on the latest development.

According to a decree issued by the presidential palace, Massoud was dismissed from his post in line with Article 64 of the constitution. The reasons for his dismissal were not mentioned in the decree.

Shah Hussain Murtazawi, spokesman for the president, told Anadolu Agency the president has the authority to appoint and dismiss top officials for the sake of good governance.

“The constitution is very clear about it, it grants the president the authority to appoint or dismiss officials, there is no ambiguity in this regard,” Murtazawi said.

Afghanistan has a bloody past when various armed factions turned their guns on each other in a struggle for capturing power after the fall of a pro-Soviet regime in the 1990s.

The relative peace since the fall of the Taliban in 2001 has given some respite, and has led to notable reconstruction of the country and development of the institutions but the ethnic and ideological fault lines remain in the country that is battling a brutal Taliban insurgency since years.