INFOGRAPHIC – 32-km wide safe zone to be formed in northern Syria

                By Levent Tok and Selen Temizer</p>    <p>ANKARA (AA) - U.S. President Donald Trump came up with a proposal of creating a safe zone in northern Syria, an idea that Ankara had been repeatedly voicing since the beginning of the civil war in the country.</p>    <p>In a Twitter post on Monday, Trump proposed the establishment of a 20-mile (32-kilometer) wide safe zone in Syria's eastern Euphrates region. Later in the day, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a phone talk with his U.S. counterpart and evaluated the details of the safe zone.</p>    <p>Speaking at the group meeting of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, Erdogan said that he had been emphasizing the importance of creating a safe zone since Barack Obama’s administration in the U.S.</p>    <p>According to Anadolu Agency’s map measurement, the safe zone will cover a 460-kilometer (286-mile) Turkey-Syria border line.</p>    <p>The safe zone will include the settlements in northern Raqqa and Hasakah; it will pass through Sarrin from west to east, northern Ayn Issa, northern Suluk, Ras al-Ayn and Tal Tamer along with Darbasiyah, Amude, Qamishli, Tal Hamis, Qahtaniyah, Yarubiyah and al-Malikiyah.</p>    <p>All areas, including towns and villages of Shuyukh Tahtani, Ayn al-Arab (Kobani) Tal Abyad, Darbasiyah, Amude, Qahtaniyyah, Jawadiyah and al-Malikiyah districts will be included in the safe zone. </p>  <p>The line starts in western Syria, near the Sajur River in eastern Manbij. Manbij town center will remain out of the safe zone.</p>    <p>On the other hand, the Bashar al-Assad regime has a presence in the Qamishli district of Hasakah province, which is physically included in the safe zone.</p>  <p><br>
  • Need for a safe zone

    The safe zone issue was first brought to the global agenda when Erdogan visited the U.S. in May 2013.

    Erdogan proposed a three-stage plan that included a no-fly zone, a safe zone for civilians and launching a joint land operation along with the coalition forces.

    Turkish officials have repeatedly spoken of establishing a safe zone in the war-torn country.

    The establishment of safe zone was previously proposed by Ankara with an aim to protect civilian population that could take shelter there. Turkey is working to make the proposed safe zone as an area where all internally displaced Syrians can be gathered or the civilians taking refuge in Turkey can return and settle.

    It is regarded as almost certain that the Syrian people will continue to migrate abroad, particularly to Europe, for being deprived of social services and shelter even if the civil war ends.

    The European countries are the most concerned party in this context.

    In a surprising move, U.S. President Donald Trump last month announced the withdrawal of American forces from Syria.

    Trump made the decision during a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in which the two leaders agreed on the need for more effective coordination over the civil war-torn country.

    Turkey has repeatedly objected to U.S. support for the terrorist PKK/PYD as a "reliable ally" in Syria, which has included supplying arms and equipment.

    In its 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the terrorist PKK has taken some 40,000 lives, including women and children. The YPG/PKK is the PKK's Syrian branch.

UPDATE – ‘Turkey to control proposed safe zone in N. Syria’

                                  UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS OF PRESIDENTIAL AIDE</p>    <p>By Faruk Zorlu, Sena Guler and Sibel Ugurlu</p>    <p>ANKARA (AA) - A proposed safe zone in northern Syria along Turkish border will be under Ankara's control, the country’s presidential aide said on Tuesday.</p>    <p>Speaking to the reporters following a Cabinet meeting in Ankara, Ibrahim Kalin said, &quot;Fight against terrorism and terror groups targeting Turkey will continue in every area.&quot;</p>    <p>On Monday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a phone call with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump, discussing the idea of establishing a 32-kilometer (20-mile) terror-free safe zone in northern Syria.</p>    <p>The phone call came after Trump threatened to &quot;devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds,&quot; conflating &quot;Kurds&quot; with the terrorist PKK/YPG in Syria, a conflation that Turkey has repeatedly criticized.</p>    <p>Kalin highlighted that Turkey's aim in Syria's Idlib was to ensure the safety of people's lives and property.</p>    <p>About a Russian-Turkish contract for the purchase of S-400 air defense systems, Kalin said it &quot;has nothing to do with deal for U.S. Patriot missiles.&quot;</p>  <p>&quot;Turkey will buy military technology from any countries in line with its national security interests and military plans,&quot; Kalin said.</p>    <p>The presidential aide said the U.S. delegation last week gave Turkey a five-item and legally non-binding paper about its forces' pullout from Syria.</p>    <p>&quot;To sum up with just the headlines, [the paper] was confirming the U.S. decision to pull out [from Syria] and stating that fight against Daesh will continue. One thing that we disagreed was some demands suggesting rearrangements especially about PYD/YPG. The paper also states that the U.S. will continue protecting the air space as part of the coalition in the region,&quot; Kalin said.</p>    <p><br>
  • Turkey's demands

He said Turkey also gave a paper to the U.S. delegation in return.

"We stated that we approved the U.S. decision to pull out. We said Turkey's fight against Daesh will resolutely continue. We underlined that the terrorist organizations including Daesh, PKK and YPG should not be given any space," Kalin said.

The Manbij roadmap, its extension to the east of Euphrates River and collection of the arms that was previously delivered to the PYD/YPG were among the demands the Turkish side made, he added.

Last week, a U.S. delegation — including National Security Adviser John Bolton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford and Special Envoy for Syria James Jeffrey — took part in talks at the presidential complex in the Turkish capital of Ankara.

In a surprising move, Trump last month announced the withdrawal of American forces from Syria.

Trump made the decision during a phone call with Erdogan, in which the two leaders agreed on the need for more effective coordination over the civil war-torn country.

Turkey has repeatedly objected to U.S. support for the terrorist PKK/PYD as a "reliable ally" in Syria, which has included supplying arms and equipment.

In its 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the terrorist PKK has taken some 40,000 lives, including women and children. The YPG/PKK is the PKK's Syrian branch.

Kalin also briefed that Erdogan will pay a one-day visit to Moscow on Jan. 23, which is expected to touch on "bilateral issues and Syria crisis."

Envoy praises Turkey’s efforts for Palestine

                By Mustafa Kemal Bektas </p>  <p>ZONGULDAK, Turkey (AA) - The Palestinian people see the Turkish people as their brothers, Palestine's envoy to Ankara said on Friday. </p>    <p>Faed Mustafa was attending a conference, titled All Cities Are Captives Unless Palestine Is Free, organized by Confederation of Public Servants Trade Unions (Memur-Sen) in northern Turkish city of Zonguldak.</p>    <p>“The Palestinian people welcomed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's efforts to protect Palestine” and to declare Jerusalem a red line for Muslims, the envoy said.</p>    <p>“We believe that Erdogan will change the fate of Muslims all around the world. His views on freedom and justice will be the common values for people not only in Turkey but all around the world,” Mustafa said.</p>    <p>“The Palestinian people see the Turkish people not only as a friendly people, but also as brothers,” he added.

Turkish opposition deputies donate to help chairman

             <p>By Meltem Ozturk</p>  <p>ANKARA (AA) - Members of Turkey’s main opposition party are pooling their resources to help their chairman, who owes money after being convicted of making false claims about the nation’s president.</p>  <p>In a series of lawsuits over false claims about President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his relatives, Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kilicdaroglu owes some 828,000 Turkish liras ($150,000) in damages.</p>  <p>The CHP parliamentary group on Wednesday decided that its lawmakers would transfer 5,000 Turkish liras ($903) from their quarterly salaries to help Kilicdaroglu.</p>  <p>&quot;We're ready to pay the price of the rulings on the CHP chairman,&quot; Engin Ozkoc, the party’s deputy parliamentary group head, told reporters.</p>  <p>Ozkoc added that they made the decision without consulting or informing Kilicdaroglu.</p>  <p>Turkish lawmakers are paid 60,938 Turkish liras ($11,180) every three months.</p>  <p>The CHP, which holds 142 seats in the 600-seat parliament, also hopes to convince party members to donate, said Ozkoc.</p>  <p> </p> 

Turkey's Erdogan turns down meeting with US' Bolton

             By Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu</p>  <p>ANKARA (AA) - If the visiting U.S. national security aide wants to speak to a Turkish official, he should talk with the presidential spokesman, said Turkey’s president on Tuesday.</p>  <p>President Recep Tayyip Erdogan turning down a meeting with U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton followed Bolton’s claim that Turkey “targets Kurds” in Syria, claims that were firmly rejected by Ankara.</p>  <p>If meeting with Bolton were “necessary,” then &quot;we could have said yes,” Erdogan told reporters in the capital Ankara, citing his “heavy schedule” in turning down the meeting. Bolton should instead meet with presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, said Erdogan.</p>  <p>Erdogan added that he can talk to U.S. President Donald Trump at any moment. </p>  <p>It was after a phone conversation with Erdogan last month that Trump decided to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.</p>  <p>On Sunday, Bolton had said the U.S. will not withdraw troops from northeastern Syria until the Turkish government guarantees it won’t attack “Kurdish fighters,” referring to the PKK/YPG terrorist group.</p>  <p>Turkish officials reject any conflation of ethnic Kurds with YPG/PKK terrorists, saying the PKK/YPG terrorizes Syrian Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen alike.</p>  <p>In its 30-year terrorist campaign, the PKK has taken some 40,000 lives, including women and children. The PKK/YPG is its Syrian branch.</p>  <p>Turkey has said it is planning a counter-terrorist operation into Syria targeting the PKK/YPG, following two successful operations since 2016.

Turkey has criticized the U.S. working with the terrorist PKK/YPG to fight Daesh, saying using one terror group to fight another makes no sense.

Since arriving in Turkey on Monday, Bolton has met with both Kalin and Turkish Chief General Staff Gen. Yasar Guler.

Kalin on Sunday called Bolton’s claims “irrational,” as Turkey is fighting terrorists of both Daesh and the PKK/PYD/YPG.

Turkish president voted most distinguished world leader

            By Ammar Elkhalfi </p>  <p>ISTANBUL (AA) - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was named &quot;the most distinguished world leader of 2018&quot; on Monday in a poll conducted by the Rassd News Network. </p>  <p>The online survey was organized by the pro-Muslim Brotherhood news network, which was established in Egypt after the Jan. 25, 2011 popular revolution and has a widespread following in the Arab world. </p>  <p>Over 300,000 people took part in the poll. Erdogan received 77 percent of the vote while ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi came in second with 52 percent. </p>  <p> 

UPDATE – Erdogan wishes peace, stability across globe in 2019

             ADDS MORE QUOTES FROM TURKISH PRESIDENT</p>    <p>By Cigdem Alyanak</p>    <p>ISTANBUL - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday wished &quot;peace and tranquility&quot; for all humanity across the world in 2019. </p>    <p>In his message for New Year, Erdogan said: &quot;We side with stability, justice, tolerance and peace across the world, together with our region.&quot;</p>    <p>“Through this understanding, we defend the rights of Jerusalem, Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo, Tripoli, Sarajevo, and Crimea.</p>    <p>Turkey is “not responsible for the incidents in our region and will not be a victim of them,” Erdogan said.</p>  <p>“Developments in Syria are the result of these efforts,” he added. </p>  <p>Turkey has conducted two successful cross-border operations into Syria since 2016 -- Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations -- both meant to eradicate the presence of PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists near Turkey’s borders.</p>    <p>In his message, Erdogan stressed that Turkey does not have designs on any country’s soil, sovereignty and their rights.</p>    <p>“Our sole goal is to ensure the safety, tranquility and a guaranteed future for our own people and brothers living in our region,” he said.</p>    <p>The Turkish leader had signaled that a cross-border operation against the terrorist PYD/YPG in Syria would happen soon.</p>    <p>Erdogan also said Turkey has been continuing to contribute to the stability of Iraq. </p>    <p>“We’ve been showing our determination in preserving our rights in Cyprus, Eastern Mediterranean, and the Aegean, both in political area and on the ground.” </p>    <p>He reiterated Turkey’s resolute stance in counter-terrorism.</p>    <p>“We’ve left behind a year, in which we won the biggest success of our history in fight against terrorism.”

“Our security forces have been destroying terrorists by entering all the caves of terror organizations, whether on mountains, in cities or abroad,” he added.

Pakistani premier to pay official visit to Turkey

             By Islamuddin Sajid </p>  <p>ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) - Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan this week will pay a two-day official visit to Turkey, according to Pakistani officials.</p>    <p>Khan's first official visit to Turkey after taking office this August comes at the invitation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.</p>  <p>Accompanied by Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Planning Minister Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, and adviser Abdul Razak Dawood, Khan will leave for Turkey on Wednesday, Mohammad Faisal, Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman, confirmed to Anadolu Agency.</p>  <p>During the visit, Khan will meet Erdogan and discuss the entire spectrum of bilateral relations between the two countries, as well as exchange views on regional and international developments, said the premier's spokesperson. </p>  <p>Khan will also address a business forum and hold several meetings with Turkish businessmen and potential investors in Ankara.</p>  <p> “Pakistan and Turkey enjoy historic and unparalleled ties based on a common religious and cultural legacy that dates back centuries. The two countries have excellent political, economic, defense, cultural and people-to-people relations that continue to grow from strength to strength each passing year,” said the spokesperson. </p>  <p>Khan’s visit will reinforce historic ties between the governments and peoples of “the two brotherly countries,” and also help explore new areas of bilateral cooperation and collaboration, particularly in the area of economic, trade and commercial relations, he added.</p>  <p>Khan and Erdogan are also expected to discuss the ongoing Afghan peace process. </p>    <p>On Dec. 17, visiting Khan in Islamabad, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu invited the Pakistani premier to visit Turkey. </p>    <p>Khan also extended an invitation to Erdogan and his Cabinet to visit Pakistan. </p>  <p> </p>  <p> </p>  <p> </p>  <p> 

Russia, Turkey will boost security in Eurasia: Putin

             By Can Erozden</p>  <p>ANKARA (AA) - Working together, Turkey and Russia will continue to bolster security in the Eurasia region, said Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday.</p>  <p>&quot;I'm sure Turkey and Russia will go on to strengthen security in Eurasia,&quot; Putin said on the Kremlin website, in a message extending New Year’s greetings to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.</p>  <p>Putin also expressed his firm belief about Russian and Turkish cooperation helping peace, security, and stability in the region.</p>  <p>Amid &quot;auspicious development&quot; in bilateral ties, Putin noted approvingly, Turkey and Russia are making decisive contributions to fighting terrorism in Syria and advancing political settlement there. </p>  <p>&quot;The construction of the first unit of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant [in Mersin, southern Turkey] has begun and the offshore section of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline has been built. New, promising areas of bilateral cooperation have been outlined,&quot; Putin said in his message.</p>  <p>Rosatom, Russia's state nuclear energy corporation, is the major consortium partner for Akkuyu, Turkey's first nuclear power plant.</p>  <p>Erdogan and Putin launched construction of the project at a ceremony in the Turkish capital Ankara on April 3.</p>  <p>The plant, with four units, each boasting a capacity of 1,200 megawatts, will meet about 10 percent of Turkey's electricity needs.

In a ceremony, Erdogan and Putin marked the completion of TurkStream's offshore section on Nov. 19.

The TurkStream gas pipeline, crossing beneath the Black Sea from Russia to Turkey and set to stretch to Turkey's neighbors, will have a capacity of 31.5 billion cubic meters (bcm).

Turkey will receive 15.75 bcm of the gas, while the remainder will go to Europe.

US evacuates first military warehouse in Syria

             By Mohamad Misto, Levent Tok and Adham Kako</p>  <p>HASAKAH, Syria / ANKARA (AA) - Following its surprise decision last week to withdraw its troops from Syria, the first U.S. military warehouse near the Iraqi border was evacuated on Friday.</p>  <p>According to a reliable local source, the U.S. forces vacated a warehouse in Malikiye in the northeast al-Hasakah province.</p>  <p>Hummer armored vehicles and trucks from the 400-square-meter (4,306 square foot) warehouse -- around which some 50 U.S. troops were based -- were sent to Iraq.</p>  <p>The U.S. troops based around the warehouse also left for Iraq.</p>  <p>The warehouses have served as hubs for the distribution of U.S. materiel to the terrorist group YPG/PKK in northern Syria through Iraq.</p>  <p>Turkey has long objected to U.S. support for the YPG/PKK, arguing that supporting one terrorist group (the YPG/PKK) to fight another (Daesh) terrorist organization makes no sense.</p>  <p>Washington's military presence in Syria has included some 18 military bases.</p>  <p>President Donald Trump last week made a surprise announcement that the U.S. would withdraw its troops from Syria. His decision followed a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in which the two leaders agreed on the need for more effective coordination over the civil war-torn country.</p>  <p>In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for the death of some 40,000 people, including women and children. The YPG is its Syrian branch.</p>  <p>