Alaturka Gazetesi

'Yemeni people sandwiched between warring armed groups’

By Gozde Bayar

ANKARA (AA) – Yemeni people are suppressed between two evils — the Houthi rebel group and the Saudi-led Arab coalition, the head of New Yemen Media Center, Salih el-Gabri, said at a panel discussion, hosted by a think-tank, the Middle Eastern Studies Center (ORSAM), in the capital Ankara.

Gabri, director of the Istanbul-based Center, said that the possibility of division of the war-ravaged Yemen has been increasing.

“Yemen has no capital. The canons and tanks have reached the middle of the country,” he said.

“Yemen suffers from a weak legitimate authority. There is no serious coalition or military decisiveness in the country,” he said, adding that Yemeni face catastrophe at the hands of the Arab coalition.

“It is not an unresolvable problem. We need to seek a solution, we need to cooperate and bring back the peaceful and stable regime,” said Ahmet Uysal, head of the think tank, ORSAM.

“The suffering [of Yemeni people] is happening in front of the eyes of the world public opinion. It is a real tragedy,” he said.

Journalist Jonathan Felton-Harvey highlighted the importance of the diplomatic means rather than resorting to military-based solutions.

“Saudi Arabia and the UAE have their own geopolitical perspectives and ambitions and both countries are trying to counter the Iran by their proxies,” Harvey said.

He added that the UAE has gradually expanded its presence in the country.

“In the era of war and terror, which was started by the U.S., more countries have the freedom to carry out actions like this to pursue their own interest, under a guise of fighting terrorism,” he stressed.

Yemen has been a battlefield in history, said panelist Selim Ozturk, who works in the Police Academy.

“There is gulf colonialism nowadays in the world. The oil-rich countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE have created problems, by getting involved in another country’s politics,” he said.

Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of arming Houthi rebels in Yemen, which overran much of the country, including the capital Sanaa, in 2014.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia and its Sunni-Arab allies launched a massive air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi gains in Yemen and to back the country’s pro-Saudi government. But, Yemen continues wracked by violence and there seems no end in sight to the war. Cracks have also appeared wide open in the Saudi-led alliance. The UAE has been accused of helping separatists from the Southern Transitional Council, who took over Aden, the seat of the Saudi-backed Yemeni government recently.

Alaturka Gazetesi

Facebook removes 'coordinated' accounts from UAE, Egypt

By Vakkas Dogantekin

ANKARA (AA) – Social media giant Facebook Friday removed 211 accounts, 107 pages, 43 groups and 87 Instagram accounts for "engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior" that originated in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Nigeria.

Citing the use of fake accounts by networks to disseminate their content and artificially increase engagement, Facebook in a statement said the coordinated networks primarily posted videos, photos and web links to promote the UAE, the country’s activity in Yemen, and criticism of Qatar, Turkey, and Iran.

Facebook’s "investigation found links to three marketing firms — Charles Communications in UAE, MintReach in Nigeria and Flexell in Egypt," it said.

Most of the accounts that were shut down engaged in defaming Turkey and Qatar as well as other Sunni Muslim movements and figures in the region like the Muslim Brotherhood and its spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

The investigation "found links to an Egyptian newspaper El Fagr" behind the politically motivated social media campaign.

The UAE is a tiny state in the Gulf with a population of less than 10 million, only one-tenth of whom are UAE citizens, while the rest are expatriates.

Recently, another social media platform, Twitter, shut down thousands of accounts in the UAE and Egypt for similar reasons.


Haftar void of local legitimacy, support: Libyan envoy

By Vakkas Dogantekin </p> <p>ANKARA (AA) – Khalifa Haftar, commander of forces loyal to a rival government in eastern Libya, has no local legitimacy or support, according to Libya’s ambassador to Turkey. </p> <p>Speaking at a conference, organized by the Institute of Strategic Thinking — a think tank based in Turkey's capital Ankara — Abdurrazag Mukhtar Ahmed said Thursday that Libya’s Tripoli-based government is &quot;very strong&quot;, so the fall of Tripoli is &quot;impossible&quot;.</p> <p>&quot;Haftar has financial support from countries, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt in particular, which support a military rule in Libya that will fight against religious groups they consider ‘extremist’.</p> <p>“In line with their goals, those countries support terror groups as well,&quot; said Ahmed.</p> <p>He further said: &quot;International support is not sufficient to gain legitimacy, one must also have local support and Haftar lacks it except some regions in eastern Libya.”</p> <p>Ahmed also said that the Libyan people will not let &quot;a new dictator [referring to Haftar] replace the old one [Muammar Gaddafi].&quot;</p> <p>In response to a question by Anadolu Agency whether the UN gives adequate support to the government in Libya, Ahmed said he does not observe any international determination or willingness to stop the tension in Libya. </p> <p>&quot;UN is unable to come up with solutions in Libya. It failed in Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Rwanda and Yemen, too because it thinks of its own interests,&quot; said Ahmed.</p> <p>Yet, he voiced hope that the situation in the civil war-torn country will return to &quot;normalcy and stability&quot; soon. </p> <p> </p> <p>- Libya-Turkey relations </p> <p>Ahmed said Turkey has always played a &quot;neutral and constructive role in Libya and prioritized the national interests of Libyan people&quot;.</p> <p>Strongly defending Turkey in the wake of accusations on the media of UAE and Egypt that Turkey supports radical groups in Libya, Ahmed said they &quot;know firsthand that Turkey has never supported radical groups in Libya&quot;. </p> <p>Ahmed hoped that Turkey and Libya will soon enjoy the good relations the two countries had experienced until the tensions divided the country. </p> <p>&quot;We used to enjoy $18 billion worth of economic cooperation and numerous flights between Turkey and Libya. Right now, there is infrastructure work worth $250 billion that waits to be fulfilled,&quot; Ahmed said.</p> <p>Following two weeks of intermittent fighting near Tripoli that has left scores dead, forces loyal to Haftar have so far failed to capture the capital.</p> <p>Libya has remained beset by turmoil since long-serving leader Muammar Gaddafi was ousted and killed in a bloody NATO-backed uprising in 2011.</p> <p>Since then, the country has seen the emergence of two rival seats of power: One in eastern Libya, to which Haftar is affiliated, and another in Tripoli, which enjoys UN recognition.


UPDATE 2- Turkey remands 2 suspected of spying for UAE


By Muhammed Enes Can and Murat Kaya

ANKARA (AA) – Turkey on Friday remanded two alleged intelligence operatives working on behalf of the United Arab Emirates in custody, according to judicial sources.

Earlier in the day, the suspects were arrested as part of a probe by Istanbul prosecutors of alleged spying by the Gulf state.

The suspects were later referred to court on charges of political, military and international espionage.

*Writing by Sibel Morrow and Beyza Binnur Donmez


Turkey arrests 2 suspected of spying for UAE

By Muhammed Enes Can and Murat Kaya</p> <p>ANKARA (AA) – Turkey on Friday arrested two alleged intelligence operatives working on behalf of the United Arab Emirates, according to judicial sources.</p> <p>The suspects were arrested as part of a probe by Istanbul prosecutors of alleged spying by the Gulf state.</p> <p> <p>* Writing by Sibel Morrow


Sudan ruling council hails ties with Riyadh, Abu Dhabi

<p>By Bahram Abdel-Moneim</p> <p>KHARTOUM, Sudan (AA) – Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of Sudan’s ruling Military Transitional Council (MTC), has praised his country’s “distinctive” relations with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.</p> <p>Burhan made the remarks at a Wednesday meeting with members of a joint Saudi/Emirati delegation at Defense Ministry headquarters in the capital Khartoum.</p> <p>According to a subsequent statement released by the MTC, the delegation “delivered a message of greetings from the leaders of these two brotherly countries, who expressed their readiness to support Sudan and its people at this critical period”.</p> <p>Members of the joint delegation, who arrived in Khartoum on Tuesday for a two-day visit, also met with MTC deputy leader Mohamed Daglo.</p> <p>Last week, President Omar al-Bashir was ousted by the Sudanese army following months of popular protests against his 30-year rule.</p> <p>The MTC now plans to run the nation’s affairs for a two-year transitional period during which presidential elections will eventually be held.</p> <p>*Writing by Mahmoud Barakat</p>


Sudan: Protesters slam Arab backing of military council

By Omer Erdem </p> <p>KHARTOUM, Sudan (AA) – Protesters in Sudan blasted Arab countries Tuesday for backing the country’s ruling military council following the ouster of long-serving President Omar al-Bashir.</p> <p>Despite the declaration of a curfew last week, they gathered near the military headquarters in the capital and chanted slogans against Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.</p> <p> “We do not want your support”, one banner said, in an apparent reference to countries backing the council, while another said &quot;No to intervention in Sudan by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt&quot;.</p> <p>Last Friday, Defense Minister Awad Ibn Auf, the head of the transitional military council, stepped down and named Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Burhan as his successor. The council also announced sweeping changes to the army’s leadership.</p> <p>The Sudanese army ousted Bashir last week after months of protests against his 30-year rule. The council was established shortly afterward to run the nation’s affairs for a two-year transitional period.</p> <p>*Writing Faruk Zorlu


Coup in Sudan within Western interests: Experts

By Elena Teslova

MOSCOW (AA) – The recent military coup in Sudan was in the interests of Western and some Arab countries that want to control the country's natural resources, experts told Anadolu Agency on Monday.

Boris Dolgov, who serves as a senior researcher in the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Science noted that the West has long tried to pressure Sudan's President Omar Al-Bashir out of power.

“Sudan is a country extremely rich in natural resources, which attracts the attention of many Western states that do not have or used up their own resources and therefore try to seize control over other countries resources, ” he said.

Dolgov said the division of the country — once the largest in Africa — was part of the same project, the results of which are witnessed today.

“They have already gotten access to the deposits of South Sudan, now it is Sudan’s turn. As the army now has a pro-Western orientation, it is logical to suggest that soon we will read the news that Western companies got preferences for mining activities in Sudan, he said.

Dolgov said al-Bashir himself is a “controversial figure “, but that he tried to pursue an “independent policy “.

“Bashir was ostracized by the West; he is even wanted by the International Criminal Court. The country was sanctioned many times which resulted in the deterioration of its economy. All this was done with an obvious goal, ” Dolgov said.

  • UAE special services sponsored military coup in Sudan

Director of the international think-tank “Voice of Africa ” Engin Ozer told Anadolu Agency that the ouster was conducted against Bashir’s position in a number of issues.

“Sudan has witnessed serious shifts in military cooperation over the last years. President Omar al-Bashir signed a deal with Russia, allowing it military bases in Sudan, ” said Ozer, adding that al-Bashir had also agreed on the building of a Turkish naval base in Suakin, to “balance interests in the region “.

He stressed that Suakin enjoyed a strategic position as a port city on a sea route of particular importance through the Red Sea, over which tankers carry oil from the Persian Gulf. The U.S., France, China, Saudi Arabia have the military bases in Djibouti to protect the route.

“Turkey’s strategic plan was to build a naval base in Suakin. For Turkey, it would be its third military base in the region. One in Doha, a second in Mogadishu, Somalia and a third base in Suakin. If you look at the location of these bases on the map, you can see that they form a 'Turkish' triangle, ” Ozer said.

He stressed that Turkey's policy in the region is to ensure a balance of powers to provide security.

“Turkey’s main goal is to defend its friends and brothers. But this provoked much discontent in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. There are confirmations that the UAE special services have worked over two years to prepare Sudanese opposition for the protests and demonstrations, ” he said.

Egypt supported the military coup due to its territorial disputes with Sudan, Ozer added.

“Russia and Turkey worked actively in Sudan, especially in gold mining, which has a special meaning in the fight against Western financial dictatorship in the 21st century. For Russia and Turkey, Sudan was the closest and friendliest country in Africa. Russian-Turkish cooperation in Africa started in Sudan, ” he said.

Ozer predicted that the new government would be closely involved the West. He also voiced concern that Russia and Turkey may lose their strategic position in the country.

Last year, President Vladimir Putin praised positive developments in Russian-Sudanese relations at a meeting with al-Bashir in Moscow.

Al-Bashir thanked Putin for Russia’s role in bolstering the Sudanese military and opposing the U.K. at the UN Security Council regarding the withdrawal of forces of the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur.

Both Russia’s presidential administration and its Foreign Ministry condemned the military coup after Bashir’s was forced to step down.


Turkish Airlines launches flights to Sharjah, UAE

By Muhammed Ali Gurtas</p> <p>ANKARA (AA) – Turkey's national flag carrier started flights to Sharjah, among top tourism centers of United Arab Emirates (UAE), Turkish Airlines announced on Thursday.</p> <p>&quot;As Turkish Airlines’ third flight destination in the UAE after Abu Dhabi and Dubai, flights to Sharjah will be conducted on the Istanbul-Sharjah-Istanbul route,&quot; the airline said in a statement. </p> <p>The company noted that &quot;modern but old, crowded but peaceful&quot; Sharjah — selected as the Cultural Capital of Arab World in 1998 — attracts the visitors with its rich history, culture and economy.</p> <p>&quot;Flying to more countries than any other airline in the world, Turkish Airlines consistently continues to enhance its flight network.</p> <p>&quot;Sharjah became the 307th destination that was added to the extensive flight network of the global brand,&quot; it said.</p> <p>Turkish Airlines, founded in 1933, flies to more than 120 countries with its fleet of 335 aircraft, including passenger and cargo planes. </p> <p>In 2018, the company carried 75.2 million passengers with a seat occupancy rate of 82 percent, and this year aims to reach 80 million passengers on domestic and international routes.


UAE blocks access to Skype

By Vakkas Dogantekin</p> <p>ANKARA (AA) – The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has banned Skype, according to the Microsoft-owned company.</p> <p>&quot;It has been brought to our attention that our website and services have been blocked by the ISPs [internet service providers] in the United Arab Emirates. That means you won't be able to use Skype in the United Arab Emirates,&quot; Skype said on its website.

“We are working towards getting Skype re-enabled, ” it added.

UAE citizens living abroad complained on Twitter about the ban.

“It's so frustrating that Skype is banned in the UAE. How are we meant to conduct interviews and meetings? Such a contradiction in 2021 & 2071 Visions goals, ” wrote columnist Sultan Al Qassemi from the Council of Middle East Studies.

In response to advice from UAE citizens to use other communication platforms that require a Virtual Private Network (VPN), Qassemi called on them to obey UAE laws, fearing a backlash from the authorities.

“I don't encourage anything that goes around the law. I want the authorities to legally allow it. I don't want anyone to break the law, ” said Qassemi, who lives in the U.S.

Calls using Apple’s FaceTime have also been illegal in the UAE for years.