Our latest weekly news digest, summarizing everything you might have missed last week from Turkey and the region.
Saudi King Visits Ankara
King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia visited Ankara this week to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. This was the first time that King Salman has visited Turkey since his coronation early last year, and the ostentatious reception he received underscores the close relations between two of the most powerful Sunni states in the region. President Erdoğan broke with usual protocol when he personally led a welcoming committee outside of Esenboğa airport to greet the sovereign from the south. The two met at Erdoğan’s infamous presidential palace in central Ankara where, after much ceremonial fanfare, President Erdoğan presented King Salman with the order of the State of the Republic of Turkey. The prospering relationship between Saudi Arabia and Turkey has caused some consternation in Tehran both due to enduringly tense relations between the Saudi’s and Iranians, and because some view their alignment as part of a growing sectarian split in the region.
DAESH Attacks Turkish Border Town, Kilis
At least six civilians were wounded and four killed when rockets fired from DAESH occupied Syria landed in the Turkish border town Kilis. Earlier in the week, 12 people were wounded in a similar attack. The Turkish armed forces responded with shelling and gunfire. Such attacks have become common on the border region between Turkey and DAESH controlled Syria. The Turkish Defence Ministry claims that retaliatory strikes to gunfire from Syria have killed 362 militants and wounded 123 since January 1st of this year. Prime Minister Davutoğlu promised that Turkey would continue to battle terrorism and defend her citizens.
Turkey kills 32 IS fighters in Iraq after attack on tank
The Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) claimed to have killed 32 DAESH militants in the Bashiqa military camp near Mosul in Northern Iraq. The TAF stated that they shelled the militants on April 19 after the same group of militants had fired a missile at a Turkish tank. DAESH claims in a video to have destroyed the Turkish tank, while the TAF has said that the tank crew was unhurt and the tank only minimally damaged. The number of DAESH casualties after Turkish shelling has yet to be independently verified. Turkey sent troops and several tanks to the Bashiqa military camp earlier this winter as a part of the campaign to train Iraqi fighters combating IS.
Police Strike Out Against FETO
Police arrested 105 suspects from cities around the country on Monday. The operation is aimed at striking out against the alleged terrorist organization, FETO, originating from the Gülen Movement. Those arrested included 41 employees of Bank Asya as well as 45 businessmen. Two board members of the Dumankaya Construction Company, Halit and Semih Dumankaya were among those arrested. The charges range from spreading propaganda and providing monetary aid to a terrorist organization in an attempting to overthrow the government via a coup in 2013. This recent operation represents the latest in a back and forth battle between Fethullah Gülen and President Erdoğan since the former allies turned on each other in late 2012.
Zarrab indictment expanded to include Turkey as ‘crime scene’
The indictment against the Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab arrested in Miami last month has been expanded to include crimes committed outside of U.S. jurisdiction, including Turkey. The New York based prosecutor Preet Bharara, heading up the indictment, added “Turkey, the UAE, and elsewhere” as places where Zarrab may have committed crimes. Zarrab is being tried for “conspiring to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran.” Zarrab was also implicated in a large-scale anti-corruption probe launched in 2013 in Turkey. However, all changes were dropped against Zarrab at the time based on accusations that the prosecutors in his case were attempting to overthrow the government and for supporting a parallel state. Zarrab is currently being held at an Atlanta prison, waiting to be transferred to New York State where he will be tried in court.