Six soldiers and two village guards were killed and several others wounded when militants of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) attacked military outposts in the southeastern province of Hakkari on Sunday.
The simultaneous attacks came overnight on four bases on the outskirts of the Çukurca district of Hakkari, which borders Iraq. The Geçimli, Üzümlü, Karataş and Darsinki military outposts were targeted by the PKK with firearms and rockets. A clash ensued after security forces responded to the attacks.
The military sent reinforcements and at least four attack helicopters to Çukurca to fight the terrorist group.
Sources close to the military who wish to remain anonymous said the PKK was hoping to kick-start an uprising in southeastern Turkey similar to the Arab Spring and that the Turkish military had ruined its efforts with the operation. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey is strong enough to put the terrorist PKK’s foreign backers in their place while commenting on the PKK attack on Sunday.
“The Republic of Turkey is strong enough to put not only the terrorist organization in its place, but the enemy states and circles who pull its strings as well,” Erdoğan said in a statement released by his office.
“The terrorist organization has once again revealed its enmity towards the country’s national and spiritual values by staging a treacherous attack in the month of Ramadan. Terror is destined to lose, disappear and be dissolved in the face of the nation’s determination sooner or later,” he added.
Turkish President Abdullah Gül has also said the plot the PKK intended to implement in Şemdinli was foiled by security forces.
“The psychological environment the terrorist organization intended to create in Şemdinli was foiled by the efforts of our security forces. We did not allow such a [negative] psychological atmosphere to prevail. The terrorist organization wanted to do something like [what is happening] in Syria,” Gül said. Erdoğan announced earlier in the week that 115 PKK terrorists have been killed by security forces since the operation began.
August 4, Saturday
Voice of the People Party (HAS Party) leader Numan Kurtulmuş said in Erzurum that his party has decided to merge with the Justice and Development Party (AK Party). Kurtulmuş stated that the AK Party offered a merger with the HAS Party during a meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a month ago. Kurtulmuş was asked if the HAS Party would be disbanded following the merger. Kurtulmuş responded, “The HAS Party will decide this on its own.”
The Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) decided to force all of the 40 military generals and admirals presently under arrest on coup plotting or terrorism charges to retire in its annual decisions. The council’s four-day meeting concluded on Aug. 4 and Prime Minister Erdoğan, accompanied by other YAŞ members, met with President Abdullah Gül on the same day to hand over to him the decisions of the council for approval. Gül approved the decisions on Saturday, and the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) then made them public on their website.
August 5, Sunday
President Gül praised his brotherly ties with Prime Minister Erdoğan and asked for the postponement of a current debate over whether he will challenge Erdoğan as a candidate for the presidency in 2014 until the time is right. “When the time comes, we will get together, talk among each other and do whatever we are supposed to do,” Gül told reporters, emphasizing that his friendship with Erdoğan is “beyond brotherhood,” apparently in an attempt to end speculation over a conflict between the top two political figures of the country regarding who should be the country’s next president.
August 6, Monday
Ömer Çelik, deputy chairman of the ruling AK Party, claimed that Turkey has reliable intelligence that the Syrian military intentionally left heavy weapons for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) when it abandoned areas in northern Syria.
Former National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Counterterrorism Unit head Mehmet Eymür said he had previously learned that a former MİT official was among the administrators of Ergenekon, a shadowy criminal network with alleged links to the state suspected of plotting to topple the government.
A prosecutor demanded aggravated life imprisonment for two suspects in a trial over the death of Engin Çeber, an inmate who died after allegedly being tortured in 2008, over charges of committing acts of torture.
August 7, Tuesday
The Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional matters, has said it has not been consulted by the Turkish government in the drafting the country’s new constitution despite earlier announcements of an intention to do so. Venice Commission President Gianni Buquicchio, in an exclusive interview with Today’s Zaman, said that although the Turkish government initially announced it would consult the commission when drafting its new constitution, the government has not “followed up.” Buquicchio stressed that the involvement of the commission would contribute to the “domestic as well as international credibility of the process.”
Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin said a total of 2,824 students are currently incarcerated in Turkey’s prisons on various accusations and charges, with 1,046 of them having already been convicted of crimes. “As of Jan. 31, 2012, there are a total of 2,824 students in jail. Of them, 1,778 are being held in prison pending trial and 1,046 have been convicted in court. Of those held pending trial, 609 are accused of membership of a terrorist organization, while 178 of the convicted students are serving time for membership of a terrorist organization,” Ergin stated.
Chairman of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu alleged that MİT was wiretapping him, his family members and some deputies from his party.
Kurdish intellectual Ümit Fırat said a state official had planned the assassination of then-Prime Minister Tansu Çiller in 1995 and wanted the PKK to assume responsibility for the crime, but that currently jailed leader of the PKK Abdullah Öcalan rejected the plan.
The main opposition party leader complained about the government’s unwillingness to share information with the opposition on national issues that are deemed to be critical for the future of the country. Speaking with reporters at an iftar (fast-breaking) dinner in Ankara, CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu said Prime Minister Erdoğan does not inform any party group in Parliament on important developments in Turkey’s neighboring region. “In closed regimes, there is no need to share information. If it is democracy, he needs to come to Parliament and inform us,” he said.
August 8, Wednesday
A series of unusually sharp statements over the past several days from both Turkey and Iran have brought relations between the two neighbors -- which were improving until recently, even at the expense of angering Turkey’s NATO ally the United States -- to what one may call a historic low. Turkey hit back with a harsh statement at recent remarks from Iranian officials, including the country’s chief of General Staff who has said that “it will be its turn” if Turkey continues to “help advance the warmongering policies of the United States in Syria.” Prime Minister Erdoğan called the comments by Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi “regrettable” and denied his country has meddled in Syrian affairs.
Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar said his ministry will continue working to construct new military outposts on Turkey’s eastern and southeastern borders as previously planned, adding that newly constructed outposts are not targeted in terrorist attacks because they are well constructed. The minister also said 98 new outposts had been constructed and handed over to the Ministry of Defense and the Gendarmerie General Command recently. Bayraktar’s remarks came in the wake of terrorist attacks on four military outposts in southeastern Hakkari province on Sunday.
An İstanbul court decided to release seven suspects in the ongoing trial of a leftist terrorist organization called the Revolutionary Headquarters, while the key suspect in the case, former Police Chief Hanefi Avcı, remains in jail.
August 9, Thursday
According to “The World’s Muslims: Unity and Diversity” poll by Pew, 69 percent of Muslims in Turkey said they acknowledge Alevis as fellow Muslims. A quarter of the Muslims surveyed by Pew identify themselves as neither Sunni nor Shia but rather as “just a Muslim.”
One soldier was killed and 11 people were injured in an explosion when members of the terrorist PKK attacked a Turkish military bus on its way to a naval base in the western province of İzmir.
Reports recently released in both Germany and Austria by Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution revealed that the PKK has established camps in Germany for those who would like to join the ranks of the terrorist organization. The reports, which are based on intelligence on threats concerning the democratic order in each of these countries, were disclosed by German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich and by Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner.
A group of military officers who were expelled from the TSK at YAŞ meetings over the past few decades have filed cases against the Defense Ministry for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages they sustained before and after expulsion.
The PKK has relocated some of its militants from PKK hideouts in the Kandil Mountains of northern Iraq to a terror camp on the Turkish-Iranian border, from where it is launching attacks against targets in Turkey, Today’s Zaman learned. The PKK has found an alternative base for itself in Şehidan camp, near the Şemdinli district of Hakkari, in an attempt to save its members from constant bombardment by Turkish military forces of PKK hideouts in northern Iraq.
Mahmut Taşdemir, a former deputy chairman of metal sector workers union Türk Metal, testified at the İstanbul 10th High Criminal Court on Thursday as a witness as part of the case against the Ergenekon terrorist network, claiming that the union illegally transferred money to the staunchly secular Cumhuriyet daily. According to Taşdemir, after transferring the money to the daily, the union failed to pay its workers’ salaries on time. The witness did not specify how much money was transferred to the daily or for what purpose.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Turkey would not be opposed to a possible autonomous Kurdish region in Syria following the fall of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, if all groups in the country can agree on it.
In a sign of a further rift with its mullah regime neighbor, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç slammed Iran, saying that the Turkish government is disturbed by Iran’s stance against Turkey. Arınç said that Ankara is uncomfortable with the positions the Iranian government has taken recently towards Turkey on a number of issues, not necessarily tied to the Syrian crisis.
August 10, Friday
The Constitutional Reconciliation Commission, which is working to draft Turkey’s new constitution, reached a consensus on granting convicts the right to vote in elections in the new constitution.
Additional folders of evidence related to a case concerning a shooting at the Council of State in 2006 show that some workers of OYAK -- a private company affiliated with the TSK -- and suspects in the Ergenekon case received several calls from the same phone number shortly before the shooting.
Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek recently called on political parties in Parliament to convene for an extraordinary session on Aug. 14 to discuss the latest developments relating to terrorism and Syria, but the session is unlikely to be held due to the reluctance of the ruling and opposition parties.
The Turkish General Staff denied a recent news report claiming the military provided faulty information to the government concerning the details of how a Turkish jet crashed off the Syrian coast on June 22.
Masum Türker, chairman of the Democratic Left Party (DSP), claimed that it was a Russian warship, and not Syria, that shot down a Turkish aircraft over the Mediterranean on June 22.
President Gül said the whole world, and not only the Turkish nation, must face the brutality of the terrorist PKK in the wake of a deadly attack on a military bus on Thursday. “I would like to stress this once again. Not only our nation, but the whole world must face up to the mentality of these people [PKK terrorists], who do not hesitate to shed blood, to set traps and to stage attacks without caring about the difference between civilians and security forces, and what they understand of humanity. They should already have understood this,” Gül said on Friday in İzmir after he visited those who were injured in an explosion when members of the PKK attacked the military bus on its way to a naval base in the western province of İzmir on Thursday.