Archive for Middle East
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has summoned the Swiss ambassador to Ankara over a protest in Bern targeting Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The protest had Kurdish groups among its organizers. The ambassador, Walter Haffner, was told that Turkey expects the Swiss authorities to bring the organizers of the protest to justice and to prevent such “incidents” in the future. “We are protesting this rally that explicitly promoted violence and terrorism and has been permitted, and we ask Switzerland to take immediate legal action against this offense,” the ministry said in a statement, as cited by the Turkey’s Hurriyet daily. The demonstration, which was held in central Bern, was attended by some 3,000-3,500 people, the Swiss media report, citing the event’s organizers. The protesters marched through the city center and then held a rally in front of the federal parliament building. They were chanting anti-Erdogan slogans and were holding numerous placards that read, “For Democracy in Turkey.”
The man who killed four people outside Britain’s Parliament was in Saudi Arabia three times and taught English there, the Middle Eastern country’s embassy said. A Saudi Embassy statement released late Friday said that Khalid Masood taught English in Saudi Arabia from November 2005 to November 2006 and again from April 2008 to April 2009. The embassy said that he had a work visa. It said he returned for six days in March 2015 on a trip booked through an approved travel agent. The Saudi Embassy said that he wasn’t tracked by the country’s security services and didn’t have a criminal record there.
The Russian Embassy in Ankara is not commenting on the summoning of Russia’s Charge d’Affaires Sergei Panov to the Turkish Foreign Ministry in connection with the death of a Turkish serviceman near the Syrian border, Irina Kasimova, a spokeswoman of the embassy, told Sputnik on Thursday. Earlier in the day, Turkish authorities summoned Panov after Turkey’s General Staff said one of its soldiers had been killed near the Syrian border by a sniper from Kurdish-controlled northern Syria. “The embassy does not comment on this information,” the spokeswoman said. According to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, Russia, as one of the guarantors of ceasefire in Syria, is responsible for helping maintain the ceasefire regime on the Syrian-Turkish border, where the soldier was killed on Wednesday.
Every Muslim state should close their embassy in the United States if the Trump administration moves the US embassy to Jerusalem, the president of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union (AIPU) said. Nabih Berri, also speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, said President Trump may not postpone a US-congress decision to move the embassy, at a conference in Rabat, Morocco. “We must call for Palestinian national unity, its return to a central issue in the Arab consciousness and the building of trusting relationships between Muslim neighbours,” Berri said. Berri said that the decision to move the embassy required a “strong reaction” from a unified Muslim world, which would require “at the very least”, the closure of embassies.
Russia, the main military backer of the Syrian government, has summoned Israeli Ambassador Gary Koren for questioning over recent Israeli airstrikes on Syrian state forces, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said. Russia demands Israel more closely communicate its military plans in the region to avoid such incidents, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said in comments carried by state news agency RIA Novosti. Israeli warplanes conducted air raids in Syria on Friday, with Syrian state forces retaliating using anti-aircraft weapons, in one of the more serious exchanges of fire in the six years of Syria’s multi-sided civil war. Russia has maintained close relations with Israel despite the decades-long animosity between Syria and the neighbouring Jewish state, including over Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights. Israel has about a million Russian-speaking residents. Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this month in Moscow for talks that focused on the Syrian conflict. Netanyahu warned Putin about Iranian involvement in the conflict. Like Syria’s regime, Iran is also a regional rival of Israel but an ally of Russia.
One of the buildings that belong to the Russian Embassy in Damascus was damaged as a result of a Sunday shelling by militants, Russian Ambassador to Syria Alexander Kinshchak said. “We have a building, which we temporarily do not use and it is located close to the epicenter of the yesterday’s armed clashes. As they told me, the blast wave had broken the window glass there. However, nobody is currently living there except for a local keeper,” Kinshchak told reporters. According to Kinshchak, this building was previously used and it was planned to station the consular office there, however, this building is located close to the district controlled by illegal armed groups. “We were forced to temporarily abandon the idea of using this building… all the employees moved to the main building of the embassy,” the ambassador added.
Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said on March 16 that it was recalling its ambassador in Ankara, Nadezhda Neynsky, for consultations. The single-sentence statement by the Foreign Ministry gave no reason why Neynsky was being called back to Sofia, but the development comes amid continuing controversy about reported interference by Turkey in Bulgaria’s March 26 early parliamentary elections. In diplomatic practice, recalling an ambassador for consultations is generally seen as a second stage of protest after formally summoning a foreign country’s ambassador, but is a stop short of suspending diplomatic relations. The Turkish ambassador in Sofia, Süleyman Gökçe, was summoned to the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry on March 7, to hear a protest from caretaker Deputy Foreign Ministry Boiko Mirchev following reports about a Turkish cabinet minister having called on Bulgarians in Turkey to vote for Lyutvi Mestan’s DOST party.