Monday, February 3, 2014

War watch February 3 , 2014 - Syria rebel infighting continues apace as Assad forces continue to pressure rebel held areas , Kerry tells Capitol Hill that Obama’s Syria policies have failed ...... Iraq sectarian fighting continues as Iraq Government allegedly sets stage for ground invasion of Fallujah........ Iran focused on reaching long term nuclear deal but not inclined to give up centrifuge research...... Afghanistan Election off to violent start....... Turkey is focus - corruption probe items of note as PM Erdogan in the spotlight , Economy facing inflation headwinds based on various factors !


Syria.........


Syria chemical weapons handed over by March, says Russia

Regime will dispatch large shipment this month, says Russian deputy foreign minister, blaming security concerns for delays

Danish chemical warfare officers on a frigate that is to escort chemical weapons shipments from Syria.
Danish chemical warfare officers on a frigate that is to escort chemical weapons shipments from Syria. Photograph: Reuters
Syria plans to send a large shipment of toxic agents out of the country this month and can complete the removal process by 1 March, the Russian deputy foreign minister, Gennady Gatilov, has been quoted as saying.
"Literally yesterday the Syrians announced that the removal of a large shipment of chemical substances is planned in February. They are ready to complete this process by March 1," the state-run Russian news agency RIA quoted Gatilov as saying.
The operation to dispose of Syria's chemical stockpile under a deal brokered by Russia and the United States is far behind schedule and a deadline for sending all toxic agents out of Syria this week is predicted to be missed.
US officials have accused Damascus of dragging its feet and John Kerry, the US secretary of state, asked his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov last Friday to put pressure on Assad's government to accelerate the operation.
Russia, Assad's most powerful backer during a nearly three-year-old civil conflict in Syria, has said western concerns are overblown and rejected accusations that the delays are deliberate, citing security and logistical issues.
"As for timing, in principle everything is going OK," Ryabkov was quoted as saying. "There really are difficulties linked to the need to provide security for this operation."













Kerry tells Capitol Hill that Obama’s Syria policies have failed

POSTED AT 12:01 PM ON FEBRUARY 3, 2014 BY ED MORRISSEY


Josh Rogin gets this bombshell from two of the Senators in the closed-door meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry, who briefed them and thirteen other members of Congress on progress in Syria. In short, it doesn’t exist. The chemical-weapons inspection regime set up by Russia to protect Bashar al-Assad is nothing short of a joke, and the peace talks are going exactly where everyone else knew they would … nowhere. Kerry told his former colleagues that he has lost faith in Obama’s policies, and now the US must intervene to stop Syria from being taken over by radical Sunni terror networks:
Secretary of State John Kerry has lost faith in his own administration’s Syria policy, he told fifteen U.S. Congressmen in a private, off-the-record meeting, according to two of the senators who were in the room.
Kerry also said he believes the regime of Bashar al Assad is failing to uphold its promise to give up its chemical weapons according to schedule; that the Russians are not being helpful in solving the Syrian civil war; and that the Geneva 2 peace talks that he helped organize are not succeeding. But according to the senators, Kerry now wants to arm Syria’s rebels—in part, to block the local al Qaeda affiliates who have designs on attacking the U.S. (Kerry’s spokesperson denied that he now wants to supply weapons, but did not dispute the overall tenor of the conversation.)
“[Kerry] acknowledged that the chemical weapons [plan] is being slow rolled, the Russians continue to supply arms, we are at a point now where we are going to have to change our strategy,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, who attended Kerr’s briefing with lawmakers on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. “He openly talked about supporting arming the rebels. He openly talked about forming a coalition against al Qaeda because it’s a direct threat.”
Kerry’s private remarks were a stark departure from the public message he and other top Obama administration officials repeatedly have given in public. Shortly after the meeting ended, Sens. Graham and John McCain described the meeting to The Daily Beast, The Washington Post, and Bloomberg News. Given newly-released intelligence on the growing al Qaeda presence in Syria, as well as shocking new evidence of Syrian human rights atrocities, the senators said they agreed with Kerry that the time had come for the United States to drastically alter its approach to the Syrian civil war.
How drastically? It depends on whom one asks. McCain and Graham said that Kerry wants to go forward on arming the rebels, but the State Department said that they heard what they wanted to hear, and not what Kerry was actually telling them:
Kerry’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Psaki, called it a “mischaracterization.” …
Psaki, who attended the meeting, said Kerry did not raise the prospect of lethal assistance for the rebels. “This is a case of members projecting what they want to hear and not stating the accurate facts of what was discussed,” she said.
Fred Hiatt reminds readers at the Washington Post that Kerry’s impulses have been more in line with McCain and Graham than Barack Obama all along, though:
In fact, more than a year ago Kerry openly advocated changing the dynamics in Syria so that dictator Bashar al-Assad would have an incentive to negotiate. But the White House vetoed any serious training or arming of the rebels. That left Kerry beseeching Russia to persuade Assad to make concessions even as the dictator was gaining on the battlefield. Not surprisingly, that hasn’t worked.
Once again, we’re back at the intervention point against al-Qaeda in Syria, even though the situation appears more dire in Iraq. Furthermore, we’d be intervening into a civil war within a civil war in Syria in order to support the supposedly more moderate native opposition, even though they’re fading into irrelevancy. Why not attack al-Qaeda in Iraq in support of a government with much closer ties to the US? That would force AQ back into that front and take some of the pressure off of the native rebels in Syria, and force AQ into a straight-up fight with potentially much less confusion between groups on the battlefield.
The bigger news here, though, is that there appears to be a split on foreign policy in the Obama administration, although the size of the split may be difficult to size up. Obama himself wanted an intervention in Syria when his hand was forced on the chemical-weapons “red line,” but not on the scale demanded by McCain and Graham. Either way, this looks very similar to the Western intervention in Libya, where arms shipments (mostly but barely covert) was preceded by a bombing campaign against the regime in service to a coup d’etat. That left a huge vacuum in which the radical Islamists could exploit the failed-state environment and export their jihad into Mali and, er, Syria too.
How much distance is there really between Kerry and Obama now? I’d doubt that it’s much, but the fact that Kerry is talking about Obama’s policy failures in Syria is bad enough for the administration.

White House Stands Behind ‘Failing’ Syria Policy

Downplays Disagreement With Kerry Over Policy

by Jason Ditz, February 03, 2014
White House spokesman Jay Carney says that the administration “absolutely” stands behind its current Syrian policy, despite talk of growing internal dissent and the plain fact that it’s been a complete disaster.
According to hawkish Senators John McCain (R – AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R – SC), Secretary of State John Kerry conceded at a closed-door session that the current Syria policy is “failing,” and called for further military intervention, including “forming a coalition against al-Qaeda.”
White House and State Department officials have downplayed the differences on policy, saying Kerry’s comments had been misconstrued and that the US remains committed to their present course.
Who said what is really only part of the story though, as US policy has been to openly back increasingly irrelevant rebel factions, keeping the civil war stalemated in the hope that they can eventually impose a negotiated settlement favorable to the West. That’s still clearly the plan, but not only does it show no signs of working, it is exacerbating a civil war in which al-Qaeda is gaining ground at an alarming pace.


Syrian Airstrikes Kill at Least 26 in Aleppo


UN Delivers Aid in Yarmouk for 4th Day; UNRWA Asks for More Speed








2/2/14.....






http://news.antiwar.com/2014/02/02/al-qaeda-kills-rival-leaders-in-syria-car-bombings/


Al-Qaeda Kills Rival Leaders in Syria Car Bombings

Key Islamic Front Leader Killed in Aleppo

by Jason Ditz, February 02, 2014
Any hopes that the “war within a war” between Syrian rebel factions was starting to cool down were dashed this weekend, when a pair of high-profile rivals of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) were slain in car bombings in Aleppo and an ambush in Hama.
The leader of one of the Islamic Front’s top fighting forces, the Tawhid Brigade, died in the Aleppo bombing against one of their bases, while another Islamic Front commander, Abu Hussein al-Dik, was slain in Hama.
The Islamic Front is the largest non-al-Qaeda rebel faction in Syria, and took over several AQI sites early last month. AQI has recovered most of the lost territory since, and seems to be looking to shore up their gains by continuing the offensive against their rivals.
AQI has regularly used car bombings to target its rivals across Syria, hitting territory held by the Assad government as well as that held by other rebels. This weekend’s hits are not unusual in that regard, but hitting Islamic Front multiple times suggests they believe the momentum is swinging in their favor in this regard, and that attacks on other rebels are a more promising near-term target than the government.






Iraq........

2/3/14....


Offensive in Anbar, But Al-Qaeda Car Bombs Targets Near Baghdad

Militants Continue Offensive of Their Own

by Jason Ditz, February 03, 2014
Iraq’s military continues to escalate attacks against the Anbar Province, killing scoresin shellings of al-Qaeda-held areas around Ramadi and Fallujah.
Nominally, this is being done to keep al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) on its heels, defending its territorial possessions instead of attacking Baghdad. Yet the attacks continue, with at least 16 killed in a series of AQI car bombings in and around the Iraqi capital.
Despite its sudden focus on taking over actual territory in Iraq, including the city of Fallujah, AQI has shown an ability to continue attacking targets across Iraq, and the death toll continues to soar in recent weeks.
The biggest car bombs hit in the town of Mahmoudiya, damaging the city council building as well as a nearby marketplace. At least nine were killed and 28 wounded. Other strikes it inside Baghdad itself, including Hurriyah and Amil neighborhoods.



2/2/14.....



Iraq Escalates Fallujah Shelling, Prepares Ground Invasion

Waiting for Maliki Say-So for Invasion

by Jason Ditz, February 02, 2014


After al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) occupied the city of Fallujah, the Iraqi military indicated they were willing to leave the matter to the local tribal leaders, giving them as long as necessary to retake the city peacefully.
Less than a month later, the military is engaged in sustained shelling of the city, hitting random neighborhoods in hopes of seeing the militants move around and get an idea of where they area. The shelling escalated today, with officials saying a ground invasion is imminent.
Military officials said the decision had been made to enter Fallujah Sunday, though so far that hasn’t happened. The military says they are waiting for “final say” from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki before launching the operation.
With the main roads into the city mined by AQI, the military is expected to try to invade from one of the breeches made by the artillery fire. Previous accounts have claimed AQI has enormous amounts of heavy weaponry, meaning the battle is likely to be long, and bloody.




Iraqi Army Kills 57 Militants in Shelling Around Fallujah and Ramadi

Offensive in Anbar, But Al-Qaeda Car Bombs Targets Near Baghdad

106 Killed, 94 Wounded in Anbar Operations and Baghdad Bombings






Iran......

2/3/14.....


EU Pushes to Extend Iran Talks That Haven’t Started Yet

Iran FM: We Could Make the Deal in Six Months

by Jason Ditz, February 03, 2014
Late last month the clock began ticking on the six-month interim nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1, with a goal of talks settling on a final pact before the end of that six months.
EU chief diplomat Catherine Ashton has suggested, in interviews over the weekend, that six months may not be enough time, and is pushing for an extension. US officials have also said as much, though they talked up the idea of launching a war after the six months expired.
Here’s the thing: the talks on a final deal haven’t even started yet. Those talks are scheduled to begin on February 18, so it seems awfully hasty to declare them stalemated already.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif didn’t come off nearly so pessimistic, saying that while the talks are a challenge, he believes it is entirely possible to make a deal within the six month period.




2/2/14.....






Iran FM: Determined to Make Long-Term Nuclear Deal

Says Talks Are An Historical Crossroads

by Jason Ditz, February 02, 2014
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif termed the situation related to the nuclear deal an “historical crossroads,” saying his country is ready and determined to make a permanent nuclear deal.
Negotiations on a nuclear pact are expected later this month, and will take place throughout the six month interim agreement, which began just over a week ago.
US officials have repeatedly downplayed the chances of a deal, and threatened war if Iran doesn’t make the deal that they don’t expect. Zarif was more upbeat about the chances, saying his country has the diplomatic good-will to make a deal now.
At the same time, Zarif warned that it would be a “disaster” if the two sides didn’t come to some sort of agreement, saying it was unfathomable to ditch the talks so soon after they’ve begun.





Afghanistan.....





The Taliban Is Tapped-Out

Tyler Durden's picture







Afghanistan’s insurgents have endured hard times before, but nothing quite like this. At first glance the war might seem to be turning in their favor. Hundreds of Taliban foot soldiers - the heart and soul of the armed struggle against the U.S.-backed Kabul government - are running out of food, money and ammunition. AsVocative reports, their plight is unlikely to improve anytime soon - people familiar with the Taliban’s finances say the organization’s main sources of revenue have dried up. Wealthy Arab donors, Afghan businessmen and even Pakistan’s powerful and secretive spy agency have all reduced or stopped funding, each for their own reasons.
Mullah Yaseen is penniless. Wrapped in a heavy black coat, the 45-year-old Afghan insurgent huddles inside a heatless tea shop near the Pakistani-Afghan border and pours out his troubles. Over the past eight months, he and his 15 Taliban fighters have received no support from the group’s central command, Yaseen says. Not a bullet or a cent.

...
Yaseen needed to requisition supplies and ammunition for the fighting season ahead.
He had no luck. Instead, he wastold that there were temporary cash-flow problems and he should ask his fellow villagers for a loan. He would be given the money to reimburse them within a month, he was promised. Back home, Yaseen scraped up roughly $2,000 to keep his men fighting. He has yet to be repaid, and his neighbors want the money.

...
Nevertheless, Mullah Yaseen and hundreds of Taliban foot soldiers like him—the heart and soul of the armed struggle against the U.S.-backed Kabul government—are running out of food, money and ammunition.
Their plight is unlikely to improve anytime soon. People familiar with the Taliban’s finances say the organization’s main sources of revenue have dried up. Wealthy Arab donors, Afghan businessmen and even Pakistan’s powerful and secretive spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, have all reduced or stopped funding, each for their own reasons.

The Arabs’ departure is a crippling blow. Support from private Saudi donors has been crucial to Afghanistan’s insurgents ever since the war against the Soviets in the 1980s—many years before the rise of Mullah Mohammed Omar and his armed followers. But interest in Afghanistan has faded among hard-liners in the Gulf region. Osama bin Laden is dead; most of Al Qaeda’s surviving operatives have fled the constant threat of U.S. drone attacks, and the Taliban never really shared bin Laden’s desire to take his holy war worldwide. Now global jihad and its Arab backers have moved on to more promising arenas, like Iraq and Syria.
As the financial crisis continues, Afghan civilians say they aren’t merely disappointed with the Taliban—they’re fed up.
...

Many former contributors no longer trust the insurgents. “We don’t regard the Taliban as soldiers of God anymore,” says a conservative Afghan businessman in Peshawar.

“Their fundraisers used to come on foot to collect donations. Now they show up in luxury cars. It’s clear they’re stealing the money.”A 40-year-old former Taliban commander echoes the complaint: “Instead of going to jihad, the donations are cruising down the streets of Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi.”
The group isn’t totally destitute...
According to an official with the Afghan National Security Council, the ISI continues to channel support to those insurgent leaders who reliably do Pakistan’s bidding. But everyone else is on his own, and there are few viable alternatives. Local Taliban units used to drive a lucrative trade in ransom kidnapping, but they finally ran out of potential victims.Although the group still imposes “taxes” on the country’s multibillion-dollar heroin industry, much of that money seems to end up filling private bank accounts, rather than helping fighters in the field.

...

The Taliban’s finance departmenthas a special office dedicated to resolving complaints, but it was no help. “They told me, ‘Sorry, we don’t have that much money right now.’”
Death is fine - but dying with a debt!! not acceptable...
He says he has left the front lines. As much as he wants to rejoin the jihad, he doesn’t dare go back until he repays the $2,000 he owes his neighbors. He’s not afraid to die, he says. What scares him is the idea that he might die with an outstanding loan. “Anytime I’m out there, I could be martyred,” he says. “And God does not forgive anyone—even a martyr—who dies without paying his just debts.”




A Violent Start to Afghan Election Campaign

Two Campaign Workers Killed in Herat

by Jason Ditz, February 02, 2014
The Afghan presidential election takes place on April 5, and the campaign began in earnest today, under the threat of Taliban violence against candidates and their workers. Almost immediately, the first violence was seen.
Two campaign workers for Abdullah Abdullah were killed today in Herat. Abdullah was the second-place finisher in the previous election who backed out of a run-off with President Karzai amid his calls for electoral reform were spurned.
Violence in Kabul was already on the rise in anticipation of the election season, with embassy officials saying they are now at their highest level since 2008. The situation is expected to get even worse.
US officials have expressed hope that the next Afghan president will be more amenable to military occupation than Karzai is, and many believe they will have to wait for Karzai’s successor to sign off on the troop deal to keep US military forces in place “through 2024 and beyond.”



Karzai Arranged Secret Contacts With the Taliban



Afghanistan Election Guide: Everything You Need To Know






Turkey......





Motions reveal PM knew of irregularities ex-ministers engaged in



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Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks at an event of Turkish Airlines (Photo: Today's Zaman)
3 February 2014 /TODAY'S ZAMAN, ANKARA
Separate motions allegedly prepared by public prosecutors investigating claims of corruption and bribery made their way to news portals on Monday, revealing practices of unlawful activities and irregularities between the prime minister and a former minister and businessmen.
The news portals did not cite the names of the prosecutors, but they were probably the prosecutors who carried out a second corruption investigation that involved Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his children. The prosecutors were recently removed from their duties as well as the investigation and reassigned to other posts.
The first motion, focusing on Erdoğan and businessman Latif Topbaş, defined the businessman as the “leader of a criminal group.” In the document, the businessman is accused of rigging tenders; giving and receiving bribes; and illegally engaging in construction in environmentally protected zones. Close ties between the businessman and Erdoğan helped the criminal group easily carry on its activities, according to the motion.
Claims emerged last month that Prime Minister Erdoğan accepted two villas from a businessman in return for easing zoning restrictions in İzmir's Urla district.
According to phone conversations that were reported on in the media, Topbaş wanted to build eight villas near the village of Zeytineli in Urla, but was denied the permit as the area was a first-degree environmentally protected zone. The businessman asked the prime minister to change the zone to a third-degree protected zone so that he could get the permits he needed. The prime minister helped the businessman, and reportedly received two villas from him in return.
The motion stated that former Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar, General Director of the Protection of Natural Heritage Agency Osman İyimaya and Urla District Governor Şehmus Günaydın also assumed roles in changing the zoning restrictions in Zeytineli. A total of TL 130,000 paid to university professors for the preparation of a misleading report about the area where the villas were erected was financed by Topbaş, according to the motion.
The document went on to state that another plot was purchased for TL 800,000 to construct a summer resort for the prime minister close to Zeytineli and that the contractors were planning to complete the resort in May of this year. The prime minister was allegedly planning to spend the summer at this resort and there were plans to surround the plot with a wire fence so that the prime minister would not be disturbed by the public during his stay at the summer resort.

Yıldırım rigged tenders, received bribes

Former Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister Binali Yıldırım, who is currently running for mayor of İzmir on the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) ticket, rigged some tenders held by the ministry and helped some businessmen win tenders held by the ministry in return for bribes, according to a motion prepared against the former minister.
The motion focuses on claims of tender-rigging at the ministry as well as claims of fraud and malpractice during the sale of Turkuaz Media, which includes the Sabah daily and the ATV channel, among other outlets.
The document alleged that Yıldırım demanded a 10 percent profit commission from businessmen in return for helping them win tenders held by the Ministry of Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications. In addition, Yıldırım collected money from some businessmen through his chief advisor Ömer Sertbaş and businessman Mehmet Cengiz to help them win public tenders, and prepared a list of businessmen that clearly stated which businessman would win which tender even before the tenders were held. The prime minister's son, Bilal Erdoğan, supervised the bribery process, according to the motion. Tenders for the construction of some railroads were later given to those businessmen. The businessmen paid up to $300 million each to win the tenders. These activities clearly indicate Yıldırım's involvement in bribery and tender-rigging, the motion noted.
The motion also stated that money collected from businessmen was taken to the building of Çalık Holding, which owns Turkuaz Media. Prosecutors noted that the money taken to Çalık Holding would probably be used to finance the establishment of a new media group, defined as Zirve Holding, and businessman Ömer Faruk Kalyoncu would be brought to the helm of the new group.
According to prosecutors, Bilal Erdoğan and Yıldırım are the leaders of this group established for the purpose of committing crimes, and some of its members include Kalyoncu, Sertbaş, Cengiz and businessmen Ahmet Çalık and Serhat Albayrak.





Prime minister's inconsistencies raise eyebrows


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Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (Photo: Cihan)
3 February 2014 / ALİ ASLAN KILIÇ, ANKARA
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan frequently alludes to how he is a politician who stands behind his words and how what he has done in the past is an assurance of what he will do in the future, but there has been so much variance in the discourse of Turkey's leader that it has become difficult not to question the truth as he sees it.
Distortions of the truth and outright lies by Erdoğan regarding the economy, the Gezi protests, the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), prosecutors and investigations by prosecutors, the graft investigation and the Hizmet movement are some of what is making Erdoğan's rhetoric questionable.
Republican People's Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Gürsel Tekin says that Erdoğan relies on a policy of tension and polarization and is always telling lies when utilizing this policy. He says: “The prime minister bases his strategy on the management of perceptions. He distorts things, provokes people and makes accusations.” He adds that Prime Minister Erdoğan did the same thing during the Gezi Park protests, which began in May 2013 in opposition to government plans to demolish a public park.
Citing rumors that Gezi protesters had been drinking alcohol inside a mosque, Tekin says: “Unfortunately, Erdoğan frequently relies on such lies. ... He lied when he said that people had been drinking beer inside a mosque. He wanted to prove his allegation and provoke the public by gaining the support of the imam of the mosque. He told lies even though this would mean social turmoil in Turkey. He lied when he said he was unable to keep the 50 percent of people [who voted for him] in their homes [and away from the protesters]. Further polarization was prevented by the mosque's imam. He was kept under police custody for eight hours so that he would make a statement confirming Erdoğan's allegations; he did not support Erdoğan's lies.”
Tekin pinpointed other situations in which Erdoğan had lied during the Gezi protests, bringing up the prime minister's claim that a woman wearing a headscarf was badly beaten by 150 protesters. Tekin calls this plain provocation. He also stressed that no single piece of evidence has been presented so far regarding the alleged attack. “He manipulates perceptions by resorting to lies and defamatory remarks. And then he fabricates controversies and discussions to make sure that these lies go unremembered. How can a prime minister rely on polarizing lies and the extreme discourse of hatred? It is really difficult to understand. He is either experiencing difficulties covering up corruption or he needs serious medical attention. Or maybe both,” Tekin says.

Lies about judicial processes

Prime Minister Erdoğan has told even more lies since the Dec. 17 corruption investigation, and they mostly deal with the judiciary.
Here are some of those lies:
Lie 1: The HSYK made a statement when it shouldn't have.
Truth 1: After the Dec. 17 operation, the justice and interior ministries issued a law enforcement directive to make it obligatory for the police to notify their superiors before the investigation. A legal process was initiated at the Council of State against this, and the HSYK spoke against it. This made the board a target of the prime minister. However, after constitutional amendments in 2010, the HSYK acquired the power to make such statements. In the days that followed, Prime Minister Erdoğan made no other comment arguing that the HSYK made an illegal or unauthorized statement.
Lie 2: In the second corruption operation, prosecutors demanded the arrest of suspects without even opening 25 sealed bags of evidence.
Truth 2: Retired prosecutor Sacit Kayasu made the following statement concerning claims that prosecutor Muammer Akkaş -- who conducted a second operation on Dec. 25 -- did not open the evidence bags: “If a prosecutor does not open [evidence] bags, then just exactly what does he do? In the 40 years at my profession, I'd never heard such a thing. It is a grave accusation being directed at a prosecutor. Politicians are free to talk, journalists are free to talk, but it seems that prosecutors cannot [defend themselves].”
Lie 3: “Why would a prosecutor go abroad 22 times in one year?” Erdoğan asked, implying that prosecutor Zekeriya Öz was corrupt.
Truth 3: The total number of international flights that all people in Turkey named Zekeriya Öz took was 22. After the prime minister accused Öz of not being on business during those trips, papers close to the government launched a lynching campaign. The Sabah daily published reports saying that prosecutor Öz was on a safari; he was actually at a ceremony in a Turkish courthouse. Some even argued that his vacation to Dubai was paid by Turkish businessman Ali Ağaoğlu. However, it later became evident that the documents claiming Ağaoğlu funded Öz were fake and that the details did not match up.
Lie 4: Prosecutors are conducting investigations secretly. They did not enter details in the National Judiciary Network Project (UYAP) system or notify the chief prosecutor.
Truth 4: The prime minister argued that the corruption and bribery investigations were conducted secretly and that they did not notify state institutions of the operation. However, it became evident that the police conducting the investigation referred the case to the Finance Ministry's Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK) and that the board drafted a report on the allegations two months before the operation. Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek also confirmed that 38 notices of suspicious activities in gold transactions were forwarded to MASAK. In addition, it was found that the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) had notified authorities eight months before the operation, saying that Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab had business connections with some ministers. The investigation was also recorded in the UYAP system with the following numbers: 2012/50690, 2012/125043 and 2012/120653.
Lie 5: This is a judicial coup, not a corruption investigation.
Truth 5: As part of the operation initiated by Prime Minister Erdoğan to change public perception, some Justice and Development Party (AK Party) administrators and pro-government media figures insisted that the investigation was a judicial coup. Erdoğan, who initially argued that the Hizmet movement had seized control within the judiciary, said during a parliamentary group meeting on Jan. 28 that control of the judiciary had been taken by some figures within the body. He implied that part of the judiciary had submitted to some clandestine groups and asked whether they could make decisions on behalf of the nation. With this statement, he actually withdrew his allegation that the judiciary was seized by the Hizmet movement. İzmir Chief Prosecutor Hüseyin Baş even said, “I have no affiliation with the Hizmet movement; I am a prosecutor of the republican regime.”

Lies about economy

Lie 6: The police operation targeted Halkbank. An operation was staged against this public bank.
Truth 6: In a corporate statement by Halkbank, this allegation was dismissed. The bank stated that there was no ongoing investigation into its corporate activities. Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan also noted that the bank's confidential information was not leaked.
Lie 7: The operation was sponsored by global powers in order to take down Turkey.
Truth 7: On different occasions, the prime minister argued that the Dec. 17 investigation was an operation sponsored by global powers rather than a corruption operation. He also argued that this operation was staged to ensure that Turkey would not achieve its goal of becoming one of the top 10 economies in the world. However, the corruption allegations involving Ağaoğlu and Zarrab were previously published in the Yeni Şafak and Akşam dailies. Yeni Şafak announced on July 18, 2011, that there were allegations that Ağaoğlu had given bribes and it published a story on July 12, 2013, that there was, in fact, documentation of such a bribe. Akşam also drew attention to Zarrab's illegal activities involving Iran on Jan. 7, 2013.
Lie 8: Some ambassadors committed "provocative" acts.
Truth 8: On Dec. 21, papers close to the government ran headlines arguing that US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone, who had met with a group of EU envoys at a dinner on Dec. 17, told the envoys that they would all soon be seeing the collapse of an empire, allegedly referring to the operation against Halkbank. Erdoğan, who that same day addressed the public in Samsun, argued that some ambassadors were committing some "provocative acts." The US Embassy in Ankara dismissed the allegations saying that the US has nothing to do with the ongoing corruption allegations, such a meeting was not held and the allegations are totally ungrounded and unsubstantiated. In its own statement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that they found the US Embassy's statement to be sufficient.

Lies about Hizmet movement

Lie 9: "Parallel structure" threatens all via blackmail.
Truth 9: The prime minister, who has made constant accusations against the Hizmet movement, argued two years ago that his conversations were being wiretapped. This allegation still remains unresolved, despite the fact that it could have been since state resources are available. Allegations by newspapers close to the government saying that the Hizmet movement wiretapped talks and conversations at the National Police Department and the terrace of the Court of Appeals were not proven. It became evident that there was no device for wiretapping hidden in these buildings.
Lie 10: Deputy prime minister threatened with blackmail.
Truth 10: In a statement to the press on his way back from Brussels in January , Erdoğan, in reference to a fake tape of AK Party Deputy Chairmain Numan Kurtulmuş , said: “They [Hİzmet] are threatening everyone through blackmail. They did the same to my deputy prime minister.” Erdoğan, who turned harsh criticism against the Hizmet movement into hate speech, has failed to provide evidence for his allegations. In addition, the tape of Kurtulmuş was a product of intraparty competition for control and prestige within the AK Party.
Lie 11: The Fethullah Gülen "damnation" lie.
Truth 11: During his public rallies, Prime Minister Erdoğan attempted to shape public perception to believe that Fethullah Gülen had damned him and his government. However, the case was not so. Gülen, in response to slanderous remarks and defamatory statements being made against him and members of the movement, resorted to mubahalah, an Islamic method of settlement recommended by Prophet Muhammad. With mubahalah, if two sides can't settle an argument, then they start to pray to God for truth to be revealed through a cursing befalling the wrong side. The first part of Gülen's words were ignored and his words were distorted. There is an interesting contradiction here. Erdoğan, who accused Gülen of using damning words, actually relied on this very method during his rallies. After this became apparent, Erdoğan stopped utilizing this move.

Truck search

Lie 12: "Parallel structure" stops and searches trucks heading to Syria.
Truth 12: Searches on trucks heading to Syria under MİT's control made Erdoğan angry and upset. Speaking to journalists before his trip to Brussels on Jan. 20, Erdoğan said: “A prosecutor cannot search [those] trucks without my permission or without notifying the Justice Ministry. He cannot investigate what MİT is carrying. This is another version of the parallel structure.” Lawyers stressed that a prosecutor is obligated to take action upon receiving a notice. Under the law, the prime minister's authorization is only sought during future phases of an investigation.










Inflation up due to drought, falling lira, tax



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The food prices saw the highest increase in 10 years in January by with a 5.16-percent monthly hike. The single product whose price suffered the biggest rise was charlestone pepper.(Photo: Cihan)
3 February 2014 /ANKARA, TODAY'S ZAMAN
The consumer price index (CPI) registered its highest increase in 26 months in January by rising 1.72 percent over the previous month due to rising food prices amid tough weather conditions, the depreciating lira and tax hikes.
Analysts expect the upward pressure on inflation to continue in upcoming months due to the continuing drought and exchange rate transitivity. The CPI outstripped previous expectations, as a Reuters poll suggested the increase would be 1.6 percent. Food prices, which have the biggest bearing on headline inflation, saw the largest monthly rise of all categories since 2003.
The data released by the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat) on Monday showed a rise of 7.51 percent in the last 12 months and 7.48 percent this January compared with the same month of last year.
The same data also suggest that the Domestic Producer Price Index (D-PPI) rose by 3.32 percent with an unexpected increase in January month-on-month. With these increases, annual inflation reached 7.48 percent in the CPI as of January, while inflation for the D-PPI reached double digits at 10.72. It is expected that the sharp increase in the D-PPI will be reflected in the CPI in upcoming months.
At the central bank's Monetary Policy Committee (PPK) mid-session summary, it was stressed that the inflation in January would be above market expectations but that a tight stance on monetary policy would prevent any deviation from medium-term expectations. According to economists, the devaluation of the lira and rise in the cost of bank loans will add to the D-PPI in upcoming months. Moreover, the dollar's base effect on energy costs and also the special consumption tax (ÖTV) that had occurred by January are expected to perpetuate this rise in the CPI.
Morgan Stanley CEEMEA Economic Research Director Tevfik Aksoy asserted that this exchange rate transitivity will likely have a more serious effect on the prices of goods and services in upcoming months. “We expect a 15-percent currency rate transitivity to be mostly reflected in prices in the next six months. Higher inflation rates seem to be inescapable even if the lira gains strength somehow,” he said. Aksoy also noted that the continuing drought and price hikes in electricity and natural gas, which he said have been deferred until after the local elections, will also have an adverse effect on inflation.
January saw an increase of 5.16 percent in the CPI for food and non-alcoholic beverages, the highest rise since 2003. Other large increases in the CPI were seen in alcoholic beverages and tobacco products at 2.72 percent, transportation at 2.5 percent, various products and services at 2.43 and health services at 1.85 percent.
In terms of annual rises, the highest increase in the CPI was in the category of transportation at 11.95 percent, followed by food and non-alcoholic beverages at 10.70 percent, education at 10 percent and household goods at 6.44 percent.
The data also reveal that the highest monthly increase in the CPI for January took place in the southeastern districts of Diyarbakır and Şanlıurfa, at 2.58 percent.
The price of clothing and shoes decreased by 7.59 percent, making this the greatest price drop in the CPI. Another category that experienced a price decrease in January was communications, with a drop of 0.6 percent.
According to the statistics, the prices in 295 categories out of the 432 included in January's CPI figures increased, while prices in 97 categories decreased.

DPPI began to be used instead of PPI

Meanwhile, TurkStat has introduced the D-PPI, which was produced according to the NACE Rev.2 statistical method for industrial coverage, excluding the agricultural sector, in order to construct an index that is comparable with related indicators and ensure compliance with European Union norms. The D-PPI covers sales prices recorded by domestic producers in industry. The D-PPI will be used instead of the previously used Wholesale Price Index (WPI) and Producer Price Index (PPI).
The D-PPI increased monthly by 3.68 percent for mining and stone quarrying, 3.29 percent for manufacturing, 3.6 percent for electricity and gas and 1.39 percent for water supply.
The highest rates of monthly increase in the D-PPI by industrial subdivision were the indices for other manufactured goods (7.82 percent), metal ores (6.64 percent) and other transport equipment (6.15 percent). On the other hand, the lowest rates of monthly increase in the D-PPI by subdivision were the indices for basic pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations (0.21 percent), wood and wood or cork products, except furniture, (0.53 percent) and coal and lignite (0.79 percent).
According to the analysis of the Akbank Economic Research Bulletin, the pressure of tax regulations and food prices on inflation has continued into January. Last week, the central bank increased its prediction on the inflation interval to 5.2-8 percent. A decrease in food prices in the following months might solve the inflation situation, on which the pressure caused by exchange rates continues, the bulletin predicts.