Central Asia
uighur-women

China-Turkey extradition treaty to target Uighurs

China announced¬†the ratification of an extradition treaty with Turkey that it intends to use,inter alia, to accelerate the return of refugees and Uighur Muslims suspected of “terrorism.” Since the 1950s, Turkey has welcomed Uighurs fleeing persecution in China. Uighurs and Turks have linguistic, cultural and religious ties. Currently, more than 50,000 Uighurs call Turkey home. While the treaty does provide grounds for refusal of extradition on the basis of Turkish citizenship, it is feared by many Uighurs that Chinese persecution will follow them to Turkey. “This extradition treaty will cause worry among Uighurs who have fled China and do not yet have Turkish citizenship,” Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress, told AFP. (Photo of Uighur women in Xinjiang: mikepryan¬†via¬†Wikimedia)

Greater Middle East
Cumhuriyet

Turkey convicts newspaper editor on ‘terrorism’ charges

Can D√ľndar, the former editor-in-chief of Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet, was convicted on charges of terrorism in Turkey and sentenced in absentia. The Istanbul court found D√ľndar guilty of aiding a terrorist organization and espionage, sentencing him to 27 years and six months in prison. D√ľndar was first sentenced to five years in 2016 on espionage charges and attempting to overthrow the government for publishing footage that allegedly showed Turkey’s state intelligence agency transporting weapons to Syrian rebels in 2014. D√ľndar was later released when the matter went to appeal. Upon his release, D√ľndar fled the country while Turkish authorities ordered the seizure of his property and froze his bank accounts. He is now living in exile in Germany. (Photo: WikiMedia via Jurist)

North Africa

Libya: Turkish troop presence threat to ceasefire

Libya’s eastern warlord Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who launched an offensive last year to capture the capital Tripoli from the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), threatened to launch attacks on Turkish forces if Ankara doesn’t withdraw troops and mercenaries sent in to back up the GNA. Haftar’s comments came in response to the Turkish Parliament’s move to extend for 18 months a law that allows the deployment of Turkish troops in Libya.¬†Turkey’s defense minister responded that any attack by Haftar on its personnel would be met with force. “A war criminal, murderer Haftar and his supporters must know that they will be seen as a legitimate target in case of any attack on Turkish forces,” Hulusi Akar said in an address to Turkish units in Tripoli.¬†The ultimatum is a threat to the ceasefire that has largely held since it was signed in October.¬†(Map: CIA)

Greater Middle East
Selahattin DemirtaŇü

Demand Turkey release detained Kurdish leader

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) held¬†that Turkey must take all necessary measures to secure the immediate release of Selahattin DemirtaŇü, a Kurdish politician held by the government on terrorism charges. The Grand Chamber found that there had been multiple violations of the European Convention of Human Rights in his case. It also found no evidence supporting DemirtaŇü’¬†detention that linked his actions and the alleged offenses. The Court concluded that “the purposes put forward by the authorities for the applicant’s pre-trial detention were merely cover for an ulterior political purpose, which is a matter of indisputable gravity for democracy.” (Photo:¬†DemirtaŇü’¬†presidential campaign launched outside Edirne prison where he is incarcerated, May 2018, via Wikipedia)

The Caucasus
Nagorno-Karabakh

Azerbaijan arrests four soldiers for war crimes

The¬†Azerbaijan¬†Prosecutor General‚Äôs Office announced¬†that it has detained four soldiers accused of war crimes against Armenians in the recent Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Two of the detained servicemen are accused of recording their “offensive acts” against the bodies of killed Armenian soldiers and sharing the videos via social media. The other two are accused of destroying Armenian gravestones in a village cemetery. They also apparently recorded their actions and shared the videos through social media. But the Prosecutor General’s report was careful to exonerate Azerbaijani officials, including President Ilham Aliyev, and claimed¬†that some videos depicting war crimes “were found to be fake.”¬†(Map: Wikipedia)

Africa
Somaliland

Russia seeks naval base in Sudan ‚ÄĒand Somaliland?

Just after Russia finalized plans to¬†establish a naval base on the Red Sea in Sudan, Moscow’s UN ambassador¬†for the first time weighed in diplomatically on the dispute between Somalia and the¬†separatist enclave of Somaliland, urging both sides to find a compromise solution. The move¬†sparked speculation within the region that Russia is seeking a second naval facility at Somaliland’s port of Berbera, on the Gulf of Aden which guards the southern mouth of the Red Sea. This¬†would allow Russia to establish a counter-presence to US, French and Chinese bases in Djibouti, just across the land border to the northwest, as well as Turkish military forces in Somalia proper to the south.¬†(Map:¬†Somalia Country Profile)

North Africa

Libya: will ceasefire really be ‘permanent’?

Libya’s warring factions¬†signed a “permanent ceasefire” agreement, raising hopes of progress toward ending the conflict and chaos that has gripped the country since Muammar Qaddafi was overthrown and killed during a 2011 NATO-backed uprising. The internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and eastern forces led by Gen. Khalifa Haftar have been fighting for control of Libya since April 2019‚ÄĒeach backed by a bevy of militias in a war that has seen international powers join the fray and an arms embargoroutinely violated. While violence has subsided in the capital city of Tripoli in recent months, countrywide peace efforts have until now gone nowhere. Acting UN head of mission Stephanie Williams hailed the agreement, hammered out during talks in Geneva, as “an important turning point,” but some have expressed doubts that it can be implemented on the ground. Under its terms, all foreign fighters must leave within three months, and a new joint police force will aim to secure the peace. The ceasefire is to start immediately. (Map: CIA)

Greater Middle East
Levant Basin

Hydrocarbons at issue in Israel-Lebanon dispute

US-mediated talks opened between Israel and Lebanon, aimed at resolving the long-standing maritime border dispute between the two countries. At issue in the talks, held in Lebanon’s coastal border town of Naqoura, is an 860-square-kilometer patch of the Mediterranean where each side lays territorial claim. The conflict stems from differing demarcation methods: Israel marks the border as being at a 90-degree angle to the land border, while Lebanon marks it as a continuation of the land borderline. The issue grew more pressing with the discovery of abundant hydrocarbon reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean’s Levant Basin. Lebanon, which sought to pursue gas drilling off its coast, submitted its demarcation of the maritime borders to the UN a decade ago, claiming this area as within its Exclusive Economic Zone. Israel called this an infringement of its rights, and submitted its own version of the border demarcation to the UN. (Photo: US Energy Information Administration)

The Caucasus
Nagorno-Karabakh

Campaign to recognize Republic of Artsakh

Amid renewed heavy fighting over the contested territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, the enclave’s capital, Stepanakert, is coming under heavy shelling by Azerbaijan. The self-governing enclave within Azerbaijan has since 1994 been under the control of ethnic Armenians, who constitute the majority there, and have declared the de facto Republic of Artsakh. The National Assembly of Artsakh issued a statement accusing Azerbaijan of intentionally targeting civilians and using banned weaponry such as cluster munitions. The statement also accused Turkey of directing the offensive, and backing it up with mercenary fighters. The National Assembly called upon the international community to formally recognize the Republic of Artsakh as “the most effective way to put an end to the ongoing grave crimes against the peaceful population of Artsakh, and to protect their rights.” (Map: Wikipedia)

Europe
Lesvos

Greece: violent ‘pushbacks’ of asylum seekers

Documentation is mounting of Greek authorities carrying out violent “pushbacks” of asylum-seekers and migrants at the country’s land and sea borders with Turkey. The practice violatesEU and international law, but in the past four months rights groups and media have documented an uptick in its use at the Greece-Turkey land border. Monitors have also documented the abandonment of asylum-seekers in “floating tents” without any means of propulsion in the Aegean Sea,¬†and masked men sabotaging boats carrying asylum-seekers. The UN Refugee Agency¬†has urged Greece to investigate. (Photo: WikiMedia Commons)

Iran
Bombardment

Turkey, Iran in coordinated Iraq intervention

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry summoned both the Turkish and Iranian ambassadors to protest military operations both their countries launched on Iraqi territory, in a seemingly coordinated drive against revolutionary Kurdish forces. In a series of raids, Ankara’s warplanes and Tehran’s artillery targeted presumed strongholds of the Kurdistan Workers‚Äô Party (PKK) and Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI), respectively. Local Kurdish and Yazidi communities reported that fields and woodlands had been set ablaze and families forced to flee by the bombardment. Turkey has also sent a contingent of special forces troops across the border into northern Iraq as a part of the operation, codenamed “Claw Eagle.” The troops are backed up by combat helicopters and drones. (Photo: Kurdistan24)

North Africa
haftar

Libya: Haftar’s forces retreat from Tripoli

Libya’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) regained full control of Tripoli with the recapture of the city’s airport‚ÄĒthe last pocket held by the eastern warlord Khalifa Haftar, whose forces had been besieging the capital since April 2019. Haftar’s forces fled east toward Tarhouna and Bani Walid, their last remaining strongholds in the west, with the GNA forces in pursuit. The GNA advance, dubbed Operation Volcano of Rage, follows reports last month that mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner Group, who had been fighting for Haftar, were being evacuated from Libya. This suggests that Russian support for Haftar may have been sacrificed in Moscow’s new rapprochement with Turkey, the main foreign sponsor of the GNA. (Photo:¬†Libya Observer)