Turkey's link with Moscow is elevated if Russia is keen on adapting a new strategy that gives up on Assad and increase its pressure for a transitional government as agreed in Geneva in the short-term. As long as the Russian interest in Syria as a powerful bargaining chip vis-a-vis NATO is protected, Moscow is ready to give credibility to Ankara.
Entries in Massoud Barzani (23)
The Erdogan government will try to rely on a "security-first" agenda to challenge both the opposition parties and the PKK, at the same time promoting its synthesis of nationalism and Islam.
However, Ankara now has to review its calculation that playing the game with more players and more cards would turn the situation to its advantage. Both Iraqi Kurdish leader Barzani's involvement and the changing Syrian situation pose a question: what will Erdogan do if an autonomous Kurdish region is declared not only in Syria but in southeastern Turkey?
1800 GMT: The US ambassador to Turkey, Francis Ricciardone, spoke about the Turkish downed jet last month:
Our ally lost its two pilots. It seems that they were in an unarmed plane. As the US government, we conveyed all information we had in hand to the Turkish government. We took side with the Turkish government, conveyed our condolences. American technical rescue opportunities cooperated with the Turkish side. We were glad that the pilots were found.
1545 GMT: Turkey's EU Minister & Chief Negotiator Egemen Bagis has spoken to Turkish daily Star regarding 'terrorism' and Kurdish language:
Turkey has a bleeding wound: Terror! After we get rid of this terror problem, there could be many meaningful regaulations to be made in Turkey. However, the priority of Turkey is to stop the bloodshed. Only aftet his, just as English, French and German; why shouldn't my children learn Kurdish, Persian and Arabic, all of which are effective languages providing opportunities in trade?
1340 GMT: AKP's deputy of the southeastern province of Diyarbakir, Galip Ensarioglu, said that the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) must be taken into the peace process since it could destabilize the peace atmosphere otherwise.
1800 GMT: Oil Watch. Earlier we reported an apparent attempt by the National Iran Tanker Company to circumvent oil sanctions by re-naming 10 tankers and putting them under the Tanzanian flag (see 1100 GMT). It appears, however, that NITC has further problems....
Industry sources say the company has delayed the expansion of its fleet. A senior NITC official said the firm has yet to take delivery of a 318,000 deadweight tonne tanker "Safe", the first of 12 new supertankers the firm was to manage under a $1.2 billion contract with Chinese shipyards. Delivery was initially scheduled for May.
The delay also deprives the Islamic Republic of capacity to store oil on vessels as its customers cut purchases. Iran-based shipping sources said in April that Tehran had been forced to deploy more than half of its national tanker fleet to store oil at anchorage. That proportion has since increased, trade sources say.
Recently I mentioned the possibility that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki would try to unsettle current good relations between his rivals in the Iraqiyya faction and the Iraqi Kurds, break down Iraqiyya’s base of support in Kirkuk.
Maliki’s recent decision to hold a Cabinet meeting in the city bore out the prediction, albeit not through an appeal to the Kurds. Instead, he played the Iraqi nationalist card, especially against Massoud Barzani, Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader and President of the Kurdistan Regional Government.
In recent weeks, tensions between Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law Alliance and the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Massoud Barzani have been elevated in the media. This is not a just a battle of rhetoric, however --- there are serious issues over oil, disputed territory, the fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tariq Hashimi, and weapons. Al-Maliki's MPs have accused Barzani of trying to weaken the Iraqi army and seeking to take over Kirkuk by armed force.
1700 GMT: BDP's co-chairman Selahattin Demirtas announced his party's programme that is to start in the U.S. today. According to the official plan, the BDP commission will see Kubat Talabani, KRG's representative in Washington before meeting with Turkey's ambassador Namik Tan. The committee is also expected to meet with Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon, some senators and congressmen, San Fransisco Mayor Ed Lee and American Bar Association's Center for Human Rights.
1555 GMT: BDP's MP Emine Ayna blamed Premier Erdogan for the deaths. Ayna said: "Erdogan has his own signature behind the deaths either of guerillas or of soldiers."
1540 GMT: Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani claimed that he raised the agreement of F-16 jets sale to Baghdad during his recent visit to Washington. Barzani said:
The F-16 must not reach the hand of this man. We must either prevent him from having these weapons, or if he has them, he should not stay in his position.
1400 GMT: Ankara's ambassador Yunus Demirer was summoned by Iraqi officials following an exchange of complaints and accusations between Prime Minister Erdogan and his Iraqi counterpart Nuri al-Maliki.
1840 GMT: Co-chairman of Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), Selahattin Demirtas says:
If Prime Minister wants to talk about the Kurdish problem, he can talk anything with BDP, including education in mother language, the new constitution, constitutional citizenship and legal amendments.
However, Prime Minister's problem has nothing to with Kurdish people's rights and freedom. Prime Minister always wants to talk about the armed conflict. The problem in his head is only the problem of arms.
1825 GMT: Turkey's famous columnist Nuray Mert writes about Ankara's plans on the Kurdish issue within the context of the Syrian crisis. Mert agrees with our snap analysis so far, arguing that Ankara is paying attention to the structure of the Syrian opposition due to its fear of facing a stronger Kurdish presence in Syria.
1800 GMT: Prime Minister Erdogan's meeting with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has ended. Khamenei underlined the significance of "the support for the resistance against Zionism" and said that "Iran supports reforms" while they "reject any American plan for Syria". The Iranian leader implied that this is the position an "independent" and "Islamic" country shall take.
In addition to the emphasis on "beneficial alliance and cooperation"with Turkey, Ayatollah Khamenei said that they were glad to see their "Muslim brothers in power in Turkey".
1645 GMT: Prosecutor Hikmet Usta has appealed the ruling in the Hrant Dink murder trial and argued that the investigation must have been expanded although the court had acknowledged the existence of an organization behind the killing. Usta continued:
The court should have requested that the prosecution collect more evidence if it was lacking. The court rejected our requests to expand the investigation, it did not examine documents related to the Ergenekon gang and did not include people in the case who should have been put on trial with the existing suspects.
The curiosity of Prime Minister Erdogan's statement was in its emphasis. Instead of a focus on operations against the Kurdish Communities’ Union (KCK), with the arrest of hundreds of Kurdish politicians, or ongoing military action against PKK militants, Erdogan implicitly blamed “external powers” for using PKK.
Doing so, he was trying to divert the public’s attention from domestic political debates. But this is also a move in foreign policy: according to many experts, columnists, and academics in Turkey, Erdogan is targeting Iran and Syria.