Montenegro’s government said Thursday that an attacker threw a hand grenade at the U.S. Embassy in the capital of the Balkan state and then killed himself with another explosive device, Politico writes.
The area was sealed off by police, and the embassy warned Americans to avoid the area because of “an active security situation.”
Montenegro’s government said the unknown assailant hurled the grenade into the embassy compound around midnight and then killed himself with another explosive device. No one else was apparently hurt and there was no major damage.
“The Embassy is currently conducting an internal review to confirm the safety of all staff,” the State Department in Washington said.
Montenegro borders the Adriatic Sea in southeastern Europe and its capital is Podgorica. It joined NATO last year despite strong opposition from its traditional Slavic ally Russia.
The Greek parliament has voted to investigate 10 prominent politicians, including two ex-prime ministers, over allegations they allowed bribery by the Swiss pharmaceuticals company Novartis.
Under Greek law, only parliament can investigate its own members and lift their immunity.
The vote followed a 20-hour debate, in which PM Alexis Tsipras said: “We won’t help cover up… one of the biggest scandals in modern Greek history”.
The 10 politicians deny wrongdoing.
They have condemned what they called a political “witch-hunt”.
They are alleged to have let Novartis bribe doctors so they would prescribe its drugs at inflated prices.
Prosecutors believe the alleged price-fixing could have cost the state €3bn (£2.7bn; $3.7bn) during a financial crisis that imposed hardship on many families.
Some politicians are also suspected of accepting bribes and there are allegations of money-laundering.
They held office from 2006-2015. Novartis says it is co-operating with the investigation.
The Swiss medicines giant told the BBC it had not received any formal allegations or indictments from the authorities investigating the case, and that media coverage “included many sensational and unfounded claims, in a politicised debate of which Novartis should not be a part”.
But it said it would “take fast and decisive action and do everything possible to prevent future misconduct” if any wrongdoing was found.
It said: “While Novartis continues to co-operate fully with the Greek and US authorities, we have also been conducting our own comprehensive internal investigation.
“We are determined to fully understand the situation and accept responsibility for any actions that fell below our high standards of ethical business conduct.”
A Greek parliamentary committee will assume the role of an investigating judge.
Prosecutors referred the case to parliament this month, after spending more than a year investigating.
The EU rescue of Greece during its debt crisis involved big cuts in healthcare spending and other public services.
The leftist Syriza-led government is wrestling with a crisis that erupted under previous conservative New Democracy and socialist Pasok governments.
Those named in the allegations include ex-finance minister Evangelos Venizelos, current central bank governor Yannis Stournaras and ex-health minister Dimitris Avramopoulos, who is now EU migration commissioner.
Syrian state television showed a convoy of pro-government fighters entering the Kurdish Afrin region in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) on Tuesday to help fend off a Turkish assault.
The fighters wearing camouflage fatigues waved weapons and Syrian flags from their vehicles as they crossed through a checkpoint that bore the insignia of a Kurdish security force.
“One Syria, one Syria!” some of them chante
“We have come to tell our people in Afrin that we are one,” said a fighter interviewed on state television, referring to the government stance that Syria must remain one country and internal partitions caused by the war must be eradicated.
State news agency SANA accused Turkish forces of shelling territory near the crossing where the “popular forces” entered Afrin.
Earlier on Tuesday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Russia had stepped in to block a deployment of pro-government forces in Afrin, where Ankara is seeking to destroy the Kurdish YPG militia.
Erdogan later said in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin that Damascus would face consequences if it struck a deal with the YPG and said the Afrin operation would continue, CNN Turk reported.
On Sunday, a Kurdish political official said Damascus had agreed to send Syrian troops into Afrin to help fend off the month-old offensive by Turkey and allied Syrian insurgents.
The Syrian government and the YPG have mostly avoided direct conflict during the war, but they espouse very different visions for Syria’s future. Each controls more ground than any other side in the conflict.
Turkey began its Afrin operation with allied Syrian fighters, seen as mercenary warriors for Turkey, last month against the YPG, which Ankara sees as a threat along its border with links to the Kurdish PKK insurgency at home.
Turkey is using YPG as pretext to invade the Syrian Kurdish region in order not allow Kurds to establish an autonomous region in Syrian Kurdistan, analysts say.
U.S. regards the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its powerful military wing YPG/YPJ, as key ally against Islamic State IS and the most effective fighting force against IS in Syria and has provided them with arms, air support as well as the military advisers. The YPG has seized swathes of Syria from IS.
A Russian blogger and journalist, who recently visited Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) to join the events marking the 30th anniversary of the liberation movement, shared his impressions of the trip in recent comments to Tert.am.
Stanislav Stremidlovsky, an editor for the regional news agency Regnum, said it was his second visit to the country after a tour several years ago.
“The Republic breathes in peace and is full of optimism; it is developing and looking towards the future,” he said, addressing also the population’s concerns over the existing war threats.
“The restless neighbor [Azerbaijan] is preparing for presidential elections in April, and because they have long opted for the confrontational behavior, it is reasonable to expect certain provocations, including armed conflicts,” he said, noting that he didn’t observe any anxiety or panic in the course of the visit.
The journalist said he had met with very knowledgeable and smart people in Artsakh.
“The people of Artsakh are peace-loving but also very attentive,” he added. Asked to comment on the liberation movement’s impact on the world history, or regional developments, Stremidlovsky said, “I really like to hear the word combination ‘people of Artsakh’ because, to the best of my understanding, the Artaskhtsis are really considered a people – united by their strong will. And I don’t believe that they made their way into history only in the past 30 years; they trace their roots back to 300 years,” he said, referring to important episodes of history.
Addressing the Azerbaijan’s policy of blacklisting foreigners who visit Artsakh, the Regnum editor attributed it to the Soviet Azerbaijani authorities’ ambition to create “a uniform country” (banning any claims or sympathies for the Armenian identity).
“And that probably led them to the idea of creating those black lists,” he said. ”What would, after all, make the things so horrible for them if the people who ever visited Artsakh visit also Azerbaijan to tell [the people there] how the country lives now. In that case very probably, the much respected people of Azerbaijan might exert pressure upon their government to urge them to normalize the relations with the Armenians (who aren’t absolutely aliens to them). If that’s really true, this kind of behavior by Baku gives ground only to compassion,” he added.
HDP MP Garo Paylan has sent an inquiry to Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, asking to respond to the termination of the election process of the Armenian Patriarch by the Istanbul Governor’s Office, Agos reported.
he said Mesrob Mutafyan, the Patriarch of the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, has been unable to carry out his mission for eleven years due to dementia, he reminded, adding that on March 15, 2017 Archbishop Karekin Bekchiyan was elected as Locum Tenens.
However, the Istanbul Governor’s Office sent a letter to the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople on February 5, noting that it does not recognize Karekin Bekchiyan as Locum Tenens, but recognizes Aram Atesyan as General Vicar.
Garo Palyan said in the inquiry that the decision caused deep despair in society. In this context he asked the Interior Minister to explain the basis of the interference of the state with the Armenian community in the patriarchal electoral process.
“We say at every opportunity we have that Syria, Iraq and other places in the geography [map] in our hearts are no different from our own homeland. We are struggling so that a foreign flag will not be waved anywhere where adhan [Islamic call to prayer in mosques] is recited.”
Apparently Erdogan means at the very least the recapture of all the lands once held by the Ottoman Empire. That’s not just Greece, as in the article title below. That’s also Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia, Algeria, Syria, Iraq, Israel, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, and more. How seriously this can be taken is anybody’s guess, but it shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. Erdogan is already moving against the Kurds in Syria, explicitly calling the action a “jihad” and invoking the Ottoman era repeatedly.
And “We are struggling so that a foreign flag will not be waved anywhere where adhan [Islamic call to prayer in mosques] is recited” refers to far more than just the old Ottoman domains. That means everywhere there are Muslims in Europe and everywhere else. The caliphate is, in Sunni Islamic theology, the sole legitimate government for Muslims on earth, to which all Muslims owe allegiance. Erdogan is saying more clearly than he ever has before, as far as I know, that he is going to restore the caliphate. And he is virtually promising war with the non-Muslim (at least for now) states of Europe.
How far we have come. Just a few years ago, mainstream analysts would dismiss my talk of jihad and the caliphate by pointing to Turkey as an example of how Islam can coexist with democracy, and confidently predicting that soon the rest of the Islamic world would follow Turkey’s lead. Now they don’t talk about Turkey so much anymore.
“Turkey Threatens to Invade Greece,” by Uzay Bulut, https://gagrule.net/turkey-threatens-invade-greece/, February 19, 2018:
…Referring to the days of the Ottoman Empire, Erdoğan went on:
“Those who think that we have erased from our hearts the lands from which we withdrew in tears a hundred years ago are wrong.
“We say at every opportunity we have that Syria, Iraq and other places in the geography [map] in our hearts are no different from our own homeland. We are struggling so that a foreign flag will not be waved anywhere where adhan [Islamic call to prayer in mosques] is recited.
“The things we have done so far [pale in comparison to the] even greater attempts and attacks [we are planning for] the coming days, inshallah [Allah willing].”…
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By Uzay Bulut,
On January 20, the Turkish military began an invasion of the Kurdish-controlled Afrin region in northern Syria. Turkey’s government has declared that its operation aims “to preserve Syria’s territorial integrity,” remove “terrorist elements,” and protect civilians.
The Independent, however, published the first Western media report from Afrin, and Robert Fisk reports that the list of dead includes infants. “One-year old Wael al-Hussein, a refugee…was killed on 21 January, six-year old Moussab al-Hussein from Idlib (clearly from another refugee family) on the same day,” he writes.
Many journalists in Turkey, in the meanwhile, are rubbing their hands. Necati Doğru, a columnist with one of the most read Turkish newspapers, Sözcü, for example, proudly declares that Afrin “should be Turkey’s second Cyprus.” He writes: “You can’t say ‘I will enter Syria, strike them, cleanse the area and return. You should stay there permanently. We are having our second Cyprus.”
The Turkish invasion of Cyprus is considered a “victory” in Turkey and is celebrated every year. For the Republic of Cyprus, however, it was and still is a horrific crime that has completely changed the country ever since.
In 1974, Turkey claimed it was bringing “peace” to Cyprus, which it invaded with a brutal military assault that it calls the “Cyprus peace operation.” The Turkish military code-named the invasion “Operation Attila,” named after Attila the Hun(reigned 434-453 CE). A Turkic military leader from Central Asia, he is known for his ruthless and destructive campaigns and invasions, including those targeting Western and Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empires, and at one time he invaded Italy, devastating its northern provinces.
Following the invasion of the Republic of Cyprus in 1974, Turkey deployed around 40,000 of its soldiers in the northern part of the island, which has turned Cyprus into the most militarized turf in the world. Since the invasion, some 37 percent of Cypriot territory has been under Turkish occupation. Bülent Ecevit, Turkey’s prime minister at the time of the invasion, is still hailed by many in the country as “the conqueror of Cyprus,” although others have recently claimed that it is Necmettin Erbakan, the then deputy PM, who actually deserves the title.
The campaign was accompanied by mass murder, abduction, and rape of Greek Cypriots by Turkish troops. The European Commission on Human Rights has documented the rape of women and children aged 12 to 71.
In their article titled “Gender and Genocide: Armenian and Greek Women Finding Positive Meaning in the Horror,” scholars Artemis Pippinelli and Ani Kalayjian detail the sexual assaults by Turkish troops against Greek Cypriot women and children, which they call the “Cyprus gendercide.” They write:
Rape victims suffered severe gynecological problems as well as psychological trauma. In some cases, women were forced into prostitution. Many were collected from different villages and held in separate rooms of empty houses where they were repeatedly raped by Turkish soldiers. In other cases, members of the same family were repeatedly raped, some in front of their children. Rapes also occurred in public before spectators. The brutality of these violent sexual attacks was followed by extreme physical trauma, including near suffocation. Children and pregnant or mentally retarded women were not spared.
In 1983, Turkey proceeded to issue the unilateral declaration of independence of a new “state” in Cyprus which they call “the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (TRNC). Only Turkey recognizes the TRNC, which has transformed northern Cyprus into a Turkish province.
Turks have applied the same methods used to de-Hellenize and Turkify Asia Minor (today’s Turkey), which had a Greek majority until the 1453 Turkish sack of Constantinople (Istanbul), to Turkify northern Cyprus.
For example, the Greek geographical names of the occupied north have been changed to Turkish names. And the violent destruction of the cultural heritage of the area at the hands of its Turkish regime is still ongoing. Hundreds of historic and religious monuments have been destroyed, looted, and vandalized. Many churches have been converted into stables, casinos, nightclubs, warehouses, barracks, and mosques, among other things.
And worshippers in those mosques in the occupied area are now reciting the Koranic verse Surah al Fath (verse of conquest) “for the victory of Turkey’s military operation on Afrin” every day until the invasion ends—as instructed by the government-funded Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet).
Turkey also rejects the Greek identity of Cyprus. According to the official websiteof the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Cyprus has never been a Greek island,” and “there has never been in Cyprus a ‘Cypriot nation.’”
The Turkish ministry is wrong. Not until the Turkish invasion in 1974 did the northern part of the island have a Turkish majority. The occupation forced around 170,000 indigenous Greek Cypriot inhabitants of northern Cyprus out of their homes and flee to the free, southern part of the island. The Turkish government then replaced Greek Cypriot natives with illegal settlers from Turkey, thus forcibly changing the demographic status-quo of the island. That is how a Turkish majority was created in the northern part of Cyprus, which had always had a Greek majority until 1974.
Similarly, Erdogan refuses to recognize Kurdish rule in Afrin, declaring his plan for changing the demographic status-quo there.
“Fifty-five percent of the population of Afrin is Arab, 35 percent is Kurds, who were settled there later, and 6 or 7 percent is Turkmen. The entire issue is to give Afrin back to its real owners. Our aim is to immediately send the 3.5 million Syrians in Turkey back to their homeland,” he said in a public speech.
In recent years, Turkish expansionism has become alarmingly popular within pro-government groups. Turkey’s new maps, published by the pro-government media, have even reclaimed the Ottoman Empire, including Greece and Iraq.
In parallel to that, many Turkish politicians from both the government and opposition have publicly expressed their desire to invade and capture Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. Most recently, Yigit Bulut, one of Erdogan’s principal advisers, has threatened Greece over the islet of Imia, which Turks call “Kardak.” He said:
Athens will face the wrath of Turkey worse than that in Afrin. We will break the arms and legs of officials, of the Prime Minister [Alexis Tsipras] and any minister who dares to step on the Kardak islet in the Aegean. There is not an armed force in this region that could contend against the Turkish armed forces. So, everyone will know their place. All imperialists will accept that the people in this land are Turks and the nation in this land is Islamic ummah [nation] and they will kiss the hand that they cannot bend.
In the meanwhile, the Greek Defense Ministry announced that Turkey violated Greek airspace 138 times in one day alone, on February 1.
Since 1974, Turkey has been a proud and unapologetic occupier in Cyprus. Now Turkish authorities are targeting Afrin, knowing from past experience that they will not be held accountable. They can kill and torture civilians and commit campaigns of ethnic cleansing wherever they wish. Yesterday, their target was northern Cyprus; today it is northern Syria. What country will be the next target? Before even greater catastrophes occur in the region, Turkey has to be reminded that the Ottoman Empire is dead and will never be resurrected.
Uzay Bulut, a journalist and political analyst born in Turkey, is currently based in Washington, DC. She is an associate fellow of the Philos Project.
By Uzay Bulut,
Speaking recently about his military’s ongoing invasion of the Kurdish-ruled Afrin region in northern Syria, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan taught much of the world a rather bizarre term.
“It is clear that those who say ‘we will respond aggressively if you hit us’ have never experienced an Ottoman slap.”
He was referring to Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk, commander of the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS.
The pro-government news website Hur Haber describes an “Ottoman slap” as “a type of strike used by Ottoman soldiers during unarmed defense or attack. It could be done with both sides of the hand and could muddle, strike unconscious or even kill the one on its receiving end. Only specialized persons could give this slap and it could only be learned after having undergone years-long training.”
The Ottoman slap has also come to mean a violent, national action by Turks to someone they consider their enemy. The slap is so powerful and effective it provides Turks with absolute victory and the enemy with utter defeat and shame.
The term is commonly used in Turkey. From 2013 to 2014, the government-funded TRT channel aired a TV series titled “The Ottoman Slap,” glorifying the Turkish invasion of the Christian Byzantine Empire in the 1300s.
Mr. Erdogan also threatened the Republic of Cyprus and eastern Mediterranean companies that are exploring for energy resources, forbidding them to “engage in activities that exceed their limits and powers” and warning them to avoid “trusting the Greek side in Cyprus,” adding that Cyprus’ courage will only last “until they see our army, our ships and our planes.”
The Ottoman Empire’s occupation of vast lands and Islam’s flag of conquest still influence Turkey’s foreign policy, including its invasions and ethnic cleansings. Cyprus was occupied by the Ottoman Empire from 1571 to 1878. And the northern part of the island has been illegally occupied by Turkey since 1974.
Even today, Turkey continues to target the Republic of Cyprus. Most recently, in a string of aggressions in Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the eastern Mediterranean, Turkish warships blocked a rig belonging to the Italian energy firm ENI from reaching Cypriot waters to start exploring for gas.
The American Hellenic Institute has condemned Turkish aggression in the eastern Mediterranean, saying, in part: “The Republic of Cyprus has the sovereign right under international law to explore and exploit its natural resources within its exclusive economic zone. The United States has stated repeatedly it supports Cyprus’ sovereign right to explore energy in its offshore areas.”
Mr. Erdogan seems to disagree. “Whatever Afrin is to us, our rights in the Aegean and Cyprus are the same. Do not ever think that the natural gas exploration in the waters of Cyprus and the opportunistic attempts in the Aegean Sea drop off from our radar,” he said, and then threatened Cyprus with yet another military invasion:
“Just as we disrupt the plots [in the region] through Operation Euphrates Shield [in Syria] and Operation Olive Branch [in Syria], and soon in Manbij and other regions, we can and we will disrupt the plots of those who engage in miscalculations on our southern border. Our warships and air force are keeping an eye on the area in order to intervene in any way whenever required.”
Since 1974, Turkey has refused to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding the immediate withdrawal of its troops from Cypriot soil. The global inaction in response to Turkish aggression encourages Mr. Erdogan, the president of a so-called “ally” of the West, to threaten Cyprus with yet another military assault.
Mr. Erdogan dreams of giving Americans the Ottoman slap, for he is a proud Ottomanist. The pro-government news website A Haber posted a photo of Erdogan giving U.S. President Donald Trump the Ottoman slap.
“Those who think that we’ve erased from our hearts the lands from which we withdrew in tears a hundred years ago are wrong,” he declared, referring to the Ottoman-occupied lands that Turks lost with the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire in 1922.
There is nothing shocking in Mr. Erdogan’s words: He is a consistently honest jihadist who speaks and acts according to his beliefs. What enables him get away with his intimidating rhetoric and ongoing hostility is the apparent weakness and confusion of the West in the face of violent Turkish supremacism.
• Uzay Bulut is a journalist and political analyst from Turkey and a fellow with the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center.
Unlike its Georgian neighbor, Armenia has seen its practice of rugby decline to become anecdotal, especially because of a national federation accused of corruption. The association Armenia rugby union team wants to put this sport back in fashion and restore confidence to the Armenians in this sport.
At the time of the Soviet bloc, Armenia was rugby champion in the USSR. Since then, Armenian rugby, supported by a national federation accused of embezzlement, has fallen into inactivity. The last match of the national team dates from 2012. In 2013, the national federation closed its site, before being banned from the European federation, in 2014, for inactivity. Determined to give Armenian rugby acclaim, Hrach and Sahak set up an association dedicated to replacing this federation, which now exists only officially but whose activity has stopped.
The first is used in the construction of roads, the second architect. They have rugby in their blood. Both are co-presidents and founders of the Armenia rugby union team. ” Our goal is to make rugby popular again, to put it back in fashion, ” said Sahak confidently. Smiling bearded, his eyes sparkle as he evokes their project.
They started at ten, three years ago. They are now a small thirty, including ten young people. ” Our goal is to become the official national rugby federation in Armenia, ” says Sahak. ” Today, people do not even know if there is a rugby federation ,” he laments. Blame it on its president, who is, according to both rugbymen, responsible for the departure of the players of the national team and the disappearance of Armenia from the world stage.
“We want people to be no more disappointed with rugby”
” If the good traditions had been respected, if we had a competent federation, we would have the level to face the All Blacks “, regrets Hrach. ” If all goes well, it will take us ten years to return to the international scene ,” says his comrade. Ten years is the time they give to eight-year-olds to reach the age of majority. ” We want to develop a modern rugby by welcoming new people, young people, ” explains Hrach. ” In a serious match, I could not play, ” he adds from his top forty.
In the meantime, the mission of the two co-presidents is to show their seriousness and attractiveness so that the government grants them the position of official national federation. ” We want people to be no more disappointed with rugby, we want to give them hope, ” Sahak hopes. And their approach begins to work: ” We have many people who come to us, who ask us when can they play with us, ” he said.
But the shadow of the president of the current federation, appointed when his brother was mayor of Yerevan, closes many doors. ” Between those who do not know anything about rugby, who believe that we will fight, and those who are afraid of this man, it’s been three years since we move from local to local, ” Sahak collapses. ” But we are rugby players, we will get there ,” adds his teammate. Their jerseys are even already drawn and both say they are ready to leave their trades as soon as they can live (even “survive”) rugby.