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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Key developments in China's 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution

June 02, 2016

BEIJING (AP) — A time of massive upheaval, violence and chaos, China's 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution, was launched 50 years ago by Communist Party leader Mao Zedong, who began it by purging officials considered insufficiently loyal. Over its course longstanding party officials, intellectuals and teachers came under violent attack, while traditional Chinese thought and culture were condemned along with foreign influences.

The violence largely abated in 1968 when the People's Liberation Army was brought in to impose order, but normal government functions were not restored until after Mao's death in September 1976. Below are some of the key developments in the Cultural Revolution.

May 16, 1966 — An expanded meeting of the Communist Party's decision-making Politburo is called at which four leading officials are purged and a document issued announcing the start of what was formally known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

May 25, 1966 — "Big character" posters denouncing all those who would oppose Mao and his revolution begin appearing, opening the flood gates to mass political movements at college campuses throughout the country. Soon after, classes in schools nationwide are suspended indefinitely.

June 16, 1966 — After swimming in the mighty Yangtze River to signal his readiness for ideological battle, Mao defeats an attempt to introduce work teams to calm the growing chaos in schools and factories.

August 5, 1966 — Mao issues his own big character poster proclaiming: "Bombard the headquarters," prompting the youthful Red Guards at the vanguard of the Cultural Revolution to step up their attacks on officials and rival factions.

January 3, 1967 — Mao's supporters led by his wife, Jiang Qing, overthrow the party apparatus in Shanghai, setting off similar uprisings in other cities and rising violence as rival Red Guard factions battle using weapons seized from People's Liberation Army armories.

July 27, 1968 — The military is dispatched to restore order and urban youth are sent down to the countryside, ostensibly to spread revolution and learn from the nation's peasantry. Over the next seven years, 12 million young Chinese are rusticated, a number equivalent to about 10 percent of the urban population.

April 1-24, 1969 — The Communist Party elevates famed general Lin Biao as Mao's heir-apparent and "closest comrade in arms." The same year, a 15-year-old Xi Jinping, China's current leader, was sent to work in a tiny village in his father's home province of Shaanxi.

September 13, 1971 — Lin dies in a plane crash in Mongolia along with close family members and aides while apparently fleeing China. Mao is left without a successor while his wife Jiang Qing exerts ever greater influence on culture and politics as leader of the "Gang of Four."

1975 — A 22-year-old Xi Jinping returns to Beijing after being recommended by his fellow commune members for a place at prestigious Tsinghua University.

September 9, 1976 — Mao dies of complications from Parkinson's disease in Beijing at the age of 82. His death sparks a power struggle in Beijing as the Gang of Four seeks to assume control, while what's left of the party establishment conspires to wrest authority back and end the turmoil of the previous decade.

October 6, 1976 — Jiang Qing and the Gang of Four are arrested in a bloodless revolt led by military commanders working with Mao's successor, Hua Guofeng, effectively ending the Cultural Revolution. All four were eventually sentenced to prison and suffer primary blame for injustices and atrocities of the Cultural Revolution that might have otherwise been attributed to Mao. At her trial, Jiang declared that she was "Chairman Mao's dog. Whomever he asked me to bite, I bit."

Sudan to adopt Islamic constitution

By Michel Arseneault

President Omar al-Bashir says Sudan will go ahead with plans to adopt an entirely Islamic constitution. Bashir had already said that Sudan would adopt an Islamic constitution if the south seceded. But many southerners had hoped he would not go ahead.

Bashir says that 98 per cent of the Sudanese population is Muslim, and that the new constitution should reflect this.

Speaking to students in Khartoum, he said the official religion would be Islam and that Islamic law would be the constitutional source of future legislation.

Under the comprehensive peace agreement signed between north and south, Sudan's constitution recognizes "the cultural and social diversity of the Sudanese people".

But many southerners say they no longer feel welcome in the north since the two separated in July.

The General Secretary of the Sudan Council of Churches, says Sudan must recognize religious diversity. Reverend Ramadan Chan Liol adds that it should explicitly protect the non-Muslim minority in the north.

Reverend Chan Liol adds he was surprised to hear Bashir claim that 98 per cent of the population is Muslim because the Sudanese census does not ask citizens to state their religion.

Source: RFI.
Link: http://en.rfi.fr/africa/20111013-sudan-islam.

Iraqis take to the streets in protest at government corruption

August 13, 2016

Hundreds of Iraqis took to the streets of Baghdad on Friday in protest at the government’s “financial and administrative corruption,” Anadolu has reported. Similar demonstrations were held in other cities across Iraq.

The protesters gathered in Al-Tahrir Square in the middle of Baghdad. Bridges and main streets in the capital were closed by the security forces.

Protesters directed their grievances at Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi as they called for an end to corruption in government. They also want “comprehensive changes” in government appointments to key positions across the country.

“The government is still unable to investigate officials who affiliate to political parties and hold them accountable for their corruption or failure to run the government and service institutions,” one protester told Anadolu. “A year ago,” claimed Ahmed Radi, “Al-Abadi made several pledges, including a pledge to fight corruption, prosecute corrupt officials and approve a transparent and quality appointments system, but none of this has been done.”

Such anti-corruption protests have been held for almost a year. Aside from the calls to end corruption and for the prosecution of corrupt officials, the people want an end to political differences in parliament.

According to the Transparency Index, Iraq has been among the most corrupt countries in the world for many years. Many other international organisations have reported that there is “waste, fraud and embezzlement of public funds” on a major scale.

Source: Middle East Monitor.
Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160813-iraqis-take-to-the-streets-in-protest-at-government-corruption/.

Brazil has been brought to its knees, but Turkey is standing firm against anti-democracy coups

August 9, 2016

On 15 July, a bloody coup attempt was staged in Turkey; it was unsuccessful. Army officers and soldiers belonging to the Gülenist FETO terrorist organisation barricaded strategic bridges and locations in Ankara and Istanbul, and seized the General Staff Headquarters. They tried to eliminate the elected president and government of the country. However, when the people took to the streets and began fighting, it was clear that the coup would not succeed. Unfortunately, 250 people, most of them civilians, were killed. Since then, a significant number of the organisation’s members — mostly in the military — have been discharged from their positions within state institutions. According to the confessions of those who took part in the coup, it was carried out on the order of the organisation’s leader, Fethullah Gülen, who lives in Pennsylvania and has called those who died during the coup “fools”. A formal request for his extradition has been filed by the Turkish government, but it has yet to be acted upon by the US.

The coup was the third unsuccessful attempt in Turkey since 2013. The first started with the Gezi Park protest between May and June 2013 and was followed by an effort to overthrow the government with allegations of corruption in December that year. A country that has gone through a similar ordeal as Turkey but was forced to its knees at the second attempt is Brazil.

It is interesting to note that both the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in Turkey led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the Workers’ Party in Brazil led by Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva were both elected to govern their country in 2002. Both countries were on the verge of an economic and political breakdown but were stabilized by their respective leaders’ reforms. The election of the AK Party and Workers’ Party was a reflection of the middle and lower classes’ longing for stability in countries that were nearly collapsing as a result of economic mismanagement. The GDP of both countries increased significantly and they became safe-zones for foreign investment.

Lula’s Brazil and Erdogan’s Turkey showed stability and rapid development and began to have more influence in the global arena. While both managed to act in accordance with the free market economy, they also managed to protect their national economy, and after 2007 their economic status went head to head with many Western states. The Brazilian and Turkish leadership developed policies on regional and global issues which differed from those of Washington and other western capitals. Both leaders visited Tehran in 2010 to sign agreements with Iran to support its non-military nuclear program, despite the West’s embargo and war threats. Although the terms of the agreements comply with the West’s main insistence over nuclear exchange, the moves by Ankara and Brasilia were not taken well by Western leaders.

Similarly, the common stance of both countries against Israel’s occupation of Palestine was very different from the policies of the West. Both made clear their view that Israel should withdraw to its 1967 borders, stop the construction of illegal Jewish colony-settlements and end the blockade of the Gaza Strip. In following policies which differed to those of the hegemonic West, whilst also questioning the organizational structure of the UN, there was thus proof of an alternative approach to that propounded by the Western-centric foreign policy axis.

After serving two consecutive terms of office, Lula handed over to his close friend and colleague Dilma Rousseff in 2011. She followed in Lula’s footsteps in her foreign and domestic politics. Whereas in 2002 the middle class was represented by only 38 per cent of the population, after the 2014 election this figure rose to 55 per cent and has been attributed to Lula’s and Rousseff’s successful and determined economic policies. Turkey’s and Brazil’s stabilized economies, having caught up with the economic level of developed countries in 2007, provided some hope for other countries whose development was being hindered by the West.

Although they may be said to be coincidental, anti-government protests occurred almost simultaneously in Turkey and Brazil. The Gezi Park protest was sparked after a small group complained about some urban development in the park. The protest grew larger and spread across Turkey, fueled by the Western media pushing for Erdogan to resign. In reality, the media campaign against the popular elected leadership betrayed the fact that this was a campaign against Turkey, not its political leadership. It was later discovered that members of FETO within the police force had enabled the protest to grow so dramatically. This first attempt by FETO against the government was echoed by the western public and media.

In Brazil, meanwhile, people were protesting about public transport; demonstrations spread quickly into nationwide protests and demands for the government to resign. As in Turkey, the protesters in Brazil also attacked public buildings and the protests turned violent. Decisive government action in both countries eventually brought the protests to a halt, but that was not the end of the matter.

In December 2013 four ministers in Turkey were accused of fraud. The individual corruption cases were somehow intertwined and Erdogan was also dragged into them along with his family, after the appearance of fake documents. This was also discovered to be the work of FETO members within the security agencies and judiciary, and was again overcome thanks to decisive government positions. It was later discovered that FETO had received huge amounts of money after threats and blackmail. The Western media, rather interestingly, decided to conceal the fact that FETO was behind this attempt to bring the government down and tried to justify this by accusations against Erdogan’s administration.

Whereas that particular coup attempt failed in Turkey, the Brazilian government was overthrown following corruption allegations. Just as there were FETO-supporting MPs within the government in Ankara, so too were there MPs within the Workers’ Party in Brazil who supported the coup. Some politicians and judges from the coup era began suing Lula and Rousseff.

The second operation against Lula and Rousseff started in mid-2014 with accusations that some managers of the state-partnered energy company Petrobas were being bribed and transferred money to political figures over a period of 10 years. At first, the fingers were pointed only at some minor politicians and managers, but then judges also accused Rousseff and Lula; they were both on the Petrobas board. A year before the accusations were made public it was discovered that America was spying on Petrobas and listening-in to Brazil’s state telecommunications as well as Rousseff herself. This strengthens the argument that the US had an important part to play in Rousseff and Lula being linked to the Petrobas scandal and efforts to bring them down.

As happened in Turkey, the transcripts of hundreds of recorded phone calls were published in order to strengthen the corruption accusations against Rousseff and Lula. Although there was no concrete evidence against Rousseff, on 12 May this year she was suspended from the party after being voted out by other MPs. The former President of the Chamber of Deputies, Eduardo Cunha, who led the way in sidelining Rousseff, was also suspended from his position one month later for corruption, the abuse of power and threatening behavior. At the same time the resignation of the Minister of Transparency, Supervision and Control of Brazil, Fabiano Silveira, and the Senator from Roraima, Romero Juca after trying to use Rousseff’s impeachment to divert attention from accusations of corruption against themselves is, evidence which suggests that there was a coup attempt against the Brazilian president. It is known that Brazil’s Acting President Michel Temer has close links to the CIA; this has been confirmed by Wikileaks documents, as has the introduction of the IMF and Goldman Sachs to economic positions within the new government.

Although Brazil lost the battle with the second coup, Turkey lives to fight another day. A large proportion of the population believe firmly that the US and other Western countries were behind the July coup attempt. This is not only because Fethullah Gülen lives in America and is not as yet being extradited by the US, but also due to statements coming out of Washington such as, “A number of the US military’s closest allies in the Turkish military have been placed in jail following the coup attempt.” American and Western media support for the coup makes US complicity all the more convincing and likely.

With the coup operations carried out against Lula and Rousseff in Brazil, and Erdogan in Turkey, Brazil may have lost in the second round but Turkey is still standing strong. This time, though, Turkey as a nation is prepared for other probable attempts to derail democracy in the country. While Brazil may have been edged out of the international arena, Turkey remains firm as the only country that continues to inspire the global South with its independent and anti-western foreign and economic policies.

Source: Middle East Monitor.
Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160809-brazil-has-been-brought-to-its-knees-but-turkey-is-standing-firm-against-anti-democracy-coups/.

Turkish admiral seeks asylum in US after coup bid: report

Ankara (AFP)
Aug 10, 2016

A Turkish rear admiral on a NATO assignment in the US has sought asylum in the country after Ankara sought his detention following the failed July 15 coup, state-run media said Wednesday.

Turkish authorities have ousted thousands of military personnel including nearly half its generals and admirals since a rogue military faction tried to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan from power.

Rear Admiral Mustafa Zeki Ugurlu is the subject of a detention order in Turkey and has been expelled from the armed forces, the Anadolu news agency reported.

He has requested asylum from US authorities, it added, without giving its source. He had been stationed at NATO's Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia, the news agency said.

Ugurlu had not been heard from since July 22 when he left the base, Anadolu said.

Izmir's chief prosecutor Okan Bato told Anadolu he was not able to get a statement from Ugurlu after seeking the prosecution of two admirals from the chief of staff.

NATO said on Wednesday that Turkey's membership of the military alliance was "not in question", despite the tumult in the country.

Anadolu did not say whether the United States had accepted Ugurlu's claim, believed to be the first of its kind since July 15, which comes at a time of strained relations between Washington and Ankara.

The Turkish government has repeatedly pressed Washington to extradite Pennsylvania-based preacher Fethullah Gulen whom it blames for the coup bid, warning Washington that relations could suffer over the issue.

"If the US does not deliver (Gulen), they will sacrifice relations with Turkey for the sake of a terrorist," Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag told reporters during a televised briefing in the capital Ankara on Tuesday.

Gulen strongly denies the accusations and his lawyer on Friday said Ankara had failed to provide "a scintilla" of proof to support its claims.

Since July 15, tens of thousands of people from the military, judiciary, civil service and education establishment suspected of links with Gulen and his Islamic movement have been sacked or detained.

Source: Space War.
Link: http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Turkish_admiral_seeks_asylum_in_US_after_coup_bid_report_999.html.

Turkish court issues arrest warrant for Muslim cleric

August 04, 2016

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A court in Turkey issued a formal warrant Thursday for the arrest of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who the government accuses of being behind the failed July 15 coup that left more than 270 people dead.

The state-run Anadolu news agency said an Istanbul-based court issued the warrant for "ordering the July 15 coup attempt." The government says Gulen, a former ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, masterminded the failed coup attempt by renegade officers in Turkey's military and wants him extradited to Turkey.

Gulen has denied involvement or prior knowledge of the coup attempt. Ankara has not yet made a formal extradition request, but the arrest warrant could be the prelude. Washington has asked for evidence of the cleric's involvement, and has said the extradition process must be allowed to take its course.

Anadolu said the court issued the warrant over a number of accusations, including an "attempt to eliminate the government of the Turkish Republic or to prevent it from carrying out its duties." More specifically, Anadolu said the court based the arrest warrant on accusations the coup plotters tried to assassinate Erdogan, kidnapped Chief of Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and other military officers, bombed parliament and killed police and civilians who resisted.

"It has been understood without a doubt that the attempted coup was an activity of the terror organization and that it was carried out with the orders of its founder, suspect Fethullah Gulen," Anadolu quoted from the court decision.

It is not the first time an arrest warrant has been issued for Gulen, who broke ranks publicly with Erdogan in 2013. In December 2014, a court issued a warrant for him on accusations of running an armed group.

Turkey has designated Gulen's movement, which runs charities, schools and businesses across the world, as a terrorist organization and has launched a widespread crackdown on suspected members since the failed coup.

Since the coup attempt, nearly 70,000 people have been suspended or dismissed from jobs in the civil service, judiciary, education, health care, the military and the media. And about 18,000 people have been detained or arrested, mostly from the military, on suspicion of being involved in the failed putsch.

Earlier Thursday, Erdogan vowed to go after businesses linked to Gulen's movement. "Without doubt, this organization has an extension in the business world. Maybe it is what they are most powerful at," he said during a speech to the heads of chambers of commerce in Ankara. "We are determined to totally cut off all business links of this organization, which has blood on its hands."

The president said that every cent that goes to the Gulen movement "is a bullet placed in a barrel to be fired against this nation. In the same way that we do not pardon those who fire the bullet, we will not forgive those who financed the bullet."

Erdogan added that the purge of the military would continue. "After July 15, this sneaky organization's structure in the Turkish Armed Forces has started to be uncovered," he said. "For now, those who are captured are the tip of the iceberg. Efforts are continuing for others."

Separately, the deputy chairman of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party, Mehdi Eker, said countries around the world need to take action against schools or other establishments linked to Gulen.

Eker said the cleric's movement had hundreds of schools, charities or other establishments in more than 100 countries and warned they too could face "security risks" from the group in the future. "If we had seen that these schools were not innocent educational nests but nurseries raising members for a terror organization, we would not have lived through the (attempted coup)," he told journalists in Ankara.

"It is our responsibility to warn countries that have (Gulen-linked) schools," Eker said. "In Africa, we know that they work as nurseries (for terror) and we want to warn them."

Becatoros contributed from Istanbul.

Turkey's Erdogan blasts foreign countries over coup reaction

August 02, 2016

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan once more blasted unnamed Western countries Tuesday for what he said was support for the attempted coup on July 15 that left more than 270 people dead.

"The West is supporting terrorism and taking sides with coups," Erdogan said, adding that forces unhappy with Turkey's rise as a regional power were behind the coup. "They have actors inside (Turkey) but the scenario of this coup was written abroad," he said during a speech at an event for foreign investors in Ankara.

Turkey's government says the coup was instigated by U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former Erdogan ally now living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. Turkey has demanded his extradition, but Washington has asked for evidence of the cleric's involvement.

Erdogan complained about the U.S. request: "We did not request documents for terrorists that you wanted returned." Speaking late Tuesday night in a live television interview on CNN Turk, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said there would be a high-level visit to Turkey from the United States this month, without saying who would be visiting.

The government has launched a sweeping crackdown on Gulen's movement, which it characterizes as a terrorist organization. Nearly 70,000 people have been suspended from their jobs on suspicion of being involved in the movement, which runs schools, charities and businesses internationally.

Erdogan has singled out Germany for criticism, after a court there ruled against allowing him to appear on a video link to address a crowd of about 30,000 supporters and anti-coup demonstrators in Cologne over the weekend.

The president said Turkey had sent Germany more than 4,000 files on what he said were wanted terrorists, but Germany did nothing. However, he said, courts quickly decided against him speaking at the rally.

Germany's Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment, but German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel on Monday defended the court's decision as "absolutely OK and also lawful." In his television interview, Yildirim also expressed the government's displeasure at Germany's stance.

"They make grand statements on democracy, human rights but then three different courts there come up with a decision," Yildirim said. "Is our president's address something that would perturb Germany's domestic affairs? It was a great disappointment to us."

Erdogan also repeated a complaint that no foreign leader had visited Turkey after the failed coup, while France and Belgium received visits in solidarity after terror attacks there. "Those we considered friends are siding with coup-plotters and terrorists," the president said.

When it was allied with Erdogan's government in the past, the Gulen movement was believed to have been behind a series of crackdowns on pro-secular figures as well as military officers accused at the time of plotting a coup. Hundreds were jailed after trials in which evidence was later found to have been fabricated. Many convictions have been overturned.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag sent a second document to the United States Tuesday seeking Gulen's arrest, the state-run Anadolu news agency said. "They requested certain information following our first letter; we provided answers to the question 'why is it urgent?'"

He added that Turkey had intelligence indicating Gulen might leave for a third country. If he does, Bozdag said, it would only be with the full knowledge of U.S. authorities. Yildirim also explained the reasons for Turkey's request for Gulen's arrest.

"We have such a request so that he does not escape, nothing happens to him or that he does not tamper with the evidence," he said in his interview. "This is a legal and reasonable request. I hope U.S. officials consider this request with sensitivity."

Part of the crackdown against Gulen's network has focused on reforming the military, bringing it increasingly under civilian command. About 18,000 people have been detained or arrested, most of them from the military, and authorities have said the purge will continue.

The government has already decreed sweeping changes to the military, including giving the president and prime minister the power to issue direct orders to the force commanders. "These arrangements won't weaken the Turkish Armed Forces, on the contrary they will strengthen them and prepare them to face all kinds of threats," Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in an address to his ruling party legislators. "The armed forces will focus their energies on their fundamental duty."

Several countries and rights organizations have expressed concern over the scope of the crackdown, and have urged restraint. But Erdogan insisted the purges of the civil service, military and other sectors were necessary to rout out those responsible for the coup.

"If we show pity to these murderers, to these coup plotters, we will end up in a pitiful state," he said. On Tuesday, the Turkish Football federation said it had sacked 94 people, including a number of referees. It said the action was taken as a "necessity," without saying whether those dismissed were suspected of links to the Gulen movement.

Separately, authorities issued 98 new detention warrants, including for military doctors, a senior government official said, on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. Meanwhile, a lawyer filed a criminal complaint against the, Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff; U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper and Gen. Joseph Votel, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East, accusing them of backing Gulen.

The complaint, which has to be accepted by prosecutors before any action is taken, came days after Erdogan told Votel to "know your place" after he expressed concern that the post-coup crackdown may affect the fight against Islamic State militants.

Becatoros contributed from Istanbul.

Turkey orders 47 newspaper journalists, executives detained

July 27, 2016

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish authorities issued warrants Wednesday for the detention of 47 former executives or senior journalists at the Zaman newspaper, which was associated with the U.S.-based Muslim cleric who the government says is behind Turkey's failed July 15 coup.

At least one journalist, former Zaman columnist Sahin Alpay, was detained at his home early Wednesday, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. Zaman, which was linked to Fethullah Gulen's religious movement, was raided by police and seized by the government in March as part of a clampdown on the group.

As he was being detained, Alpay said he had committed "no crimes" and did not know why he was being taken away. "I don't know why. I'll find out now," he said. Earlier this week, Turkey issued arrest warrants against 42 other journalists, of whom 16 have been detained for questioning.

Turkey has detained more than 13,000 people in the military, judiciary and other institutions in purges since the uprising. Tens of thousands of other state employees with suspected links to Gulen have been suspended from their jobs in sectors including education, health care, city government and even Turkish Airlines.

Gulen, who lives in the United States and runs a global network of schools and foundations, has repeatedly denied any knowledge of the coup attempt. The detention of journalists and wide-scale purges of officials have raised concerns about a possible witch hunt by the government in the wake of the coup attempt that killed about 290 people.

In a statement Wednesday, the Turkish military said as many as 35 warplanes, 37 helicopters, 74 tanks and three navy vessels were used by the plotters in their failed coup attempt. At least 8,651 military personnel were involved, it said, adding that they constituted 1.5 percent of the Armed Forces' personnel.

The country's energy minister, meanwhile, lamented what he said was a lack of strong support from European nations and the United States toward Turkey's efforts to counter the "anti-democratic" process.

"Until now, we have not received the backing and the statements that we, the whole of Turkey, expect from these countries," said Berat Albayrak, who is also President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's son-in-law.

He warned that a lack of support for Turkey could harm ties with allies. "There is a need for an intelligent and rational review by our interlocutors," Albayrak said Wednesday. "Otherwise, countries may be deprived of the contribution of a country that can contribute to peace and stability."

Albayrak did not elaborate, but his comments were an apparent reference to criticism from European officials to the government clampdown that has followed the coup attempt, and perceived reluctance in the United States to extradite Gulen.

The U.S. has told Turkey to present evidence against Gulen and let the U.S. extradition process take its course. Turkey has branded his movement a terror organization and Albayrak claimed the Gulen group was "more dangerous" than the Islamic State group or the Kurdish rebels who have carried out deadly suicide bombings in the country in the past year.

Despite pledges, 1 million Syrian refugees are out of school

August 03, 2016

BEIRUT (AP) — Schools in the Middle East are facing major budget shortfalls ahead of the new academic year, leaving some 1 million Syrian refugee children out of school, according to a report published by Theirworld, an international children's charity.

The five-year-long Syrian war has placed huge strain on the region's school systems, forcing neighboring countries to depend on multi-billion dollar grants from donor nations to meet education needs. There are 2.5 million Syrian children registered as refugees with the United Nations, the world body says. Most live in neighboring Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan as they wait for an opportunity to return home.

In February, the international community pledged $1.4 billion in school funding for host nations at a London donor conference but less than $400 million of that has been fulfilled, Theirworld estimates. That leaves a funding gap of $1 billion.

Kevin Watkins, the author of the report, which was published late Tuesday, said donors had "broken their promises." In Lebanon, more than half of the nearly 500,000 school-age Syrian refugee children receive no formal education, according to Human Rights Watch, despite reforms allowing overburdened public schools to run two shifts a day.

Many Syrian refugee families have no choice but to put their children to work to help meet basic expenses in a country with few social protections and tight movement restrictions. Children who do go to school face difficulties with new curriculums, and many suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or other psychosocial problems.

"The schools accept Syrian refugees, but the children don't adapt. They register but then they drop out," said Najah Kherallah Jomaa, a refugee from Syria's Aleppo living in a settlement in the Lebanese town of Bar Elias.

The report by Theirworld warns of a "lost generation" of Syrians if determined steps are not taken to ensure school access for all.

Turkish hospital in Gaza to open in 2017

13 August 2016 Saturday

A Turkish hospital currently under construction in Palestine will open its doors in 2017, an official working on the project said Friday.

Funded by the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA), the Palestine-Turkey Friendship Hospital will be Gaza's largest when it becomes operational, according to TIKA's Palestine Coordinator Bulent Korkmaz.

Korkmaz told Anadolu Agency that the cost has so far reached $40 million. "The hospital will include cancer and heart research and treatment departments as well as a prayer room and library," he added.

The facility is just one of hundreds of TIKA-funded projects in Palestine, ranging from vocational training for the disabled to water wells in the Gaza Strip.

The latest influx of Turkish aid to Gaza was made possible by way of a deal signed last month between Turkey and Israel in which the two nations agreed to restore diplomatic relations following a six-year hiatus.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Tel Aviv had met all of Ankara’s preconditions for normalizing ties, which were severed in 2010 after Israeli commandos stormed a Gaza-bound Turkish aid vessel.

The attack resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish activists and left 30 others injured, including one victim who succumbed to his injuries nearly four years later.

At the time, Turkey demanded Israel officially apologized for the attack, compensate the families of the victims and lift its longstanding blockade against the Gaza Strip.

In 2013, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu voiced his regret to Turkey’s then-prime minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan regarding the deadly ordeal.

Under the terms of last week’s agreement to normalize relations, the two countries will exchange ambassadors and Israel will pay $20 million in compensation to the families of the flotilla attack victims.

Israel has also agreed to Turkey’s request to maintain a "humanitarian presence" in the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Source: World Bulletin.
Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/headlines/176126/turkish-hospital-in-gaza-to-open-in-2017.

U.S.-backed Libyan militias say Islamic State driven out of last stronghold

By Andrew V. Pestano
Aug. 11, 2016

TRIPOLI, Libya, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Libyan pro-government, U.S.-backed militias on Wednesday said they took control of the Islamic State's remaining headquarters in the city of Sirte.

The militias' offensive against the Islamic State in Sirte began in June, backed by U.S. airstrikes since Aug. 1 after weeks of stalemates.

The militias said its fighters were still hunting down scattered Islamic State militants hiding in Sirte's residential neighborhoods -- adding that the Ouagadougou Center, a heavily fortified IS headquarters, and a nearby hospital were taken.

The United States carried out at least 28 airstrikes to aid militias in Libya. A Pentagon official told The New York Times that while he could not confirm the IS headquarters in Sirte fell, there were no reports that suggested the militia's claims were not true.

Libya's Al-Ahrar TV broadcaster posted pictures on its Twitter account of what appears to be militia fighters celebrating victory outside of the Ouagadougou Center while posing with a flag. The militia supports the Government of National Accord, a governmental authority based in Tripoli that is backed by the United Nations.

Source: United Press International (UPI).
Link: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2016/08/11/US-backed-Libyan-militias-say-Islamic-State-driven-out-of-last-stronghold/9191470910487/.

Tens of thousands march in Peru against gender violence

August 14, 2016

LIMA, Peru (AP) — More than 50,000 people marched in Peru's capital and eight other cities on Saturday to protest violence against woman and what they say is the indifference of the judicial system. Officials said the size of the protest against gender violence was unprecedented in Peru and followed several recent high-profile cases in which male perpetrators were given what women's groups said were too-lenient sentences. The march in Lima ended at the palace of justice.

"Today, the 13th of August, is a historic day for this country because it represents a breaking point and the start of a new culture to eradicate the marginalization that women have been suffering, especially with violence," said Victor Ticona, president of Peru's judicial system.

Ticona said that a commission of judges would receive representatives of the protesters. Newly inaugurated President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski took part in the march along with first lady Nancy Lange. "What we don't want in Peru is violence against anyone, but especially against women and children," he said.

Earlier in the day, Kuczynski said his government is "going to ask for facilities for women to denounce violence because abuse flourishes in an environment where complaints cannot be made and the blows are absorbed in silence — and this is not how it should be."

Peru's march follows similar protests against gender violence in other Latin American countries, including Argentina and Brazil, held under the slogan #NiUnaMenos — #NotOneLess.

Ukraine's president orders military on high alert following Putin comments

By Andrew V. Pestano
Aug. 11, 2016

KIEV, Ukraine, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Thursday ordered all military units near the border of Russian-annexed Crimea to be placed on the highest alert of combat preparedness.

"President Poroshenko: High-alert level on the administrative line with Crimea and contact line in eastern Ukraine," The Bankova presidential office said in a statement.

Military units in the eastern Donbass region were also put on high alert, Poroshenko said on Twitter.

Poroshenko's move comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday accused the Ukrainian military of launching attacks into Crimea, attacks that he said killed two Russian service members, as part of repeated efforts to reclaim the peninsula.

Poroshenko on Wednesday dismissed Putin's allegations as provocations.

"Russian accusations that Ukraine launched terror attacks in the occupied Crimea are equally cynical and insane as it claims there is no Russian troops in eastern Ukraine," Poroshenko said. "Ukraine resolutely condemns terrorism in all its forms and shapes. We would never ever use terror to de-occupy Crimea."

Source: United Press International (UPI).
Link: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2016/08/11/Ukraines-president-orders-military-on-high-alert-following-Putin-comments/1901470919571/.

War turns Ukraine into 'supermarket' for illegal weapons

August 06, 2016

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — A former Ukrainian soldier-turned-arms dealer agrees to meet in Kiev, where he offers to sell a Makarov semi-automatic pistol for about $160. Amid haggling, he drops the price to $120. He says he also has Kalashnikov automatic rifles for less than $400 and can get heavier weapons such as rocket launchers if given a little more time.

The war in eastern Ukraine against Russia-backed separatists has led to the uncontrolled spread of firearms throughout the country, with experts describing Ukraine as a "supermarket" where millions of illegal weapons are for sale.

Since the armed conflict broke out in 2014, the number of crimes involving firearms has more than doubled in Ukraine, a country where gun ownership was previously very rare. Some of the weapons are also being smuggled out of the country, destined for conflict zones in the Middle East or for Europe, adding to fears of more attacks.

Andriy, the arms dealer, fought with the nationalist Right Sector volunteer battalion for more than a year against the separatists. He agreed to discuss the illegal weapons trade on the condition he be identified only by his first name for fear of being arrested. If convicted of illegal weapons sales, he could be sent to prison for five years.

With the worst of the fighting in eastern Ukraine now over, Andriy said a used handgun can be purchased there for as little as $20. "But from the east, the road is long and dangerous," he said, explaining the significant markup he gets in the capital, Kiev.

The scale of the smuggling is difficult to judge because Ukraine has made all data about the illegal arms trade classified. Ukrainian border guards, however, regularly report thwarting attempts to transport weapons out of the country illegally. In one of the more high-profile cases, a Frenchman was arrested in May after trying to cross into Poland with an entire arsenal. The Ukrainian Security Service said he was planning a series of terror attacks in France.

Each week, the security services and police uncover illegal arms caches with Kalashnikovs, explosives and even rocket launchers brought from the combat zone in eastern Ukraine. Transport police almost daily remove passengers from trains for transporting weapons in their baggage. Most are military personnel or members of volunteer battalions that have been fighting on the government side.

Heorhiy Uchaikin, who heads the Ukrainian association of gun owners, estimated that Ukrainians now illegally possess as many as 5 million firearms. "Ukraine has turned into a supermarket for illegal weapons," he said. "In Ukraine, a gun is like shoe polish in a shoe polish factory."

The only legal market for firearms in Ukraine is for hunting rifles, the sales of which are tightly regulated. Security companies can obtain licenses for guards to carry small arms. Uchaikin is advocating changing the laws to make ownership of handguns and Kalashnikovs legal as a way to regulate the market and address gun crime.

Some of the weapons sold illegally were seized from separatist fighters and are believed to have been supplied by Russia. In June, Ukraine's security services seized more than 200 rocket launchers, 3,000 grenades and two Shmel flamethrowers that are not part of the Ukrainian arsenal.

But most of the weapons on the black market come from the Ukrainian military and the around 40 volunteer battalions, which for most of the fighting remains outside the military chain of command. Nadiya Savchenko, a Ukrainian military pilot who fought with a volunteer battalion, blames corrupt military leaders for the flourishing black market.

Savchenko, who became a national hero after being captured and jailed in Russia for two years, alleges that weapons that should have been given to Ukrainian soldiers who were called up to fight have ended up on the black market instead.

"I remember how it all began: The guys were mobilized but not given automatic rifles," she told The Associated Press. "(But) they understood that an automatic rifle is the only thing that can protect their life. And then automatic rifles became worth their weight in gold. They bought them and hid them."

Dmytro, a Ukrainian soldier speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of criminal charges, said when he was called up in 2014 he received nothing but food. "Everyone who was mobilized brought home at least two or three guns," he said. "For my family it was like hard currency." He has since signed a military contract and now receives a monthly salary of $320.

Over the past two years, about 250,000 Ukrainians were called up in six mobilization waves. Since the armed conflict began in April 2014, at least 9,500 people have been killed. A cease-fire agreement signed in 2015 greatly reduced the fighting, but this summer has seen an uptick in casualties. International monitors have accused both sides of violating the cease-fire by using heavy weaponry that was supposed to have been withdrawn.

Government efforts to persuade people to voluntarily surrender their weapons have had limited success. An appeal by the national police force in March yielded 4,500 firearms, more than 300 shells, about 250 grenades and even a grenade launcher.

Police Col. Kostyantyn Zhuk said the result was extremely disappointing. "This is just a drop in the ocean," he said. In 2015, there were 1,526 crimes involving firearms, up from 784 in 2013. The difference is even starker considering the 2015 figures do not include the conflict zones in the east or Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. Police said 70 percent of the weapons used in the crimes had come from eastern Ukraine.

The other concern is smuggling, with the main route running west through European Union countries Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, all of which share a border with Ukraine. The Ukrainian border guards say they thwart several smuggling attempts every month. In June, a German citizen was detained while trying to cross into Romania with a firearm and ammunition. On the border with Slovakia, a Ukrainian guard who discovered weapons was shot and wounded by the smugglers, who then fled.

Uchaikin, of the gun owners' association, said the arms are smuggled into Europe along the same routes long used to smuggle cigarettes. He accused the border guards of profiting from the trade and allowing vehicles to pass through without inspection.

The Ukrainian Security Service denied this. In announcing the arrest of the Frenchman, the security service said its agents had been tracking him for months and allowed him to buy five Kalashnikovs, two rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 125 kilograms (275 pounds) of explosives, 100 detonators and other arms.

The man was planning a series of terror attacks in France before and during this summer's European soccer championship, the security service said.

Thousands of Russian Orthodox gather in Kiev despite threats

July 27, 2016

MOSCOW (AP) — Thousands of Russian Orthodox Christian pilgrims have reached the center of Ukraine's capital to finish their procession to the city's most revered monastery after their march was disrupted on Tuesday.

The procession by Ukrainian adherents of Russian Orthodoxy was prevented from entering the city on Tuesday after Ukraine's interior minister said grenades had been planted along the route. The believers completed their journey in buses Wednesday.

Ukrainian nationalists had blocked the procession from entering the city on Monday, pelting marchers with eggs and denouncing them as "agents of Moscow." The Orthodox Christian faithful in Ukraine are divided between one church which is part of the Russian Orthodox Church and a splinter church under a Ukrainian leader.

Romania buries 'Queen Anne' in lavish funeral

August 13, 2016

CURTEA DE ARGES, Romania (AP) — As church bells rang, thousands of Romanians turned out Saturday in a central town for the grand funeral and burial of the woman they call Queen Anne, the wife of Michael, the last king of Romania.

Romania and neighboring Moldova both observed a national day of mourning Saturday for Anne. Soldiers placed her royal flag-draped coffin, which arrived 45 minutes late, on a catafalque outside a cathedral in a park in Curtea de Arges. A phalanx of Orthodox priests sung the funeral liturgy addressing her as "Queen Anne."

Following a short private service, she was buried inside the unfinished brick cathedral. People clapped and members of the royal family shook hands with people in the crowd. Anne died Aug. 1 in Switzerland at the age of 92. She first visited the country only when she was nearly 70 and did not speak the language. Yet many respect her for her 68-year marriage to Michael, whom she wed months after the communists forced him to abdicate in 1947.

"She was a symbol of our country," said Eugenia Cristescu, a 79-year-old singer in a local church choir who was dressed in a gold-and-black embroidered peasant blouse and skirt. "The royal family brought about great change in Romania. It raised us from being simple people and brought respect to the country."

Earlier Saturday, church bells rang around Bucharest, the Romanian capital, and hundreds turned out as Orthodox and Catholic priests held services at the city's Royal Palace before Anne's body began the journey to Curtea de Arges, where members of the royal family are buried. Her body has lain in state this week in Romania.

Four of the couple's five daughters were present for the funeral. Princess Irina, who was stripped of her royal title in 2013 after she was arrested with her husband for running an illegal cockfighting ring in the U.S., did not attend.

Michael, 94, has cancer and is living in Switzerland. He did not attend the funeral on the advice of doctors.

Amid migrant crisis: Greece to build Athens mosque

August 04, 2016

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Lawmakers in Greece on Thursday approved construction of a state-funded mosque near central Athens — a proposal that triggered dissent within the coalition government amid a heated public debate on how to manage the migrant crisis.

The proposal, approved by 206-24 votes in parliament, follows several failed attempts to implement the project that had previously faced opposition from the country's powerful Orthodox Church. The governing left-wing Syriza party backed the 950,000-euro ($1 million) project, but it was opposed by its nationalist coalition partner, the Independent Greeks.

Tens of thousands of Muslim migrants live in greater Athens and use informal prayer rooms around the capital — many set up in basements and failed businesses in run-down neighborhoods. Speaking at one prayer site, Syrian-born immigrant Ahmed Halez Hasan said he believed political opposition from previous governments had held up the venture for more than a decade.

"This issue has come up before many times, repeatedly, and then it stops. It stops because of the government. But I think this government will help," said Hasan, who has lived in Greece for more than 30 years.

The number of Muslims in Greece has increased following the refugee crisis last year, when the country was on Europe's busiest transit route for people fleeing to the continent. The proposed site of the new mosque is in a mainly industrial area on the outskirts of the city center, near a United Nations-run camp for refugees.

Speaking in support of the mosque, Education and Religious Affairs Minister Nikos Filis argued that Greece should avoid mistakes made by other European policymakers that left many migrant communities socially isolated and vulnerable to the influence of violent and extreme religious ideology.

"It is truly the elephant in room: Europe has not accepted that Islam is a reality," he told parliament. "The existence of makeshift mosques (in Athens) is a disgrace for our country." Before Thursday's vote, the extreme right Golden Dawn party said it would continue to oppose the mosque and back protests aimed at blocking its construction.

"We will not allow this to happen. Golden Dawn will do everything in its power to stop it," party lawmaker Yiannis Lagos said. A Twitter hashtag which means "No To Mosque" in English was trending in the top position in Greece Thursday afternoon.

Wildfires spare Marseille in France, but danger high nearby

August 11, 2016

MARSEILLE, France (AP) — Firefighters in southern France brought in reinforcements from across the country on Thursday to help smother the last flames and douse dry brush after wind-whipped wildfires devastated thousands of acres and destroyed homes but spared Marseille, the nation's second-largest city.

There was no letup in the high southern winds, known as the Mistral, raising the risk of new bursts of flames after the worst blaze in recent years was contained. Meanwhile, a fire broke out Thursday in the Pyrenees-Orientales region, southwest of Marseille.

Multiple fires started up on Wednesday, west and north of Marseille, and President Francois Hollande said some were of criminal origin. "We will find those who started them," he said, but did not elaborate.

A man behaving suspiciously in Vitrolles, one of the towns most ravaged by flames, was detained for questioning, according to French media. Fires were burning in Portugal and Spain. Two arrests were made in the deadliest of more than 100 fires in Portugal, on the island of Madeira, that killed three people.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said four people were seriously injured — a resident of the Marseille region and three firemen who battled a blaze on Wednesday in the nearby Herault region. More than 3,000 hectares of vegetation were destroyed in the Marseille area, the Herault and the Pyrenees-Orientales regions.

Residents of the region north of Marseille, especially Vitrolles and nearby Pennes-Mirabeau, woke up to take an accounting of the scorched and still-smoking landscape and their losses. More than 1,000 had spent the night in gymnasiums.

"Today, at this time, the fire is, as we say, mastered. That means that it is not expanding any more there are no visible flames," said Vice-Admiral Charles-Henri Garrier, commander of Marseille's firefighter battalion, speaking near Vitrolles, just 25 kilometers (15 miles) north of Marseille.

"Anyway, if you go and walk in the ash behind me, you may walk on embers. And those embers, with the wind going stronger ... may spark the fire again, cross the crest and put the fire in the pinewood behind you."

Flight delays continued Thursday evening at Marseille's airport which had rerouted incoming flights on Wednesday to cope with firefighting aircraft. Major highways had been closed to make way for firefighters, and to keep drivers from danger.

Fire battalions from as far away as northern France were driving their heavy engines and other equipment to the Marseille region to help some 2,500 firefighters with the critical aftermath. In Portugal, firefighters also battled multiple fires for a sixth straight day. A total of 186 wildfires were counted Wednesday on Portugal's mainland alone and on Thursday, 12 were burning out of control.

In Spain, authorities said five major fires were raging in the northwestern region of Galicia, with 10 others under control.

Margaid Quioc in Marseille contributed to this report.

Fires ravage southern France, Portugal, 4 dead, 1,000s flee

August 11, 2016

MARSEILLES, France (AP) — Fires whipped by high winds ravaged swaths of southern France and Portugal on Wednesday, killing at least four people, burning scores of homes and forcing the evacuation of thousands, including tourists.

In France, multiple fires formed a column marching toward the Mediterranean port city of Marseille. Hundreds of miles away, a fire swept overnight into Funchal, the capital of Portugal's Madeira Islands, killing three elderly people and leaving more than 300 with minor burns and smoke inhalation. A forest watchman was killed on the mainland during the night when one of more than 100 blazes engulfed the caravan he was sleeping in 150 kilometers (95 miles) north of Lisbon.

Two people were reported injured, one seriously, as the fire in southern France moved toward Marseille, firefighters said, and 20 to 25 homes were burned. At least 2,700 hectares (6,670 acres) of land were devastated. Four firefighters were injured, three seriously, battling a separate blaze in the nearby Herault region — brought under control like a fire in an industrial area outside Marseille that stocks oil and petrochemicals.

The Marseille airport rerouted incoming flights to make way for firefighting aircraft, while officials in Marseille, France's second-largest city, were bracing for flames that risked lapping at its doors, and the airport warned flights risk delays or cancellations Thursday.

Thick layers of ochre-colored smoke dimmed the afternoon skies of sun-drenched Marseille, while black plumes rose above Vitrolles and Pennes-Mirabeau. "It was a scene really like the end of the world," Caroline Vidal, a Vitrolles resident told iTele TV, describing the scene as she fled her home to her grandmother's house and saw people running on the highway to escape.

Assistant Prefect Yves Rousset, asked at a pre-dawn meeting with reporters in Marseille, whether the fire might reach France's second-largest city overnight, said, "We can never say there will be no risk, but we're doing everything so it doesn't." Firefighting aircraft were restarting duty at daybreak, while the battle continued on the ground.

Firefighters in both countries battled multiple blazes fanned by high winds and fed by brush in a hot, dry summer, considered fire season in both countries. A full 186 wildfires were counted Wednesday on Portugal's mainland.

But the blazes were exceptionally powerful in both countries, roaring through Madeira and southern France at the height of the tourist season — a mainstay of the economy of Madeira islands, off northwest Africa.

Portugal's National Civil Protection Service reported 14 major wildfires burning out of control in mainland Portugal where almost 4,500 firefighters were in action in a massive operation, supported by 28 water-dumping aircraft and 1,300 vehicles. Desperate, the government requested help from other European Union countries.

The Madeira fire forced the evacuation of more than 1,000 residents and tourists in the islands. Residents described chaotic nighttime scenes, with people fleeing the flames by car at high speed on the wrong side of the road.

Miguel Albuquerque, head of Madeira's regional government, told reporters the three local victims died in their burned homes early Wednesday as the wildfire hit the coastal city in the dark. He said two other people were seriously hurt and one person went missing. At least 37 houses and a five-star hotel had burned down.

In southern France, more than 1,000 people were evacuated in several towns, notably Vitrolles, about 25 kilometers (15 miles) north of Marseille where some homes were burned down, and in nearby Pennes-Mirabeau.

"The fire is progressing. It's progressing fast," Deputy Marseille Mayor Julien Ruas said on BFM-TV. He said firewalls had been set up on the corridor leading toward the city, but if the fire passed those "it will move toward the northern neighborhoods of Marseille."

"The fire is extremely powerful, fast, explosive, and continues burning everything in its path," firefighters said in a statement from a temporary headquarters set up in Vitrolles. French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, visiting firemen in several locations, said 1,800 firefighters were mobilized to fight the blazes. Some 400 police officers were helping towns secure homes and firefighting aircraft, from Canadairs to Trackers, were mobilized.

The origins of the French fires, which started in Rognac, north of Vitrolles, were unknown. The Madeira blaze broke out Monday and firefighters said the island's steep hills and dense woodland made it hard to reach the flames. Albuquerque, the regional government chief, said officials suspect that fire was started deliberately and police have made two arrests.

Hatton reported from Lisbon, Portugal; Ganley reported from Paris.

Council of Europe head visits Turkey in wake of failed coup

August 03, 2016

ISTANBUL (AP) — The head of the Council of Europe, the continent's top human rights organization, arrived in Turkey Wednesday for talks with the country's leadership and opposition officials — the first high-ranking European official to do so after the attempted July 15 coup.

Thorbjorn Jagland was to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, the ministers of foreign affairs and justice, and the heads of opposition parties during his visit to Turkey.

Erdogan has blasted Western allies for what he says is a lack of clear support for the government in the wake of the failed putsch, which killed more than 270 people. On Wednesday, he accused the West of siding with terrorism and noted no European leaders had visited Turkey to express support after the coup.

While governments have denounced the coup attempt, they have also expressed concerns about the crackdown on opposition supporters in Turkey since then. The government says the coup was instigated by a U.S.-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, a former Erdogan ally who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania and whose extradition Turkey is seeking from the United States. Gulen has denied any involvement in the coup plot, while Washington has asked for evidence of his involvement from Ankara and says the extradition process must be allowed to take its course.

That stance has angered Erdogan and has led to strains in the two countries' relations. "From now on, everyone who continues to pay attention to the delusions of the charlatan, the chief terrorist, in Pennsylvania, has accepted in advance what will become of them," Erdogan said during a speech at a religious council meeting in Ankara Wednesday.

Turkey has conducted a sweeping crackdown on those suspected of supporting Gulen's movement, which runs schools, charities and businesses across the world. Tens of thousands of people in Turkey have been dismissed or suspended from their jobs in the civil service, education, health care, judiciary, the military and media sectors, while about 18,000 have been detained or arrested, mostly in the military.

UK promises to maintain EU funding for farming, science

August 13, 2016

LONDON (AP) — The British government promised Saturday to keep paying for European Union-funded agriculture, infrastructure and science projects until 2020, even if Britain leaves the bloc before then.

Treasury chief Philip Hammond wants to allay worry among farmers and scientists about what will replace the millions they currently get from the EU. Some scientists in Britain say the uncertainty is already hitting their ability to begin multi-year research projects.

Hammond said organizations "want reassurance about the flow of funding they will receive," and the announcement would help provide "stability and certainty." He said the funding guarantee would cost taxpayers about 4.5 billion pounds ($5.8 billion) a year.

Britain voted in June to leave the 28-nation EU, but an exit likely remains several years away. The Conservative government says it will not trigger the formal two-year exit negotiations process before next year.

Scientists' organization the Royal Society welcomed the announcement, but said it should be extended to give more stability. Its president, biologist Venki Ramakrishnan, said "we have been hearing anecdotal reports of people not being willing to collaborate with certain U.K. collaborators because they weren't sure that they would be able to stay for the full duration of the grant."