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Row between Turkey and Europe escalates over fate of European Daesh fighters

ANKARA: Turkey has urged Europe to take back battle-hardened Daesh militants before it is too late. Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Saturday that Turkey would send captured Daesh members back to their home countries, and he complained about European inaction on the matter. “Turkey is not a hotel for any Daesh terrorist,” he…

Row between Turkey and Europe escalates over fate of European Daesh fighters

ANKARA: Turkey has urged Europe to take back battle-hardened Daesh militants before it is too late.

Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Saturday that Turkey would send captured Daesh members back to their home countries, and he complained about European inaction on the matter.

“Turkey is not a hotel for any Daesh terrorist,” he said.

Lorne L. Dawson, professor of religious studies at the University of Waterloo in Canada, said responsibility for the repatriation of foreign fighters lay with these nations, and it was the most humane way to address the plight of children of foreign fighters who should not suffer because of their parents’ actions.

“The hesitation to do so would appear to be primarily political, since the repatriation of foreign fighters will be criticized aggressively by more conservative elements in these countries,” Dawson told Arab News. He said that many domestic terrorists have been successfully reintegrated into their societies, but only after receiving sustained and appropriate counseling.

“In principle, then, the same should be true for many returning foreign fighters, and in fact there are many such returnees already present in most of the countries from which fighters left, and so far they have been linked to only a very few further terrorists acts,” he said.

Last Friday, Turkey detained two female Daesh terrorists and their children at the request of the Dutch Embassy in Ankara. One of the women was stripped of her Dutch citizenship over her membership of Daesh. Turkey will decide on the legislative steps to be taken against them, but the Netherlands wants them to stand trial in Syria or Turkey.

On Sunday, a senior Daesh official responsible for training camps was arrested in Turkey’s southern Osmaniye province.

The Brussels-based think-tank Egmont recently released a report showing that there are at least 430 Daesh prisoners in Syria with European nationality, along with some 700 children. France, Germany and Belgium have the highest numbers of foreign fighters who traveled to Syria to join Daesh.

However, after a series of terror attacks in Europe by Daesh members who returned home after being radicalized, European countries consider them “persona non grata” and insist on establishing an international court in Iraq for laying criminal charges.

About 800 Daesh members are claimed to have fled from the prisons they were kept in Syria in recent weeks. In late October, the deportation process to Turkey began of dozens of Daesh terror suspects with their family members, all Turkish nationals.

Nihat Ali Ozcan, a retired major now serving as a security analyst at Ankara-based think-tank TEPAV, said that international law requires that Turkey deports Daesh fighters who are captured within Turkish territories, but the problem begins when they are captured within Syria in zones that are outside of the Assad regime’s control.

“Some countries want them to stay there, and for instance the Netherlands began the process of stripping Daesh members with dual citizenship of their Dutch nationality to render them stateless,” he told Arab News.

But Ankara criticizes Western countries for resisting repatriation by revoking their citizenship: “It is not acceptable for us (to hear) ‘I stripped them of the citizenship, you take care of it.’ This is also irresponsibility,” Soylu said on Saturday.

Turkey sends foreign fighters caught in Syria to prisons located in the area of Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield and they are then sent back to their countries of origin.

“However, it is usually difficult to prove in a trial that they committed any crimes because convictions are usually based solely on a confession and no other supporting evidence,” Ozcan said.

The average sentence for returned fighters, in Turkey or in Western countries, has been five years’ imprisonment, resulting in security threats from those who cannot be efficiently rehabilitated.

Imprisonment has its own complications. Prison can become “an incubator of radicalization” in the words of the EU’s counterterrorism coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove, and imprisoned foreign fighters can also inspire their inmates.

For Dawson, the kind of programming required to rehabilitate many of the fighters is in place in many nations, especially in the West, and it merely needs to be repurposed from preventing violent radicalization to promoting the disengagement of foreign fighters.

Meanwhile, Turkey on Monday evening captured the 65-year-old sister of slain Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in northwestern Syria, where she was living with her family near the town of Azaz in Aleppo province. The area is part of the region administered by Turkey.

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Trump suggests he may give written testimony in House probe

SEOUL: North Korea has responded to a tweet by US President Donald Trump that hinted at another summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying it has no interest in giving Trump further meetings to brag about unless it gets something substantial in return. The statement on Monday by Foreign Ministry adviser Kim Kye…

Trump suggests he may give written testimony in House probe

SEOUL: North Korea has responded to a tweet by US President Donald Trump that hinted at another summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, saying it has no interest in giving Trump further meetings to brag about unless it gets something substantial in return.
The statement on Monday by Foreign Ministry adviser Kim Kye Gwan is the latest call by North Korea for US concessions ahead of an end-of-year deadline set by KimJong Un for the Trump administration to offer mutually acceptable terms for a deal to salvage nuclear diplomacy.
Kim Kye Gwan says Washington must discard what North Korea sees as its “hostile” policies to keep the negotiations alive.

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North Korea says it won’t give Trump a summit for free

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump suggested Monday he might be willing to offer written testimony in the House impeachment inquiry over whether he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Joe Biden and his son as he withheld aid to the country.In a pair of tweets, Trump says he will “strongly consider” an offer by House Speaker Nancy…

North Korea says it won’t give Trump a summit for free

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump suggested Monday he might be willing to offer written testimony in the House impeachment inquiry over whether he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Joe Biden and his son as he withheld aid to the country.In a pair of tweets, Trump says he will “strongly consider” an offer by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to testify before the House impeachment panel.Trump tweeted, “She also said I could do it in writing. Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!”Pelosi told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that Trump could come before the committee and “speak all the truth that he wants.”

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France’s yellow vests stage new protests for anniversary

COLOMBO: Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who spearheaded the brutal crushing of the Tamil Tigers 10 years ago, stormed to victory Sunday in Sri Lanka’s presidential elections, seven months after Islamist extremist attacks killed 269 people.Rajapaksa conducted a nationalist campaign with a promise of security and a vow to crush religious extremism in the Buddhist-majority country following the…

France’s yellow vests stage new protests for anniversary

COLOMBO: Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who spearheaded the brutal crushing of the Tamil Tigers 10 years ago, stormed to victory Sunday in Sri Lanka’s presidential elections, seven months after Islamist extremist attacks killed 269 people.Rajapaksa conducted a nationalist campaign with a promise of security and a vow to crush religious extremism in the Buddhist-majority country following the April 21 suicide bomb attacks blamed on a homegrown militant group.His triumph will, however, alarm Sri Lanka’s Tamil and Muslim minorities as well as activists, journalists and possibly some in the international community following the 2005-15 presidency of his older brother Mahinda Rajapaksa.Mahinda, with Gotabaya effectively running the security forces, ended a 37-year civil war with Tamil separatists. His decade in power was also marked by alleged rights abuses, murky extra-judicial killings and closer ties with China.Gotabaya, a retired lieutenant-colonel, 70, nicknamed the “Terminator” by his own family, romped to victory with 51.9 percent of the vote, results from the two-thirds of votes counted so far showed.“I didn’t sleep all night,” said student Devni, 22, one of around 30 people who gathered outside Rajapaksa’s Colombo residence. “I am so excited, he is the president we need.”Rajapaksa’s main rival, the moderate Sajith Premadasa of the ruling party, trailed on 42.3 percent. The 52-year-old conceded the race and congratulated Rajapaksa.On Sunday three cabinet members resigned — including Finance Minister Mangalar Samaraweera.The final result was expected later on Sunday with Rajapaksa due to be sworn in on Monday. Turnout was over 80 percent.Premadasa had strong support in minority Tamil areas but a poor showing in Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese heartland, a core support base where Rajapaksa won some two-thirds of the vote.Saturday’s poll was the first popularity test of the United National Party (UNP) government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.Wickremesinghe’s administration failed to prevent the April attacks despite prior and detailed intelligence warnings from India, according a parliamentary investigation.Premadasa also offered better security and a pledge to make a former war general, Sarath Fonseka, his national security chief, projecting himself as a victim seeking to crush terrorism.He is the son of assassinated ex-president Ranasinghe Premadasa who fell victim to a Tamil rebel suicide bomber in May 1993.But Gotabaya is adored by the Sinhalese majority and the powerful Buddhist clergy for how he and Mahinda ended the war in 2009, when 40,000 Tamil civilians allegedly perished at the hands of the army.Under his brother, Gotabaya was defense secretary and effectively ran the security forces, allegedly overseeing “death squads” that bumped off rivals, journalists and others. He denies the allegations.This makes the brothers detested and feared among many Tamils, who make up 15 percent of the population. Some in the Muslim community, who make up 10 percent, are also fearful of Gotabaya, having faced days of mob violence in the wake of the April attacks.Under Mahinda, Sri Lanka also borrowed heavily from China for infrastructure projects and even allowed two Chinese submarines to dock in Colombo in 2014, alarming Western countries as well as India.Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on Sunday that India looked forward to “deepening the close and fraternal ties… and for peace, prosperity as well as security in our region.”The projects ballooned Sri Lanka’s debts and many turned into white elephants — such as an airport in the south devoid of airlines — mired in corruption allegations.Unlike in 2015 when there were bomb attacks and shootings, this election was relatively peaceful by the standards of Sri Lanka’s fiery politics.The only major incident was on Saturday when gunmen fired at two vehicles in a convoy of at least 100 buses taking Muslim voters to cast ballots. Two people were injured.According to the Election Commission the contest was, however, the worst ever for hate speech and misinformation.

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