Balkans: Countering Coup Conspiracies In Turkey

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July 10, 2008: Turkish authorities are asserting that the July 9 terror attack near the US consulate in Istanbul may have been the work of Al Qaeda. The US State Department was much more circumspect, but in an official statement said that Al Qaeda involvement could not be ruled out. Turkey, however, has many radical factions that use terror, from the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party), to hard left radicals still mired in the Cold War, to Islamo-fascists. Still, this attack was brazen – a gun battle with security guards. At least two of the four attackers were identified as Turks. Why would Al Qaeda hit Istanbul? Because they can. Despite Turkey's sophisticated counter-terror precautions, Istanbul is a huge, vibrant, open city. It is also Europe. Al Qaeda-linked terror bombings took place in Istanbul in 2003 and killed 58 people

July 9, 2008: At least four gunmen attacked the US consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, Three of the gunmen were killed; three security guards died in the firefight.

July 8, 2008: Cyprus' Turkish and Greek leaders have been holding meetings to discuss a "new peace initiative" that would lead to an end to the island's division. The diplomatic lingo for the approach is creating a "bi-zonal, bi-communal federation" on Cyprus. The meetings have been intermittent for the past several months, but both sides now say they will make a decision on July 25 on whether or not to move forward with the process.

July 7, 2008: The new Serbian government announced that "full-fledged EU membership" was a "core interest" for Serbia. The new coalition government was elected on a "pro-EU" platform which is why it is currently referred to as "the EU bloc." This is particularly ironic since Serbia still has "down-graded" it relations with most EU members – the ones who favored an independent Kosovo.

July 5, 2008: Turkey announced that two former Turkish generals had been arrested. The men may have been involved with a potential coup against the Turkish government, though Turkish media noted that no specific charges had been filed against the generals. Since June 30, 19 other people had been arrested in related investigations. Turkey's "moderate Islamist" AKP government has been worried about potential military coups for several years, but the concern has risen since Turkey's Constitutional Court is conducting a hearing into "anti-secular activity" by the AKP.

June 28, 2008: Kosovar Serbs have started their own "mini-parliament." The separatist legislature is called the Assembly of the Union of Municipalities of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo. It meets in Mitrovica, Kosovo – in the Serb area of town, of course.

June 27, 2008: Bulgaria indicated that it may buy three second-hand Belgian frigates for operations in the Black Sea. Bulgaria had been considering buying four new French-built corvettes.

June 25, 2008: Slavica Djukic Dejanovic was elected Serbia's parliamentary speaker. Ms. Dehanovic was one a political ally of former Serb dictator Slobodan Milosevic. She is a member of the Socialist Party which has joined the new "EU Bloc" in Serbia to form the government. It's an odd marriage but the "EU Bloc" needed the Socialists' votes.

June 23, 2008: NATO's Secretary General said that "any form of partition is not an option" for Kosovo. NATO opposes Serb demands that ethnic Serb areas of Kosovo be allowed to separate from Kosovo.

June 21, 2008: Four members of the EUFOR peacekeeping force in Bosnia died when their helicopter crashed near Travnik, Bosnia. Two Spanish helicopter pilots died and two German officers were also killed. EUFOR still has 2,200 troops in Bosnia.

 

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