Protests Rage Against Erdogan

Turkish police have fired tear gas and water cannons at demonstrators in central Istanbul , wounding scores of people and prompting rallies in other cities in the fiercest anti-government protests for years,according to ABC NEWS.

Dozens were injured in the demonstration against plans to raze a park across from Istanbul's Taksim Square to build a shopping mall, resulting in a wider outcry against prime minister Tayyip Erdogan's government.

A peaceful protest at Taksim's Gezi Park started late on Monday after trees were torn up under a government redevelopment plan, with Friday's violence erupting after a dawn police raid on demonstrators who had been camped out for days.

Broken glass and rocks were strewn across a main shopping street near Taksim. Primary school children ran crying from the clouds of tear gas while tourists caught by surprise scurried to get back to luxury hotels lining the square.

"This isn't just about trees anymore, it's about all of the pressure we're under from this government. We're fed up - we don't like the direction the country is headed in," said 18-year-old student Mert Burge, who came to support the protesters after reading on Twitter about the police use of tear gas.

"We will stay here tonight and sleep on the street if we have to," he said.

Mr Erdogan has overseen a transformation in Turkey during his decade in power, turning its economy from crisis-prone into Europe's fastest-growing.

He remains by far Turkey's most popular politician, and is widely viewed as its most powerful leader since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded the modern secular republic on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire 90 years ago.

But there have also been protests against the government's stance on the conflict in neighbouring Syria, a tightening of restrictions on alcohol sales, and warnings against public displays of affection.

"We do not have a government, we have Tayyip Erdogan ... Even AK Party supporters are saying they have lost their mind, they are not listening to us," said Koray Caliskan, a political scientist at Bosphorus University who attended the protest.

"This is the beginning of a summer of discontent."

Thousands chanting for the government to resign gathered at a park in the centre of Ankara, where police earlier fired tear gas to disperse several dozen opposition supporters trying to reach the AKP headquarters.

Protesters also rallied at two locations in Izmir, according to pictures on social media.

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A total of 12 people, including a pro-Kurdish MP and a Reuters photographer, suffered trauma injuries and hundreds suffered respiratory problems due to tear gas.

Some people were injured when a wall they were climbing collapsed as they tried to flee clouds of tear gas.

Amnesty International said it was concerned by "the use of excessive force" by the police against what had started out as a peaceful protest.

Ria Oomen-Ruijten, the European parliament rapporteur on Turkey, also voiced concern.

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Iran Renews Emphasis on Finding Political Solution to Crisis in Syria

 

TEHRAN - Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi stressed the necessity of an immediate halt the ongoing bloodsheds in Syria, and renewed Tehran's call for finding a political solution to the crisis in Syria and avoiding military intervention by foreign countries.

Addressing the conference, Salehi said Iran has always been part of the solution to the regional crises, including Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon, and played a "constructive and positive" role in restoring tranquility and security in the region, according toFNA.

As regards the crisis in Syria, Salehi said Iran has spared no effort to restore tranquility and stability in the country.

Salehi said the consultative meeting on Syria held in the Iranian capital last summer, the Tehran conference for national dialogue in Syria, Iran's support for both the peace plan presented by former UN envoy on Syria Kofi Annan and the ongoing efforts made by the current UN-AL envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, Tehran's support for Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi's plan for the establishment of a quadrilateral Contact Group on Syria and Iran's 6-paragraph initiative for peace in Syria were part of Tehran's efforts to end the crisis in that country.

He further reiterated the need for finding a negotiated solution to the crisis, and stated, "What is important is working out a regional and international understanding to go past the current crisis in Syria through a political solution based on dialogue instead of a military solution."

Salehi said that the international community should reject violence and focus on the immediate cessation of hostilities and block arms shipment to the terrorists in Syria.

Earlier, the international 'Friends of Syria' conference started work here in Tehran on Wednesday afternoon to find a peaceful solution to the ongoing crisis in the country.

Over 40 high-ranking officials and representatives of different world countries and regional and international organizations are attending the one-day meeting which is being held with the motto of 'Political Solution, Regional Stability'.

Iran has invited different regional and international actors to the conference, the foreign ministry announced last week.

"Representatives of Russia and China will be present in the meeting and Tehran has invited different states, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which hold different positions (from that of Iran on Syria) to attend the conference," Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian said on Sunday.

Also, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Araqchi said in his weekly press conference in Tehran on Tuesday that Iran seeks to find a political solution to the crisis in Syria through cooperation with the countries and groups invited to the 'Friends of Syria' conference in Tehran on Wednesday.

"The main goal of the meeting is helping the idea of finding a political solution to (the crisis in) Syria," Araqchi said.

"All countries as well as all the regional and international organizations which can help to (the implementation of) this solution have been invited (to the conference)," he said, expressing the hope that discussions at the Tehran conference could help both the Tehran and the Geneva meetings move towards success.

Noting that Iran expects participation of officials and representatives from 40 countries in the Friends of Syria conference in Tehran, Araqchi announced that a number of "special guests" have also been invited to the meeting.

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Dialogue Only Solution to Crisis in Syria: Velayati

TEHRAN, (ST)_ Candidate for the current presidential elections in Iran, Ali Akbar Velayati stressed  that there is no solution to the crisis in Syria , but  dialogue and diplomatic and peaceful means .

"We believe in inter-Syrian  solution , and parties concerned  with  the Syrian developments to sit on the dialogue table to get out of the crisis that beset the country." Velayati said,  replying  a question about Iran's role in resolving the crisis in Syria a press conference on Tuesday.

He considered that  the Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia and Egypt reached a conviction on the  futility of the military option to resolve this crisis.

The candidate for Iranian Presidency  indicated  that  Iranian-Arab relations during his tenure when he was Iran 's foreign minister in the eighties and nineties, stressing the possibility of improving relations between Iran and some Arab countries.

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Iran Blasts EU Decision to Lift Syria Arms Embargo

TEHRAN - The Iranian foreign ministry blasted the EU decision to send weapons to terrorists  groups who fight the Syrian people, and warned the decision would result in the spread of terrorism in the European countries.

"The decision to lift the embargos on arms shipment to the terrorist groups in Syria is a dangerous one," Araqchi told reporters in Tehran on Tuesday, according to FNA.

His remarks came after the EU foreign ministers agreed on Monday to end the embargo on supplying arms to opposition forces in Syria.

"By their incorrect decision to support such groups, the European countries brought the terrorists thousands of kilometers closer to their soil and such a hasty and incorrect decision will certainly increase threats against them," he added.

Araqchi also censured the European countries for undermining international efforts to settle the crisis in Syria politically, specially the upcoming Geneva II conference, through their decision for militarizing the situation in Syria more, and added, "The decision will make the settlement of the crisis in Syria more difficult and complicated."

Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011 with organized attacks by well-armed gangs against Syrian police forces and border guards being reported across the country.

The EU's anti-terror chief said in April that hundreds of Europeans are now fighting with terrorists  in Syria against the Syrian government  government.

Gilles de Kerchove estimated the number in Syria at about 500.

Intelligence agencies are concerned some could join groups linked to al-Qaeda and later return to Europe to launch terrorist attacks.

The UK, Ireland and France are among the EU countries estimated to have the highest numbers of fighters in Syria.

"Not all of them are radical when they leave, but most likely many of them will be radicalized there, will be trained," de Kerchove said.

"And as we've seen this might lead to a serious threat when they get back."

Across Europe, intelligence agencies have stepped up investigations, says the BBC's Europe correspondent Duncan Crawford.

In Britain and Belgium they have increased efforts to track how people are recruited.

In the Netherlands, officials have raised the terror threat level there to "substantial" - partly over concerns about radicalized citizens returning from Syria.

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CHP leader: Erdogan helps train terrorists in Syria

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) chairman  Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has accused Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of “providing training to terrorists in Syria.”

Criticizing Erdogan’s foreign policy towards war-hit Syria, Kılıçdaroğlu has slammed the Prime Minister’s visit to the bombed Turkish town of Reyhanlı,according to Dogan News agency.

 “You have no idea about Reyhanlı, you do not know their problems. You do not know the locals’ crafts issues. You are the man who trains members of terrorist organizations and sends them into Syria. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, you are the terrorist leader for Syria,” Kılıçdaroğlu said May 26 in Antalya where he met the leaders of his party’s regional city branches.

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