Turkey receives first shipment of Russian S-400 missile defense system

The purchase is creating tension between Turkey and US. (File/AFP)
Updated 13 July 2019
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Turkey receives first shipment of Russian S-400 missile defense system

  • Consignment was delivered to Murted Air Base outside capital Ankara
  • Washington says the S-400s could compromise its Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jets

ISTANBUL: The first parts of a Russian S-400 missile defense system were delivered to NATO member Turkey on Friday, the Turkish defense ministry said, a development set to escalate tensions with the United States which has warned of sanctions over the deal.

Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation confirmed it had started delivering the S-400 to Turkey and that the deliveries would continue as per an agreed schedule, the RIA news agency reported.

Turkey’s purchase of the Russian defense systems, which Washington says are not compatible with NATO’s defense network, is one of a series of issues which have put the allies at odds.

The S-400 consignment was delivered to the Murted Air Base outside the capital Ankara, the ministry said in a statement which triggered a weakening in the Turkish lira to 5.712 against the dollar from 5.683 before the announcement.

“The delivery of parts belonging to the system will continue in the coming days,” Turkey’s Defense Industry Directorate said separately. “Once the system is completely ready, it will begin to be used in a way determined by the relevant authorities.”

A Russian Air Force AN-124 cargo plane had flown to Turkey early on Friday morning and was last tracked approaching Ankara, data from Flightradar24 website showed. Turkish broadcasters showed footage of the plane at the Murted Air Base.

President Tayyip Erdogan said after meeting President Donald Trump at a G20 summit last month that the United States did not plan to impose sanctions on Ankara for buying the S-400s. Trump said Turkey had not been treated fairly but did not rule out sanctions.

Washington says the S-400s could compromise its Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jets, an aircraft Turkey is helping to build and planning to buy.

Turkey could face expulsion from the F-35 program under the sanctions. Erdogan has dismissed that possibility, but Washington has already started the process of removing Turkey from the program, halting training of Turkish pilots in the United States on the aircraft.

Investors in Turkey have been concerned about the impact of potential US sanctions on an economy which fell into recession after a currency crisis last year.

Ankara and Washington are also involved in disputes over strategy in Syria east of the Euphrates River, where the United States is allied with Kurdish forces that Turkey views as foes.

The Murted base, northwest of Ankara, was formerly known as Akinci Air Base. It was used by putschist soldiers in the attempted coup of July 2016.


Battle for change far from over for women in new Sudan

Updated 6 min 37 sec ago
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Battle for change far from over for women in new Sudan

  • Women have been at the forefront of the revolt which led to Bashir’s overthrow by the military on April 11
  • A female lawyer was detained on the evening of Jan. 12 and escorted to “the fridge,” a grim room where interrogations are paired with extreme cold

KHARTOUM: She may have spent 40 days in jail for demonstrating against president Omar Al-Bashir who has since been toppled but activist Amani Osmane says the battle for women’s rights in Sudan is far from over.
Women have been at the forefront of the revolt which led to Bashir’s overthrow by the military on April 11 after three decades of iron-fisted rule.
Osmane, who is also a lawyer, was detained on the evening of January 12 and escorted to “the fridge,” a grim room where interrogations are paired with extreme cold.
“There are no windows, nothing, just air conditioning at full blast and the lights on 24/7,” she told AFP.
The fridge is part of a detention center run by the all-powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in a building on the Blue Nile that runs through Khartoum.
Dozens of activists and political opponents of Bashir’s regime have passed through what NISS agents cynically refer to as “the hotel.”
Osmane, who spent 40 days behind bars after a frigid seven hours of questioning, said she was arrested “contrary to all laws... because I stand up for women in a country where they have no rights.”
Another activist, Salwa Mohamed, 21, took part each day in protests at a camp outside the army headquarters in central Khartoum that became the epicenter of the anti-Bashir revolt.
Her aim was “to have the voice of women heard” in a Muslim country where she “cannot go out alone, study abroad or dress the way I want.”
Student Alaa Salah emerged as a singing symbol of the protest movement after a picture of her in a white robe leading chanting crowds from atop a car went viral on social media.
Portraits of Salah — dubbed “Kandaka,” or Nubian queen, online — have sprouted on murals across Khartoum, paying tribute to the prominent role played by women in the revolt.
Unrest which has gripped Sudan since bread riots in December that led to the anti-Bashir uprising left scores dead.
Doctors linked to the protest movement say that 246 people have been killed since the nationwide uprising erupted, including 127 people on June 3 when armed men raided the protest camp in Khartoum.
On Wednesday, protesters and the generals who took over from Bashir finally inked a deal that aims to install a civilian administration, a key demand of demonstrators since his fall three months ago.
The accord stipulates that a new transitional ruling body be established, comprised of six civilians and five military representatives.
A general will head the ruling body during the first 21 months of a transition, followed by a civilian for the remaining 18 months, according to the framework agreement.
“We will no longer wait for our rights, we will fight to obtain them,” said Osmane, stressing that women wanted 40 percent of seats in parliament.
Amira Altijani, a professor of English at the all-female Ahfad University in Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city, said: “This movement is an opportunity for women to have their voice heard.”
For Osmane, Bashir “hijacked” sharia laws for three decades to oppress women.
“But a new Sudan is rising, with a civilian government that will allow equality,” she said.