Erdoğan chairs Cabinet, focus on PYD, counterterror
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULFeb 23, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Feb 23, 2016 12:00 am
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan chaired a Cabinet meeting for the first time since the Nov. 1 elections yesterday with a full agenda including critical discussions on national security, the ongoing counterterror operations throughout the southeast against the PKK terrorist organization and the developments in Syria that pose a threat to Turkey. Although Erdoğan was expected to chair the Cabinet meeting on Feb. 29, it was moved to an earlier date due to his upcoming trip to Africa from Feb. 28 to March 2 during which he will be in Ivory Coast, Ghana and Nigeria. As Erdoğan plans to chair a Cabinet meeting every other month, sources say he will alternatively chair National Security Council meetings as well.
The government continuously emphasizes the security threat posed by the Syrian PKK affiliate Democratic Union Party (PYD), especially following the government pointing the finger at the terrorist organization for the deadly car bombing in Ankara. The government is currently discussing altering its existing rules of engagement to more expansive ones. The Cabinet meeting was not over by the time Daily Sabah went to print on Monday evening, but sources close to the government said the determination to fight all terror elements across the border in Syria, including DAESH and the PYD, was one of the hot topics for the Cabinet meeting.Turkey's ongoing combat against the PKK terrorist organization as well as counterterror security forces operations in the southeast were also said to be topics at the Cabinet meeting.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu announced on Saturday that new security measures are to be applied, deploying more security forces with their presence becoming "more visible" as part of the new plan. The Cabinet is also said to be discussing the new plan's details comprehensively. Turkey has conducted operations against the PKK since late July when the PKK ended a two-and-a-half year cease-fire. Since the PKK announced the end of the cease-fire on July 11, more than 150 members of the security forces have been killed while, according to the government, more than 2,000 PKK terrorists have been killed.
There were reports that a chain of explosions occurred in the Gara camp in Northern Iraq with Turkish military operations against PKK arms depots. Senior PKK figures at their headquarters in the Qandil Mountains in Northern Iraq reportedly ordered surviving PKK members to move to the Metina camp.
While topics of Turkey's national security matter are said to top the Cabinet meeting's agenda, developments in Syria are expected to be discussed in lieu of the postponement of the Geneva talks until Feb. 25, announced by the U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. Along with Syria, the ongoing refugee crisis as well as a possible new wave of refugees at the border is expected to be discussed.
Erdoğan first chaired a Cabinet meeting on Jan. 19 of last year after being elected president. He has chaired a total of four Cabinet meetings during his presidency and the most recent meeting with Cabinet members was on Dec. 14 at a dinner at the Presidential Palace.