Council of Ministers to convene as Iraq, Syria top agenda

Published 13.08.2017 20:56

The latest developments in the counterterrorism fight in Syria and Iraq, as well as the extension of the Feast of Sacrifice (Kurban Bayram) holiday in Turkey, will be discussed during the Council of Ministers' meeting which will convene today at the Beştepe Presidential Complex under the presidency of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The meeting will be first following the revision of the ministerial Cabinet. Deputy Prime Minister Hakan Çavuşoğlu, Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül, Labor and Social Security Minister Jülide Sarıeroğlu, Youth and Sports Minister Osman Aşkın Bak, Food, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Ahmet Eşref Fakıbaba and Health Minister Ahmet Demircan will attend the meeting for the first time.

While the latest developments in the fight against terrorism will be evaluated, presentations on the internal and external security threat will also be made at the meeting. On the other hand, the latest developments in Iraq and Syria, particularly regarding the situation in Idlib as well as measures to be taken regarding Idlib will be discussed during the meeting.

Last week, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said that Turkey is taking the necessary steps to secure its 150-kilometer border with the Syrian province of Idlib, to protect the country against any cross-border threats after Hay'et Tahrir al-Sham militants recently assumed control of the town. Also, during a high-level security meeting on Wednesday, top Turkish officials discussed steps to protect Turkey's border security and evaluated the military, diplomatic and civilian measures Turkey may take to prevent a humanitarian tragedy in Idlib in case the U.S. launches an offensive in the city.

On the other hand, the U.S. warned that a takeover of the rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib by Hay'et Tahrir al-Sham would have grave consequences and make it difficult to dissuade Russia from resuming bombardments of the area that had recently stopped. In an online letter, the top U.S. State Department official in charge of Syria policy, Michael Ratney, said the recent offensive by Hay'et Tahrir al-Sham had cemented its grip on the province and put "the future of northern Syria in grave danger." Recently, it was reported that many U.S. navy seals were stationed in the village of Arsal in Lebanon near the Syrian border.

The 180-day action plan, which President Erdoğan is expected to bring to the Council of Ministers, will also be discussed.

The final decision regarding the duration of the Feast of Sacrifice (Kurban Bayram) holiday is expected to be determined in the meeting. Regarding the issue, Minister Kurtulmuş and Minister Zeybekçi will make a presentation on the contribution that the extended holiday will have on tourism and the economy. Positive developments and the new steps that could be implemented regarding the economy will also be discussed.

Speaking on the issue last week, President Erdoğan said the government is working on extending the holiday to 10 days and that the decision would be positive step in terms of both domestic and foreign tourism. "At this moment, the occupancy rate at hotels in Antalya is around 80 percent. This situation gives us a chance to quickly close the deficit in the tourism sector," he said.

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