MIDEAST MIRROR 19.02.19, SECTION C (TURKEY & IRAN)
From today’s Turkish press
TURKEY/U.S./ISIS/KURDS: Hande Firat offers a solution to the ISIS militants held in Syria in center-right Hurriyet: "I understand that President Trump brought up the subject of 800 ISIS militants twice during his phone conversations with President Erdogan. A source told me, 'Trump asks what will happen to the militants in almost every phone conversation. It is obvious that the risk of their release by the YPG [Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units] is continuously being mentioned to him.' Ankara, which has had this subject brought up several times before, reminded the U.S. that the FSA [opposition Free Syrian Army] also holds ISIS militants and that they are kept in prison. Finally, it sent the message, 'We have a solution for ISIS militants inside Syria, we will take them, and we know where to put them'."
Ibrahim Varli detects some cracks between Moscow and Ankara in leftist opposition Birgun: "Russia, Turkey, and Iran brought Syria to the table at the Black Sea resort of Sochi. They tried to reach a common accord on the issues of a new Syrian constitution, Idlib, East of Euphrates, and Syria after the U.S. withdrawal. While the summit failed to generate the desired outcome, the disagreements between Ankara and Moscow became more visible."
Burhanettin Duran cautions Europe in pro-government Sabah: "There is a point that Europe should be careful about. The YPG issue is nothing like that of foreign ISIS fighters. Europe's attempt to 'protect the YPG from Turkey in the same format as the international coalition against terror' is unworkable. A goal that the U.S. cannot attain is unlikely to be realized by France, Germany, or any other European power. This will only drive a wedge between the European capitals and Ankara. The burden that the U.S. has shifted onto the Europeans' shoulders is not easy to bear. Some, who are affected by 'PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party] romanticism' may not be worried about losing Turkey. However, Turkey is of critical importance on many levels; from the future of Syria, to immigration. And it is in a position of acting as Europe's security gate."
THE ECONOMY: Ihsan Caralan points the finger at the government in leftist opposition Evrensel: "President Erdogan said something on TV that would astonish anyone with a modicum of sense, claiming that 'there two types of queues. During the CHP [main opposition Republican People's Party] government, it was that of poverty. After the new steps were taken, the queue of wealth emerged'. So the president is arguing that the producers sell goods to ordinary citizens at high prices, whereas the municipality-run marketplaces have solved this problem by bringing abundance to the people. Even if we accept this thesis, any citizen who has not been confused by the AKP [the ruling Justice and Development Party] knows that it is the government that has been running the country for 17 years that is primarily responsible for this situation."
Ibrahim Kahveci is unconvinced by the government's economic policies in liberal pro-government Karar: "The entire system is the problem. Taxes and fees increase the costs. The rent increases in shops, and the rental costs of the district market stalls are reflected in the price of goods. Transferring the goods has become a big cost in itself. And the result: If the government wants to stabilize food prices, the problems should be handled as a whole. In fact, the most urgent problem is to enable producers to earn money from their products. Otherwise, price suppression will put the farmers even in a more difficult situation and they may produce less in the new season. We are facing a very, very dangerous situation."
Kemal Ozturk is also concerned about the cost of the government's policy in pro-government Yeni Safak: "After talking to commissioners in the wholesale market hall I checked the internet to see the price of vegetables. Then I went to the municipality-run marketplaces and compared prices. If the municipality-run marketplaces buy the goods from the Kumluca wholesale market, they make no profit in the sales of some goods, and in some cases they lose money."
Iran media watch
'DECEPTIVE EUROPEANS': Most Iranian newspapers today lead with Supreme Leader Ali Khamene'i's warning yesterday that officials must "not be deceived" by Europe, whose enmity with Iran is less apparent that the US. "Let officials not bring about problems for themselves and the nation by relying on Europe," hardline Javan's headline cited the Leader as saying. Moderate Qanun and hardline Keyhan highlighted the leader's emphasis on domestic capabilities in order to ensure that Iranian youth are able to "fire at will". In 2017, Khamenei controversially called on his supporters to "fire at will" when they see that government bodies are not functioning appropriately.
IMPEACHING ROWHANI: Several pro-reform newspapers have discussed a parliamentary motion to impeach President Hassan Rowhani, which has so far garnered 18 signatures. Ninety-six are required to summon him to parliament. Reformist E'temad highlighted that although the motion failed to get a considerable number of signatures, its initiators continued to push it forward and even published the text of the motion. E'temad speculated that those behind the motion have been promoting a plot to appoint a military figure in Rouhani's place. Moderate Besharat-e No published the text itself. Meanwhile, while reporting on President Rowhani's speech yesterday at a refinery opening ceremony, governmental Iran's headline quoted him as saying that "everybody should defend the government elected by the people".
TRUMP/VENEZUELA/BORDER WALL: The top foreign news story on broadcast media this morning was President Trump's call for the Venezuelan military to abandon President Nicolas Maduro and embrace the cause of opposition leader and self-declared acting president Juan Guaido. "Trump, who failed to incite the Venezuelan people and army against their government, has warned Venezuelan army officers that their support for the government may risk their life," Channel One (IRTV1) said. Rolling news network IRINN said Trump threatened that "all options are on the table" in regard to Venezuela. English-language Press TV, meanwhile, led with protests against Trump's declaration of a state of emergency regarding the need to build a wall along the Mexico border.
PETROL SELF-SUFFICIENCY: Today's dailies also highlight that Iran does not need to import petrol any more, as the Oil Minister Bijan Namdar-Zanganeh said at a refinery inauguration ceremony yesterday in Southern Hormozgan Province. Reporting on the story, hardline Javan's headline noted that the "The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) forged a key for the government to export petrol", as the IRGC Khatam-Anbia economic base built the refinery that was opened yesterday. Conservative Khorasan stressed the "timeliness" of petrol self-sufficiency given the intensification of U.S. economic pressure. Business daily Hadaf va Eqtesad said that U.S. sanctions on Iran have been defeated through the construction of this refinery.
SOCIAL MEDIA: Persian Twitter has thrown its weight behind Iranian Kurdish football player Voria Ghafuri following his summoning by the Sports Ministry for criticizing Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. In an Instagram story, Ghafuri rebuked Zarif for remarking that "we [Iranians] are proud to be under pressure for supporting Palestine", saying that only "ordinary people" were in fact under pressure and not the country's elite. Relevant hashtags have been used over 31,000 times in the past 24 hours. Some praised Ghafuri for "not being indifferent" despite being a wealthy football player who is not under financial pressure. "It makes what he did a hundred times more valuable," said one user. Ghafuri's comments seemed to have drawn the ire of Supreme Leader Ali Khamene'i. In a speech yesterday about the recent suicide attack that killed 27 IRGC personnel, Khamenei said: "Some people who take advantage of the country's security to work and play sport should know that it is martyrdom that ensures security". Ghafuri, who plays for the state-owned Tehran football club Esteghlal FC, was summoned by the Sports Ministry for questioning hours after Khamene'i's speech. One user said Ghafuri's comments had scared Khamene'i, and his summoning only served to prove that "you've reached the end of the line, Mr Dictator!"