Geopolitics

Murder Of Turkish-Armenian Editor Hrant Dink Is Still An Open Case

On the fourth anniversary of the death of the journalist and peace activist, thousands gather in Istanbul to demand justice.

Hrant Dink (open democracy)


Dink was shot outside the Istanbul offices of the Armenian newspaper Agos, where he was chief editor, after weeks of anonymous death threats and intimidation by state officials. A teenager confessed to the shooting, but an ongoing trial drags on without a verdict. Dink's family and lawyers are demanding that questioning be extended to high-ranking security officials who they suspect may have colluded in planning the murder.

ISTANBUL - At exactly 3 pm January 19, 2011, the day and hour of his death, Hrant Dink was commemorated at the site where he was gunned down. Thousands of people gathered for the ceremony, and many wept as it opened with a recording of his voice.

At 2:55, Dink's wife Rakel, his children Delal, Arat and Sera, and other family members gathered on the street where the slain journalist was killed. A minute of silence was held on the hour, and a voice recording of an interview with Dink was broadcast.

"It is true, Armenians have an eye on this country and this land," said Dink in the recording. "President Demirel once said something like ‘We won't even give the Armenians three pebbles'. So, in reply, I wrote: ‘Yes, we Armenians have an eye on this land because this is where our roots are. But don't worry. Our intention is not to take this land away. It is to come to this land and be a part of it.""

Speaking on behalf of the Collective Memory Platform, Nükhet İpekçi, daughter of Abdi İpekçi, a Turkish journalist gunned down in 1979, said: ‘We are a giant family gathered here for the fourth year running. As our sister Rakel has said: ‘They united us in our pain". Hrant Dink was robbed of his life as the result of an orchestrated plan by official institutions and people - can we defend Hrant Dink's right to live from where we stand? We might think we can, but it would be just words. We now need more than words."

Police officials could be brought before court

Charges of neglect in the investigation of Dink's murder against Resat Altay, the former police chief in the Black Sea city of Trabzon where Dink's teenage gunman hailed from, and lead investigator Levent Yarımel could be revived. Trabzon's prosecutors had previously refused permission for the two to be questioned, but Dink's lawyers appealed and the court in the neighboring Black Sea city of Rize has sent a request to the prosecutors asking that Altay and Yarimel be heard.

The commemorative ceremony, attended by some 10,000 people, included many writers, artists and fellow journalists. Protestors carried black and white placards which read: ‘For four years, there has been no justice", ‘Parliament has been absent for four years' , ‘The killer state will one day have to pay" and ‘We are all Hrant, we are all Armenian".

Dink's wife Rakel did not speak at the ceremony. She waved from the balcony of the Agos newspaper offices, and later left a bouquet of carnations at the exact location on the street below where he was shot.

Read the original article in Turkish

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Geopolitics

Iran-Saudi Arabia Rivalry May Be Set To Ease, Or Get Much Worse

The Saudis may be awaiting the outcome of Iran's nuclear talks with the West, to see whether Tehran will moderate its regional policies, or lash out like never before.

Military parade in Tehran, Iran, on Oct. 3

-Analysis-

LONDON — The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said earlier this month that Iranian and Saudi negotiators had so far had four rounds of "continuous" talks, though both sides had agreed to keep them private. The talks are to ease fraught relations between Iran's radical Shia regime and the Saudi kingdom, a key Western ally in the Middle East.

Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has said that the talks were going in the right direction, while an Iranian trade official was recently hopeful these might even allow trade opportunities for Iranian businessmen in Saudi Arabia. As the broadcaster France 24 observed separately, it will take more than positive signals to heal a five-year-rift and decades of mutual suspicions.


Agence France-Presse news agency, meanwhile, has cited an unnamed French diplomat as saying that Saudi Arabia wants to end its costly discord with Tehran. The sides may already have agreed to reopen consular offices. For Saudi Arabia, the costs include its war on Iran-backed Houthis rebels fighting an UN-recognized government in next-door Yemen.

The role of the nuclear pact

Bilateral relations were severed in January 2016, after regime militiamen stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Amirabdollahian was then the deputy foreign minister for Arab affairs. In 2019, he told the website Iranian Diplomacy that Saudi Arabia had taken measures vis-a-vis Iran's nuclear pact with the world powers.

It's unlikely Ali Khamenei will tolerate the Saudi kingdom's rising power in the region.

He said "the Saudis' insane conduct toward [the pact] led them to conclude that they must prevent [its implementation] in a peaceful environment ... I think the Saudis are quite deluded, and their delusion consists in thinking that Trump is an opportunity for them to place themselves on the path of conflict with the Islamic Republic while relying on Trump." He meant the administration led by the U.S. President Donald J.Trump, which was hostile to Iran's regime. This, he said, "is not how we view Saudi Arabia. I think Yemen should have been a big lesson for the Saudis."

The minister was effectively admitting the Houthis were the Islamic Republic's tool for getting back at Saudi Arabia.

Yet in the past two years, both sides have taken steps to improve relations, without firm results as yet. Nor is the situation likely to change this time.

Photo of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in 2020

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in 2020

commons.wikimedia.org

Riyadh's warming relations with Israel

Iran's former ambassador in Lebanon, Ahmad Dastmalchian, told the ILNA news agency in Tehran that Saudi Arabia is doing Israel's bidding in the region, and has "entrusted its national security, and life and death to Tel Aviv." Riyadh, he said, had been financing a good many "security and political projects in the region," or acting as a "logistical supplier."

The United States, said Dastmalchian, has "in turn tried to provide intelligence and security backing, while Israel has simply followed its own interests in all this."

Furthermore, it seems unlikely Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will tolerate, even in this weak period of his leadership, the kingdom's rising power in the region and beyond, and especially its financial clout. He is usually disparaging when he speaks of Riyadh's princely rulers. In 2017, he compared them to "dairy cows," saying, "the idiots think that by giving money and aid, they can attract the goodwill of Islam's enemies."

Iranian regime officials are hopeful of moving toward better diplomatic ties and a reopening of embassies. Yet the balance of power between the sides began to change in Riyadh's favor years ago. For the kingdom's power has shifted from relying mostly on arms, to economic and political clout. The countries might have had peaceful relations before in considerably quieter, and more equitable, conditions than today's acute clash of interests.

If nuclear talks break down, Iran's regime may become more aggressive.

Beyond this, the Abraham Accord or reconciliation of Arab states and Israel has been possible thanks to the green light that the Saudis gave their regional partners, and it is a considerable political and ideological defeat for the Islamic Republic.

Assuming all Houthis follow Tehran's instructions — and they may not — improved ties may curb attacks on Saudi interests and aid its economy. Tehran will also benefit from no longer having to support them. Unlike Iran's regime, the Saudis are not pressed for cash or resources and could even offer the Houthis a better deal. Presently, they may consider it more convenient to keep the softer approach toward Tehran.

For if nuclear talks with the West break down, Iran's regime may become more aggressive, and as experience has shown, tensions often prompt a renewal of missile or drone attacks on the Saudis, on tankers and on foreign shipping. Riyadh must have a way of keeping the Tehran regime quiet, in a distinctly unquiet time.

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