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24 Dec 13. An escalating political struggle between two dominant Islamist camps inside Turkey – which in recent days has rocked the country and now threatens to destabilize the ruling Justice and Development (AKP) government – has spilled over into the U.S.-Turkey relationship and generated a sharp rebuke from Washington regarding “continued false and slanderous attacks” targeting U.S. officials. A corruption probe conducted largely by figures linked to the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose followers have broad sway inside Turkey’s state and non-state institutions, has in recent days ensnared top figures in the AKP hierarchy on a range of charges. AKP figures, up to and including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have spoken darkly of a “dirty operation” and moved to purge Gulen-linked figures from police and security services. Another 25 police chiefs were dismissed this weekend. Erdogan has also declared that “some foreign envoys” were helping to coordinate the moves against the AKP. Ilhan Tanir, the Washington correspondent for Turkey’s Vatan outlet, today blogged that the lines are thinly veiled references to U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone, and that Ricciardone has also been the target of attacks from multiple pro-AKP newspapers. Tanir conveyed State Department statements pushing back against the attacks, with a U.S. official condemning “the continued false and slanderous attacks by some elements of the Turkish media against our Ambassador, other senior U.S. officials, international media representatives, and private American citizens and groups.” Critically, U..S officials are calling on Ankara to “disavow and condemn such attacks. (Source: theisraelproject.org)
23 Dec 13. The Swiss defence budget is expected to increase steadily to 2018, supported by the government’s equipment modernisation program and the country’s association with various peace-keeping missions. Looking ahead, the Swiss government intends to bring in technologically advanced arms and ammunitions to replace older weapons. The country deploys its army for numerous international peace-support operations in the UN, such as the stabilisation mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), the UN missions in Liberia and in the Republic of South Sudan. Between 2014 and 2018 Switzerland is expected to spend US$27.7bn on defence purposes. The growth is driven by the weapon replacement program aiming to upgrade the country’s air defence system through the procurement of 22 Gripen jet fighters over the next 10 years. The Swiss government is expected to increase its budget for capital spending from an average of US$1.6bn in the past four years to US$2.0bn between 2014 and 2018. The country’s budget for homeland security is expected to increase annually at 2.56% up to 2018, from US$1.2bn in 2014 to US$1.3bn in 2018. The upswing will be stimulated by the needs to curb organised crimes, money laundering, terrorist activities and human trafficking. Additionally, the country is expected to invest heavily in border security equipment. This information is based on the SDI report: ‘The Future of the Swiss Defence Industry – Market Attractiveness, Competitive Landscape and Forecasts to 2018.’ The report was published in November 2013.
22 Dec 13. Rolls-Royce confirms formal bribery probe by UK’s SFO. Rolls-Royce, Europe’s largest maker of aircraft engines, on Monday confirmed that UK fraud investigators have opened a “formal investigation” into corruption allegations in Indonesia, China and other overseas markets. Rolls-Royce, Europe’s largest maker of aircraft engines, on Monday confirmed that UK fraud investigators have opened a “formal investigation” into corruption a