A Russian tanker sank in the Sea of Marmara, just below Istanbul. Though the oil spill has been contained and the Turkish coast guard thinks the ecological threat is minor, the accident does reinforce Turk environmental concerns about increasing tanker traffic in the Turkish Straits, particularly the narrow Bosphorous. The Turks will use the incident to strengthen their case for a trans-Turkey oil pipeline from Azerbaijan.
Haydar Alparslan, a hardline leader of the Kurdish PKK rebels, fell in battle with Turkish troops in early December. Alparslan was an outspoken critic of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalon, who has called for all PKK units to implement a ceasefire and convert into a political organization.--Stephen V Cole