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October 28, 2016 / 26 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘ankara’

Trump in 2nd Debate: Aleppo Has Already Fallen

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Focusing, as we always do, on the Jewish-Israeli niche of presidential politics, we paid great attention Sunday night to the exchange between candidates Trump and Clinton on the situation in Syria. In general, both debaters agreed the situation was tough, and neither was eager to get into specific solutions. What stood out for us was the statement by Donald Trump that the battle of Aleppo between the US-backed rebels and the coalition of Assad, the Russians, Iran and Hezbollah will go to the pro-Assad forces.

Martha Raddatz (ABC News) asked Trump: “What do you think will happen if [Aleppo] falls?” Which Trump answered, “I think that it basically has fallen. OK? It basically has fallen.”

It should be noted that on Saturday in the UN Security Council Russia vetoed a French resolution calling for an immediate halt to its air strikes on east Aleppo, where reportedly hundreds of civilians are being killed, including many children. The Russian delegation, accusing the rest of the council of “Russophobia,” watched many council members walk off as the Russians were giving the floor to an envoy of the Assad regime. The Russians are fast running out of friends over this campaign — except, apparently, for Trump, who described Allepo as collateral damage of the effort to destroy the real enemy of the US in the Middle East — ISIS.

“I don’t like Assad at all, but Assad is killing ISIS,” Trump said during Sunday night’s debate. “Russia is killing ISIS. And Iran is killing ISIS. And those three have now lined up because of our weak foreign policy.”

Raddatz pointed Trump’s attention to the fact that not only the entire Western world objects to what the Russians have been doing in Syria, but his own running mate, Mike Pence, had said a week ago, that the “provocations by Russia need to be met with American strength and that if Russia continues to be involved in air strikes along with the Syrian government forces of Assad, the United States of America should be prepared to use military force to strike the military targets of the Assad regime.”

Trump, who had praised Pence’s debate performance, came right out and said, “OK, he and I haven’t spoken, and I disagree. I disagree.”

Raddatz: “You disagree with your running mate?”

Trump: “I think you have to knock out ISIS. Right now, Syria is fighting ISIS. We have people that want to fight both at the same time. But Syria is no longer Syria. Syria is Russia and it’s Iran, who [Clinton] made strong and Kerry and Obama made into a very powerful nation and a very rich nation, very, very quickly, very, very quickly.

“I believe we have to get ISIS. We have to worry about ISIS before we can get too much more involved. She had a chance to do something with Syria. They had a chance. And that was the line. And she didn’t.”

To delineate Trump’s foreign policy point on Aleppo from all of the above, the defeat of ISIS justifies permitting Russia, Iran, the Assad regime and its Hezbollah satellite to recapture all of Syria and turn it into their permanent base, with all the ramifications for Lebanon, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, and, of course, Israel.

A debate then ensued between Raddatz, who as her network’s Chief Global Affairs Correspondent is probably familiar with the issue, and Trump, over the need for secrecy before attacking a target like the oil rich city of Mosul in Iraq. “The biggest problem I have with the stupidity of our foreign policy, we have Mosul,” Trump argued. “They think a lot of the ISIS leaders are in Mosul. So we have announcements coming out of Washington and coming out of Iraq, we will be attacking Mosul in three weeks or four weeks.”

“Well, all of these bad leaders from ISIS are leaving Mosul,” he continued. “Why can’t they do it quietly? Why can’t they do the attack, make it a sneak attack, and after the attack is made, inform the American public that we’ve knocked out the leaders, we’ve had a tremendous success? People leave. Why do they have to say we’re going to be attacking Mosul within the next four to six weeks, which is what they’re saying? How stupid is our country?”

Raddatz suggested, “There are sometimes reasons the military does that. Psychological warfare.”

Trump retorted, “I can’t think of any. I can’t think of any. And I’m pretty good at it.”

Raddatz: “It might be to help get civilians out.”

Perhaps. Trump could also be correct in pointing out that the US campaign in Iraq has remained as undisciplined and as badly coordinated as it has been since the 2003 invasion, under two different administrations.

Hillary Clinton sounded as hapless as the Obama Administration when she said the Russians don’t care about ISIS, and are instead “interested in keeping Assad in power.” As remedy, she proposed: “…when I was secretary of state, I advocated and I advocate today a no-fly zone and safe zones. We need some leverage with the Russians, because they are not going to come to the negotiating table for a diplomatic resolution, unless there is some leverage over them. And we have to work more closely with our partners and allies on the ground.”

Of course, there’s no way the US and its allies would be able to enforce a no-fly zone on the Russian air force, short of starting WW3, which is why Clinton sounded hollow when she declared, “I’ve stood up to Russia. I’ve taken on Putin and others, and I would do that as president.” And she sounded even less realistic when she warned, “…I do support the effort to investigate for crimes, war crimes committed by the Syrians and the Russians and try to hold them accountable.”

Hillary Clinton then committed a blunder that could haunt her in the future should she be elected president, when she suggested, “There are a lot of very important planning going on, and some of it is to signal to the Sunnis in the area, as well as Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, that we all need to be in this. And that takes a lot of planning and preparation. … I would also consider arming the Kurds. The Kurds have been our best partners in Syria, as well as Iraq. And I know there’s a lot of concern about that in some circles, but I think they should have the equipment they need so that Kurdish and Arab fighters on the ground are the principal way that we take Raqqa after pushing ISIS out of Iraq.”

That’s not something an American president should say if he or she wish to elicit Turkey’s support in the Syrian campaign. Proposing to arm the Kurds sounds about as bad to Ankara as the idea of the US arming Hamas would be received in Jerusalem. That would be one of those cases where Clinton would be well advised to have one policy for public consumption and another for insiders.

You probably noticed we did not deal at all with the Trump tapes or the Clinton emails, because everyone else in the media are offering a wealth of information on those. We only tried to point out that when it comes to one of Israel’s most burning issues, the escalation of the war north of its border, neither candidate has offered a particularly convincing formula, and Clinton actually declared she would definitely keep US ground troops out of the Syrian civil war.

We should note with satisfaction that Israel was not mentioned even once in the debate and neither was the two-state solution or Jewish settlements. Thankfully, both candidates are too clever to step on that landmine.


Israeli Foreign Ministry to Appoint New Ambassador to Turkey

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is scheduled to convene its ambassadorial appointment committee on October 27, with the main agenda item being the appointment of Israel’s next ambassador to Turkey.

At the same time, on the same day, Ankara will simultaneously be engaged in appointing its ambassador to Israel.

The appointment is considered to be one of the most delicate posts in the entire foreign ministry, given the years of negotiation required to reactivate the diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Dr. Dore Gold, director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, will chair the appointments committee meeting.

Turkey severed relations with Israel in 2010, following an incident involving an illegal flotilla to Gaza that included at least one Turkish-owned vessel. Ten armed Turkish “activists” died after attacking the Israeli commandos who boarded the ship to redirect it to Ashdod Port.

Turkey demanded compensation payment to the families, an apology from the Israeli government, and insisted that Israel drop its blockade of Gaza. Outraged Turkish authorities filed legal charges against Israeli military authorities and soldiers who were involved in the incident as well.

Years of talks led to a final agreement between the two sides which included a $20 million compensation payment by Israel to Ankara, a statement of regret from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and an agreement to allow Turkey to build a hospital in Gaza, and to send humanitarian shipments to the region. In exchange, Turkey agreed to drop all legal charges against military leaders and soldiers in connection with the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident and to reinstate diplomatic ties with Israel.

Hana Levi Julian

Report: Israel Paid $20M to Turkey as Compensation for Mavi Marmara

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

In line with the terms of the normalization agreement signed with Turkey in June, Israel paid Ankara $20 million on Friday in compensation over the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident, according to “Turkish diplomatic sources” quoted by the Anadolu news agency.

The two countries finalized and approved the agreement this past August. Under the deal Israel agreed to pay the compensation and Turkey agreed to drop all charges against IDF officials and soldiers with any connection to the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident, in which nine Turkish terror activists died after attacking Israeli commandos. The agreement normalizes ties between Israel and Turkey after a six-year hiatus. Israel also agreed to Turkey’s participation in humanitarian aid efforts in Gaza.

According to the report by Anadolu, “Israel has agreed to Turkey’s humanitarian presence in the occupied Gaza Strip.”

Turkey has sent two shipments of humanitarian aid to Gaza thus far. Both arrived at Ashdod port and then were delivered via the land crossing at Kerem Shalom in much the same manner as aid from other international sources.

Less than two weeks ago (Sept. 21, 2016) a man yelled ‘Allahu Akbar!’ (God is Great! in Arabic) and tried to storm the Israeli Embassy in the Turkish capital city of Ankara, but was shot in the leg by Turkish police.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Another US-Russian Ceasefire Deal for Syria, Again

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

U.S. Secretary of State and Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov shook hands Friday on a deal to impose a new cease-fire in Syria after marathon talks in Geneva. More than half a million Syrians have died since the start of the savage civil war that has raged in the country since March 2011.

The truce is scheduled to begin Monday together with the start of the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

But few have faith the deal will hold up for more than a few minutes.

The Free Syrian Army (FSA), itself little more than a name on paper for a collection of secular opposition groups backed by the West, quickly dismissed the possibility that this time the deal would bring peace.

Fares al-Bayoush, head of the FSA’s Northern Division group, pointed out that Russia and Syrian government troops had not complied with the previous cease-fire. Likewise, Captain Abdul Salam Abdul Razak, military spokesperson for the Nour al-Din al-Zinki Brigades opposition group said the agreement would only give government troops the opportunity to gather forces and reinforce troops in Aleppo with more Iranian-backed military forces.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also welcomed the agreement but reminded that “broken promises” had been heard before, The Guardian reported. “I call on all parties to the Syria conflict and all countries with influence upon them to do what is needed to end violence and lift sieges,” he said. “In particular, it’s vital that the regime in Damascus now delivers on its obligations, and I call on Russia to use all its influence to ensure this happens.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Kerry by phone on Saturday that Ankara welcomes the cease-fire. Two and a half weeks ago, Turkey launched its own invasion of Syria after dealing with an endless flood of Syrian refugees through its southeastern border, and numerous “overflow” attacks from the war. Now Ankara has said it will provide humanitarian aid to Aleppo, in northern Syria, in cooperation with the United Nations, following the cease-fire.

It’s not the first time such a cease-fire has been proposed the same two parties; just six months ago, a similar truce was made, and violated repeatedly by both sides almost immediately. Before that, the two sides worked out a cease-fire deal in 2013. That one didn’t happen, either.

Kerry told reporters at a joint news conference with Lavrov, “The United States is going the extra mile here because we believe Russia and my colleague have the capability to press the Assad regime to stop this conflict and come to the table and make peace.

“Out of complexity in Syria, there is emerging a simple choice between war and peace,” he said.

The plan is for the U.S. and Russia to establish a joint operation center to coordinate military efforts against the Da’esh (ISIS) and Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations.

Russia informed President Bashar al-Assad about the agreement and, according to Lavrov, the regime agreed to comply. Although the terms were documented and agreed to by both sides, they would not be made public, he told reporters, according to the UK-based newspaper, The Telegraph.

The deal rides on Russia’s ability and willingness to stop attacks by the Assad regime and its allies, and the same cooperation by the United States to halt attacks by “moderate” opposition forces who unite with Al Nusra and other radical Islamists when it suits their needs.

Other forces that have become involved in the Syrian conflict include Iran and Hezbollah, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and the Kurds.

It’s a coin toss whether anyone will actually pay more than five minutes’ attention to the terms of the deal in Damascus this time — and some bookie is probably making good money on the estimates of how long the quiet will last, or if it will even be quiet at all by Monday night.

Hana Levi Julian

Hamas PM Haniyeh Leaves Gaza on Hajj, With Trips to Qatar, Turkey

Monday, September 5th, 2016

Hamas de facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh left Gaza on Monday with thousands of others, traveling through the Rafah crossing with Egypt on the Islamic Hajj pilgrimage to the Saudi Arabian holy city of Mecca.

Egypt opened its sole crossing with Gaza for a three-day period to accommodate the Gaza residents who are traveling to Mecca for the annual Hajj.

However, according to the Hamas radio station the Gaza-based head of the terrorist organization is also making a couple of side trips while he is out of the region.

Haniyeh is taking the opportunity while he is abroad to visit Qatar and Turkey. There was no information on when he was expected to return from the trip, nor were there details on his agenda while in Doha and Ankara.

Hana Levi Julian

Turkey’s President Erdogan Shakes Hands With Israel’s Female Diplomat, Shani Cooper

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shook hands Wednesday with Israel’s female interim head of its embassy in Ankara, Shani Cooper, who has been appointed to field the office until permanent ambassadors are appointed by the two countries.

The ceremonial handshake was part of a tradition carried out with the diplomatic corps each year to celebrate Turkey’s Victory Day on August 30.

This time, Erdogan specifically asked to welcome Cooper — a move seen by analysts as an effort to send a positive message to Israelis who are closely watching the Turkish leader in the wake of a six-year break in relations between the two countries.

Cooper responded warmly to the request, expressing Israel’s support for Erdogan and the Turkish nation.

Erdogan requested an interpreter, through whose services he responded with positive remarks on the diplomatic relations between the two countries. He wished Cooper good luck on her position as well.

Earlier in the day, Erdogan’s office sent the approved, signed agreement with Israel to the office of Turkey’s prime minister. Simultaneously in Israel, the government cabinet ministers also issued their final approval on the document as well.

The agreement is considered to be officially ratified and becomes effective after seven days if no objections are filed on either side.

Hana Levi Julian

Erdogan Formally Approves Turkey’s Normalization Deal With Israel

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan formally approved the country’s normalization deal with Israel on Wednesday (August 31), the state-run Anadolu Agency reports.

The agreement, signed by Turkish and Israeli negotiators on June 27, restores diplomatic ties between the two former allies after a hiatus of more than six years. Israeli charge d’affaires in Ankara, Amira Oron, said Monday (August 29) the two countries are expected to exchange ambassadors sometime within the next several weeks.

“The Law No. 6743 regarding the approval of the agreement between the Republic of Turkey and the State of Israel over compensation has been submitted to the Prime Ministry for promulgation,” a statement by the president’s office said.

Erdogan sent the agreement 12 days after it was officially approved by the Turkish parliament, and following its approval by Israeli cabinet ministers in late June.

The deal was ratified by Turkish lawmakers on August 19 after weeks of delay due to an attempted coup that failed to overthrow the Turkish government on July 15.

The agreement ends a period of rancor that followed an ugly incident in 2010 in which an illegal flotilla attempted to breach Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza. Among the six vessels participating in the incident was a Turkish ship. Israeli commandos boarding the vessel to redirect it to Ashdod port were attacked by armed “activists” who included Turkish citizens; the resulting clash left 10 Turks dead and numerous Israelis seriously wounded.

Turkey demanded an apology, payment of $20 million in compensation to the families of the dead and lifting of the blockade on Gaza in order to restore relations. “Ankara now considers these terms satisfied,” according to a report published Wednesday in the Hurriyet Daily News. “Israel will hand Turkey a ‘lump sum’ payment within 25 working days of the agreement coming into force, with families of the victims able to access the funds in due course.

“Both sides also agreed individual Israeli citizens or those acting on behalf of the Israeli government would not be held liable — either criminally or financially — for the raid,” according to the report.

Turkey has already been allowed to ship its own humanitarian aid into Gaza, and plans have been started for Ankara to build a hospital in the region.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/erdogan-formally-approves-turkeys-normalization-deal-with-israel/2016/08/31/

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