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August 31, 2016 / 27 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘European Union’

Turkish PM Denies Russia Demanding to Use NATO Nuke Base

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Russia is not demanding to land its planes in the İncirlik air base in southern Turkey, as several Russian news services have claimed. “Russia had no demands to use İncirlik air base, those reports are not true,” Yildirim told foreign correspondents in Istanbul on Saturday, according to Hurriyet Daily News. However, the prime minister did agree that should Russia wish to use the base for its operations against ISIS, it would be welcome to do so. Still, Yildirim added, “Russia doesn’t need to use the base. They have bases in Syria.”

Yildirim’s statement concluded an anxiety-filled few days in which Russian news sources were announcing that Russia has been demanding that Turkey give its air force access to the NATO air base in İncirlik, which is where US and coalition air forces take off on their strikes in Syria. Located some 65 miles from the Syrian border, Incirlik is also where an estimated 50 US B-61 nuclear warheads (think 100 Hiroshimas times 50) are kept.

According to Izvestia, a Russian lawmaker named Igor Morozov said it was only a matter of time before Turkish president Erdogan hands over the NATO base at Incirlik to the Russians, to intensify the war against ISIS. “You’ll see, the next base will be İncirlik,” Morozov told Izvestia, shortly after the Kremlin had revealed that Russian bombers have been using an Iranian airbase for their attack on Syria. He predicted İncirlik would be “one more victory for Putin.”

Those statements came against the background of a report by EurActiv, a Belgian foundation focusing on European Union policies, that the US has begun to transfer its nuclear weapons stationed in Turkey to Romania, for fear of the worsening relations between Washington and Ankara.

EurActiv cites a Stimson issue paper from August 2016, suggesting that during the July failed coup in Turkey, the Incirlik base power was cut, and US planes were not allowed to fly in or out of the base. As the coup was being suppressed, the base commander was arrested. Another source told EurActiv that US-Turkey relations have so deteriorated after the coup that Washington no longer trusted Ankara with the nuclear weapons, and so the warheads are being moved to the Deveselu air base in Romania.

Foreign Policy on Friday debunked the story, quoting a tweet from nuclear weapons expert Jeffrey Lewis, the director of non-proliferation studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, that said Romania does not have the special WS3 vaults needed to store the weapons safely. Also, the Romanian Defense Ministry released a statement saying “so far there have not been any plans or discussions on this topic.”

Of course, this entire brouhaha is borne by Erdogan’s obsession with his former ally and current enemy Fetullah Gulen, whose extradition from the US the Turks have been demanding since the failing of the coup (which Gulen’s supporters may or may not been responsible for). As long as the US insists on following the rule of law on the Gulen extradition, the Turks will persist in these shenanigans, until someone gets seriously hurt.

So far, as that Moscow parliamentarian has put it so aptly, one more victory for Putin.

JNi.Media

Israel: Okay to Demolish 30 Illegal Structures in “Arab” Susiya

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

The State of Israel has the right to demolish 30 illegal structures built in the new and illegal Arab “village” of Susiya, according to a draft document to be submitted Wednesday to the High Court of Justice.

Although usually the Defense Ministry Civil Administration decides these issues, this time Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would make the call on whether or not to demolish the structures, rather than Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, the document stated.

The prime minister’s review would take until the end of October, after the completion of the Jewish high holy days, after which time the state would inform the Court whether the shacks would be legalized, or demolished.

The state warned the Court, however, that legal remedies would remain in place against any new construction that appears in the area after 2014, and that laws against illegal construction would be enforced.

The Regavim nongovernmental organization (NGO) has consistently researched and litigated the case against any new building by Arabs from the Palestinian Authority in the area, which is completely under the control of Israel.

Regavim is calling on Israel to demolish all illegal structures post-2014, regardless of international pressure.

The United States and the European Union have for months been pressuring Israel to legalize the village. The European Union has in addition been encouraging the Palestinian Authority to continue illegal construction in Area C. In some cases, this activity has actually forced Israel to demolish structures built with funding, or directly, illegally built by the European Union itself.

Due to the sensitive diplomatic nature of the issue, the matter was sent directly to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for attention.

The modern Jewish community, established in 1983 under the Mount Hebron Regional Council, is located next to the ancient city of Susiya, now an archaeological site featuring a 5th-8th CE synagogue with a magnificent mosaic floor, and the mosque that replaced it.

The site was formally declared an archaeological site in 1986 by the Israel Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration; the Arab population chose to locate its “village” precisely on the same spot.

The IDF expelled the squatters, who began with 25 families in 1986, despite opposition from the United Nations which claimed they were living in “houses” at the time. The Arab villagers were moved instead to a site few hundred meters southeast of the original ancient city.

Just 13 families comprised Arab Susiya in 2008. But as it became more fashionable in the international community to target Israel’s right to govern Area C of the Oslo Accords, Mount Hebron and the area around it rose to prominence as a key battleground. Arab Susiya did too, and by 2015 the “village” rose to its current population of 50 families, comprising several hundred people.

Hana Levi Julian

Rightwing Watchdog Urging Action on Fake Arab Settlement Susya [video]

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Israeli legal watchdog Regavim has appealed to its supporters in Israel and abroad to write to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to take action against the illegal squatter camp in Susya. The call comes one day after the Israeli Supreme Court has given government a two-day extension on the deadline to deal with the issue through legal means.

There has been immense public pressure on the Netanyahu government by the US State Department, the European Union and dozens of anti-Israel NGOs, to halt the legal process of evicting the illegal Arab squatters who only arrived in Susya over the past few years. The Arabs’ assortment of lean-tos and tents borders on a legal Jewish community that was established by the government in 1986. Should Israel permit this illegal outpost to remain, in Area C of Judea and Samaria which was designated for Jewish settlements, more camps like it will soon dot the landscape everywhere inside the Jewish area of the “disputed territories,” enhancing the Arab side of the dispute.

Regavim released a video call-to-action in which the organization’s International Director Josh Hasten called on supporters to rally around the government as they deliberate on the fate of the squatters’ camp. Explaining the importance of the Susya case, Hasten says the Arab squatters “have set-up shop deliberately on an ancient Jewish town that existed 1,500 years ago — this is a litmus test to see if the government of Israel is willing to uphold the laws of the land.”

Hasten urges viewers to “get involved, let the Prime Minister know that the State of Israel and people of Israel are behind him and we are here to strengthen him in making this decision which is necessary to uphold the laws of the land.”

David Israel

Leaked German Report Accusing Turkey of Supporting Terrorism

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

A confidential German Interior Ministry report accusing the Turkish government of supporting terrorism across the Middle East was leaked to the German broadcaster ARD Tuesday. According to the document, the Erdogan regime supports Hamas, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and several Islamist rebel groups in Syria. The document was originally provided by the Bundestag to the leftwing party Die Linke.

ARD cited the document as saying that “the many expressions of solidarity and support actions by the ruling AKP and President Erdogan for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and groups of armed Islamist opposition in Syria emphasize their ideological affinity with the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Founded in 1928 and inspired by the fascistic ideology of the time, the Muslim Brotherhood has been the largest, best-organized, and most disciplined Suni opposition force in Egypt and in other countries — to the point where, for a brief moment in 2011-12, it captured the Egyptian presidency. In 2006, Hamas, an offshoot of the MB, captured the Gaza Strip where it remains the sole sovereign.

The leaked German report says Ankara has deepened its ties with the MB, Hamas and the Syrian groups and is serving as their “platform for action” in the region.

“As a result of the step-by-step Islamization of its foreign and domestic policy since 2011, Turkey has become the central platform for action by Islamist groups in the Middle East,” ARD cited from the document.

MP Sevim Dagdalen of the Linke party told ARD “the German government cannot publicly designate the godfather of terrorism Erdogan as a partner, while internally warning about Turkey as a hub for terrorism.”

The German government has so far declined comment on the leaked document. But earlier Germany’s European affairs minister Michael Roth said Germany plans to continue raising its concerns about President Erdogan’s Detention of tens of thousands of people as part of his crackdown on suspected coup supporters.

On Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned that Turkey might abandon its promise to retain on its soil the millions of migrants and refugees pushing to get to Europe if the EU not grant Turkish travelers visa-free entry. This despite the €3 billion Turkey has received in grants to care for this population.

JNi.Media

EU Spokesperson Condemns Israeli Demolition of Illegal EU Structures in Mount Hebron Hills

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

A spokesperson for the European Union External Action Service (EEAS), the European Union’s foreign policy branch, criticized recent Israeli demolitions of illegal Palestinian Authority Arab structures in Judea and Samaria, many of which were sponsored and financed by the European Union.

“The regrettable significant increase in demolitions of Palestinian structures by the Israeli authorities in 2016 appears to be continuing following the end of Ramadan,” the spokesperson said.

The EEAS spokesperson referenced the most recent demolition of EU-funded structures in Umm al-Khair, which is located in the Mount Hebron hills near the Jewish community of Carmel.

Arguing that such operations undermine Israel’s responsibilities as an “occupying power,” the EEAS spokesperson demanded a cessation to Israeli demolitions of illegal EU structures throughout Judea and Samaria.

“The Israeli authorities must halt demolitions of Palestinian houses and property in accordance with its obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law and to cease the policy of settlement construction and expansion, of designating land for exclusive Israeli use, and of denying Palestinian development,” the spokesperson insisted.

The spokesperson said that Israeli demolitions of the illegal structures raise doubts about Israel’s true long-term goals vis-a-vis the Arabs.

“As stated in the recent Quartet report, such a policy, including the recent high rate of demolitions, is steadily eroding the viability of the two-state solution and raises legitimate questions about Israel’s long-term intentions,” the spokesperson added.

The Quartet report, which was released in early July and accused Israel of “unilaterally” taking land “for exclusive Israeli use” in Area C of Judea and Samaria, also recognized Israel’s authoritative control over development in Area C.

“The Israeli military retains full authority over development in Area C, including planning and zoning for housing, industrial zones, tourism sites, and essential infrastructure, such as roads and electricity lines,” read the Quartet report.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

British Airlines Trims Food Service on Economy Flights

Monday, August 15th, 2016

If you’re reading this and flying to Europe on British Airways, you may want to pack yourself a little something to eat.

The national British carrier has just cut its food service in the wake of Brexit, the separation of the United Kingdom from the rest of the European Union.

British Airways is down to to one meal only for economy passengers on flights under eight and a half hours. This includes flights between the UK to the United States and Canada.

The same belt-tightening measure has been applied to premium economy passengers on flights under seven hours.

“We offer customers on all of our trans-Atlantic flights a three-course meal, bar service and snacks, and on our longer trans-Atlantic flights, including to the West Coast, customers are offered an extra meal during the flight,” said a spokesperson for the airline.

The above does not necessarily apply to passengers who order kosher and/or glatt kosher pre-packaged meals.

Hana Levi Julian

Moscow Calming Israeli, American Fears of Russia-Turkey-Iran Coalition

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

Tuesday’s meeting in St. Petersburg between the two former feuding foes Russian President Putin and Turkish President Erdogan “drew considerable attention,” government-run news agency TASS reported, noting that the Russian-Turkish rapprochement is coming while Russia has been expanding its relations with Iran and Ankara and Tehran have also been bridging the gaps between them, born by almost four decades of a volatile Islamic Republic on Turkey’s border. In fact, right after the failed coup last month, Erdogan announced, “We are determined to cooperate with Iran and Russia to address regional problems side by side and to step up our efforts considerably to restore peace and stability to the region.”

Should Israel be concerned? Apparently, the Russian news organ is eager to spread a message of calm regarding the new developments in the northern part of the region. And so an unsigned article this week polled experts who were skeptical regarding a developing strategic triangle of those three powers. According to the TASS experts, the most that will come out of the current statements are tactical political interaction and an upturn in economic cooperation. But even if it were true, and Russia, Turkey and Iran were to forge a strategic alliance, TASS continues its calming message, it would be for the best, because “these three countries can play a positive role, for instance, in overcoming the Syrian crisis.”

It isn’t clear who is panicking more at the moment—Jerusalem or Washington—over the possibility that Turkey, a NATO member, would switch sides and coalesce with Russia and Iran. Clearly, the US has a whole lot more to lose from such an emerging outcome. US Middle East policy traditionally relied on the “three-legged stool” comprised of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey. As long as those three major local powers were in the Western camp, Soviet manipulations elsewhere could be mitigated. When Iran was lost under President Jimmy Carter in 1979, the US attempted for the longest time to substitute Iraq for the missing stool leg, but the Iraqi regime never provided the stability the US enjoyed with the Shah. This is why the US is so determined to keep Turkey in the Western camp, because without a Western-allied Turkey, the US presence in the region would be severely downgraded.

Hence the need for the TASS calming story. It interviewed senior research fellow Vladimir Sazhin, of the Oriental Studies Institute under the Russian Academy of Sciences, who reassured the Western readers “there will be no trilateral union, of course. It should be ruled out for many reasons. At best one can expect some tactical alliance. This is so because Iran, Turkey and Russia have certain problems in their relations with the West and with the United States.” That’s code for Turkey would be punished severely, economically and otherwise, if it ever jumped ship.

Sazhin continued, “If one takes a look at the economic interests they share, it should be remembered that Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan … are countries that produce and export hydrocarbons. They have a great deal to discuss in view of the current strained situation on the world market. As for Turkey, its role in delivering hydrocarbons to the West may be significant. But I don’t think that this triangle will be of strategic importance.”

Sazhin sees no fundamentally new geopolitical aspects in sight. “It’s about getting back to where we had been all the time. Arabs constitute an overwhelming majority of the population in the Middle East. Non-Arab countries are few – Israel, Turkey and Iran. They had very close relations up to [the emergence of] the Islamic revolution in Iran.”

“In Iran, with its 80-million population, Turks and Azerbaijanis, who are ethnically very close to Turkey, constitute an estimated 18 to 25 million,” Sazhin said. “Bilateral relations existed not only at the Tehran-Ankara level. There were very strong people-to-people bonds. Plus the long-standing economic ties. But in politics post-revolution Iran and NATO member Turkey have drifted apart, of course.”

Research fellow Irina Zvyagelskaya, of the Arab and Islamic Research Center at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Oriental Studies Institute told TASS, “I don’t believe in the emergence of new political triangles. I don’t think some strategic changes will follow overnight to bring about changes to the configuration of alliances. A number of steps we’ve seen our friends and partners and those we are not on very friendly terms with us take are tactical. They stem from the current situation.”

Zvyagelskaya believes that to a large extent this is true of Turkey. “It is to be remembered that Erdogan’s wish to have closer relations is a result of certain internal political events, on the one hand, and soaring tensions in his country’s relations with the United States and the European Union, on the other. These steps by Erdogan are purely pragmatic and we should treat them accordingly. As far as I understand, nobody has any illusions on that score.”

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/moscow-calming-israeli-american-fears-of-russia-turkey-iran-coalition/2016/08/11/

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