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November 28, 2015 / 16 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Turkey’

Russia and Israel Quietly Collaborating on Attacks in Syria

Friday, October 9th, 2015

Defense officials from both countries met Wednesday in Tel Aviv to prevent “incidents” but are keeping quiet about the meeting.

While the Obama administration flounders in public distrust of Moscow, the Russian Armed Forces have met with Israel officials for the first round of talks towards establishing “a joint mechanism for preventing misunderstandings” around fighting in Syria.

Wednesday’s meeting involved the Russian Alarmed Forces deputy chief and IDF Major-General Yair Golan, but further talks will involve lower echelon officials in order to take the spotlight off the meetings, Defense News reported.

Unlike Russian talks with Turkey, which officials in Moscow reported this week were continuing in order “to elaborate the mechanism for prevention of incidents on the Syrian-Turkish border,” no statement was made after the task with the Israelis

An IDF officer spoke with Defense News about future sessions and said:

It could be done by lower-echelon officers. We don’t want to make too much of it. We want to prevent conflict, but we don’t yet know how to do it.

In the end, we’ll agree on a mechanism and how it will be done. But it requires defining areas where one operates and making sure the other side won’t interfere or harm you, and vice versa.

We have two problems in Syria, both of which have nothing to do with Russia: One is the terror that is directed against us at our border, and for that we’re operating all the time. The other is the smuggling of high-value arms to Hezbollah, and needless to say we’re following this very closely.

Russia and Israel may not be the best of friends publicly, but they have developed a healthy respect for each other, without all of the emotions and hype by the Obama’s “unbreakable bond” with Israel. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Vladimir Putin are much closer in their understanding of the Middle East than either of them is with President Barack Obama.

Russia is in Syria to save the Assad regime and is not interested in attacking Israel. Its presence might actually make Israel safer in light of the rocket fire and mortar shells that have exploded on the Israel side of the Golan Heights border.

Many of the explosions were “stray fire, but some have been intentional, and Russia is in a good position to keep the firing inside Syria.

The most problematic situation is one whereby Syrian or Iranian forces try to ship weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel has pre-empted several smuggling attempts by bombing weapons convoys in Syria, a maneuver that would be extremely dangerous with Russia patrolling Syrian air space.

An Israeli official told Defense News:

It’s essential to avoid confliction, but until that happens, our Air Force will know how to take care of itself in problematic situations.

Everyone is shouting ‘Russians, Russians, Russians,’ but what about the Americans and dozens of others who have already been there for a year? At any given moment, there are hundreds of coalition planes in the air … The sky is vast.

Dima Adamsky, an associate professor at Israel’s Inter-Disciplinary Center’s Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy, wrote in a recent Foreign Affairs article published by the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations:

Israel has routinely been conducting strikes exactly where the Russians are now expanding their foothold… Israel has signaled its neutrality toward the conflict, but it is unclear how the Israel Air Force will tolerate potential jamming, cyber strikes and limits of its space for maneuvering or if Moscow decides to establish an electromagnetic cordon sanitaire and anti access-area denial sphere around the pro-Assad coalition’s operational theater.

Russian Jets Intimidating US Aircraft Over Syria

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

Two U.S. officials briefed on intelligence from Syria revealed that Russian jets have shadowed U.S. predator drones above Syria on at least three separate occasions since Russia began its air campaign, and forced U.S. aircraft to change their flight path.

Russian shadowing of U.S. drones happened repeatedly, making it clear to observers that it was not just a mistake, but was an intentional act by the Russians.

In addition to the tailing of U.S. drones, Russian jets forced two U.S. aircraft to change their flight paths in order to avoid a collision, U.S. Navy Captain Jeff Davis told reporters.

The two planes were F-16s that had departed from Turkey’s Incirlik air base. The planes were flying towards the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, a senior defense official told CNN. The U.S. aircraft that diverted were not able to complete their mission, the official said.

In addition to Russian aircraft, there are now Russian ground forces and rocket launchers posed in strike mode in Syria.

The bulk of the Russian fighting forces and material are forming a belt around the Syrian city of Latakia, Bashar al Asaad’s stronghold, giving credence to the claim that Putin’s military forces in the Middle East are there to protect the long-embattled Syrian president, as much as they are there to provide additional forces to the anti-ISIS coalition.

U.S. forces are not the only ones complaining of Russian bullying.

Last weekend Turkey charged Russia with violating its airspace on two separate occasions. Turkish officials called Russia’s daring “unprofessional” and a “provocation.” NATO officials warned Russia to stay away from Turkey, which is a member of the western alliance.

“It’s unacceptable, it’s dangerous, and it’s reckless behavior and it adds to the tensions,” NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told CNN about the incursions into Turkish airspace.

“We see the violation of the Turkish airspace becomes more important, more dangerous, because it happens in a context where we see more fighting, more Russian military presence in Syria.”

Whether NATO will come to its member’s aid if Russia becomes entangled in a military dispute with Turkey is yet another question in the long list of unknowns surrounding the escalating turmoil in the Middle East.

NATO Warns Russia to Stay Out of Turkish Air Space

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

Russia was warned Tuesday to keep out of Turkish air space by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) over its violations of Turkish Air Space.

“Russian combat aircraft have violated Turkish airspace,” NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement on the NATO website following the organization’s meeting Monday (Oct 5). “This is unacceptable.”

In a follow-up news conference, Stoltenberg went on to say, “It doesn’t look like an accident (as Moscow had claimed earlier), and we also have seen two of them, two violations of Turkish airspace. Intelligence that we have received provides me with reason to say it doesn’t look like an accident.”

The first incursion was reported on Saturday, and the second allegedly occurred on Sunday, officials said.

“I’m also concerned that Russia is not targeting ISIL (the group’s acronym for ISIS, or Da’esh), but instead attacking the Syrian opposition and civilians,” Stoltenberg continued.

“I discussed the situation in Syria with [Russia’s] Foreign Minister [Sergei] Lavrov in New York last week. I urge Russia to play a constructive and cooperative role in the fight against ISIL, and to strive for a negotiated political solution to the conflict in Syria.”

Turkey has been an active member of NATO since 1952.

Israeli Minister Yuval Steinitz told Galei Tzahal Radio last week that Israel does not want to see Russian troops on the Golan Heights and is concerned about the positioning of Iranian ground troops in the neighboring country, and the opening of a direct ground front with Iran.

Steinitz added, the world powers must “ensure the Iranian army stays in Iran. We should not see Iranian army divisions in Syria.”

Steinitz said Israel has no official position on the fate of Assad as it’s an internal Arab civil war, but added that “the war against Sunni terror [ISIS] can’t come together with support for Iranian Shiite terror.”

“Allies expressed their deep concern with regard to the Russian military build-up in Syria,” NATO said in its statement, “and especially the attacks by the Russian Air Force on Hama, Homs, and Idlib which led to civilian casualties and did not target Da’esh.

“Russian military actions have reached a more dangerous level with the recent violations of Turkish airspace on 3 October and 4 October by Russian Air Force SU-30 and SU-24 aircraft in the Hatay region. The aircraft in question entered Turkish airspace despite Turkish authorities’ clear, timely and repeated warnings,” the statement went on.

“Allies strongly protest these violations of Turkish sovereign airspace, and condemn these incursions into and violations of NATO airspace. Allies also note the extreme danger of such irresponsible behaviour. They call on the Russian Federation to cease and desist, and immediately explain these violations.”

Russia is also moving in equipment in preparation for a rather more extended role in the region than its originally-stated claim, according to eyewitness reports in Syria.

Recently Moscow moved electronic jamming equipment into the country, including a truck-mounted system and a number of aircraft-mountable pods, according to local sources.

Several pieces of artillery were also moved into the country at Latakia port, including four highly accurate BM-30 multiple-launch rapid-fire rocket systems.

Instead of remaining at the port, however, the weapons were moved and currently are reported to be in position west of Idlib, towards Homs.

According to the report, the U.S. believes Russia is “stepping up its ground activity” to attack Syrian opposition forces rather than ISIS.

Officials are reportedly questioning whether Russian forces are planning to jam the electronics of coalition aircraft as they fly over Syria.

Russia, meanwhile, contends it is indeed targeting ISIS. But it is clear that its forces are also clearly bolstering the flagging defenses of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Rebels Betray US and Turn over American Weapons to Al Qaeda

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

Remember how the Obama administration assured Congress that Syrian rebels would be vetted before being trained and armed by the U.S. Army?

It promised that only Moderate” rebels fighting the Assad regime would receive training and arms from the United States, but an entire rebel division that was part of the Obama administration’s “train and equip” program has turned over its weapons to the Al Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, the London Telegraph reported.

Division 30, the first unit to be graduated in the U.S. training program to help fight the Islamic State (ISIS) but not the Assad regime, handed over a very large amount of ammunition and medium weaponry and a number of pick-ups,” according to a tweet by an al-Nusra member.

The report was confirmed by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which stated that 75 Division 30 fighters crossed from Turkey into Syria with four-wheel vehicles equipped with machine guns and ammunition bought with U.S. taxpayers’ money.

Last month, the first group of 54 U.S.-trained fighters re-entered Syria and promptly suffered a defeat at the hands of Al Nusra, which kidnapped several rebels.

In a hearing last week at the Senate Armed Forces Committee, U.S. Central Command General Lloyd Austin admitted that only “four or five” fighters remain as fighters against the ISIS in Syria.

5 Arab MKs Travel to Jordan to Meet with King Abdullah II

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

Five Arab Knesset members from the Arab Joint List are traveling to Jordan today (Sunday Sept. 20) to meet with King Abdullah II, according to a report on Israel Radio.

MK Ahmed Tibi told the interviewer on the government-run radio network that he and his fellow lawmakers will discuss “the change in the status quo at the Al Aqsa mosque” on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Palestinian Arabs have continued organized disturbances at the site for more than a week, forcing Israel Police to personally escort every single Jewish visitor to the site in order to ensure their physical protection. As a result, a number of police officers were injured in the line of duty.

It is likely the meeting between the Hashemite king and the Israeli Arab lawmakers will focus on the escalating Arab violence and the tensions at the site, which is under the legal custodianship of Jordan, and has been since the signing of the peace treaty with Israel in 1994.

Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has stated repeatedly this week, publicly and in discussions with world leaders, that his government has no intention of changing the status quo on the Temple Mount.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the United States have all weighed in on the importance of bringing the violence under control at the site, although most of the parties appear to be blaming the Israeli government for the attacks on Jewish visitors by Palestinian Arab rioters.

The five Mks are expected to travel to the Turkish capital for talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following their meeting with King Abdullah II in Amman.

Israeli Tourism Helps Inscribe Georgian Jewry in the Book of Life

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

It seems that just as the Book of Life might have been closing on the Jewish community in Georgia, Israeli tourism is breathing a second chance into its cities and institutions.

At least three new Jewish restaurants and several new hostels have opened in Georgia’s capital city of Tbilisi due to Israeli tourism, according to Israel’s Tourism Ministry.

The “Restaurant Jerusalem” in central Tbilisi – it’s run by Israeli Georgians – or the King David restaurant, run by native Georgian Jews, which can be found in the courtyard of the synagogue.

Chabad-Lubavitch emissary to Tbilisi Rabbi Meir Kozlovsky says Israelis have found the city to be a new alternative to Turkey.

The spiritual leader of the Great Synagogue of Tbilisi, Rabbi Rachamim Murdukhashvili is also the shochet (ritual slaughterer) of the community.

A second synagogue in Oni, about 120 miles northwest of the city, was visited last month by Prime Minister Iralki Garibashvili to mark its 120th anniversary. But only 16 Jews remain in Oni, and it’s not clear how much longer that community can hang on.

The Georgian government under Garibashvili partly funded renovations at both synagogues, calling Georgia “the second homeland of the Jewish people.”

The traditions of the Jewish community in the country go back as far as 1,500 years, although today there are just 4,000 Jews left in Georgia.

A veritable tidal wave of some 60,000 new tourists are now visiting the country annually, according to the Tourism Ministry, tripling the number that visited Tbilisi in 2010 – when Turkey severed ties with Israel.

Israeli Jewish tourists have been searching for a new tourism “hot spot” ever since the bottom fell out of tourism to Turkey, the annual vacation destination everyone chose.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rage at Israel had escalated step by step since the 2006 Second Lebanon War over the IDF’s defense of southern Israeli communities from Gaza terrorist attacks.

It finally reached the breaking point in 2010 over the deaths of nine violent Turkish terror activists in clashes with IDF commandos they attacked when they boarded a flotilla vessel that had brazenly attempted to illegally breach Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza.

Countless attempts by diplomats and others on both sides since to heal the broken ties have only been partly successful; each time there appears to be any chance of renewal of ties, Erdogan appears to deliberately sabotage the effort with anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Thus the Israeli public has made its peace with the fact that at least for now, Turkey is no longer likely to return as a popular tourism destination; it is clear “from the top” that Israelis are neither liked nor wanted there.

Kuwait Says Lebanon, Turkey ‘Better Suited’ for Syrian Refugees

Monday, September 7th, 2015

A Kuwaiti official has cleared up the mystery floating why none of the oil-rich Gulf nations, including Saudi Arabia, have yet allowed the Syrian refugees fleeding the savage civil war in their land to set foot on their shores.

Kuwaiti official Fahad Al Shalami told France24 television in a broadcast interview on Sept. 2 that in fact, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) should never accept Syrian refugees.

Kuwait and the other GCC countries are “too valuable to accept any refugees,” Al Shalami said.

“Our countries are only fit for workers. It’s too costly to relocate them here.

“Kuwait is too expensive for them anyway, as opposed to Lebanon and Turkey which are cheap,” he explained. “These countries are better suited for the Syrian refugees.”

But there is also another, equally important reason the oil-rich nations should not welcome the Syrian refugees, Al Shalami said.

“In the end, it is not right for us to accept a people that are different from us. We don’t want people who suffer from internal stress and trauma in our country!”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/kuwait-says-lebanon-turkey-better-suited-for-syrian-refugees/2015/09/07/

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