Archive for November, 2014

Turkey’s Erdogan attacks US ‘impertinence’ on Syria

2014-11-26

(AFP)- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday slammed US “impertinence” on the Syrian conflict, exposing the extent of strains between Washington and Ankara days after his key meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden.

Ties between the the US and Turkey have soured in recent months over the reluctance of Turkish leaders to intervene militarily in the US-led campaign against the Islamic State jihadists, who have taken control of swathes of Iraq and Syria.

In an indication of the tensions that remain between the two NATO allies, Erdogan accused the US of being “impertinent” for pressuring it to help save the besieged Syrian town of Kobane, which is within sight of the Turkish border.

“Why is somebody coming to this region from 12,000 kilometers (7,000 miles) away?” Erdogan said during an address to a group of businessmen in Ankara, in a clear reference to the US.

“I want you to know that we are against impertinence, recklessness and endless demands,” he said.

Biden had personally stung Erdogan last month by suggesting his policies in supporting Islamist rebel forces in Syria had helped encourage the rise of the IS militant group, a slight that prompted Erdogan to warn his relationship with the US number two could be “history”.

Washington is pressing Ankara for the use of the Incirlik air base in southern Turkey by US jets launching assaults on IS.

But Turkey has refused to bow to the pressure, setting several conditions for playing a greater role in the coalition.

“They looked on as the tyrant (President Bashar) al-Assad massacred 300,000 people. They remained silent in the face of Assad’s barbarism and now they are now staging a ‘conscience show’ through Kobane,” Erdogan said.

“We will resolve our problems not with the help of a ‘superior mind’ but with the help of our people,” he said.

Biden wrapped up a three-day visit to Turkey on Sunday without a breakthrough on military cooperation in the Syrian crisis.

But Erdogan’s comments contrasted with the relatively upbeat assessment of US officials that the meeting with Biden had brought closer the two sides’ positions.

On Monday, Erdogan accused the West of coming to the region for “oil”.

“I’m always meeting with them but it does not go any further than what I say. They don’t have any sensitivities. They have only one sensitivity: oil, oil, oil…” he said.

So far, Turkey’s sole contribution to the coalition has been allowing a contingent of Iraqi peshmerga Kurdish fighters to transit Turkish soil to fight IS militants for Kobane.

Source: Zaman alwasl.

Link: https://www.zamanalwsl.net/en/news/7704.html.

Aleppo rebels seek one military command: meetings

2014-11-27

ALEPPO (Zaman Al Wasl)- Key rebel groups of Aleppo province are massing efforts to unite in one military command as fall of the city seems imminent by Syrian regime forces, field source said.

A rebel commander told Zaman al-Wasl that a unified command is the only solution to surpass all challenges whether on the battle ground or in managing people issues in rebel-held areas. For that, rebel senior commanders have held series of meetings, the source said.

“Conflict of interest considers rebels’ weakness point where rebel areas turned to be cantons affiliate to this leader or that,” source said.

Meanwhile, Bashar al-Assad’s forces are pressing very hard to invade Aleppo’s rebel-held suburbs.

Moderate rebels and many Islamist groups have recognized the surrounding danger where only two options available, fight or being ‘up for grabs’ for Assad or Islamic State (IS).

In that grim scene, people’s suffering continues in regard to their ordinary life, food, fuel and small business to keep surviving. “They went to streets weeks ago, demanding rebel commanders to unite but no concrete response yet,” activists said.

More than 190,000 people have been killed in Syria since the revolution began in March 2011.

Source: Zaman alwasl.

Link: https://www.zamanalwsl.net/en/news/7707.html.

Families of kidnapped Lebanese soldiers protest

November 28, 2014

BEIRUT (AP) — Police used water cannons to break up a protest Friday by relatives of several kidnapped Lebanese soldiers after the protesters blocked a main highway in the capital.

Security forces beat several protesters and some journalists as they broke up the demonstration. The Islamic State group and al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front in Syria seized some 20 Lebanese soldiers and police officers in August during a cross-border raid. They have already killed three of the captives, beheading two of them.

Friday’s protest came a day after Nusra Front threatened to kill one of the soldiers. The families are demanding that the government negotiate seriously with the militants — who are demanding the release of Islamist prisoners from Lebanese jails.

Lebanon’s Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk said blocking roads “is not the answer.”

Jordan halts free treatment for Syrian refugees

2014-11-26

Reporting by Faris Al Rifai; Writing by Yusra Ahmed

(Zaman Al Wasl)- Another shock to Syrian refugees in Jordan after ceasing the food vouchers few weeks ago. The Jordanian Government cancelled all decisions in regard to free treatment in the Ministry of Health’s hospitals and clinics. Syrians used to be treated via the health Insurance system; all they needed to do was showing the documents of the United Nations Higher Council for refugees (UNHCR).

The Jordanian Minister of Health said that decision was issued by the cabinet and had been implemented, as Syrians would be charged directly without any mediators.

The Minister confirmed that Ministry of Health still had JOD.34 Million unpaid charges for treating Syrians, from donors and international organization.

UNHCR has not commented on the decision yet, despite it put huge financial pressure of Syrian refugees, who cannot even afford for their food, and raise worries about the fate of children who make more than half of patients visiting health facilities of the Ministry of Health.

Donors who lag in paying charges for Syrians hold the majority of responsibility for the situation they put fragile Syrian refugees in.

Source: Zaman alwasl.

Link: https://www.zamanalwsl.net/en/news/7697.html.

French Parliament debates recognizing Palestine

November 28, 2014

PARIS (AP) — France’s government is pushing to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, amid growing pressure across Europe for recognition of a Palestinian state after decades of Mideast stalemate.

France’s lower house of Parliament on Friday debated a measure urging the government to recognize an independent Palestine. The Socialist government supports the idea of two states, but argues that it’s too early for outright recognition.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said France is working at the United Nations for a resolution to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations — and to set a two-year deadline for success. “France will recognize a Palestinian state,” Fabius told the lawmakers, but the question is “when, and how.”

France — which has western Europe’s largest Muslim and Jewish populations, and has seen tensions erupt between them — has sought to keep good ties with Israeli and Palestinian authorities in recent years. “Our only enemies in this region are the extremists,” Fabius said.

In the Parliament debate, lawmakers argued over whether recognizing a Palestinian state would help or hurt chances for peace. They will vote Tuesday on the measure proposed Friday, which urges the government “to recognize the state of Palestine in view of reaching a definitive settlement to the conflict.”

Many in Europe are frustrated with the deadlock in peace talks, and with the Israeli government’s actions in Gaza and in supporting the growth of Jewish settlements. On Oct. 30, Sweden’s government became the first Western European nation in the EU to recognize Palestinian statehood. Since then, lawmakers in Britain, Spain and Ireland have approved non-binding motions urging recognition, and the European Parliament debated the issue this week.

Tensions rise between Israel and Jordan over Jerusalem situation

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Washington Post recently highlighted the growing tensions between Israel and Jordan and commented on King Abdullah II and the Jordanian people’s anger over Israel’s actions in occupied Jerusalem. The current situation in the Holy City poses a threat to the peace agreement currently in effect between the two countries.

The American newspaper also noted in on its website on Monday, that a feud between Jordan and Israel could undermine the efforts of the US-led fight against Islamic extremists and it also threatens the natural gas deal worth billions of dollars for both countries.

It was also noted that Jordan had made an unusual decision by choosing to recall its ambassador from Tel Aviv as a form of protest to Israel’s actions in the Holy City and the escalation of conflict due to Israel’s mistreatment of Muslim worshipers at the Aqsa Mosque. The Jordanian ambassador has yet to return to his post.

Jordanian officials emphasized that King Abdullah’s inability to protect the Aqsa mosque is something that could undermine his credibility in his own country as his legitimacy or claim to the throne stems from the idea that he is a descendant of the Prophet Mohammad and a member of the Hashemite tribes. Jordan’s inability to act in defense of al Aqsa would also undermine its image within the Muslim community as well as hinder any progress in the fight against Islamic extremists in Iraq and Syria.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/15464-tensions-rise-between-israel-and-jordan-over-jerusalem-situation.

Syrians on hunger strike outside Greek parliament

November 24, 2014

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — More than 200 Syrian civil war refugees started a hunger strike Monday in front of Greece’s Parliament, urging the government to grant them temporary working and residence rights.

The protesters began gathering last week at Athens’ main square, complaining that refugees are being forced to pay exorbitant black-market rates to live in squalid apartments in Athens. “People are living in bad conditions. We get (temporary) travel documents, but we can’t go anywhere. We can’t work, or go to hospital, or rent a place to live,” said Khaldoon Fadel, a 31-year-old former resident of Damascus, who joined the hunger strike.

The hunger strikers said they were only eating sugar. Several dozen of them sat on the marble-paved sidewalk with strips of box tape covering their mouths, and packages of flatbread placed in front of them.

“For an (apartment) that would cost 250 euros ($310) to rent per month, we have to pay 1,000 euros ($1,245),” Fadel said. Fadel, who had worked as a chain store manager and fashion designer for women’s clothing before fleeing Syria, made the hazardous journey across Turkey and by boat illegally to the Greek island of Kos.

Greece is a busy entry point for immigrants and refugees seeking entry to the European Union. The financial crisis-hit country has seen a spike in the number of Syrians crossing by boat illegally from nearby Turkey.

Authorities expect a three-fold increase in illegal immigration this year, compared with 2013, with nearly two-thirds of the illegal traffic now coming from Syria. On Sunday, the regional governor of greater Athens, Rena Dourou, visited the protesters and said she had contacted the Greek Orthodox Church and the government to try and make arrangements to provide temporary shelter for Syrian refugees.