PROPHECY NEWS DAILY - Ezekiel 38 in Bible Prophecy
The Bible teaches in the last days Iran (Persia), Sudan (Cush), and Libya (Put) would also partake in the surprise attack on Israel in the last days. This is not Armageddon. This is called the war of Ezekiel.
This is the next war that I am looking to happen in the Middle East. The scenario for this is already in place. Iran leaders are publicly saying that “Israel will disappear from the face of the map” and calling for the “eradication of Israel.” They are testing weapons that can strike in the heart of Israel and are about to become a nuclear power. Iran is allied with Russia and it is well documented that Russia has helped arm Iran. God says that in the latter days this contingency of armies will attack Israel when they were back dwelling safely in their homeland. This Bible prophecy could only be fulfilled in this generation as Israel has only been in their back in their homeland since 1948. The Bible says that God will intervene in this war and 5/6 of the invading armies will be destroyed by fire.
Turkey (Meshech) would also join in the attack on Israel (Ezekiel 38). In 2002, Turkey elected a pro-Islamic party to govern the country. In 2005, Hitler's anti-Semitic manifesto Mein Kampf became a bestseller in Turkey.
Egypt and Jordan would not participate in this attack (Ezekiel 38). These two nations have signed recent peace treaties with Israel. Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.
Damascus would be destroyed (Isaiah 17:1, 14; Jeremiah 49:23-27; Amos 1:3-5; Zechariah 9:1-8). Damascus (Syria) is increasingly in the news and is extremely anti-Semitic. Many terrorist organizations have their bases in Damascus. God declares that they will become a ruinous heap because they have violently taken what was not theirs.
Birds of prey would eat the dead flesh of the enemy armies that fall in battle against Israel (Ezekiel 39:4, 17; Revelation 19:17-21). It is a little known fact that Israel is the bird migration capital of the world. During the spring and fall migrations, billions of birds fly over Israel. Many of these migratory birds are raptors, carrion (dead flesh) eating birds of prey. In fact, 34 species of raptors migrate over Israel.
EZEKIEL CHAPTER 38-39
Eze 38:2 Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog (Russia), the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him.
Eze 38:3 And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I [am] against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal:
Eze 38:4 And I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts [of armour, even] a great company [with] bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords:
Eze 38:5 Persia (Iran), Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet:
Eze 38:6 Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: [and] many people with thee
Ezekiel 38 in Bible Prophecy
Syria: Obama has failed in peace efforts and lost influence inMideast
Latest update 15:36 24.05.10
Assad's comments come as Obama set to meet with Lebanon PM to raise concerns about alleged Syria-Hezbollah Scud transfer.
By News Agencies
Syrian President Bashar Assad
Photo by: AP
Syrian President Bashar Assad said Monday that theUnited States has lost its influence in theMiddle East due to its failure to contribute to regional peace, in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
U.S. President Barack Obama "raised hopes" in the region, said Assad, but has failed to accomplish any significant peace maneuvers.
Assad's comments came just before Obama was to meet with Lebanon Prime Minister Sa'ad al-Hariri to raiseWashington's concerns aboutSyria arming Hezbollah guerrillas inLebanon.
The Syrian leader met on Sunday with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in Damascus earlier Sunday and urged the West to "break its silence" in the face of Israeli "aggression" in the Middle East.
During their talks, Assad denounced "the ongoing Israeli threats to ignite wars and undermine the stability in the region."
"The region has changed and the West's policy in the area is no longer acceptable, keeping silent over Israeli violations is no longer acceptable," Assad told Kouchner, according toSyria's official news agencySANA.
"If the West wants security and stability to be established in the Middle East, [it] must start to play an effective role to containIsrael and put an end to its extremist policies," Assad said.
The Syrian president also told Kouchner that the Western countries pushing for harsh United Nations sanctions againstIran should understand thatTehran's contentious nuclear program was aimed at civilian and not military pursuits, according toSANA.
"The countries involved need to change their attitude toIran's civil nuclear program, because this agreement is an important opportunity to reach a diplomatic solution and prevent a tragic dispute in the region and the world at large," said Assad.
Also Sunday,Syria defied Western pressure over its support for the militant group Hezbollah and said it would not act as a policeman forIsrael to prevent weapons from reaching the Lebanese Shi'ite movement.
"DidIsrael ever stop arming itself, did it stop instigating violence or making military maneuvers," Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said after meeting his German counterpart Guido Westerwelle. "Why are arms forbidden to Arabs and allowed toIsrael?"
Citing Israeli occupation of Arab land and the technical state of war betweenSyria andIsrael, Moualem said theDamascus government "will not be a policeman forIsrael".
"Israel is beating the drum of war. In the absence of real peace every thing is possible," he added.
Syria, a countryWashington says is critical for Middle East peace, has shown no signs of withdrawing backing for Hezbollah, which is also supported byIran, although the issue has clouded rapprochement betweenDamascus andWashington.
The row intensified when President Shimon Peres last month accusedSyria, which bordersLebanon, of sending long-range Scud missiles to Hezbollah.
Syria said it only gives Hezbollah political backing and thatIsrael may be using the accusation as a pretext for a military strike.
"A Scud missile is as big as this room. How could it be hidden and smuggled with Israeli planes and satellites all over the region?" Moallem asked, adding that cumbersome Scuds were not suited to Hezbollah's guerrilla tactics.
India's course correction onIran
By M K Bhadrakumar
May 22, 2010
The agreement betweenIran,Turkey andBrazil for a swap deal on the stockpile ofTehran's nuclear fuel sets the stage for a diplomatic pirouette of high significance for regional security. The paradigm shift affects Indian interests.
The Barack Obama administration has hastily debunked the Iran-Turkey-Brazil deal, which was announced in Tehran on Monday, and announced its intention to press ahead with a United Nations Security Council sanctions resolution, claiming that a "strong draft" has been reached by the so-called "Iran Six" (the five permanent council members plus Germany). The grandstanding highlights thatWashington's policy is at a crossroads as the cohesiveness of the "Iran Six" comes under renewed stress.
The statements and innuendos - and, more importantly, the
unspoken words - fromMoscow andBeijing suggest the two capitals are quietly chuckling with pleasure overAmerica's discomfort overIran outsmarting the Obama administration's own best instrument of diplomacy in present-day world politics - "smart power".
Russian commentators even portray thatMoscow had a hand in bringingIran,Turkey andBrazil together in an act of strategic defiance to theUnited States - which is a considerable exaggeration of the emerging templates of theIran nuclear issue.China, on the other hand, has coyly welcomed the announcement inTehran without rubbing salt intoAmerica's injured pride.
EvidentlyRussia andChina, both members of the "Iran Six", have left the door ajar for much horse-trading with the Obama administration that is sure to follow in the coming weeks.
ForIndia all this becomes a morality play of big-power politics. And it offers salutary lessons as to where things went horribly wrong inIndia'sIran policy in the past three to four years and how the recent course corrections now need to go further.
Plainly put, the "Iran Six" is preaching from the high table and arrogating the business of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Yet,Russia andChina claim they are votaries of a democratic world order that respects international law and the equality of all states, big and small.
The realpolitik for Indian interests
Clearly, relations with theUS are of the highest priority forIndia, as they are forRussia orChina. But the similarity ends there. For the foreseeable future, despite the heart-warming prognosis by the world community hailingIndia as a potentially emerging global player, the hard reality is that such a prospect remains distant in the scheme of things. When it comes to issues such as the situation aroundIran,India lacks the wherewithal ofRussia orChina.
WhileRussia andChina give lip-service to their shared interests with developing countries and they profess ardor for a polycentric world order, ultimately they remain self-centered, comfortable in the knowledge of their assured veto power in the UN and their sequestered place within the discriminatory nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime. Unsurprisingly, they are paramountly focused on perpetuating their privileged position as arbiters of regional problems.
Russia andChina are crafting an opportunistic tradeoff in the subsoil of their relationship with theUS - but without forgoing the luscious Persian fruit either. They keep the reserve option to laterally get into the matrix of the Iran-Brazil-Turkey swap deal if it gains traction by virtue of their key role within the "Iran Six", while at the same time they are constantly factoring in a probable US-Iran rapprochement.
On the other hand,India is almost similarly placed vis-a-vis theUS asBrazil orTurkey are. The fact that these two countries, which are close partners of theUS, have not drawnWashington's ire shouldn't go unnoticed.New Delhi's apprehensions that any independent line on the Iran nuclear issue might upset the rhythm of US-India relations seems, in introspect, to have been entirely unwarranted. Countries that have taken an independent line on theIran nuclear issue during crucial IAEA votes -Pakistan,Afghanistan,Malaysia,Egypt - have not exactly come to grief. On the contrary,India's traditional ties withIran grievously suffered when it began blindly toeing the American line.
Worse still,Tehran harbors a suspicion thatNew Delhi might have used its ''Iran card'' to ingratiate itself with the George W Bush administration. The signs are thatTehran has made a cool analysis about damage control and has decided to more or less relegate its ties withNew Delhi to a place on the backburner, even while going through the occasional motions of friendship and exchange of views that the two neighbors cannot do without.
New Delhi needs to take stock that Obama is an extraordinarily gifted politician endowed with intellectuality and it is conceivable he may come up with new thinking and a new approach to the problem. Monday's swap deal underscored indisputably thatUS policy onIran is in a cul-de-sac. A reversal becomes inevitable. To be sure, Obama has taken note thatTurkey andBrazil highlighted the existence of a whole world beyond the secretive, cloistered framework of the "Iran Six".
New Delhi has of late been attempting to follow in the footsteps of Russian and Chinese policies. Here too, a rethink is in order.India needs to factor in gains accruing toRussia andChina from a continuing US-Iran standoff. The Western embargo againstTehran is keeping Iranian energy exports out of the European energy market that might otherwise have competed with Russian supplies. Energy exports constitute the single-biggest trump card of Russian foreign policy to modulate Western policies towardMoscow.
As for China, it is indeed having quite a field day as an exporter of goods and services to Iran as well as for advancing plans to evacuate Iranian gas and oil through pipelines acrossCentral Asia that are nearing completion. In sum,Beijing has done splendidly well.
Russia andChina, therefore, have complementary interests in shepherding Iranian energy exports to the Asian market. How isIndia placed in the energy equations? On balance, India in no way benefits out of the US-Iran standoff and, in fact, has a great deal to lose as regional tensions prevail in a region which forms its extended neighborhood. TheIran nuclear issue potentially can complicate the US-India strategic partnership asNew Delhi will be firmly opposed to any use of force in the resolution of the problem.
Equally, the bottom line is thatIran is a major source of energy supplies for the expanding Indian economy. In geopolitical terms, a leap of faith uncluttered by the debris in the India-Pakistan relationship will dictate that theIran gas pipeline project offers a rare opportunity forNewDelhi to make its western neighbor a stakeholder in regional cooperation. Even at the height of the Cold War with nuclear armies preparing for Armageddon, pipelines criss-crossed the Iron Curtain. Alas, the Indian strategic community has a closed mind, as things stand, when it comes to developing a matrix of regional cooperation that even remotely includesPakistan.
India's diplomatic ingenuity lies in working on theUS thinking to persuade it to become a partner in theIran pipeline project. The prospect offers a "win-win" situation.Iran doesn't hide its panache for Big Oil. TheUS has stakes in India-Pakistan normalization.India andPakistan's energy markets offer massive business for American oil companies. TheUS involvement acts as a guarantee for the pipeline. Least of all,Washington too wishes to makeTehran a stakeholder in regional stability.
New Delhi should closely studyTurkey's motivations on theIran nuclear issue.Turkey has interests almost similar toIndia's and its supple diplomacy enables it to astutely position itself for the day when the US-Iran standoff dissipates. Turkey estimates that Iran is a neighbor (although they have had a troubled relationship) while the US is a key North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally and any midwifery in the inevitable US-Iran rapprochement becomes a strategic asset for Ankara's growing stature as a regional power.
Indian diplomacy has lately made some interesting moves towardIran, beginning with Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao's visit toTehran in February. The desire to craft a fresh approach is also evident in External Affairs Minister S M Krishna's consultations this week inTehran. The path is strewn with thorns, as the Iranians harbor a deep sense of hurt aboutIndia's stance at the IAEA votes. Therefore, as theUS's tug-of-war withIran intensifies,New Delhi faces the challenge of not treading onTehran's sensitivities all over again.
On the whole, Indian policy is principled, especially its line that the IAEA ought to be in the driving seat rather than a cabal of states with dubious intentions. ButNew Delhi is lurking in the shadows in a blissful state of masterly inactivity.
India should openly join hands withTurkey andBrazil in opposing the need for a continued push for UN sanctions againstIran. No doubt, the diplomatic initiative byTurkey andBrazil creates an altogether new situation and Indian diplomacy should grasp its importance and seize its potentials.
AmbassadorM K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union,South Korea,Sri Lanka,Germany,Afghanistan,Pakistan,Uzbekistan,Kuwait andTurkey.
(Copyright 2010Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved.
Photo by: Associated Press
US lifts sanctions on Russian firms
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Groups previously accused of giving illicit assistance toIran,Syria.
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Friday removed sanctions against three Russian organizations theUS had previously accused of assistingIran's effort to develop nuclear weapons.
Penalties against a fourth Russian entity previously accused of illicit arms sales toSyria were also lifted.
The timing of the decisions, published in Friday's Federal Register but not otherwise announced by the State Department, suggested the possibility of a link to US efforts to win Russian support for a new UN Security Council resolution expanding sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.
The State Department on Friday did not immediately respond to questions about lifting the sanctions.
Two of the entities — Dmitri Mendeleyev University of Chemical Technology and the Moscow Aviation Institute — had been sanctioned in January 1999 under a 1994 executive order authorizing such action. The order was aimed at organizations determined to have contributed to a foreign country's development or production of weapons of mass destruction or missiles capable of launching such weapons.
When the administration of formerUS president Bill Clinton announced those sanctions, then-Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said the two institutions "directly support Iranian efforts to develop nuclear weapons."
At the time, the Russian government denied such support forIran.
US sanctions imposed in October 2008 against Russian state arms trader Rosoboronexport for alleged illicit assistance toIran's nuclear program also were lifted by the State Department on Friday.
Rosoboronexport said at the time that it had sold only defensive weaponry toIran.
Earlier this year, Anatoly Isaikin, head of Rosoboronexport, saidRussia still considersIran a valuable arms customer. That was a reassuring message toTehran despite recent indications ofMoscow's support for tougher Western sanctions.
Isaikin told a news conference in late January that no international agreements barRussia from selling weapons toTehran.
Russia signed a 2007 contract to sell the powerful S-300 air defense missiles toTehran but so far has not delivered any. No reason has been given for the delay, butIsrael and theUnited States strongly objected toIran obtaining the long-range missiles, which would significantly boost the country's air defense capability.
The State Department on Friday also lifted sanctions against Tula Instrument Design Bureau in April 1999 for providing anti-tank guided missiles toSyria.
Photo by: AP
Iran sanctions likely to be delayed
By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER, E.B. SOLOMONT
Progress at UN slows Congress efforts, $205m. okayed for Iron Dome.
WASHINGTON – The progress on getting anIran sanctions resolution through the UN Security Council will likely delay approval of unilateralUS sanctions pending in Congress, members have told The Jerusalem Post.
At the same time, they stressed the determination of Congress to push through tough measures that go beyond what the White House has signaled it supports.
The House and Senate are currently meeting to reconcile versions of theIran sanctions bill already passed by each chamber, both of which seek to bar gasoline imports toIran by penalizing foreign companies supplying refined petroleum.
Originally, members hoped to get a reconciled bill to final vote by Memorial Day next Monday, a timeline that staff at the time conceded was highly ambitious.
Now, though, several members and their aides have told the Post that the prospect of a UN resolution means that Congress probably won’t approve any sanctions package until after the Security Council votes, assuming it stays on track to do so by the end of June, as the administration has pledged.
Congress had been pushing hard for its sanctions measure in the face of administration opposition while the Security Council process dragged under objections fromRussia andChina. But with the two countries – who were the only Security Council holdouts with veto power – signing on to a draft this week, the administration’s desire to let the UN process play out first has gained momentum.
“There’s an understanding that the administration can buy itself a couple of weeks,” Rep. Brad Sherman (D-California), a member of the conference committee, told the Post.
“The reconciliation process is related to the efforts to achieve a Security Council resolution imposing sanctions onIran,” said Rep. Steve Rothman (D-New Jersey). “If the Security Council resolution is imminent, the reconciliation will be put off until we can judge the consequences of that Security Council resolution.”
Even the office of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer – who said of the bill on Tuesday that “we hope it will move out of conference this week and be on the floor next week” – noted the process had been drawn out since then.
The administration has publicly been reserved in its criticism of the bill, and the White House did not response to a request for comment from the Post by press time on Thursday. But members of Congress who have been in touch with the administration say they have no doubt that the executive branch wants to see the bill held back until after the Security Council vote.
The administration has made the argument that a unilateral sanctions bill, particularly one that targets companies from foreign countries likeRussia andChina that the White House wants to get on board with UN sanctions, could sabotage the multilateral process.
Though the Security Council would only impose relatively mild sanctions onIran, the administration sees the platform as essential for demonstrating global unity to better isolateIran and as legitimizing further unilateral steps by theUS and other countries.
To that end, the administration is understood to be urging that the bill not be approved until after the Security Council vote. It also wants to include a provision that “cooperating countries” – potentially includingChina andRussia – could be exempted if the White House desires.
“The administration has enough clout to keep up from adopting a real strong bill this month because so many things are moving with the UN and they can make that argument,” said Sherman, who despite the urgency he sees in imposing sanctions, would prefer waiting to vote on the sanctions bill until after the UN vote so that it would be a strong version with no potential exemptions for Russia and China.
“If Congress gives the administration more time, it is more likely to keep the bill as tough if not tougher than it was when it was passed by both chambers,” explained one congressional staffer of the tradeoff being considered.
He added that any delay would be short and depend on the Security Council to vote as anticipated by the end of June: “If we do delay, we’re not going to be able to delay again, so this is the last extension, if you will.”
Also Thursday, the House approved $205 million in new funding forIsrael’s Iron Dome missile defense project by a vote of 410-4. The project is being developed to protect civilians, primarily along the Gaza Strip and Lebanese border, from short-range rockets and mortar attacks.
On Wednesday, the State Department also announce it had donated $1.4 million for construction of a community center in a Palestinian refugee camp inSyria, and to provide 20 Harley Davidson motorcycles to the Lebanese National Police.
China,Russia supportIran sanctions
By HERB KEINON AND AP
Jerusalem: Text doesn’t go far enough, ‘crippling’ measures necessary.
TheUnited States and its Western allies won crucial support fromRussia andChina for newsanctions againstIran over its nuclear program, but face a tough campaign to get backing from the rest of the UN Security Council.
The draft resolution would ban Iran from pursuing “any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of deliveringnuclear weapons,” freeze assets of nuclear-related companies linked to the Revolutionary Guard, bar Iranianinvestment in activities such as uranium mining, and prohibit Iran from buying several categories of heavy weapons, including attack helicopters and missiles.
It would also call on all countries to cooperate in cargo inspections – which must receive the consent of the ship’sflag state – if there are “reasonable grounds” to believe these activities could contribute to Iranian nuclear activities.
On the financial side, the draft calls on – but does not require – countries to block financial transactions, includinginsurance andreinsurance, and ban the licensing of Iranian banks if the countries have information that provides “reasonable grounds” to believe these activities could contribute to Iranian nuclear activities.
A government official in Jerusalem responded to the sanctions draft by saying that while Israel supported the actions in the UN Security Council, it “believes the only way sanctions can be effective is if they are crippling sanctions that target both the export and import of petroleum products. We need to see crippling sanctions that bite.” The official acknowledged that the draft sanctions do not fit that characterization.
Another round of UN sanctions based on the draft would only be “of symbolic importance,” because it would demonstrate that the international community was still very concerned about the issue, he said, adding that along with the UN moves, countries committed to stoppingIran must impose crippling sanctions.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been saying for months that the only sanctions that would impact the Iranians would be those leveled against the country’s energy sector.
On Tuesday morning, Netanyahu convened the forum of his closest ministers, known as the “septet,” and, among other issues, discussed the deal brokered by Brazil and Turkey on Monday, whereby Iran would transfer some of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey. The consensus among the participants at that meeting was that the move was an Iranian “maneuver.”
Iranian Vice President Mehdi Mostafavi dismissed the current sanctions push, saying it was nothing new.
“Most countries stand byIran’s side in the nuclear field. So if a few other countries, including the Americans, differ, then it is not important for us,” Mostafavi told reporters on Wednesday inBeirut, where he will be attending a Christian-Muslim dialogue conference.
The agreement appeared to be a significant victory for the Obama administration, which has doggedly pursued sanctions sinceIran rebuffed US overtures last year.
Russia andChina, which have close ties toIran and could veto any resolution, joined fellow permanent council membersBritain, France and theUnited States, as well as non-memberGermany, in supporting the sanctions proposal.
BothRussia andChina resisted sanctions before they were persuaded to support the stepped-up pressure onIran in recent weeks. Proposed sanctions relating toIran’s oil and gas industry were removed due to opposition from the two countries, which have vast investments and interests inIran’s energy sector.
Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the final draft was acceptable because it was “focused adequately on nonproliferation matters” and didn’t cause “humanitarian damage” or create problems for normal economic activities inIran and for the country’s economic relations with other countries.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a Senate committee that she spent Tuesday on the phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov “finalizing the resolution.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Lavrov “expressed anxiety” in his talk withClinton about reports that theUnited States and European Union might undertake unilateral sanctions againstIran, beyond measures agreed to by the Security Council.
At least three of the 10 nonpermanent Security Council members –Brazil,Turkey andLebanon – have expressed opposition to new sanctions.
Brazil tight lipped on new sanctions
The US introduced the draft sanctions resolution at a closed council meeting on Tuesday, butBrazil announced afterward that that it wouldn’t even discuss it “at this point,” because it wanted to focus on the nuclear swap agreement thatIran signed on Monday withBrazil andTurkey.
The deal would take 1,200 kilograms, about 2,600 pounds, of low-enriched uranium out ofIran for a year and return higher-enriched uranium for a medical research reactor in Teheran. That’s the same amount as under a tentative October agreement negotiated by theUS,Russia,France andIran and endorsed by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency.
“We feel there is a new situation,” saidBrazil’s UN Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, adding thatIran’s first signed commitment to the nuclear swap “creates a confidence building atmosphere for further dialogue and negotiations.”
Brazil’s Foreign Minister Celso Amorim conceded that the agreement did not solve all the problems posed byIran’s nuclear program, which the West suspects could lead to the development of nuclear weapons, but he argued it lays the groundwork for a peaceful solution to the dispute.
“I am optimistic about the results,” he said inBrasilia.
Iranian presidential adviser Mojtaba Hashemi Samareh rejected the sanctions proposal as “illegitimate.” He was quoted by state TV’s Web site on Wednesday as saying the draft was an effort to undermine the deal brokered byTurkey andBrazil.
US Ambassador Susan Rice insisted, however, that the pursuit of new sanctions has “nothing to do with” the proposed nuclear swap. The October proposal had been presented as a “confidence-building measure,” not as a solution toIran’s nuclear standoff, she said.
Rice stressed thatIran has taken new actions since October and that even after Monday’s agreement the government announced that it still planned to enrich uranium to 20 percent. That “not only eliminates any confidence-building potential” but intensifiesIran’s violation of existing UN sanctions, she said.
She said she was confident the resolution will get the minimum nine “yes” votes without a veto needed foradoption by the 15-member Security Council, but the final tally remains uncertain.
Rebuilding the 'box' aroundSyria
U.S. diplomatic overtures haven't worked; it's time to get tougher again withDamascus.
May 18, 2010|Firas Maksad
When the Obama administration came to power, it began to dismantle the diplomatic "box" that had been built aroundSyria, a box meant to isolate it for its destabilizing behavior inLebanon,Iraq and the Palestinian territories. Administration officials argued that the international will to pressureSyria no longer existed and that an attempt at distancing it fromIran was worthwhile. TheUnited States' gentler approach has included sending senior officials toDamascus, refraining from public criticism of President Bashar Assad and his government, and nominating aU.S. ambassador toSyria for the first time in five years. But such engagement has proved its limits, and it's time to put the box back together.
International concern withSyria is on the rise. Assad's latest affront, despite genuine outreach to the Syrian leadership, was hosting a meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hezbollah's leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, inDamascus in April. This bold show of defiance — together with reports that Syria has supplied increasingly sophisticated weaponry, possibly including Scud missiles, to Hezbollah in Lebanon — left many in Washington, Paris, Cairo and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, at a loss, trying to make sense of Assad's strategic calculus. Did he not foresee the likely consequences? Could he not have taken advantage of Western and Arab efforts to woo him fromTehran? Was the message not getting through?
It's hardly a message problem. MoreU.S., European and Arab officials have visitedDamascus in the past months than at any time in the last five years. Assad has a very clear idea of how such behavior will be received in Western and Arab capitals. The problem is that he believes he can get away with it.
Further insight into Assad's thinking surfaced this month when Hezbollah leaked to a Lebanese daily that its leader actually asked Assad if he was "capable of handling the international pressure that will ensue from the publication of the picture" showing the two of them together. The Syrian president reportedly replied: "I've handled heavier loads before; this will be an easy lift."
Game change—Iran andIsrael
May 17, 10:55 PMDefense Dept. ExaminerBruce Clarke
Events in the Iran – Israel confrontation over Iran’s uranium enrichment program and its potential to develop nuclear weapons have taken several interesting turns in recent days:
• Tehran has agreed to send the bulk of its nuclear material to Turkey, while declaring that it will expand its enrichment programs
• Iran conducted military maneuvers rehearsing possible aggressive actions in the Persian Gulf
• Iran showed off a growing arsenal of ballistic missiles
• The Russians publicly rebuked President Obama on his position on sanctions against Iran
• An Israeli retired General Officer said that Israel has the military capability to attack Iran’s enrichment facilities.
• An Israeli conducted simulation assumed thatIran had acquired nuclear weapons.
"After a final agreement is signed betweenIran and theVienna group, our fuel will be shipped toTurkey under the supervision ofIran and the IAEA," a press spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry told journalists on the sidelines of a conference of developing nations. "Then we will dispatch 1,200 kilograms [2,640 pounds] of 3.5% enriched uranium toTurkey to be exchanged for 120 kilograms [264 pounds] of 20% enriched uranium from theVienna group." The deal appears to build upon an IAEA proposal last year that was endorsed by the Obama administration and Western powers.
By the way of background the proposal presented to Iran last year which this announced agreement parallels was to send around 2,640 pounds of its low-enriched uranium to Russia to be further refined and afterward to France to be converted into 20%-enriched fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor. The compromise was to serve as a way of drawingIran's supply of nuclear material below the threshold for building a bomb and to create an atmosphere for a broader deal between the West andIran.
The announced agreement has several pitfalls:
• Only a handful of countries have the capability to create the specialized fuel plates for the Tehran medical reactor, which is what Iran says their enrichment program was for.
• The deal could be threatened by factional battles withinIran's domestic politics, where any apparent weakness in the face of Western powers is viewed as not representing the greatness that isIran.
• The Obama administration could reject the proposal, because
•Turkey does not have the capability to enrich the uranium—maybe it will serve as a middleman forFrance,Russia orBrazil.
In preparation for such an agreementIran threatened its neighbors in late April when its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) conducted four days of military exercises in the Straits of Hormuz andPersian Gulf. The exercises signaled thatIran is prepared to close the shipping lane form thePersian Gulf if/when confronted by an attack. The exercises also showcased indigenously built materiel and equipment, including an array of missiles and a new fast attack craft. Drills were also run to simulate the firing of anti-ship and surface-to-surface missiles as well as two types of rockets. Four types of seaborne missiles were also tested.
Iran unveiled several new missiles and UAVs at the 2010 Army Day Parade, highlighting long-range ballistic missiles of the both solid and liquid propelled types.Iran also hinted on the existence of a new missile in its arsenal—a Russian S-300 'look-alike'. The system is definitely not the Russian S-300, but could be a derivative of the Chinese HQ-9 missile. These new missiles were probably meant to displayIran’s ability to targetIsrael.
TheNew York Times reported that the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov criticized President Obama for his position on sanctions forIran. He warned theUnited States and other Western nations against imposing unilateral sanctions onIran over its nuclear program. “Countries facing Security Council sanctions "cannot under any circumstances be the subject of one-sided sanctions imposed by one or other government bypassing the Security Council", Lavrov was quoted as saying.
Israel is primed to wage war onIran, a deputy to Prime Minister Netanyahu said in a rare break with the government's self imposed silence, as foreign governments try to curbTehran's nuclear plans. Reportedly by its assaults on guerrillas in neighboringLebanon and Palestinian territories, the Israeli air force had gained the techniques necessary for any future strikes on Iranian sites. Deputy Prime Minister Yaalon (a former armed forces chief) went on to say that: "There is no doubt that the technological capabilities, which improved in recent years, have improved range and aerial refueling capabilities, and have brought about a massive improvement in the accuracy of ordnance and intelligence. This capability can be used for a war on terror inGaza, for a war in the face of rockets fromLebanon, for war on the conventional Syrian army, and also for war on a peripheral state likeIran."
Finally, in a recent simulation in Israel: "Iranian deterrence proved dizzyingly effective," Eitan Ben-Eliahu, a retired air force commander who played the Israeli defense minister, said in his summary of the 20-team simulation. The wargame sawIran declaring itself a nuclear power in 2011 and the ensuing confrontations were by proxy, inLebanon. In one, emboldened Hezbollah guerrillas fired missiles at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv. That was followed byU.S. and Israeli intelligence findings thatIran had slipped radioactive materials to its Lebanese cohort, to assemble a crude device. Neither move drew Israeli attacks. Instead,Israel conferred with theUnited States, which publicly supported its ally's "right to self-defense" and mobilized military reinforcements for the region while quietly insisting the Israelis stand down to give crisis talks a chance. "As far as theUnited States was concerned,Israel was trigger-happy. It sought to use the Hezbollah (missile) attack as justification for what theUnited States was told would be an all-out war."
These series of distinct events and reports tell stark story. TheUnited States has lost its image as a power broker and protector ofIsrael. BothIsrael andIran are posturing while sending the same message. TheUS is not the player that it used to be.Iran is sending this message to show its dominance in the area and for domestic political consumption. Simultaneously,Israel is hinting at the ability to attackIran while distancing itself from dependence on theUS, which the simulation painted as weak and unresponsive.
It can be argued that the Iranian deal withTurkey may lower the temperature of the current debate and will definitely make sanctions impossible. However it contains all of the problems noted, that must still be addressed. Overall the Iranian desire to create what one of its clerics called the Islamic United States continues and needs to be addressed by policy makers in theMiddle East and the rest of the world.
What do you think?
Brazil andTurkey: Mediators for what?
By EMILY B.LANDAU
The irony of the newIran uranium deal.
A major problem with the 10-point deal reached amongBrazil,Turkey andIran on an exchange of enriched uranium is that the context within which it was concluded has little to do with nuclear nonproliferation and the international community’s interest to haltIran’s advance toward a military nuclear capability.
The deal has everything to do with economics and political posturing. Rather than serving as a mediator between the West and Iran on the nuclear issue – the stated goal of Brazil and Turkey in their efforts – the resulting document suggests that the two states have acted more as Iran’s representatives in resisting pressure from the P5+1 (the permanent Security Council members and Germany).
The basic motivation for the deal was to take the wind out of an impending P5+1 decision on a fourth round of UN sanctions againstIran for its ongoing unwillingness to engage on the nuclear issue. This was the primary common interest that linked the three states;Brazil andTurkey both have economic ties withIran that they would like to maintain and enhance. The three are also in strong agreement thatIran’s right to enrich uranium should be spelled out and accepted.Turkey andBrazil have consistently advocated thatIran has every right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, ignoringIran’s record of deception and noncompliance that has led already to three UN Security Council decisions on sanctions.
The only provision in the deal itself that is reminiscent of the original P5+1 offer from October is the amount of low-enriched uranium to be transferred out ofIran: 1,200 kg. Cardinal questions surrounding the deal – such as what happens to the 20-percent enrichment activities thatIran began in February – are not raised in the document. But when heading a 300-strong business delegation to Teheran in order to advance political and economic ties betweenBrazil andIran, why would we imagine that these details would troubleBrazil’s president?
And forTurkey, its paramount concern seems to have been its ability to demonstrate success in bringing to conclusion its efforts tomediate anything in the region. Being able to announce this achievement – and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan postponed his arrival in Teheran until he got word from his foreign minister that the Iranians were going to sign – while likely deferring a decision on sanctions, were all that was deemed necessary.
WhileIran is certainly happy with the political embrace fromTurkey andBrazil, and obviously interested in enhancing its economic ties with the two states, it wanted something more.Iran wanted its enrichment rights to be clarified. And thus we find the most troubling aspect of the deal, which is stated clearly and explicitly in the opening sentences: “We reaffirm our commitment to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation ofNuclear Weapons and in accordance with the related articles of the NPT, recall the right of all State Parties, including the Islamic Republic ofIran, to develop research, production and use ofnuclear energy (as well as nuclear fuel cycle including enrichment activities) for peaceful purposes without discrimination.”
The fact is, however, that five Security Council resolutions demanding thatIran cease uranium enrichment activities because of its noncompliance overruleIran’s “rights” according to the NPT.
Despite its rhetoric,Iran obviously knows this to be true, and therefore was careful to include this opening statement, which in effect means that the entire deal hinges on an explicit acceptance of its right to continue enriching uranium.
How ironic that this deal withIran was being concluded at the exact time that the NPT Review Conference was ongoing inNew York, whereIran’s nuclear activities are the major challenge to the continued health of the treaty. The contrast between the stated goals of that conference and the conditions surrounding the Brazil-Turkey-Iran deal couldn’t be more blatant.
The writer is director of the Arms Control and Regional Security Project at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS),TelAvivUniversity.
Photo by: AP
UN powers back newIran sanctions
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Proposal targets Revolutionary Guard, investments related to nukes.
UNITED NATIONS — The United States introduced a United Nations resolution aimed at Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program on Tuesday, having won long-sought and pivotal support from China and Russia for new sanctions against its powerful Revolutionary Guard and new measures to try to curtail Iran's military, financial and shipping activities.
The agreement appeared to be a significant victory for the Obama administration, which has doggedly pursued sanctions sinceIran rebuffed US overtures last year.
The draft resolution, obtained by The Associated Press, would banIran from pursuing "any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons," freeze assets of nuclear-related companies linked to the Revolutionary Guard, bar Iranian investment in activities such as uranium mining and prohibitIran from buying several categories of heavy weapons.
US Ambassador Susan Rice said the resolution, backed by all five veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council, would give "greater teeth" to existing sanctions and add "strong" new measures to intensify pressure on the Iranian government to resolve concerns that its nuclear program is peaceful and not aimed at producing nuclear weapons.
Russia and China join in
Russia and China, which have close ties to Iran, joined fellow permanent council members Britain, France and the United States as well as non-member Germany in supporting the sanctions proposal, ignoring a deal that Teheran struck with Turkey and Brazil a day earlier in an effort to stave off the penalties.
China's UN Ambassador Li Baodong reiteratedBeijing's commitment to pressure and talks, saying "we believe that circulating this draft resolution does not mean the door for diplomacy is closed."
The draft resolution stresses the willingness of the five permanent council members "to further enhance diplomatic efforts to promote dialogue and consultations ... without preconditions."
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told a Senate committee that she spent Tuesday on the phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov "finalizing the resolution."
Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the final draft is acceptable because it is "focused adequately on nonproliferation matters" and doesn't cause "humanitarian damage" or create problems for normal economic activities inIran and the country's economic relations with other countries.
Targeting the nuclear program
Rice said the pursuit of new sanctions has nothing to do with the proposed swap of nuclear material for Teheran's research reactor thatIran agreed to Monday withBrazil andTurkey. She stressed that the proposed resolution is targeting the Islamic Republic's refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment program and its plans to build 10 new nuclear facilities.
She presented the draft to the 10 non-permanent council members — includingBrazil andTurkey — and said theUS will work hard to win support from as many members as possible. She said she is confident the resolution will get the minimum 9 "yes" votes. Rice said theUS considers new sanctions "urgent" but wouldn't speculate on when the resolution will be put to a vote.
The draft resolution would target a range of activities related toIran's nuclear program, including the Revolutionary Guard, which controls companies and organizations that have links to weapons proliferation. These companies and individuals would be added to a list of those subject to an asset freeze and travel ban that is still being compiled.
The draft resolution also calls on all countries "to exercise vigilance" over Revolutionary Guard transactions "that could contribute toIran's proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities or the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems."
The draft would also:
— Ban Iranian investment in such sensitive nuclear activities abroad as uranium mining.
— Prohibit the sale of eight categories of heavy weapons including attack helicopters, warships, missiles and battle tanks to the Islamic Republic.
— BanIran from undertaking any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons and order states to "take all necessary measures to prevent the transfer of technology or technical assistance toIran related to such activities."
The last sanctions resolution, adopted in March 2008, authorized inspection of cargo suspected of containing banned items on planes and ships owned or operated by Iran Air Cargo and the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line. The new proposal would call on countries to cooperate in inspections — which must receive the consent of the ship's flag state — and ban the supply of fuel or services to Iranian owned or contracted vessels suspected of carrying prohibited cargo.
The draft resolution is weaker than the original Western-backed proposal, especially on financial and energy-related measures. Rather than place sanctions on Iran's oil industry, the proposed resolution simply notes the "potential connection" between Iranian energy revenues and funding for the country's nuclear program and calls on UN members to be aware of it.
On the financial side, the draft calls on — but does not require — countries to block financial transactions, including insurance and reinsurance, and ban the licensing of Iranian banks if they have information that provides "reasonable grounds" to believe these activities could contribute to Iranian nuclear activities.
The draft, in its preamble, recalls the needs for states "to exercise vigilance" over all Iranian banks, including the Central Bank, to prevent transactions contributing to proliferation activities — but there is not even an official "call" by the council to do this.
To improve compliance by the 192 UN member states, the draft resolution calls for the establishment of a panel of experts to monitor implementation of the four sanctions resolutions againstIran.
Many had believed Monday's Iran-Turkey-Brazil deal would blunt the U.S.-led drive for new sanctions, butClinton said the six-power agreement on a new resolution was a rejection ofIran's efforts to forestall penalties.
"This announcement is as convincing an answer to the efforts undertaken by Teheran over the last few days as any we could provide," she told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "We don't believe it was any accident thatIran agreed to this declaration as we were preparing to move forward inNew York."
Brazil,Turkey bolsterIran's nuclear drive, disarmUS sanctions threat
DEBKAfileExclusive AnalysisMay 17, 2010, 1:42 PM (GMT+02:00)
Iran can keep its nuclear program afloat with a quiet mind and without fear of international harassment, thanks to the intercession of Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva "Lula" and Turkish prime minister Reccep Erdogan. They clinched a deal inTehran Monday, May 17, forIran to export some 1,200 kilograms of its lightly enriched uranium toTurkey for reprocessing to 19.5 percent grade.
The two leaders mounted their initiative on behalf of the nascent anti-American bloc also backed byRussia, as well asIran's close alliesSyria, Hizballah and Hamas.
There was no immediate response fromWashington.
From a wide range of data,debkafile's military sources confirm the deal is wholly fraudulent and no more than a piece of diplomatic trickery.
1.Turkey does not possess the facilities for reprocessing enriched uranium to a higher level, unlikeRussia andFrance, which also have the technology to block its further enrichment to weapons-grade and whose servicesTehran rejected.
2. The deal legitimizesIran's right to enriched uranium of a higher grade, which can be converted in short order to fuel for a nuclear bomb.Tehran has now gained an international seal for going up to weapons grade.
3. Given the close bonds unfolding betweenTurkey,Iran andSyria, no independent agency can expect a chance to monitor the transaction or find out the actual quantity of enriched uraniumTehran is in fact exporting toTurkey.
4. The Six-Power group's compromise proposition for the export of 1.200 kilograms of low-enriched Iranian uranium was put forward more than a year ago and left hanging. There is no telling how much enriched uraniumTehran has produced in the interim period. Therefore, the quantityIran has agreed to send toTurkey may be a drop in the ocean. In any case, the deal leavesTehran with all the necessary infrastructure for continuing to build up its stocks of enriched uranium - and at a higher grade.
5.US president Barack Obama's insistence on engagingIran in diplomacy and concentrating the effort on curbingIran's product of enriched uranium has led up a blind alley after being outmaneuvered byTehran and its backers.
The Iranians can use the phony deal pulled off by Lula and Erdogan as a recipe for putting paid to all hopes of the UN Security Council uniting behind a resolution for reining in their drive for a nuclear bomb. It has stripped theUnited States of levers for controlling the most dangerous peril besettingMiddle East stability in the immediate future.
The Brazilian and Turkish rulers were not alone; they maintained constant communication with Moscow in the last ten days, during which Russian president Dmitry Medvedev made trips to Damascus and Ankara, the Brazilian president's stopped over in Moscow on his way to Tehran Sunday, May 16, and Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin kept an open line to the prime movers in the anti-US group's scheme to get Tehran off the nuclear hook.
After the signing, the Brazilian, Turkish and Iranian foreign ministers announced they expected by the Six Power Group led by the United States to approve the deal within a week and delivery of Iranian enriched uranium to Turkey a month later.
Turkish foreign minister Ahmed Davutoglu said he saw no need for further sanctions againstIran, even though the foreign ministry spokesman inTehran said the deal brokered between the three powers would not preventIran from continuing to enrich uranium up to 20 percent inside the country.
Iran to ship uranium toTurkey in nuclear deal
May 17, 2010
Reuters – Brazil's Foreign Minister Celso Amorim attends a news conference with international media inBrasilia …
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press WriterAli Akbar Dareini, Associated Press Writer– Mon May 17, 8:16 am ET
TEHRAN, Iran –Iran agreed Monday to ship most of its low-enriched uranium to Turkey in a surprisenuclear fuel swap deal that could ease the international standoff over the country's disputed atomic program and deflate a U.S.-led push for tougher sanctions.
The deal, which was reached in talks withBrazil and Turkey, was similar to a U.N.-drafted plan that Washington and its allies have been pressing Tehran for the past six months to accept in order to deprive Iran — at least temporarily — of enough stocks of enriched uranium to produce anuclear weapon.
Iran, which claims its nuclear program is peaceful, dropped several key demands that had previously blocked agreement. In return for agreeing to ship most of its uranium stockpile abroad, it would receive fuel rods of medium-enriched uranium to use in aTehran medical research reactor that produces isotopes for cancer treatment. It was not immediately clear what would happen to the stockpile once the fuel rods were received.
TheUnited States had no immediate comment, butGermany andBritain greeted the news with caution.
Britain's government said it was awaiting confirmation of the reports onIran's deal withTurkey and insisted it remains committed to new sanctions againstTehran.
"Our position onIran is unchanged at the present time,"Prime Minister David Cameron's spokesman Steve Field told reporters. "Iran has an obligation to reassure the international community, and until it does so we will continue to work with our international partners on a sanctions resolution in theUnited Nations Security Council."
German government spokesman Christoph Steegmans noted that the question remains whetherIran suspends enrichment ofnuclear material at home, raising a possible sticking point since the agreement reaffirmedTehran's right to enrichment activities for peaceful purposes.
Iran's Foreign Ministers spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast saidIran will continue to enrich uranium to higher level despite the deal reached Monday.
"Of course, enrichment of uranium to 20 percent will continue insideIran," theofficial news agency IRNA quoted him as saying.
For months,Iran has haggled over the terms, making counterproposals that were repeatedly rejected by theU.S. and its allies. With the deal announced Monday,Tehran seems to have agreed to almost all of the original terms. However, making the deal withTurkey andBrazil may have been more palatable, allowingIran to argue that it did not bend to American pressure.
"It was agreed during the trilateral meeting of Iranian, Turkish and Brazilian leaders that Turkey will be the venue for swapping" Iran's stocks of enriched uranium for fuel rods, Mehmanparast said on state TV.
Washington has cited the Iranians' intransigence against the original deal as proof of the need for new U.N. sanctions.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said thenew deal meantIran was willing to "open a constructive road."
"There is no ground left for more sanctions or pressure," he told reporters inIran, according toTurkey's private NTV television.
Monday's deal was announced after talks betweenBrazil's president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva,Turkish Prime MinisterRecep Tayyip Erdogan andIranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inTehran.
The main difference from the U.N.-drafted version is that ifIran does not receive the fuel rods within a year,Turkey will be required to "quickly and unconditionally" return the uranium toIran.Iran feared that under the initial U.N. deal, if a swap fell through, its uranium stock could be seized permanently.
The U.N. proposal also saidRussia andFrance would process the Iranian uranium to higher levels, then send it back as fuel rods.
The process would begin one month after a final agreement is signed betweenIran and its main negotiating partners, including theUnited States and the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, theInternational Atomic Energy Agency.
Iran dropped an earlier demand for the fuel exchange to happen in stages and is now willing to ship abroad itsnuclear material in a single batch. It also dropped an insistence that the exchange happen insideIran as well as a request to receive the fuel rods right away.
While kept under international supervision inTurkey, the uranium would still be considered Iranian property untilIran receives the fuel rods, said IranianForeign MinisterManouchehr Mottaki.
Iranian Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi, who is also the head of theAtomic Energy Organization of Iran, called Monday's deal historic.
The United Nations has already imposed three rounds of financial sanctions onIran for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. The process is key to concerns over its program, because it can produce either low-enriched uranium needed to fuel anuclear reactor or the highly enriched uranium needed to build a warhead.
The fuel swap deal on the table since October was touted as a way to reduce tensions and ensureIran cannot build a bomb in the short term. The material returned toIran in the form of fuel rods cannot be processed beyond its lower, safer levels.Iran needs the fuel rods to power an agingmedical research reactor inTehran that produces isotopes for cancer treatment.
Under the agreement announced Monday,Iran will ship most of its enriched uranium — about 2,600 pounds, or 1,200 kilograms — toTurkey to be kept under U.N. and Iranian supervision. In return, it will get fuel rods containing uranium enriched to higher levels needed for theresearch reactor, Mehmanparast said.
Iran first reached out toTurkey andBrazil in its efforts to avoid tougher U.N. sanctions for its refusal to stopenriching uranium altogether. Both countries are non-permanent members of theSecurity Council.
Monday's deal was signed by theforeign ministers of the three countries.
Mehmanparast said a letter will be sent to the IAEA within a week to pave the way for a final agreement.
"Should they be ready, an agreement will be signed between us and the group," he said, referring to theU.S.,France,Russia and the IAEA.
A month later, the uranium — currently enriched to a level of 3.5 percent — would be sent toTurkey, where it would be stored under IAEA and Iranian supervision, Mehmanparast said. The fuel rods would contain material processed to just under 20 percent.
Enrichment of 90 percent is needed to produce material fornuclear warheads.
Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser contributed to this report fromAnkara,Turkey.
The agreement _
Russia to sell Syria warplanes, air defense systems
Fri May 14, 9:37 am ET
MOSCOW (Reuters) –Russia has signed deals withSyria under which it will sell it warplanes, anti-tank weapons and air defense systems,Itar-Tass news agency quoted a senior Russian arms trader as saying on Friday.
Mikhail Dmitriyev, head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, saidRussia would supplySyria with MiG-29 fighters and truck-mounted Pantsir short-rangesurface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft artillery systems.
He did not specify the kind of anti-tank weapons.
The arms deal is likely to be watched with unease bySyria's regional foeIsrael and its ally theUnited States which imposed sanctions onDamascus for its support ofmilitant groups and corruption.
Earlier this week,Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visitedSyria -- the first visit toDamascus by aMoscow ruler since the 1917Bolshevik revolution -- and oversaw talks onRussia's possible assistance in building anuclear power plant inSyria.
While inSyria, Medvedev unnervedIsrael by paying a visit toKhaled Meshaal, the exiled leader of the Palestinian Islamist groupHamas.
Israel's Foreign Ministry said it was "deeply disappointed" that Medvedev met the leader of Hamas, which it said was "a terror organization in every way."
(Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; editing by Janet Lawrence)
Syria, Hizballah are building a massive wall in easternLebanon
DEBKAfileExclusive ReportMay 15, 2010, 7:27 PM (GMT+02:00)
Syria deepens its footprint inLebanon
Hizballah andSyria are building a massive fortified wall, running from Rashaya Al-Wadi on the western, Lebanese slopes ofMt.Hermon (85 kilometers southeast ofBeirut) in the south, to theLebaneseBeqaaValley town ofAita el-Foukhar, in the north,debkafile's military sources reveal.
The structure, 22 kilometers long in parallel to the Lebanese-Syrian border promises to be one of the biggest fortified structures in theMiddle East. It is designed as an obstacle against any Israeli tank forces heading throughLebanon toward the Syrian capital,Damascus. When it is finished, the barrier will isolate a key Lebanese border region - 14 kilometers wide and 22 kilometers long - from the rest of the country and place it under Hizballah-Syrian military control.
This region is inhabited most by Druzes and Christians.
The project became possible in the last year, afterLebanon's Druze leader, Walid Jumblatt, turned away from his pro-Western allegiance and threw in his lot with the pro-Syrian camp, lining up with Syrian president Bashar Assad and Hizballah's secretary Hassan Nasrallah and buying into the military alliance headed byIran.
Behind the rising wall, Hizballah andSyria can freely smuggle weapons across concealed from outside surveillance, while deepeningSyria's footprint inLebanon.
In any case, asdebkafile has disclosed, they pulled off their subterfuge for getting the Scuds across by stationing two Hizballah brigades on the Syrian side of the border for training in the new missiles. When Israeli failed to make good on its threat to strike those missiles if they reached Hizballah hands, Damascus and Hizballah felt free to go forward with Part Two of their plan for Lebanon's militarization - first the Hizballah militia's transformation into a modern army with sophisticated weapons, and now the raising of a fortified wall and creating a Syrian-controlled buffer region inside Lebanon, 55 kilometers east of Beirut and 35 kilometers north of South Lebanon and the Israeli border.
According to our military sources,Syria intends to keep that region off-limits to Lebanese military access -except for Hizballah. Syrian troops, officers and arms stores are to be based there and maintained in a state of war readiness.
Syria stands to gain another prime strategic asset with its control of Rashaya Al-Wadi, at the southernmost point of the new wall: This scenic village commands the Taim valley, whence flow a number of water courses that feed the River Jordan and the Sea of Galilee; for the first time in many years, Damascus will be placing a hand on one of Israel's primary water sources.
Satisfied that the Netanyahu government will continue to sit on its hands,Syria and Hizballah are not hiding the massive barrier project's progress. Long convoys of trucks crossing in fromSyria can be seen converging on the site, loaded with cement and other building materials.
Our Middle East sources report that the project is so immense and the work so intensive, that shops inDamascus have run out of cement, forcing many other construction works inSyria to a standstill.
Turkey,Russia sign agreement on oil pipeline
AP – Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev, third left, and his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul, left, inspect …
By SELCAN HACAOGLU, Associated Press WriterSelcan Hacaoglu, Associated Press Writer– Wed May 12, 10:32 am ET
ANKARA,Turkey –Turkey andRussia signed agreements on Wednesday for the construction ofTurkey's firstnuclear power plant and the development of a pipeline project to carry Russian oil from the Black Sea, throughTurkey to theMediterranean.
Turkey, aU.S. ally, served asNATO's foremost base during the Cold War, but its relations withMoscow have rapidly developed since thefall of theSoviet Union. Both countries have vowed to triple their bilateral trade volume to around $100 billion in the next five years.
Thepower plant construction, nearTurkey's Mediterranean coastal town ofAkkuyu, is expected to take seven years, saidTurkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who oversaw the signing with visiting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
The two leaders also signed an agreement to work on a pipeline project that would pump Russian oil from the Black Seaport ofSamsun in northernTurkey to the Ceyhan oil terminal on the Mediterranean in southernTurkey, where anoil refinery would be set up. From there, the oil would be shipped toEurope.
The goal of the project is to bypassTurkey's Bosporus strait to alleviate the congestedoil tanker traffic through the narrow waterway that bisectsIstanbul en route from the Black Sea to theMediterranean.
Russia's gas exports have made it the second largest trading partner ofTurkey. Both sides have recently been working to improve their diplomatic relations and trade ties.
"By taking these steps,Turkey is taking its position as an energy hub to a much different level," Erdogan said. "The solidarity withRussia on this issue is of utmost importance."
On Wednesday,Turkey andRussia also agreed to mutually liftentry visa requirements for visits of up to 30 days in an effort to boost tourism and business. About 3 million Russian tourists visitTurkey annually.
"It is a historical agreement that will before anything else ease the life of millions of people," Medvedev said.
Russia Signs $20 Billion Deal for Turkish Nuclear Power Plant
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
©2010 Bloomberg News
May 12 (Bloomberg) --Russia's ZAO Atomstroyexport signed an agreement to build a power plant with four nuclear reactors onTurkey's southern coast at a cost of as much as $20 billion after more than a year of negotiations.
"This will be the first case in whichRussia not only builds a power plant, as we have inIran andIndia, but will also own it," Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Russian state nuclear holding company Rosatom Corp., told reporters inAnkara during a trip by President Dmitry Medvedev to the Turkish capital.
Atomstroyexport,Russia's reactor builder, will own 100 percent of the project, and may later sell as much as 49 percent to investors, Kiriyenko said. "Turkish investors are interested. We're also holding talks with European investors." He declined to name potential buyers.
Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said in February 2009 that a group of companies led by Atomstroyexport had bid for the Turkish power plant contract. Turkish authorities delayed awarding the contract since the tender in September 2008, asRussia had submitted the only bid.
"ForTurkey, which is just starting to develop nuclear energy, this is a smart move, since they don't have to pay anything up front, just provide the site," Kiriyenko said. "Russia will bear all the costs and recoup them through guaranteed electricity sales" at a fixed price, he said.
Kiriyenko said discussions withSyria on building a nuclear power plant are in the "preliminary stages."
Yesterday inDamascus, Medvedev said he had discussed the possibility of building a plant with Syrian President Bashar al- Assad, and that cooperation on nuclear projects may get a "second wind."
--With assistance from Yuriy Humber inMoscow. Editor: Patrick G. Henry
Medvedev to Assad:Israel intends to use nuclear weapons on Syrian cities
Contributed by (Reporter)
Thursday, May 13, 2010 12:52 Wednesday, May 12, 2010 2:52
Russian President Medvedev ,Syrian President Bashar Assad. AFP
Russian President Medvedev handed Syrian President Bashar Assad, an Israeli Warning
-Israel intends to use nuclear weapons on Syrian cities if it will be attacked.
Jericho - Israeli ballistic nuclear missile
The Russian President made it clear for Bashar Assad thatRussia had givenIsrael a green light to do so ifIsrael will refrain from risking theMiddle East oil fields.
Moreover, Russian President Medvedev made it clear that currently there is a silent agreement between the major powers,Russia,USA,France,Britain andGermany, andIsrael, that in a Total war,Israel will get all the breathing space it will need to Overpower the Arab world. The message fromJerusalem toDamascus was in these words: "Israel has made it clear that in a total war it will strikeIran,Lebanon andSyria, without pause and without mercy until they beg a cease-fire."
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the Israeli chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi
As a result, considerable progress in Proximity talks betweenIsrael and the Palestinians are now expected. It is also Very possible that soonIsrael and the Palestinians will start direct talks.
In the Iranian front,Russia made it clear for theU.S. administration and the Israeli Government that they are not intending to transfer the S-300 missiles toIran and thatRussia operates to restrainIran's aggression.
Russian President Medvedev made it clear thatRussia would support paralyzing sanctions onIran if the Diplomatic contacts with the Iranian leadership will not bear fruit.
Russia says may build nuclear power plant inSyria
Tue May 11, 2010 6:17pm IST
By Denis Dyomkin
DAMASCUS(Reuters) -Russia may help build a nuclear power plant inSyria, Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko told Reuters on Tuesday as the Kremlin moved to strengthen ties with a Soviet-era ally in theMiddle East.
On the first state visit toSyria by a Kremlin chief since the Bolshevik Revolution, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev played up prospects for nuclear power cooperation and saidWashington should work harder for peace in theMiddle East.
"Cooperation on atomic energy could get a second wind," Medvedev said at a news conference with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after their talks.
Assad said he and Medvedev "talked about oil and gas cooperation, as well as constructing conventional or nuclear powered electricity stations."
Asked whetherRussia would build an atomic power plant inSyria, Shmatko told Reuters: "We are studying this question."
Syria is under investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency for a suspected nuclear site that Israeli warplanes destroyed in 2007.Syria said the site was a conventional military complex.
The nation has been plagued for years with huge electricity shortages, with power generation falling one-third short of demand and the population expanding at 2.5 percent a year.
Israel has opposed Russian arms sales toSyria in the last several years, and nuclear energy cooperation betweenDamascus andMoscow may anger the Jewish state.
Shmatko said that cooperation withRussia on a possible nuclear plant would requireDamascus to abide by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
MORE ATOMIC PLANTS INIRAN?
He also suggestedRussia might build more nuclear power reactors inIran beyond the one it plans to switch on this year near the city ofBushehr despite likelyU.S. disapproval.
"We are in favour of continuing cooperation withIran in the energy sphere to the full extent, including in building light-water reactors," Shmatko told journalists.
Russia says all nations have the right to peaceful nuclear power programmes and is aggressively seeking contracts abroad to build nuclear power plants.
But Medvedev, who has indicatedRussia could support new U.N. Security Council sanctions againstIran over its nuclear programme, called for "constructive cooperation with the international community onIran's part."
TheUnited States and some European countries believeIran's nuclear programme is a front for an effort to develop atomic weapons.Iran denies it.
Moscow backedSyria through the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the Kremlin is seeking to reinvigorate ties in theMiddle East nations. It forgave most ofSyria's multi-billion dollar debt.
Russia has also improved ties withIsrael and tried to increase its clout to advance theMiddle East peace process.
Medvedev repeatedRussia's proposal for a Middle East peace conference inMoscow, but he suggested theUnited States would have to do more if peace efforts are to make headway.
"I agree with my colleague that the American side could take a more active position," Medvedev said at the news conference with Assad.
He said shuttle diplomacy and indirect talks could be helpful.
(Additional reporting by Khaled Oweis; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge and Steve Gutterman; Editing by Charles Dick)
© Thomson Reuters 2010 All rights reserved
Medvedev urgesUS action in 'very bad'Mideast situation
AFP – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (C-R) and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev (3rd L) hold a meeting …
by Anna SmolchenkoAnna Smolchenko– Tue May 11, 1:49 pm ET
DAMASCUS (AFP) –Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called inSyria on Tuesday for a more activeUS role in theMiddle East peace process, saying the situation in the region was "very bad" and risked worsening further.
Medvedev -- the first Russian head of state to visitSyria, a keyCold War ally of the former Soviet Union -- saidMoscow was ready and determined to play its part in creating the will for a peace settlement.
He promised Russian assistance toSyria in reconstructing its oil and gas infrastructure and even in building anuclear power station.
"In essence, the Middle East peace process has deteriorated," Medvedev said alongside Syrian counterpartBashar al-Assad after two days of talks inDamascus.
"The situation is very, very bad. It's time to do something," he said.
"I agree withPresident Assad -- the American side could take a more active position.
"A further heating up of the situation in theMiddle East is fraught with an explosion and a catastrophe."
Medvedev's visit comes against the backdrop of a nearly 18-month-old suspension of Turkish-led peace efforts betweenIsrael andSyria and a mounting war of words between the two foes over Israeli accusations thatSyria has been armingLebanon's Hezbollah with Scud missiles.
It also comes as renewed US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians run into difficulties over Israeli settlement expansion in annexed Arab east Jerusalem.
"There is not enough desire" on all sides to find a solution, said Medvedev, whose government, along with the European Union, United Nations andUnited States, constitute the diplomatic Quartet working for aMiddle East settlement.
"This desire needs to be stimulated," he said, adding that that was a role thatRussia would take upon itself.
Medvedev's spokeswoman said later that he had met with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal inDamascus and urged the release of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
"(He) urged solving the problem of releasing Israeli citizen... Gilad Shalit as soon as possible," said Natalya Timakova inAnkara, where Medvedev arrived in the afternoon, after meeting Meshaal earlier in the day.
Moscow has close ties with the Palestinian Islamist movement that has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007 and captured Shalit a year earlier.
Medvedev said the aim of Middle East peace talks needed to be the liberation of the occupied Arab territories and the creation of an independent Palestinian state that could co-exist peacefully withIsrael.
ForSyria, the return of the strategic Golan Heights, whichIsrael seized in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed in 1981, is a non-negotiable condition of any peace agreement.
Before his talks inDamascus, the Russian leader held a "lengthy" telephone call with Israeli President Shimon Peres during which he was asked to convey a message to the Syrian leader, Peres's office said on Sunday.
Peres said "Israel has no interest in a war withSyria or in heating up the northern border and thatIsrael is seeking a genuine peace with its Syrian neighbour."
Neither Assad nor Medvedev referred to the Israeli message but the Syrian leader saidIsrael was "not yet a reliable negotiating partner."
He called for Russian help in convincingIsrael to take a "more constructive position" and echoed Medvedev's call for a more activeUS role in the peace process.
"So far we have not seen the moment when theUS administration will engage in the talks in earnest and will do everything for their resumption and advancement," Assad said.
Russia has repeatedly offered to host a Middle East peace conference and has been seeking to restore influence in the region that declined after the 1991 collapse of theSoviet Union.
Medvedev pledged Russian assistance withSyria's ambitions to restore its role as transit route for oil and gas between the Gulf and theMediterranean by helping it build up its pipeline infrastructure.
He also voiced Russian readiness to build a nuclear power station inSyria as it has long been doing inIran --Syria's main regional ally -- over strongUS objections.
The use of nuclear energy "can get a second wind" inSyria, Medvedev said, without elaborating.
New arms deal expected in Medvedev'sDamascus visit
DEBKAfileExclusive ReportMay 10, 2010, 1:44 PM (GMT+02:00)
Dmitry Medvedev visitsDamascus
Although the Kremlin stated that no weapons deals will be signed during Russian president Dmitry Medvedev's first state visit to Damascus, Monday, May 10, but they may be discussed and even approved, a prospect which has the US and Israel deeply concerned,debkafile's Washington and military sources report. These items may well include sophisticated weapons systems whichMoscow has withheld fromIran.
BothWashington andJerusalem were unpleasantly surprised byMoscow's willingness to provide Bashar Assad with this public shot in the arm just a week after the Obama administration renewed US sanctions againstSyria, citing its support for terrorist groups and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction as an "extraordinary threat" to American national security.Syria is widely shunned in theMiddle East itself. Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak brusquely refused to receive Assad for a get-well visit to Sharm el-Sheikh.
The Syrian ruler will not doubt take the Russian gesture as support for his supply of long-range missiles to Hizballah and its substantial enhancement of the of the extremist Tehran-Damascus-Hizballah-Hamas alignment in the Middle East at the expense of the pro-Western moderate bloc led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
On April 30,DEBKA-Net-Weekly 443carried a report on the negative import of the Medvedev visit, but Israeli government leaders were too busy dealing with the reopening of indirect talks with the Palestinians to gear up in time to forestall the damage toIsrael's interests predicted from expected Russian-Syrian deals.
Observers inWashington see the deepening of Moscow-Damascus relations as a failed mark for the Obama-Clinton drive to woo Assad. Some are saying that the Kremlin, for its part, seeks to useSyria as a fig leaf for its deepening crisis withTehran, following the Russian president's promise to Barack Obama to back tough sanctions againstIran. This promise was accompanied byMoscow's secret assurance to hold back from activatingIran's first nuclear reactor at Bushehr - in breach of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's pledge earlier this month to have the reactor up and running by August.
The Russian president needs to demonstrate that the Kremlin is not inWashington's pocket onIran - and certainly not aligned withIsrael - hence his show of friendship towardDamascus and a possible major arms transaction withSyria that will giveIran a back door for acquiring the sophisticated weaponsMoscow has denied to date.
In view of this concern, Israeli president Shimon Peres was dispatched toMoscow to attend Sunday's events Sunday marking the 65th anniversary of the allied victory against the Nazis. He tried to discourage the Russian president from going to these lengths, but failed to obtain a clear response to his appeal from Medvedev.
Peres in message toSyria:Israel does not want war
President Shimon Peres issued a message to his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad on Sunday stressing thatIsrael was not interested in confrontation withSyria, nor didIsrael intend to escalate tensions along its shared border withSyria.
President Shimon Peres meeting Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev inMoscow May 9, 2010
Photo by: Ina Osdetchy
Peres made the remarks during a meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is expected to visitDamascus on Monday. Peres met with Medvedev inMoscow, where he is representingIsrael at the ceremony marking 65 years since the defeat of the Nazis, held atMoscow'sRed Square.
Peres told his Russian counterpart thatIsrael is headed toward peace withSyria, given thatSyria quit supporting terror and smuggling weapons. "Israel won't allow [Syria] to have their cake and eat it too – they can't have both theGolan Heights and Iranian missiles," he said. "We are watching the transfers of weapons fromSyria to Hezbollah with eyes wide open," he continued, "and the only possible meaning of this is thatSyria is trying to escalate the tensions along the border."
Peres recently accusedSyria of transferring Scud missiles to the Lebanese militia Hezbollah.Syria denies arming the Shiite militants.
Peres and Medvedev also discussed the advancement of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and the bolstering of strategic ties betweenIsrael andRussia.
While inMoscow, President Peres also sat down with Chinese President Hu Jintao, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the leaders ofKazakhstan ,Azerbaijan andCroatia.
During his meeting with Jintao, Peres said that he cherishes the country's warm relationship withChina and thatIsrael has high hopes thatChina will be able to "restrain"Iran's nuclear ambitions. He said thatIran is an extreme negative and dangerous element in theMiddle East, which bases its policy on a scorched earth mentality, terror and war. Peres added thatIsrael promotes peace and hopes that soon the peace process with the Palestinians will result in the establishment of a Palestinian state alongsideIsrael.
May 10, 2010 8:39 AM
Russia Seeks Bigger Mideast Role, ViaSyria
This story was filed byCBS News' George Baghdadi in Damascus.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrives inDamascus Monday to try and renewMoscow's political influence in theMiddle East.Syria's leaders, for their part, are aiming to expandDamascus' international reach after Israeli warnings of a possible new war in the region.
Accompanied by a large business delegation and his wife, Medvedev was to meet President Bashar Assad, who's just ended a tripartite summit inIstanbul with Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Emir of Qatar.
Russian diplomats said the long-stalled Mideast peace process,Iran's nuclear program and bilateral arms trade between the two countries were expected to be key topics for the two-day visit, the first ever toSyria by any Russian or Soviet head of state.
Syria has expressed readiness to reopen peace talks withIsrael, withTurkey serving as a mediator, butIsrael has not askedAnkara to resume that role, according to Turkish President Abdullah Gul who spoke after talks with Assad on Saturday.
Above:From left,Qatar's Emir Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Syrian President Bashar Assad and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan pose outside theOttoman-eraCiraganPalace inIstanbul,Turkey, May 9, 2010.
Medvedev's visit comes a few days afterWashington renewed long-standingU.S. sanctions againstSyria for another year, accusingDamascus of supporting terrorist groups and pursuing missile programs and weapons of mass destruction. Republicans in the Senate, meanwhile, blocked a Democratic attempt on Friday to confirm President Obama's nominee, Robert Ford, as the firstU.S. ambassador toSyria in five years.
Israel has accusedSyria of providing the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah with scud missiles and some officials even warned the move could start a war.
A scud has a far longer range and can carry a much bigger warhead than the rockets Hezbollah has used in the past, and could reach anywhere in Israel from Hezbollah bases in southern Lebanon.Syria has denied the charge, as hasLebanon's Western-backed prime minister.
Foreign Ministers of Spain,Germany andFrance were expected to fly into the Syrian capital separately in a couple of weeks to discuss the tension. The Emir of Kuwait was also expected inDamascus.
Analysts say Moscow's influence in the Middle East will in many ways depend on its relations with Syria, an increasingly important regional player with tight ties to Iran, Hezbollah and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which has its political headquarters in Damascus.
Russia, with the European Union, the United Nations and theUnited States, is a member of the international quartet forMiddle East peace and has long sought to expand its clout in the region.
Israeli President Shimon Peres was said to have relayed a message to Assad, via the Russian leader, that Tel Aviv was not interested in a confrontation with Damascus, nor did Israel intend to escalate tensions along its shared border with Syria.
Medvedev's visit comes amid reports that he he'll honor a deal withDamascus for the sale of an advanced anti-aircraft defense system.
Israel has eyedSyria's ambition to acquire Russian weapons with unease, fearing the erosion of its military edge. There's also concern inIsrael that weapons systems obtained bySyria could end up in the hands of Hezbollah. The Shiite militant group used advanced Russian antitank missiles to deadly effect against Israeli armored vehicles during the 2006 war.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has personally flown toMoscow in the hope of preventing the weapons deal, but Medvedev would only agree to a delay, unwilling to cancel the deal. The Russian leader justified the sale by saying the weapons system is a defensive one, not an offensive one.
Western diplomats sayMoscow andDamascus have also been mulling the possibility of building a Russian naval base in Tartous, onSyria's Mediterranean coastline, granting the Russians a key warm-water facility.
The Soviet Union was onceSyria's main weapons supplier, leavingDamascus saddled with a $13.4 billion arms-sales debt at the end of the cold war in 1990. In 2005,Russia wrote off almost three quarters of the debt, launching a new era of improved cooperation and fresh arms deals.
During the past five years, the Syrian leader has visitedRussia three times. His latest visit took place in August 2008, when he met Medvedev in the Black Sea city ofSochi.
Acquiring Russian armaments, analysts say, could strengthenSyria's hand as it negotiates a peace deal withIsrael.
Syria accusedIsrael of being an "untrue partner" in the peacemaking process.Turkey brokered four rounds of indirect talks betweenSyria andIsrael in 2008 -- the first such contacts since previous peace negotiations were broken off in 2000 over the fate of the Israeli-occupied land in the Golan Heights, alongSyria's border.
Syria froze communications at the beginning of last year whenIsrael launched a devastating three-week offensive against the Gaza Strip, controlled since June 2007 by Hamas. Hamas' exiled leader, Khaled Mashaal, lives inDamascus.
Syria has insisted that the promise of an Israeli withdrawal from theGolan Heights be a precursor to any renew
Syria's Assad set forTurkey talks
AFP/File – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, seen here in March 2010, will visitTurkey at the weekend for talks …
Fri May 7, 8:48 am ET
ANKARA (AFP) –Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will visitTurkey at the weekend for talks on bilateral ties and prospects of regional peace, the Turkish president's office said Friday.
Assad will meet his Turkish counterpartAbdullah Gul inIstanbul during a working visit on Saturday and Sunday "to evaluate all aspects of our ties... and to exchange views on currentregional developments," the statement said.
Turkey has significantly improved ties withSyria in recent years, much to the annoyance ofIsrael, its once close ally with whom relations have badly deteriorated.
In 2008,Turkey mediated indirect peace talks betweenSyria andIsrael until they collapsed at the end of the year whenIsrael launched a devastating military offensive inGaza.
Assad's visit coincides with tensions over Israeli accusations thatSyria is supplying long-rangeScud missiles to the Lebanesemilitant groupHezbollah, a chargeDamascus has strongly denied.
Photo by: AP
Hizbullah received hundreds of Syrian missiles
By YAAKOV KATZ AND REBECCA ANNA STOIL
Baidatz: Recent transfers are only the tip of the iceberg
Hizbullah has received hundreds of advanced surface-to-surface missiles from Syria that are capable of targeting Tel Aviv and causing extensive damage to Israel in the event of a future war with the Iranian-backed Shi’ite guerrilla groups, it was recently revealed.
Meanwhile, Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz, head of Military Intelligence’s Research Division, told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday thatSyria was unquestionably transferring long-range rockets to Hizbullah, and that the recent reported transfers were just “the tip of the iceberg.”
The Syrian-made surface-to-surface missile, called the M600, is based on a solid propellant and is a clone of an Iranian missile called the Fateh-110. The M600 has a range of 250 km., carries a 500-kg. conventional warhead and is equipped with a sophisticated navigation system, giving Hizbullah accuracy it did not have until now.
Israel believes Hizbullah has obtained hundreds of M600 missiles, which pose a direct threat to Israeli population centers. While the Scud missiles that were recently transferred fromSyria toLebanon have a greater range, the M600 – due to the number of missiles Hizbullah has, and their accuracy – is perceived to be a more severe threat for the IDF.
Hizbullah is likely storing the M600 missiles in homes in central and northernLebanon like the Iranian-made Zelzal and Fajr missiles, which were also stored in homes and were destroyed by the IAF on the first night of the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
Since the war ended, Hizbullah is believed to have accumulated an arsenal of over 40,000 rockets and missiles. Alongside the Scuds, the M600 is the most advanced missile in Hizbullah’s arsenal.
On Tuesday, Baidatz told the Knesset committee, as part of his regular briefing, that “Syria has a very respectable part in the increase in force of Hizbullah’s rocket arsenal.”
Baidatz said that despite Syrian denials, there had been transfers of long-distance rockets fromSyria to Hizbullah, describing the recent transfer as “merely the tip of the iceberg.”
“Transfer of weaponry to Hizbullah is done regularly fromSyria and is organized by the Syrian and Iranian regimes, and thus we should not call it weapons smuggling toLebanon, but rather organized, real transfer.”
He added that Hizbullah currently had “an arsenal of thousands of rockets of all different types that use solid fuel and have a longer range and better accuracy.”
Unlike during the Second Lebanon War, Baidatz warned, Hizbullah will now be able to place the rocket launchers deep within Lebanese territories and yet reach deeper than ever intoIsrael.
In addition to the rockets, Baidatz said, Hizbullah has placed thousands of trained combatants in hundreds of villages south of theLitaniRiver in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, drafted in the aftermath of the Second Lebanon War.
“Hizbullah of 2006 is different from the 2010 model in terms of military capability, in which it has greatly improved,” Baidatz emphasized.
Meanwhile, Hizbullah deputy head Naim Kassem said the group reserved the right to rearm.
Speaking to Hizbullah’s Al-Manar television, Kassem added that the “land is our land, and no country in the world can restrict our arsenal.”
However, he ruled out the possibility of a war withIsrael being on the horizon, citing what he calledIsrael’s lack of logistical preparation and its internal issues.
“The hand of Hizbullah is on the safety catch, andIsrael is well aware of what awaits it,” he warned.
Despite the ties toIran and support of Hizbullah, Baidatz said he believedSyria was honest in its desire to reach agreements withIsrael.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.
Turkey Helping Hamas Prepare for Anti-Israel Ships
Date Posted: 2010-05-06 16:36:12
Turkish aid is instrumental in helping Hamas clean and prepare theGaza port, in preparation for the arrival of the anti-Israel protest flotilla later this month.
Pro-PLO organizations inEurope that have aligned themselves with Hamas are planning a flotilla of aid to the Gaza Strip. The coordinators of what some call the "ship intifada" want to avoid confrontation withEgypt, but appear to be seeking a confrontation with the Israeli navy, backed by media and diplomatic campaigns.
This past January, a senior Hamas operative inBritain named Muhammad Sawalha, who was involved in launching the previous flotilla, said the next convoy will avoid the type of confrontation that occurred the previous time withEgypt, and that next time, "the confrontation will be directly with the Zionist enemy itself on the high seas."
Swiss MP Josef Zisyadis, one of several European MPs and UN personnel who will be on the ships, together with nearly 600 others, threatened that "ifIsrael tries to stop the ships, we will sue her in European courts."
The major organizations and personalities involved in organizing the flotilla are IHH, an Islamic-oriented human rights organization inTurkey; a European organization named The European Campaign to End the Siege onGaza; and the international "Free Gaza" organization that rails against the Israeli "blockade" ofGaza. In addition, the Intelligence andTerrorismInformationCenter (ITIC), based inRamat HaSharon,Israel, states that pro-PLO activists fromSweden andGreece have purchased two ships for the flotilla, and Hamas supporters inBritain - including MP George Galloway - are also involved in organizing the upcoming flotilla and others.
Arutz-7's Haggai Huberman reports that Turkish elements are helping to clean and deepen the port, in preparing for the arrival of the ships. "FreeGaza" and IHH are coordinating among the various organizations that are taking part in the flotilla and accompanying propaganda campaign.
The ships plan to deliver building materials, medical equipment, school briefcases and even caravans - mobile homes without wheels - for the Hamas-run entity inGaza.
One of the ships, fromMalaysia, will be loaded inIreland with items donated by citizens inIreland,Scotland,Britain and elsewhere. It will leaveIreland next week, and will meet up with the other ships in the Mediterranean, from where they will continue on towardsGaza.via israelnn.com
US andRussia to propose ban on WMD inMiddle East
Tough global talks ahead in review of nuclear treaty asEgypt aims to put pressure on west overIsrael
Sunday 2 May 2010 22.15 BST
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ofIran reads verses from the Koran atTehran airport before leaving forNew York. Photograph: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images
The US and Russia have drafted an initiative to ban nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, the Guardian has learned.
The proposal – involving the appointment of a special coordinator to conduct exploratory talks withIsrael,Iran and the Arab states, followed by a regional conference – will be a central issue at a conference beginning tomorrow inNew York aimed at preventing the further spread of nuclear weapons around the world.
Washington andMoscow have circulated the proposal among the three other permanent members of the UN security council, seeking their endorsement. But it is unclear whether the initiative, aimed at reviving a largely-forgotten 15-year-old agreement with some tentative practical steps, will go far enough forEgypt, a key player at this month's talks.Cairo has long championed the idea of a WMD-free Middle East as a means of exerting pressure onIsrael, the only country with nuclear weapons in the region.
TheNew York conference brings more than 150 countries together in a month-long effort to repair and update the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), at a time when it is threatening to unravel.
"This will be the most important conference in our lifetime on disarmament and non-proliferation," said Des Browne, the British former defence minister who now leads a multi-party group of veteran politicians and generals pushing for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Some officials are calling the NPT review conference a "nuclearCopenhagen". Like the climate summit last December, it demands complex trade-offs between powerful nations, emerging powers and weaker states. The eventual outcome may be unclear, with degrees of success measured in shades of grey. And, likeCopenhagen, the consequences of failure may not be felt for years, but could prove catastrophic.
"We're not at a nuclear tipping point, but we are approaching a nuclear tipping point," said Daryl Kimball, the head of the Washington-based Arms Control Association inWashington.
The pact itself is not in imminent danger of implosion. Its 189 national signatories extended its life indefinitely in 1995. But its underlying bargain – that the nuclear powers would disarm and share their technology for peaceful purposes and, in return, the rest of the world would not try to acquire nuclear weapons – is fraying.
Israel,India andPakistan, which all have nuclear arsenals, remain outside the treaty.North Korea withdrew seven years ago and has since been building its own bombs.Iran is widely suspected of cheating, and the five nuclear powers recognised under the pact – theUS,Russia,UK,France andChina – are under fire for what non-weapons states see as hypocrisy and the slow pace of disarmament.
Western officials fear that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, who is expected to attend tomorrow, will use the occasion to put the nuclear powers on trial and distract attention from his country's controversial programme.
The last NPT conference, in 2005, broke up in acrimony whenIran clashed head-on with the Bush administration. Many countries in the non-aligned movement (NAM), a cold war grouping which still carries clout in these negotiations, sided withIran in lambasting theUS and other established nuclear powers.
Barack Obama's administration believes it has done enough to avert another fiasco. Last year theUS president pledged to pursue the eventual abolition of weapons. In its nuclear posture review last month, the US narrowed the circumstances in which it would use nuclear weapons, and in the new Start treaty, both the US and Russia have lowered the number of strategic warheads they will deploy. "The setting is very different from 2005, in terms of disarmament," said a senior diplomat from the non-aligned movement. "In 2005, there was no disarmament going on. Bush didn't even believe in multilateral treaties."
According to the Washington Post, theUS will reveal the exact size of the American arsenal for the first time, in a show of transparency and to underline the cuts it has made. But to ensure vital support fromEgypt, which is chairing the non-aligned movement nations, theUS andRussia have also drafted the proposal for a nuclear-freeMiddle East zone.
The nuclear powers first agreed to help set up aMiddle East zone free from weapons of mass destruction in 1995. It was part of the price of persuadingEgypt and the Islamic world to accept the indefinite extension of the NPT. The US,Britain andRussia were supposed to manage the process, but have done little, toEgypt's fury. This year,Egypt has made it clear it will demand small, but concrete, steps in return for its co-operation. The size of those steps will be the focus of the bargaining inNew York.Egypt and theNAM states want a full negotiating conference to take place next year, to be organised by a standing committee of the NPT. That is not seen as feasible inWashington, which is arguing for a more open-ended exploratory conference at some future, undefined date.
Ellen Tauscher, theUS undersecretary of state for arms control, said last week: "The best chance we have to achieve a WMD-free zone in the Middle East is to reach an agreement on a lasting and just peace in theMiddle East."
Negotiations on such a zone would requireIsrael to confirm the existence of its nuclear arsenal – something it has so far refused to do – and ultimately bargain it away. Few expect it to do so in the foreseeable future, butIsrael has said it is ready to enter into regional arms control talks if its security concerns are addressed.Israel, which is not an NPT signatory, will not take part in theNew York conference, butis watching warily from the sidelines.
In return for backing a Middle East nuclear weapons-free zone,Washington will want support fromEgypt and other non-weapons states to isolateIran, impose greater penalties for leaving the NPT, and give the UN nuclear watchdog more teeth to curb proliferation.
Weeks of tough negotiation lie ahead, and success is far from preordained.
"There is a range of outcomes," said Deepti Choubey, an NPT expert at the Carnegie Institute for International Peace. "The best and most unlikely would be a final declaration that all states agree to and is meaningful. If you could get a summary from the chair that broadly captures a consensus, apart from a few spoilers, that is not a disaster.”
Syria:US weapons charges like falseIraq claims
AP – Syrian soldiers walk in front of a restaurant where a picture depicting from left, Iranian President …
Sat May 1, 8:56 am ET
DAMASCUS,Syria –Syria's foreign minister has comparedU.S. accusations thatDamascus is sending weapons toHezbollah toWashington's pre-war claims againstIraq.
Walid al-Moallem said it isU.S. weapons going toIsrael that are destabilizing the region.
U.S. Secretary ofState Hillary Rodham Clinton asserted Thursday thatSyria is transferring increasingly sophisticated rockets and other weaponry tomilitant groups inLebanon andGaza and that the shipments could spark a newconflict in theMiddle East.
Al-Moallem said the world should not forget what he called "theU.S. campaign of slander" before theIraq war, referring to the incorrectU.S. claims thatSaddam Hussein hadweapons of mass destruction.
New US warning to Syria on Scuds
Friday, 30 April 2010 11:31UK
Hilary Clinton defended the decision to send an ambassador toDamascus
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has issued a strong warning toSyria over the alleged transfer of sophisticated weapons toLebanon.
Two weeks ago,Israel accusedSyria of supplying long-range Scud missiles to Hezbollah, the Lebanese guerrilla movement and political party.
No evidence has been offered for the allegations by theIsrael or theUS.
Damascus andBeirut deny this, sayingIsrael is trying to set the stage for military "aggression".
Hezbollah fought a 34-day conflict withIsrael in 2006 during which more than 1,200 Lebanese people, mostly civilians, were killed. Some 160 Israeli people, most of whom were soldiers, also died.
UN Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the conflict, included an arms embargo onLebanon, except for transfers authorised by the Lebanese government or UN.
Mrs Clinton warned, in a speech inWashington to a Jewish lobbying organisation, that weapons transfers could spark new conflict in theMiddle East. She also warned that a nuclear-armedIran would profoundly destabilise the region.
"These threats toIsrael's security are real, they are growing and they must be addressed. Transferring weapons to these terrorists, especially longer-range missiles, would pose a serious threat to the security ofIsrael, it would have a profoundly destabilising effect on the region and it would absolutely violate UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which bans the unauthorised importation of any weapons intoLebanon."
Ties betweenSyria and theUS had been tense since the killing in 2005 of Rafik Hariri, a former Lebanese prime minister. His assassination was blamed onDamascus - which denied any involvement - butWashington withdrew its ambassador shortly after.
The Syrian embassy has dismissed the allegations that it arms Hezbollah
The White House has recently been trying to engage diplomatically with President Bashar Assad and has appointed a new ambassador toDamascus, although his nomination is on hold in the US Senate.
"President Assad is making decisions that could mean war or peace for the region," Mrs Clinton said.
"We know he's hearing fromIran, Hezbollah and Hamas. It is crucial that he also hear directly from us, so that the potential consequences of his actions are clear.
"That is why we are sending an ambassador back toSyria, there should be no mistake, either inDamascus or anywhere else, theUnited States is not re-engaging withSyria as a reward or concession.
"Engagement is a tool that can give us added leverage and insight and a greater ability to convey strong and unmistakably clear messages aimed atSyria's leadership," the secretary of state said.
Photo by: AP
Abdullah:Israel playing with fire
By JPOST.COM STAFF
Jordanian monarch reiterates warning over J'lem, W. Bank policies.
Jordan’s King Abdullah on Thursday reiterated his warning toIsrael over its policies in eastJerusalem and theWest Bank.
“Israel is playing with fire concerningJerusalem and it must stop all unilateral moves in the occupied territories,” said the Jordanian monarch.
In a meeting with journalists inJordan, Abdullah added that the onus was onIsrael when it came to making peace with the Arab and Muslim world.
“Israel has to choose between life behind walls, and living in peace with all Arab and Muslim countries on the basis of the Arab peace initiative,” he said. “This can be achieved by withdrawals from occupied Arab land and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.”
It echoes comments made by Abdullah last Thursday in a public rebuke ofIsrael, and follows fierce condemnations over eastJerusalem construction and Israeli security operations on theTempleMount.
Hezbollah armed with improved missiles - US
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 16:20UK
Robert Gates stopped short of identifying Hezbollah's missiles
TheUS defence secretary has warned that Hezbollah now has more rockets and missiles than most governments.
Robert Gates accusedSyria andIran of supplying weapons of "ever-increasing capability" to the military wing of the Lebanese Shia Islamist movement.
"This is obviously destabilising for the whole region," he said following talks with his Israeli counterpart.
Hezbollah has said the missile stock is not as big as theUS orIsrael's and vowed to continue arming itself.
Mr Gates did not say ifSyria was supplying Hezbollah with Scud ballistic missiles, asIsrael has alleged.
Hezbollah fought a 34-day conflict withIsrael in 2006 during which more than 1,200 Lebanese people, mostly civilians, were killed. Some 160 Israeli people, most of whom were soldiers, also died.
United Nations Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the conflict, included an arms embargo onLebanon, except for transfers authorised by the Lebanese government or UN.
After meeting Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak inWashington on Tuesday, Mr Gates saidSyria andIran was "providing Hezbollah with rockets and missiles of ever-increasing capability".
We do not intend to provoke any kind of a major collision in Lebanon or vis-a-vis Syria
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak
US worries about Syrian intentions
"And we're at a point now, where Hezbollah has far more rockets and missiles than most governments in the world, and this is obviously destabilising for the whole region and we're watching it very carefully," he told a news conference at the Pentagon.
Mr Barak also warned thatSyria was arming Hezbollah with "weapons systems that can turn or disrupt the very delicate balance inLebanon".
But he played down the chances of war over the alleged transfers.
"We do not intend to provoke any kind of major collision inLebanon, or vis-a-visSyria... but we are watching closely these developments and think that they do not contribute to stability in the region."
Syria has dismissed the American allegations on smuggling to Hezbollah
Mr Barak also chose not to repeat the allegation, made by Israeli President Shimon Peres last week, thatSyria had been smuggling "Scud missiles to Hezbollah so that it can threaten peace".
A Hezbollah member ofLebanon's parliament told local media that the organisation would continue to rearm itself.
"Our choice was and remains to secure all the arms of resistance that we can," Hassan Fadlallah told the Arabic As-Safir newspaper.
But he said Hezbollah's armaments "do not compare" with theUS orIsrael's.
And another Hezbollah MP, Nawwar al-Sahili, told the BBC that the group had the right to buy whatever it needed from whomever it deemed appropriate in order to protectLebanon.
Mr Sahili also said that Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah - who recently said that if there was another war, Hezbollah would be able to hit Tel Aviv - never made empty threats.
Syria strongly denied the charge, saying it believedIsrael aimed "through these claims to further strain the atmosphere in the region".Lebanon's prime minister said it seemedIsrael was trying to find a pretext for a military strike.
Last week,Syria's most senior diplomat in Washington, Deputy Chief of Mission Zouheir Jabbour, was summoned by the state department to be warned about its "provocative behaviour".
A senior state department official later said theUS would consider the "full range of tools" available to halt any smuggling of Scuds.
Egypt Warns ofMideast Summer War
Tuesday, April 27, 2010 9:09 AM
JERUSALEM -Egypt has issued a stark warning of a summer war betweenIsrael andLebanon.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit passed on messages to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and representatives of the other permanent UN Security Council members, warning that the current Israel-Lebanon tensions could deteriorate into an armed conflict, Israel Radio reported on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, according to the radio station, Egyptian diplomats denied reports that Aboul Gheit had calledIsrael an enemy state inBeirut on Monday. They stressed that the foreign minister had said it wasLebanon that consideredIsrael an enemy state, notEgypt.
The latest tensions betweenIsrael andLebanon arose after reports surfaced inKuwait’s Al-Rai newspaper thatSyria had transferred Scud ballistic missiles to Hizbullah.Israel subsequently issued a stern warning that it would consider attacking both Syrian and Lebanese targets in response to a Scud attack on its territory.
Lebanon’s Western-backed Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri denied the allegations, comparing them to the American charges thatIraq had weapons of mass destruction ahead of the 2003 US-led invasion.
However, the chairwoman of the US Senate’s Intelligence Committee warned that there was a “high likelihood” that Hizbullah had acquired Scuds.
Clinton has said the Obama administration is still committed to improving ties withSyria, despite its "deeply troubling" moves to aid Hizbullah.
© 2010 TheJerusalem Post. All Rights Reserved
Photo by: BLOOMBERG
Saudis, worried by Iran, inch toward nuclear power
By RACHELLE KLIGER / THE MEDIA LINE
Monday, April 26, 2010
Turkey's Islamist government allows intelligence to buy battle tanks, raising eyebrows
ANKARA —Turkey plans to enable the intelligence community to continue to purchase heavy weapons, including main battle tanks and submarines.
The government ofPrime Minister
Recep Erdogan has approved the renewal of a law that would allow the law enforcement and intelligence communities to procure heavy weapons without permission from the military or Defense Ministry. Both communities have come under the direct control of the Islamist government.
"What will thepolice departments do with these heavy weapons?" opposition parliamentarian Hulusi Guvel asked. "Are they going to replace the military? I really wonder what they're after." Erdogan's approval for the renewal of the weapons procurement law comes amid strained relations between the government and secular military. The military has been racked by the arrest of more than 100 current and former officers on charges of planning a coup.
Under the law, the police and National Intelligence Organization could also order main battle tanks and air defense systems. Officials said the legislation has been examined by parliament's Interior Committee.
On April 20, a panel in the Interior Committee inserted a clause that would enable the law enforcement and intelligence communities to purchase military platforms. Parliamentarians said the clause was restored upon the insistence of the military's General Staff and the Defense Ministry.
The opposition has warned that legislation to allow bodies other than themilitary to purchase heavy weapons marked a dangerous trend. Parliamentarians said this could fuel a rivalry between the militaries and security forces under Erdogan's government.
"We turned back where we had left off," Guvel said.
Turkish-Syrian drill raises concerns inIsrael
Joint military exercise, similar to one held a year ago, signals tightening of ties betweenAnkara,Damascus. Israeli state officials fear Turkey may transfer Israeli technology to Syria
A joint Turkish-Syrian drill along the border the two countries share will commence Tuesday in a similar outline to a previous exercise conducted a year ago.
Turkey brushes offIsrael concern overSyria drill /Associated Press
Turkish general 'unconcerned byIsrael's reaction' after Barak calls drill disturbing development
The tightening of Turkish-Syrian ties raises concerns inIsrael, mainly due to their political significance and the possibility that the relations will expand to full out military cooperation. Such cooperation may include the transfer of technologyTurkey received fromIsrael into Syrian hands.
The drill illustrates the strengthening of relations betweenAnkara andDamascus. Some six months ago the two countries revoked their citizens' need for a visa in crossing the Turkish-Syrian border.
Currently, there are no signs of a leakage of technology, however Israeli state officials continue to worry over the prospect. Defense Minister Ehud Barak has even raised the issue during his meetings inWashington.
The joint military drill is aimed at tightening cooperation between Turkish and Syrian land forces defending the shared border. At the core of the exercise is the establishment of procedures which would enable the border protection forces to communicate and coordinate operations in case of a border breach.
No aerial forces, including the RPVs Israel recently soldTurkey, are expected to take part in the drill.
One of the reasonsTurkey is interested in strengthening the collaboration with the Syrian army is due to the fact that Kurdish PKK operatives, who also operate inside Turkish territory, infiltrate the country viaSyria, which contains a large concentration of Kurds.
Turkey threatened to invadeSyria in 1998 if it failed to foil infiltration activities.Syria eventually allowed the Turks to apprehend Kurdish leader Ausman Ojalan, who found refuge inSyria and who is currently detained inTurkey.
The PKK continue to operate in the region, though less extensively.
AbdullahCity for Nuclear and Renewable Energy set to be established inRiyadh.
Saudi Arabia last week announced the establishment of a renewable energy complex, confirming the country’s interest in nuclear energy.
TheKingAbdullahCity for Nuclear and Renewable Energy, set to be established inRiyadh, will, according to a royal decree, be tasked with the research and application of nuclear technology and oversee all aspects of a nuclear power industry, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.
In an effort to diversify the country’s oil-based energy industry,Saudi Arabia has been experimenting with alternative energies such as solar power. Nuclear power is a growing focus area.
Analysts say, however, that politics may have played a major role in the Saudi decision to focus on nuclear technology, as the kingdom’s leaders feel increasingly threatened by the specter of a nuclearIran.
Dr. Theodore Karasik, director for Research and Development with the Dubai-basedInstitute ofNear East and Gulf Military Analysis, said the plan to build the new complex is motivated by both economics and political factors.
“You have to take it in the context of the other GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] or Arab states in terms of their transparency,” Karasik said. “Many of them are trying to move toward nuclear energy capabilities in order to be transparent, as opposed to the Iranians, who are not.”
Sunni countries in the Middle East, includingSaudi Arabia, are concerned about Shi’ite Iran becoming a nuclear power and in recent years have started developing nuclear programs of their own. While such programs are ostensibly all civilian, analysts say the underlying message toIran is that these countries have both the know-how and the capability to respond to an atomic threat.
“It’s a trend in the region, and they need it,” Karasik said. “They are looking ahead 40 or 50 years from now and many of these countries need to develop it now to plan for the future.”
The Saudi announcement did not specify time frames and Karasik said ambitious projects of these kinds could take 15-20 years before becoming a reality.
Nuclear power is also a way to save crude oil for export while still providing energy for local consumption. The kingdom has around 20 percent of the world’s proven petroleum reserves and is the largest exporter of petroleum.
Saudi Arabia has a petroleum sector that accounts for roughly 80% of its budget revenues, 45% of its GDP and 90% of its export earnings.
The new energy complex will fund university research labs and help the private sector develop nuclear applications for agriculture, health care, water desalination and power.
The new institution will also be tasked with drafting a national policy on nuclear energy development, supervising the commercial use of nuclear power and handling radioactive waste.
Saudi Arabia’s population growth and energy subsidies have increased domestic consumption of oil and gas, fueling concerns about the future of its energy economy.
“The peaceful use of nuclear energy will make it possible for the state to explore the needs of the society and plan accordingly,” the decree said. “It will increase development and give the kingdom the knowledge and ability in accord with international agreements and treaties that regulate the peaceful use of energy.”
Meena Janardhan, a Dubai-based fellow at the Energy and Resources Institute, said the move is also viewed favorably from an environmental standpoint.
“It’s in trend with the region, looking at resources other than fossil fuels,” she said. “Over the last few years, interest in this has grown, and it’s good that countries based on fossil fuels and oil are looking at alternative energy sources.
“Renewable energy sources are being stressed all over the world, andSaudi Arabia also has a fast growing power demand,” Janardhan said, adding that the current project will help the kingdom deal with its water crisis by contributing to desalination efforts.
The complex will be headed by physicist and former minister of commerce and industry Hashim Abdallah Yamani.
King Abdullah and several other high-ranking officials will be on the board of the new institution, which will represent the kingdom at international bodies regulating nuclear technology, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Israel will not sellTurkey advanced naval Barak-8 interceptor
DEBKAfileExclusive ReportApril 27, 2010, 4:50 PM (GMT+02:00)
Israel's Barak-8 naval shield
Israel has turned down several Turkish requests for advanced military hardware, according to Israeli and Western intelligence sources. Sources inAnkara say that the impact from Prime minister Tayyep Recep Erdogan's alignment withSyria andIran and poisonous attacks onIsrael is beginning to cut into the Turkish army's operational capabilities. In recent weeks, Turkish naval chiefs tried to find out in particular ifIsrael would be willing to sell the Barak 8 missile interceptor, whose radar provides 360-degree coverage against incoming missiles or air attack, and which was developed in partnership withIndia.
Security sources tolddebkafile that it was decided inJerusalem not to sell, in case Erdogan decided to allow Iranian military intelligence experts to study the Barak-8 and analyze its technology. This interceptor is a key defensive component for the Israeli missile and warships patrolling the Persian Gulf seas oppositeIran, the Red Sea and theEastern Mediterranean opposite Syrian and Lebanese shores.
Asdebkafile revealed exclusively last November, the Turkish Prime minister and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad signed a secret military pact on Oct. 28, 2009, requiring Turkey's military intelligence, its air force and navy to help Iran repel a possible Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities. It included a provision for the sharing of any data and technology on Israeli weapons systems in Turkish possession, which the IDF might use for a potential strike. Click here for article.
Since that pact was signed,Israel has cut off all advanced weapons supplies to the Turkish armed forces.India too is flatly against lettingTurkey getting hold of the Barak 8, in whose development the Indian Navy has invested $330 million since the program began in 2004.New Delhi fears that fromTurkey, the technology might leak toTehran, whichIndia fears is capable of trading its secrets withIslamabad for Pakistani nuclear and missile technology.
Six months ago,India andIsrael signed a $1.1 billion contract for the purchase of the interceptor and its installation on most of its navy's warships. The system, complete with launchers, radar and installation sells for $24 million.
The Barak 8 provides warships with all-weather, day-and-night, 360 degrees coverage and is capable of intercepting incoming missiles when they are no more than 500 meters away from target.
Mitchell saysU.S. wantsMideast solution soon
Fri Apr 23, 2010 4:29pm EDT
Fri, Apr 23 2010
Fri, Apr 23 2010
Fri, Apr 23 2010
JERUSALEM(Reuters) - U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell told Israel and the Palestinians Friday that President Barack Obama wants a comprehensive peace deal to be a reality "soon, not in some vague and distant future time."
In a busy first day of meetings on his latest shuttle mission which comes amid strains betweenIsrael and its closest ally,Washington's envoy stressed to both sides Obama's determination to see a settlement of theMiddle East conflict.
Pressing both to end a 16-month suspension of negotiations, Obama wants "proximity talks" on a deal to start within weeks. He has said peace is a vital strategic interest of theUnited States as it battles Islamic militants abroad.
Mitchell assured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Obama is firmly committed to the security ofIsrael, which says it faces an existential threat fromIran's nuclear project.
Obama also wanted to see the Palestinians have a state.
"That has been American policy. That is American policy. That will be American policy," Mitchell told Netanyahu, also repeating Obama's pledge of strong and enduring ties withIsrael made by the president on the Jewish state's 62nd anniversary this week.
Before going into talks in theWest Bank Friday evening with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the envoy issued a strong endorsement of Palestinian independence aspirations.
"Comprehensive peace in this region must not be just a dream," he said. "It must be and it can be a reality. We want to make this reality happen and soon, not in some vague and distant future time."
InWashington, the State Department cautioned against any expectation of an immediate breakthrough, and a top Palestinian aide in theWest Bank said officials would have more work to do.
"There will be no resumption of (proximity) talks with the Israelis in the coming days," senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said. Abbas is still waiting for answers from Mitchell regarding Palestinian demands for a full stop to Israeli settlement activity, and Mitchell will return in May.
A senior Palestinian official said Mitchell asked Abbas to resume proximity talks but the president said he could not do so before consulting Arab states on May 1, when an Arab League follow-up committee onMiddle East peace is due to meet.
WHEN IS SOON?
Mitchell said theUnited States wants "a viable, independent Palestinian state with a contiguous territory." He said the Palestinians "are entitled to their freedom and the dignity that comes with the right to determine their own future."
Netanyahu and Obama have been sharply at odds over Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, land Palestinians want for their state, and Israeli building inEast Jerusalem.
Abbas refuses to resume negotiations suspended in December 2008 until all settlement building stops, a position Netanyahu describes as "climbing a tree" simply to avoid peace talks.
Mitchell is seeking Netanyahu's response to Obama's request for certain confidence-building measures to persuade Abbas to start proximity talks, hoping to move to direct negotiations between the two sides in the following months.
He is due to meet the Israeli leader again Sunday.
Obama's suggestions were handed to Netanyahu at a low-profile meeting at the White House one month ago. There has been no official Israeli response so far.
BRIDGING SPLIT WITH OBAMA
Netanyahu is trying to bridge the split with his country's closest ally, but without yielding ground to Obama or Abbas in a way that could destroy his pro-settler coalition government.
He told Mitchell: "I look forward to working with you and with President Obama to advance peace. We're serious about it. We know you're serious about it. We hope the Palestinians respond -- we have to move this process forward."
Mitchell has visited the region more than a dozen times in the past year without managing to revive talks stalled over the Palestinian total settlement freeze demand, which Israel rejects as a precondition it will not accept.
(Additional reporting by Mohammed Assadi in Ramallah and Andrew Quinn inWashington; Editing by Joseph Nasr and Jon Hemming)
Published 19:30 14.02.10
Lebanon troops fire at 4 Israeli warplanes flying overhead
Lebanese army saysIsrael Air Force planes violated air space over southern and centralLebanon.
By The Associated Press
Lebanese soldiers opened fire on four Israeli warplanes that flew into its airspace, the Lebanon Army said on Sunday,
The Lebanese army said in a statement that its units used anti-aircraft fire Sunday to force the Israeli warplanes out of Lebanese airspace.
The army said the planes were in southernLebanon and theBekaaValley in centralLebanon.
Israeli warplanes frequently fly over Lebanese airspace in whatIsrael says are reconnaissance missions. The overflights have been a constant source of tension between the two countries.
The army used information gleaned from aerial photography in the 2006 Second Lebanon War, in whichIsrael fought the Lebanese militant organization Hezbollah.
Israeli officials have said that if Hezbollah installs advanced anti-aircraft batteries inLebanon, the Israel Air Force will have to alter its overflights ofLebanon significantly.
Sunday's events come amid heightened tensions in the Middle East following some of the sharpest exchanges in years betweenIsrael and its Arab neighbors.
Syrian President Bashar Assad recently told Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos thatIsrael was pushing theMiddle East towards a new war. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem added that ifLebanon were attacked,Syria would defend it.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded that any war would end with the Assad regime out of power.
Israeli Air Force F-15
Photo by: (Archive)
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Turkey's prime minister said Sunday that the world is turning a blind eye toIsrael's nuclear program and that he intends to raise the issue at the nuclear summit inWashington.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan remarked thatIran's nuclear program is being scrutinized because of its membership in the International Atomic Energy Agency whereasIsrael, which has not signed a nonproliferation treaty, is free to do what it wants.
"We are disturbed by this and will say so," Erdogan told reporters before his departure forWashington on Sunday.
The Israeli government has said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called off his trip toWashington because he believedTurkey and other Muslim nations would make an issue ofIsrael's nuclear program.
Israel's policy is to neither confirm nor deny that it possesses nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday thatIsrael has much to contribute to this week's nuclear security summit even though Netanyahu was skipping theWashington conference.
Clinton said the world's biggest concern on nuclear security is that terrorists will get control of bomb-making material. She said thatIsrael can do much to help thwart nuclear terror.
RepresentingIsrael at U.S. President Barack Obama's conference will be Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor.
Clinton's remarks came in interviews with NBC's Meet the Press and ABC's This Week.
On Friday, a topU.S. official said the Obama administration believedIsrael's delegation to the nuclear summit will be "robust," despite Netanyahu's decision not to attend.
"We obviously would like to have the prime minister but the deputy prime minister will be leading the delegation and it will be a robust Israeli delegation," U.S. National Security Adviser General Jim Jones told reporters traveling on Air Force One.
He also said that relationships between theU.S. andIsrael are "ongoing, fine and continuous."
Obama has invited more than 40 countries to the summit, which will deal with preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to terrorist groups.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Russia modernizingSyria ports for its warships
MOSCOW — The Russian Navy has been expanding cooperation withSyria.
Officials said the navies ofRussia andSyria were enhancing cooperation over the last year. They saidMoscow was modernizing naval facilities inSyria'sport ofLatakia and Tartous to accommodate Russian Navy warships.
"I am certain that we will witness new and significant progress in our bilateral cooperation in the near future," Russian ambassador toSyria, Sergei Kirpichenko, said.
On April 14, Kirpichenko welcomed the arrival of the Russian Navy's nuclear-powered missile cruiser, Pyotr Veliky, to Tartous, Middle East Newsline reported.Russia has modernized Tartous and deploys 50 naval officers to maintain and supply warships that operate in theMediterranean.
"The Pyotr Veliky's visit to the Syrianport ofTartus is a symbolic event," Kirpichenko said. "It is a continuation of our historic ties withSyria that serves as a guarantee of our future cooperation not only in the naval sphere but also in other areas."
Officials said a large Syrian Navy delegation visited Pyotr Veliky. Pyotr Veliky has been deemed the flagship ofRussia's NorthernFleet and was headed for an exercise in the Indian Ocan.
In September 2008, the Kremlin launched negotiations with the regime of President Bashar Assad to convert Tartous into a permanent Russian Navy base. Officials saidMoscow also offered to modernize the Syrian Navy port at Latakia.
Tartous was said to have been expanded to accommodate large Russian warships. Officials said Tartous, with three berthing floats, could handle up to a dozen naval vessels.
Officials said the Russian Navy regardsSyria as a vital base for operations in theMediterranean and surrounding regions. They saidMoscow has been training the Syrian Navy as part of the strategic arrangement.
"According to the Russian Navy, the naval base inSyria significantly boostsRussia's operational capability in the region because the warships based there are capable of reaching the Red Sea through the Suez Canal and the Atlantic through theStrait ofGibraltar in a matter of days," the Moscow-based RIA Novosti news agency said.
Report:Israel threatens to sendSyria back to Stone Age
According to report in Sunday Times, Israeli minister said if Hezbollah dares to attack with ballistic missiles, responsibility will fall on Syria's shoulders, Israel will mercilessly attack strategic targets. 'Assad playing with fire,' says minister, according to British paper
After Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman threatened that Syrian President Bashar Assad will lose his power should he provokeIsrael, recent reports of advanced missiles being transferred fromSyria to Hezbollah have led to more serious threats being made.
"We will returnSyria back to the Stone Age," an Israeli minister was quoted as saying in British paper, the Sunday Times. The paper reported that this sentiment was communicated toDamascus via a third party.
According to the report, the minister, speaking off the record, warned last week thatIsrael will do so by "crippling its power stations, ports, fuel storage and every bit of strategic infrastructure if Hezbollah dare to launch ballistic missiles against us."
The reason behind increasing tensions in the Israel-Syria arena broke last week in a report in Kuwaiti newspaper, al-Rai, that the Syrian military trained members of Hezbollah in how to fire advanced Scud ballistic missiles. In response, it has been reported thatIsrael directed pointed warnings toSyria viaTurkey andQatar that it will attack targets inSyria andLebanon if the missiles reach Hezbollah.
On this backdrop, the Syrian minister inWashington was summoned for a warning.
Washington has voiced contradictory viewpoints on the Scud issue. The State Department reported that they are "very concerned" by reports of the transfer of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah. However, over the weekend, senior administration officials expressed doubt as to whether the Scuds really made their way across the border Syria-Lebanon border.
According to the report in the Sunday Times,Israel "now regards Hezbollah as a division of the Syrian army and that reprisals againstSyria will be fast and devastating."
As such,Israel has decided to holdSyria directly responsible for Hezbollah's activities following intelligence assessments thatBeirut has lost control over the strengthening Shi'ite organization. Until now,Israel has said thatLebanon will be responsible for any attack made by Hezbollah onIsrael.
“We’ll not hesitate to attackSyria if our national security is in jeopardy,” said the same Israeli minister. “Assad knows that, and he’s playing with fire.”
Published: 04/22/10, 4:35 PM / Last Update: 04/22/10, 4:53 PM
Washington Think Tank Predicts NewMideast War
by Hana Levi Julian
FollowIsrael news on
A U.S.-based think tank has issued a report saying that a newMiddle East war may be looming on the horizon.
If hostilities do in fact break out, writes David Schenker of The Washington Institute, “fighting could take on a regional dimension not seen since 1973.” The prediction comes in response to reports thatSyria has supplied the Lebanon-based Hizbullah terrorist organization with advanced Russian-made 9K38 Igla-S anti-aircraft missiles. Transfer of the shoulder-fired ordnance to the terrorist group has previously been marked by Israeli officials as a “red line” issue.
Syria appears to be in a position where it can cultivate its ties with the West without sacrificing its support for terrorism.
Schenker also cited pronouncements posted in late February on the internet by the Lebanon-based Hizbullah terrorist organization hinting the group might renew its aggression against the Jewish State. The statement followed an unprecedented trilateral summit / dinner meeting on February 26 inDamascus between Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah.
A new development
Meetings between the Syrian and Iranian presidents have become very common in the past several years; however, Nasrallah's presence at the table marked a new chapter in the development of the Evil Axis. Little was publicized about the discussion, other than what was later posted on the Hizbullah website, said Schenker, noting the account recounted “the escalating strategic response of the axis of the confrontationist, rejectionist, and resistance states” to the so-called U.S.-Israeli threat.
Schenker also noted Nasrallah's sabre-rattling earlier in February, during a speech delivered on Hizbullah's Martyred Leaders Day, in which the terrorist laid out the new strategy for reprisals againstIsrael:
“If you [meaningIsrael -ed.] bombRafikHaririInternationalAirport inBeirut, we will bombBen-GurionAirport in Tel Aviv. If you bomb our docks, we will bomb your docks. If you bomb our oil refineries, we will bomb your oil refineries. If you bomb our factories, we will bomb your factories. And if you bomb our power plants, we will bomb your power plants,” Nasrallah declared.
Recent reports thatSyria has provided the terrorist group with Scud missiles capable of reaching deep intoIsrael's central and southern regions have supported and underscored Nasrallah's threats. The U.S. State Department summoned the Syrian Ambassador, Imad Mustafa, to “inform his government about the level of danger if the missiles crossed the border” but did little more.
Syria 'broke the code'
The Institute has also concluded that “Damascus has finally broken the code toEurope, and appears to be on the verge of doing so with the Obama administration as well. Currently,Syria appears to be in a position where it can cultivate its ties with the West without sacrificing its support for terrorism.”
In addition, the report noted IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi's testimony in mid-March before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Hizbullah was “building up its forces north of the Litani [River].” Ashkenazi reported at the time that the northern border was secure and calm, but that “this can change.”
The fact that Hizbullah continues to stockpile weapons in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, the ceasefire agreement that ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War, and thatIran andSyria continue to provide the group with illegal arms, observed the Institute, has contributed to the deterioration of the security situation in the north.
“Hizbullah retaliation againstIsrael for the 2008 assassination of its military leader Imad Mughniyeh could spark a war,” writes Schenker. “So could Hizbullah firing missiles in retribution for an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. The transfer of sensitive Syrian technology to [Hizbullah] could also prompt an Israeli strike. Regrettably, even ifIsrael continues to try and defuse tensions in the north, given the central roleTehran has in determining Hizbullah policy, a thirdLebanon war may be inevitable.” (IsraelNationalNews.com)
Turkey’s Anti-Israel Alignment Becoming Increasingly Defined
April 28, 2010
The relationship betweenIsrael andTurkey has been strained at best, but one cannot deny the strategic importance of the military cooperation that exists(ed) betweenIsrael and her Muslim neighbor nation.
On the one hand, the joint military exercise taking place between Turkey and Syria is cause for concern and intelligence officials are monitoring events as the war of words between Israel and her Arab neighbors intensifies, including Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Hizbullah.
Just recently, Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad threatened to catapultIsrael back to the ‘stone age’ if compelled to engage in a military conflict with IDF forces. This latest threat joins numerous statements released in recent weeks from Lebanese President Mishael Suleiman, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, and Hizbullah leaders.
For a second time in a number of months, Turkish forces earlier this week have begun joint exercises with Syrian troops, sending a worrisome message toIsrael.Turkey has been openly shifting its alliance to radical nations such asSyria andIran, openly speaking out againstIsrael in the international political arena, formerly a staunch ally.
On the other hand, tourism toTurkey fromIsrael has increased against following the sharp drop after Operation Cast Lead, andTurkey continues to receive drone pilotless aircraft manufactured byIsrael, while seeking to order other sophisticated weapons from Israel Military Industry.Israel on the other hand has decided to review each order on its own merit, no longer willing to furnishTurkey with everythingAnkara wishes to acquire, cautiously aware that the current shift of loyalty may result in Israeli-manufactured military hardware being used againstIsrael if Arab nations launch a military attack againstIsrael.
Continuing his threats against Yerushalayim, Assad told Kuwaiti media that ifIsrael launches an attack against Hizbullah in southernLebanon, his armed forces will improve a naval blockade againstIsrael.
Efforts to release messages of calm fromJerusalem have had a limited impact at best as Arab leaders seem determined to escalate the war of words againstIsrael.
(Yechiel Spira – YWNIsrael)
Israel is ‘Main Threat’ toMiddle East Peace, Says Erdogan
Wednesday, April 7th, 2010 | Posted by Asbarez Staff
Israel's President Shimon Peres , right, looks on asTurkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a point while speaking during a session at the World Economic Forum inDavos,Switzerland, Thursday Jan. 29, 2009. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
PARIS (AFP)–Persisting in his harsh criticism toward Israel, Turkey’s prime minister said on Wednesday that Israel is the main threat to peace in the Middle East, marking a new low in deteriorating relations between the two allies who once had close military and political.
“If a country uses disproportionate force in Palestine, in Gaza – uses phosphorous shells – we’re not going to say ‘bravo,’” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared at a breakfast meeting in Paris, referring to Israel’s deadly January 2009 attack on the Gaza Strip. Operation Cast Lead left around 1,400 Palestinians dead and destroyed thousands of homes.
Erdogan saidIsrael’s justification for the offensive was based on “lies” and cited a report by U.N. investigator Richard Goldstone, a South African judge who accused bothIsrael and Palestinians of war crimes.
“Goldstone is a Jew and his report is clear,” the Turkish leader told reporters invited to meet him at the Paris Ritz Hotel. “It’s not because we are Muslims that we take this position. Our position is humanitarian. It’sIsrael that is the principal threat to regional peace,” said Erdogan speaking in Turkish, through a French interpreter.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hit back at what he said wereTurkey’s repeated attacks. “We are interested in good relations withTurkey and regret that Erdogan chooses time after time to attackIsrael,” he said at aJerusalem news conference held to review his first year in office.
“It is a regrettable occurrence which I don’t think serves the interests of stability and improved relations in our region,” said Netanyahu, adding that he had not discussed the issue with Erdogan.
Erdogan’s remarks came afterIsrael’s firebrand foreign minister likened him to the leaders ofLibya andVenezuela. On Tuesday,Ankara “vehemently condemned” remarks attributed to Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman that compared Erdogan to Muammar al-Gadhafi ofLibya andVenezuela’s Hugo Chavez.
Israeli Web site Ynet quoted Lieberman as saying on Monday that Erdogan is “slowly turning into Gaddafi or Hugo Chavez” and added: “It’s his choice. The problem is notTurkey, the problem is Erdogan.”
This spat followed tensions caused whenIsrael’s deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon gaveTurkey’s ambassador a public dressing down in January to protest a Turkish television series that criticizedIsrael.
After having kept Oguz Celikkol waiting, the envoy was made to sit on a low couch and the Turkish flag was removed from their table. Ayalon had pictures taken of the humiliating scene, infuriatingAnkara.
One year after theGaza battle, in a memorable outburst, Erdogan stormed out of a debate at the 2009 World Economic Forum in Davos after telling Israeli President Shimon Peres: “You know well how to kill people.”
Turkey is currently a member of the U.N. Security Council, which will soon have to decide whether to follow French andU.S. pressure to impose tougher penalties onIran over its nuclear program.
At theParis meeting, Erdogan pointed the finger atIsrael’s undeclared stock of nuclear warheads, arguing that the fact that it had not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT, should not exempt it from international safeguards.
“Is this situation logical?” he demanded. “Should not being a member of the NPT mean you can do whatever you like every day?”
He repeated his opposition to sanctions againstIran, which Western capitals accuse of secretly seeking a nuclear bomb, insisting the International Atomic Energy Agency has found no hard proof ofTehran cheating.
Published 18:45 05.04.10
Israel:Turkey aligning with Muslim world at our expense
Foreign Min. responds after Erdogan slamsIsrael, says Arabs and Turks are brothers who share values.
By Haaretz Service and Mazal Mualem
The Foreign Ministry on Sunday said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is attempting to integrate with the Muslim world at the expense of his country's ties withIsrael, hours after Erdogan criticizedIsrael over actions inJerusalem andGaza.
"Israel is not interested in confrontation with any country, includingTurkey," said the Foreign Ministry in a statement. "The impression that is being created is that the Turkish prime minister is seeking to integrate with the Muslim world atIsrael's expense."
Erdogan on Monday addressed the heightened tension inJerusalem, saying thatTurkey will come to the defense of Muslims around the world, according to a report on CNN-Turk.
"We cannot be indifferent to the problems of the Islamic world ofJerusalem," said Erdogan at a ceremony to mark the opening of an Arab-language television and radio company.
"Our task is the integration with the Western world but we did not turn our back to the East," Erdogan continued. "Arabs and Turks are brothers and we share the same values."
The Turkish prime minister also said that the situation inGaza is inhumane. "We cannot watch the murder of children inGaza with indifference," he said. "We worry about theGaza children but our hearts are also for the children ofHaiti andChile."
The ministry continued, "We suggest he find a more creative way, and to try to integrate with both the Muslim and Western worlds without turning into an extremist leader in the style of Hugo Chavez."
Moreover, the ministry added, in response to Erdogan's remarks about concern over "the murder of children inGaza with indifference," that he should be equally concerned for the killing of innocent civilians inPakistan andIraq at the hands of terrorist groups.
Meanwhile, Turkish television reported Sunday thatAnkara will name a new ambassador toIsrael to replace envoy Ahmet Oguz Celikkol, who was humiliated inIsrael earlier this year.
Private NTV television on Sunday reported that Celikkol, who held the post for less than a year, will be be replaced this summer by diplomat and expert on Middle Eastern affairs Kerim Uras.
Celikkol was rebuked by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon during a January meeting in which he summoned over an anti-Israeli television show aired in Turkey, and was made to sit in a chair lower than that of Ayalon, while the Turkish flag was deliberately not put on display.
Ayalon later apologized for the incident.
Monday, March 8, 2010
Iran building potential ICBM launch facility with help fromNorth Korea
LONDON —Iran is said to have been constructing a new rocket launch facility that could later accommodate an intercontinental ballistic missile carrying a nuclear warhead.
IHS Jane's reported thatIran was building a launch site with help fromNorth Korea. Jane's said the launcher was detected by commercial remote-sensing satellites in the Semnan province east of Teheran.
"It [rocket launch facility] contains a gantry tower, which is 13 meters wide, approximately 18-20 meters tall and has a cliff-side flame bucket nearly as high as thetower itself," Jane's said on March 5. "It appears midway towards completion."
Jane's, citingsatellite images taken on Feb. 6, 2010, said the Iranian facility could be used for Teheran's new Simorgh space-launch vehicle. Simorgh, believed to be a liquid-fuel rocket, was unveiled in February.
"Although the tower is not yet tall enough to facilitate vertical assembly of the 27-meter Simorgh, the launch pad could easily accommodate Iran's new rocket if the gantry were to be extended by an additional 10 meters," Jane's said.
Simorgh has been deemed a technological breakthrough by some Western analysts. They said Simorgh could be transformed into an intercontinental ballistic missile that could contain a nuclear warhead.
Jane's said the development of the Semnan facility and Simorgh reflect North Korean assistance to Teheran's missile program. The platforms were said to resemble those atNorth Korea's new launch pad at Tongchang.
"Similarly, the first stage of the Simorgh strongly resembles the North Korean Unha-2, with four clustered engines and nearly the same dimensions," Jane's said.
Another Iranian missile facility was detected 2.5 kilometers southwest of Semnan. Jane's said Iranian authorities have deployed heavy security around the second site, still in the early stages of construction.
"IHS Jane’s concludes that, given these investments in its missile infrastructure, and despite theUnited States attempting to garner support for further sanctions againstIran for itsnuclear program
, Teheran appears determined to continue developing its missile and rocket capabilities in the foreseeable future," Jane's said.
Assad: We'll stand byLebanon in case of Israeli attack
Official news agency reports Syrian president, Lebanese parliament speaker discussed 'repeated Israeli threats against the region's countries and the Israeli extremism threatening to destroy the chances for peace by igniting the region'
Syrian President Bashar Assad addressed the voices of war and peace in theMiddle East for the first time Sunday evening. Speaking in a meeting with Lebanese Parliament Speaker NabihBerry, Assad stressed that his government and the Syrian people would stand byLebanon "in any case of an Israeli attack which it may face."
Official Syrian news agencySANA reported that the two discussed "the repeated Israeli threats against the region's countries and Israeli extremism threatening to destroy the chances for peace by igniting the region with wars and taking it into the unknown."
The two also discussed the developing bilateral relations between the two countries and the situation in theMiddle East, and particularly the situation in the Palestinian arena.
Assad and Berri, Sunday (Photo: AFP)
Another Syrian official who addressed the threats made by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman againstDamascus in an ongoing war of words betweenIsrael andSyria was Information Minister Mohsen Bilal.
On a tour of Quneitra in the Syrian Golan Heights earlier Sunday, Bilal said Lieberman's remarks were "irresponsible, wild, and aggressive, and came from the mouth of a man whom the entire world scorns and whom no one receives". Bilal added that Lieberman has proven "The aggressiveness of this entity (Israel)".
Earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the situation in the region for the first time as well.
Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said, "Israel aspires to peace accords with all of its neighbors. We have done it withEgypt andJordan and we can do it withSyria and the Palestinians."
He added, however, that "there are conditions for this. Negotiations must take place without preconditions that mean huge concessions onIsrael's part ahead of time. Also, the accord must finally be accompanied by security agreements in order to last for generations."
Ahmadinejad:Israel will be destroyed if it attacks Hezbollah
Region should be delivered fromIsrael's 'evil ways' forever, Iranian president tells Nasrallah.
Published 15:59 18.02.10
Iran's president on Thursday said that if the Israelis launch a new war againstLebanon's Hezbollah, the militant group should retaliate strong enough to close their case once and for all.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's comments, in a conversation with Hezbollah's leader, were the latest in a heated exchange of rhetoric betweenIsrael andLebanon andSyria this months in which all sides have been warning the other not to start a war.
Speaking by phone, Ahmadinejad urged Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah to prepare his fighters to be able to retaliate strongly against any Israeli attack.
"The preparations should be of the level that, if they [the Israelis] want to repeat the mistakes of the past [by attacking], then their case should be closed once and for all and the region delivered from their evil ways forever," the Iranian president said, according to the state news agency IRNA.
"The people ofIran will stand by the people ofLebanon and the region in this," he said. Nasrallah dismissed any fears, saying Israeli threats "will lead to nothing."
Iran is a key supporter of Hezbollah, believed to funnel it weapons and millions of dollars in funding, thoughTehran denies arming the Shiite group.
Hezbollah, also closely allied toSyria, boasts a heavy arsenal of rockets capable of reaching deep insideIsrael.
The past month has seen increased sabre-rattling betweenIsrael andSyria, Hezbollah andLebanon - though there's been little apparent cause on the ground for the warnings of a new war. Hezbollah andIsrael fought a monthlong war in 2006 that wreaked destruction in southLebanon and parts ofBeirut. But since then, Hezbollah has refrained from firing rockets across the border.
In a speech aired nationally inLebanon this week, Nasrallah vowed that ifIsrael attacks again, his fighters would retaliate in kind, striking Tel Aviv orIsrael's international airport on the city's outskirts.
Lebanon's prime minister also warned of escalating Israeli war threats and vowedLebanon would support Hezbollah in any fight. The prime minister, Saad Hariri, is a pro-U.S. figure and longtime rival of Hezbollah, but the group is now a member of his national unity government.
Earlier in the month,Syria's president Bashar Assad accusedIsrael of avoiding peace, and its prime minister warned that if war broke out, Israeli cities would be attacked. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman replied that ifDamascus drawsIsrael into a war, its army would be defeated and the Syrian regime would collapse.
Hezbollah can't hurtIsrael's cities
A former Lebanese army general said on Thursday that despite its arsenal of long-range rockets, Hezbollah is incapable of seriously damagingIsrael's major cities.
Lebanon's Zilzal rockets have a range of up to 400 kilometers but can only carry relatively small 65 kilogram warhead, Wehbe Katisha told the Saudi daily Okaz.
Such a payload would barely be enough to destroy a single residential apartment, Katisha said.
Syria vows to respond to any Israeli 'aggression'
Netanyahu:Israel seeks peace with all neighbors; Saudi paper says Hezbollah has raised alert inLebanon.
Syrian President Bashar Assad on Sunday vowed to stand byLebanon's side against any Israeli "aggression," in an escalating war of words betweenDamascus andJerusalem.
Assad's remarks to Lebanon Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri were the latest in a renewed round of threats and counter-threats that began last week.
Earlier Sunday, Syrian Minister of Information Mohsen Bilal told a seminar near the Israeli border thatSyria would "stand in the face of Israeli ambitions."
Speaking just kilometers from the Golan Heights - a strategically important plateau at the intersection ofIsrael,Syria andLebanon seized byIsrael in the 1967 Six-Day War - Bilal said the contentious area was at "the core" ofSyria's interests and vowed it would return toSyria.
TheGolan Heights "will not remain under occupation," he said.
Bilal reiteratedSyria's position that peace could be achieved only with the return of all territoriesIsrael captured in 1967.
"We are working tirelessly towards true and lasting just peace, in which the occupation ends and the land is returned," the minister said, dismissingIsrael's 1981 annexation of theGolan Heights as "worthless."
Earlier Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to further calm the war of words, telling his cabinet thatIsrael aspired to peace with all its neighbors, and that he was open to fresh talks withSyria.
"Israel aspires to reach peace with all its neighbors," Netanyahu said at the start of his weekly cabinet meeting inJerusalem. "We did so withEgypt andJordan and we aspire to do so withSyria and the Palestinians. We can achieve this with two conditions: The first is that we hold negotiations without preconditions. We will not accept the notion thatIsrael makes major concessions in advance. We will not enter negotiations for which everything is decided in advance.
"The second condition is that any agreement will safeguardIsrael's security interests... Solid security arrangements will help maintain a strong peace. I hope that we are now looking at the renewal of negotiations with the Palestinians, and we are open to new talks with the Syrians as well."
Jerusalem andDamascus continued their verbal sparring over the weekend, albeit in more subdued tones. Official Syrian newspaper Tishrin said in an editorial that "the threats fromIsrael make it clear that it intends to initiate a new war whose limits are unknown."
U.S. State Department officials were quoted by Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, a London-based Saudi newspaper, as saying that the exchange of threats betweenSyria andIsrael was making it hard to renew negotiations between the two sides.
This latest round of threats and counter-threats was triggered by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem, who warned last week that an Israeli attack againstSyria would result in all-out war. His Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, said in response that the next war would mean the demise of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.
Hezbollah has raised its state of alert inLebanon in the wake of the increased tensions betweenIsrael andSyria, according to a report in a Saudi daily.
January 29, 2010...2:02 pm
Report: US urgesSyria,Israel to show restraint
Al-Sharq al-Awsat quotes American officials commenting on Israel-Syria crisis, urging both states to renew peace talks and avoid 'hindering' acts
As tension continues to rise betweenDamascus andJerusalem, theUnited States is urgingSyria andIsrael to show restraint and return to the negotiations table.
Al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper on Friday quoted sources in Washington who addressed the tension between the two countries, and called forSyria to "show restraint and not take any measures that would hinder launching negotiations."
According to the report, the source added that "Washington is working seriously towards renewing peace talks swiftly, and on all channels," including betweenIsrael andSyria.
In addition, the source stated that "there are issues that are still pending, and are a cause for concern for Syria," which they said would be handled by the designated American ambassador to Damascus, Robert Ford, as soon as his appointment is approved by the Senate.
Meanwhile, the paper also quoted Syrian officials who responded to remarks made by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's, who threatened to bring down Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime in the event of a war withIsrael.
According to the report, the Syrian officials believe "the reason for these remarks may be messages that Lieberman meant to convey withinIsrael" or what they called "a cover for the current Israeli government's lack of ability to live up to commitments that call for a just and inclusive peace process."
NETANYAHU ATAUSCHWITZ SAYS PROPHECIES OF EZEKIEL 37 HAVE BEEN FULFILLED
PM Netanyahu speaking atAuschwitz on Jan. 27, 2010.
This weekend, Lynn and I are inEdmonton,Alberta,Canada, where I will be speaking at Break Forth, the largest evangelical Christian conference held inCanada every year. I will be teaching the prophecies of Ezekiel 36-39, the centrality of Israel in God’s plan and purpose for mankind in the last days, the threat of Radical Islam, and the importance of building a global movement of Christians committed to showing the peopel of the epicenter unconditional love and unwavering support.
As I prepare to teach a series of four 1-hour seminars on these topics today, I awoke to read news coverage of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address this week inPoland, commemorating the 65th anniversary of liberation ofAuschwitz. Speaking on the actual site of the Nazi death camp, the Prime Minister delivered a major address warning the world of new genocidal threats against the Jewish people and the importance of acting early enough to prevent such threats from coming to pass. He also declared to the people ofEurope and the world that the prophecies of Ezekiel 37 have been fulfilled.
It was an extraordinary moment. Rarely has any world leader given a major address on an international stage declaring End Times prophecies from the Bible have come true. But that is exactly what Netanyahu did.
- “The most important lesson of the Holocaust is that a murderous evil must be stopped early, when it is still in its infancy and before it can carry out its designs. The enlightened nations of the world must learn this lesson. We, the Jewish nation, who lost a third of our people on Europe’s blood-soaked soil, have learned that the only guarantee for defending our people is a strong State of Israel and the army ofIsrael. We gave learned to warn the nations of the world of impending danger but at the same time to prepare to defend ourselves. As the head of the Jewish state, I pledge to you today: We will never again permit evil to snuff out the life of our people and the life of our own country…”
- “[After the Holocaust,” the Jewish people rose from ashes and destruction, from a terrible pain that can never be healed. Armed with the Jewish spirit, the justice of man, and the vision of the prophets, we sprouted new branches and grew deep roots. Dry bones became covered with flesh, a spirit filled them, and they lived and stood on their own feet. As Ezekiel prophesized: ‘Then He said unto me: These bones are the whole House of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, our hope is gone; we are doomed.’ Prophecy, therefore, and say to them: Thus said the Lord God: I am going to open your graves and lift you out of your graves, O My people, and bring you to theland ofIsrael.’ I stand here today on the ground where so many of my people perished — and I am not alone. The State of Israel and all the Jewish people stand with me. We bow our heads to honor your memory and lift our heads as we raise our flag-a flag of blue and white with a Star of David in its center. And everyone sees. And everyone hears. And everyone knows – that our hope is not lost.”
The question for all Israelis and all people everywhere is now this: If the prophecies of Ezekiel 37 have come to pass in our lifetime, isn’t it remotely possible that the prophecies of Ezekiel 38-39 will come true in our lifetime as well?