Posted by Joshua on Monday, October 11th, 2010
TURKEY, SYRIA: Former enemies find common ground on Kurdish rebels
October 11, 2010 Meris Lutz in Beirut, LA Times
Turkey, a member of the North Atlanta Treaty Organization and an American ally, appears to be developing a synchronized security strategy with Syria, a partner of Iran and the Shiite militia Hezbollah, in a development that is likely to increase Western anxieties over Turkey’s shift eastward.
Just a decade after Turkey and Syria nearly went to war over Syrian support for Kurdish militants, the two neighbors are working together to stamp out the most powerful rebel Kurd group, the Kurdish Workers Party, known by the Turkish acronym PKK.
On Monday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was in Damascus to discuss a joint Syrian-Turkish security crackdown on the PKK, which maintains a strong presence in northern Syrian and southeastern Turkey. The Turkish press also reported on efforts to step up cooperation with Iraq and Iran in an effort to wipe out the PKK completely.
Even Syrian President Bashar Assad expressed surprise at the speed with which Turkish-Syrian relations have improved, according to an official Syrian report based on an interview the president gave last week to Arabic-language Turkish channel TRT TV.
“There is very great momentum and acceleration … so we can say that yes, we expected this, but we’re very glad that the time was less than expected,” Assad said.
Back in July, Turkish media reported that Syria had arrested over 400 Kurds thought to have links to the PKK, which is on both the American and European Union’s list of terrorist organizations……
Turkey held military drill with China, after canceling with Israel; cooperation also reflected in weapons deals, with Iran buying from China mainly missile technology.
By Anshel Pfeffer
The United States and Israel are watching with concern the growing military cooperation among Turkey, China and Iran, especially following a joint Turkish-Chinese air-force exercise last week.
Until two years ago Israel was Turkey’s main partner for air combat training.
In 2001 the Turkish air force inaugurated a tactical air warfare center in Konya with Israel and the United States.
Until 2008 the Israel Air Force was a frequent guest in Turkey’s sky and a regular participant in the country’s big annual exercise, Anatolian Eagle.
In the wake of Operation Cast Lead and the subsequent deterioration of bilateral relations Turkey last year revoked Israel’s participation in the maneuvers. The United States decided not to take part in the exercise this year because of that decision. A number of other NATO members followed suit.
Turkey replaced the Israel Air Force with its Chinese counterpart. China sent Sukhoi SU-27 fighter aircraft and pilots to train with Turkey’s F-16 fighters. In the past these exercises were held in relatively openness, but last week they were held covertly, with only a brief report appearing in the Turkish media after the exercise.
The West has been watching the changes in the Chinese army’s structure, and especially the long-range naval and aerial exercises that indicate Beijing’s intention to acquire the ability to conduct warfare far from China’s borders.
The Chinese are also aggressively pursuing cyber warfare capabilities, employing some 60,000 hackers at it, according to foreign intelligence reports.
The Obama administration protested Turkey’s military cooperation with Iran after it was reported that the Chinese fighter planes were sent to Turkey via Pakistan and Iran.
The developing ties among Turkey, Iran and China are also reflected in weapons deals, with Iran buying from China mainly missile technology.
The C-802 antiship missile fired by Hezbollah in the Second Lebanon War at the Israel Navy’s Hanit missile boat was manufactured in Iran with Chinese technology.
China has also developed a surface-to-surface rocket-launching system together with Turkey. China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao is due to visit Ankara this month and to sign several bilateral cooperation agreements.
Turkey and China are also involved in projects to build oil pipelines from Iran.
Another reason for the close relations between the two states is that China, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, has been in the forefront of opposition to imposing harsher sanctions on Iran in connection to the Islamic state’s nuclear program.
Turning turkey on Turkey
US will not participate in the annual joint air force exercise with Turkey in October if Israel is not invited as well..
Anonymous sources have reported that Washington sent a message to the Turkish military that its aircraft will only partake in the exercises held annually between the US, Israel, and Turkey, if the Israeli Air Force is also asked to join.
Turkey cancelled Israel’s participation in the air force drill in 2009 in criticism of the Jewish state’s actions in Gaza. The US cancelled participation then, too, as a show of solidarity with Israel.
The Israel Navy’s raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla further strained relations between the countries, even prompted the recall of the Turkish ambassador from Tel Aviv. Turkey has demanded an apology from Israel and compensation to the families of the nine Turkish nationals killed in the incident.
Tensions have also been intensified between Washington and Ankara over Turkey’s vote against increased international sanctions against Iran over the latter’s nuclear program. In addition, Turkey has revoked Israel’s access to its air space for military drills, sending Israel into the arms of Greece.
The US is particularly irked by Turkey’s stance on Iran’s nuclear program and its warm relations with Hamas and Syria, although there is more than one position in the US government about links with Syria….
The US Senate is also displeased with Turkey. Republican senators are currently obstructing the appointment of ambassador-designate to Turkey Francis Joseph Ricciardone due to his moderate positions.
Course of developments will depend on Israel’s stance from now on, Turkish FM
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said on Monday that resumption of indirect talks between Syria and Israel depended on stance of Israel.
……. Davutoğlu said he met with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and assessed regional matters like Iraq and Lebanon. He said they had a brief assessment on Syria-Israel indirect talks but did not have the opportunity to have talks in detail.
“Turkey has several times reiterated its position on the matter. Syria also did. Actually, two days before my visit, Syrian Foreign Minister Muallem said the talks could only resume over Turkey and expressed Syria’s readiness to start talk from the point it has left. From now on, course of the developments will depend on Israel. …..
Iran’s Currency has Fallen by 10% last Week
Ahmadinejad Returns to Chaos
by Reza Aslan – The Daily Beast!
Don’t let the Iranian president’s confidence at the U.N. last week fool you: He is going home to a country in political turmoil, an economy on the verge of utter collapse, and a government in total deadlock…..The coalition of military, clerical, and political conservatives that had rallied to him in opposition to the Green Movement has completely fallen apart. Now that they no longer have to contend with an unarmed group of college kids demanding their basic rights, Ahmadinejad’s erstwhile allies have begun focusing all their anger upon him.
In the last few weeks, a number of high-profile members of Iran’s parliament—many of them Ahmadinejad’s former supporters—have openly threatened him with impeachment…….
President Bashar al-Assad said that it was hard to imagine that the level of Syrian-Turkish relations would reach their current strategic level in such a short time, but that there was a vision that this was possible for a simple reason, which is that the Turkish-Arab relation is one of fraternity, saying “we lived for hundreds of years in one state, and before the Ottoman state we lived in an Arab state and other different ages and stages… we were always together.” In an interview with the Turkish Arabic-speaking TRT TV satellite station broadcast Wednesday, President al-Assad said that this relation is a natural human relation that underwent conditions that weren’t good for less than a century – around 80 years – and this period cannot replace the entire history of the relation that spans many centuries, adding “it is natural to have confidence and faith that you will reach this level… if we didn’t have this confidence we wouldn’t have reached it… we cannot arrive by chance…..
His Excellency pointed out that there was another side that cannot be denied which is Turkey’s stances towards various issues.
First, Turkey’s stance towards the Palestinian issue which concerns every Arab and every Muslim.
Second, Turkey’s stance towards the war on Iraq, particularly when it refused to become the land from which American planes or foreign forces mobilize to invade Iraq.
“The third stance for us in Syria was when a number of countries were attempting to isolate Syria… most of these countries were participating in this isolation in fear of or in compliance with external pressure… but Turkey maintained a steady relation, which means independence, therefore we move towards any people that proved their independence and motivated their state to be independent like the Turkish people… I believe that these are the main factors that led to this fast launch in relations,” President al-Assad said…….
Another point which asserts the Turkish role is our experiment with the US during 19 years.
Since 1991, the US proved capable of giving guarantees but it was unable to play the role of mediator because it was biased toward one side and because it was ignorant of the culture of the region.”….
“What is important for Syria is an Iraqi government that works for the unity, stability and sovereignty of Iraq. The Iraqi government should improve relations with the neighboring countries including Syria.” President al-Assad added, “After elections, communications started between us and the List of Law State headed by al-Maliki.
There was transparent talk about the previous stage of disagreement during the past year, as Syria was accused of supporting terrorists in Iraq. Mistakes were clarified.
…..”President al-Assad added, “Now, relations have become normal with all parities, the Iraqi list, List of Coalition and the List of Law State. In conclusion, we want good relations with all.” Answering a question whether his Excellency expects forming an Iraqi government soon, President al-Assad said, “We hope! Delay is not in the interest of Iraq.
Coordination between Iran, Turkey and Syria
Asked about permanent coordination between Syria, Turkey and Iran on Iraq, President al-Assad said, “I can talk about coordination between Syria and Iran, and Syria and Turkey.
I do not know the volume of coordination between Iran and Turkey in this issue.
Of course there is communication between them.
A meeting was held between Turkish Foreign Minister Davutolgo and his Iranian and Syrian counterparts and others in New York a week ago….
the allegations those countries raise from time too time that Syria does not respect human rights and that President al-Assad has not kept his promises regarding democratic reforms, the President said “First, as for them, if we want to make a comparison, we don’t have Guantanamo detention camp.
We don’t have Abu Ghreib prison.
We didn’t occupy countries.
We didn’t kill or make homeless millions of people.
They have no right to talk about this matter.
As for the promises, I didn’t make promises to them, and the reform process in Syria is none of their business.
When I first spoke in my oath-taking speech in Syria, I didn’t speak of promises, I spoke of a vision.
I was speaking about how I view Syria.
As for promises, I made no promises, to be precise about terms.
Anyway, whether we call it a promise or a vision or anything, such matter is raised inside Syria.
All that I raised was a one hundred percent Syrian vision.
The reform process in Syria is not the business of any country in the world.
We don’t care about their opinions.
We don’t care about their assessment.
We aren’t interested in praise.
It’s not true that a man can’t find time for his family, unless he is messy in his job… The main challenge is how to organize time…you can’t do your job when your family relations are not good or when your health is not good.
Therefore, sport is important.
Sport and family are part of the job, and it’s unreasonable to work for all the citizens and not to work for your family too.
There is a kind of balance which is very necessary.
It is important to be successful in organizing our time, and I believe one of the reasons of backwardness in the East is not setting priorities in life.