Daily Archives: November 29, 2011

Israeli Minister of MK: Prepare for War If Egypt Deploys in Sinai

Israeli Minister of MK: Prepare for War If Egypt Deploys in Sinai « The Ugly Truth

MK Aryeh Eldad (NU): world public opinion should be primed to see Egyptian army entry into Sinai as casus belli.

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) warned Sunday that Israel must prepare for the possibility that Egypt will deploy its military in the Sinai peninsula – and respond to that act as a declaration of war.

Eldad, who is a member of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, said Israel “must prepare for the annulment” of the treaty, or its abrogation without a formal annulment.

Israel could face a situation in which “the Sinai will no longer be just a place for storing arms and training, and military forces beyond what was agreed upon in the peace treaty will enter it,” he said. “World public opinion should be prepared for the fact that this would be a casus belli,” he said.

Eldad added that he does not believe Israel’s government will take these steps, but also said that “we cannot afford not to do this” because “otherwise we will find Egyptian divisions hurtling in our direction through Sinai.”

US forces deployed in the Sinai provide no protection, he said, because they might be evacuated “by means of a single phone call” as occurred in the case of a UN force stationed in Sinai before the Six Day War.

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Turkey raises Syria military option

Turkey raises Syria military option « The Ugly Truth

Turkish FM says Ankara reluctatant to use force, but preparing itself for ‘any scenario’

Haaretz

Turkey on Tuesday raised the option of military intervention in neighboring Syria while Russia rejected even an arms embargo as Damascus tries to stifle anti-government protests.

Highlighting divisions among foreign powers on how to deal with the bloodshed in Syria, Turkey’s foreign minister said Ankara was reluctant to take a military option but was ready for “any scenario”.

Western powers have long ruled out any Libyan-style military intervention in Syria to halt the crackdown, in which more than 3,500 people are believed have been killed in eight months.

But Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu suggested military force remained an option, albeit apparently a remote one, if Assad did not heed calls to halt the violence.

“If the oppression continues, Turkey is ready for any scenario. We hope that a military intervention will never be necessary. The Syrian regime has to find a way of making peace with its own people,” he told Kanal 24 TV.

Davutoglu also raised the possibility of a buffer zone if the violence provoked a flood of refugees, an idea used by Ankara inside northern Iraq during the first Gulf War in 1991. While NATO bombing of Libya was crucial in helping rebels to oust Muammar Gadhafi, Western countries are more cautious about Syria, which lies at the heart of Middle East conflicts, borders Israel and Lebanon and maintains close ties with Iran.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rejected calls at the United Nations for an arms embargo against Syria, saying that a similar move against Libya had proved one-sided, helping rebels to topple Gadhafi in August.

“We know how that worked in Libya when the arms embargo only applied to the Libyan army. The opposition received weapons, and countries like France and Qatar publicly spoke about it without shame,” he told a news conference.

Moscow, which has also been critical of further sanctions slapped on Syria by Western and Arab League states, has close political and strategic relations with Assad’s government and has been one if its main arms suppliers.

Alluding to Western powers and the Arab League, Lavrov said it was time to “stop using ultimatums” to pressure Damascus and repeated Russia’s calls for dialogue between the government and its foes, whom Moscow says share blame for the bloodshed.

“For the most part, armed groups are provoking the authorities. To expect the authorities to close their eyes to this is not right,” Lavrov said.

A UN commission of inquiry said on Monday that Syrian military and security forces had committed crimes against humanity including murder, torture and rape, and called for an arms embargo on Syria.

Russia teamed up with China last month to veto a Western-backed U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Assad’s government. Both countries have oil concessions in Syria while Russia also has a little-used naval base there and provides military advisers to the Syrian army.

“The longer what is happening in Syria goes on, the more it troubles us,” added Lavrov. Moscow has urged Assad to implement reforms but rejects calls for his resignation and accused Western nations of trying to set the stage for armed intervention.

Syria accounted for 7 percent of Russia’s total of $10 billion in arms deliveries abroad in 2010, according to the Russian defense think-tank CAST.

Davutoglu said the possible scenarios included setting up a buffer zone to contain any mass influx of Syrian refugees.

“If tens, hundreds of thousands of people start advancing towards the Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey borders, not only Turkey but the international community may be required to take some steps such as buffer zone. We don’t want that to happen but we must consider and work on that scenario,” he said.

The Turkish army set up a security buffer zone inside northern Iraq during in 1991 and has maintained small detachments there ever since.

A former friend of Syria, Turkey has fallen out with Assad and has said it will implement some sanctions agreed by the Arab League over the weekend. Davutoglu said he was making the same mistakes as Gaddafi and Iraq’s Saddam Hussein by unleashing oppression that only fueled more opposition.

However, he said Damascus still had a chance to accept international observers proposed by the Arab League.

Another Turkish minister said Ankara would conduct trade with the Middle East via Iraq if the violence worsened in Syria.

Turkey’s state-run Anatolian news agency quoted Transport Minister Binali Yildirim on Tuesday as saying that Ankara would open new border gates with Iraq if necessary.

Yildirim said the sanctions would not harm the Syrian people. “We plan to conduct transit shipments through new border gates in Iraq if the conditions in Syria worsen,” Yildirim said.

Turkey will selectively impose those sanctions announced by the Arab League to avoid harming the Syrian people, the Turkish newspaper Sabah reported on Tuesday.

The Arab League imposed the sanctions on Sunday and the European Union weighed in one day later.

Sabah said Syrian government accounts at the Turkish central bank will be suspended, official sales to the Syrian state will be halted and a travel ban will be imposed on Assad and his family.

However, civil aviation flights will not be halted and Turkish Airlines services to Damascus will continue. It did not identify sources for the story.

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Iran protesters storm UK embassy in Tehran

Iran protesters storm UK embassy in Tehran « The Ugly Truth

Protesters in the Iranian capital, Tehran, have broken into the UK embassy compound during a demonstration against sanctions imposed by Britain.

Militant students are said to have removed the British flag, burnt it and replaced it with Iran’s flag. State TV showed youths smashing embassy windows.

The move comes after Iran resolved to reduce ties following the UK’s decision to impose further sanctions on it.

The UK’s Foreign Office said it was “outraged” by the actions.

It called on Iran to honour international commitments to protect diplomatic missions and their staff. A statement also urged Britons in Iran to “stay indoors and keep a low profile”.

The students clashed with riot police and chanted “the embassy of Britain should be taken over” and “death to England”, AP reports.

Students were reported to be ransacking offices inside the building, and one protester was said to be waving a framed picture of Queen Elizabeth II.

Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency said embassy documents had been set alight. Embassy staff fled by the back door, the agency added.

Pictures showed a car inside the compound on fire while outside the embassy’s walls, several hundred other demonstrators were gathered.

Some two hours later, police seemed to be back in control of the building. Live TV footage showed riot police gradually clearing the protesters away from outside the embassy.

“The rally is ended, leave,” police called from loudspeakers.

An unconfirmed report from the official Irna news agency said a separate group of protesters had broken into another British embassy compound in the north of the city and seized “classified documents”.

The UK Foreign Office condemned the attack. “We are outraged by this. It is utterly unacceptable,” it said in a statement.

“The Iranian government have a clear duty to protect diplomats and embassies in their country and we expect them to act urgently to bring the situation under control and ensure the safety of our staff and security of our property”.

It later updated its travel advice to Iran, urging Britons there to “stay indoors, keep a low profile and await further advice”.

It was not clear how many embassy staff were in the building at the time. A Foreign Office source said it was checking on the well-being of workers and diplomats, AP reported.

France condemned the attack “very strongly”, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said.

“France expresses its full solidarity with the UK,” he said.

Last week the US, UK and Canada announced new measures targeting Iran over its controversial nuclear plans.

For its part, the UK Treasury imposed sanctions on Iranian banks, accusing them of facilitating the country’s nuclear programme

That decision followed a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that suggested Iran was working towards acquiring a nuclear weapon.

It said Iran had carried out tests “relevant to the development of a nuclear device”.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only.

On Sunday, Iran’s parliament voted by a large majority to downgrade diplomatic relations with the UK in response to the British action.

Iranian radio reported that some MPs had chanted “Death to Britain” during the vote, which was approved by 87% of MPs.

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