Thursday, August 25, 2016

ما وراء الخبر- هل يمكن لتركيا إقامة المنطقة الآمنة؟

ANALYSIS: Iran coordinating between Turkey and Assad during incursion

Sources tell MEE closer ties between Ankara and Tehran helped pave the way for the Turkish incursion into Syria

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TEHRAN - As Turkey increases its tank force inside northern Syria, the Iranian government is preserving a conspicuous but significant silence. News of the incursion is being widely covered in Iranian media but there has been no reaction from officials.
Iran’s relations with Turkey have been warming up dramatically in recent weeks and analysts suggest there is some embarrassment in Tehran over how to handle the incursion publicly. 
The Iranian media have reported the Syrian government’s condemnation of the incursion as aggression but have not yet quoted any statements from their own government.
Iranian relations with Turkey are at a delicate stage. Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Hossein Jaberi Ansari, was in Ankara on Tuesday a few hours before Turkey sent the first tanks into Syria and it is not known whether he was warned in advance. 
His visit followed a surprise stop-over in Tehran by Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, last week on his way to India. This, in turn, followed a meeting by Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on 12 August.
The unprecedented flurry of visits since the abortive Turkish coup is not just confined to bilateral issues. Ansari’s visit was officially billed as centering on the future of Syria and Middle East Eye has learned that Iran has become the main conduit for contacts between Erdogan and Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad. A source close to the Iranian leadership told MEE: “The Turks and Syrians are co-ordinating through the Iranians”.
Turkey has insisted on Assad’s resignation for more than four years of the country’s civil war but it started to change its stance on Syria before the abortive coup on 15 July. Since the coup, these moves have accelerated with several statements from the Turkish Prime Minister, Binali Yildirim, saying that Assad could remain during a transition period. 
The future of Syria’s Kurds is clearly part of the emerging new equation. The attacks by the Syrian army and air force on the Syrian Kurdish people’s defence militias (YPG) in the town of Hasakah in recent days look like a signal from Assad to Erdogan that he understands Erdogan’s concerns about the growing strength of the Syrian Kurds along a long section of Turkey’s southern border. Until recently, the Syrian army ignored the YPG and even saw them as potential allies in the war against the Islamic State (IS) group.
Assad’s ultimate aim is to persuade Erdogan to stop allowing arms supplies to cross from Turkey to non-IS opposition groups fighting him in Idlib and Aleppo.   
Turkey won’t immediately halt its arm supplies to the rebels but gradually there’ll be a quid pro quo for Assad’s strikes on the YPG in Hasakah,” the leadership source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told MEE. 
He also revealed details of Iran’s quick reaction to the Turkish coup while it was still evolving. It has been widely reported that Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif tweeted solidarity with Erdogan and condemnation of the coup before it collapsed, a move which impressed the Turkish leader and differed markedly from the US and European reaction, which Turkey has said has been muted and only came after the outcome of the coup attempt was clear. 
According to the source, Zarif’s midnight tweets were prompted by the office of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. 
“Zarif and Rouhani were cautious and initially hesitated how to react to news of the coup attempt. They had to be pressed by the supreme leader’s office more than once before the tweet went out,” he said.
Iran’s quick condemnation of the coup attempt was based on one of Iran’s basic foreign policy principles, according to Foad Izadi, a professor in Tehran University’s Faculty of World Studies. 
“Military coups are unacceptable,” he told MEE. “A second principle is that you don’t send forces across international borders without the agreement of a country’s government.”
However, Iran has stayed silent on Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria, with only its allies in Damascus issuing a statement denouncing the incursion into their sovereign territory.

Syrian regime and Islamic State 'carried out chemical attacks'

The cases investigated found that chlorine gas was used in barrel bombs dropped

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A United Nations probe into chemical attacks in Syria accuses the Assad government of using chlorine gas in two incidents and Islamic State militants of using mustard gas.
UN investigation has established that President Bashar al-Assad's forces carried out at least two chemical attacks in Syria and that Islamic State [IS] militants used mustard gas as a weapon.
The panel was able to identify the perpetrators of three chemical attacks carried out in 2014 and 2015, but was unable to draw conclusions in the other six cases that it has been investigating over the past year.
The report from the Joint Investigative Mechanism [JIM] found that the Syrian regime dropped chemical weapons on two villages in northwestern Idlib province – Talmenes on 21 April 2014 and Sarmin on 16 March 2015.
In both instances, Syrian air force helicopters dropped "a device" on houses that was followed by the "release of a toxic substance," which in the case of Sarmin matched "the characteristics of chlorine."
The panel found that the Islamic State "was the only entity with the ability, capability, motive and the means to use sulphur mustard" in an attack on the town of Marea in northern Aleppo province on 21 August 2015.
The Assad regime has repeatedly denied that it has used chemical weapons in Syria, but the report said that in all three cases, it had "sufficient information to reach a conclusion on the actors involved."
The JIM was set up by the Security Council a year ago to investigate the use of chemical weapons and for the first time to determine who is responsible for the attacks.
Most of the nine cases investigated pointed to the alleged use of chlorine gas in barrel bombs dropped from helicopters.
Britain, France and the United States had long maintained that only the regime has helicopters, but Russia, Damascus's ally, insisted that there was no concrete proof that Assad's forces carried out the attacks.
It is essential that the members of the Security Council come together to ensure consequences for those who have used chemical weapons in Syria
- US Ambassador Samantha Power
US calls for 'strong action'
US Ambassador Samantha Power called for "strong and swift action" by the Security Council to follow up on the findings of the report.
"It is essential that the members of the Security Council come together to ensure consequences for those who have used chemical weapons in Syria," she said in a statement.
In Washington, National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said "it is now impossible to deny that the Syrian regime has repeatedly used industrial chlorine as a weapon against its own people."

"The United States will work with our international partners to seek accountability through appropriate diplomatic mechanisms, including through the United Nations Security Council," he added.
The report "states clearly that the Syrian regime and Daesh have perpetrated chemical attacks in Syria," French Deputy Ambassador Alexis Lamek told reporters, using the Arabic acronym for the group.
"When it comes to proliferation, the use of chemical weapons, of such weapons of mass destruction, we cannot afford to be weak. The council will have to act."
The Security Council is due to discuss the report on Tuesday and could decide to impose sanctions on Syria or ask the International Criminal Court to take up the matter as a war crime.
But many diplomats say Russia would be unlikely to back such a move, despite the JIM's strong findings of chemical weapons use in the three cases.
The panel recommended further investigation of three other cases of suspected chemical weapons on the village of Zafr Zita, in Hama province, on April 28, 2014, and on two towns in Idlib – Qmenas on 16 March 2015 and Binnish on 24 March 2015.
The 24-member team said there was insufficient information to reach a conclusion in three other cases and recommended that there be no further investigation of those suspected attacks.
Syria agreed to get rid of its chemical stockpile and to refrain from making any use of toxic substances in warfare when it joined the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013, under pressure from Russia.
The findings prompted immediate calls for the perpetrators to face justice.
"The UN Security Council should now ensure that those responsible for these attacks are brought to justice in a court of law," said Louis Charbonneau, Human Rights Watch's UN director.

Emad Hajjaj's Cartoon: Report Shows that Assad and ISIS Have Used Chemical Weapons

تحقيق دولي يتهم الاسد وداعش باستخدام الكيماوي

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

ما وراء الخبر- لماذا حركت تركيا قواتها نحو جرابلس؟

لماذا حركت تركيا قواتها نحو جرابلس؟

Turkey sends tanks into Syria in operation aimed at Isis and Kurds

Major campaign – coordinated with Syria rebels – aims to seize Isis-held town of Jarablus and contain expansion of Kurdish militias in area

The Guardian

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Turkey has launched a major military intervention in Syria, sending tanks and warplanes across the border in a coordinated campaign with Syrian opposition fighters, who seized an Islamic State-held village in the area in the first hours of fighting.
The operation, called Euphrates Shield, has a dual purpose: to dislodge Isis from Jarablus, its last major redoubt on the 500-mile border, and to contain the expansion of Kurdish militias in northern Syria.
Turkish tanks crossed the Syrian border as artillery and fighter jets pounded the militants in an operation backed by the US-led coalition. The incursion also opened corridors for Syrian opposition fighters backed by Turkey, who mounted an assault in the area.
Syrian rebels clashing with Isis fighters seized Kaklijah, Turkish military sources said. There were no immediate details about casualty figures.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said violent clashes were taking place between Turkish-backed opposition fighters and Isis in the area surrounding Jarablus.
“We are determined to clear Daesh [Isis] from the border,” said the foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, at a press conference on Wednesday.
The operation marks the first time Ankara’s ground forces have ventured into Syria, with the exception of a brief operation early last year to rescue the tomb of an ancestor of the founder of the Ottoman empire.
Turkey said it had hit 81 targets in northern Syria with F-16 warplanes and had also shelled Isis positions.
“At 4am this morning, operations started in the north of Syria against terror groups which constantly threaten our country,” Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said in a speech in Ankara, adding that the operation would target both Isis and Kurdish militants.
The government in Ankara said the operation was an act of self-defence, in response to Isis shelling of Turkish border towns and suicide bombings and attacks targeting Turkish nationals. The bombing of a wedding in Gaziantep over the weekend killed more than 50 people, many of them children, and Isis-linked militants have carried out attacks in Ankara and Istanbul, including one at Atatürk airport.
It also billed it as an operation that would stem the flow of foreign fighters, who make up a significant contingent of Isis, to Syria, and the flight of refugees from the war-torn country.
Turkish tanks and members of the Free Syrian Army pass the Syrian border.
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 Turkish tanks and members of the Free Syrian Army pass the Syrian border. Photograph: Sedat Suna/EPA
“The operation comes in response to terrorist attacks on Turkish soil and artillery fire by Daesh militants in Syria on targets inside Turkey,” the state-run Anadolu news agency said. “The operation is in line with the country’s rights to self-defence borne out of international treaties and a mandate given to the armed forces by the Turkish parliament.”
The interior minister, Efkan Ala, said the response was Turkey’s “most legitimate right” and that his country could not be a “mere spectator” amid the intensifying threat by Isis.
The airstrikes were the first by Turkey, a Nato member, in Syria since November, when its fighter jets shot down a Russian warplane that had strayed into Turkish airspace, leading to a collapse of relations with Moscow that lasted until a rapprochement in July. Last week, the Turkish prime minister, Binali Yıldırım, said his country would take a more “active” role in the war in Syria, which has driven more than 2 million refugees into Turkey.
The US vice-president, Joe Biden, was due to arrive in Ankara on Wednesday morning, hours after the launch of the operation. Relations between the two allies have been strained since an attempted coup last month that aimed to overthrow Erdoğan, who accuses a US-based cleric, Fethullah Gülen, of masterminding the plot and is seek ing his extradition.
Relations have also deteriorated over American backing of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which has expanded its sphere of influence in northern Syria as it conquered vast tracks of land from Isis with the backing of American air power. Ankara considers the YPG as the Syrian arm of the Kurdistan Workers party (PKK), which is fighting an insurgency against the government and is a designated terrorist group, and considers Kurdish expansionism on its border a threat to national security.
Turkish tanks patrol near the Turkish-Syria border.
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 Turkish tanks patrol near the Turkish-Syria border. Photograph: Sedat Suna/EPA
If rebel forces backed by Turkey take control of Jarablus, they would limit the westward expansion of the Kurdish autonomous zone, which Ankara also says poses a threat to Syria’s territorial integrity.
Turkey’s latest campaign is a development that underscores both the complexity and the stakes involved in Syria’s war, which has drawn in the region’s powers, laid much of the country to waste and forced a reshifting of longstanding alliances. While defeating Isis has long been the paramount American obsession in Syria, Turkey sees the departure of its president, Bashar al-Assad, as a necessary condition for peace talks, and rejects the idea of a Kurdish statelet on its borders.