Netanyahu to discuss Iran’s ‘aggression’ with Putin

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Reuters)
Updated 23 August 2017
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Netanyahu to discuss Iran’s ‘aggression’ with Putin

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will discuss with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday what he calls Iran’s “aggression” and attempts to expand its military presence in Syria.
Netanyahu along with Israeli security officials have repeatedly expressed concern over what they see as Iran moving to expand its presence in the Middle East.
Netanyahu will neet Putin at the Black Sea resort city of Sochi on Wednesday. Both Russia and Iran back Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime in the war.
“I will raise the problem of Iran trying to establish a military presence in Syria,” Netanyahu said in a statement on Tuesday.
“This proves that Iran’s aggression has not diminished since the nuclear agreement, which has become a problem not only for Israel, but for all the countries of the Middle East and the entire world.”
The head of Israeli spy agency Mossad, Yossi Cohen, and Netanyahu’s newly named head of his national security council, Meir Ben-Shabbat, will join him on the trip.
Netanyahu opposes a southwest Syria cease-fire recently agreed by Russia and the US because he believes it would enable Iran to solidify its presence in the country, an Israeli official has said.
An Israeli intelligence official said in April his country fears an “Iranian crescent” may be forming in the Middle East because of Tehran’s influence in Syria and its connections with regional Shiite groups.
Beyond concerns over Iran, Netanyahu’s talks with Putin are also likely to involve coordination in Syria.
Russia and Israel have established a “hotline” to avoid accidental clashes in the country.
Israel has sought to avoid being dragged into the six-year Syrian conflict, but has acknowledged carrying out strikes to stop advanced weapons deliveries to Hezbollah, the Lebanese group with which it fought a devastating war in 2006.
Hezbollah also backs Assad’s regime in the Syrian war.


Turkey attacks Greece's decision to grant 2 Turkish officers asylum

Updated 45 min 51 sec ago
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Turkey attacks Greece's decision to grant 2 Turkish officers asylum

  • A group of eight Turkish officers escaped to neighbouring Greece after the July 2016 attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
  • Turkey says they should be extradited because they are "terrorists", but the requests were rejected by the Greek Supreme Court.

ANKARA: Turkey on Thursday hit back at a Greek court's decision to grant political refugee status to two Turkish officers who fled to Greece after a 2016 failed coup, accusing Athens of protecting "terrorists."
A group of eight Turkish officers escaped to neighbouring Greece after the July 2016 attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkey says they should be extradited because they are "terrorists", but the requests were rejected by the Greek Supreme Court, stoking tensions between Ankara and Athens.
Greece's top administrative court, the Council of State, made the decision to grant asylum on Wednesday after rejecting an appeal lodged by the Greek government.
The Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement that Greece "protects and shelters putschists" as officials strongly condemned the decision.
Turkish European Union Affairs Minister Omer Celik said the Greek legal system has "ruled to protect the terrorists who attempted a coup to overthrow Turkish democracy".
He said the decision was the "most embarrassing ruling possible for any country".
The top administrative Greek court on Wednesday found in favour of the co-pilot of the helicopter which flew the men over the border, and the decision also applies to another one of the men.
A Greek judicial source said the Greek government has launched an appeal against the second ruling -- the result of which will apply to the next six officers.
"We hope that the Greek judiciary will refrain from repeating the same mistakes," the Turkish foreign ministry said.
Turkey claims the soldiers are members of the movement led by US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey accuses of ordering the attempted putsch.
The eight officers deny any involvement in the coup attempt.
Relations between the two NATO allies have been further strained after the pre-trial detention of two Greek soldiers since March.
The soldiers were arrested after crossing the border into Turkey but claim they got lost in the fog. A Turkish court on Tuesday ruled the soldiers should remain in jail.
The number of Turks seeking asylum in Greece increased tenfold between 2016 and 2017, reaching 1,827.