UAE criticizes ‘colonial’ role of Iran and Turkey in Syria

UAE's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan (R) and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov give a press conference in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, August 29, 2017. (AFP / Nezar Balout)
Updated 30 August 2017
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UAE criticizes ‘colonial’ role of Iran and Turkey in Syria

ABU DHABI: The United Arab Emirates urged Iran and Turkey on Monday to end what it called their “colonial” actions in Syria, signaling unease about diminishing Gulf Arab influence in the war.
UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan urged “the exit of those parties trying to reduce the sovereignty of the Syrian state, and I speak here frankly and clearly about Iran and Turkey.”
He was speaking at a news conference with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, whose country helps the regime of Bashar Assad militarily.
“If Iran and Turkey continue the same historical, colonial and competitive behavior and perspectives between them in Arab affairs, we will continue in this situation not just in Syria today but tomorrow in some other country,” Sheikh Abdullah said.
The six-year-old war in Syria has dragged in regional and international players who have sought to advance their interests there: Iran has sent troops and military support to shore up Assad’s rule as he has battled mostly Sunni Muslim opposition groups, some backed by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states.
The Syrian army and its allies have regained lost territory with the help of Russian air strikes since 2015. At the same time, Daesh (Islamic State) is being pushed back from strongholds in eastern Syria by the Syrian army and a rival offensive by Kurdish and Arab rebels backed by the United States.
Fearing expanded Kurdish influence along its border with Syria, US ally Turkey has grown increasingly uneasy about the rebels’ armed thrust.
Turkey and Iran have discussed possible joint military action against Kurdish militant groups, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday.
Lavrov and Sheikh Abdullah said they agreed on a need for a negotiated end to the war. Russia is helping shepherd talks in the Kazakh capital Astana which has already produced “de-escalation” zones to reduce combat in three parts of Syria.
Lavrov said Russia hoped that efforts to unify the positions of Syria’s disparate opposition would aid the peace process.
“There were some deep disagreements in the past which led to the failure of some meetings, but we will continue encouraging the participation of all the platforms,” he said through a translator.


Algeria army chief calls for Bouteflika to be declared unfit to rule

Updated 15 min 56 sec ago
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Algeria army chief calls for Bouteflika to be declared unfit to rule

  • Move would potentially clear the way for elections to be organized in coming months
  • General Ahmed Gaid Salah's call welcomed by demonstrators in central Algiers

ALGIERS: Algeria's army chief called Tuesday for President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to be declared unfit to govern, after weeks of mass protests demanding the ailing leader step down.
The move would potentially clear the way for elections to be organised in the coming months unless the president recovers.
"It is necessary, even imperative, to adopt a solution to get out of the crisis which responds to the legitimate demands of the Algerian people, and which guarantees the respect of the provisions of the constitution and safeguards the sovereignty of the state," General Ahmed Gaid Salah said in a televised speech.
The armed forces chief of staff, considered loyal to Bouteflika, added that the solution "is in article 102" of the constitution, under which parliament could declare the president unable to perform his duties due to serious illness.
The 82-year-old leader uses a wheelchair and has rarely appeared in public since suffering a stroke in 2013.
Bouteflika said last month he would run for a fifth term in office, despite concerns about his ability to rule, triggering a wave of protests that brought hundreds of thousands into the streets.
He later promised not to stand for another term but also postponed the elections, angering protesters who saw the move as a ploy to stay in power.
The army chief's call was welcomed with car horns honking in Algiers.