It amounts to ‘throwing region into a circle of fire,’ says Erdogan

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Updated 08 December 2017
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It amounts to ‘throwing region into a circle of fire,’ says Erdogan

ANKARA: US President Donald Trump’s decision on Wednesday to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has sparked strong Turkish condemnation. 
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday said the decision ignored UN resolutions and amounted to “throwing the region into a circle of fire.”
He added: “Hey Mr. Trump, what are you trying to do? If Trump is saying, ‘I am powerful and right,’ he is wrong.”
Erdogan is expected to speak with leaders of Western countries, including Britain, Germany, Spain and France, as well as Russia about Trump’s decision. 
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “We condemn the irresponsible statement of the US administration that we learned with great concern, declaring that it recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and it will be moving the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.”
The ministry added: “This decision is against international law and relevant UN Resolutions, as the annexation of Jerusalem by Israel has been rejected by (the) international community and the UN.”
Under Turkey’s chairmanship, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will convene an extraordinary meeting in Istanbul on Dec. 13 to present a coordinated response.  
While Turkey’s EU Minister Omer Celik called the decision a “provocation,” presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said it is “null and void” for Ankara, adding that it is ridiculous to define it “as a contribution to peace.”
Kalin said: “This is an attempt to legalize the current situation that would eliminate all peace initiatives, and it aims at opening deep wounds in the Middle East.”
Thousands across Turkey took to the streets on Wednesday night, and demonstrated in front of the US consular and embassy buildings. 
Galip Dalay, research director at Al-Sharq Forum in Istanbul, said Trump’s decision has further strained US-Turkish and Turkish-Israeli relations. 
“In particular, Turkish-Israeli relations are likely to deteriorate if violence breaks out in Palestine, and if Israel responds in a heavy-handed manner,” Dalay told Arab News.
“If the Turkish government had any intention of further improving relations with Israel prior to this decision, now it will face public sensitivity and pressure.”
Dalay said Turkey should manage this process via a multilateral framework, adding: “Given the wide international rejection of this issue, Turkey should build on this and not reduce it to a Muslim matter.”
Murat Yesiltas, a Middle East expert at the Ankara-based think tank SETA, said Trump’s decision may have various consequences. 
“It could throw the Middle East policy of the US into a profound crisis,” Yesiltas told Arab News.
“This decision will first and foremost derail the personal relationship between Erdogan and Trump, and create an opportunity for spoilers.”
Yesiltas said he anticipates a major change in Erdogan’s perception of Trump, adding that time will tell whether the latter’s decision will galvanize regional cooperation against it.
The day before Trump announced his decision, Ankara warned that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital could prompt Turkey to cut diplomatic ties with Israel.
 


UN envoy to Yemen says agreement on de-escalation in Taiz and Hodeidah ‘not there yet’

Updated 9 min 21 sec ago
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UN envoy to Yemen says agreement on de-escalation in Taiz and Hodeidah ‘not there yet’

LONDON: United Nations Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, said on Monday that agreement on the de-escalation in Taiz and Hodeidah are ‘not there yet’.
Speaking at a press conference in Stockholm, following the first round of the UN sponsored peace talks between the legitimate Yemeni government and the Iranian-backed Houthi militia, Griffiths told reporters that they will continue to discuss Hodeidah and Taiz, which he described as “two major population zones in Yemen caught in war.”

“I’m hopeful that we can reach agreements on the de-escalation to reduce the fighting in both places. I’m hoping that we can. We’re not there yet.”

“If we are able to achieve progress on those two places and lift the threat of war to the people in those two places, I think we’ll have done a great service to Yemen,” Griffiths said.
Initial drafts of the proposals on the rebel-held port city of Hodeidah and Taiz call for a mutual cease-fire between the two parties.
The Hodeidah draft stipulated that the Arab coalition supporting the legitimate Yemeni government would cease an offensive on the rebel-held city in exchange for a Houthi withdrawal.
The area would then be put under the control of a joint committee and supervised by the United Nations. The document does not propose the deployment of UN peacekeeping troops.
Griffiths said the UN had simplified the Hodeidah draft, which is still under study by the Yemeni delegations.
“We are always redrafting, so some of those documents that you’ve seen” have changed, Griffiths told reporters.
“We’re working on simpler draft,” he added. “The details of that are in deep discussion.”

The two sides are also looking at a draft UN proposal on the southwestern city of Taiz, under the control of pro-government forces but besieged by the rebels.

The initial draft stipulated an unconditional cease-fire, a joint working group that includes the UN to monitor the cease-fire, and the reopening of all roads and Taiz airport for humanitarian operations.
The Yemeni government, which is backed by the Arab coalition, has been battling the Iran-backed Houthi militia for control of Yemen for nearly four years, pushing the impoverished country to the brink of famine.
He also said they are still working to find a common ground for the reopening of Sanaa airport.
During the talks, the two sides discussed a broad prisoner swap, which Griffiths said had proved the least contentious issue, adding that he hoped it “will be very very considerable in terms of the numbers that we hope to get released within a few weeks.” He said the numbers of prisoners to be released by the warring parties will be announced soon.
The UN envoy said he expects to present a detailed plan for the next round of talks and hopes for an agreement from warring factions to hold the next round of talks early next year.

 

(With AFP)