Putin, Erdogan meet for third time in less than a month

This file photo taken on September 28, 2017 shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) arriving to address a joint press conference following their meeting at the Presidential Complex in Ankara. Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Turkey next week for talks with his counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Syria and the United States' recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the Turkish presidency said in a statement on December 8, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 11 December 2017

Putin, Erdogan meet for third time in less than a month

ANKARA: Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Ankara on Monday at the invitation of his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Hours before the visit, Putin ordered the start of the withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria, saying Moscow and Damascus had achieved their aim of defeating Daesh within two years.
The Turkish presidential spokesperson said Erdogan and Putin discussed the latest regional and global developments, including US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the situation in Syria.
The two leaders had a phone conversation the day after the US announcement on Jerusalem. Putin reportedly told Erdogan that he will follow the issue at the UN Security Council, where Russia has a permanent seat.
On Tuesday, an emergency summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will be convened in Istanbul under Turkey’s chairmanship, during which participant countries will draw up a roadmap for the Jerusalem crisis.
This is the third face-to-face meeting between Erdogan and Putin in less than a month. Last week, footage of a senior Russian commander posing with a spokesman of the Syrian-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in front of the group’s flag enraged Turkey.
Emre Ersen, a Syria analyst at Marmara University in Istanbul, said the fact that this is the seventh Putin-Erdogan meeting in a year shows the significance of the strategic dialogue between Turkey and Russia regarding the Middle East.
“Turkey is trying to lead diplomatic efforts in the region against the US decision on Jerusalem,” Ersen told Arab News.
“The timing of Putin’s visit is interesting in this regard, as it takes place only a day before the OIC meeting.”
Moscow views the Jerusalem crisis as yet another opportunity to increase its influence in the Middle East, Ersen added.
“Putin’s approach regarding Jerusalem is to launch a new diplomatic process based on recognition of the eastern part of the city as the capital of Palestine,” Ersen said.
Given the very good political and economic relations between Russia and Israel, he said he does not expect as harsh a tone from Moscow as from Ankara when it comes to criticizing the Israeli government about Jerusalem.
Russia’s Syrian National Dialogue Congress initiative is another point of contention between Moscow and Ankara, and is likely to dominate the agenda of Putin’s visit.
Turkey strongly rejects the participation of the YPG and its political wing, the Democratic Union Party (PYD).
“Ankara hopes to extend its military cooperation with Russia and Iran to the (Syria) region of Afrin, which is currently under the control of the PYD/YPG,” Ersen said.
While the major reason for Turkey’s rapprochement with Russia and Iran in Syria was its disappointment with US military support for the PYD/YPG, all the parties are now preparing for a post-Daesh Syria, he added.
The US seems to have started reconsidering its military support for the PYD/YPG, as shown by recent statements from senior American officials, he said.
“Both Washington and Moscow are aware that they need to appease Turkey regarding the PYD/YPG in order to pull Ankara to their side in Syria,” Ersen said.
Putin’s visit coincides with those of Curtis Scaparrotti, supreme allied commander Europe of NATO allied command operations, and Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of US Central Command.
“Since the next stage of the conflict in Syria will deal with terrorism in Idlib province and the Kurdish entity, where Ankara’s interests are directly at play, an increased number of high-level meetings between Russian and Turkish officials makes sense,” Timur Akhmetov, a researcher at the Russian International Affairs Council, told Arab News.
“The high degree of uncertainty and unpredictability of the conflict compels Russia to synchronize its actions with regional stakeholders.”
Following the withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria, Moscow will most probably ask Ankara to continue its efforts to separate moderate Syrian rebel factions from jihadist groups, Akhmetov said.


Homemade bomb kills Israeli teen, wounds two others in West Bank

Updated 23 August 2019

Homemade bomb kills Israeli teen, wounds two others in West Bank

  • Israeli security forces deployed throughout the area where the attack took place near the settlement of Dolev, northwest of Ramallah, to search for suspects
  • Palestinians sporadically clash with Israeli settlers and security forces in the West Bank, occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War of 1967, but bomb blasts have been rare in recent years

JERUSALEM: A rare homemade bomb attack in the occupied West Bank killed an Israeli teen and seriously wounded her father and brother Friday as they visited a spring near a Jewish settlement, officials said.
Israeli security forces deployed throughout the area where the attack took place near the settlement of Dolev, northwest of Ramallah, to search for suspects.
Israeli medics had earlier reported that a 17-year-old had been critically wounded in the attack and officials later announced her death, naming her as Rina Shnerb from the central Israeli city of Lod.
Medics from the Magen David Adom rescue service initially gave the ages of the two wounded as 46 and 20, before amending to 21 in the latter case.
The army said the three victims were a father and his two children.
The two wounded were taken by helicopter to hospital, the army said.
“Three civilians who were in a nearby spring were injured in an IED (improvised explosive device) blast,” it said in a statement.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a “harsh terrorist attack” and sent condolences to the family, while pledging to continue building settlements.
“The security arms are in pursuit after the abhorrent terrorists,” he said in a statement.
“We will apprehend them. The long arm of Israel reaches all those who seek our lives and will settle accounts with them.”
United Nations envoy Nickolay Mladenov condemned the “shocking, heinous” attack, saying there was nothing heroic in Shnerb’s “murder,” calling it a “despicable, cowardly act.”
“Terror must be unequivocally condemned by ALL,” Mladenov wrote on Twitter.
Israeli forces meanwhile entered the Palestinian village of Beitunia, south of the spring, to take footage from surveillance cameras.
An AFP reporter said Palestinians clashed there with Israeli soldiers, but no casualties were reported.
Chief of the army, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi visited the site of the attack to understand the incident and oversee the efforts to locate the perpetrators, which he was “confident” would happen quickly, the military said.
Later in the day, Shnerb was buried in her hometown Lod, with thousands participating in the funeral.
Shnerb’s father Eitan, who was wounded and couldn’t attend the funeral, relayed through an uncle his request that people focus on “our strength and love and the wonderful nation and our good land” and avoid sinking into “weakness and anger and strife.”
“We should be worthy of the great sacrifice we offered today,” Eitan Shnerb was cited by the uncle as saying.
In a speech on Friday, Ismail Haniya, the leader of the Islamist Hamas movement which rules Gaza, praised the attack but did not claim responsibility for it.
He referred to a recent clash between Israeli police and Palestinian worshippers at the highly sensitive Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem and sought to draw a link between the two incidents.
AFP reporters said thousands of Gazans participated in weekly Friday protests at the Israeli border fence, with some youths using slingshots to launch stones at the barrier and a few approaching it.
The health ministry in the enclave said over 122 Palestinians were wounded in clashes with Israeli forces, dozens of them hit by live fire.
Palestinians sporadically clash with Israeli settlers and security forces in the West Bank, occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War of 1967, but bomb blasts have been rare in recent years.
Palestinian attacks have mostly involved guns, knives and car ramming.
There have been concerns about a possible increase in violence in the run up to Israel’s September 17 general election.
A week ago, a Palestinian carried out a car-ramming attack in the West Bank, wounding two Israelis before being shot dead.
On August 8, an off-duty Israeli soldier’s body was found with multiple stab wounds. Two Palestinian suspects were later arrested.
Late Thursday, a Palestinian threw grenades at Israeli soldiers while attempting to cross the Gaza border and was shot by Israeli forces, leaving him wounded, the army and the Gaza health ministry said.
Gaza militants have also launched six missiles at Israel in the past week; the most recent were on Wednesday.
In retaliation, the Israeli army said it struck “a number of military targets in a Hamas naval facility in the northern Gaza Strip.”