Turkey: US decision to open embassy in Jerusalem damaging peace

1 / 2
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. (AP)
2 / 2
A United States flag flies over a complex belonging to the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, January 22, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 24 February 2018
0

Turkey: US decision to open embassy in Jerusalem damaging peace

ANKARA: Turkey on Saturday described as “extremely worrying” the US move to open its embassy in Jerusalem in May to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the founding of Israel.
Friday’s announcement by Washington to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed city follows US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December.
“This decision shows the US administration’s insistence on damaging the grounds for peace by trampling over international law, resolutions of UN Security Council on Jerusalem,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“Turkey will continue its effort to protect the legitimate rights of the Palestinian public ... against this extremely worrying decision by the US,” the ministry added.
Ankara said the decision showed the US does not hear, “and worse still, does not care about the voice of the international community’s conscience.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan led condemnation of the ruling in December and called an Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit of the leaders of Muslim nations in Istanbul shortly after Trump’s announcement last year.
The leaders urged the world to recognize East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.
East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel after it seized control of the area in the 1967 war, but the move has never been recognized by the international community.
Jerusalem is a city considered holy by Christians, Jews and Muslims and is perhaps the most sensitive issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Palestinian leadership on Friday said the US move, a year earlier than originally expected, was “a provocation to Arabs.”
The founding of Israel on May 14, 1948 is mourned by Palestinians as the Nakba, or “catastrophe” when an estimated 750,000 Palestinians either fled or were expelled from their homes in the war surrounding Israel’s creation.
Relations between Turkey and the US have already been strained over multiple issues including Ankara’s latest offensive in Syria against a US-backed Kurdish militia.
Although Erdogan has frequently criticized Israel’s policies, the two sides increased cooperation following the end of a rift in 2016 caused by Israel’s storming in 2010 of a Gaza-bound ship that left 10 Turkish activists dead.


Extremists kill 9 Syria regime fighters near Idlib: monitor

Updated 46 min 27 sec ago
0

Extremists kill 9 Syria regime fighters near Idlib: monitor

  • Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people since it erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests
  • Extremist groups attacked government forces in the northwest of Hama province near a planned buffer zone

BEIRUT: Extremists on Friday killed nine Syrian regime fighters near a planned buffer zone around the country’s last major rebel bastion, a monitor said.
A September deal between government ally Russia and opposition backer Turkey aimed to set up a de-militarised zone around the northwestern region of Idlib to protect it from a regime assault.
But its implementation has been stalled since extremists who hold around 70 percent of the planned buffer area failed to withdraw by mid-October, and sporadic clashes have rocked the area since.
Early Friday, extremist groups attacked government forces in the northwest of Hama province near the planned buffer zone, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“Nine regime fighters and five assailants were killed” in the attack, causing government forces to respond with artillery fire, Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.
The attackers included the Al-Qaeda-linked Hurras Al-Deen group, which has publicly rejected the Russian-Turkish deal, he said.
The lion’s share of Idlib is held by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, an alliance led by Al-Qaeda’s former Syrian affiliate.
Under the September 17 deal, all fighters in the zone were supposed to withdraw their heavy weapons and militants including HTS and Hurras Al-Deen were supposed to leave.
On Thursday, Russian spokeswoman Maria Zakharova criticized “sporadic clashes,” as well as “provocations” by HTS in northwestern Syria.
Late last month, Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Muallem expressed dissatisfaction with the implementation of the Idlib deal, and criticized Turkey for shortcomings.
He said heavy weapons had not been withdrawn and accused Turkey of not wanting to “respect its obligations.”
Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people since it erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.