Turkey tells US not to leave power vacuum in Syria withdrawal

US President Donald Trump had ordered the withdrawal of all 2,000 American troops in Syria in December after saying they had defeated the Daesh militants. (AFP)
Updated 23 February 2019
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Turkey tells US not to leave power vacuum in Syria withdrawal

  • ‘We reminded our partners that there should be no vacuum of power in any way during the withdrawal’
  • Trump had ordered the withdrawal of all 2,000 US troops Syria in December after saying they had defeated Daesh militants in Syria

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s defense minister told Pentagon officials there must not be a vacuum of power during the withdrawal of US forces from Syria, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported on Saturday.
A senior US administration official said on Friday Washington would leave about 400 US troops split between two Syrian regions, a reversal by President Donald Trump that could pave the way for US allies to keep troops in Syria.
“We reminded our partners that there should be no vacuum of power in any way during the withdrawal,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told Anadolu, describing his talks in the United States with acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.
Trump had ordered the withdrawal of all 2,000 US troops in December after saying they had defeated Daesh militants in Syria. The abrupt decision sparked an outcry from allies and US lawmakers.
But he was persuaded on Thursday that about 200 US troops would join what is expected to be a total commitment of some 800 to 1,500 troops from European allies to set up and observe a “safe zone” in northeastern Syria, the US administration official said.
Akar also said he repeated call for Kurdish YPG militia fighters, which Ankara regards as terrorists, to be removed from the “safe zone,” which Turkey wants to control.


Arab anger over ‘theft of occupied Golan Heights’

Updated 26 March 2019
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Arab anger over ‘theft of occupied Golan Heights’

  • Israel seized part of the Golan during the 1967 Six-Day War, subsequently annexing it in 1981
  • US President Trump officially recognized Israel's sovereignty of the Golan Heights on March 25, 2019

JEDDAH: Arab states on Monday condemned US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

The decision “does not change the area’s status” as illegally occupied territory, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said.

Breaking decades of international consensus, Trump signed a proclamation at the White House on Monday recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the border area that Israel seized from Syria in 1967. 

Syria said the decision was a blatant attack on its sovereignty. 

“Trump does not have the right or the legal authority to legitimize the occupation,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Opposition chief Nasr Al-Hariri said Trump’s decision would “lead to more violence and instability, and it will have negative effects on efforts to engineer peace in the region.”

Lebanon said the move “violates all the rules of international law” and “undermines any effort to reach a just peace.”

“The Golan Heights are Syrian Arab land, no decision can change this, and no country can revisit history by transferring ownership of land from one country to another,” the Foreign Ministry said.