Jordan’s MPs call for action to defend Al-Aqsa

Muslim worshippers attend the weekly Friday prayers at the Aqsa mosque compound near the Dome of the Rock, in the Old City of Jerusalem, on August 16, 2019. (AFP / AHMAD GHARABLI)
Updated 19 August 2019

Jordan’s MPs call for action to defend Al-Aqsa

  • Jordan has stepped up its diplomatic pressure on Israel, demanding that they do not change the status quo at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque

AMMAN: Jordan’s parliament wants to scrap the country’s peace treaty with Israel, expel the Israeli ambassador, recall Jordan’s envoy to Tel Aviv and halt all normalization with Israel.

Members held an emergency session on Monday to urge the government to take a tough line with Israel, amid tension over Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.

The Jordanian foreign ministry summoned Israeli ambassador Amir Weissbrod on Sunday to voice its “condemnation and rejection of Israeli violations” at Al-Aqsa, where Israeli security forces attacked tens of thousands of Palestinian worshippers last week.

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told MPs the Israelis had been given a “stern” warning. The accepted status of Al-Aqsa is that anyone may visit but only Muslims may pray there. However, there are growing demands for change by extreme right-wing Jewish nationalists.

Palestinians in Jerusalem welcomed Jordan’s stance, said Khaleel Assali, a member of the Islamic Waqf Council which administers Al-Aqsa. “They see Jordan as the last line of defense for Al-Aqsa,” he told Arab News.

Wasfi Kailani, executive director of the Hashemite Fund for the restoration of Al-Aqsa, said some Israeli government officials had become the problem. “In the past, we were told that there were only a few radicals pushing for the right to prayer at Al-Aqsa,” he said.

“Now we see 100 rabbis signing a petition calling for that, and senior government officials are insisting on the need to change the status quo.”


Will European arms ban impact Turkey’s Syria operation?

Updated 14 October 2019

Will European arms ban impact Turkey’s Syria operation?

  • Several European countries imposing weapons embargoes on Turkey

ANKARA: With an increasing number of European countries imposing weapons embargoes on Turkey over its ongoing operation in northeastern Syria, Ankara’s existing inventory of weapons and military capabilities are under the spotlight.

More punitive measures on a wider scale are expected during a summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Oct. 17.

It could further strain already deteriorating relations between Ankara and the bloc.

However, a EU-wide arms embargo would require an unanimous decision by all the leaders.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned last week of a possible refugee flow if Turkey “opened the doors” for 3.6 million Syrian refugees to go to Europe — putting into question the clauses of the 2016 migration deal between Ankara and Brussels.

“The impact of EU member states’ arms sanctions on Turkey depends on the level of Turkey’s stockpiles,” Caglar Kurc, a researcher on defense and armed forces, told Arab News.

Kurc thinks Turkey has foreseen the possible arms sanctions and stockpiled enough spare parts to maintain the military during the operation.

“As long as Turkey can maintain its military, sanctions would not have any effect on the operation. Therefore, Turkey will not change its decisions,” he said.

So far, Germany, France, Finland, the Netherlands and Norway have announced they have stopped weapons shipments to fellow NATO member Turkey, condemning the offensive.

“Against the backdrop of the Turkish military offensive in northeastern Syria, the federal government will not issue new permits for all armaments that could be used by Turkey in Syria,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

Following Germany’s move, the French government announced: “France has decided to suspend all export projects of armaments to Turkey that could be deployed as part of the offensive in Syria. This decision takes effect immediately.”

While not referring to any arms embargo, the UK urged Turkey to end the operation and enter into dialogue.

Turkey received one-third of Germany’s arms exports of €771 million ($850.8 million) in 2018. 

According to Kurc, if sanctions extend beyond weapons that could be used in Syria, there could be a negative impact on the overall defense industry.

“However, in such a case, Turkey would shift to alternative suppliers: Russia and China would be more likely candidates,” he said.

According to Sinan Ulgen, the chairman of the Istanbul-based EDAM think tank and a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, the arms embargo would not have a long-term impact essentially because most of the sanctions are caveated and limited to materials that can be used by Turkey in its cross-border operation.

“So the arms embargo does not cover all aspects of the arms trade between Turkey and the EU. These measures look essentially like they are intended to demonstrate to their own critical publics that their governments are doing something about what they see as a negative aspect of Turkey’s behavior,” he told Arab News.

Turkey, however, insists that the Syria operation, dubbed “Operation Peace Spring,” is undeterred by any bans or embargoes.

“No matter what anyone does, no matter if it’s an arms embargo or anything else, it just strengthens us,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told German radio station Deutsche Welle.