US in talks with NATO allies to give Turkey military aid

US Special Representative for Syria Engagement, James Franklin Jeffrey attends a panel discussion during the 55th Munich Security Conference in Munich, southern Germany, on February 17, 2019. (AFP)
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Updated 11 March 2020

US in talks with NATO allies to give Turkey military aid

  • Jeffrey ruled out the use of ground troops should the cease-fire be broken and repeated that Ankara needed to clarify its stance on purchase of the Russian S-400 Air Defense System
  • Topuz is accused of links to officials who led a 2013 corruption investigation and were later found to be members of a network blamed for a failed 2016 military coup

PARIS: The US is discussing with its NATO allies what they can offer Turkey in terms of military assistance in Idlib and discussing measures that may be taken if Russia and the Syrian regime break a cease-fire, officials said on Tuesday.
“We are looking at what NATO can do,” James Jeffrey, the US’ special envoy for Syria, said in a conference call from Brussels where he was holding talks with allies. “Everything is on table.”
Jeffrey, who was speaking alongside the US ambassador to Turkey, David Satterfield, ruled out the use of ground troops should the cease-fire be broken and repeated that Ankara needed to clarify its stance on purchase of the Russian S-400 Air Defense System.
In a separate development, a Turkish prosecutor said a US Consulate employee should be acquitted on charges of espionage and trying to overthrow the government, but should face jail on a lesser charge of belonging to a terrorist organization.

HIGHLIGHT

James Jeffrey, the US’ special envoy for Syria, ruled out the use of ground troops should the cease-fire be broken and repeated that Ankara needed to clarify its stance on purchase of the S400 Air Defense System.

The prosecutor told an Istanbul court that the evidence did not back up the original charges against Metin Topuz, who has been in jail for nearly 2-1/2 years while facing trial.
Topuz’s trial has been one of many sources of strain between NATO allies Turkey and the US, who have also been at odds in recent years over policy differences in Syria and Turkey’s purchase of Russian missile defense systems.
Topuz is accused of links to officials who led a 2013 corruption investigation and were later found to be members of a network blamed for a failed 2016 military coup.
The investigation implicated officials in the government of then-prime minister, now President Tayyip Erdogan.
The prosecutor said the frequent contact Topuz had with members of Fethullah Gulen’s network taking part in the investigation showed he was a member of the group, which is considered a terrorist organization by Ankara.


UN food chief: Beirut could run out of bread in 2 1/2 weeks

Updated 13 min 27 sec ago

UN food chief: Beirut could run out of bread in 2 1/2 weeks

  • Beasley said a ship with 17,500 metric tons of wheat flour should arrive in Beirut “within two weeks"

UNITED NATIONS: The head of the UN food agency said Monday he’s “very, very concerned” Lebanon could run out of bread in about 2 ½ weeks because 85% of the country’s grain comes through Beirut’s devastated port — but he believes an area of the port can be made operational this month.
David Beasley, who is in Beirut assessing damage and recovery prospects, told a virtual UN briefing on the humanitarian situation following last week’s explosion in the Lebanese capital that “at the devastated site, we found a footprint that we can operate on a temporary basis.”
“Working with the Lebanese army, we believe that we can clear part of that site,” Beasley said. “We’ll be airlifting in a lot of equipment, doing everything we can.”
Beasley said he had met with Cabinet ministers — who all resigned later Monday — and told them the UN needs “absolute cooperation now, no obstacles” because people on the streets are angry and said they need international help but “please make certain that the aid comes directly to the people.”
For the first time since last week’s blast, two ships docked at Beirut’s port on Monday including one carrying grain, according to state media.
The head of the workers union at the port, Bechara Asmar told Al-Jadeed TV that since the grain silos were destroyed by the explosion, the material will be pumped directly to trucks or bags after being sanitized.”
“This is a glimmer of hope,” Asmar said about the first arrivals adding that the port’s 5th basin where the ships docked remains intact despite the blast.
Beasley, the executive director of the World Food Program, said a ship with 17,500 metric tons of wheat flour should arrive in Beirut “within two weeks, and that’s to put bread on the table of all the people of Lebanon and that will give us a bread supply for 20 days.”
“While we’re doing that, we’ve got a 30-day supply of about 30,000 metric tons of wheat that we’re bringing in, and then another 100,000 metric tons over the next 60 days after that,” Beasley said.
Najat Rochdi, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Lebanon, told a press conference after briefing UN members that Beasley went to the port with engineers to assess what can be done.
“They are very optimistic to start actually this rehabilitation as soon as this week to increase the capacity of the port of Beirut,” she said.
Rochdi said she understands a ship will be arriving Thursday with some construction material, followed by a ship with wheat and grain, “to address the issue of food security and to hopefully make sure Beirut is not going to be short of bread.”
UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock told diplomats the “swift and wide-ranging” humanitarian response is just the first of a three-phased response to the tragedy.
“The second — recovery and reconstruction — will cost billions of dollars and require a mix of public and private finance,” he said. ”The third element is responding to the Lebanon’s pre-existing socioeconomic crisis which is already exacerbated by COVID-19.”
Lowcock, the undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, stressed the Beirut explosion last Tuesday “will have repercussions far beyond those we see in front of us now.”
He urged donors, international financial institutions and the wider international community to “come together and put their shoulder to the wheel,” stressing that the Lebanese people will be served best by a collective response.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told UN member nations the voices of Lebanon’s angry people “must be heard.”
“It is important that a credible and transparent investigation determine the cause of the explosion and bring about the accountability demanded by the Lebanese people,” he said. “It is also important that reforms be implemented so as to address the needs of the Lebanese people for the longer term.”
Guterres also pledged that “the United Nations will stand with Lebanon to help alleviate the immediate suffering and support its recovery.”