About Us

IMRA
IMRA
IMRA

 

Subscribe

Search


...................................................................................................................................................


Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Excerpts: Astana talks behind closed doors. White House re 2-state

Excerpts: Astana talks behind closed doors. White House re 2-state solution.
Russia prevents border crossing capture. China reaching 'near parity' with
West in military technology. Astana talks behind closed doors February 15,
2017

+++SOURCE:Jordan Times 15 Feb.’17:”Syria talks in Astana ‘to be held behind
closed doors”’.by Agence France Presse

SUBJECT:Astana talks behind closed doors

FULL TEXT:ASTANA — Kazakhstan said Tuesday[14 Feb] that a new round of
Astana talks on the Syria conflict led by Russia, Turkey and Iran will take
place behind closed doors, as the make-up of any rebel delegation remained
unclear.

The "closed format" negotiations are set to start Wednesday[15 Feb] in the
Kazakh capital some three weeks after representatives from Damascus and the
armed opposition failed to make a breakthrough at indirect talks in the
city.

Meanwhile, Jordan will also be represented by a "high level delegation",
Government Spokesperson and Minister of State for Media Affairs Mohammad
Momani said.

The meeting — pushed by key regime supporter Moscow — is viewed as a warm-up
for UN-led negotiations on the protracted war that are due to begin in
Geneva on February 23.

While Kazakh officials said they invited both the Syrian government and
rebels for the new talks, several of the regime opponents who took part in
the previous Astana talks told AFP that they have not received invitations.

Damascus has confirmed it will be represented again by its ambassador to the
UN, Bashar Al Jaafari.

Russia is sending presidential envoy Alexander Lavrentiev while Iran said it
is dispatching Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari.

UN envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura said he would not participate
personally in the latest Astana meeting but that his office would be
represented by a "technical team".

The Astana initiative has left the West on the sidelines of the latest push
to end the war in Syria that has claimed more than 300,000 lives since 2011.

Moscow has invited the US to participate as an observer but the State
Department has yet to confirm Washington will be involved.

Talks are likely to focus on bolstering a shaky ceasefire on the ground
after Moscow, Tehran and Ankara agreed to establish a "mechanism" aimed at
ensuring the truce.

Russia and Iran have helped turn the tables on the ground with their
military backing for President Bashar Assad, while Turkey has supported
rebels fighting to oust the strongman.

+++SOURCE:Al Arabiya News 15 Feb.’17:”White House will not insist on
two-state solution in Mideast”,by Agence France Presse
SUBJECT:White House re 2-state solution\

QUOTE:”A senior White House official said the United States would no longer
seek to dictate the terms of any eventual peace settlement.” (Reuters)

FULL TEXT:US President Donald Trump's sharp break with decades of support
for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does "not make
sense," a senior Palestine Liberation Organization official said on
Wednesday.

"This does not make sense," PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi
told Agence France-Presse. "This is not a responsible policy and it does not
serve the cause of peace."

The White House signaled a sharp break with decades of support for a
two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Tuesday, on the eve
of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to the White House.

A senior White House official said the United States would no longer seek to
dictate the terms of any eventual peace settlement, but would support what
the two sides agree to together.

"A two-state solution that doesn't bring peace is not a goal that anybody
wants to achieve," the official said on condition of anonymity.

"Peace is the goal, whether that comes in the form of a two-state solution
if that's what the parties want, or something else if that's what the
parties want."

President Trump will host Netanyahu at the White House on Wednesday[15 Feb]
, and is expected to express his desire to help broker a solution to the
conflict.

For the better part of half a century successive US governments, Republican
and Democrat, have backed a two-state solution.
But since coming to office Trump has sought to show that the United States
is an unwavering ally of Israel, trying to draw a contrast with President
Barack Obama.

Obama often warned that Israeli settlement construction could make a
two-state solution impossible, and that a one state solution would put the
future of the Jewish state in question.

"That's going to be up to them, we are not going to dictate what the terms
of peace are going to be," said the official.

+++SOURCE:Al Arabiya News 15 Feb,’17:”Russia strikes Syria after ‘Death Over
Humiliation’ rebel battle”,bySuleiman Al-Khalidi,Reuters
SUBJECT:Russia prevents border crossing capture
Russian jets pounded rebel-held areas of the Syrian city of Deraa on
Tuesday[14 Feb] for a second day in the first such intensive bombing
campaign since Moscow's major intervention in Syria more than a year ago,
rebels and witnesses said.

Rebel groups on Sunday[12Feb] stormed the heavily-garrisoned Manshiya
district in a battle dubbed "Death rather than Humiliation" saying the
campaign sought to obstruct any army attempts to capture a strategic border
crossing with Jordan.

The army's control of the rebel held crossing and swatches of territory in
the southern strip of the city would sever the rebel link between the
eastern and west parts of the city.

The Syrian army said the "terrorists" had failed to make gains and its
troops had inflicted many casualties.

State media said the armed insurgents showered civilian districts of the
southern city with mortars, wrecking many homes.

The opposition fighters are drawn from both moderate Free Syrian Army groups
and members of a newly formed alliance - Tahrir al Sham - spearheaded by a
faction that was once al-Qaeda's official affiliate.

A rebel source said there were at least 30 Russian sorties on Tuesday[14
Feb], thwarting further rebel gains in the heavily defended enclave that had
allowed them so far to secure significant parts of the Manshiya.

"When the regime began to lose control of some areas ... the Russian jets
began their operations," said Ibrahim Abdullah, a senior rebel commander.

The fighting also spread across other parts of the city as rebels fired
mortars on government controlled parts of the city. Ground-to-ground
missiles were also deployed from army barracks to pound rebel held quarters
of the city, residents said.

The battles inside the city are the most intense since an alliance of
mainstream rebels, known as "The Southern Front" who are backed by Western
and Arab foes of President Bashar al Assad launched an unsuccessful large
scale military campaign to capture the whole city in 2015.

The province that borders both Israel and Jordan has escaped the devastation
wreaked by Russia's aerial bombing of northern Syria after Moscow stepped up
its military involvement in Syria in 2015.

The Syrian army has so far failed to recapture the border crossing, a once
thriving passenger and commercial gateway with Jordan, despite repeated
efforts.

"There is not a single day that passes without the regime trying to make
advances," Salamah Aba Zaid, a resident in Deraa said.

At least half of the southern province is in the hands of Free Syrian Army
rebels but groups affiliated with ISIS have a foothold in an area to the
west of Deraa in the Wadi Yarmouk area near the Golan Heights.

Aid workers said jets hit a Western-funded field hospital in Deraa and raids
killed at least seven members of one family in the border area, where many
residents fled in the early days of the Syrian conflict.

The Washington-based International Rescue Committee, which supports the
hospital that was targeted, said in a statement that four health workers
were injured in the attack.

+++JORDAN TIMES 15 Feb.’17:””, Chinese weapons reaching ‘near-parity’ with
West — study”,by Agence France Presse

SUBJECT:China reaching ‘near parity’ with West in military technology

FULL TEXT:LONDON — China is beginning to export its own weapon designs,
including armed drones, worldwide and is reaching “near-parity” with the
West in terms of military technology, according to a report on Tuesday[14
Feb].

The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) said that China’s
official defense budget of $145 billion (137 billion euros) last year was
1.8 times higher than those of South Korea and Japan combined.

It also accounted for more than a third of Asia’s total military spending in
2016, the IISS annual Military Balance report said, adding that spending in
Asia grew by five to six percentage points a year between 2012 and 2016.

Total global military spending instead fell by 0.4 per cent in real terms in
2016 compared to 2015, largely due to reductions in the Middle East.

“China’s military progress highlights that Western dominance in the field of
advanced weapons systems can no longer be taken for granted,” IISS director
John Chipman said at a presentation in London.

“An emerging threat for deployed Western forces is that with China looking
to sell more abroad, they may confront more advanced military systems, in
more places, and operated by a broader range of adversaries,” Chipman said.

The report found that in terms of air power, “China appears to be reaching
near-parity with the West”.

It said one of China’s air-to-air missiles had no Western equivalent and
that China had introduced a type of short-range missile that “only a handful
of leading aerospace nations are able to develop”.

It said China was also developing “what could be the world’s longest range
air-to-air missile”.

Chinese exports to Africa:The report noted that Chinese military exports to
Africa last year “were moving from the sale of Soviet-era designs to the
export of systems designed in China”.

It said that Chinese-made armed drones had been seen in Nigeria and Saudi
Arabia.

The report also noted that European states are “only gradually” increasing
their defence spending.

“While Europe was one of the three regions in the world where defence
spending rose in 2015-16, European defense spending remains modest as a
proportion of the continent’s GDP,” the study said.

In 2016, IISS found that only two European NATO states — Greece and
Estonia — met the aim of spending 2 per cent of their GDP on defense.

This was down from four European states that met the target in 2015 —
Britain, Greece, Estonia and Poland.

Britain dipped to 1.98 per cent of GDP, according to IISS calculations,
although that figure was immediately disputed by Britain’s defence ministry.

But the IISS said it was more important that countries focus on upgrading
their military equipment. “This is made more urgent because of the degree to
which Western states have reduced their equipment and personnel numbers
since the Cold War,” it said.

+++SOURCE:Jordan Times 15 Feb.’17:”Syria talks in Astana ‘to be held behind
closed doors”’.by Agence France Presse

SUBJECT:Astana talks behind closed doors

FULL TEXT:ASTANA — Kazakhstan said Tuesday[14 Feb] that a new round of
Astana talks on the Syria conflict led by Russia, Turkey and Iran will take
place behind closed doors, as the make-up of any rebel delegation remained
unclear.

The "closed format" negotiations are set to start Wednesday[15 Feb] in the
Kazakh capital some three weeks after representatives from Damascus and the
armed opposition failed to make a breakthrough at indirect talks in the
city.

Meanwhile, Jordan will also be represented by a "high level delegation",
Government Spokesperson and Minister of State for Media Affairs Mohammad
Momani said.

The meeting — pushed by key regime supporter Moscow — is viewed as a warm-up
for UN-led negotiations on the protracted war that are due to begin in
Geneva on February 23.

While Kazakh officials said they invited both the Syrian government and
rebels for the new talks, several of the regime opponents who took part in
the previous Astana talks told AFP that they have not received invitations.

Damascus has confirmed it will be represented again by its ambassador to the
UN, Bashar Al Jaafari.

Russia is sending presidential envoy Alexander Lavrentiev while Iran said it
is dispatching Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Jaberi Ansari.

UN envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura said he would not participate
personally in the latest Astana meeting but that his office would be
represented by a "technical team".

The Astana initiative has left the West on the sidelines of the latest push
to end the war in Syria that has claimed more than 300,000 lives since 2011.

Moscow has invited the US to participate as an observer but the State
Department has yet to confirm Washington will be involved.

Talks are likely to focus on bolstering a shaky ceasefire on the ground
after Moscow, Tehran and Ankara agreed to establish a "mechanism" aimed at
ensuring the truce.

Russia and Iran have helped turn the tables on the ground with their
military backing for President Bashar Assad, while Turkey has supported
rebels fighting to oust the strongman.
==============
Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA

Search For An Article
....................................................................................................

Contact Us

POB 982 Kfar Sava
Tel 972-9-7604719
Fax 972-3-7255730
email:imra@netvision.net.il IMRA is now also on Twitter
http://twitter.com/IMRA_UPDATES

image004.jpg (8687 bytes)