26 July 2019   Leave a comment

The Turkish decision to buy the Russian S-400 air defense system–one of the best in the world–has roiled NATO and the US. US President Trump decided to stop the sale of the US fighter plane, the F-35, because of the purchase. The US argued that the Russians would have access to the F-35s and would therefore be able to figure out ways to defeat the F-35’s offensive and defensive capabilities. Turkish President Erdogan is calling President Trump’s bluff and has stated that Turkey will purchase fighter planes elsewhere–most likely from Russia which produces a very capable fighter plane, the Su-35. If Turkey makes that decision, then it would be impossible for Turkey to remain within NATO. Strangely, President Trump made the following statement today about the situation: “We’re looking at the whole Turkey situation. It’s a tough situation … I don’t blame Turkey because there are a lot of circumstances.” The emerging relationship between Turkey and Russia is unusual, given the historical tensions between the two states. And that relationship will make resolving the civil war in Syria more difficult, particularly if Turkey decides to take strong action against the Kurds in Syria. It seems to me that both the US and Turkey have not really thought out the long-term implications of this dispute, but it seems clear that Russia is playing a very sophisticated long game.

The Su-35

A few days ago, Israel demolished 10 buildings in the occupied East Jeruslaem town of Sur Bahir, a move that was condemned by Canada, the European Union, and the Arab League. Under international law, it is illegal to force the transfer of civilian populations in occupied territory. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) reads, in part: ” Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.” Virtually every country in the world except for Israel and the US considers East Jerusalem as occupied territory since it was taken over by the Israelis in the 1967 war. Today the US prevented the UN Security Council from considering a resolution condemning the Israeli demolition of the buildings. Mondoweiss describes the reaction of the Palestinian Authority to the Security Council’s decision not to consider the resolution:

“While the US was blocking any condemnations of the Israeli government’s actions in East Jerusalem, Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour addressed the UNSC, imploring the council to ‘alleviate the human suffering, to salvage peace prospects and to contribute to making that peace a reality.’

“During his remarks, Mansour called attention to the case of Sur Bahir, calling the demolitions ‘deliberate and systematic in nature,’ which he said ‘constitute gross violations’ of international charters and agreements.

“’This is a blatant act of ethnic cleansing and forced transfer, tantamount to a war crime, and it must be fully condemned and prosecuted as such,’ Mansour said.”

The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, declared that, because of these decisions, the Palestinians would cease to honor its agreements with Israel. Al Jazeera outlines the PA’s position:

“The 84-year-old’s declaration on Thursday came after an emergency meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the wake of Israel’s demolition this week of several Palestinian buildings in Sur Baher village – a move Abbas described as an act of ‘ethnic cleansing’.

“‘We announce the leadership’s decision to stop implementing the agreements signed with the Israeli side,’ Abbas said at a speech in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank.

“He added that a committee would be set up in order to implement the decision but did not offer additional information.

“‘We will not bow to dictates and imposing a fait accompli by force in Jerusalem and elsewhere,’ Abbas said. “

It is not clear what Abbas’s statement actually means, but the PA’s position casts significant doubts about the viability of the US “Deal of the Century” that was released last month by Jared Kushner.

Posted July 26, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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