Posted tagged ‘Russia’

The Rogue’s Gallery at the UN Human Rights Council

September 17, 2017

The Rogue’s Gallery at the UN Human Rights Council | Anne’s Opinions, 17th September 2017

In the unlikely event that we might have forgotten what the UN is really about (hint: it is not all sweetness and light, or democracy and peace), here is UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer to remind us, as he reports on last week’s Human Rights Wrongs Council debating imposing sanctions on dictatorships. The panel of course was populated by a rogue’s gallery of dictators:

Even within the rogues’ gallery that is the U.N. human rights Council, today’s council panel attacking Western democracies for imposing sanctions on dictatorships was the mother of all rogues’ galleries.

The panelists:

1. Lead panelist was UN expert Idriss Jazairy, who described Putin’s Russia as a human rights victim. Coincidentally, as UN Watch revealed today, Jazairy received $50,000 from the Russian government. As Algerian ambassador to UN, he once said “antisemitism targets Arabs.”

2. Alena Douhan, a Belarus academic with a soft spot for Russia, whose doctorate was on the principle of “non-interference” in countries’ “internal affairs.”

3. Alfred de Zayas, the Cuban-appointed expert for a “democratic and equitable international order.” Zayas has defended Iran’s right to nuclear weapons, and writes books claiming Germany suffered a “genocide” in 1945. Zayas is a hero to Holocaust deniers.

4. Jean Ziegler, co-founder & 2002 recipient of the Qaddafi Human Rights Prize. In his presentation, Ziegler actually defended the murderous Maduro regime of Venezuela, which he said was being victimized by a U.S. “economic war.”

5. Panel Chair: the ambassador of Venezuela’s Maduro regime, Jorge Romero. He effusively thanked Ziegler for his kind words.

6. Peggy Hicks, a top official in the office of UN high commissioner Zeid, delivered the opening statement. A former Human Rights Watch official, we hoped she would provide a dissenting voice. Instead, she echoed the same line. And when Ziegler spouted pro-Maduro propaganda, Hicks was silent.

Welcome to the U.N. human rights council.

Watch the video:

 

UN Watch was also busy with Venezuelan opposition figures who held a panel objecting to the plenary address by the Venezuelan Foreign Minister at the Human Rights Council:

GENEVA, Sept. 11, 2017 – Venezuelan opposition figures, family members of political prisoners, and human rights activists gathered today at the 47-nation U.N. human rights council to refute the plenary address by foreign minister Jorge Arreaza.

Venezuelan opposition figures, family members of political prisoners, and human rights activists protest the plenary address of the Venezuelan FM at the Human Rights Council

UN Watch, the Geneva-based non-governmental human rights group, together with Venezuela por Iniciative, organized a panel of leading Venezuelan voices, at a side event held below the human rights council chamber, to represent the views of the pro-democracy opposition.

UN Watch has submitted a draft resolution (en español) calling or the suspension of Venezuela from the UNHRC, which has been published as an official UN document. Executive director Hillel Neuer urged member states, especially Peru on behalf of the Lima Group, to adopt a resolution.

Diego Arria, the former Venezuelan ambassador to the UN and Security Council president, called for the dictator Nicolas Maduro to be indicted by the International Criminal Court. Click here for Arria speech | En Español

Julieta Lopez, aunt of pro-democracy leader and political prisoner Leopoldo Lopez. Click for speech.

Rosaura Valentini, wife of political prisoner Yon Goiechocheca, said people are completely dehumanized. Child mortality declined to 1950s figures. Elderly die for lack of essential drugs. There is widepsread malnutrition. Mayors have been taken prisoner, despite having been chosen by the vote of the people. Violinist playing music was also taken as a prisoner. Hundreds of protesters are taken as prisoners. Click here for UNHRC plenary speech.

Unfortunately it appears that UN Watch’s appeal to bar the Venezuelan Foreign Minister has fallen on deaf ears at the UN HRC. Sadly that was unsurprising. Our expectations from that rogues gallery of villains could hardly sink any lower.

Nevertheless Hillel Neuer and UN Watch have to be commended for their unstinting work in pursuing dictators and tyrants at the UN, showcasing their bias and hypocrisy for all the world to see.

Trump, Putin, Xi: Talking fades to shows of force

July 31, 2017

Trump, Putin, Xi: Talking fades to shows of force, DEBKAfile, July 31, 2017

(Please see also, Haley Says ‘No Value’ in Another UN Resolution Against North Korea: ‘The Time for Talk Is Over’. — DM)

The message from Beijing was clear: The threat to Chicago and Los Angeles would have to be dealt with by the White House in Washington, not Beijing.

********************************

Over the weekend, three world leaders, US president Donald Trump, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s leader Xi Jinping stepped off the diplomatic path over their differences on world issues and switched to displays of military might.

In a show of force after North Korea’s two ICBM tests, two US B-1B bombers capable of delivering nuclear weapons, escorted by South Korean and Japanese fighters, took off from Guam Saturday, July 29 and cut across the Korean peninsula. There was no word on whether they entered North Korean skies.

Further west, US Vice President Mike Pence toured East European capitals. Speaking in Tallinn, Estonia, he assured “our Baltic allies” – as well as Georgia and Montenegro, his next destinations: “We are with you and will stand with you on behalf of freedom.”  He said that the president would soon sign the latest round of sanctions voted on by Congress, since “Russia’s destabilizing activities and support for rogue regimes and its activities in Ukraine are unacceptable.”

Shortly after President Donald Trump criticized China over failing to deal with North Korea, President Xi Jinping in a general’s uniform viewed a huge military parade Sunday marking the People’s Liberation Army’s 90th anniversary. Xi is the PLA’s commander in chief. Whereas the annual parade usually takes place in Beijing, this one was staged at the remote Zhurihe military base in Inner Mongolia., with the participation of 12,000 soldiers, 100 bombers and fighters and a display of 600 weapons systems, 40 percent of them new products of China’s arms industries.
“The world isn’t safe at the moment,” the Chinese president told his people. “A strong army is needed more than ever.”

The Russian president meanwhile showcased his naval might in a huge parade of vessels stretching from the Dnieper River in Moscow to Saint Petersburg, through the Baltic port of Kaliningrad, to Crimea on the Black Sea and up to Russia’s Syrian base at Tartus.  Taking part were 50 warships and submarines.

Standing on the deck of the presidential warship as it sailed past the Kremlin’s walls, Putin congratulated the Russian navy on its great advances.

He then disembarked, headed to his office and ordered 755 U.S. diplomats to leave the country by Sept. 1, in retaliation for the new round of sanctions against Russia ordered by the US Congress. More than 1,000 people are currently employed at the Moscow embassy and three US consulates in Russia.

“We waited for quite some time that maybe something will change for the better, had much hope that the situation will somehow change, but, judging by everything, if it changes, it will not be soon,” Putin said. “It is time for us to show that we will not leave anything unanswered.” He added menacingly that there are many areas of Russian-American cooperation whose discontinuation would be harmful to the US. “I hope we don’t have to go there,” he said.

These muscle-flexing steps by the three world powers add up to an ominous shift from their brink-of-cold war diplomatic interaction to a new level with the potential for tipping over into limited military clashes.

The penny has finally dropped for Trump that President Xi has no intention of cracking down on North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, even though he declared after a successful second test of an intercontinental ballistic missile that “the US mainland is without our striking range.”

The message from Beijing was clear: The threat to Chicago and Los Angeles would have to be dealt with by the White House in Washington, not Beijing.

Xi may accept that the US president may eventually be forced to take some military action against North Korea’s missile and nuclear facilities. But he may also be counting on such action being a one-off, like the 59-US Tomahawk missile barrage that hit the Syrian air base of Shayrat on April 7.  Because that dramatic strike was not the start of an organized campaign against the regime in Damascus, it failed to unseat Bashar Assad and in fact made him stronger. Once America has vented its anger, the Chinese president hopes its military offensive against Kim will be over and done with.

For six months, Putin waited to see whether Trump was able to beat down the media-boosted war waged against his presidency by political and intelligence enemies at home, much of it focused on the Russian dimension. His patience with the US president and his troubles at home is clearly at an end.

On Sunday, July 30, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov called the new sanctions “completely weird and unacceptable,” adding “If the US side decides to move further towards further deterioration we will answer, we will respond in kind. We will mirror this. We will retaliate,” he stressed.

The gloves have clearly come off for the ramping up of friction among the three powers in the various world flashpoint arenas, whether in Europe, the Far East, or other places.

In sweeping speech, Trump calls out Russia for supporting ‘hostile regimes’

July 6, 2017

In sweeping speech, Trump calls out Russia for supporting ‘hostile regimes’, Washington ExaminerSarah Westwood, July 6, 2017

(Please see also, Europe’s Migrant Crisis: Views from Central Europe.– DM)

President Trump applauded Poland’s commitment to secure borders, called out Russia for its activities in Ukraine and Syria and affirmed America’s collective defense commitment to NATO in a sweeping speech Thursday that set the tone for his visit to the G-20 summit this week.

“While we will always welcome new citizens who share our values and love our people, our borders will always be closed to terrorism and extremism of any kind,” Trump said before a large crowd in Warsaw’s historic Krasinski Square.

Unlike much of western Europe, Poland has resisted accepting large numbers of Middle Eastern refugees, and its right-wing ruling party has advocated for keeping Polish borders secure. Trump’s decision to visit Poland and deliver remarks about his worldview before moving on to Germany for the summit was widely viewed as a symbolic endorsement of Poland’s actions.

“This continent no longer confronts the specter of communism,” Trump said on Thursday. “There are dire threats to our security and to our way of life.You see what’s happening out there, they are threats. We will confront them. We will win.”

Trump pointed to the “steady creep of government bureacracy” as another threat facing Poland the U.S.

“The West became great not because of paperwork and regulations but because people were allowed to chase their dreams and pursue their destinies. Americans, Poles and nations of Europe value individual freedom and sovereignty,” Trump said. “We must work together to confront forces, whether they come from inside or out, from the South or the East, that threaten over time to undermine these values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are.”

“If left unchecked, these forces will undermine our courage, sap our spirit and weaken our will to defend ourselves and our societies,” the president added. “We put faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, at the center of our lives.”

Citing Poland’s historic mistrust of the Soviet Union, Trump went after Russia for its present-day conduct.

“We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and its support for hostile regimes including Syria and Iran,” Trump said.

The president also voiced his support for NATO’s Article 5, the collective defense commitment Trump declined to endorse explicitly during his visit to a NATO summit in May.

“My administration has demanded that all members of NATO finally meet their full and fair financial obligation,” Trump said, referring to his push for NATO allies to honor their commitments to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense. “As a result of this insistence, billions of dollars more have begun to pour into NATO.

“To those who would criticize our tough stance, I would point out that the U.S. has demonstrated not merely with words, but with actions, that we stand firmly behind Article 5,” Trump said. “Words are easy, but actions are what matters.

“Europe must do more,” Trump added. “Europe must demonstrate that it believes in its future by investing its money to secure its future.”

Administration officials said the speech was intended to be “very philosphical.”

“The core theme of this speech is a defense of western civilization,” an official told reporters in Warsaw ahead of the speech. “But the basic question of the speech is, are we as a civilization confident enough in our own values to defend and preserve our civilization?”

Trump will head to the G-20 summit in Hamburg on Friday, where he will meet with a number of foreign leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.

U.S. Options in Syria Don’t Include Ground Troops

April 10, 2017

U.S. Options in Syria Don’t Include Ground Troops, PJ Media, David P. Goldman, April 10, 2017

FILE – In this file image provided on Friday, April 7, 2017 by the U.S. Navy, the guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) launches a tomahawk land attack missile in the Mediterranean Sea. The U.S. missile attack has caused heavy damage to one of Syria’s biggest and most strategic air bases, used to launch warplanes to strike opposition-held areas in central, northern and southern Syria. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ford Williams/U.S. Navy via AP, File)

The war has already displaced half of Syria’s 22 million people, and Iran plans to replace Sunnis with Shi’ite immigrants in order to change the demographic balance. The Sunni side of the conflict has become globalized with fighters from the Russian Caucasus, China’s Xinjiang Province, as well as Southeast Asia.

The U.S. State Department last year estimated that 40,000 foreign fighters from 100 countries were in Syria; Russia cited a figure of 30,000. Whatever the number is today, it would not be difficult to add a zero to it.

Russia and China must be frightened of America’s prowess, especially in military technology. A Reagan-style effort to established unquestioned U.S. supremacy in military technology is the Big Stick we require. Tomahawk missiles are not a Big Stick. They speak loudly. Trump was magnificently right to send the signal to Moscow and Beijing, especially (as Secretary Tillerson said) in the light of Russia’s duplicity or incompetence in the matter of Syrian poison gas. Now we need to get to work.

***************************

Writing in the Washington Post, neo-conservatives Reuel Gerecht and Ray Takeyh propose to send U.S. ground troops to fight Iran and its proxies in Iran and Syria:

It is way past time for Washington to stoke the volcano under Tehran and to challenge the regime on the limes of its Shiite empire. This will be costly and will entail the use of more American troops in both Syria and Iraq. But if we don’t do this, we will not see an end to the sectarian warfare that nurtures jihadists. We will be counting down the clock on the nuclear accord, waiting for advanced centrifuges to come on line. As with the Soviet Union vs. Ronald Reagan, to confront American resolution, the mullahs will have to pour money into their foreign ventures or suffer humiliating retreat.

They’re nuts.

It isn’t Iran that we would be fighting: It’s an international mercenary army that already includes thousands of fighters recruited from the three million Hazara Afghans now seeking refuge in Iran, from the persecuted Pakistani Shi’ites who comprise a fifth of that country’s huge population, and elsewhere. As I reported recently in Asia Times:

The IRGC’s foreign legions include volunteers from Afghanistan and Pakistan, where Shi’ites are an oppressed minority often subject to violent repression by the Sunni majority. IRGC-controlled forces include the Fatemiyoun Militia recruited mainly from Shi’ite Hazara refugees from Afghanistan, with reported manpower of perhaps 12,000 to 14,000 fighters, of whom 3,000 to 4,000 are now in Syria. Iranians also command the Zeinabiyoun militia composed of Pakistani Shi’ites, with perhaps 1,500 fighters in Syria.

The manpower pool from which these fighters are drawn is virtually bottomless. The war has already displaced half of Syria’s 22 million people, and Iran plans to replace Sunnis with Shi’ite immigrants in order to change the demographic balance. The Sunni side of the conflict has become globalized with fighters from the Russian Caucasus, China’s Xinjiang Province, as well as Southeast Asia.

The U.S. State Department last year estimated that 40,000 foreign fighters from 100 countries were in Syria; Russia cited a figure of 30,000. Whatever the number is today, it would not be difficult to add a zero to it.

Russia and China, as I explained in the cited Asia Times essay, blame the U.S. for opening the Pandora’s Box of Sunni radicalism by destroying the Iraqi State and supporting majority (that is, Shi’ite) rule in Iraq. Sadly, they are broadly correct to believe so. Thanks to the advice of Gerecht and his co-thinkers at the Weekly Standard and Commentary, the Bush administration pushed Iraq’s and Syria’s Sunnis into the hands of non-state actors like al-Qaeda and ISIS.

A seventh of Russia’s population is Muslim, and 90% of them are Sunnis. China has a restive Muslim population among the Uyghurs in its far West, and all of them are Sunnis. Moscow and Beijing therefore support Shi’ite terrorists as a counterweight to Sunni jihadists. A Eurasian Muslim civil war is unfolding as a result. Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum thinks America should let Sunnis and Shi’ites exhaust each other. If it were just Syria, that would make sense, but the Syrian conflict is the nodal point for a much larger and more dangerous conflagration. If the 300 million Muslims of Southeast Asia were to become involved, the consequences would be horrific.

Gerecht and Tayekh want the U.S. to back the anti-regime forces whom Obama left twisting in the wind during the 2009 demonstrations against Iran’s rigged elections. That is the right thing to do. The Trump administration should create a special task force for regime change in Iran and recruit PJ Media’s Michael Ledeen to run it. Iran is vulnerable to subversion. With 40% youth unemployment and extreme levels of social pathology (the rate of venereal disease infection is twenty times that of the U.S.), Iranians are miserable under the theocratic regime.

But I don’t know if that will work: Iran gets all its money from oil, and the mullahs have the oil, the money, and all the guns. If we can’t overthrow the Iranian regime, we will have two choices.

The first is to bomb Iran — destroy nuclear facilities and Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps bases. That risks war with Russia and China. It is an option, but a dangerous one, and not anyone’s first choice. We could have done this before Iran became a Russian-Chinese ally.

The second is to cut a deal with Russia and China: We muzzle the Sunni jihadists whom we (or our allies like Saudi Arabia) supported, and Russia and China cut Iran off at the knees. I sketched out such a deal in August 2016. It won’t happen easily, or any time soon, because Russia and China are not sufficiently afraid of us to want to come to the table. Russia would demand other concessions (e.g., recognition of its acquisition of territory by force in Ukraine). As the use of poison gas despite past Russian assurances makes clear, one can’t trust the Russians unless, of course, they really are scared of us.

So it all comes down to Grand Strategy: Russia and China must be frightened of America’s prowess, especially in military technology. A Reagan-style effort to established unquestioned U.S. supremacy in military technology is the Big Stick we require. Tomahawk missiles are not a Big Stick. They speak loudly. Trump was magnificently right to send the signal to Moscow and Beijing, especially (as Secretary Tillerson said) in the light of Russia’s duplicity or incompetence in the matter of Syrian poison gas. Now we need to get to work.

—————

Update: Christina Lin, a former senior U.S. Defense Department analyst and fellow at SAIS (and frequent Asia Times contributor), told The Diplomat in an interview today:

As a recent Israeli intelligence report documented, there are thousands of Chinese Uyghurs fighting in the ranks of al-Qaeda affiliates and ISIS in Syria, namely in the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) based in Idlib — an al-Qaeda stronghold. The August 30, 2016 bombing of the Chinese embassy in  Krgyzstan, planned by TIP in Syria and financed by Al Nusra, signals increasing threats to Chinese citizens and interests overseas if Syria becomes a terrorist safe haven.

Because of “inter-mingling” with Ahrar al Sham and other so called “moderate” jihadists, TIP and Nusra enjoy U.S. and its allies’ protection even though they are designated as terrorist organizations. The have procured advanced Western weapons such as U.S.-supplied anti-tank TOW missiles, Grad missiles, and likely anti-aircraft MANPADS, and drones that they used to record their recent suicide campaigns against the Syrian army. These Western weapons enhance their war fighting capabilities to launch future attacks on China and Chinese interests, so Beijing will likely step up its military support to the Syrian army. Chinese military advisers are already on the ground in Syria, according to media reports.

Syrian-American Reformer Commends Syria Strikes, Urges Vigilance

April 7, 2017

Syrian-American Reformer Commends Syria Strikes, Urges Vigilance, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, April 7, 2017

By reducing a dictator’s capacity to kill, we have a chance of re-establishing America’s position in the world as a moral authority, and we can begin again to re-commit ourselves to the sacred commitment of ‘never again,’ something Barack Obama failed to do.”

***********************

The American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) welcomes the news of targeted strikes in Syria, meant to send a message to Bashar al-Assad and his allies that the use of chemical weapons will not stand. Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, the son of Syrians who fled the regime of Bashar al-Assad’s father, today said:

“When news broke that the United States had begun a narrow campaign of targeted strikes against regime targets in Syria, I felt immediate gratitude – on behalf of my family members there, and for our country, which has watched in horror for six long years as the Assad regime has carried out mass torture and murder of its civilians. While I am hopeful that these strikes are indicative of a bolder, firm Syria strategy – I am under no illusion that they will end Assad’s murderous rule, or that any transition in Syria will happen swiftly or easily. In many ways, we who have loved ones in Syria, and we who care about the human condition – are taking what we can get here – with hope that there will be more, even bolder action in Syria. What this action by President Trump does indicate is that the needle of American policy in Syria is moving closer to being on the right side of history. To secure our place there, however, we must remain vigilant, remembering that a conflict with Assad is necessarily a conflict with Russia, with Iran, and with Hizbollah. These limited, targeted strikes should continue, focused on reducing Assad’s access to resources, especially weapons. Every reduction in his assets is a reduction in his capacity to murder and maim civilians. By reducing a dictator’s capacity to kill, we have a chance of re-establishing America’s position in the world as a moral authority, and we can begin again to re-commit ourselves to the sacred commitment of ‘never again,’ something Barack Obama failed to do.”

Rebel warehouse with chem weapons hit by Syrian airstrike in Idlib

April 5, 2017

The Syrian Air Force has destroyed a warehouse in Idlib province where chemical weapons were being produced and stockpiled before being shipped to Iraq, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman said.

Source: Rebel warehouse with chem weapons hit by Syrian airstrike in Idlib – Russian MOD — RT News

ARCHIVE: Russian military inspect suspected chemical weapons workshop in Aleppo © Ruptly

The Syrian Air Force has destroyed a warehouse in Idlib province where chemical weapons were being produced and stockpiled before being shipped to Iraq, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman said.

The strike, which was launched midday Tuesday, targeted a major rebel ammunition depot east of the town of Khan Sheikhoun, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

The warehouse was used to both produce and store shells containing toxic gas, Konashenkov said. The shells were delivered to Iraq and repeatedly used there, he added, pointing out that both Iraq and international organizations have confirmed the use of such weapons by militants.

READ MORE: Intl monitoring body & West ignoring reports of ‘chemical attack’ in Mosul – Russian MoD

Read more

Syrian children receive treatment following a suspected gas attack in Khan Sheikhun, Idlib province. April 4, 2017. © Mohamed Al-Bakour

The same chemical munitions were used by militants in Aleppo, where Russian military experts took samples in late 2016, Konashenkov said.

The Defense Ministry has confirmed this information as “fully objective and verified,” Konashenkov added.

According to the statement, Khan Sheikhoun civilians, who recently suffered a chemical attack, displayed identical symptoms to those of Aleppo chemical attack victims.

READ MORE: Syria hands over evidence of mustard gas attack by rebels on civilians to OPCW (VIDEO)

Hasan Haj Ali, commander of the Free Idlib Army rebel group, rejected Russia’s version of the incident, saying the rebels had no military positions in the area.

“Everyone saw the plane while it was bombing with gas,” he told Reuters.

“Likewise, all the civilians in the area know that there are no military positions there, or places for the manufacture [of weapons]. The various factions of the opposition are not capable of producing these substances,” he added.

At least 58 people, including 11 children, reportedly died and scores were injured after a hospital in Khan Sheikhoun was targeted in a suspected gas attack on Tuesday morning, Reuters reported, citing medics and rebel activists. Soon after a missile allegedly hit the facility, people started showing symptoms of chemical poisoning, such as choking and fainting.

The victims were reportedly also seen with foam coming out of their mouths. While the major Syrian opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, and other pro-rebel groups put the blame on the attack onto President Bashar Assad’s government, the Syrian military dismissed all allegations as propaganda by the rebels.

Read more

Idlib, Syria April 4, 2017 © Ammar Abdullah

“We deny completely the use of any chemical or toxic material in Khan Sheikhoun town today and the army has not used nor will use in any place or time, neither in past or in future,” the Syrian army said in a statement.

The Russian military stated it did not carry out any airstrike in the area either.
However, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, commenting on the incident, was quick to point to the Syrian government as a culprit, saying that it bears responsibility for the “awful” attack.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson echoed Mogherini, accusing the Syrian government of perpetrating the attack calling it “brutal, unabashed barbarism.” He argued, that besides the Syrian authorities, Iran and Russia should also bear “moral responsibility” for it.

Lieberman: If Syria targets our aircraft again, we’ll destroy its air defens…

March 19, 2017

Defense minister warns Assad regime after it unsuccessfully tried to shoot down IAF fighter jets on Friday night by firing an S-200 missile at it; ‘We have no interest in interfering in the Syrian civil war or clashing with the Russians, but we won’t hesitate to defend Israel’s security,’ Lieberman says.

Yoav Zitun|Published:  19.03.17 , 11:44

Source: Ynetnews News – Lieberman: If Syria targets our aircraft again, we’ll destroy its air defens…

 

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman threatened Sunday to destroy Syria’s air defense apparatus if it targets Israeli fighter jets again after the Assad regime tried to shoot down Israeli Air Force (IAF) planes over the weekend.

“We have no interest in interfering in the Syrian civil war, not for nor against (President Bashar) Assad, and we have no interest in clashing with the Russians,” Lieberman clarified during a visit to the IDF induction center.

“Our main problem is with the transfer of advanced weapons from Syria to Lebanon. That is why every time we identify an attempt to smuggle game-changing weapons, we will act to thwart it. There will be no compromise on this issue,” the defense minister stressed.

Lieberman at the IDF induction center (Photo: Motti Kimchi)

Lieberman at the IDF induction center (Photo: Motti Kimchi)

He added that “if the IDF does choose to act, there is a real reason for it.”

Israeli Arrow anti-aircraft missiles were used to intercept a Syrian S-200 missile fired at IAF jets that returned to Israeli territory after attacking targets in Syria on Friday night.

“Next time, if the Syrian aerial defense apparatus acts against our planes, we will destroy it,” Lieberman said. “We won’t hesitate. Israel’s security is above everything else; there will be no compromise.”

Lieberman at the IDF induction center (Photo: Motti Kimchi)

Lieberman at the IDF induction center (Photo: Motti Kimchi)

Similarly, he said, the IDF will respond to any rocket fire coming from the Gaza Strip “with force.”

“We’ll cut down Hamas’s capabilities, we’re not willing to tolerate any provocation,” Lieberman said. “We won’t take money from the Israeli taxpayer to invest in electricity and water for the strip, while they are investing their money in tunnels.”

New recruits at the IDF induction center (Photo: Motti Kimchi)

New recruits at the IDF induction center (Photo: Motti Kimchi)

The defense minister also addressed his ongoing feud with Education Minister Naftali Bennett over disparaging remarks made by Rabbi Yigal Levinstein about women in the IDF. Lieberman called on the rabbi to resign and threatened to halt Defense Ministry recognition of the rabbi’s pre-army preparatory yeshiva, which angered Bennett.

“The IDF presents a variety of options—from Caracal (a co-ed battalion) to the Haredi Nahal (for ultra-Orthodox soldiers). Everyone has a place,” Lieberman determined. “This sweeping attack against women is unreasonable. We’ve tried to avoid friction with Levinstein. We’ve forgiven him twice before (for similar comments) and dragged our feet on this. A third time is too much.”

Lieberman added that Rabbi Levinstein will face a disciplinary hearing, in accordance with a legal opinion in the Defense Ministry.

(Translated and edited by Yaara Shalom)