Turkey’s Nuclear Ambitions

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (then Prime Minister) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 18, 2012. Their meeting focused on nuclear cooperation, among other things. (Image source: kremlin.ru)

 

  • Russia’s ROSATOM already has nuclear cooperation deals with Iran, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, among others. Turkey is just the latest to benefit — possibly along with Iran and North Korea, both of which have been openly threatening to destroy America — from Moscow’s play for power in the Middle East and the Mediterranean.
  • The West would also do well not to feel secure in the knowledge that Turkey is a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
  • Nuclear reactors in the hands of a repressive Islamist authoritarian such as Erdogan could be turned into weapons factories with little effort.

Turkey’s announcement over the summer that it had signed a deal with Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM) — of Hillary Clinton’s Uranium One stardom — to begin building three nuclear power plants in the near future is cause for concern. The $20 billion deal, which has been in the works since 2010, involves the construction in Mersin of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant — Turkey’s first-ever such plant— will be operational in 2023. Continue reading

NATO Splinters: Germany Completes Withdrawal From Turkey’s Incirlik Airbase

 

Several months after an unprecedented collapse in relations between two NATO member states, on Thursday Germany’s military announced it has finished its withdrawal from Turkey’s strategic airbase Incirlik, which as a reminder was prompted by Ankara’s refusal to allow visits by German parliamentarians. Going forward, Bundeswehr planes will instead be based in Jordan. Continue reading

US military leaves E. Syrian base at Zaqaf, Hizballah moves in

The US military folded its tents at Zaqaf, its last base in eastern Syrian Zaqaf base near the Iraqi border and Hizballah and other pro-Iranian militia moved in, without a pause. The changeover was accomplished Wednesday when Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu arrived home after a speech informing the UN General Assembly: ”Israel will defend itself with all its military strength and act to prevent Iran establishing itself in Syria… and establishing new bases along our northern border.” Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkott in his New Year message elaborated on this pledge. Continue reading

Can Putin keep Hizballah from Israel’s borders?

Enemies of the Trump administration have hampered the White House to the extent where it is affecting political affairs, limits the ability to physically defend allies or even being able to take the time to address concerns. This is when it gets dangerous.

 

 

Israel’s northern borders with Syria and Lebanon were on edge this week, as Prime Minister Binyamin prepared to raise Israel’s concerns about southern Syria at a critical meeting with President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, Aug. 23, at the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

The Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem noted that he would be accompanied by Mossad Director Yossie Cohen. He has just returned from a failed attempt in Washington to draw the Trump Administration’s attention to the deteriorating security situation on Israel’s northern borders, where Russian Muslim troops are already in position. Continue reading

Russia: Who Stole What For North Korea

Over the weekend Russia made a point of revealing another of their post-Cold War EW (electronic warfare) aircraft. This one is called the Il-22PP and described as an airborne electronic jammer that can block all manner of signals but particularly the digital ones (like Link 16) favored by Western warplanes. The Il-22PP was also described as being able to protect itself from anti-radiation missiles, like the American AGM-88. Since late 2015 Russia has revealed (to the public) the existence of other post-Cold War electronic warfare aircraft by using them in Syria or over Ukraine. Not so the Il-22PP, at least not yet. Continue reading

Russia flies 2,000 mercenary troops into Syria

 

Russia is engaged in a major buildup in Syria, both in support of the de-escalation zones established in conjunction with the United States, and in order to solidify its military control of the country.

debkafile’s military and intelligence sources reported exclusively on Wednesday, August 2, that 2,000 mercenaries had just been airlifted into the country, boosting to a total of 5,000 the number of mercenaries on hire from the Wagner Group private contractors for service under the Russian flag in Syria. They are all retirees from elite units of the Russian ground forces, air force or navy. Continue reading

Russia posts troops 8km from the Israeli Golan

 

Russia has quietly moved troops to a point in southern Syria that is 8km from Israel’s Golan border, in the face of Israeli objections, DEBKAfile reports exclusively. Moscow used the uproar over the Temple Mount standoff and the diplomatic crisis between Israel and Jordan to cover its creeping troop deployment almost up do Syria’s borders with Israel and Jordan.

Tuesday, July 15, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avidor Lieberman and Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkott visited Bashan Division headquarters on the Golan for a rundown on the Russian deployment just opposite. (see photo) Continue reading

Turkey Sends 200 Cargo Planes to Qatar Amid Gulf States Diplomatic Row

© AP Photo/ Doha News

 

Turkey sent 200 cargo aircraft, loaded with goods worth more that $20 billion to Qatar, subjected to an economic blockade by the Gulf countries since early June due to its alleged terror support, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said Tuesday.

“Turkey is not helping [Qatar], it exports the goods, which had been already paid for. We have possibly made ever largest operation on goods delivery by 200 planes,” Zeybekci told the local TRT television channel, adding that the supplied goods were worth over $20 billion.

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Germany Begins Withdrawing Forces from Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base

(File Image)

 

Germany has started the process of withdrawing its forces from Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base that had been used by German forces for carrying out reconnaissance missions as part of the US-led coalition’s campaign in Syria and Iraq. Continue reading

First Russian base for SE Syria – near US garrison

 

The Russian engineering corps has started building a new base in southeastern Syria at a small village called Khirbet Ras Al-Wa’r in the Bir al-Qasab district. Until now, Moscow adhered to a policy of restricting its military presence to the western part of the country along the Mediterranean coast; no Russian troops were based further east than Palmyra. Continue reading

Future of Iraq

WASHINGTON/BERLIN/BAGHDAD (Own report) – A strategy paper prepared by the US Atlantic Council think tank – with the assistance of Germany’s CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation – is proposing measures for Western powers to take to insure their continued influence in Iraq following the fall of Mosul. According to the paper, published a few days ago, US military forces should remain in Iraq for the foreseeable future, train and equip Iraqi forces to prevent IS from regrouping and recovering after its expected defeat. To push back Iran’s influence, measures should also be taken to help the country’s economic development. In Baghdad, a government “strongly inclined to cooperate closely with the United States” is needed, the paper states, and calls for US allies – particularly European countries – to engage in Iraq to “tackle sensitive areas in which the United States is not seen as neutral.” Berlin is already using this opportunity to build its own base of influence in Iraq and is supporting the reconstruction of towns recaptured from the IS. Insuring western control of Iraq is considered all the more urgent, since Russia could successfully obtain major influence in Damascus following the anticipated end of the Syrian war.

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How an Iranian general duped US command in Syria

The Iranian-made Syrian drone downed by US F-15 fighters in southeastern Syria on June 8 was presented by American media as a “pro-regime” drone. It was in fact, as DEBKAfile’s military sources can disclose, an Iranian Revolutionary Guards Shahed-129, which was fired as a part of a complicated ruse to dupe the US commanders while pro-Iranian forces surreptiously moved in on the Syrian-Iraqi border.

The Americans had drawn a line in the Syrian Desert sand 55 km outside the Al-Tanf border crossing embedded in the Syrian-Jordanian-Iraqi border triangle, which is under the control of US, Western and Jordanian special forces, together with a US-trained Syrian rebel group. The Secretary of Defense James Mattis and the US military command in Syria and Iraq were confident that by securing this perimeter, their forces would keep the pro-Iranian advance at bay and the border safe. Continue reading

New US base in S. Syria for tussle over control

 

In readiness for a prospective showdown for control of southeast Syria, US Special Forces have set up a forward base at Al-Zukf in the Syrian Desert, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report. The location is 70km northwest of the Syrian-Iraqi-Jordanian border triangle and the Al Tanf crossing, which is controlled by US, Western allied and Jordanian special forces, together with a US-trained Syrian rebel unit, which calls itself the Revolutionary Commando. Continue reading

NATO Splinters: Germany Says “Has No Choice But To Pull Out” Troops From Turkey’s Incirlik Airbase

 

Diplomatic relations between NATO members Germany and Turkey hit rock bottom on Monday when Germany’s foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel said his country has no choice but to begin the process of pulling its forces out of Turkey’s Incirlik air force base as the Turkish government will not allow all German lawmakers to visit troops there.

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The scandal erupted last Thursday, when Turkey’s foreign minister said it is not possible to allow German lawmakers to visit troops stationed at Turkey’s Incirlik air base now, although he said Ankara may reconsider if it sees “positive steps” from Berlin. It was not immediately clear just what Turkey’s “demands” or expectations, monetary or otherwise, were from Merkel for it to change its view. Ties between the NATO allies deteriorated sharply in the run-up to Turkey’s April 16 referendum that handed President Tayyip Erdogan stronger presidential powers.

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U.S. lawmakers say Iran eyes military base near Syria-Israel border

Iran military leaders. Teheran wants to establish a military base in Syria near the Jordan or Israel border, U.S. lawmakers said. / Fars via AFP

 

Iran is looking to establish a permanent military presence in Syria and is eyeing a potential base near the Syrian border with Israel or Jordan, two U.S. lawmakers said.

“A permanent Iranian military base in Syria … would increase Iran’s operational capacity to inflict serious damage against two of our closest allies in the region,” Rep. Peter Roskam, Illinois Republican, and Rep. Ted Deutch, Florida Democrat, wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The lawmakers’ warning comes as a Senate panel on May 25 approved new U.S. sanctions targeting Iran’s support for international terrorism and its ballistic missile program, the first move to punish Teheran since the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear accord went into effect. Continue reading