Turkiye links Sweden’s NATO bid to US approving F-16 jet sales and Canada lifting arms embargo

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan submitted a protocol on Sweden’s admission to parliament in October, but the ratification process has stalled. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 19 December 2023
Follow

Turkiye links Sweden’s NATO bid to US approving F-16 jet sales and Canada lifting arms embargo

  • Hungary and Turkiye are the only two NATO members not to have formally approved Sweden’s bid to join the trans-Atlantic military alliance

ANKARA: Ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership by Turkiye’s parliament hinges on the US Congress’ approval of Turkiye’s request to purchase F-16 fighter jets, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said, calling on the two legislatures to act “simultaneously.”
In comments reported on Tuesday, Erdogan also said Canada and other NATO allies must lift arms embargoes imposed on Turkiye.
“Positive developments from the United States regarding the F-16 issue and Canada keeping its promises will accelerate our parliament’s positive view on (Sweden’s membership,)” Erdogan said. “All of these are linked.”
He made the comments late Monday while returning from a visit to Hungary. Hungary and Turkiye are the only two NATO members not to have formally approved Sweden’s bid to join the trans-Atlantic military alliance.
Erdogan’s comments were reported by the state-run Anadolu Agency.
He told reporters that Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan has raised the issue of a simultaneous approval by Turkiye’s parliament and Congress during discussions this week with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“If we operate this simultaneously, we will have the opportunity to pass this through the parliament much more easily,” Erdogan quoted Fidan as telling Blinken.
Erdogan submitted a protocol on Sweden’s admission to parliament in October, but the ratification process has stalled.
The Turkish leader has since linked the matter to Congress’ approving Turkiye’s request to purchase 40 F-16 fighter jets and kits to modernize its existing fleet.
Turkiye has delayed ratification of Sweden’s membership for more than a year. Ankara accuses the country of not taking Turkiye’s security concerns seriously enough, including its fight against Kurdish militants and other groups that Ankara considers to be security threats.
The delays have frustrated other NATO allies, who were swift to accept Sweden and Finland into the alliance after the neighboring countries dropped their longstanding military neutrality following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Hungary has said the country would not be the last to approve accession, though the ruling Fidesz party, which holds a constitutional majority in Hungary’s parliament, has refused to hold a vote on the matter.


Cyprus says maritime aid shipments to Gaza ‘on track’

Updated 10 sec ago
Follow

Cyprus says maritime aid shipments to Gaza ‘on track’

1,000 tons of aid were shipped from Cyprus to the besieged Palestinian territory between Friday and Sunday
The vessels were shuttling between Gaza and the east Mediterranean island

NICOSIA: Four ships from the United States and France are transporting aid from Larnaca port to the Gaza Strip amid the spiralling humanitarian crisis there, the Cyprus presidency said on Tuesday.
Victor Papadopoulos from the presidential press office told state radio 1,000 tons of aid were shipped from Cyprus to the besieged Palestinian territory between Friday and Sunday.
He said the vessels were shuttling between Gaza and the east Mediterranean island, a distance of about 360 kilometers (225 miles).
Large quantities of aid from Britain, Romania, the United Arab Emirates, the United States and other countries have accumulated at Larnaca port.
Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides told reporters on Tuesday the maritime aid effort was “on track.”
“We have substantial assistance from third countries that want to contribute to this effort,” he said.
The aid shipped from Cyprus is entering Gaza via a temporary US-built floating pier, where the shipments are offloaded for distribution.
The United Nations has warned of famine as Gaza’s 2.4 million people face shortages of food, safe water, medicines and fuel amid the Israel-Hamas war that has devastated the coastal territory.
Aid deliveries by truck have slowed to a trickle since Israeli forces took control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing with Egypt in early May.
The war in Gaza broke out after Hamas’s unprecedented attack on Israel on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.
Two days after the war broke out, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant ordered a “complete siege” on the Gaza Strip.
Israel’s retaliatory offensive against Hamas has killed at least 35,647 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to figures provided by the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

Daesh attack in Syria kills three soldiers: war monitor

Updated 21 May 2024
Follow

Daesh attack in Syria kills three soldiers: war monitor

  • The militants “attacked a site where... regime forces were stationed“
  • The Syrian army had sent forces to the area, where Daesh attacks are common

BEIRUT: Daesh group militants killed three Syrian soldiers in an attack Tuesday on an army position in the Badia desert, a war monitor said.
The militants “attacked a site where... regime forces were stationed,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that a lieutenant colonel and two soldiers died.
The Syrian army had sent forces to the area, where Daesh attacks are common, ahead of an expected wider sweep, said the Britain-based Observatory which has a network of sources inside the country.
In an attack on May 3, Daesh fighters killed at least 15 Syrian pro-government fighters when they targeted three military positions in the desert, the Observatory had reported.
Daesh overran large swathes of Syria and Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a so-called caliphate and launching a reign of terror.
It was defeated territorially in Syria in 2019, but its remnants still carry out deadly attacks, particularly against pro-government forces and Kurdish-led fighters in Badia desert.
Syria’s war has claimed more than half a million lives and displaced millions more since it erupted in March 2011 with Damascus’s brutal repression of anti-government protests.


At least 9 Egyptian women and children die when vehicle slides off ferry and plunges into Nile River

Updated 21 May 2024
Follow

At least 9 Egyptian women and children die when vehicle slides off ferry and plunges into Nile River

  • The accident, which happened in Monshat el-Kanater town in Giza province, also injured nine other passengers

CAIRO: At least nine Egyptian women and children died Tuesday when a small bus carrying about two dozen people slid off a ferry and plunged into the Nile River just outside Cairo, health authorities said.
The accident, which happened in Monshat el-Kanater town in Giza province, injured nine other passengers, the Health Ministry said in a statement. Giza is one of three provinces forming Greater Cairo.
Six of the injured were treated at the site while three others were transferred to hospitals. The ministry didn’t elaborate on their injuries.
A list of the nine dead obtained by The Associated Press showed four were minors.
Giza provincial Gov. Ahmed Rashed said the bus was retrieved from the river and rescue efforts were still underway as of midday Tuesday.
The cause of the accident was not immediately clear.
According to the state-owned Akhbar daily, about two dozen passengers, mostly women, were in the vehicle heading to work when the accident occurred. It said security forces detained the vehicle driver.
Ferry, railway and road accidents are common in Egypt, mainly because of poor maintenance and lack of regulations. In February, a ferry carrying day laborers sank in the Nile in Giza, killing at least 10 of the 15 people on board.


Syrian first lady Asma Assad has leukemia, presidency says

Updated 21 May 2024
Follow

Syrian first lady Asma Assad has leukemia, presidency says

  • Statement stated that Asma would undergo a special treatment protocol that would require her to isolate

DUBAI: Syria’s first lady, Asma Assad, has been diagnosed with leukemia, the Syrian presidency said on Tuesday, almost five years after she announced she had fully recovered from breast cancer.
The statement said Asma, 48, would undergo a special treatment protocol that would require her to isolate, and that she would step away from public engagements as a result.
In August 2019, Asma said she had fully recovered from breast cancer that she said had been discovered early.
Since Syria plunged into war in 2011, the British-born former investment banker has taken on the public role of leading charity efforts and meeting families of killed soldiers, but has also become hated by the opposition.
She runs the Syria Trust for Development, a large NGO that acts as an umbrella organization for many of the aid and development operations in Syria.
Last year, she accompanied her husband, President Bashar Assad ,on a visit to the United Arab Emirates, her first known official trip abroad with him since 2011. She met Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the Emirati president’s mother, during a trip seen as a public signal of her growing role in public affairs.


Yemen’s Houthis say they downed US drone over Al-Bayda province

Updated 21 May 2024
Follow

Yemen’s Houthis say they downed US drone over Al-Bayda province

  • The Houthis said last Friday they downed another US MQ9 drone over the southeastern province of Maareb

DUBAI: Yemen’s Houthis downed a US MQ9 drone over Al-Bayda province in southern Yemen, the Iran-aligned group’s military spokesperson said in a televised statement on Tuesday.

Yahya Saree said the drone was targeted with a locally made surface-to-air missile and that videos to support the claim would be released.

The Houthis said last Friday they downed another US MQ9 drone over the southeastern province of Maareb.

The group, which controls Yemen’s capital and most populous areas of the Arabian Peninsula state, has attacked international shipping in the Red Sea since November in solidarity with the Palestinians in the war between Israel and Hamas militants, drawing US and British retaliatory strikes since February.