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Wed Oct 10, 2012, 01:58 PM

Turkish State TV: Turkey Forces Syrian Airplane to Land at Ankara Airport

Source: AP

Turkish State TV: Turkey Forces Syrian Airplane to Land at Ankara Airport

Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/turkish-state-tv-turkey-forces-syrian-airplane-land-17444676#.UHW251GcdZY



Report: Turkey intercepts Syrian plane

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish state-run TV station TRT reports that Turkey has forced a Syrian passenger plane to land at Ankara airport.

TRT says the Airbus A320 coming from Moscow was intercepted by F16 jets Wednesday as it entered Turkish airspace and escorted to the capital's Esenboga Airport.

The station reported that the plane was suspected of carrying heavy weapons to Damascus.

A Turkish Foreign Ministry official confirmed that a Syrian plane was forced to land at Ankara airport, and that authorities were "inspecting the plane" but would not provide further information.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hQR6ZAugd2PhPO0bIF-GQbDuZHCw?docId=634c35a1b7c04533a8ea6ce8fc6b8ab9

Turkey bans Turkish civilian planes from flying into Syrian airspace due to insecurity - State TV

Turkey bans Turkish civilian planes from flying into Syrian airspace due to insecurity - State TV

https://twitter.com/Reuters/status/256092374613254144

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Arrow 18 replies Author Time Post
Reply Turkish State TV: Turkey Forces Syrian Airplane to Land at Ankara Airport (Original post)
Bosonic Oct 2012 OP
leveymg Oct 2012 #1
Ghost Dog Oct 2012 #2
leveymg Oct 2012 #3
pampango Oct 2012 #5
leveymg Oct 2012 #7
Ghost Dog Oct 2012 #6
Ghost Dog Oct 2012 #8
Posteritatis Oct 2012 #9
UnrepentantLiberal Oct 2012 #4
dipsydoodle Oct 2012 #10
pampango Oct 2012 #11
dipsydoodle Oct 2012 #13
pampango Oct 2012 #15
dipsydoodle Oct 2012 #16
pampango Oct 2012 #17
dipsydoodle Oct 2012 #18
Bosonic Oct 2012 #12
leveymg Oct 2012 #14

Response to Bosonic (Original post)

Wed Oct 10, 2012, 02:16 PM

1. Escalation of tensions, anyone?

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Response to leveymg (Reply #1)

Wed Oct 10, 2012, 03:47 PM

2. If Russians can be characterised as 'Bears' (fierce &/or cuddly)

Turks could be characterised as, well, Turks.

ie. Very Solid.

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Response to Ghost Dog (Reply #2)

Wed Oct 10, 2012, 04:03 PM

3. Add ambitious, and perhaps too eager to get a slice of the lost Ottoman Empire back.

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Response to leveymg (Reply #3)

Wed Oct 10, 2012, 05:33 PM

5. Come on. Syria and Turkey were best buddies before the protests began. There is little

enthusiasm in Turkey for even a limited war, much less an attempt to recapture the Ottoman Empire.

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Response to pampango (Reply #5)

Wed Oct 10, 2012, 06:22 PM

7. So were Assad and US in the midst of a warm thaw and joint approach to Israel-Palestine issues

Last edited Wed Oct 10, 2012, 08:49 PM - Edit history (2)

and smoothing the way to a quick resolution and U.S. exit from the occupation of Iraq as well as a new tack on relations with Iran as President Obama entered his first term. But, then, suddenly in early 2011, regime change broke out across the region, sweeping away diplomacy. One of a series of State Dept cables reveals how the US-Syrian diplomatic initiative was shaping up, and how peace had threatened to breakout in the Mideast:

The US Embassy in Damascus passed along the following CONFIDENTIAL assessments of that meeting in three cables. Obama needed Assad’s cooperation in fulfilling his campaign pledge to bring US troops home from Iraq. Assad was in a position to throw a real monkey wrench into that, so that was at the top of the agenda. From 09DAMASCUS158 obtained by WikiLeaks:

Summary: Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator John Kerry told President Asad that he believed progress was being made in Iraq and the U.S. wanted to withdraw its troops as soon as possible. The recent provincial elections in Iraq had been the first real, positive sign that Iraq was moving forward and the first demonstration of the legitimacy of the GOI’s authority, Asad said, but the U.S. should give the Iraqi leadership “more space” or they will be labelled American puppets. Before the U.S. leaves Iraq, Asad said, it must ensure that it won’t allow federalism to fragment the country. If Iraq were to break down into federal states, the Sunni state, Asad predicted, would be governed by al-Qaeda and the Shi-ite state by Iran. The Kurds will end up fighting with Turkey, Iran, and Syria. Syria and Iran see Iraq differently from each other. Asad advised that the U.S. must view Iran as a Persian state, more than as a Shi-ite state ) the cultural identity, he implied, is more important than the religious identify. “Don’t bet on Khatami’s candidacy (in Iran’s June presidential elections),” Asad warned. “You can make deals with Ahmadinejad more (readily) than you can with Khatami
. . .
Never mind the rhetoric, Ahmadinejad has political power.” Kerry expressed concern over Iran’s continued pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability and Asad responded by saying there should be a mechanism for monitoring Iran’s nuclear activities; states do not operate on trust. Asad said it is necessary to shift discussion from Iran’s right to nuclear technology to means of monitoring its activities. By attacking Iran’s right, Asad said, “you unify Iran.” End Summary.


Cable 159 then warns of the obstructive and divisive role being taken by Saudi Arabia that was to bear fruit after the outbreak of the Sunni insurrection in Syria:

Reference id aka Wikileaks id #194332  ? 
Subject Kerry - Asad: Saudis May Be Sowing The Seeds Of Lebanon's Next Civil War
Origin Embassy Damascus (Syria)
Cable time Fri, 27 Feb 2009 13:22 UTC
Classification CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
Source http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/02/09DAMASCUS159.html
History

Time unknown: Original unredacted version, leaked to Wikileaks
Thu, 1 Sep 2011 23:24: Original unredacted version published

VZCZCXRO4982 OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHROV DE RUEHDM #0159/01 0581322 ZNY CCCCC ZZH O 271322Z FEB 09 FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6042 INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY RUCQSAB/USSOCOM INTEL MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
Hide header C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 DAMASCUS 000159 H PASS NOFORN SIPDIS DEPT FOR NEA/FO, NEA/ELA LONDON FOR TSOU, PARIS FOR WALLER NSC FOR SHAPIRO E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/25/2019 TAGS: PREL , SA , LE , SY 

SUBJECT: KERRY - ASAD: SAUDIS MAY BE SOWING THE SEEDS OF LEBANON'S NEXT CIVIL WAR
Classified By: CDA Maura Connelly for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). ¶1. (C/NF) Summary:

Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator John Kerry asked President Bashar al-Asad February 21 about Syria's activities in Lebanon in the lead-up to Lebanese elections in June. Asad, clearly primed, demanded, "Saudi Arabia has spent millions of dollars in Lebanon for the elections . . . are you against this (too)?" Asad refused to yield to pressure to quickly name a Syrian ambassador to Beirut, calling it a "sovereign issue," and implying that the French had railroaded him unwittingly into making a commitment to send an ambassador before the end of 2008. "Every step has a meaning," he said, declaring that he knew whom he would appoint and when he would announce the appointment, refusing to share the information before then. Asad alleged the Saudis were "paying out money, approaching the elections like a political war." If the line that ultimately separates Lebanon's political opponents is sectarian, then, Asad warned, the seeds of the next civil war will have been sown.

Asad's overt anxiety over trends in Lebanon, and his particular concern over Saudi interference, demonstrates yet again that Syria views Lebanon as its vulnerable underbelly and is still preoccupied by the perpetual concern that civil war could once again erupt there. End Summary.

¶2. (C) Senator John Kerry emphasized a new U.S. approach to diplomacy in the Middle East during a February 21 meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Asad that lasted more than two hours. Also attending the meeting were Syrian FM Walid al-Muallim, Presidential Advisor for Political and Media Affairs Bouthaina Shaaban, and Syrian Ambassador to the U.S. Imad Mustafa. Kerry was accompanied by Charge as well as SFRC staffers Frank Lowenstein and Perry Cammack. This cable reports on the discussion of Syria's relationship with and activities in Lebanon. Other topics septels. --------------------------------------------- ------- Intervention in Lebanon: Accusations against Saudis --------------------------------------------- -------

¶3. (C/NF) Senator Kerry broached the subject of Lebanon with Asad by positing that Asad might be willing to agree to send a Syrian ambassador to Lebanon and stay out of Lebanon's electoral process as signs of Syrian respect for Lebanese sovereignty. Asad, nearly bristling, asked what Kerry meant by "staying out" of Lebanese elections, asking, "how am I in?" Acknowledging Syria's long-time historical and cultural interests in Lebanon, Kerry said the question is whether or not there is any direct interference in Lebanon's elections. Asad, clearly primed, declared, "Saudi Arabia has spent millions of dollars in Lebanon for the elections . . . are you against this (too)?" "Syria isn't rich, we don't have money . . . and Iran can send money to Lebanon without Syria being involved . . . Iran has its own embassy there." Shifting tactics, Kerry asked if Asad could have his ambassador in Lebanon by mid-March, for example. Asad again balked and asked why is the ambassador so important; "Did I open an embassy in Beirut without the intention of sending an Ambassador?" Kerry responded that sending an ambassador is a metric useful in calculating changes in policy. Asad answered that he had been ready to send an ambassador in 2005 but the "previous Lebanese government had not been good (sic) with Syria." He continued, "Now, after the Doha agreement (that resolved the impasse over the election of a new Lebanese president), the new President is good and we are ready to exchange ambassadors." Asad acknowledged his relations with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman were moving forward, but not fast.

--------------------------------------------- -- French Railroading on Ambassadorial Appointment --------------------------------------------- --
¶4. (C/NF) Harking back to July, Asad confided that during his visit to Paris for the Bastille Day celebrations, French President Nicholas Sarkozy had wanted to hold a press conference to welcome the Syrian decision to establish diplomatic relations but Asad had declined. Later, when French FM Bernard Kouchner visited Syria in August, he asked when a Syrian ambassador would be sent to Beirut and he was DAMASCUS 00000159 002 OF 003 told before the end of the year. (Comment: Asad seemed to imply that this conversation was the source of the expectation that Syria's ambassador would take up residence by the end of 2008. End comment) And, then, at a later date, Asad said, French Presidency advisor Claude Gueant came to Damascus and asked the question again. "This is a sovereign issue," Asad declared to Kerry. "I know the name (of the ambassador-designate) and the date (the name will be announced) . . . the timing has meaning . . . every step has meaning . . . but it's our timing and it's not important to the Syrian ) U.S. relationship."

--------------------------- Fears of the Next Civil War ---------------------------
¶5. (C/NF) Returning to the Lebanese elections, Asad repeated his accusations against Saudi Arabia, alleging the Saudis were "paying out money, approaching the elections like a political war." If the line that ultimately separates Lebanon's political opponents is sectarian, then, Asad warned, the seeds of the next civil war will have been sown. "It's important that the Saudi money doesn't only go to the Sunni bloc," he said, "or else there will also be a Shia bloc and the Christians will have no choice but to form their own bloc." Shaking his head, he said, "This is always the problem in Lebanon." Kerry noted that religious polarization is a concern for all secular governments to which Asad replied that his "prime challenge" is dealing with extremism and terrorism. Kerry noted that Asad's vision for the future was different from that of an organization like Hizballah. Asad said that Hizballah Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah believes in an Islamic state but that remains only a concept unless Hizballah were to receive an overwhelming majority of 70-80 percent of the vote. "In the West," Asad said, "you think about Hizballah as missiles and terrorists but most Hizballah members have other occupations to pursue and would welcome peace." Kerry asked how Asad derived his confidence that Nasrallah would give up religiously-based appeal for political power? Asad answered that Hizballah now "has an excuse because of Israel." If there were peace, he said, people would not be ready to die, there would be no grass roots support for these groups (like Hizballah) when there is peace. But, Asad also said, Nasrallah can be trusted: "When he says something, he does it."

------------- Border Issues -------------
¶6. (C/NF) Kerry asked about progress on the process of demarcating the border between Syria and Lebanon. Asad replied that there is "no historical problem" between Syria and Lebanon on the border but there are a number of villages that are Lebanese but whose access roads are in Syria; some children even attend Syrian schools. The demarcation process, he said, was started three years ago. Syria had wanted to start in the north while Lebanon wanted to start in the south because of the GOL's problem with Hizballah. Kerry asked if the demarcation process with Lebanon was pending completion of the demarcation process for the Syrian-Jordanian border. Asad responded, "It's done" but Muallim intervened to say that the demarcation committee still needs two months to finish the Jordanian border. In response to Kerry's question regarding the PFLP-GC camps along the Syrian - Lebanese border, Asad explained that the camps straddle the border. He had told Sleiman that when the Lebanese have consensus among themselves regarding the Palestinian militias and Al-Qaeda, Syria would assist in closing the camps. "But we can't do it without consensus -- it would start a civil war."
¶7. (C/NF) Comment: Asad's hackles were obviously raised by prodding over when he would send his ambassador to Lebanon. Granted, he is often asked the question (and was asked three times in one week by U.S. codels); he now seems inclined to dismiss the end of 2008 deadline as the French having railroaded him unwittingly into a commitment. Strangely, Asad did not react with counter-complaints that the Lebanese have been slow to open an embassy in Damascus, even if their ambassador has been named. What appears to genuinely concern Asad is the idea that Saudi manipulation of the elections DAMASCUS 00000159 003 OF 003 will exacerbate tensions in Lebanon to the extent that cross-confessional alliances would break down entirely. He kept mum, of course, on Syrian efforts to influence the elections but curiously handed up the Iranians. Asad is perhaps less comfortable with the notion of a predominant Hizballah than his testimonial to Hasan Nasrallah would suggest. Asad's overt anxiety over trends in Lebanon, and his particular concern over Saudi interference, demonstrates yet again that Syria views Lebanon as its vulnerable underbelly and is still preoccupied by the perpetual concern that civil war could once again erupt there. ¶8. (U) Codel Kerry has cleared this cable. CONNELLY





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Response to leveymg (Reply #3)

Wed Oct 10, 2012, 05:37 PM

6. Such is the history

from which we came.



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Response to leveymg (Reply #3)

Wed Oct 10, 2012, 06:37 PM

8. Nah. You'd have to be crazy.

Just to wipe USA off the map would be... Helpful, probably.

... And I do hope you're paying attention, Agent Mike

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Response to leveymg (Reply #3)

Wed Oct 10, 2012, 07:15 PM

9. I find it hilarious that people actually believe something like that's in the works. (nt)

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Response to Bosonic (Original post)

Wed Oct 10, 2012, 05:20 PM

4. Looks like an invasion is in the works.

 

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Response to Bosonic (Original post)

Thu Oct 11, 2012, 05:47 AM

10. "station reported that the plane was suspected of carrying heavy weapons" ?

The plane took off again after a 20 minute delay so that is unlikely. Other reports say it was actually radio equipment.

General commentary and updates here : http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/middle-east-live/2012/oct/11/syria-plane-turkey-arms-live

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Response to Bosonic (Original post)

Thu Oct 11, 2012, 06:08 AM

11. BBC: unconfirmed reports...said the seized items included boxes of military communication equipment

Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said "objectionable" cargo had been confiscated from the plane. "There is illegal cargo on the plane that should have been reported," he told the Anatolia news agency.

He did not specify whether any weapons had been found, but unconfirmed reports in Turkish media said the seized items included boxes of military communication equipment.

He said Ankara had received information that the Damascus-bound plane could be carrying "non-civilian cargo". The Airbus A320 airliner had about 30 passengers on board, far fewer than its 180 passenger capacity.

The aircraft was escorted by two Turkish fighters to the capital's Esenboga airport for security checks. It was allowed to take off at 02:30 (23:30 GMT on Wednesday), after several hours on the ground.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19906578

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Response to pampango (Reply #11)

Thu Oct 11, 2012, 06:58 AM

13. "after several hours on the ground" ?

Must've been a scheduled stop because it took off only 20 minutes after scheduled departure time.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/11/us-syria-crisis-idUSBRE88J0X720121011

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Response to dipsydoodle (Reply #13)

Thu Oct 11, 2012, 08:02 AM

15. I did not find the 20 minute duration for the stop at the reuters link.

The NY Times reported it as an 8-hour stay:

Russian authorities were “disturbed” that the Turkish side did not inform its embassy that Russian citizens were being held at the airport, and did not allow diplomats to speak to Russian passengers for an eight-hour period, Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said in a written statement.

The passengers were not allowed to wait in the airport building, though they were occasionally allowed to leave the aircraft for the runway, and were not given food, the statement said.

This link from Reuters indicates that the 20-minute delay referred to its takeoff from the Russian airport.

Vnukovo Airport spokeswoman Yelena Krylova told Interfax the regular weekly flight to Damascus had 25 people on board and left 20 minutes after its scheduled departure time.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/11/syria-crisis-idUSL6E8LB29B20121011?type=marketsNews

The only "scheduled departure time" that flight had was from Vnukovo Airport since it was not scheduled to land in and depart from Ankara.

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Response to pampango (Reply #15)

Thu Oct 11, 2012, 08:49 AM

16. Its here

Scroll down c. 1/3rd.

Vnukovo Airport spokeswoman Yelena Krylova told Interfax the regular weekly flight to Damascus had 25 people on board left 20 minutes after its scheduled departure time.

That was posted by the media elsewhere yesterday too.

I appreciate it doesn't make it perfectly clear which airport departure is referred too but the takeoff from Moscow is incidental so I think they mean the Turkish airport following the stopover.

As to "heavy weapons" that was obviously untrue. I think the passengers would've noticed a tank or two aboard.

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Response to dipsydoodle (Reply #16)

Thu Oct 11, 2012, 09:22 AM

17. There was no 'scheduled departure time' from Ankara since it was a nonstop flight to Damascus.

The only 'scheduled departure time' that flight had was from the airport in Russia. It is logical that that is the 'scheduled departure time' that the Russian airport spokeswoman was referring to.

The Russian government has confirmed that it was a nonstop flight. In addition, if the flight had been scheduled to stop in Ankara, there would have been no need for Turkish fighters to force it to land there.

There would have been no reason for the Russian embassy in Turkey to be...

...“disturbed” that the Turkish side did not inform its embassy that Russian citizens were being held at the airport, and did not allow diplomats to speak to Russian passengers for an eight-hour period, Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said in a written statement.

The passengers were not allowed to wait in the airport building, though they were occasionally allowed to leave the aircraft for the runway, and were not given food, the statement said.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/12/world/middleeast/syria.html


If the flight was only on the ground for 20 minutes, why would the Russian embassy complain that the passengers were held incommunicado for 8 hours, not allowed to wait in the airport terminal and not given food? All that would have been hard to do in 20 minutes.

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Response to pampango (Reply #17)

Thu Oct 11, 2012, 10:09 AM

18. Ok

.

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Response to Bosonic (Original post)

Thu Oct 11, 2012, 06:19 AM

12. Additional data points

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Response to Bosonic (Original post)

Thu Oct 11, 2012, 07:50 AM

14. The FSA announced in September that it intends to shoot down civilian airliners over Syria

http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/syrian-rebels-say-civilian-airliners-now-legitimate-targets-376164/

Syrian rebels say civilian airliners now 'legitimate targets'

By: Alex Thomas London
01:16 6 Sep 2012
Source:

Civilian aircraft flying in or out of airports in the Syrian cities of Damascus or Aleppo risk being shot down from 10 September onwards, opposition group the Free Syrian Army has publicly declared.
"The airports of Damascus and Aleppo will be considered legitimate targets as of 10 September," says the group's political advisor, Bassam El-Dada.
Speaking on France 24's Arabic channel, he accused the Syrian regime of having "transformed these airports into platforms that serve to transport troops and refill arms and ammunition via Syrian, Iranian and Russian civilian airplanes."


With the importation of some of the 15,000 MANPADs looted from arsenals after US/NATO regime change operations in Libya, some of them reportedly through Turkey with Turkish cooperation (see, Times of London report), the Syrian opposition now have that capability. Looks like the Turks and the Syrian opposition are working together on a new front.

It's just a matter of time until these things get used to bring down a civilian airliner. If it isn't in Syria, it will be some other terrorist organization elsewhere using looted Libyan missiles and arms. Great policy regime change, no? It hops from one place to another, like grasshoppers. Wicked fun these Old Testament plagues.

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