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Excerpts: Assad says ready to be voted out. Erdogan,Trump phone call.

Thursday, February 9, 2017 15:25
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Excerpts: Assad says ready to be voted out. Erdogan,Trump phone call.
Khamenie calls Pres.Trump ‘real face’ of American corruption February 08,

+++SOURCE:Al Arabiya News 8Feb.’17:”Erdogan,Trunp to act together on ISIS in
Syria”,by Reuters
SUBJECT: Erdogan,Trump phone call
QUOTE:”The two leaders discussed issues including a safe zone in Syria, the
refugee crisis and the fight against terror, sources said.”Reuters)

FULL TEXT:Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump
agreed in a phone call overnight to act jointly against ISIS in the Syrian
towns of al-Bab and Raqqa, both controlled by the militants, Turkish
presidency sources said on Wednesday[8 Feb].

The two leaders discussed issues including a safe zone in Syria, the refugee
crisis and the fight against terror, the sources said. They also said
Erdogan had urged the United States not to support the Syrian Kurdish YPG

Trump spoke about the two countries’ “shared commitment to combating
terrorism in all its forms” and welcomed Turkey’s contributions to the fight
against ISIS, the White House said in a statement, but it gave no further

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of US-backed militias,
started a new phase of its campaign against Islamic State in Raqqa on

USPresident Donald Trump speaks on the phone from the Oval Office of the
White House on January 28, 2017, in Washington, DC. (AFP)

Turkey, a NATO ally and part of the US-led coalition against ISIS, has
repeatedly said it wants to be part of the operation to liberate Raqqa but
does not want the YPG, which is part of the SDF alliance, to be involved.

Erdogan’s relations with former US President Barack Obama were strained by
US support for the YPG militia, which Ankara regards as a terrorist
organization and an extension of Kurdish militants waging an insurgency
inside Turkey.

The Turkish army and Syrian rebel groups it supports are meanwhile fighting
ISIS in a separate campaign around al-Bab, northeast of the city of Aleppo.
Ankara has complained in the past about a lack of US support for that

The offices of both leaders said Trump had reiterated US support for Turkey
“as a strategic partner and NATO ally” during the phone call on Tuesday.[7

The Turkish sources said new CIA Director Mike Pompeo would visit Turkey on
Thursday[9 Feb] to discuss the YPG, and battling the network of US-based
Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey accuses of orchestrating a July
coup attempt.

There was no immediate confirmation from Washington of Pompeo’s visit.

+++SOURCE:Jordan Times 8 Feb.’17:”Iran ‘thanks’ Trump, rebuffs US warning on

SUBJECT:Khamenie.calls Pres.Trump ‘real face’ of American corruption

FULL TEXT:DUBAI — Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday[7Feb] dismissed the US
decision to put Iran “on notice” over its missile tests and called President
Donald Trump the “real face” of American corruption.

In his first speech since Trump’s inauguration, Iran’s supreme leader called
Iranians to take part in demonstrations on Friday[10 Feb], the anniversary
of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, to show they were not frightened of
American “threats”.

“We are thankful to [Trump] for making our life easy as he showed the real
face of America,” Khamenei told a meeting of military commanders in Tehran,
according to his website.

Trump responded to a January 29 Iranian missile test by saying “Iran is
playing with fire” and imposed fresh sanctions on individuals and entities,
some of them linked to Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards.

The White House said the missile test was not a direct breach of Iran’s 2015
nuclear pact with six world powers, but that it “violates the spirit of

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran would not
renegotiate the nuclear deal that Trump consistently criticised as being a
gift to the Islamic Republic.

“I believe Trump will push for renegotiation. But Iran and European
countries will not accept that,” Zarif told Tuesday’s edition of Ettelaat
daily. “We will have difficult days ahead.”

On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly promised to tear up the nuclear
deal. While Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has not called for that, he has
suggested a “full review” of it.

Khamenei, Iran’s top authority, said Trump had confirmed “what we have been
saying for more than 30 years about the political, economic, moral and
social corruption in the US ruling system”.

Iran analysts said his comments were relatively restrained as they included
no threat to respond militarily.

“[Trump] says ‘you should be afraid of me’. No! The Iranian people will
respond to his words on February 10 and will show their stance against such
threats,” Khamenei said.

President Hassan Rouhani backed Khamenei’s call for Iranians to rally across
the country on Friday to “show their unbreakable ties with the supreme
leader and the Islamic Republic”.

A UN Security Council resolution underpinning the nuclear deal urges Iran to
refrain from testing missiles designed to be able to carry nuclear warheads,
but imposes no obligation.

Iran agreed to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for relief from some
US, European and UN economic sanctions. Critics of Iran said the deal
emboldened it to increase its involvement in wars in Arab countries,
something Tehran denies.

+++SOURCE:Jordan Times 8Feb’17:”Assad says family do not own Syria, ready to
be voted out”, by Reuters

SUBJECT: Assad says ready to be voted out

QUOTE:”Assad said he would step aside if voted out of power in an election –
something he has said in the past.”

FULL TEXT:AMMAN — Syrian President Bashar Assad said his family did not
“own” the country they have run for 46 years, saying he would step aside if
the Syrian people choose another leader in an election.

Assad also told a group of Belgian reporters that he saw promise in US
President Donald Trump’s determination to fight Daesh, although it was too
early to expect any practical steps, state news agency SANA reported on
Tuesday[7 Feb].

With backing from Russia and Iran, Assad now seems militarily unassailable
in the Syrian civil war that spiraled from protests against his rule nearly
six years ago during a wave of uprisings against Arab autocrats.

Assad, 51, came to power in 2000 after the death of his father, former
President Hafez Assad, who became head of state in 1971 after a military
coup the previous year.

Asked if he could imagine a Syria that was not run by his family, Assad
said: “Of course. We don’t own the country. My family does not own the

“Syria is owned by the Syrians, and every Syrian citizen has the right to be
in that position,” Assad said.

Russia, his most powerful ally, is seeking to revive peace talks aimed at
ending a war that has shattered Syria into a patchwork of separate areas and
killed hundreds of thousands of people.

Russia circulated a reformed Syrian constitution at peace talks in
Kazakhstan last month that said no president could serve more than two
consecutive terms, according to a copy seen by Reuters.

Moscow says the document drafted by Russian specialists was only tabled for
the purpose of discussion.

Moscow’s effort to revive peace talks follows the rebels’ biggest defeat of
the war, when they were driven from eastern Aleppo in December by the Syrian
army with decisive help from the Russian air force and Iranian-backed

Assad said he would step aside if voted out of power in an election -
something he has said in the past.

“If the Syrian people choose another president, I would not have to decide
to step down, I will be out of this position,” he said in the interview
published on Tuesday.[7 Feb]

Assad controls all the main cities of western Syria, where the bulk of the
population live. A presidential election was held in 2014, though the vote
was declared a farce by his opponents. Swathes of Syria remain out of his
control including areas held by the Daesh group and a Kurdish militia.

Trump seen as ‘promising’:Trump has held out the possibility of cooperation
with Russia in the fight against the Daesh terror group in Syria.

The Kremlin said Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin had discussed
setting up “genuine coordination” in the fight against Daesh and “other
terrorist groups” in Syria during a phone call last month.

Assad was quoted by SANA as telling a group of Belgian reporters: “I believe
this is promising but we have to wait and it’s too early to expect anything

Assad was also quoted as saying that US-Russian cooperation in stepping up
the fight against the militants would have positive repercussions.

Under former US president Barack Obama, the United States ruled out the idea
of cooperating with Assad in the fight against Daesh in Syria, viewing his
rule as a big part of the problem.

Trump has made defeating Daesh a core goal of his presidency and signed an
executive order asking the Pentagon, the joint chiefs of staff and other
agencies to submit a preliminary plan on how to proceed within 30 days.

For now, US-Russian cooperation is largely limited to coordinating to ensure
that the two countries’ air forces operate safely and that the risk of
accidental confrontation or collision is minimised.
Sue Lerner – Associate, IMRA


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