Cyprus Demands Britain Explain Use Of Base For Syrian Operations
Xinhua News Agency
August 23, 2012
Cyprus displeased at reports that British bases provide help to Syrian rebels
NICOSIA: Cyprus said on Thursday it had asked Britain to give an official explanation for a Sunday Times report alleging that the British Sovereign Bases in Cyprus provide intelligence to Syrian rebels which helped them deal effective strikes against the Syrian army.
Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Markoulli told the state radio that she had instructed the Cypriot High Commissioner (Ambassador) in London to make a demarche to the British Foreign Ministry asking for official information on the report.
“It is a very serious issue if the bases are being used for purposes other than those explicitly set out in the Treaty of Establishment,” Markouli said.
She said she expected a British reply by the end of the day.
Markoulli added that the 1960 Treaty of Establishment under which Cyprus was granted independence states that two bases retained by Britain can only be used for defensive purposes.
British paper the Sunday Times claimed on Sunday that British agents operating in the British bases were collecting intelligence on Syrian army movements which is then channeled through Turkey to forces fighting the the Syrian army.
A spokesman for the British High Commission in Cyprus on Monday refused to confirm or deny the report, citing the official government position not to comment on intelligence or operational matters.
Xinhua News Agency
August 23, 2012
Western countries discuss further support for Syrian rebels
• French, UK and US leaders held phone talks to discuss how to provide further support for opposition.
• Russia Wednesday accused Western countries of engaging in “open incitement” of Syrian opposition.
• Iraq Wednesday closed a major border checkpoint with Syria in its western Anbar province.
DAMASCUS: Leaders of France, Britain and the United States have held phone conversations to discuss how to provide further support for Syria’s opposition, which is fighting an increasingly fierce war with government forces.
A statement by the White House on Wednesday said a phone call between President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron covered a “wide array of global issues,” including the conflict in Syria and the need for increased participation from other countries to support the Syrian opposition.
The two leaders exchanged views on “ways the international community can assist those displaced by the conflict, apply pressure on the Assad regime, and support the opposition so that the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people can be realized,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, a statement from Cameron’s office said the two leaders agreed that the use or threat of use of chemical weapons by Syria was “completely unacceptable” and would force them to “revisit their approach” to the conflict.
“As with (French President) Hollande, the prime minister and Obama discussed how to build on the support already given to the opposition…,” the statement said.
Western countries and some of its Arab allies have agreed in early July at a “Friends of Syria” meeting to “greatly increase assistance to the opposition” by giving them tools to communicate more securely with each other and the outside world.
Some of the Arab countries have also been reportedly providing weaponry to Syria’s rebels. All the countries accused of arming the opposition by the Syrian government have so far denied the allegation.
Also on Wednesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry accused Western countries of engaging in “open incitement” of the Syrian opposition.
“Our Western partners still have done nothing to influence the opposition and to encourage it for dialogue with the government. Instead, they are engaged in open incitement to continue the armed struggle,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Moscow has received this week a delegation headed by Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil, who had visited the Russian capital only two weeks before.
In another related development, Iraq on Wednesday closed a major border checkpoint with Syria in its western Anbar province.
“Iraq closed the al-Qaim checkpoint early morning Wednesday with a three-meter concrete wall blocking the entry while forces of the Syrian opposition still hold control of the other side of the checkpoint,” the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The source did not specify why the checkpoint was closed and when it would be re-opened.
Obama’s “red line” warnings merely aimed to seek new pretext for Syria intervention
August 22, 2012
BEIJING: Once again, Western powers are digging deep for excuses to intervene militarily in another conflict-torn Middle East country, as U.S. President Barack Obama warned Monday that the use of chemical weapons by Syria’s government would change his “calculus.”