Defense minister slams Russia, Iran, Turkey for shaping Syria’s future alone

As leaders of the three nations issue joint statement, Avigdor Liberman says it’s first time since World War II that issue of such weight is being determined without UN role

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman leads a faction meeting of his Yisrael Beytenu party at the Knesset on March 12, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman leads a faction meeting of his Yisrael Beytenu party at the Knesset on March 12, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Wednesday criticized the leaders of Russia, Turkey, and Iran for meeting on the future of Syria without United Nations permission.

Also noting the absence of any US representative, Liberman told Army Radio that this was the first time such a scenario had played out since World War ll.

“This is the first time since the Second World War that a meeting like this was held without the approval of the UN. They are determining Syria’s future without any American representative,” he said.

The American role in Syria’s future has been unclear since President Donald Trump announced last week that American forces would pull out of the country “very soon,” despite his national security team’s advisers’ views to the contrary.

In a joint statement released at the end of their summit meeting in Ankara on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said they stood against “separatist” agendas that would undermine Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

They reaffirmed their commitment to working toward achieving ceasefires between conflicting parties in Syria and stressed their determination to continue cooperating “in order to ultimately eliminate” the Islamic State group and other entities associated with al-Qaeda.

A Syrian boy walks through a street covered with rubble from a heavily damaged building following airstrikes by regime forces in Arbin, in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus, on February 1, 2018. (AFP/Amer Almohibany)

The three also urged the international community to provide more aid for war-ravaged Syria, calling for bigger humanitarian aid supplies, as well as assistance in clearing landmines and aid to help restore the destroyed infrastructure.

Erdogan pointed at the EU’s failure to deliver 3 billion euros in assistance he said it promised for helping restore Syria’s north. He added that Turkey would continue to invest its own funds in rebuilding Syria.

Putin issued a strong call to other nations to participate more actively in Syria’s restoration efforts.

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