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Turkey should be helped to intervene over Aleppo.

“The humanitarian imperative is for the region to act and the world to help.”

Read the full piece as carried by the WorldPost section of the Huffington Post here: syriahuffpost27-9-16

Extracts: In repeated interviews and articles on the deepening tragedy that is Syria, many carried by the Huffington Post, I have argued that a necessary element for peace in Syria is an initial partition or zones of influence from neighbouring states.

This has not been a fashionable view in diplomatic circles in most countries wedded to the concept of keeping Syria as a unified country. Turkey in particular was understandably very reluctant to move militarily across the border into Syria.

When Russia extended an airfield close to Latakia not far from the naval port they had had in Syria since 1971, and put sophisticated airplanes in to protect the Assad forces, everything changed…..

Only Turkey is in a political and military position to intervene on the ground in Syria and they have demonstrated this by a limited cross border initiative this summer against ISIL. But Turkish tanks were also pre-empting a planned Kurdish advance. Turkey can now because of changed circumstances create a crucial balancing factor in Syria by taking urgent humanitarian action with their troops and air power in relieving the siege of Aleppo…

Potentially in NATO there is the necessary support for such an intervention by Turkey. But since the failed military coup against President Erdogan in Turkey, a very damaging strain emerged in NATO’s relations with their fellow member, namely the role in this latest coup of the Iman Fethullah Gulen.

…..On Friday 23 September Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag announced in Istanbul that US Vice President Joe Biden had accepted that there is “concrete evidence” that Gulen was behind the failed coup. Assuming there is substantive evidence in relation to Gulen the political path is therefore open for early and decisive action over Syria between Washington and Ankara.

Turkish military action should and could be mounted within hours of a decision by President Erdogan to move a considerable number of Turkish tanks, artillery and ground to air missiles into Syria within range of Assad forces around Aleppo. They would have the power to implement a No Fly Zone crucially given what is already happening in the air from the ground with protected land corridors for humanitarian aid and the flow of people both ways into Aleppo. This should be accompanied by a demand for the withdrawal of Assad forces to a line between Hama and Aleppo..

NATO forces would guard Turkey as they conducted this humanitarian operation. Air activity outside the NFZ would continue against ISIL in Syria and Iraq by Russia, NATO and Assad forces. A Kurdish area of influence in Syria in relation to ISIL would continue de facto. Areas of influence would apply, if they are prepared to exercise them, by Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan over the borders of Syria predominantly against ISIL. This whole initiative should be discussed at the highest military level in the NATO-Russian Council before going to the Security Council.

When the time is ripe, UN supervised elections should take place in Syria and a single government be chosen for a unified but probably federal country. To try to anticipate when this can happen is at present impossible given the complexity of the conflict between anti-Assad Syrian fighters and the nature of ISIL. The humanitarian imperative is for the region to act and the world to help.

 

Syria and the revival of the Nato-Russia Council

Lord Owen writes to The Times welcoming Nato’s decision to take up his idea of reviving the Russia-Nato Council “for better political co-operation with Moscow”. (Click on the letter to enlarge it.)

Timesletter2_opt-2

Lord Owen’s House of Lords speech on the report into EU relations with Russia. 24 March 2015

“All the members of the committee deserve to be congratulated on the report and on the tone that they have brought to this discussion…. We have to develop a much greater understanding of the complexity of the issues and we must do so fairly urgently….

“A great deal has been said about this whole issue of why Russia feels encircled. History shows us exactly the same: if you look to the origins of the 1914 war, there is no question but that encirclement was a big factor. It was felt not just by Russia at various stages but byGermany and by other countries…..

“We must return to this area to try to find our way through these difficult questions.”

View the full text here: H.LDebateonEU&Russia24.3.15

Speech by Lord Owen in The House of Lords: Role of Russia in Upholding International Law

Speech by Lord Owen in The House of Lords, 16 October 2014

My Lords, I have been involved in business in Russia since 1995—mainly with a steel firm in Stary Oskol, some 600 kilometres south of Moscow—because I believed then and believe now that through business relations we will best establish good relations between the United Kingdom and Russia. I have also been a very strong believer in the Budapest memorandum, which relates to the subject of this debate, feeling it absolutely essential that countries which give up nuclear weapons should be strongly supported and feel that they have some form of military guarantee. It is of course nowhere near as strong as an Article 5 NATO agreement. I agree with what the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, said just now: it is a great mistake to expand NATO to either Georgia or Ukraine. We were advised about this many years ago by George Kennan; he was completely correct…

 

To read the full speech please click here

Putin is key to avoiding a new cold war

Article by Lord Owen, published in The Guardian 26 August 2014

If the presidents of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine meet as planned in Minsk tomorrow, it will inevitably recall the time leaders of those same republics met to dissolve the USSR at the Belavezha hunting lodge in Belarus on 8 December 1991.

Then, the key figure was the president of the Russian Federation, Boris Yeltsin. Now it is Vladimir Putin. In 1991, George HW Bush was still striving to keep the Soviet Union together, and he was not sure which way Yeltsin would move. Today, Obama will be hoping for a settlement, but is very unsure of the outcome…

To read the full article please click here

 

Crimea: Compromise, Not Sanctions, is the Way Forward

Article by Lord Owen, Published in The Huffington Post 17 March, 2014

Crimea Vote

Territorial disputes are only solved after long, hard negotiations. The only recent exception in Europe has been the very successful velvet divorce conducted without referendums or threats of violence by politicians in what was Czechoslovakia. Let us not forget either that that was achieved in the teeth of opposition from European governments and the Russian Federation who wanted no change in boundaries…

To read the full article please click here