Rutgers Israel Public Affairs Committee Israel Update
U.S. Asked Jordan and Turkey to Take Action if Syria Uses Chemical Weapons
The U.S. government has asked Jordan and Turkey to take action in the event that Syria uses chemical weapons. The exact nature of the action expected from the two nations, which could include the destruction or takeover of the Assad regime’s chemical weapons facilities, is not yet known. Washington made a strategic decision to ask Jordan and Turkey to take the lead in combating any Syrian use of chemical weapons rather than committing American forces.
Both Jordan and Turkey have agreed to train their forces and to use U.S.-supplied equipment, but both governments have so far refused to promise to intervene if Syrian President Bashar Assad uses chemical weapons against rebel forces in his country as long as he does not violate Jordanian or Turkish sovereignty in doing so. Jordan and Turkey have been on high alert since December over the possible launch of Syrian missiles carrying chemical warheads. According to a report by the U.S.-based investigative news organization the Center for Public Integrity, U.S. officials have recently discussed the possibility of removing the stockpiles from Syria and destroying them, not only with Jordan and Turkey but also with Russia and Iraq.
U.S. Looks to Israel For Clues On Women In Combat
As the United States moves to integrate more women into combat roles, some have looked to Israel, which has one of the most gender-neutral militaries in the world. IDF Spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich said “the military really did a revolution” since she joined up more than 20 years ago, when the vast majority of female soldiers served in human resources or educational posts. Today, about half the I.D.F.’s lieutenants are women, as are 13 percent of those at or above the rank of lieutenant colonel. “You see more and more women in the battalions and the brigades,” said Colonel Leibovich.
Senators Condemn Morsi’s Anti-Semitic Comments
Eight senators met with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday as part of a bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee delegation trip to Egypt. The senators in attendance were John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Sheldon White house (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Christopher Coons (D-DE) and John Hoeven (R-ND).
The senators’ meeting with Morsi took place in the wake of the exposure of anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist speeches made by Morsi three years ago. In the newly resurfaced videos of these speeches, Morsi called for Egyptians “to nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred …for Zionists, for Jews,” referring to Zionists as “bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs.”
The senators voiced their condemnation of Morsi’s remarks in strong terms, with Sen. Gillibrand issuing a statement that “President Morsi’s offensive remarks towards Israel and the Jewish people are troublesome and deeply disturbing. I was very specific and direct with President Morsi deploring these comments.” Sen. McCain noted that the senators “voiced our strong disapproval” of the remarks. In spite of their reservations over Morsi’s comments, the senators emphasized their support for Egypt’s transition to democracy. “We all believe in the continued importance of the US-Egypt relationship,” Sen. McCain said, and called for “a truly strategic partnership between our peoples, our nations and our elected governments.” The senators indicated they would urge Congress to provide Egypt with aid and encourage American business investment, but noted that future instances of inflammatory rhetoric or antidemocratic measures would have a potentially negative impact on U.S. aid and business cooperation.
Iran Issues Threatening Warning Against Attack on Syria
A top aide to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned on Saturday that any foreign attack on Syria would be considered an attack on Iran. The warning came as NATO deployed missile-defense batteries along Turkey’s tense border with Syria. NATO’s decision to deploy the six missile batteries, called Patriots, in Turkish borderlands has agitated the Syrian government and its chief allies, Iran and Russia. Tehran and Moscow view the move as a provocation that could escalate hostilities and widen the almost 2-year-old Syrian conflict. About 400 troops from the United States, Germany and the Netherlands are expected to accompany the Patriot batteries. The comments mark Iran’s strongest public declaration of support for Syria to date. “An attack on Syria would be considered an attack on Iran and Iran’s allies,” said Khamenei’s aide. Iran has repeatedly referred to Syria’s crucial role in the “golden resistance chain” against Israel and the United States. The Iran-led “resistance” front includes Syria, Lebanon-based Hezbollah and the Palestinian group Hamas.