Turkish protesters have attacked German troops stationed in the Mediterranean port of Iskenderun to operate NATO’s Patriot missiles.
Members of the Turkish Youth Union (TGB), affiliated to the Turkey Workers’ Party, attacked the soldiers in the center of the city on Tuesday and tried to put sacks on their heads.
Turkish media quoted Iskendurun Prosecutors Office as saying that 14 activists have been arrested and 28 others charged with intentionally attempting to cause harm.
Also on Tuesday, Turkish protesters staged a rally in the capital Ankara to voice opposition to the deployment of NATO’s missile system and the presence of foreign troops in the country.
Over the past days, similar protests have been held in front of the German and US embassies.
German and Dutch missile batteries, as part of NATO’s mission, arrived in Turkey on Monday. The surface-to-air missiles will be deployed near the border with Syria.
The United States, another contributor to the NATO mission, has also begun deployment of two Patriot missile batteries at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey’s southeast.
Russia has frequently expressed opposition to the deployment of the missiles in Turkey, which Ankara claims is aimed to deterring any threat emanating from its southern neighbor, Syria.
Moscow says the threats facing Ankara have been exaggerated in order to justify NATO’s deployment of the advanced missiles along the Syrian border, adding that the measure would increase the “risk that these arms will be used.”
- Turkish police arrest anti-Patriot missile protesters (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Anti-Patriot protesters gather in front of German Embassy in Ankara (presstv.ir)
NATO has reportedly agreed to increase Israel’s participation in its activities in 2013 after Ankara eased its opposition to the move following the alliance’s approval of the deployment of Patriot missiles to Turkey.
Citing Israeli officials, the Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday that “the approval had come as Turkey’s request that NATO station Patriot missile batteries along its border with Syria was granted, leading them to assess that NATO was using the deployment as leverage to induce Ankara to thaw its relations with Israel.”
Israel, a NATO partner participating in seminars, exercises and training courses, has been requesting to increase its role in the military alliance but it was met with an objection from Turkey, a full NATO member.
“At the last minute – and I think it was dependent on the Patriots – it was approved,” said one Israeli official on condition of anonymity.
The Israeli official also said that Israel’s approval for participation in the 2013 work plan and other traditional NATO activities “is not a total solution” to tensions between Israel and Turkey.
The report added that Israel is seeking to improve its status in NATO, but Tel Aviv’s fears about the opposition of Turkey which enjoys veto power over decision-making in the alliance which is conducted by consensus.
NATO officials have been pushing to improve the Israel-Turkey ties that were soured after the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident in 2010, according to Post.
“We would like the issue to be resolved sooner rather than later,” a NATO official said on condition of anonymity. “For the time being we’re trying to find ways to keep the conversation going with Israel.”
NATO has approved of Turkey’s request for the deployment of Patriot surface-to-air missiles in its territory.
The agreement emerged from a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on December 4th despite strong opposition from Russia, Syria and Iran.
On December 14th, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta signed orders to authorize the plan to deploy Patriot missile batteries and about 400 troops to Turkey following the announcement of a similar move by Germany.
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- Turkish students say no to NATO Patriot missiles on Syria border (realisticbird.wordpress.com)