Diplomacy Urged in Resolving Syria Turkey Row

BEIRUT (Reuters)–Arab nations on Monday called on Syria and Turkey to spare the Middle East another conflict and resolve their row peacefully and the Arab League accused Israel of being behind the crisis.

Saudi Arabia–the United Arab Emirates–Jordan and Algeria on Monday all separately called on Syria and Turkey to settle their dispute through diplomacy.

An Arab League official accused Israel of being behind Turkey’s row with Syria and said the Jewish state stands to gain from fomenting the crisis.

Relations between Syria and Turkey–often strained–have worsened in recent weeks with Syria bridling at Turkey’s growing military links with Israel and Ankara threatening Damascus for allegedly supporting Kurds.

Syria denies supporting rebels seeking Kurdish autonomy in southeast Turkey. Both countries have said they want a peaceful solution to the dispute.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel had no part in the crisis between Syria and Turkey.

But General Ahmed Bin Hilli–deputy secretary-general of the Arab League–said: "Israel is behind the crisis." He said–"It benefits from such a tense atmosphere in implementing its aggressive policies in Arab land and stalling peace."

In its weekly meeting headed by King Fahd–the Saudi cabinet "called on the two neighbors Syria and Turkey to resolve the matters between them by diplomatic means which will not lead to clashes," the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

The UAE cabinet also expressed concern about deteriorating relations between Syria and Turkey and called on "peace-loving" countries to help resolve the row by peaceful means.

Jordan’s Crown Prince Hassan called Turkish President Suleyman Demirel on Monday to urge his country to find a peaceful solution.

Jordanian officials said the prince–who recently defended his country’s growing military ties with Ankara–called for "the crisis to be contained and solved by diplomatic channels."

Voices across the Middle East condemned the confrontation as evidence the emerging Israeli-Turkish alliance would deepen regional divisions.

"The Turkish threats are nothing but a primary result of the Turkish-Israeli strategic alliance," Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri said in Beirut newspaper an-Nahar.

Newspapers and officials gave little credence to Turkish claims the rise in tension was triggered by inaction on its long-standing charge that Syria backs Kurdish separatists–seeing the Turkish threats as a byproduct of Turkey’s increasing military ties with the Israeli government.

"It is only in Israel’s interest to drag Syria into another front so that Netanyahu can go on imposing his conditions," read an editorial in the Egyptian newspaper al-Gomhouria.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak flew to Damascus on Sunday and was expected in Turkey on Tuesday to try to defuse the row.

"The Turkish-Israeli alliance works for aims that have no relation with the Kurdish issue," Lebanese Foreign Minister Faris Bouez told reporters in Beirut. "It aims at surrounding Syria and Lebanon because they did not obey Netanyahu’s terms for peace."


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