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Israel shocked by Obama’s approval of large Turkish arms sale to Lebanon

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report

April 22, 2009, 10:49 PM (GMT+02:00)

DEBKAfile quotes senior Israeli military circles as staggered by the discovery that US president Barack Obama had approved a large Turkish arms sale to the Lebanese army, including the services of Turkish military instructors. This was taken as further proof that the US president is deaf to Israel’s immediate security concerns. Lebanese president Gen. Michel Suleiman has more than once threatened neighboring Israel. When he signed the arms deal in Ankara Tuesday, April 21, he once again pledged publicly to place the Lebanese army at the disposal of the Shiite terrorist Hizballah in any confrontation with Israel.

If that happened, said one Israeli source, Israel could find itself under attack not just by Hizballah as in the past, but by a Lebanese army, well trained and armed by Turkey. He noted that more than 50 percent of Lebanon’s fighting manpower are Shiites loyal to Hizballah.

The conviction is growing in Jerusalem that the US president endorsed the transaction as a means of breaking up the long-standing military pact between Israel and Turkey, because it interferes with his Middle East objectives. Our sources note that neither Washington nor Ankara bothered to inform Israel of the transaction or its scope.

After meeting Turkish president Abdullah Gul, Suleiman at the head of a large Lebanese military delegation signed the contracts for the sale and declared with deep satisfaction: “We reviewed the new [US] policies towards the region in the light of President Obama’s recent visit to Turkey.”
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