Iran Sanctions and Turkey’s Brunson Headache

August 10, 2018

The JCPOA was finalized by Iran and the P5+1 on July 14, 2015. Six days later the UN Security Council voted unanimously to endorse the agreement and “terminate” all prior UN sanctions subject to re-imposition through a snapback mechanism. High level visits to Tehran immediately started. The first to arrive was German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel. He was followed by EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. These were months before the IAEA certified that Iran had fulfilled her obligations under the JCPOA and the US and the EU lifted their nuclear-related oil and financial sanctions against Iran. President Hassan Rouhani described the achievement as a “golden page” in his country’s history opening new windows for Iran’s engagement with the world. It was hoped that the deal would end decades of hostile relations between Tehran and Washington. Continue reading

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Turkey-US: A Mind-boggling Relationship

August 3, 2018

Washington has imposed sanctions on Turkey’s Ministers of Interior and Justice. These may be symbolic but their significance cannot be underrated. Ankara has reacted. The disarrayed opposition is clamoring for retaliation. Russia and Iran have condemned US action. Their “support” has made headlines in the Turkish media with some newspapers now drawing attention to the “religious dimension” of the dispute. Turkish currency continues to fall. Continue reading

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The Idlib Challenge

July 31, 2018

Ever since the beginning the dictum was “there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict”. Yet external parties involved in the war and their proxies knew all along that this was far from reflecting their true intentions. At the outset the West and their regional allies were determined to oust President Assad from power and gave the opposition every support. As time went by West’s resolve wore off as a result of the inability of the so-called “moderate opposition” to turn itself into a major player and the growing fear that regime change might end up with radical extremists in power. Russia’s intervention in Syria was a game changer which gave the Assad regime upper-hand on the battlefield. Since then the anti-Assad Western alliance has all but collapsed. Continue reading

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On Turkish-American Relations

July 24, 2018

In conventional wisdom, continuity was a prominent feature of sound foreign policy. This did not mean that adjustments, seeking new political/economic opportunities, innovative approaches to conflict resolution were only to be resisted. Nonetheless, a country’s remaining on a steady course was perceived by friends, allies and adversaries as a measure of reliability. Unpredictability was never an asset. President Trump does not appear to agree. Continue reading

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President Trump’s Stormy Journey to Europe

July 16, 2018

After a confrontational NATO summit in Brussels where the primus inter pares target was Germany and a UK visit which was characterized by some observers as an “assault on diplomatic norms” President Trump met his Russian counterpart in Helsinki. He arrived in the Finnish capital leaving behind a week of controversy while the latter came from a successful World Cup which gave its host Russia added international visibility. At the beginning of the Helsinki meeting President Trump repeated his conviction that good relations between Washington and Moscow are good for both countries and the world. Continue reading

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President Trump Upends the NATO Summit

July 12, 2018

Donald Trump took the oath of office as the President of the United States on January 20, 2017. By then, the Ukraine conflict had already turned into a frozen one and despite statements regarding non-recognition of Crimea’s annexation by Russia everybody knew that the clock could not be turned back. Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov had failed to ensure progress in Syria’s political transition despite frequent claims that “when they cooperated, the two countries could make a difference”. Washington’s relations Beijing were experiencing the usual ups and downs related to territorial disputes in the South China Sea. NATO solidarity looked strong. The JCPOA signed between P5+1 and Iran was globally endorsed as a good investment the exception being PM Netanyahu and some Gulf states. Emphasis on Israeli-Palestinian peace and democratic evolution had further widened the rift between Washington on one side and Israel and the Gulf states on the other. In brief, not everything was perfect; there was still a lot to worry about but dealing with unpredictability had not become the first and foremost challenge. Continue reading

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Regime Change

July 5, 2018

In November 2003, thousands of Georgian demonstrators took to the streets to protest the flawed results of a parliamentary election. They gave red roses to the soldiers symbolizing their peaceful intentions. And, soldiers who were expected to quell the protests laid down their guns. Thus, it became known as the Rose Revolution. No one was hurt. President Shevardnadze was replaced by Mikhail Saakashvili. Later he led Georgia into a disastrous confrontation with Russia in 2008; left the country 2013 only become a headache for Ukraine’s President Poroshenko. Continue reading

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