“Normalizing” Turkish-American Relations

February 18, 2018

In view of increasing tensions between Ankara and Washington, engaging in comprehensive, substantial and authoritative talks at sufficiently high level, preferably in Ankara to be of consequence, had become the dictate of diplomacy (1).  Last week, following other high-level talks, Secretary Tillerson visited Ankara and met with President Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu. Since there was nobody else in the room other than the three at the Presidential Palace last Thursday, there will be no proper record of this meeting and hopefully this will not lead to new misunderstandings. Continue reading

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Who are the terrorists?

February 5, 2018

Washington designated Hamas as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997. Last week the Department of State also designated its leader Ismail Haniyeh as a terrorist. Some in the Arab world were no doubt delighted whereas Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu strongly criticized the decision because the government regards Ismail Haniyeh a freedom fighter. The truth is such disagreements between nations are not uncommon. It all depends on countries’ perception of national interest as well as ideology. Continue reading

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Turkish-American Relations Under Strain

January 29, 2018

On May 16, 2017 Presidents Erdogan and Trump had talks in Washington. A few days before the visit I had said:

“…neither Ankara nor Washington can afford a too rocky relationship with too many ups and downs. They need one another and a reasonably steady relationship. So, the uneasy, unhappy alliance will continue.” (*)

I may have been over-optimistic. At present, the two capitals can’t agree even on the gist of a phone call between the presidents. Continue reading

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Shifting Priorities in Syria

January 22, 2018

On January 17, Secretary Tillerson delivered remarks at Stanford University. His topic was “The Way Forward for the United States Regarding Syria”. Next to him was Condoleezza Rice, National Security Adviser and later Secretary of State during the Bush administration. Mr. Tillerson said that Ms. Rice has been “a great source of help and inspiration” to him. Continue reading

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From a War of Travel Advisories to a Face-off in Syria

January 15, 2018

On December 28, 2017, the Turkish Embassy in Washington issued a statement which welcomed the decision of the U.S. to resume regular visa procedures by lifting the restrictions applied to Turkish citizens and said that in accordance with the principle of reciprocity, restrictions on visa services applied to American citizens had been lifted simultaneously. This was supposed to be good news for a turbulent relationship. Not quite… Continue reading

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Obituary for Turkey’s EU Accession Process

January 7, 2017

Turkey remains in diplomatic isolation. Once, the government called this “precious loneliness”, a price Ankara was prepared to pay no matter what for its “principled foreign policy”. However, this policy of needless defiance coupled with the decline of Turkish democracy has become unsustainable. Continue reading

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Iran Protests and the Middle East

January 4, 2013

The protests in Iran became a focus of international attention during the past week. In the background were the nature of the Iranian regime, its expanding regional reach which is largely a result of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq and the Syrian conflict, regional rivalries and the future of the Iran nuclear deal.
In addressing the Muslim world in Cairo on June 4, 2009, President Obama said that no system of government could or should be imposed upon one nation by any other. However, he also underlined his “unyielding belief” that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak their mind and have a say in how they are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as they choose. Continue reading

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