German-Turkish Relations: The Downturn Continues

August 21, 2017

According to a recent Pew Research Center survey titled, “Publics Worldwide Unfavorable Toward Putin, Russia”, in few countries surveyed did people exhibit confidence in Putin to do the right thing regarding world affairs (1). Globally, a median of 60% said that they lack confidence in Putin’s global leadership. Europe emerged as the region least confident in Putin, with a median of 78% expressing a lack of confidence in the Russian President. Eight-in-ten or more in Poland (89%), Spain (88%), the Netherlands (87%), Sweden (87%) and France (80%) lack trust in Putin. The figure for Germany and Turkey is 74%. Continue reading

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World’s North Korea Conundrum

 

August 13, 2017

Following his first meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago on April 7, President Trump said, “… the relationship developed by President Xi and myself I think is outstanding…” 

On July 30, a disappointed President Trump launched a Twitter assault on Peking saying, “I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet… they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!” Continue reading

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Afghanistan Moving up on Washington’s Agenda

August 7, 2017

For some time now, the Trump administration has been working on a “new strategy” for Afghanistan; a task which unfortunately offers little room for innovative approaches. Reportedly, this new strategy would authorize the Pentagon to set troop numbers in Afghanistan and give the military far broader authority to use airstrikes against the Taliban and IS affiliates. It is understood that sending at least 4,000 more troops and lifting the restrictions that limited the mobility of U.S. military advisers on the battlefield are under consideration. This new strategy is also expected to push an increasingly confident and resurgent Taliban back to the negotiating table. And, with the news that President Trump is frustrated with the delay in finalizing this new strategy and has threatened to fire General Nicholson, the top US military commander there, the question of Afghanistan has moved up on Washington’s agenda. Reports that Iran is gaining ground in Afghanistan as American presence wanes must add to the frustration. Continue reading

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Middle East’s Failures and External Meddling

July 31, 2017

On April 4, 2017, toxic substance spread after Syrian warplanes dropped bombs on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in the rebel-held Idlib province. The West and Russia offered conflicting explanations for the tragedy. Three days later, US cruise missiles struck Al Sharyat airfield.

Five days later, President Trump’s fire-breathing Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said, “In no way do we look at peace happening in that area with Iranian influence. In no way do we see peace in that area with Russia covering up for Assad. In no way do we see peace in that area with Assad as the head of the Syrian government.” Continue reading

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Arab World in Disarray

July 24, 2017
The competition between Tehran and Riyadh for regional supremacy attracts a lot of international attention. Precision forecasts in today’s turbulent and unpredictable Middle East remain risky. However, in retrospect, one cannot but observe that the trend has been Iran’s ascendancy particularly since the coming to power of President Rouhani and his choice of Javad Zarif as foreign minister. Continue reading

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Diplomatic Realignment in the West?

July 16, 2017

Dissolution of the Soviet Union marked the end of the Cold War. The profound changes in structures which had governed East-West relations for five decades led to a unipolar world at the center of which was the US. However, American intervention in Afghanistan, the invasion of Iraq, the cost and the difficulties of remaining on perpetual war footing did not allow this to last. With a steadily rising China and a resurgent Russia came the multipolar world. Ever since, “global realignment” has remained a current topic. And, last week’s G-20 summit in Hamburg, Chancellor Merkel’s “deploring” the decision by the US to withdraw from the Paris climate change agreement and President Trump’s somewhat surprise visit to France for Bastille Day led some to look at relations between Washington and its Western allies. Continue reading

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Moving Towards Post-ISIS Iraq and Syria

July 9, 2017

During his first visit to Moscow in July 2009 President Obama tried to “reset” US-Russia relations. It did not happen. The Arab Spring led to a new set of confrontations. Snowden affair became an irritant and lead to the cancellation by Washington of an Obama-Putin meeting that was to take place during the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg. Yet, their brief encounter there on September 5, 2013 led agreement on the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons only to be followed by the crisis in Ukraine. Continue reading

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