March 21, 2019
The Christchurch massacre was a horrendous crime. It was a ghastly, dastardly act of terrorism. The innocent people who lost their lives there ranged in age from 3 to 71. The enormity of the crime shocked the people of New Zealand and Muslims around the world. It shocked the world. It was a tragedy and its handling a huge challenge for the government of New Zealand. Continue reading
March 18, 2019
At the end of March Turkey will hold municipal elections. However, the ongoing campaign is not about our failed city planning, repairing broken sidewalks and potholed streets.
For the JDP this is an exercise to further consolidate its power. It is running its campaign on a nationalistic platform claiming that the election is about Turkey’s survival. The JDP has won every single election since 2002 and the prospect of losing the popular vote and/or the mayorships of major cities has now become its worst nightmare. President Erdoğan is crisscrossing the country from one end to the other leading his Party’s campaign. This is a novelty of our new “presidential system” approved in the April 2017 constitutional referendum with a very slim margin (51.41 % – 48.59%). In that referendum the JDP lost in all major cities. The Party, as before, relies heavily on religious themes. Its rhetoric is at times threatening and almost always polarizing. Continue reading
March 11, 2019
At the beginning of the Syrian conflict Russia and Turkey were on diametrically opposite sides. Russia was supporting the regime, the Turkish government the opposition. Nonetheless, Turkish-Russian relations remained on track.
On November 24, 2015 a stunning development changed the picture. Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 military plane for having violated Turkish airspace for 17 seconds. This was no “accident”. It was a tragic “incident”. Continue reading
March 2, 2019
The three paragraphs below were among the conclusions I had drawn from the first Trump-Kim summit held in Singapore on June 12, 2018 (*):
- The Singapore summit marks the relaunching, under more favorable circumstances and with a lot of theater, of decades of diplomatic negotiations with Pyongyang on denuclearization. However, the DPRK is now an established nuclear power. Thus, there is a long road ahead and a US president with little patience.
- One may conclude therefore that in the negotiations soon to be launched, the Trump White House would insist on rapid denuclearization and Kim Jong Un on the need to normalize relations and at least a gradual lifting of sanctions.
- It seems that under Mr. Trump conventional diplomacy will give way to one-to-one deal-making with no mention of agreements, treaties and multilateralism.
February 26, 2019
The following is among the permanent fixtures of UN Security Council resolutions on terrorism:
“Emphasizing that terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, or civilization…”
The reality is different and reflects a multitude of contradictions. Continue reading
February 22, 2019
The war in Syria appears to be coming to an end and the return of ISIS fighters and families to their countries is becoming a major issue.
The UK is unwilling to agree to the return of Shamima Begum, an unrepentant ISIS wife. And the US State Department has said that Hoda Muthana, another ISIS wife “is not a U.S. citizen and will not be admitted into the United States. She does not have any legal basis, no valid U.S. passport, no right to a passport, nor any visa to travel to the United States.”
Turkish daily Hürriyet reported today that the US has asked Turkey to undertake the protection of ISIS children. What that means is not clear, but it probably involves a US financial contribution to meet their needs, provide for their education, etc. It is more than likely that soon will come another proposal for the settlement of ISIS families in Turkey. After all Washington must think, a Turkish foreign minister had once referred to them as “angry kids”. Continue reading
February 19, 2019
The war in Syria appears to be coming to an end. During the past eight years it was migration which led to internal political challenges for European governments and to divisions within the EU. Now it is ISIS wives and fighters returning home. The prospect has preoccupied Western security services and think tanks for long, but it was Shamima Begum who triggered the public discussion. Since the UK has no diplomatic or consular personnel in Syria security minister Ben Wallace said he would not put officials’ lives at risk to rescue UK citizens who went to Syria and Iraq to join Islamic State, adding “actions have consequences”. Many in the UK are said to oppose the return of ISIS fighters. Others believe the UK cannot refuse the return of UK citizens. Continue reading