May 22, 2019
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party’s (JDP) principal theme in the recent municipal election campaign was “the fight for Turkey’s survival”. The party and its supporters in the media claimed that Turkey was under the siege of external powers which were determined to block Turkey’s path to becoming a global player through an array of conspiracies. Who those powers are, was never spelled out. Nonetheless, Turkish government’s disappointment with Western reaction to the Gülenist coup attempt of July 15, 2016, continuing frustration with the support extended to the PYD/YPG and the s400s/s35 conundrum offer some clues and these only point toward the US and the EU, in other words, Turkey’s traditional Western allies. Continue reading
May 16, 2019
During his first visit to Moscow on 6-8 July 2009 President Obama tried to “reset” relations. Unfortunately for the international community this failed to materialize. The Arab Spring led to a new set of confrontations. Snowden affair became an irritant and led to the cancellation by Washington of an Obama-Putin summit that was to take place during the G-20 meeting in St. Petersburg on 5-6 September 2013. Yet a brief encounter of the two leaders there paved the way for the agreement on the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons only to be followed by the crisis in Ukraine. Continue reading
May 9, 2019
That Turkey has a strategic location is an axiom of our foreign policy. Although this is generally presented as an asset, it has always been a double-edged sword since we border on conflict areas, prominently among them the Middle East. In the past, we believed that non-involvement in regional problems particularly inter-Arab feuds, doing our best to control damage and to promote stability served our interests.
Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 had severe consequences for Turkey’s security, trade and economic relations with the region. Later, the US invasion of Iraq, the Arab spring, the Syrian conflict and the rise of the Islamic state threw our immediate vicinity into turmoil. Continue reading
May 6, 2019
Turkey held municipal elections on Sunday, March 31. Late in the evening polling stations finished counting the votes. In Istanbul, like in other major cities, the result was a victory for the opposition candidate, Mr. Imamoglu. However, the ruling Justice and Development Party (JDP) asked over and over for recounts and eventually a rerun. The emerging controversy diverted attention from our heavily loaded national agenda which ranges from the current economic downturn to troubled relations with allies not to mention our Syria predicament. Continue reading
April 25, 2019
President Hassan Rouhani had called the JCPOA a “golden page” in his country’s history, opening a new chapter in Iran’s engagement with the world. It was hoped that the deal would end decades of hostile relations between Tehran and Washington.
With President Trump that “golden page” has unfortunately turned into a fond memory. With the IAEA regularly reporting that Iran is abiding by its commitments under the JCPOA, the P4+Germany and the international community, with the exception of Israel and US’ Gulf allies, still support the deal. Washington’s reneging on its commitments under the JCPOA will no doubt lead to questions regarding the consistency of US foreign policy. But equally if not more important will be dealing with Mr. Trump’s threat that “anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States”, despite the fact that these new sanctions are not endorsed by the UN. Continue reading
April 12, 2019
In February, tens of thousands of Algerians took to the streets demanding an end to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s two decades-long rule. On April 3, he had to resign. To put it more accurately, he was removed from power. Whether he was actually in power or had become just a figurehead can be disputed. Mr. Bouteflika is no ordinary politician. He first distinguished himself during Algeria’s War of Liberation. In 1963 he became foreign minister at the age of 26, a post he held until 1979. With him at the helm of Algeria diplomacy, the country became one of the leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement. In 1974 he was elected President of the twenty-ninth session of the UN General Assembly. Continue reading
April 7, 2019
On March 31 Turkey had municipal elections. The result was a yellow card for the government. However, the ruling Justice and Development Party (JDP) immediately asked for recounts in Ankara and İstanbul where, according to initial figures, they lost the mayoralties after more than two decades. Is asking for recounts within the law? Yes, it is. But then government started saying that elected mayors who don’t command the majority in municipal councils, İstanbul being a case in point, would have a hard time governing. Thus, what should be a technical process has now turned into a political controversy whereby the government challenges more than the ballot box and that is pushing it too far. Turkey desperately needs to put this episode behind and turn to its heavily-loaded agenda. Continue reading