Diplomacy Is Only Part of the Solution

October 16, 2017

In earlier posts, I have often referred to President Obama’s visit to Turkey in early April, 2009. This is what I said:

“The President arrived in Turkey after attending a G20 summit in London, a NATO summit in Strasbourg and an EU summit in Prague. In other words, this was his first bilateral visit abroad. The following paragraph from the speech he delivered before the Turkish Grand National Assembly reflected the purpose of the visit:

“This morning I had the great privilege of visiting the tomb of your extraordinary founder of your republic. And I was deeply impressed by this beautiful memorial to a man who did so much to shape the course of history. But it is also clear that the greatest monument to Atatürk’s life is not something that can be cast in stone and marble. His greatest legacy is Turkey’s strong, vibrant, secular democracy, and that is the work this assembly carries on today…

“The message: Turkey, with its secular democracy has set an example for the Islamic world. Turkey should continue this path, and others should follow.” Continue reading

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Turkey’s Syria Policy Coming Full Circle

October 10, 2017

The Syrian conflict is in its seventh year and much has changed after the Russian intervention. Gone are the days of the Friends of Syria Group meetings and international coalitions targeting regime change. This Group was formed after Russia and China, in the light of the Libya experience, vetoed a UN Security Council resolution intended to pave the way for another Western intervention. The Group held its first meeting in Tunis on February 24, 2012. On April 1st, 2012, it met for the second time in Istanbul. Continue reading

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The Uncertain Future of the Iran Nuclear Deal

October 6, 2017
On September 19, President Trump addressed the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly. He called the Iran nuclear deal an embarrassment to the US and said, “I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it – believe me.”
Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that President Trump is expected to announce next week that he will “decertify” the international nuclear deal with Iran, saying it is not in the national interest of the United States and kicking the issue to a reluctant Congress. According to the Washington Post, Mr. Trump would hold off on recommending that Congress re-impose sanctions, which would constitute a clearer break from the pact. The decision would amount to a middle ground of sorts between Trump, who has long wanted to withdraw from the agreement completely, and many congressional leaders and senior diplomatic, military and national security advisers, who say the deal is worth preserving with changes if possible. Continue reading

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Kurdistan Regional Government’s Referendum

September 26, 2017
During his meeting with President Erdogan on the margins of the UN General Assembly, President Trump heaped words of praise on his guest.
“He’s running a very difficult part of the world,” Trump said. “He’s involved very, very strongly and, frankly, he’s getting very high marks. And he’s also been working with the United States. We have a great friendship as countries. I think we’re, right now, as close as we have ever been. And a lot of that has to do with the personal relationship.”
President Erdogan was reserved. He referred to his host as “my dear friend Donald” and said, “… we will be assessing the current relations between the United States and Turkey, and have an opportunity to discuss recent regional developments as well…” Continue reading

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President Trump’s “Philosophical” UNGA Speech

September 20, 2017

On Tuesday, President Trump addressed the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) for the first time (*). According to media reports based on White House and administration sources, this was going to be a “philosophical” speech. Yet, when Mr. Trump left the hall after his 42-minute remarks, he must also have left behind a confused and worried audience. Continue reading

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UN’s Test with the Rohingya

September 15, 2017
On December 15, 2016, respected think-tank International Crisis Group published a report titled, “Myanmar: A New Muslim Insurgency in Rakhine State” (*). This was following the attacks on Border Guard Police (BGP) bases in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State on October 9, 2016 during which, according to the authorities, nine policemen lost their lives. The report dealt with the plight of the Rohingya, the emergence of a new insurgent group and warned of what could follow. These are key passages from the said report: Continue reading

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A World in Conflict and Turkey

September 11, 2017

Asked in a Guardian interview whether he had known a more dangerous time in his 30-year career, NATO’s Secretary General Stoltenberg said: “It is more unpredictable, and it’s more difficult because we have so many challenges at the same time… We have proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in North Korea, we have terrorists, instability, and we have a more assertive Russia… It is a more dangerous world… If I started to speculate about potential military options I would only add to the uncertainty and difficulty of the situation so I think my task is not to be contribute to that. I will support efforts to find a political, negotiated solution” (*). Continue reading

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