September 22, 2020
With the November 3 presidential election approaching, the Trump administration’s Middle East policy has shifted into a higher gear. It began on January 28 with the unveiling, by President Trump and PM Netanyahu, of the “deal of the century”, officially called “Peace to Prosperity”. On August 13, the UAE became the third Arab country to have diplomatic relations with Israel. Saudi Arabia announced that it would allow flights from “all countries” to cross over its airspace on flights to or from the United Arab Emirates. Thus, El Al was able to fly a joint US-Israel delegation to Abu Dhabi, through Saudi airspace.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Abraham Accords, Bahrain, Biden, Erdogan, Greece-Turkey, Iran, Israel, sanctions snapback, Trump, Turkish foreign policy, UAE
September 15, 2020
Last week, fires destroyed Greece’s largest migrant camp on the island of Lesbos, leaving more than 12,000 people without shelter. It was a tragedy, a stark reminder of West’s misguided interventions in Libya and Syria, and Europe’s second major problem after Covid-19, the refugee issue.
September 7, 2020
The following is from “OECD Economic Surveys, Greece” of July 2020:
“Greece has responded swiftly to the pandemic and has effectively limited infections, but the economy has been hit hard… Before the pandemic hit, the Greek economy had been expanding for over three years at just below 2% average annual growth…
“The COVID-19 shock risks exacerbating Greece’s long-standing labor market challenges. The employment rate has increased over the past six years but is still one of the lowest among OECD countries. Women and the young continue suffering from low employment rates. The lack of prospects has pushed many talented young people to emigrate, lowering the country’s entrepreneurial and innovation potential. Poverty and material deprivation, while improving, are high, especially among the young and families.”[i] Continue reading
August 31, 2020
Following the Belarus presidential election, protesters took to the streets claiming that the result was rigged. With Ukraine conflict continuing across the border, theirs was an act of courage. Riot police reacted with violence. President Lukashenko has been in power for 26 years and foreign election observers have been barred since 1995. Two days after the election, opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, left Belarus for neighboring Lithuania. From safety in Vilnius she said, “The Belarusian people are no longer afraid. We will win.” Continue reading
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Belarus, China, EU-Belarus, Georgia, Hong Kong, Lukashenko, NATO, Putin, Russia, Stoltenberg, Turkish foreign policy, Ukraine, US-Belarus
August 24, 2020
The UN Security Council has adopted seven resolutions[i] addressing Iran’s nuclear program. Only Resolution 2231 (2015) remains in effect today. After Iran and the P5+1 reached agreement on the JCPOA, the Security Council endorsed the deal through this Resolution and set up measures to lift UN sanctions targeting Iran’s nuclear program. However, it kept certain restrictions on ballistic missile activities and arms sales. The latter is set to expire on October 18, 2020, five years after JCPOA’s Adoption Day. Continue reading
August 15, 2020
On August 4, only two days before the 75th anniversary of the dropping of world’s first atomic bomb, Beirut experienced its own Hiroshima. Exactly a month ago Turkey had its own tragedy when 6 were killed and 97 injured in a fireworks factory blast. Although the devastation and the death tolls are incomparable, underlying reasons are the same: mismanagement and negligence.
These, of course, are only part of the fundamental problem of the Middle East, the lack of democracy with its many subtitles. Prominently among them are: Continue reading
August 6, 2020
Merriam-Webster defines “crystal gazing” as,
“1: the art or practice of concentrating on a glass or crystal globe with the aim of inducing a psychic state in which divination can be performed,
“2: the attempt to predict future events or make difficult judgments especially without adequate data.”
In Turkey, one does not have to concentrate on a crystal ball or read coffee cups to predict the future. Because everything is in plain sight. Data can be inadequate but more than enough to show basic trends. And, coming events cast more than their shadows before. Continue reading
July 27, 2020
The sermon delivered by Professor Ali Erbaş, the President of Turkish Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), at the opening of Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque has rightly aroused indignation, anger among those who remain attached to Turkey’s founding principles and Ataturk’s legacy. Because he said, “The property of endowment is untouchable according to our belief, the ones who touch them are burned; the condition of the person who endows it must be realized definitely, those who do not realize it are going to be cursed.” Continue reading
July 19, 2020
It has been a week since the Hagia Sophia was reconverted to a mosque through the annulment of the government decree of 1935 which had turned it into a museum. The change was presented as an auspicious development not only for the people of Turkey but also the Islamic Ummah and the world. Yet, the Islamic Ummah has so far remained silent. Not a word of approval or support from any member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) which presents itself as “The Collective Voice of the Muslim World”. There were no congratulatory telephone calls, no messages. The Secretary General of this pseudo-entity has not uttered a word either. “Pseudo-entity” because the OIC has remained invisible in the face of a decade of fratricide. Continue reading
July 10, 2020
“Turkey is a bridge between East and West” is a widely used metaphor to define not only Turkey’s location between Asia and Europe but also its history, identity, culture with its blessings and contradictions. The city of Istanbul represents all of these.
A Turk may take a cup of coffee on the shores of the Bosporus, without thinking of the other side being Asia or Europe and centuries-long competition for the control of this strategic waterway. Because, a constant parade of passenger boats, tankers, cargo ships, naval vessels moving in both directions is always a beautiful spectacle. A foreign visitor may be more aware of the fact that across the blue waters of the Bosporus lies another continent.
Istanbul’s Historical Peninsula is different. There, with monuments of the Roman, Byzantine and the Ottoman empires, history engulfs everyone on a journey of thousands of years. Continue reading