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. Russians probably preferred to wait and see. 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 summit that was to take place during the G-20 meeting in St. Petersburg on 5-6 September 2013. Yet their brief encounter there led to the 14 September 2013 agreement on the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons only to be followed by the crisis in Ukraine.
Since the Syria chemical weapons deal which was indeed an achievement, both Secretary Kerry and Minister Lavrov have repeatedly said that the resolution of many international problems depend on their countries’ joint efforts, that together the US and Russia can make a difference, make things happen. I share their judgment. Yet, the US and Russia have hardly made concrete progress on anything since the Syria chemical weapons deal. Conflict over Ukraine has become a major stumbling block. They need to break the impasse. Okumaya devam et →
Saudi-led airstrikes against Yemen’s Houthis started on 26 March. On 14 April the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2216 giving Saudi Arabia what may be called a diplomatic victory.
The Resolution urged all Yemeni parties to respond positively to the call by President Hadi of Yemen to attend a conference in Riyadh under the auspices of the Gulf Cooperation Council, to support the political transition in Yemen and the UN-brokered negotiations. The President had been forced by the Houthis to flee Aden and seek refuge in Saudi Arabia just before the launching of airstrikes. Okumaya devam et →
With Daesh controlling half of Syrian territory and the “Army of Conquest” consolidating its gains in the Idlib province and getting closer to regime’s bastion of Latakia, the Assad regime appears to be on the retreat. While some observers see these as serious setbacks for Damascus others draw attention to the ebb and flow pattern of the war. Equally important are the divisions emerging between the US and its regional allies. The “Army of Conquest” is a coalition of groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham and a few others. Okumaya devam et →
21 May 2015
22 September 2015 will mark the 35th anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq-Iran war which lasted eight years. This was followed by Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the First Gulf War. In 2003 it was the turn of the US to invade Iraq. In other words, an Iraqi born in the year 1980 or after does not know what peace is.
On 31 March 2015, PM Haider al-Abadi announced the liberation of Saddam’s hometown Tikrit from Daesh by Iraqi security forces and popular mobilization units. Vice President Biden cautioned that the war in Iraq was far from over but sounded upbeat. There was talk about Iraqi forces getting ready for an offensive to liberate the entire Anbar province and later Mosul. Okumaya devam et →
US-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit meeting at Camp David ended with a Joint Statement and an Annex which contains additional detail on future avenues of cooperation.
The Gulf States had four major expectations from the summit:
• Assurances that the Iran nuclear deal will not harm their interests,
• As strong a commitment as possible from Washington to their security,
• A further commitment to cooperate in countering Iran’s destabilizing activities in the region, and
• Enhanced cooperation on regional issues. Okumaya devam et →
13 May 2015
Following his visit to Riyadh, Secretary Kerry met with his Gulf counterparts in Paris on Friday, May 8th in preparation of this week’s summit at Camp David. After the meeting, Kerry and Saudi Foreign Minister al-Jubair held a joint press conference. This is what the Saudi Minister had to say on the summit: “… We also spent another hour and a half on Camp David and the objectives of Camp David and the issues that will be discussed at Camp David. Don’t ask me to talk about it because I won’t; I can just tell you in general terms that they have to do with the intensifying and strengthening the security-military relationship between the United States of America and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, as well as dealing with new challenges that we face in the region, foremost of which is the Iranian interference in the affairs of the countries of the region. “We were very pleased with the discussions. I thought they were very – extremely productive, very useful…”Okumaya devam et →
9 May 2015
Saudi Arabia has announced a five-day humanitarian cease-fire in Yemen. The cease-fire is supposed to start on Tuesday, May 12th at 11:00 p.m., last for five days and be subject to renewal. During two press conferences with Secretary Kerry, the first in Riyadh on 7 May 2015 and the second in Paris the next day, Saudi Arabia’s new Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubair said that there had been no contact with the Houthis on this. A senior Houthi official told BBC Arabic on Friday that the ceasefire had not been formally proposed and the Houthis would not respond until a plan was properly laid out. Okumaya devam et →
On 27 April, the International Crisis Group published the “Statement on a Syrian Policy Framework”. The Statement starts with an analysis of the conflict and then suggests a framework for a political deal based on the understanding that Bashar Assad cannot rule a post-war Syria and Iran’s influence in the Levant cannot be eliminated(*). Following are its key observations on the status quo: “On its current trajectory, and with no military or diplomatic breakthrough on the horizon, the Syrian war will worsen… “Whatever the parties to the conflict may think, no side is winning… the regime is losing ground outside its core areas… The mainstream opposition’s scorecard is similarly mixed… “U.S.-led airstrikes have helped drive ISIS from some Kurdish areas east of Aleppo but have not fundamentally weakened its hold in eastern Syria… “If Syria and its external stakeholders are to escape more years of war, rising costs, further destruction of the nation’s torn social fabric and worsening trans-border radicalization, a serious effort must be made, first and foremost, to define the parameters of an ultimate political solution…”Okumaya devam et →