Aylık arşivler: Kasım 2015

Downing of Russia’s SU-24 Warplane

November 27, 2015

“Syria: Only More Trouble Ahead” was the title of a piece I wrote in early May. In a region characterized by abundance of gloom and scarcity of hope that much was easy to predict. I would readily admit, however, that the likelihood of a military incident between Turkey and Russia did not even cross my mind. Yes, Russia was supporting the regime, Turkish government the opposition and Ankara remained obsessed with Assad but Turkish-Russian relations seemed to be on track. All of a sudden the picture has changed. Because, what happened on November 24 was not an “accident” but an “incident”. President Putin is now venting anger over the shooting down of the Russian SU-24 warplane and the loss of a pilot. Moreover, he is directing far-reaching accusations against the Turkish government for having links to the Islamic State (ISIL). In response, Turkish leadership is saying that more than enough warnings had been issued for airspace violations. And, they are rejecting ISIL related accusations as slander. This much is clear: Turkey and Russia will stick to their diametrically opposite views on the incident. Okumaya devam et

Fighting ISIL on the Battlefield and Beyond

November 23, 2015

Following the terrorist attacks in Paris President Hollande declared that France was at war. President Obama called the attacks “an attack on the civilized world”. In a telegram to his French counterpart, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the attacks were “the latest testimonial to the barbaric essence of terrorism which throws down a challenge to human civilization”. Chancellor Angela Merkel said: “This attack on liberty targets not only Paris, it targets all of us and it has hit all of us, and that is why we will also all respond together.”

Despite such expressions of solidarity, the question “how to conduct this war?” remains because this is not just about just fighting the Islamic State (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria. It is also about finding ways and means to discredit its ideology; diminishing its appeal; narrowing its base; creating platforms if not alliances between the West, Russia and Moslem countries. This is a huge task, now further complicated by problems of homeland security and the Syrian refugees. Okumaya devam et

A Roadmap to End the Syria Conflict

November 16, 2015

On September 28, hours after having delivered clashing remarks, Presidents Obama and Putin met on the sidelines of the 70th United Nations General Assembly. Three days later, on September 30, Russia started airstrikes in Syria. A month later, on October 30, China, Egypt, the EU, France, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and the United States met in Vienna and issued a communiqué on the Syria conflict. The same day, the White House announced that President Obama had ordered fewer than fifty Special Operations troops into Syria to advise local forces fighting the Islamic State (ISIL). The next day, on October 31, Russian airliner Metrojet’s Airbus flying from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg crashed over Sinai with 224 people on board. And finally on November 13, ISIL struck Paris claiming more than a hundred victims and leaving hundreds wounded.

The foregoing is a six-week summary of major developments related to the Syria conflict. Okumaya devam et

Turkish Elections: A Stunning Defeat for the Opposition

November 5, 2015

When the voting started last Sunday in Turkey’s parliamentary elections, the electorate had two choices: the prospect of a coalition government plagued with internal disputes or a Justice and Development Party (JDP) government which hopefully had learnt its lesson. None of these had much appeal but there was no third option

Thus, 50% of the voters cast their votes for the second option giving the JDP an enviable parliamentary majority under Turkey’s election law: 317 seats out of 550. As the picture became clear, I thought about newsrooms and editors discussing headlines. For me, no matter how one was to word them, headline options also boiled down to saying either “a stunning victory for the JDP” or “a stunning defeat for the opposition”. For this spot I chose the latter. Okumaya devam et

Vienna Meeting on Syria Highlights Country’s Secularism

November 2, 2015

Analysts have different opinions on the Vienna meeting of October 30, 2015. I believe that the communique issued constitutes a significant development not only for the Syria conflict but also for the entire Middle East because the participants have agreed as a first point that “Syria’s unity, independence, territorial integrity and secular character are fundamental.”

This is the first explicit reference to secularism in the context of the Syria conflict. It may even be the first ever reference to the principle in agreed international documents regarding conflicts in the Middle East. This in itself is an accomplishment. Okumaya devam et