Aylık arşivler: Şubat 2016

Syria: “Cessation of Hostilities”

February 29, 2016

On February 22, the United States and the Russian Federation, Co-Chairs of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), issued the “Joint Statement on Cessation of Hostilities in Syria”. As a first reaction, even the most optimistic observers remained cautious. Pessimists were easier to find. Indeed, on the one hand this is a positive development, at least an effort to bring some but not yet enough specificity to the hitherto broadly expressed concept of a ceasefire. And, most importantly, this is the first time since the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons that Russia and the US have a detailed agreement regarding the Syrian conflict. On the other hand, the complexity of the situation on the ground with nearly a hundred fighting groups, shifting alliances, lack of monitors are huge challenges. Some analysts believe that some groups would use this lull as an opportunity to regroup, rearm and get reorganized. One could say, therefore, that the Joint statement marks the beginning of what may prove to be a frustrating “ceasefire process” with many violations, ups and downs and with more than one devil in the details. Okumaya devam et

Reklamlar

Turkey’s Relations with Russia

February 23, 2016

On November 24, 2015 Turkish fighter jets downed a Russian Su-24 warplane for having violated Turkish airspace and the incident has led to a major setback in bilateral relations as well as regional complications (*). This is not sustainable.

From the 16th to the 20th century, the Ottoman and Russian Empires were in continuous military conflict. During the Cold War Turkey was NATO’s southern flank. It was only after the dissolution of the Soviet Union which marked the end of the Cold War that Turkish-Russian cooperation made remarkable progress in the fields of trade, energy, tourism and contracting services, leading to considerable interdependence. All of this was accomplished within the framework of a meticulously built political understanding which, while admitting differences, put the emphasis on common interests. Okumaya devam et

Middle East in the Grip of Polarization

February 18, 2016

The Middle East, in the grip of polarization, is going through a most violent period. Syria is being torn apart. Iraq is far from peace and stability. Egypt remains unsettled. Tunisia continues to face a multitude of challenges. According to some Libya is already a failed state. Yemen is being devastated. Dislocation, starvation and disease are widespread. Misery reigns everywhere. Behind their facade of stability and affluence Gulf States are nervous. ISIL’s appetite for crime and destruction seems insatiable. Its outreach is continuing to expand. As for Turkey, these are very stressful times to say the least. Okumaya devam et

Synopsis: Turkey’s Foreign Relations

February 16, 2016

This is an attempt to describe, as briefly as possible, state of Turkey’s foreign relations.

US-Turkey: Exasperation.
Russia-Turkey: For the optimist the word of choice could be “tension”, for the pessimist “enmity”.
China-Turkey: Apprehension.
NATO-Turkey: Mistrust.
EU-Turkey: One can pick any one of the following for a single word description: annoyance, frustration, grief, irritation, vexation. There is, however, a two-word alternative: “unworthy deals”. Okumaya devam et

Combatting ISIL Remains a Formidable Task

Co-authored with Yusuf Buluc (*)

February 10, 2016
On February 4, 2016 Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri, an adviser to the Saudi Defense Minister and also spokesman for the Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen reportedly stated, during an interview, that the Kingdom was ready to participate in any ground operations that the anti-ISIL coalition may agree to carry out in Syria. He also said that to win against Islamic State, the coalition needed to combine aerial operations with ground operations.

In response to questions about this statement, US Defense Secretary Carter said that increased activity by other countries would make it easier for the United States to accelerate its fight against Islamic State militants. “That kind of news is very welcome,” he told reporters and added that he looked forward to discussing the offer of ground troops with the Saudi Defense Minister. Okumaya devam et

Geneva III: A Rocky Start

February 3, 2016

The road map for Syrian political transition which the UN Security Council (UNSC) approved through Resolution 2254 envisaged the Syrian government and the opposition engaging in formal negotiations in early January 2016. It also envisaged a nationwide ceasefire, establishing of non-sectarian governance, drafting of a new constitution, free and fair elections within eighteen months. Okumaya devam et

The Iranian Spring

February 1, 2016

It may not be about freedom of expression, respect for human rights or political reform but this still is an Iranian spring; more than anything else a diplomatic one, in the middle of a harsh regional winter.

On January 24, Xinhua news agency reported the following:
“Chinese President Xi Jinping, the first international leader to head to Iran after the trade restrictions were removed, capped his visit to Tehran with 17 agreements for cooperation in areas including energy, trade, and industry, reported Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency…
“During Xi’s visit, the two countries also agreed to increase bilateral trade more than 10-fold to $600 billion in the next decade as China pursues its One Belt One Road project, an ambitious network of road, rail and port routes that will connect China to Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and Europe…” Okumaya devam et