Aylık arşivler: Mart 2016

Obama’s Redline in Syria

March 29, 2016

Roughly a year ago I wrote that President Obama’s decision to refrain from military action in Syria, despite a previously declared “redline”, would best be judged by history. However, the controversy around his decision seems to continue. For example, Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post, with reference to what he had heard from dozens of foreign ministers and senior officials of US allies wrote,
“… Japanese, South Koreans, Singaporeans and even Indians confided that they were convinced that Obama’s failure to use force against the regime of Bashar al-Assad was directly responsible for China’s subsequent burst of aggression in territorial disputes in the East China Sea and South China Sea. Poles, Lithuanians and French drew a line between the back down and Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. As for the Sunni Arabs, Turks and Israelis, it is an article of faith that Obama’s decision accelerated the catastrophe that Syria, and much of the rest of the Middle East, has become. They have an obvious point: Hundreds of thousands are dead, the European Union is in danger of crumbling under an onslaught of refugees, and the Islamic State and Assad remain unvanquished. Who would not call this a bad outcome?” (*)

To me it is just as obvious that countries mentioned in Mr. Diehl’s article look at the Syrian conflict primarily from their own perspective with little regard, if any, for the plight of the Syrian people. Okumaya devam et

Ripple Effect of the Syrian Conflict

March 25, 2016

In early February scientists announced that they had finally detected gravitational waves, the ripples in the fabric of space and time that Einstein predicted a century ago. They are only to be congratulated. Their achievement must have caused consternation among those who failed to foresee the ripple effect of the Syrian conflict now in its sixth year.

Middle East’s widened sectarian war, the chaos it has created, ISIL’s growing outreach, the recent string of terrorist attacks which have shaken Turkey and Europe and the refugee issue can all be traced to the beginning of the Syrian conflict. Regardless of his many shortcomings and failures one must credit President Assad for his self-fulfilling prophecy. In October 2012 he said that Syria’s downfall would put the entire Middle East on fire. Now it is not just the region that is on fire. The flames have reached Africa and Europe.

Okumaya devam et

Turkey-EU Migrant/Refugee Deal

March 20, 2016

The EU-Turkey Statement of March 18, 2016 starts with these two paragraphs (*):

“Today the Members of the European Council met with their Turkish counterpart. This was the third meeting since November 2015 dedicated to deepening Turkey-EU relations as well as addressing the migration crisis.
“The Members of the European Council expressed their deepest condolences to the people of Turkey following the bomb attack in Ankara on Sunday. They strongly condemned this heinous act and reiterated their continued support to fight terrorism in all its forms.”

Dictionaries define “as well as” in the following way: “and in addition”, “and also”. So, at first look, one may assume that the “meeting of the Members of the European Council and their Turkish counterparts” was essentially about “deepening Turkey-EU relations” and “in addition” or “and also” they addressed the migration crisis. Wrong! Okumaya devam et

Turkey’s Descent

March 16, 2016

Terrorist attacks continue to claim rising numbers of innocent lives. The word “gridlock” can hardly describe the political atmosphere. The country is polarized like it has never been. Foreign and security policies are in shambles. Tourism, a major source of income and an irreplaceable avenue for interaction with the outside world is on the rocks. Lawlessness is widespread. People are increasingly agitated. There is little respect for rules, even speed limits. A traffic accident can be described by the media as a “vehicle getting out of control” as if the vehicle has an independent mind of its own. Similarly, most of our problems are attributed to foreign hands, dark forces which are determined to stop Turkey’s rise as a regional and global power. Western political support during the early years of the Justice and Development Party (JDP) rule, the launching of accession talks with the EU in October 2005, President Obama’s remarkable visit to Ankara in April 2009, cozy relations with Russia until the downing of the Su-24 warplane and “strategic cooperation” with President Assad’s Syria are conveniently forgotten. In brief, there can never be any wrongdoing on our part. Okumaya devam et

Turkey, European Union and the Refugees

March 8, 2016

The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees defines the refugee as someone who is unable or unwilling to return to his/her country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion. The Convention stipulates that its provisions are to be applied without discrimination as to race, religion or country of origin. Developments in international human rights law have reinforced the principle that the Convention be applied without discrimination. The Convention also lays down basic minimum standards for the treatment of refugees, “without prejudice to States granting more favorable treatment”. Such rights include access to the courts, to primary education, to work.

Syrian conflict has created huge refugee problems for neighboring Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. This is what the European Commission says in its “ECHOFACT SHEET” on the refugee situation in Turkey:
• “The overwhelming influx of refugees into Turkey has reached over 3.1 million registered, making Turkey the largest host of refugees in the world.
• “In 2016 some 126 166 people have arrived through Turkey to Greece by sea. 91% come from the world’s top 10 refugee-producing countries.
• “About 90% of Syrian refugees in Turkey remain outside of camp settings with limited access to basic services.
• “UNHCR estimates that more than half of the Syrian refugees are children, with 400 000 children remaining out of school…” (*) Okumaya devam et