July 25, 2016
A year-and-a-half ago I wrote (*):
“We Turks need to understand that our success as a nation, especially in the field of foreign policy, depends first and foremost upon our internal peace and stability. The amount of respect we enjoy, our international status, our regional role, our effectiveness at international organizations, they all depend upon our giving final proof that Turkey is a secular democracy. Since the founding of the Republic by Atatürk in 1923, this has been the world’s expectation because we are or were, the only country with a predominantly Moslem population to have come this far. Turkey needs to prove, once and for all, that we are a democracy and that the point of no return has been crossed.
“Until we do that even the right foreign policy initiatives will yield no result.
“Unfortunately, the “once in a century” historic opportunity is slipping away…” Okumaya devam et →
July 20, 2016
The need for US-Russian cooperation for the resolution of Middle East problems, prominently among them the Syrian conflict, had been obvious from the start (1). 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”. Since then, it has also been obvious that reaching a common understanding on “who is a terrorist and who is not” would be a key issue (2). Because, under the terms of the “Cessation”, Russia and the US were expected to delineate, with other members of the ISSG’s Ceasefire Task Force, the territory held by “Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra” and other terrorist organizations designated by the UN Security Council” which were excluded from the cessation of hostilities. This was to prove a difficult task in view of the complicated ground situation and the diverse interests involved. Okumaya devam et →
July 18, 2016
On July 6, 2016, Mr. Tony Blair responded to the Report of the Iraq Inquiry during a two-hour-long press conference. Answering a question, he said that there was a decision and it was a controversial decision – a decision to remove Saddam and a decision to be with America. “Now many people would disagree with both of those decisions,” he added, “Sir John Chilcot came quite close to it this morning. That’s fine, but if you’re going to do that, you have to say what the consequences of the opposite decision would have been.”
Of course, the decision to invade Iraq was not taken in London but in Washington. Mr. Blair joined in under enormous pressure from the other side of the Atlantic. However, he was not being fair in criticizing the Iraq Inquiry for not having speculated on what would have happened had the decision not been taken. This was not the purpose of the Inquiry. Nonetheless, one can make two observations, the first on Afghanistan and the second on terrorism. Okumaya devam et →
July 11, 2016
On July 6, 2016, Sir John Chilcot, made a statement on the “Report of the Iraq Inquiry”. In less than twenty-nine minutes, he summarized the conclusions of the 2.6 million-word report with clarity, precision and eloquence. He and his colleagues are only to be respected. And, they are not the only ones. At a time when EU capitals are debating Brexit, its wisdom or the lack of it, the people of the United Kingdom have given the world a lesson on what democracy is about. Very few Western countries, if any, could launch such an in-depth inquiry into major policy decisions of international consequence, no less than starting a war, taken by an earlier government and a prime minister and come up with a report underpinned with adjectives “scathing”, “devastating”, and “damning”. Okumaya devam et →
July 4, 2016
The mother of all Turkey’s current foreign policy problems in the Middle East is our misguided involvement in the Syrian conflict. Yes, President Assad may have been a dictator; yes, he may have missed opportunities to start democratizing his country; and yes, he may have brutally repressed the opposition. Nonetheless, Syria is our neighbor and we cannot change geography. Many countries oppose the Assad regime but none of them shares a 900 kilometer border. And, being a neighbor Turkey should have known better than anyone else that regime change in Syria was not to come about as easily as it did in Tunisia or Egypt, not to speak of Libya, that being Arab Spring Act III, with President Sarkozy in the leading role. Our government should also have foreseen that the Syrian fire would eventually engulf the wider region including Turkey. And, on this very day, Turkey should still have been trying to mediate between Damascus and the moderate opposition. The Turkish government, however, got carried away under the illusion that by leading regime change in Damascus it could become the region’s leader. This has proved to be a huge miscalculation. The price we have been paying for this fantasy in terms of our external and internal security, economy and foreign trade has been extremely high, a case in point being the string of terrorist attacks which have rocked the country. Okumaya devam et →