Aylık arşivler: Ekim 2016

The West and the Middle East

Middle East turmoil has led some analysts to look back and speculate on the Sykes-Picot agreement and whether or not current borders would survive.

The very first of President Wilson’s Fourteen Points read: “Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.” Okumaya devam et

Aleppo and Mosul: A Tale of Two Cities

October 24, 2016

It was widely reported last week that Syrian opposition fighters backed by Turkish warplanes and artillery dealt a major psychological blow to ISIL by capturing Dabiq which, though a small town of marginal strategic importance in northern Syria, had crucial ideological and propaganda value for ISIL. Again last week, the Iraqi operation to recapture the city of Mosul, called by some the “great battle”, was launched and is receiving wide media coverage.

Major media outlets give different figures regarding the troops involved. One says that the coalition’s 94,000 troops vastly outnumber their opponents. Another refers to about 30,000 pro-government forces taking part in the operation. The number of ISIL fighters in Mosul is generally given as 5,000. Whatever is the exact figure, add to the tens of thousands of troops heading towards Mosul, hundreds of tanks, heavy artillery and coalition aircraft ranging from jet fighters to Apache helicopter gunships, reconnaissance aircraft, heavily armed drones as well as hundreds of American advisors and ISIL will be scoring a great propaganda victory by standing up against the world. Okumaya devam et

A Critical Week for the Middle East

October 17, 2016

It takes an expert to explain the identity, evolution, affiliation and the objectives of the different groups battling in Syria. The history of groups bringing together major international actors involved in the conflict is less complicated but also interesting.

On February 4, 2012 the UN Security Council failed to adopt a draft resolution on Syria as Russia and China vetoed the text which supported the Arab League’s proposed peace plan. It thus became clear that Moscow and Peking were not going to allow the West the freedom of action it enjoyed in Libya. (Russia and China had abstained on UNSC Resolution 1973 of March 17, 2011 on Libya.) Okumaya devam et

And Now It’s Iraq

October 10, 2016

In a region characterized by conflict, “zero problems with neighbors” was not even an illusion. It was a misguided public relations stunt which boomeranged becoming an embarrassment for Turkish diplomacy.

In recent years, Turkey’s relations with Israel, Syria, Egypt, Russia and the US have experienced fluctuations ranging from friction and tension to rupture. Despite recent steps towards reconciliation they still do. And now, we are quarreling with Iraq. The immediate problem is the Turkish military presence there. Okumaya devam et

Syria: A Bleak Future

October 4, 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 was a positive development, at least an effort to bring some though enough specificity to the hitherto broadly expressed concept of a ceasefire. And most importantly, this was the first time since the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons that Russia and the US had a detailed agreement regarding the Syrian conflict. On the other hand, the complexity of the ground situation with more than a hundred fighting groups, shifting alliances and lack of monitors were huge challenges. One could say, therefore, that the Joint Statement marked the beginning of a frustrating “ceasefire process” with many ups and downs. It was obvious that agreeing on who is a “moderate” and who is a “terrorist” would constitute a major challenge in a region characterized by murky relationships. Okumaya devam et