January 30, 2019
A polarized Venezuela is in deep political, economic and humanitarian crisis. Hopefully, crisis would not turn into conflict. On the one side there is President Nicolas Maduro, his supporters, the military and on the other side the opposition led by Juan Guaido, President of the National Assembly. And the world, already divided on multiple international challenges, is again split.
Washington has taken a very tough stand against President Maduro. But not everyone in the US seems to agree. For example, Jeffrey Sachs, a Columbia University Professor, wrote in a CNN article, “The US’ move to recognize Guaido is provocative. The problem is that the US has a track record of bullying Latin America and staging interventions in the region. These US interventions, both direct and indirect, have resulted in dozens of regime changes over the course of more than a century.” Okumaya devam et →
January 25, 2019
After his remarks in Israel John Bolton’s visit to Turkey was doomed to failure. So, it was left to Senator Lindsey Graham to repair or at least control the damage. In Ankara, he publicly said everything possible to cajole Turkey’s political leadership into cooperation with Washington in Syria and beyond. He said that withdrawing and leaving the Kurdish fighters with weapons supplied by the United States would be insane. He mentioned YPG’s affiliation with the PKK. He referred to the special relationship between presidents Trump and Erdogan. The timing of his visit was well-chosen on the eve of US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Dunford’s talks in the Turkish capital.
During his remarks to the press following his talks in Ankara Senator Graham spoke alternately of a safe zone and a buffer zone in Syria. At least this was how Turkish newspapers translated his remarks. But the two do not exactly overlap. Buffer zone is a neutral area separating conflicting forces. Safe zone is an area where people who are not involved in the fighting may find a degree of refuge during armed conflict. Safe zones have sometimes been accompanied also no-fly zones. Okumaya devam et →
January 18, 2019
It has been a month since President Trump declared victory against ISIS in Syria and said US troops were returning home. It was only to be expected that the decision would lead to questions. Because, this was an abrupt announcement made on Twitter apparently without adequate consultation not only with allies but also within the Trump administration. Thus, the past month witnessed twists and turns between Ankara and Washington regarding northeastern Syria.
Moreover, as statements from Moscow show Russia is unlikely to support Turkish-American understandings/arrangements there. The situation in Idlib also remains high on the Turkish-Russian agenda.
On November 10, 2016 Donald Trump said, “If Putin wants to go and knock the hell out of ISIS, I am all for it, 100 percent, and I can’t understand how anybody would be against it.” Okumaya devam et →
January 11, 2019
Defeating ISIS in Syria and ousting President Assad are no longer compatible. They never were. The West must make a choice. The following questions can help find the answer:
- Was the Western intervention in Syria about promoting democracy?
- Was it about giving the people of Syria a better future?
- Does the West mourn the loss of life in Syria?
- Is the West prepared to receive more refugees from Syria?
- Is the West capable of redrawing the battlefield picture in Syria?
- Is there any hope that Assad’s ouster will bring to power a truly reformist leadership closer to the West?
The answer to the first three could at best be “not exactly, but …”. For the rest it is “no”. Okumaya devam et →
January 8, 2019
President Trump’s surprise announcement of the withdrawal of US troops from Syria has ended up, unsurprisingly, in another U-turn.
On Sunday his national security advisor John Bolton said, “We don’t think the Turks ought to undertake military action that’s not fully coordinated with and agreed to by the United States at a minimum so they don’t endanger our troops, but also so that they meet the President’s requirement that the Syrian opposition forces that have fought with us are not endangered.”
And Mr. Trump told reporters, “You have to remember, Iran hates ISIS more than we do, if that’s possible. Russia hates ISIS more than we do. Turkey hates ISIS, maybe not as much as we do. But these are countries that hate ISIS. And they can do a little of the fighting in their neighborhood also, because we’re fighting them in their neighborhood. But with that being said, we’re pulling out of Syria, but we’re doing it and we won’t be finally pulled out until ISIS is gone…”
Firstly, these remarks show that Ankara’s expression of pleasure over the announced pullout was hasty at best. The Trump White House is unpredictable and will remain so. Okumaya devam et →
January 1, 2019
It has been two tumultuous weeks which started with President Trump’s tweet announcing the withdrawal of US troops from Syria.
On December 20, responding to a question on the US pullout and ISIS by the correspondent of the Chicago Tribune, President Putin said: “There is a risk of these and similar groups migrating to neighboring regions and Afghanistan, to other countries, to their home countries, and they are partly returning. It is a great danger for all of us, including Russia, the United States, Europe, Asian countries, including Central Asia. We know that, we understand the risk fully.”
He also said “… let us not forget that their presence, the presence of your troops, is illegitimate as it was not approved by a UN Security Council resolution. The military contingent can only be there under a resolution of the UN Security Council or at the invitation of the legitimate Syrian Government. Russian troops were invited by the Syrian Government. The United States did not get either of these so if they decide to withdraw their troops, it is the right decision.” (emphasis added) Okumaya devam et →