On January 25, Chancellor Scholz told the Bundestag that Germany will send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. For some, the German government was bowing to growing “international pressure”. For Mr. Scholz and others, the German government was maintaining that its lockstep approach to weapons deliveries is the best way to support Ukraine, and the only way this can be done is by having the support of the German public opinion.
On January 20, the US-led Ukraine Defense Contact Group met at Ramstein Air Base in Germany under the chairmanship of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. The meeting, attended by more than fifty nations and NATO’s Secretary General Stoltenberg, was the eighth in a series of meetings initiated in April 2022, to discuss efforts to provide military support to Ukraine.
Although not yet officially announced, it appears that Türkiye will hold presidential and parliamentary elections on May 14, 2023. President Erdoğan is running for a third term and the group of six opposition parties known as the “table of six”, still has to agree on a candidate for president. To use two popular phrases used to define the changing global order, Türkiye is also at an “inflection point” or at a “defining moment”. Because in these elections, the people of Türkiye will judge the two decades of the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) increasingly authoritarian rule. And the world would judge them accordingly since these elections are the last exit for democracy, the separation of powers, the independence of the judiciary, and accountability.
Last week, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited France, Italy, Britain, Canada, and the US. In the background was the war in Ukraine, China’s growing military might, North Korea’s becoming a de facto nuclear power, and Japan’s “National Security Strategy”, made public on December 16, 2022.
On January 3, 2023, US State Department Spokesman Ned Price, in response to a question regarding “the rapprochement between Turkey and the Syrian regime” said:
“Well, as I understand it, this was a trilateral engagement involving Syria, Turkey, and the Russian Federation as well. Our policy, which is all I can speak to, has not changed. We do not support countries upgrading their relations or expressing support to rehabilitate the brutal dictator Bashar al-Assad… We’ve made very clear to all of our allies and partners that now is not the time to normalize relations…”
The year 2022 was “annus horribilis” for Europe and to a lesser degree for the world. And its final few weeks did not augur well for 2023.
China witnessed an incredible upsurge in Covid infections overwhelming hospitals. On December 26, in response to Washington’s increased security cooperation with Taiwan, seventy-one Chinese air force aircraft including fighter jets and drones entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone in the largest reported incursion to date.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban are dragging their country back to the darkest depths of the Middle Age. In Iran, the theocracy is sending protestors to the gallows. North Korea is becoming increasingly assertive. In Israel, the wily Benjamin Netanyahu who suffers from acute power addiction is back in power heading a right-religious coalition. Sad news for the Middle East and Israel.