March 8, 2020
On March 6, Presidents of Russia and Turkey met in Moscow. In remarks to the press before their meeting, President Putin said the situation in Idlib has deteriorated so much that the two leaders needed to have a direct and personal discussion. He added, “As you requested, we are ready to begin our talks one-on-one, and then our colleagues, who are with us in this room, will join us, if necessary.”
Thus, after the talks in restricted format, consultations continued with the participation of the delegations of the two countries. One may conclude, therefore, that the Syrian conflict with its Idlib dimension and the future of Russian-Turkish relations were taken up between the two leaders at full length. Okumaya devam et
October 24, 2019
It has been two tumultuous weeks starting with President Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Syria, immediately followed by the launching of Operation Peace Spring, Vice President Pence’s visit to Ankara on October 17, President Erdoğan’s visit to Sochi five days later and the lifting of US sanctions against Turkey the next day.
The first visit resulted in a Turkish-US joint statement on northeast Syria and the second in a “memorandum of understanding” as President Putin called it. 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
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