Etiket arşivi: Idlib

The Idlib Problem Still with Us

April 27, 2020

Coronavirus is seen as the greatest global challenge of modern times. Because, the death toll in some countries has reached tens of thousands. Just as important is the shock of unpreparedness, helplessness and vulnerability of a technologically advanced world under attack. A second wave is looming, but second-strike capability is of no consequence. Nonetheless, countries including those hardest hit are planning to ease restrictions because the economy matters. Okumaya devam et

Front Lines of the Battle Against Covid-19

March 27, 2020

“Operation Enduring Freedom”, “Operation Resolute Support”, “Operation New Dawn”, “Operation Unified Protector”, “Operation Decisive Storm”, to name a few, were recent decades’ ambitiously titled military interventions seeking to achieve narrow ends. Although diplomacy and multilateralism were sidelined, they all claimed to have the support of the so-called “international community”. In reality, they only represented its failure. Okumaya devam et

Idlib Ceasefire: Only a Respite

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

An Ultimatum That Boomeranged

(Co-authored with Yusuf Buluç)[i]

The people of Turkey held their breath on the eve of the deadline set in the ultimatum  President Erdoğan served on the Syrian regime promising severe military punishment if  its forces  were not to withdraw to lines drawn in the so-called “Sochi agreement” between Russia and Turkey.  Evidently, there was no way that the regime, still recognized by the UN as the legitimate government of Syria, could heed this warning as it would amount to yielding its hard-won sovereign territory to Turkey’s control. More so, such withdrawal would have been hailed by some jihadist armed groups, listed by the UN as terrorist organizations,  which have taken most of the civilian inhabitants of the Idlib province as hostage in their quest to winning a rump of Syria to be dismembered. The regime, its air force largely under Russian command and control, reacted to the Turkish ultimatum not by resorting to terse and rejectionist rhetoric but unleashing a bombing campaign resulting in massive loss of life not recorded outside Turkish territory since the Korean war. Okumaya devam et

Turkey’s Narrowing Horizons

February 27, 2020

In the fall of 1966, I took a series of exams to join the Turkish Foreign Ministry. Among other things, we were asked to comment on a widely used metaphor, “Turkey is a bridge between East and West”. I wrote that throughout history Anatolia has been a meeting point of cultures and Turkey’s future lies in creating a successful synthesis. In my later years in diplomatic service, I continuously objected to the use of this metaphor arguing that a bridge belongs to neither of its banks and Turkey had already made her choice. With the launching of EU accession negotiations in October 2005, I came to believe that we had finally crossed the Bosporus Bridge and were travelling irreversibly towards the West. This by no means meant a rupture with the East for obvious reasons including geography and history.  Moreover, our good relations with the region were an asset for the EU. Okumaya devam et

Idlib: Raising the Stakes to What End?

(Co-authored with Yusuf Buluç)[i]

February 20, 2020

Ten days ago, President Putin had a telephone conversation with President Erdogan at Turkish side’s initiative. A statement by the Kremlin said that the two leaders noted the importance of the full implementation of the existing Russian-Turkish agreements, including the Sochi Memorandum of September 17, 2018 and additional contacts between the relevant government agencies were planned for these purposes.

A few days later Presidents Erdoğan and Trump had a phone call. “The President expressed concern over the violence in Idlib, Syria and thanked President Erdogan for Turkey’s efforts to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe,” White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement. “President Trump also reiterated that continued foreign interference in Libya would only serve to worsen the situation,” he added, a discouraging reference to Ankara’s support to the Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Fayez al-Sarraj. Okumaya devam et

Idlib Problem Reaching Boiling Point

February 6, 2020

The agreement reached in May 2017 by Russia, Iran and Turkey in Astana called for the cessation of hostilities between rebel groups and regime forces in four “de-escalation” zones in the mainly opposition-held areas of Syria with Russia, Turkey and Iran acting as guarantors.

In broad terms, the deal covered four areas:

Zone 1: Idlib province,

Zone 2: The Rastan and Talbiseh enclave in northern Homs province,

Zone 3: Eastern Ghouta in the northern Damascus countryside,

Zone 4: The rebel-controlled south along the border with Jordan. Okumaya devam et

ISIS Fighters Going Home

February 19, 2019

The war in Syria appears to be coming to an end. During the past eight years it was migration which led to internal political challenges for European governments and to divisions within the EU. Now it is ISIS wives and fighters returning home. The prospect has preoccupied Western security services and think tanks for long, but it was Shamima Begum who triggered the public discussion. Since the UK has no diplomatic or consular personnel in Syria security minister Ben Wallace said he would not put officials’ lives at risk to rescue UK citizens who went to Syria and Iraq to join Islamic State, adding “actions have consequences”. Many in the UK are said to oppose the return of ISIS fighters. Others believe the UK cannot refuse the return of UK citizens. Okumaya devam et

The Quadrilateral İstanbul Summit on Syria

October 29, 2018

At the end of September 2018, the Foreign Ministers of Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States came together in New York and issued a statement. After repeating for the umpteenth time that there is no military solution to the conflict, they called on the UN and Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura to convene, as quickly as possible, a credible, inclusive constitutional committee that will begin drafting a new Syrian constitution.  They also urged him to report back to the Security Council no later than October 31.

While Mr. de Mistura has said he is not going to lay down the charge until the last hour of the last day of his mandate, this gives him just another month since his resignation will take effect at the end of November.

On 27 October, Presidents Erdoğan, Putin, Macron and Chancellor Merkel met in İstanbul for the Quadrilateral Summit on Syria. Interestingly, the four leaders came together in this format for the first time and concluded their meeting with a joint statement expressing a commitment to working together. Whether such meetings would continue either at heads of State or ministerial level remains to be seen. Okumaya devam et

Syria’s Uncertain Future

October 3, 2018

On September 27, 2018, the Foreign Ministers of Egypt, France, Germany, Jordan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States, members of the “Small Group on Syria” issued a statement. After repeating for the umpteenth time that there is no military solution to the conflict they called on the UN and Staffan de Mistura to convene, as quickly as possible, a credible, inclusive constitutional committee that will begin drafting a new Syrian constitution and laying the groundwork for free and fair UN-supervised elections in a safe and neutral environment in which all eligible Syrians – including those in the diaspora – have a right to participate.  They urged Mr. Mistura to report back to the Security Council on his progress no later than October 31. The reference to “Syrians including those in the diaspora” covers primarily those in Syria’s neighbors, among them Turkey now home to 3.5 million Syrian refugees. Okumaya devam et