The four-day long trip was an of courage. Yet, in a video message he sent to the people of Iraq before the visit, the Pope displayed modesty and said, “I come as a pilgrim, as a penitent pilgrim to implore forgiveness and reconciliation from the Lord after years of war and terrorism”. With the visit, recent rocket attacks on US and coalition military sites in Iraq and the retaliatory US airstrike against buildings used by Iran-backed militias in eastern Syria temporarily moved to the background.
In view of security worries and concerns over the spread of coronavirus the visit was also an act of daring for Baghdad.
On December 24, President Trump issued pardons to more than 90 people. The Washington Post said 60 have gone to petitioners who have a personal tie to Mr. Trump or who helped his political aims, according to a tabulation by the Harvard Law School professor Jack Goldsmith. One recipient of a pardon was a family member, Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law, was guilty of 16 counts of tax evasion. Many slammed the pardons as antithetical to the rule of law. Others called for an overhaul of the pardon power, saying Trump has so corrupted it that it should be amended or even stripped from the Constitution. Had this been all, the damage they did to America’s global image aside, the pardons would have been an essentially domestic issue. Unfortunately, there was more.
President Obama made his intention to engage Iran public in his landmark Cairo speech on June 4, 2009, well before the election of Hassan Rouhani. He said:
“…For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by opposition to my country, and there is indeed a tumultuous history between us. In the Middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I have made it clear to Iran’s leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question, now, is not what Iran is against, but what future it wants to build…”Okumaya devam et →
The Iraq-Iran war started on September 22, 1980. It lasted eight years. In August 1991 Iraq invaded Kuwait. A massive US-led military campaign forced Iraq to withdraw in February 1991. It was followed by years of no-fly zones, sanctions and the food for oil program. In March 2003 US invasion of Iraq toppled Saddam Hussein’s government, only to mark the start of years of violent conflict with different groups competing for power. In June 2004 Czar Paul Bremmer III handed sovereignty to the interim government headed by Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. Okumaya devam et →
During his meeting with President Erdogan on the margins of the UN General Assembly, President Trump heaped words of praise on his guest.
“He’s running a very difficult part of the world,” Trump said. “He’s involved very, very strongly and, frankly, he’s getting very high marks. And he’s also been working with the United States. We have a great friendship as countries. I think we’re, right now, as close as we have ever been. And a lot of that has to do with the personal relationship.”
President Erdogan was reserved. He referred to his host as “my dear friend Donald” and said, “… we will be assessing the current relations between the United States and Turkey, and have an opportunity to discuss recent regional developments as well…” Okumaya devam et →
In March, 2013, Free Syrian Army troops and Islamist rebel forces, including al-Nusra captured Raqqa. Soon, however, members and flags of the Islamic State appeared. By early 2014, ISIL had taken complete control of the town. Since then Raqqa has remained ISIL’s stronghold in Syria, capital of the so-called caliphate.
Fallujah lies 57 kilometers (35 miles) west of Baghdad. ISIL captured Fallujah at the beginning of January 2014. Following are passages from Washington Post’s January 3, 2014 account of what had happened: “A rejuvenated al-Qaeda-affiliated force asserted control over the western Iraqi city of Fallujah on Friday, raising its flag over government buildings and declaring an Islamic state in one of the most crucial areas that U.S. troops fought to pacify before withdrawing from Iraq two years ago… “… The upheaval also affirmed the soaring capabilities of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the rebranded version of the al-Qaeda in Iraq organization that was formed a decade ago to confront U.S. troops and expanded into Syria last year while escalating its activities in Iraq. Roughly a third of the 4,486 U.S. troops killed in Iraq died in Anbar trying to defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq, nearly 100 of them in the November 2004 battle for control of Fallujah, the site of America’s bloodiest confrontation since the Vietnam War…”
A few days later ISIL captured Ramadi. In June 2014 Mosul and Tikrit were seized. (Tikrit was retaken in March 2015 and Ramadi in January 2016.) Okumaya devam et →
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 is a positive development, at least an effort to bring some but not yet enough specificity to the hitherto broadly expressed concept of a ceasefire. And, most importantly, this is the first time since the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons that Russia and the US have a detailed agreement regarding the Syrian conflict. On the other hand, the complexity of the situation on the ground with nearly a hundred fighting groups, shifting alliances, lack of monitors are huge challenges. Some analysts believe that some groups would use this lull as an opportunity to regroup, rearm and get reorganized. One could say, therefore, that the Joint statement marks the beginning of what may prove to be a frustrating “ceasefire process” with many violations, ups and downs and with more than one devil in the details. Okumaya devam et →
This is an attempt to describe, as briefly as possible, state of Turkey’s foreign relations.
Russia-Turkey: For the optimist the word of choice could be “tension”, for the pessimist “enmity”.
EU-Turkey: One can pick any one of the following for a single word description: annoyance, frustration, grief, irritation, vexation. There is, however, a two-word alternative: “unworthy deals”. Okumaya devam et →
February 10, 2016
On February 4, 2016 Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri, an adviser to the Saudi Defense Minister and also spokesman for the Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen reportedly stated, during an interview, that the Kingdom was ready to participate in any ground operations that the anti-ISIL coalition may agree to carry out in Syria. He also said that to win against Islamic State, the coalition needed to combine aerial operations with ground operations.
In response to questions about this statement, US Defense Secretary Carter said that increased activity by other countries would make it easier for the United States to accelerate its fight against Islamic State militants. “That kind of news is very welcome,” he told reporters and added that he looked forward to discussing the offer of ground troops with the Saudi Defense Minister. Okumaya devam et →
On 17 December 2010 a Tunisian, Mohammed Bouazizi, set himself on fire in an act of protest. This was followed in many Arab countries by widespread demonstrations calling for democracy, respect for human rights, a better life and more equitable sharing of national wealth. All that the world sees after nearly five years of Arab Spring is internal strife, war, displacement of people and suffering.
Underlying the current state of affairs are ideological differences, power struggles, tribal and regional conflicts of interest and above all sectarian divisions. But whatever the reason, Arab Spring’s constant feature is Arabs fighting Arabs in endless fratricide. This has created great opportunities for terrorist organizations such as Daesh, al Qaida and al Nusra to entrench themselves across the region and in the case of Daesh claim large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria. In the face of such disaster Arab countries remain as divided as ever thereby rendering the concept of “the Arab nation”, once referred to with well-deserved pride and later aspired to with hope, a total myth. Okumaya devam et →