Middle East turmoil has led some analysts to look back and speculate on the Sykes-Picot agreement and whether or not current borders would survive.
The very first of President Wilson’s Fourteen Points read: “Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.”Okumaya devam et →
On July 6, 2016, Sir John Chilcot, made a statement on the “Report of the Iraq Inquiry”. In less than twenty-nine minutes, he summarized the conclusions of the 2.6 million-word report with clarity, precision and eloquence. He and his colleagues are only to be respected. And, they are not the only ones. At a time when EU capitals are debating Brexit, its wisdom or the lack of it, the people of the United Kingdom have given the world a lesson on what democracy is about. Very few Western countries, if any, could launch such an in-depth inquiry into major policy decisions of international consequence, no less than starting a war, taken by an earlier government and a prime minister and come up with a report underpinned with adjectives “scathing”, “devastating”, and “damning”. 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 →
It was a few months before the 2008 US Presidential election. I was talking to my American colleague at UNESCO. I said to her that since American presidents’ decisions have global implications, democratic countries should also have the opportunity vote in those elections within a reasonable quota to be shared among them. She responded, “an interesting idea…”. We both laughed. It was a joke but the premise was not entirely without logic.
Now that we are only months away from the end of President Obama’s second term in office, pundits have started to express opinions regarding his legacy. I feel that without voices from the Middle East the portrayal President Obama’s legacy would be incomplete. Okumaya devam et →
In early February scientists announced that they had finally detected gravitational waves, the ripples in the fabric of space and time that Einstein predicted a century ago. They are only to be congratulated. Their achievement must have caused consternation among those who failed to foresee the ripple effect of the Syrian conflict now in its sixth year.
Middle East’s widened sectarian war, the chaos it has created, ISIL’s growing outreach, the recent string of terrorist attacks which have shaken Turkey and Europe and the refugee issue can all be traced to the beginning of the Syrian conflict. Regardless of his many shortcomings and failures one must credit President Assad for his self-fulfilling prophecy. In October 2012 he said that Syria’s downfall would put the entire Middle East on fire. Now it is not just the region that is on fire. The flames have reached Africa and Europe.
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 →
The road map for Syrian political transition which the UN Security Council (UNSC) approved through Resolution 2254 envisaged the Syrian government and the opposition engaging in formal negotiations in early January 2016. It also envisaged a nationwide ceasefire, establishing of non-sectarian governance, drafting of a new constitution, free and fair elections within eighteen months. Okumaya devam et →
Arab Spring turmoil has continued to dominate world’s agenda with the war in Syria, ISIL terrorism and the refugee problem as top items. The confrontation over Ukraine has somewhat receded confirming predictions of a frozen conflict. The only good news in 2015 were the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The rising cost of its involvement in Syria aside, this puts Tehran on top of the very short list of winners in 2015. Okumaya devam et →
December 14, 2015
In a world of contradictions foreign policy is no exception. The West, for example, always takes care to wave the democracy flag but can become oblivious to democratic values in its dealings with Middle East tyrannies. Russia constantly underlines that it is up to the people of Syria to determine their own future but becomes less generous when the question becomes the people of Ukraine determining their future. Nevertheless, they all somehow try to make their contradictions less conspicuous; devise ways and means to justify them; draw attention to what is doable and what is not and thus bridge the gap between words and deeds. Turkey understandably cannot be the exception to the rule. But discrepancies between what it says from one day to the next and between what it says and does are turning Ankara into an “unpredictable partner” at best. Okumaya devam et →
“Syria: Only More Trouble Ahead” was the title of a piece I wrote in early May. In a region characterized by abundance of gloom and scarcity of hope that much was easy to predict. I would readily admit, however, that the likelihood of a military incident between Turkey and Russia did not even cross my mind. Yes, Russia was supporting the regime, Turkish government the opposition and Ankara remained obsessed with Assad but Turkish-Russian relations seemed to be on track. All of a sudden the picture has changed. Because, what happened on November 24 was not an “accident” but an “incident”. President Putin is now venting anger over the shooting down of the Russian SU-24 warplane and the loss of a pilot. Moreover, he is directing far-reaching accusations against the Turkish government for having links to the Islamic State (ISIL). In response, Turkish leadership is saying that more than enough warnings had been issued for airspace violations. And, they are rejecting ISIL related accusations as slander. This much is clear: Turkey and Russia will stick to their diametrically opposite views on the incident. Okumaya devam et →