With rising but controlled tension over the Kerch Strait incident, a cancelled Trump-Putin meeting, uncertainty regarding U.S.-North Korea dialogue, the war in Yemen, continuing turmoil in the broad Middle East, U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA, the prospect of a widening China-U.S. trade war with political consequences, the rise of populism, Brexit, yellow-vests in France, poor global governance and lack of leadership, world agenda has become even more complicated.
The Syrian conflict which remained on top for almost a decade no longer seems to be a priority. In earlier years this was about the future of the Assad regime, dialogue between Damascus and the opposition, a new constitution, elections. Now, however, the content appears to be shifting away from these towards a confrontation between the U.S. and the Astana format. The shift can be explained to a good measure by Trump administration’s anti-Iran policy jointly defined with Israel and supported by the Saudi-led coalition. An interrelated issue is Washington’s cooperation with the PYD/YPG.
Guarantors of the Astana format met in Kazakh capital on November 29, 2018. Their Joint Statement (*) had two messages. Okumaya devam et →
International Syria Support Group (ISSG) met in Vienna on 17 May 2016. In keeping with the tradition, the Group issued a statement (*) and the Co-Chairs and UN Envoy Staffan di Mistura made remarks to the press (**). What made this last press conference particularly interesting were the explicit references to conflicts of interest within the Group, almost contradicting the words of unity and harmony used in the Statement. Indeed, it had always been more than obvious that the Group remained divided on the future of President Assad, the designation of terrorist organizations, and the support allegedly given to some of these by ISSG members. However, on earlier occasions these differences were not spelled out with such clarity. Okumaya devam et →
“Cessation of Hostilities in Syria”, worked out between Russia and the US and approved by the UNSC through Resolution 2268, entered into force on February 27, 2016. For two months, despite violations, it seemed to hold inspiring cautious optimism. However, two major challenges remained.
The first was the launching of not just talks but “meaningful talks” between the regime and the opposition. On March 21, Reuters reported that U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura described Syria’s political transition as “the mother of all issues” in response to regime’s representative Bashar Ja’afari who said that Assad’s future had “nothing to do” with the negotiations.
The second was how to deal with terrorist organizations not only as a short-term battlefield issue but also a long-term problem for Syria and beyond. Under the terms of the “Cessation of Hostilities in Syria”, Russia and the US were expected to delineate, with other members of the ISSG’s Ceasefire Task Force, the territory held by “Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra” and other terrorist organizations designated by the UN Security Council” which were excluded from the cessation of hostilities. It was obvious that in view of conflicting interests this would be easier said than done. Okumaya devam et →
Russia’s military intervention in Syria was launched on September 30, 2015. 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”. On February 27, despite reports of violations, guns fell silent giving rise to cautious optimism. On March 14 President Putin announced that having fulfilled their objectives “the main part” of Russian armed forces in Syria would start to withdraw. In a telephone conversation with President Obama he said that “this will certainly serve as a good signal to all conflicting sides and create conditions for the start of a true peace process.” In a nutshell, the past six months have been the most intense period of the five-year conflict opening a window of opportunity for re-energizing the political transition talks between the regime and the opposition. 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.
The Middle East, in the grip of polarization, is going through a most violent period. Syria is being torn apart. Iraq is far from peace and stability. Egypt remains unsettled. Tunisia continues to face a multitude of challenges. According to some Libya is already a failed state. Yemen is being devastated. Dislocation, starvation and disease are widespread. Misery reigns everywhere. Behind their facade of stability and affluence Gulf States are nervous. ISIL’s appetite for crime and destruction seems insatiable. Its outreach is continuing to expand. As for Turkey, these are very stressful times to say the least. Okumaya devam et →
11 June 2015
Every time they meet, Secretary Kerry and Minister Lavrov raise hopes of cooperation between Washington and Moscow on international issues; they refer to their countries’ ability to “make a difference”, “make things happen”. This was again what they said in Sochi on 12 May 2015. What has followed inspires little optimism.
It may be worth remembering in this connection what Minister Lavrov said at the end of his introductory remarks during the joint press conference in Sochi:
“…Our president firmly emphasized that we are ready for as broad cooperation as possible and as close interaction as possible with the U.S.A. based on equal rights and mutual respect of interests and positions of each other…”Okumaya devam et →
During his first visit to Moscow on 6-8 July 2009 President Obama tried to “reset” relations. Unfortunately for the international community this failed to materialize. Russians probably preferred to wait and see. The Arab Spring led to a new set of confrontations. Snowden affair became an irritant and lead to the cancellation by Washington of an Obama-Putin summit that was to take place during the G-20 meeting in St. Petersburg on 5-6 September 2013. Yet their brief encounter there led to the 14 September 2013 agreement on the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons only to be followed by the crisis in Ukraine.
Since the Syria chemical weapons deal which was indeed an achievement, both Secretary Kerry and Minister Lavrov have repeatedly said that the resolution of many international problems depend on their countries’ joint efforts, that together the US and Russia can make a difference, make things happen. I share their judgment. Yet, the US and Russia have hardly made concrete progress on anything since the Syria chemical weapons deal. Conflict over Ukraine has become a major stumbling block. They need to break the impasse. Okumaya devam et →
18 Ekim 2014
27 Haziran 2014 tarihli ve “Orta Doğu Senaryoları” başlıklı yazımı şöyle tamamlamıştım:
“… ABD ve Rusya’nın çıkarları Orta Doğu’da karmaşanın ve aşırılığın önlenmesinde yatmaktadır. Ortada, Suriye kimyasal silahlarının tasfiyesine ilişkin başarılı bir işbirliği örneği vardır. Taraflar İran nükleer programı konusunda da aynı masa etrafındadırlar. Bunlardan hareketle, Ukrayna’da gerilimin düşürülmesine, en azından sorunun ertelenmesine olanak verecek bir formülün mutlaka bulunması ve ABD ile Rusya’nın Orta Doğu’da istikrar adına işbirliği yapmaları gerektiğini tekrarlıyorum… “
MH17 sefer sayılı Malezya Hava Yolları uçağının Ukrayna’daki çatışma bölgesi üzerinde bir füze ile düşürülmesi Ukrayna bunalımını daha ileri bir noktaya taşıdı. Dile getirdiğim biçimde arayışlara bir süre için kapıyı kapattı. Rusya, ABD ve AB ekonomik yaptırımlarına kendi yaptırımlarıyla karşılık verdi. Okumaya devam et →