In my last post I tried to highlight the roller-coaster pattern of Israeli-Palestinian violence.
In his New York Times article of May 14, titled “Arab World Condemns Israeli Violence but Takes Little Action”, Eric Erlanger started off with the following:
“The Arab world is unified in condemning Israeli airstrikes in Gaza and the way the Israeli police invaded Jerusalem’s Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites. Governments have spoken out, protests have taken place, social media is aflame.
“But by and large the condemnation is only words, not actions — at least so far.”
Palestinians remain more than frustrated with the status quo and in the absence of any progress towards the two-state solution their discontent usually hits the surface in the form of some violence. And whenever there is violence, Israel says that it will not tolerate incitement, terrorism and reacts with disproportional force; Palestinian leadership calls for an end to subjugation and occupation; UN Secretary General urges calm; Arab governments express indignation; they remember the Arab League; the Quartet issues a statement advising restraint; the EU expresses concern: finally, either the US Secretary of State or some other high official travels to the region to find a way out because such violence always puts Washington on the spot by virtue of its unique relationship with Israel. And a roller-coaster pattern of violence goes on.
Since Turkish foreign policy has remained at a dead-end for a decade, the question “what is to be done?” defines the essence of our monotonous debate. Since we are a people with a short memory, how we got here is of no relevance. Some suggest that the remedy is “going back to factory settings” which is unlikely because this would require more than cosmetics. It would call for a recommitment to the founding principals of the Republic, prominently among them secularism, the antidote to the sectarian strife which has ever plagued the Middle East. The so-called Organization of Islamic Cooperation is a nonentity because secularism is anathema to it. This is also why our foreign policy prioritizing ideology over national and regional interest has ended up at a dead-end.
From the very beginning of his presidency Mr. Trump’s principal foreign policy target was the Iran nuclear deal, described by many as his predecessor’s “signature achievement”.
Thus, the US announced its withdrawal from the JCPOA on May 8, 2018. A month later, on June 12, 2018 Mr. Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore. Following the summit, he held a press conference and said, “My meeting with Chairman Kim was honest, direct, and productive. We got to know each other well in a very confined period of time, under very strong, strong circumstance. We’re prepared to start a new history and we’re ready to write a new chapter between our nations.”
With inauguration safely behind, President Biden would now start addressing America’s polarization, Covid-19, and a wrecked foreign policy. He has a far heavier agenda than many of his predecessors.
Among his major tasks in the international arena would be restoring confidence in the Washington’s foreign policy steadiness and charting a reasonable course in relations with China and Russia. Washington’s traditional Western allies, disillusioned with the Trump presidency, would give Mr. Biden more than a warm welcome while anxiously watching domestic developments in the US. Because according to a CNN poll, 47% of Republicans still say the party should continue to treat Trump as the leader of the party. And remains to be seen whether going ahead with a second impeachment, though more than justified, was a politically wise decision.
I often look up for words, synonyms, antonyms in Merriam-Webster. Yesterday, I looked up for a word and the column titled “Trending Now” caught my attention because on top of the list was the word “sedition”. This is what followed:
“Why are people looking up sedition?
“Sedition once again rose through the ranks and became one of our top lookups, in the first week of 2021, after making numerous appearances in articles on political upheaval.”
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.
The main foreign policy topics of the past decade have been China’s ascendancy, relations between the West and a resurgent Russia, the rise of authoritarianism, democracy’s decline, the failure of multilateralism and climate change. With the Trump White House, most of the questions raised in recent years focused on Washington. People started asking “what went wrong?” to use the title of Bernard Lewis’s remarkable book on the clash between Islam and modernity in the Middle East. Pundits in the West, including the US, started talking about Washington’s external military interventions and their political/diplomatic/economic cost, racism, gridlock. Some of the questions raised went beyond the Trump years. With major foreign and security policy challenges and 251,000 new coronavirus cases recorded last Friday, Mr. Biden will not be moving to a dream house on January 20.
On August 4, only two days before the 75th anniversary of the dropping of world’s first atomic bomb, Beirut experienced its own Hiroshima. Exactly a month ago Turkey had its own tragedy when 6 were killed and 97 injured in a fireworks factory blast. Although the devastation and the death tolls are incomparable, underlying reasons are the same: mismanagement and negligence.
These, of course, are only part of the fundamental problem of the Middle East, the lack of democracy with its many subtitles. Prominently among them are: 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 →