On September 20, 2016 President Obama addressed the UN General Assembly (UNGA) for the last time (*). His remarks had depth like all his other major foreign policy speeches. Some analysts read it in the light of the conversation regarding his legacy; others, according to their field of interest, focused on certain highlights. Indeed, he said that Russia is attempting to recover glory through force; that in the South China Sea peaceful resolutions of disputes offered by law will mean far greater stability than the militarization of a few rocks and reefs; that Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement and recognize the legitimacy of Israel, but Israel recognizes that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land. Okumaya devam et →
Roughly a year ago I wrote that President Obama’s decision to refrain from military action in Syria, despite a previously declared “redline”, would best be judged by history. However, the controversy around his decision seems to continue. For example, Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post, with reference to what he had heard from dozens of foreign ministers and senior officials of US allies wrote, “… Japanese, South Koreans, Singaporeans and even Indians confided that they were convinced that Obama’s failure to use force against the regime of Bashar al-Assad was directly responsible for China’s subsequent burst of aggression in territorial disputes in the East China Sea and South China Sea. Poles, Lithuanians and French drew a line between the back down and Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. As for the Sunni Arabs, Turks and Israelis, it is an article of faith that Obama’s decision accelerated the catastrophe that Syria, and much of the rest of the Middle East, has become. They have an obvious point: Hundreds of thousands are dead, the European Union is in danger of crumbling under an onslaught of refugees, and the Islamic State and Assad remain unvanquished. Who would not call this a bad outcome?” (*)
To me it is just as obvious that countries mentioned in Mr. Diehl’s article look at the Syrian conflict primarily from their own perspective with little regard, if any, for the plight of the Syrian people. Okumaya devam et →
Despite growing evidence of a build-up of military personnel and equipment around Latakia the scale of Russian military intervention in the Syrian conflict caught the West by surprise. Many analysts tend to see it as a new assertiveness on the part of Russia; President Putin flexing muscles, displaying power; Moscow striving to restore lost role in the Middle East; Russia trying to teach Americans a lesson. Some believe that the intervention aims at propping up the regime and if Putin had been eager for peace he would have exerted pressure on President Assad before the outbreak of full scale civil war. Others say this is an attempt to deflect attention from the Ukraine conflict and a mismanaged economy. A few want a robust reaction from the US and say that NATO being tested by Russia. Assad’s visit to Moscow will probably reinforce these assessments. There may be some truth in all that. But, a little more needs to be said to complete the picture. Okumaya devam et →
Russia’s airstrikes in Syria, particularly the targets chosen, have added further confusion to an already complicated picture.
Since March this year, with the Islamic State (ISIL) controlling half of Syrian territory and the “Army of Conquest” consolidating its gains in the Idlib province and getting closer to Latakia, the Assad regime appeared to be on the retreat. The “Army of Conquest” is a coalition of groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham and a few others. Reportedly, the Army of Conquest cooperates with some moderate rebel groups and is supported by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. Ankara strongly denies such support.
On 12 May 2015, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and US Secretary of State Kerry held a joint press conference in Sochi. While expressing his views on Syria Mr. Lavrov said that he and Mr. Kerry “agreed that ISIL’s activities, as well as the activities of Jabhat al-Nusra are very dangerous…”
I constantly stress the need for US-Russia cooperation in finding solutions to international conflicts, particularly those in the broad Middle East. I mention compartmentalization as a way out in the absence of a wide convergence of views. I concluded a spot in early June by saying that, “U.S. and Russia need to look at the feasibility of an Obama-Putin summit. The UN General Assembly meeting in September may provide a good opportunity.” (1) It appears that there is now some groundwork in this direction including the military-to-military US-Russia talks on Syria.
To find a reasonable way to end the Syrian conflict one may look at what has been said by people who could make a difference:Okumaya devam et →