Etiket arşivi: Obama

The Uncertain Future of Turkish-American Relations

October 9, 2020

As the US braces for November 3 presidential election, countries remain divided in their expectations. Europe having enjoyed excellent relations with the Obama White House no doubt wishes to see Mr. Biden there. Because, although this would not be a replica of the Obama White House there would be parallels. The same goes for Iran, whereas Gulf states have been getting along extremely well with Mr. Trump. Israel would probably prefer a Trump victory but move on regardless of who is in the White House, happy with the balance sheet of the past four years.

Okumaya devam et

Turkish-French Tensions Over Libya

June 29, 2020

Two weeks ago, France accused Turkey of harassing a French frigate off the coast of Libya while it carried out checks on a Turkish ship that it suspected of breaking the UN arms embargo. Turkey denied the charge. A week later, President Macron said, “I have already had the opportunity to say very clearly to President Erdogan I consider today that Turkey is playing a dangerous game in Libya and is in breach of all commitments it took during the Berlin conference.” Turkish officials reacted. NATO is now investigating the incident at sea. Okumaya devam et

Iran-US Confrontation with Iraq in the Middle

January 8, 2020

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

Syria: Moment of Truth for the West

January 11, 2019

Defeating ISIS in Syria and ousting President Assad are no longer compatible. They never were. The West must make a choice. The following questions can help find the answer:

  • Was the Western intervention in Syria about promoting democracy?
  • Was it about giving the people of Syria a better future?
  • Does the West mourn the loss of life in Syria?
  • Is the West prepared to receive more refugees from Syria?
  • Is the West capable of redrawing the battlefield picture in Syria?
  • Is there any hope that Assad’s ouster will bring to power a truly reformist leadership closer to the West?

The answer to the first three could at best be “not exactly, but …”. For the rest it is “no”. Okumaya devam et

Trump’s Decision to Withdraw from Syria

December 22, 2018

President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria seems to have surprised even shocked many, particularly in Washington. His brief announcement left many questions unanswered. Had he been a consistent leader steering his administration in close consultation with a steady team of senior officials, explaining the rational of his policies using conventional methods instead of tweets, maintaining close consultation/cooperation with allies, the reaction could have been different.

In response to criticism he tweeted: “Getting out of Syria was no surprise. I’ve been campaigning on it for years…”

He was not the only one. This is precisely why David E. Sanger’s New York Times article of December 19 carried the title, “A Strategy of Retreat in Syria, With Echoes of Obama”, whom Mr. Trump has constantly reviled. Okumaya devam et

The West and the Middle East

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

President Obama and the Middle East (2)

August 1, 2016

On July 28, 2016, David Nakamura of the Washington Post reported that President Obama took the stage at the Democratic National Convention at a time when the nation is more starkly polarized than before. The words “starkly polarized” no doubt qualified a state of polarization by Western standards. By Middle East standards this would require no more than a few doses of passiflora.

President Obama’s address was again remarkable. He was speaking to the delegates of the Democratic Party and beyond them to the Republicans and the entire people of the United States. As expected, he urged people to vote for Hillary Clinton. He criticized Donald Trump in passing remarks. But all along, he gave messages of unity. The leaders and peoples of the Middle East also need to hear him (*). Referring to Mrs. Clinton he said: Okumaya devam et

Quo Vadis Turkey? (2)

July 25, 2016

A year-and-a-half ago I wrote (*):
“We Turks need to understand that our success as a nation, especially in the field of foreign policy, depends first and foremost upon our internal peace and stability. The amount of respect we enjoy, our international status, our regional role, our effectiveness at international organizations, they all depend upon our giving final proof that Turkey is a secular democracy. Since the founding of the Republic by Atatürk in 1923, this has been the world’s expectation because we are or were, the only country with a predominantly Moslem population to have come this far. Turkey needs to prove, once and for all, that we are a democracy and that the point of no return has been crossed.
“Until we do that even the right foreign policy initiatives will yield no result.
“Unfortunately, the “once in a century” historic opportunity is slipping away…” Okumaya devam et

Iraq, Afghanistan, Terrorism and a Word on Turkey

July 18, 2016

On July 6, 2016, Mr. Tony Blair responded to the Report of the Iraq Inquiry during a two-hour-long press conference. Answering a question, he said that there was a decision and it was a controversial decision – a decision to remove Saddam and a decision to be with America. “Now many people would disagree with both of those decisions,” he added, “Sir John Chilcot came quite close to it this morning. That’s fine, but if you’re going to do that, you have to say what the consequences of the opposite decision would have been.”

Of course, the decision to invade Iraq was not taken in London but in Washington. Mr. Blair joined in under enormous pressure from the other side of the Atlantic. However, he was not being fair in criticizing the Iraq Inquiry for not having speculated on what would have happened had the decision not been taken. This was not the purpose of the Inquiry. Nonetheless, one can make two observations, the first on Afghanistan and the second on terrorism. Okumaya devam et

“Dissent Channel Memo” on Syria

June 22, 2016

Fifty-one State Department officials have signed a “dissent channel memo” calling for a “more militarily assertive U.S. role in Syria”.

The availability of a “dissent channel” constitutes solid proof of respect for different opinions and their free expression in a government agency and is only to be envied. Secretary Kerry’s having a meeting with representatives of the group is also remarkable. In a department dealing with foreign affairs this all the more important because it ensures that policy decisions are adopted having taken full account of the collective wisdom of its members. Needless to say, once committed, foreign policy mistakes can be extremely costly and difficult to correct; a case in point being Turkey’s involvement in the Syrian conflict. Okumaya devam et