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 →
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 →
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 →
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 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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
Phrases like “radical Islam”, “jihadist terror”, “Islamic extremism” and “Islamophobia” have been with us for quite some time. The Orlando massacre must have galvanized the behind closed doors debate on them. And, while some use them openly and with fury, others find it wiser to avoid doing this.
Mr. Trump, suggesting that all Muslim immigrants posed potential threats to America’s security, has renewed his call for a ban on Muslim migration into the United States and extend it to cover all nations with a history of terrorism. Mrs. Clinton said that a ban on Muslims would not have stopped the attack and neither would a wall. She also said that she’s not afraid to say “radical” Islam as she countered attacks from Mr. Trump that she’s too politically correct to use the phrase.
Although we are less than five months away from the November 8, 2016 US presidential election, I prefer to focus on what President Obama has said following the Orlando massacre. Here are excerpts from his statements: Okumaya devam et →