“Turkey is a bridge between East and West” is a widely used metaphor to define not only Turkey’s location between Asia and Europe but also its history, identity, culture with its blessings and contradictions. The city of Istanbul represents all of these.
A Turk may take a cup of coffee on the shores of the Bosporus, without thinking of the other side being Asia or Europe and centuries-long competition for the control of this strategic waterway. Because, a constant parade of passenger boats, tankers, cargo ships, naval vessels moving in both directions is always a beautiful spectacle. A foreign visitor may be more aware of the fact that across the blue waters of the Bosporus lies another continent.
Istanbul’s Historical Peninsula is different. There, with monuments of the Roman, Byzantine and the Ottoman empires, history engulfs everyone on a journey of thousands of years. Okumaya devam et →
China had a two-term limit on its president since the 1990s. Xi Jinping became president in 2012. In April this year, the National People’s Congress approved the removal the two-term limit, effectively allowing him to “remain in power for life”.
China is one of world’s leading powers. Henry Kissinger has said, “No other country can claim so long a continuous civilization, or such an intimate link to its ancient past and classical principles of strategy and statesmanship.” However, without even an interlude of democracy in its history, China has failed to make progress in that direction and President Xi’s two terms in office are no exception. Okumaya devam et →
The end of the Cold War raised hopes for a more peaceful and stable world with the “international community” collectively confronting global challenges. This proved a myth. After three decades, all we hear now is Cold War II, which essentially means that world’s major powers have failed to redefine their self-centered foreign and security policy priorities and their relationships. Okumaya devam et →
The Arab Spring threw the Middle East in chaos. Then came the Ukraine conflict and Russia’s annexation of Crimea. As the Syrian conflict moved up on the international agenda the former receded. Despite on and off official statements regarding the illegitimacy of Crimea’s annexation, everybody knew that there would be no going back. With a rising China and a resurgent Russia “global realignment” became a current topic. There was even talk about “Cold War II” and more investment in military power. The rise of populism and authoritarianism led to a pessimistic outlook regarding the future of democracy. Okumaya devam et →
“Canal İstanbul”, first introduced to the public as a “crazy project” by Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (JDP) Government, has become the subject of an increasingly heated discussion. Among the various aspects of the project currently debated are its environmental impact, the cost, huge private land purchases in the area and last but not least its implications for the Montreux Convention of 1936 regulating passage through the “Straits of the Dardanelles, the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus comprised under the general term ‘Straits’ ”.Okumaya devam et →
Literature on “The Art of Human Survival” will have you believe that to have reached the age of seventy must be a testimony for having mustered this art. But for a military alliance to have functioned, changed, adapted and enlarged for seventy years would mean significantly more than mere survival, but an unequivocal success. While ripe and mature age seventy for a human being deserves celebration albeit with an eye on life expectancy averages, for a military alliance such celebration would call for unreserved pride and a solemn commitment to cohesion, collective re-dedication to allied goals. But those were not the type of public announcements or more discreet messages that were coming from the London Summit to celebrate NATO’s 70th anniversary. 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 →
Yesterday President Trump announced that he is terminating United States’ participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran and re-imposing sanctions lifted under the deal.
From the very beginning of his presidency Mr. Trump has denigrated his predecessor, past administrations and their achievements. His principal target has been the Iran nuclear deal. He has said that the deal is one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into; that it has failed to address Tehran’s growing missile capability and expanding influence in the Middle East. He has called it “insane”. Such public criticism of one’s predecessors particularly in high office is bad enough but the language he has used must have offended the other four other permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany as well. Because what it means is that they were either duped or devious. CNN’s headline “World holds breath for Trump’s Iran deal decision” and others which said “European allies are on edge” must have delighted him. However, by withdrawing from the JCPOA before seeing the outcome of his summit with Kim Jong-un, Mr. Trump has put himself on the spot. And how all of this relates to his internal troubles is worth thinking about. Okumaya devam et →
The world is in disarray. The Arab Spring threw the Middle East in chaos. Then came the Ukraine conflict and Russia’s annexation of Crimea. As the Syrian conflict moved up on the international agenda the former receded. Despite on and off official statements on the unacceptability of Crimea’s annexation, everybody knows that there will be no going back. With a steadily rising China and a resurgent Russia “global realignment” has become a current topic. Now, moreover, there is talk about “Cold War II” and growing investment in military power. The rise of populism and authoritarianism has led to a pessimistic outlook regarding the future of democracy. The EU, a major global economic power, remains divided and ineffective as a foreign policy actor. Its public discourse on democracy and the rule of law has weakened. For a variety of reasons including migration, values are undergoing change. Okumaya devam et →
The following is from my summing-up of the year 2016 (*):
“The Ukraine conflict has led many analysts to frequently mention President Putin’s unpredictable tactics and actions if not policies. With Mr. Trump in the White House, world’s aggregate unpredictability will probably go up… Surely, one may understand a gradual shift of emphasis, setting of new priorities and a change in public discourse, but many already speculate on major changes to US foreign policy…”
What Federal Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on relations with the US at the Berlin Foreign Policy Forum on December 5, 2017 is particularly revealing in this Okumaya devam et →