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 →
On November 24, 2015 Turkish fighter jets downed a Russian Su-24 warplane for having violated Turkish airspace and the incident has led to a major setback in bilateral relations as well as regional complications (*). This is not sustainable.
From the 16th to the 20th century, the Ottoman and Russian Empires were in continuous military conflict. During the Cold War Turkey was NATO’s southern flank. It was only after the dissolution of the Soviet Union which marked the end of the Cold War that Turkish-Russian cooperation made remarkable progress in the fields of trade, energy, tourism and contracting services, leading to considerable interdependence. All of this was accomplished within the framework of a meticulously built political understanding which, while admitting differences, put the emphasis on common interests. Okumaya devam et →
This is an attempt to describe, as briefly as possible, state of Turkey’s foreign relations.
Russia-Turkey: For the optimist the word of choice could be “tension”, for the pessimist “enmity”.
EU-Turkey: One can pick any one of the following for a single word description: annoyance, frustration, grief, irritation, vexation. There is, however, a two-word alternative: “unworthy deals”. Okumaya devam et →
February 10, 2016
On February 4, 2016 Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri, an adviser to the Saudi Defense Minister and also spokesman for the Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen reportedly stated, during an interview, that the Kingdom was ready to participate in any ground operations that the anti-ISIL coalition may agree to carry out in Syria. He also said that to win against Islamic State, the coalition needed to combine aerial operations with ground operations.
In response to questions about this statement, US Defense Secretary Carter said that increased activity by other countries would make it easier for the United States to accelerate its fight against Islamic State militants. “That kind of news is very welcome,” he told reporters and added that he looked forward to discussing the offer of ground troops with the Saudi Defense Minister. Okumaya devam et →
On 12 May 2015 Secretary Kerry had eight hours of talks with President Putin and Minister Lavrov in Sochi.
During the joint press conference held after the meetings Mr. Lavrov stated that the state of bilateral relations was also discussed, including specific irritators that have been in place recently. “But” he said, “we fully understand that it is absolutely necessary to avoid any steps that could further detriment relations between Russia and U.S. We believe that it is necessary to continue the cooperation between our countries, especially given the fact that resolution of many international problems really depends on our joint efforts – on the joint efforts of Russia and the U.S. – and I believe this is one of the main ideas about today’s negotiations, one of the main conclusions and outcomes of today.”
Mr. Kerry referred to the removal of Syria’s chemical weapons as an example of US-Russian cooperation. He said that it was the confidence in the two countries’ ability to be able to make a difference on some important issues that brought them together in Sochi. Okumaya devam et →
During his first visit to Moscow on 6-8 July 2009 President Obama tried to “reset” relations. Unfortunately for the international community this failed to materialize. Russians probably preferred to wait and see. The Arab Spring led to a new set of confrontations. Snowden affair became an irritant and lead to the cancellation by Washington of an Obama-Putin summit that was to take place during the G-20 meeting in St. Petersburg on 5-6 September 2013. Yet their brief encounter there led to the 14 September 2013 agreement on the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons only to be followed by the crisis in Ukraine.
Since the Syria chemical weapons deal which was indeed an achievement, both Secretary Kerry and Minister Lavrov have repeatedly said that the resolution of many international problems depend on their countries’ joint efforts, that together the US and Russia can make a difference, make things happen. I share their judgment. Yet, the US and Russia have hardly made concrete progress on anything since the Syria chemical weapons deal. Conflict over Ukraine has become a major stumbling block. They need to break the impasse. Okumaya devam et →
With Daesh controlling half of Syrian territory and the “Army of Conquest” consolidating its gains in the Idlib province and getting closer to regime’s bastion of Latakia, the Assad regime appears to be on the retreat. While some observers see these as serious setbacks for Damascus others draw attention to the ebb and flow pattern of the war. Equally important are the divisions emerging between the US and its regional allies. The “Army of Conquest” is a coalition of groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham and a few others. Okumaya devam et →