May 3, 2021
During my years at the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I sometimes asked the ambassadors in Ankara how they viewed their job in our capital since they usually stressed Turkey’s location as a unique observation post for the broad region. Many said, “never a dull moment”. I always responded that I was hoping for the day when the answer would be “boredom”, and we laughed. Because, while Turkey’s geostrategic location is an asset, it comes at a price. The end of the Cold War was a relief. But with the wars in Yugoslavia, the Caucasus and the first Gulf War, all of a sudden, we found ourselves in the middle of three major conflict areas. There was a refugee flow from Bosnia to Turkey. Our trade with Europe was disrupted. The Iraq-Turkey oil pipeline remained closed for years. Our trade with Iraq and the Gulf suffered. Energy projects in the Caucasus became more complicated. The 2003 US invasion of Iraq and the Arab spring created new challenges.
Okumaya devam et
Co-authored with Yusuf Buluc (*)
July 29, 2019
A year ago, if one were patient enough to draw up a list of the problems on the Turkish-American agenda this would have reflected a relationship not between NATO allies or family members as some seem to remember in times of distress but adversaries. It is the overall bilateral chemistry, Syria, PYD/YPG, FETO, Iran sanctions, Turkey’s purchase of S-400s, US threat not to deliver F-35 aircraft, obstacles to trade, not to mention the Brunson case.
Any progress after a whole year? None at all, except Pastor Brunson leaving Turkey on October 12, 2018 under dubious judicial procedures.
A development which has much more than symbolic value is the delivery of the S-400 air and missile defense system to Turkey. Consequently, and as threatened by the US, Turkey is going to be excluded from the F-35 program costing the Turkish economy dearly. Ankara and Washington still seem unable to find common ground in their respective operations in Syria. The current situation almost begs the question whether they are seriously searching for that. Okumaya devam et
May 22, 2019
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party’s (JDP) principal theme in the recent municipal election campaign was “the fight for Turkey’s survival”. The party and its supporters in the media claimed that Turkey was under the siege of external powers which were determined to block Turkey’s path to becoming a global player through an array of conspiracies. Who those powers are, was never spelled out. Nonetheless, Turkish government’s disappointment with Western reaction to the Gülenist coup attempt of July 15, 2016, continuing frustration with the support extended to the PYD/YPG and the s400s/s35 conundrum offer some clues and these only point toward the US and the EU, in other words, Turkey’s traditional Western allies. Okumaya devam et
March 11, 2019
At the beginning of the Syrian conflict Russia and Turkey were on diametrically opposite sides. Russia was supporting the regime, the Turkish government the opposition. Nonetheless, Turkish-Russian relations remained on track.
On November 24, 2015 a stunning development changed the picture. Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 military plane for having violated Turkish airspace for 17 seconds. This was no “accident”. It was a tragic “incident”. Okumaya devam et
August 20, 2018
When President Obama’s visited Turkey in April 2009 he underlined Turkey’s “strong, vibrant, secular democracy”. Turkish-American relations appeared to have reached their peak. As Turkey started to move away from the democratic path relations started to sour not only with the US but also the EU. Then came the Syria ordeal. Turkey was at the forefront of those who were after regime change. President Obama’s decision not to enforce his redline in Syria caused resentment in Ankara because it showed that even the Obama administration, unlike Ankara, had not written off President Assad completely. Okumaya devam et
April 10, 2018
Forty-seven years ago, today, the U.S. table tennis team arrived in China. Later in the year, in July 1971, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger made a secret trip to China paving the way for Richard Nixon’s own visit. The U.S. President and his Chinese hosts agreed to the joint “Shanghai Communique” of February 27, 1972, in which both nations pledged to work toward the full normalization of diplomatic relations. As part of the effort toward that end, on May 1, 1973, the U.S. opened a liaison office in Beijing to handle all matters in the U.S.-China relationship “except the strictly formal diplomatic aspects of the relationship.” China created a counterpart office in Washington in the same year. Finally, on January 1, 1979, the U.S. recognized People’s Republic of China and established diplomatic relations with it as the sole legitimate government of China. Okumaya devam et
March 28, 2018
It has been two roller coaster weeks.
On March 15, 2018 the US imposed new sanctions on 24 Russian entities and individuals for interfering in the 2016 election and conducting a series of damaging cyberattacks.
On March 20, President Trump called President Putin to congratulate him on his election victory. “We had a very good call, and I suspect that we’ll probably be meeting in the not-too-distant future to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control, but we will never allow anybody to have anything even close to what we have. And also to discuss Ukraine and Syria and North Korea and various other things” he told reporters.
On March 26, the White House announced the expulsion of sixty Russian intelligence officers from the United States and the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle due to its proximity to an American submarine base and Boeing.
The same day many EU countries and others also made similar announcements. NATO’s expulsion of seven Russian diplomats followed two days later.
EU’s decision to expel Russian intelligence officers was taken at the European Council meeting of March 22-23 in Brussels. The meeting was already on Council’s calendar and the presence of heads of state and government provided an opportunity to address the Salisbury attack and enabled joint action. Okumaya devam et
February 28, 2018
UNSC Resolution 2401 (2018) of February 24 demands that all parties cease hostilities without delay for a durable humanitarian pause for at least 30 consecutive days throughout Syria. It calls upon all parties to immediately lift the sieges of populated areas and allow the delivery of humanitarian assistance. It also affirms that the cessation of hostilities shall not apply to military operations against terrorist organizations as designated by the Security Council.
In Ankara, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediately welcomed the Resolution and said that uninterrupted access to humanitarian aid is a dictate of international law and Turkey, while continuing to extend humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people, will remain resolute in fighting terrorist organizations that threaten the territorial integrity and political unity of Syria. Okumaya devam et
February 22, 2018
In Syria, Turkey is running in a narrowing alley.
On the one hand, Secretary Tillerson recently said, “…we’re not going to act alone any longer. We’re not going to be U.S. doing one thing and Turkey doing another. We are going to act together from this point forward…” That remains to be seen. On the other hand, Turkey is quasi-partners with Russia and Iran in the Astana process. It is struggling to walk a fine line between Washington and Moscow. Relations between these two capitals, however, remain tense and confrontational. Through its measured cooperation with Ankara in Syria, Moscow is also targeting the further weakening of Turkey’s relations with the West. Why shouldn’t it if the opportunity is generously offered? Moreover, the U.S. is engaged in a major effort to form an anti-Iran regional bloc to contain what it calls “Tehran’s malign activities”. Beyond saying that they are committed to Syria’s unity and territorial integrity, Washington on one side and Moscow and Tehran on the other hold conflicting views on Syria’s political transition. The former remains an adversary of President Assad while the latter are his principal supporters. Back in October 2015, at the time of Russia’s intervention in Syria President Obama had said, “An attempt by Russia and Iran to prop up Assad and try to pacify the population is just going to get them stuck in a quagmire and it won’t work.” Perhaps, the Trump administration wishes to prove him right. Okumaya devam et
February 5, 2018
Washington designated Hamas as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997. Last week the Department of State also designated its leader Ismail Haniyeh as a terrorist. Some in the Arab world were no doubt delighted whereas Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu strongly criticized the decision because the government regards Ismail Haniyeh a freedom fighter. The truth is such disagreements between nations are not uncommon. It all depends on countries’ perception of national interest as well as ideology. Okumaya devam et