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
October 10, 2017
The Syrian conflict is in its seventh year and much has changed after the Russian intervention. Gone are the days of the Friends of Syria Group meetings and international coalitions targeting regime change. This Group was formed after Russia and China, in the light of the Libya experience, vetoed a UN Security Council resolution intended to pave the way for another Western intervention. The Group held its first meeting in Tunis on February 24, 2012. On April 1st, 2012, it met for the second time in Istanbul. Okumaya devam et
March 14, 2017
First, it was “zero problems with neighbors”. Then, it was regime change in Syria. Ankara was so determined that it shot down a Russian fighter-jet provoking a major crisis with Moscow. In May 2016, following an unavoidable government reshuffle, the motto became “more friends and fewer enemies” and that appeared to make sense. Reconciliation with Russia thus started to move forward, at a cost of course. The future of relations with the Trump administration remain uncertain because of the question of Fethullah Gülen’s extradition as well as America’s collaboration with the YPG. And now, Ankara is burning bridges with its traditional European allies who are also Turkey’s major economic partners and home to millions of Turks. The first was Germany (*) only to be followed by the Netherlands not to mention the others. Okumaya devam et
January 4, 2017
After a violent year and minutes into 2017 Turkey hit world headlines. Again, the reason was a terrorist attack. And again, it was followed by the customary anti-terrorism ritual. Minister of the Interior visited the crime scene. Some other ministers made bland statements. A security summit was announced. A media black-out was imposed. Government members referred to “dark schemes to destabilize Turkey”, “our determination to remain united as a nation” and “our resolve to annihilate the terrorists”. Some media outlets, launched attacks against foreign supporters of terrorism including Turkey’s NATO allies. Okumaya devam et
October 24, 2016
It was widely reported last week that Syrian opposition fighters backed by Turkish warplanes and artillery dealt a major psychological blow to ISIL by capturing Dabiq which, though a small town of marginal strategic importance in northern Syria, had crucial ideological and propaganda value for ISIL. Again last week, the Iraqi operation to recapture the city of Mosul, called by some the “great battle”, was launched and is receiving wide media coverage.
Major media outlets give different figures regarding the troops involved. One says that the coalition’s 94,000 troops vastly outnumber their opponents. Another refers to about 30,000 pro-government forces taking part in the operation. The number of ISIL fighters in Mosul is generally given as 5,000. Whatever is the exact figure, add to the tens of thousands of troops heading towards Mosul, hundreds of tanks, heavy artillery and coalition aircraft ranging from jet fighters to Apache helicopter gunships, reconnaissance aircraft, heavily armed drones as well as hundreds of American advisors and ISIL will be scoring a great propaganda victory by standing up against the world. Okumaya devam et
September 15, 2016
Turkey’s foray into the Syrian conflict has been, beyond a shadow of doubt, our worst foreign policy blunder since the founding of the Republic in 1923. The political, security, economic and trade costs are too obvious, unlikely to disappear soon and need no elaboration except to say that the erosion of the trust others placed in us was perhaps our biggest loss.
For a long time, our allies asked us to seal off a 98 kilometer stretch of our border with Syria (*). In response Ankara said that it regards ISIL as a terrorist organization, that it is fighting it but it is impossible to seal off the border. Thus, a porous border combined with Ankara’s Assad obsession gave the impression that Turkey, with an “ends justify the means” approach, had been tolerant of ISIL and al-Nusra, if not supportive. Now, with Turkish armed forces in Syria, the ruling Justice and Development Party (JDP) almost claims to lead the fight against ISIL. It is ardently calling for lasting peace in Syria. We no longer call Syria “our backyard” but say “Syria belongs to the Syrians”. What are the underlying reasons for this change of attitude? And, does it represent a genuine course correction? Okumaya devam et
August 22, 2016
On April 6, 2009 President Obama addressed the Turkish Parliament (1). His remarks were full of praise for Turkey. He said:
“… This is my first trip overseas as President of the United States. I’ve been to the G20 summit in London, and the NATO summit in Strasbourg, and the European Union summit in Prague. Some people have asked me if I chose to continue my travels to Ankara and Istanbul to send a message to the world. And my answer is simple: Evet — yes. Turkey is a critical ally. Turkey is an important part of Europe. And Turkey and the United States must stand together — and work together — to overcome the challenges of our time…”
On May 16, 2013 PM Erdogan was in Washington. Following their talks at the White House, the President and the PM held a joint press conference. Again, the President heaped praise on Turkey and the Prime Minister (2). He said:
“It is a great pleasure to welcome my friend, Prime Minister Erdogan, back to the White House…
“This visit reflects the importance that the United States places on our relationship with our ally, Turkey, and I value so much the partnership that I’ve been able to develop with Prime Minister Erdogan…” Okumaya devam et
March 20, 2016
The EU-Turkey Statement of March 18, 2016 starts with these two paragraphs (*):
“Today the Members of the European Council met with their Turkish counterpart. This was the third meeting since November 2015 dedicated to deepening Turkey-EU relations as well as addressing the migration crisis.
“The Members of the European Council expressed their deepest condolences to the people of Turkey following the bomb attack in Ankara on Sunday. They strongly condemned this heinous act and reiterated their continued support to fight terrorism in all its forms.”
Dictionaries define “as well as” in the following way: “and in addition”, “and also”. So, at first look, one may assume that the “meeting of the Members of the European Council and their Turkish counterparts” was essentially about “deepening Turkey-EU relations” and “in addition” or “and also” they addressed the migration crisis. Wrong! Okumaya devam et