August 19, 2019
In early August, American and Turkish military delegations met in Ankara to discuss plans to coordinate the establishment of a safe zone in northern Syria. A joint statement issued at the end of the talks said they agreed on the rapid implementation of initial measures to address Turkey’s security concerns; to stand-up a joint operations center in Turkey as soon as possible in order to coordinate and manage the establishment of the safe zone together; and, that the safe zone shall become a peace corridor, and every effort shall be made so that displaced Syrians can return to their country. 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
June 14, 2019
The last episode of the S400 missiles/F35 fighters controversy has taken Turkey-US relations to unprecedented lows. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan sent a letter to his Turkish counterpart. For some, this was an “ultimatum”. Ankara’s earlier proposal to Washington was forming a “working group”. It now says the language of the letter is incompatible with the spirit of alliance between two NATO members. The huge gap between the “ultimatum” and the “working group proposal” is worrisome to say the least. In the meantime, Russia is making one announcement after the other saying the S400s will be delivered before the end of July. Only a week before the rerun of the Istanbul municipal election Turkish media keeps condemning the “ultimatum”. Anti-Americanism is on the rise. 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
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