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
January 22, 2018
On January 17, Secretary Tillerson delivered remarks at Stanford University. His topic was “The Way Forward for the United States Regarding Syria”. Next to him was Condoleezza Rice, National Security Adviser and later Secretary of State during the Bush administration. Mr. Tillerson said that Ms. Rice has been “a great source of help and inspiration” to him. Okumaya devam et
December 25, 2017
On December 6, President Trump signed the Act which recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
A week later, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) met in Istanbul at summit level on current chair Turkey’s initiative and strongly condemned the decision; declared East Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Palestine; and, invited all countries to recognize the State of Palestine and East Jerusalem as its occupied capital.
On December 18, the US vetoed a United Nations Security Council draft resolution on Jerusalem. Okumaya devam et
November 6, 2017
On October 29, Secretary Tillerson made the following remarks on the occasion of Turkey’s National Day:
“… Turkey has been a close American ally for more than 60 years. We are strategic partners in addressing the causes of instability throughout the world, including the Syrian civil war and our mutual fight against terrorism and violent extremism. We continue our steadfast efforts to enhance border security, increase trade and investment, and promote peace and prosperity across the globe.
“As Turkey marks this anniversary, we reaffirm the strong and resilient ties that unite us, and are confident the close relationship between the Turkish and American people will continue to grow.” Okumaya devam et
October 16, 2017
In earlier posts, I have often referred to President Obama’s visit to Turkey in early April, 2009. This is what I said:
“The President arrived in Turkey after attending a G20 summit in London, a NATO summit in Strasbourg and an EU summit in Prague. In other words, this was his first bilateral visit abroad. The following paragraph from the speech he delivered before the Turkish Grand National Assembly reflected the purpose of the visit:
“This morning I had the great privilege of visiting the tomb of your extraordinary founder of your republic. And I was deeply impressed by this beautiful memorial to a man who did so much to shape the course of history. But it is also clear that the greatest monument to Atatürk’s life is not something that can be cast in stone and marble. His greatest legacy is Turkey’s strong, vibrant, secular democracy, and that is the work this assembly carries on today…
“The message: Turkey, with its secular democracy has set an example for the Islamic world. Turkey should continue this path, and others should follow.” Okumaya devam et
June 24, 2017
In the fall of 1966, I took a series of exams to join the Turkish Foreign Ministry. Among other things, we were asked to comment on a widely used metaphor, “Turkey is a bridge between East and West”. I wrote that throughout history Anatolia had been a meeting point of cultures and that Turkey’s future lied in creating a successful synthesis. During my later years in diplomatic service I continuously objected to the use of this metaphor arguing that a bridge belongs to neither of its banks and that Turkey had already made her choice. With the launching of EU accession negotiations in October 2005 I came to believe that we had finally crossed the Bosporus Bridge and were travelling towards the West. This by no means meant a rupture with the East for obvious reasons. Moreover, our good relations with the region were seen as an asset by the EU. Okumaya devam et
May 31, 2017
Turkey’s traditional foreign policy stood on pillars. Our relations with the United States and the European Union constituted the first two. A third one was our relations with our neighbors and the region. Prominently among those was Russia. Since the world is in a constant process of transformation Turkey was also searching for new pillars to add to the existing ones. Relations with China, India and other emerging powers offered new prospects. Since they did not constitute alternatives to one another, strengthening each and every one of these pillars was a dictate of Turkey’s interests.
Those pillars have undergone serious damage in recent years for two reasons: our leaving the path of democratic reform and our involvement in the Syrian conflict. Okumaya devam et
March 16, 2016
Terrorist attacks continue to claim rising numbers of innocent lives. The word “gridlock” can hardly describe the political atmosphere. The country is polarized like it has never been. Foreign and security policies are in shambles. Tourism, a major source of income and an irreplaceable avenue for interaction with the outside world is on the rocks. Lawlessness is widespread. People are increasingly agitated. There is little respect for rules, even speed limits. A traffic accident can be described by the media as a “vehicle getting out of control” as if the vehicle has an independent mind of its own. Similarly, most of our problems are attributed to foreign hands, dark forces which are determined to stop Turkey’s rise as a regional and global power. Western political support during the early years of the Justice and Development Party (JDP) rule, the launching of accession talks with the EU in October 2005, President Obama’s remarkable visit to Ankara in April 2009, cozy relations with Russia until the downing of the Su-24 warplane and “strategic cooperation” with President Assad’s Syria are conveniently forgotten. In brief, there can never be any wrongdoing on our part. Okumaya devam et
January 25, 2016
On January 22, 2016 Secretary Kerry addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. This is how he started off his remarks on the Iran nuclear deal:
“… It wasn’t so long ago that … Iran was only months away from having enough weapons-grade uranium to build 10 to 12 bombs. We were on the cusp of confrontation – believe me. I can’t tell you how many leaders, when I traveled through certain areas, said, ‘You have to bomb it. That’s the way you will solve this problem.” He then gave a brief account of what had been achieved through the JCPOA and concluded by saying, “My friends, the region is safer. The world is safer.” Okumaya devam et