With rising but controlled tension over the Kerch Strait incident, a cancelled Trump-Putin meeting, uncertainty regarding U.S.-North Korea dialogue, the war in Yemen, continuing turmoil in the broad Middle East, U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA, the prospect of a widening China-U.S. trade war with political consequences, the rise of populism, Brexit, yellow-vests in France, poor global governance and lack of leadership, world agenda has become even more complicated.
The Syrian conflict which remained on top for almost a decade no longer seems to be a priority. In earlier years this was about the future of the Assad regime, dialogue between Damascus and the opposition, a new constitution, elections. Now, however, the content appears to be shifting away from these towards a confrontation between the U.S. and the Astana format. The shift can be explained to a good measure by Trump administration’s anti-Iran policy jointly defined with Israel and supported by the Saudi-led coalition. An interrelated issue is Washington’s cooperation with the PYD/YPG.
Guarantors of the Astana format met in Kazakh capital on November 29, 2018. Their Joint Statement (*) had two messages. Okumaya devam et →
Arab spring and the Syrian conflict have led some observers to look at Middle East developments through the prism of regional “rivalry” or “competition”. Countries generally mentioned are Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Israel is also prominently involved in regional affairs but the current emphasis seems to be on confrontations between Muslim countries which can’t even manage get around a table to address regional problems. Thus, all three are said to be in a “fierce struggle” for regional supremacy and the latter two for the leadership of the Sunni world. The murder of Jamal Khashoggi has provided the discussion with additional material.
There can be different paths to regional supremacy. To embark on such a path a country needs power. And, power has economic, military and political components. Okumaya devam et →
The Saudi-led intervention in Yemen is now in its fourth year. On April 24, 2015 Saudi Arabia announced that “Operation Decisive Storm” had achieved its objective and priority would now shift to rebuilding the country and political dialogue. This new phase was to be called “Renewal of Hope”. More than three years later, the Yemenis find themselves in a state of despair. Okumaya devam et →
At his joint press conference with his French counterpart President Trump said:
“And if I might add, the states and, as I alluded to — and countries that are in the area, some of which are immensely wealthy, would not be there except for the United States and, to a lesser extent, France. But they wouldn’t be there except for the United States. They wouldn’t last a week. We’re protecting them…
“… And they will pay for it. They will pay for it. We’ve spoken to them. They will pay for it. The United States will not continue to pay. And they will also put soldiers on the ground, which they’re not doing…”(emphasis added) Okumaya devam et →
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter and General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff recently told the House Armed Services Committee that:
• Assad appears to be weakening and on the defensive,
• There are not enough “moderate” recruits for the train-and-equip program.
One may conclude therefore that the “Army of Conquest” which is a coalition of groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham and a few others deserves at least part of the credit for pushing Assad on the defensive. The “moderate opposition” seems to be lost, confirming what President Obama had said in the past (*).
It is widely reported that the Army of Conquest is supported by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey following an agreement between Riyadh and Ankara to shelve their differences, at least temporarily, over the Muslim Brotherhood. They are sometimes referred to as the “Sunni bloc”. 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 →
13 May 2015
Following his visit to Riyadh, Secretary Kerry met with his Gulf counterparts in Paris on Friday, May 8th in preparation of this week’s summit at Camp David. After the meeting, Kerry and Saudi Foreign Minister al-Jubair held a joint press conference. This is what the Saudi Minister had to say on the summit: “… We also spent another hour and a half on Camp David and the objectives of Camp David and the issues that will be discussed at Camp David. Don’t ask me to talk about it because I won’t; I can just tell you in general terms that they have to do with the intensifying and strengthening the security-military relationship between the United States of America and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, as well as dealing with new challenges that we face in the region, foremost of which is the Iranian interference in the affairs of the countries of the region. “We were very pleased with the discussions. I thought they were very – extremely productive, very useful…”Okumaya devam et →