Asia

Bolton slams Turkey over refusal to abandon S-400 deal with Russia

Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton has blasted the S-400 deal as one of several major stumbling blocks in US-Turkish relations. AMNnews “We’re concerned about their purchase of the Russian air defence system called the S-400 – that’s a big problem,” Bolton said, speaking to AM 970 radio host John Catsimatidis on Sunday morning. Asked directly by Catsimatidis whether Turkey was a “friend or foe” to the United States, the top Trump foreign policy adviser cited a host of other problems affecting relations. “Well you know they’re still a NATO ally; ... Read More »

The Brief – Replacing Turkey in NATO

A global geopolitical shift has taken place without the wider audience noticing. Turkey has drifted apart from the US and NATO, it has got much closer to Russia, and… By Georgi Gotev with Sam Morgan | EURACTIV.com Turkey is still a NATO member. But it has repeatedly said it is committed to buying Russian missile defence system, despite warnings from the United States that the S-400s cannot be integrated into the NATO air defence system. Missile defence is not a… ... Read More »

Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist monk who introduced mindfulness to the West, prepares to die

Thich Nhat Hanh, the monk who popularized mindfulness in the West, has returned home to Vietnam to enjoy the rest of his life. Brooke Schedneck The Conversation Devotees from many parts of the world are visiting the ailing 92-year-old, who has retired to a Buddhist temple outside Hue. This thoughtful and accepting approach to his own failing health seems fitting for the popular Buddhist teacher, whose followers include a thousand Buddhist communities around the world and millions more who have ... Read More »

Why is Turkey’s presence in Afrin, Syria any different than the West Bank?

Turkey’s continued role in Afrin, a year after military occupation began in March 2018, is under spotlight as US State Department and UN highlight abuses. Seth J. Frantzman JPost Military occupation. Stolen olives. Checkpoints. Accusations of theft of property, land confiscation, demographic change and settlers. These are claims usually leveled at Israel’s role in the West Bank, but in the last year Turkey and Syrian groups it backs have been accused of similar violations in northwestern Syria. The area of ... Read More »

Wanted: Patient Diplomacy in Yemen

Sanaa has become the centerpiece of a struggle among regional power centers, and the battle for control over it will not end soon. Gordon Gray The National Interest Recent Congressional  debates about the Yemen war  have put a high priority on imposing costs on the Saudi-led military coalition by restricting arms sales and military cooperation. Moreover, this past week’s vote in the U.S. Senate  is just the latest in a series of Congressional actions sending a message of disapproval about the Trump administration’s military policy in ... Read More »

Jews are unsafe in Turkey and should leave now

Turkey’s mercurial leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan took his diplomatic spat with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a new level on Wednesday when he implicitly threatened the well-being of Turkey’s already dwindling Jewish community. Michael Rubin Washington Examiner “Do not provoke,” Erdogan said, before noting that he had not yet taken any action against Turkish Jews or their houses of worship. This is, of course, not the first Turkish government threat against its Jewish community. A decade ago, then-Foreign Minister ... Read More »

US Wants To Change The Law Of The Sea – Analysis

The US is frustrated by North Korea’s continuing violation of UN sanctions by using rogue vessels to import and export banned cargo, sometimes transferring the cargo at sea. Mark J. Valencia Eurasia Review So it wants to interdict suspect vessels on the high seas using force if necessary. The problem is that doing so without the consent of the flag state would violate the international law of the sea. John Bolton, the US National Security Advisor is taking the lead ... Read More »

Picking Up the Pieces After Hanoi

The collapse of last month’s summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was perhaps the inevitable result of a process in which the two leaders dominated, optimistic about their personal relationship and confident in their abilities. Richard N. Haass Project Syndicate The question is what to do now. NEW YORK – When last month’s summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ended without a deal, the result was not surprising. ... Read More »

The Best of Bad Options for Syria’s Idlib

The Syrian regime vows to reconquer Idlib, the north-western zone hosting its hardest-core remaining jihadist opposition. ICG But an all-out offensive would be calamitous. Turkey and Russia should recommit to their “de-escalation” deal for Idlib, bolstering it with measures that buy time for a lasting solution. What’s new? An agreement between Turkey and Russia that protects Syria’s rebel-held Idlib governorate from a regime offensive is under increasing stress. Clashes between jihadists and other militants inside Idlib and regime forces have ... Read More »

Silk Road opens a rift in Italy’s government

Washington and Brussels fear Rome is getting too close to China. Silvia Sciorilli Borrelli Politico ROME — Italy’s government has split over whether to sign onto China’s landmark “One Belt, One Road” infrastructure program that runs across Asia to key European trade hubs. Some 13 EU countries have signed up to China’s new Silk Road plan, but Washington and Brussels are deeply concerned that the involvement of G7 heavyweight Rome could lend greater credibility to a project that they view as a… Prime ... Read More »

China’s growing Latin America ties also matter for Australia

When China’s increasing links to Latin America are discussed, Australia might not be the first country that comes to mind. Erin Watson-Lynn the interpreter Lowy Institute But for Australian policy makers, Beijing’s push into Latin America matters. Australia must do more itself to strengthen its otherwise nascent relationships with the region, especially as China works to fill the vacuum left by the United States’ absence in the region. Two important developments make this need clear. Rethinking Australia’s geographic proximity It ... Read More »

Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh jailed ‘for 38 years’ in Iran

Lawyer sentenced to decades in prison and 148 lashes, husband writes on Facebook Reuters in Geneva The Guardian Nasrin Sotoudeh, an internationally renowned human rights lawyer jailed in Iran, has been handed a new sentence that her husband said was 38 years in prison and 148 lashes. Sotoudeh, who has represented opposition activists including women prosecuted for removing their mandatory headscarf, was arrested in Juneand charged with spying, spreading propaganda and insulting Iran’s supreme leader, her lawyer said. She was jailed ... Read More »

Indonesia leans towards Iver Huitfeldt class for frigate acquisition

Defence planners from the Indonesian Ministry of Defence (MoD) are increasingly leaning towards a variant of the Iver Huitfeldt class in their quest to acquire two more frigates for the… Ridzwan Rahmat, Singapore – Jane’s Navy International The frigates are being acquired as part of the second phase of the Minimum Essential Force (MEF) modernisation blueprint, which runs from 2015 to 2019. Indonesia acquired two SIGMA 10514 vessels from… A piece of unclassified correspondence between the country’s defence minister, Ryamizard ... Read More »

German Foreign Ministry tightens travel advisory for Turkey

Germany has advised its citizens they risk arrest for expressing opinions that would be tolerated at home but may not be by Turkish authorities. Deutsche Welle German nationals have been arbitrarily arrested over the last two years. The Foreign Ministry in Berlin has updated its travel advisory for Turkey, saying opinions expressed freely in Germany may not be tolerated by Turkish authorities. The advice was directed at journalists, at people who had taken part in some meetings and at anyone ... Read More »

Will the US and Turkey break up over Russian S-400?

WASHINGTON, DC – Fans of diplomatic history realize the importance of dates: They mark milestones, turning points, make-or-break moments. ekathimerini Endy Zemenides Those who follow Turkey are keenly aware that a new era in the country’s diplomatic history is taking shape before us. March 4 and 5, 2019 are sure to become important dates in this new diplomatic history. This past Monday, reversing a trend of handling issues with Ankara quietly and in private, US President Donald Trump sent a ... Read More »

US issues warning to Italy on China economic initiative

The U.S. issued an indirect warning to Italy on Saturday for its coziness with China. Daniel Jativa Washington Examiner The European Union country is weighing sign ing up with China’s global economic effort, called the Belt and Road Initiative. “Italy is a major global economy and a great investment destination. Endorsing BRI lends legitimacy to China’s predatory approach to investment and will bring no benefits to the Italian people,” the tweet said. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, the… US issues ... Read More »