Asia

Re-conquest of Constantinople

Vehbi Kara is just another Islamist columnist who would not surprise you. He writes for this columnist’s favourite Islamist daily, Yeni Şafak. Burak Bekdil Sigma Insight Turkey His column on January 11th did not offer readers a revolutionary view –nor was it expected to– but was useful in trying to decipher the “conquest fetish” among conservative Muslims. Mr Kara wrote: “Devout people (Muslims) view Hagia Sophia as a symbol of Islam’s domination in these lands … It (as it is ... Read More »

Turkey’s threat to Kurds demands US protection

Responding to a Turkish military buildup on its border with northeastern Syria, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s threat of a new incursion into Syria, President Trump has warned Turkey not to attack the Syrian Kurds. Dov S. Zakheim The Hill Kurdish forces have been allied to America and the coalition it leads; have borne the brunt of the ground war with ISIS; have suffered heavy losses in doing so. On the other hand, Turkey considers both the Syrian Kurdish militia ... Read More »

Rahaf al Qunun pledges to use her freedom to campaign for others after being granted asylum in Canada

In a week, Rahaf al Qunun has gone from being barricaded inside a Bangkok airport hotel room to being the most recognised refugee on the planet. Sophie McNeill ABC After landing in Toronto on Saturday, she has spent the last 48 hours trying to come to terms with the incredible events of the past week. The 18-year-old fled her Saudi family while visiting Kuwait, before flying to Bangkok on January 5. She had a valid visa to Australia, but was… ... Read More »

Turkey’s Erdogan calls for revision of Bosnia peace accords

ANKARA, Turkey Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for a revision of the 1995 peace agreement that ended the Bosnian War, saying they failed to address the former Yugoslav republic’s future. Miami Herald The Associated Press Erdogan said the United Nations should take “a stronger step” in a possible revision of the international Dayton Accords that established a complex government system designed to heal an ethnic divide after the… The Turkish leader made the comments during a news conference ... Read More »

On Thin Ice: The Iran Nuclear Deal at Three

Remarkably, the Iran nuclear deal has survived the Trump administration’s withdrawal. ICG Now it must weather 2019, its year of greatest peril, as mounting U.S. pressure tests Iranian patience. With Europe’s help, Tehran must keep sticking to the agreement in anticipation of sunnier times ahead. What’s new? The Iran nuclear deal is entering its fourth year of implementation, with Iran remaining in full compliance with its obligations. Meanwhile, the Trump administration, which unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from the deal in ... Read More »

Five Steps to Save Yemen’s Stockholm Agreement

The Stockholm Agreement, though imprecise, offers a real shot at building a peace process for war-ravaged Yemen. Peter Salisbury ICG But the accord is faltering amid mutual recriminations. The UN, and the wider international community, should act now to make sure the combatants follow through on their commitments. In December 2018, representatives of Yemen’s internationally recognised government and the rebel Huthi movement did something unexpected: they agreed on something. At UN-mediated talks in Sweden, the two parties announced what is ... Read More »

Vestager in hot seat as she moves to derail mega-merger

Alstom-Siemens deal looks set to be blocked in Brussels, but Paris and Berlin are exerting political pressure. Thibault Larger Politico EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager will face questions on Tuesday from her fellow commissioners over why she is opposing the French and German governments to thwart the creation of a… Vestager is on course to block a landmark merger between France’s Alstom and Germany’s Siemens even though Paris and Berlin insist that the tie-up is needed to build a European industrial heavyweight ... Read More »

Turkey accused of plundering olive oil from Syria to sell in the EU

Α Swiss MP has accused the Turkish government of passing off olive oil plundered from Syria as Turkish in order to sell it in European Union countries, including Spain. James Badcock The Telegraph Bernhard Guhl of Switzerland’s Conservative Democratic Party has alerted the Swiss government to the possibility of olive oil seized as loot from the conflict in Syria entering the European Union single market falsely labelled as Turkish, with the… “In Turkish-occupied Afrin, the olive groves are being pillaged by ... Read More »

The Turkish president’s epic distortion of facts on Syria

On Jan. 7, the New York Times published an opinion piece by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that is a masterpiece in historical revisionism better suited to Turkey’s state-controlled media. Brian Glyn Williams The Hill Erdogan relies upon most Americans’ lack of awareness of the situation on the ground in Syria and makes bold claims with outright falsehoods. For example, Erdogan begins by stating: “In 2016, Turkey became the first country to deploy ground combat troops to fight the so-called Islamic State ... Read More »

Between the Millet System and EU Values: The Sunni Muslim Turkish State and Non-Muslim Minorities

The relationship between the state and non-Muslim communities[1] has been a sensitive issue since the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923. Dr. Özgür Kaymak MDC Although the principle of secularism has been stated in the constitution, wherein the state was ostensibly required to distance itself from all religious beliefs equally,  Islam had always played an important role in the formation of Turkish identity. The debates with regard to freedom of religion and conscience as well as the rights of ... Read More »

Starving Syria mum sets self, kids on fire after failing to find food

A starving Syrian mother in a refugee camp on the Jordanian border has set herself and her three children on fire after failing to find food for three days. AAP – SBS A Syrian mother has attempted to burn herself and her children to death at a refugee camp in eastern Syria after she failed to find food for her family for three straight days, a civil defence spokesman says. Sundus Fathallah, 28, set herself and her three starving children ... Read More »

Trump threatens to ‘devastate’ Turkish economy over Syrian Kurds

US President Donald Trump has threatened to “devastate Turkey economically” if it attacks Kurdish forces in Syria following a planned pullout of US troops. BBC In two tweets on Sunday, Mr Trump said that he did not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey either. US forces have fought alongside a Kurdish militia in northern Syria against the Islamic State (IS) group. Turkey, however, regards the People’s Protection Units (YPG) as terrorists. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spoken angrily about American ... Read More »

Docs Show US To Massively Expand Footprint At Jordanian Air Base Amid Spats With Turkey, Iraq

Tens of millions of dollars will turn this base in Jordan into a new major regional hub for combat jets, drones, cargo planes, and more. Joseph Trevithick The Drive The U.S. military is moving ahead with plans to dramatically expand its presence at Muwaffaq Salti Air Base in Jordan to better accommodate a broad mix of fighter jets, ground attack aircraft, armed drones, cargo planes, and… The multi-million-dollar construction project comes as President Donald Trump’s administration moves to withdraw American ... Read More »

Turkey’s new presidential system and a changing west

Implications for Turkish foreign policy and Turkish-West relations Kemal Kirişci and Ilke Toygür Brookings Executive Summary In July 2018, having triumphed in the presidential elections the previous month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan began to formally transform Turkey’s long-standing parliamentary system into a heavily centralized presidential one. The new system entrenched his one-man authoritarian rule at home and is having profound implications for the making and substance of Turkish foreign policy as well as Turkey’s relations with the West. This ... Read More »

Is Turkey Capable of Defeating ISIS in Syria?

The first responders in the case of a threat like ISIS should be those nations most affected. Doug Bandow The National Interest The Islamic State exploded in the Middle East, gaining control of large sections of Iraq and Syria. No nation was safe from its ambition to create an Islamic caliphate. But Turkey initially accommodated Daesh, even profiting from illicit oil sales. Eventually, the insurgents turned terrorist inside Turkey, forcing the Erdogan government to respond. However, Turkish forces still targeted ... Read More »

‘Real risk’ of refugees freezing to death in Syria after rains destroy shelters

As temperatures fall, aid workers warn of danger to at least 11,000 people across Idlib, with storms also battering camps in Lebanon Rebecca Ratcliffe The Guardian At least 11,000 child refugees and their families are facing a weekend of freezing temperatures with no shelter, after torrential rains across Syria’s Idlib province swept away tents and belongings. Aid workers warn there is a real risk people will simply freeze to death as temperatures have already dropped to -1C, amid a shortage of ... Read More »