Middle East

UN meeting on new Syrian constitution set for next month

The United Nations peace envoy for Syria will host Iran, Russia and Turkey for talks on drafting a new Syrian constitution on Sept. 11-12, a United Nations spokeswoman said on Aug. 24. GENEVA – Agence France-Presse Hurriyet Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura has been tasked with setting up a committee to write a new constitution for the war-ravaged country. The main foreign powers backing the project are Syrian government allies Russia and Iran, as well as Turkey, which supports some opposition groups. Representatives of the… UN meeting on… Read More »

The Ally That Isn’t

Almost two years ago, the American Presbyterian minister Andrew Brunson was taken hostage by the Turkish government. The Editors Weekly Standard The charges against him—“political or military espionage” and “support for a terrorist group”—are absurd. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wants the Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen extradited from the United States—he holds a paranoid grudge against Gülen, whom he blames for a coup attempt in 2016—and erroneously thought the… President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have both paid ... Read More »

Naval experts concerned over China’s increasing presence in Mediterranean

The workshop held at the University of Haifa studied and assessed the issues concerning the future and character of maritime warfare in the region as well as various strategic developments. Anna Ahronheim JPost The increasing presence of China in the Mediterranean region as part of the Asian giant’s Belt and Road Initiative should be a cause of concern, experts told The Jerusalem Post this week. “What concerns us is China’s Belt and Road Initiative and its growing role in Israel’s ... Read More »

ISIL chief Baghdadi urges ‘jihad’ in purported new recording

The leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called on Muslims to wage “jihad” in a purported new audio recording released on Aug. 22. BEIRUT – Agence France-Presse Hurriyet He also called for attacks in the West in the Telegram message on Eid al-Adha, which comes as ISIL has lost most of its territory in Iraq and Syria. It is the first purported recording of the ISIL leader to be released since September last year. “Those who forget their religion, patience, jihad against their enemies, and their certainty inthe creator’s promise lose… ISIL chief Baghdadi… Read More »

Turkey will reportedly start getting Russia’s advanced missile defense system in 2019, despite US efforts to block it

Russia will start delivering its advanced S-400 missile defense system to Turkey in 2019, the Interfax news agency cited Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport as saying on Tuesday. Christopher Woody and Reuters Business Insider A Turkish defense official said in April that the delivery of the S-400 batteries had been brought forward from the first quarter of 2020 to July 2019. Turkey and Russia negotiated the purchase throughout 2017, finalizing a deal worth some $2.5 billion at the end of ... Read More »

Is Washington pushing Turkey and Europe toward each other?

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking new allies to offset Ankara’s worsening ties with Washington, which have come to a breaking point over Turkey’s continued detention of American pastor… Semih Idiz Al-Monitor Erdogan’s remarks show that his heart is set on Russia and China. Ironic as it may seem, though, Turkey’s crisis with the United States is rekindling its ties with Europe, even though these ties had hit rock bottom not so long ago. Recent European statements of support for ... Read More »

Turkey-U.S. Tiff Shows How Deep NATO’s Problems Run

Europe can’t just blame Trump if everything falls apart. Hal Brands Bloomberg NATO is having a rough summer. Fresh off President Trump’s deliberately disruptive behavior at the alliance summit in July, NATO has suffered a high-stakes blowup between two key members: the U.S. and… That dispute crystallized over the fate of an American pastor, Andrew Brunson, being held in Turkey on spurious charges of supporting a failed coup against Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016. It has been punctuated by economic sanctions, ... Read More »

Russia Considers Its Next Moves in Syria

The Syrian civil war has entered a new phase since the government takeover of Daraa and Quneitra in the country’s southwest. Stratfor Now, for the first time in the conflict’s seven-year history, all meaningful territory in Syria is either under the direct control of loyalist forces or subject to a significant foreign presence. The Syrian Democratic Forces and allied U.S. troops control the northeastern portion of the country, while Turkish troops are embedded in northern Aleppo province and Idlib province, ... Read More »

Shaping a New Peace in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas

Pakistan is moving to bring its Federally Administered Tribal Areas into the constitutional order. But rights remain severely restricted in the borderlands, threatening deeper popular alienation. ICG To stop militants from stepping in, the government should lift its draconian interim regulations and deliver needed services. What’s new? Pakistan has merged the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the Afghan border into an adjacent province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a big step toward bringing constitutional governance and restoring peace to these lands. But ... Read More »

Defiant Erdogan Gets Political Support From Russia, China and Qatar

“The Turkish crisis is not in any way shape or form a financial one. It’s an unequivocal attempt to punish Erdogan for his geopolitical transgressions against the Pax Americana. Ivan Danilov Sputnik The crisis will either break Turkey or help radically reshape the global order.” US-Turkish relations are at their lowest point in recent history. The crisis only appears to be financial, even though it has some painful financial implications for Turkey. Although Erdogan’s incompetent monetary policy made Turkey excessively vulnerable to American economic sanctions, ... Read More »

SPD’s Andrea Nahles says Germany may give aid to Turkey

Ahead of Turkish President Erdogan’s trip to Germany in September, the SPD’s Andrea Nahles has said German aid is a possibility. It comes as tensions between the US and Turkey rise over the house arrest of a… DW The head of Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) Andrea Nahles has said there could be circumstances in which Germany would provide financial assistance to Turkey during its economic… “A situation might arise where Germany needs to help Turkey, regardless of political tensions ... Read More »

Turkey’s currency collapse shows just how vulnerable its economy is to a crisis

If you happen to be a tourist in Turkey right now, consider yourself lucky. Otherwise, things look grim. Authors: The Conversation The Turkish lira has lost as much as a third of its value relative to the U.S. dollar in less than a month and recently hit a record low. As a result, all imported goods became more expensive practically overnight. And because Turkey is heavily dependent on foreign goods, most everything was affected, including gasoline, food, furniture and clothing. ... Read More »

‘We are real’: Saudi feminists launch online radio

Operating out of a small room in an unknown country, a new internet radio station broadcasts a programme aimed at campaigning for greater women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. Alma Hassoun BBC With melancholy music playing in the background, the presenter of Nsawya FM (Feminism FM) addresses the issue of domestic violence in the Gulf kingdom. The presenter’s voice shakes with emotion as she discusses the fate of Sara, a woman she says was killed by a male relative. She was ... Read More »

Vital Signs: Turkey shows the economic pain of global democratic backsliding

As American baseball legend Yogi Berra once supposedly quipped, “It’s déjà vu all over again.” Three years ago the crisis was in Greece, now it’s Turkey. Richard Holden The Conversation Another European summer and another European economic crisis. It’s tempting to say that being in Europe is all the two situations have in common. Greece’s population is a little over 10 million; Turkey’s is nearly 80 million. Greece’s troubles were triggered by out-of-control government debt; Turkey’s government debt-to-GDP ratio is ... Read More »

Erdoğan, Trump, and the Strongman Politics Devastating Turkey’s Economy

The usually bustling open market in the Kadıköy district of Istanbul was half full on Sunday. Shop owners had increased their prices twenty per cent over the past two weeks. Fariba Nawa The New Yorker The cost of a package of eggs had risen by fifty per cent in a week; the price of bananas imported from Latin America had doubled. Aynur Keskin, a homemaker with two school-aged children, bought a few items and shook her head, dismayed at the ... Read More »

Why Jewish giving to Israel is losing ground

American Jews donate at high levels to charity. One way they support causes in the U.S., Israel and other places is collective, often through large grant-making organizations. Hanna Shaul Bar Nissim The Conversation In researching this organized philanthropy, I’ve observed that the proportion of Jewish institutional giving to Israeli causes has fallen since 2009. I believe that several factors, including demographic and social changes, a diminishing perception of Israel as being in need and concerns over the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have ... Read More »