Middle East

Turkey and NATO: From Loveless to Hateful Marriage

The West’s self-imposed Pollyanna game over Turkey a decade or so ago seemed delusional to most Turks who knew the true nature of the Islamist politician lauded as a pro-reform, pro-West democrat. Burak Bekdil BESA Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, western leaders argued, would consolidate Turkey’s democratic system, bring the country closer to its western allies and even win a historic membership in the European Union. Erdogan’s Turkey would be a perfect bridge between western and Islamic civilizations, thus being a role ... Read More »

Turkey Drifts Away from the West

Turkey has lost its soft power attractiveness due to its leadership’s increasing absolutism and failed foreign policy priorities. Antonia Dimou ModernDiplomacy The “zero problems with neighbors” concept that unraveled almost at the time of the Arab Spring has given its place to “nothing but problems with every single neighbor”. Key dimensions of Turkish foreign policy, namely relations with the United States (US), NATO, the European Union and MENA countries face growing challenges. Despite that Turkish-NATO relations are still valued and ... Read More »

Assad vows to continue Ghouta assault

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to continue a military offensive in eastern Ghouta, a rebel-held area where 400,000 civilians live. SBS AAP Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is vowing to continue an offensive in eastern Ghouta near Damascus as his forces advance into the last major rebel enclave near the capital. The offensive is one of the deadliest in the war and one local insurgent group called it a “scorched earth” campaign. The government is pressing on despite Western calls ... Read More »

Inside Syria: With its enemies diverted or fighting each other, Isis is making a swift and deadly comeback

The Wars in Syria: In the second part of his new series, Patrick Cockburn finds a growing line of graves being dug after fresh battles between Kurdish fighters and soldiers of the so-called Islamic State. Yet, after the defeat of Isis was soundly declared last year, this should not be happening. Patrick Cockburn Independent Suleiman Khalaf, also known as Abu Fadi, was killed 10 days ago in a fight with Isis in eastern Syria when the vehicle he was in was ... Read More »

Frenemies: Putin and Erdogan

At a joint press conference in early December 2017, the presidents of Turkey and Russia lauded the dramatic improvement in their bilateral relationship: Carol R. Saivetz LawFare Between August 2016 and December 2017, trade rebounded, the Turk Stream Pipeline is going forward, Syrian negotiations are ongoing, the Akkuyu nuclear reactor is under construction, and Turkey finalized a deal to purchase Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missiles. The goodwill between Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin stands in marked contrast to the animosity ... Read More »

Syria’s war at home is giving way to dangerous proxy conflicts

As Syrian government forces crush the country’s largest remaining rebel strongholds and with Bashar al-Assad apparently here to stay, Syria is turning into an arena for three new proxy conflicts. Moritz Pieper The Conversation In the south, Israel is facing off against Iran; in the northern region of Afrin, Turkey is fighting the Kurds. Meanwhile, in the eastern provinces, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are pitted against the Russian-backed Syrian armed forces. If and when the Syrian conflict proper comes to ... Read More »

Turkey Is Turning Into the Next Pakistan

The U.S. should make clear to ersatz allies that betrayal has consequences. Eli Lake Bloomberg There isn’t much that Turkey’s president can do these days to further debase his reputation in the West. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has crushed peaceful protests at home and abroad, closed newspapers, threatened American soldiers, and collectively scapegoated Kurds. But over the weekend, Erdogan managed to go even lower. At a rally at Kahramanmaras, the Turkish leader brought a trembling 6-year-old girl on stage dressed in military garb and told her she ... Read More »

The Syrian ‘hell on earth’ is a tangle of power plays unlikely to end soon

Once again, unfortunate civilians are trapped in the “hell on earth” that the Syrian civil war has become. Mehmet Ozalp The Conversation This time it is the turn of the 400,000 residents of Eastern Ghouta, ten kilometres east of the capital Damascus. Latest reports put civilian casualties at 520 and thousands wounded under the heavy assault launched by President Bashar al-Assad’s ground forces supported by Russian air strikes. It seems conditions in Syria are getting worse, and there is no ... Read More »

Turkey has invested $35 bln in defense industry in 15 years: PM Yıldırım

State investment in the defense industry has exceeded $35 billion in the past 15 years, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has said. Hurriyet “We have made investments worth $35 billion over 15 years and we are now an exporter country in the field of the defense industry. The volume of our exports is over $2 billion,” Yıldırım said in an address at the National Defense University on March 2. “Our state continues to provide all sorts of technological opportunities for the ... Read More »

922 cases of war crimes documented in Turkish attacks on Afrin

A group of lawyers documented 922 cases of war crimes since the beginning of Turkey’s invasion attacks against Afrin on January 22. ANF A group of lawyers in Afrin held a press conference to release the information about war crimes committed by Turkish state. According to the statement, Turkish army and Al-Qaeda affiliated gangs committed 922 war crimes and all of these have documented by canton officials in Afrin. Here are some highlights from the report released by… 922 cases ... Read More »

Countering Jihadist Militancy in Bangladesh

With political polarisation reaching historic highs and local jihadist groups forging links with transnational movements, new forms of militancy threaten security and religious tolerance in Bangladesh. ICG The government should reinforce the capability of law enforcement agencies and the judiciary, and build political consensus on tackling the menace. What’s new? Two groups, Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh and Ansarul Islam, dominate Bangladesh’s jihadist landscape today. Attacks since 2013 have targeted secular activists, intellectuals and foreigners, as well as religious and… Countering Jihadist ... Read More »

Why Turkey Wants to Invade the Greek Islands

There is one issue on which Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its main opposition, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), are in complete agreement: The conviction that the Greek islands are occupied Turkish territory and must be reconquered. Uzay Bulut Gatestone Institute  So strong is this determination that the leaders of both parties have openly threatened to invade the Aegean. The only conflict on this issue between the two parties is in competing to prove which is more ... Read More »

Congress, State Department divided on sanctions against Turkey

As the US Congress continues to weigh potential sanctions against Turkey over its unremittingly hostile stance toward the United States, there is growing debate within the policy community about the merits of such action, with some arguing it could bow Turkey into submission and others insisting it will make the problem even worse. Amberin Zaman Al-Monitor Fury at what Washington calls the unlawful detention of US consular staff and US citizens, in particular that of North Carolina pastor Andrew Brunson ... Read More »

Anger mounts as Israel begins detention and deportation of African asylum seekers

Around 20,000 Israelis and African migrants took to the streets in Tel Aviv on February 24, protesting against a government policy of detaining and deporting African asylum seekers who refuse to leave the country. Tanja R. Müller The Conversation A few days earlier, a group of Eritrean asylum seekers held at a detention centre in Israel went on hunger strike in protest against their imminent expulsion from the country. In early Feburary, Israel began issuing expulsion orders to African migrants ... Read More »

North Korean “Cyber – Songun”

The main trends in the development of telecommunication technologies determine the continuous increase in the dependence of modern society on transnational network resources. International Security Forum The global information space consists of personalities as well as resources of civilian and military infrastructure. At the same time, today there is practically no legal regulation in this sphere. This situation creates ideal conditions for the work of “computer burglars” – the well-known hackers. Despite the constant perfection of means of protection, it ... Read More »

The U.S. and Turkey Go Their Separate Ways

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently said what many analysts have long been thinking: The relationship between Turkey and the United States has reached a “crisis point.” By Sinan Ciddi Stratfor The two countries’ strategic partnership has been increasingly rocky as Washington and Ankara take diverging approaches to the Syrian civil war. But more than protracted policy disagreements, the decline in U.S.-Turkish relations owes to a fundamental loss of trust. Visits by key U.S. government personnel — including Tillerson ... Read More »