March, 2016 Europe

Central Asia Caucasus Analyst, Najia Badykova
On February 29, 2016, the Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council met in Baku for the second time and asserted that the diversification of EU energy sources remains a key component of the Union’s energy security policy. But the project faces serious hurdles. After many years of discussions with potential gas suppliers, Brussels has only been able to secure 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Azerbaijani gas per year for the corridor, a tiny fraction of EU members’ needs.

CCTV footage of the Belgium attacks suspects. Public Domain.

Geopolitical Monitor, Lincoln Clapper
This past week Europe experienced its second major terrorist attack within the last five months. The ISIS-claimed attack in Brussels signifies again just how real and how serious the militant group is about training, equipping, and tactically carrying out an assault in Europe.


by Raheem Kassam, Breitbart
Teddy bears, tears, candles, cartoons, murals, mosaics, flowers, flags, projections, hashtags, balloons, wreaths, lights, vigils, scarves, and more. These are the best solutions the Western world seems to come up with every few months when we are slammed by another Islamist terrorist attack. We are our own sickness.


In the wake of any shocking event, national governments and officials of the European Union invariably call for more cooperation between member states to prevent anything similar happening in the future. The response to the March 22 terrorist attacks in Brussels has been no different.


French President Francois Hollande recently came up with some good proposals for reforming the country's notoriously rigid labor laws. Most of them never made it into the bill presented to his cabinet Thursday. It's a lost opportunity his country will have cause to regret.

Europe, Politics

by Raheem Kassam
According to a 2006 survey, 20 percent of British Muslims sympathised with the 7/7 bombers who brought terror to the streets of London.
On the back of the Brussels terror attack it is worthwhile remembering that while a majority of Muslims in the West appear to have no truck with terrorism or extremism, there are a significant number who sympathise with terrorism and repeatedly attempt to justify attacks on the West.


A former CIA director has said the European Union “gets in the way” of security services, further undermining Prime Minister David Cameron’s assertion that remaining within the EU makes the UK safer. His comments come just a day after the former head of Britain’s MI6 security agency, Sir Richard Dearlove, said that membership of the EU actively hampers British security. He argued that, on a range of measures, a British exit is demonstrably better for national security.

Europe, Politics

Allan Hennessy, theguardian
Another day, another bombing. This time, Brussels, the European administrative capital. Within minutes of the attack, the scaremongers came flying out of the blocks. This time they did not come straight for the “Muslamic infidel”. From Ukip to Katie Hopkins to columnists at The Telegraph, they were out to promote their Brexit agenda. But of course, they settled on Islamophobia in the end, having been shamed for using death as a soapbox from which to promote their Euroscepticism.

Europe, Terrorism, Turkey

 Smoke in Brussels airport after the explosion (Photo: AP)

Ronen Bergman

Analysis: While difficult, several changes need to be made in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Brussels. Mental shifts will have to occur in the minds of Western, specifically European, leaders on the topics of aviation, intelligence, and the use of military power.

Europe, Terrorism

Strategic Engineered Migration as Weapon of War

After reading the title, you may think it is describing the phenomenon that Europe has recently been facing: the hundreds of thousands of refugees, both victims of the hardships of civil wars and opportunists, who are invading the Balkans by land and by sea and then making their way further, trying to reach richer countries like Germany, France and Scandinavia by any means possible.


 By George Friedman
The recent attacks strike at the heart of two potential threats to IS.
The attacks in Belgium and Turkey must be considered together. They are attacks in the symbolic heartlands of two potential enemies of the Islamic State, Europe and Turkey. The attacks are meant to destabilize each country and recruit potential operatives from each country’s pool of possible jihadists.
There have been two attacks this week, both apparently by the Islamic State, first in Turkey on March 19 and then today in Belgium.

A migrant shaves another at a makeshift camp at the Greek-Macedonian border, near the Greek village of Idomeni

Mark Mardell

Even as people struggle and drown on the river border between Greece and Macedonia the proposed solution to Europe's migration crisis is dissolving before our very eyes.
European Council President Donald Tusk's invitation letter to the two-day summit in Brussels this week admits gloomily "the catalogue of issues to be resolved before we can conclude an agreement is long".
Turkey is the key, and Turkey is the lock. The youthful, populous, problematic Muslim country is a practical conundrum and an existential threat to the EU's self-definition, seen by some as the classic shadow image, the threat of the other.


Olga Pylova
Debates: A number of Russian and foreign experts describe how the West currently views the situation in Ukraine two years after Crimea’s incorporation into Russia.On the eve of the second anniversary of Crimea’s incorporation into Russia, several symbolic events took place, including a visit by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Kiev and the decision by the EU to prolong sanctions on Russia. Both events hint at the changing tenor of the conversation over Ukraine.

 Europe's Faustian Pact with the Sultan

Anyone who haggled about the price of a carpet in a Turkish bazaar knows these guys are more reptilian than Henry Kissinger. They always get what they want by letting you leave with the impression you got what you want for a price way higher than you were initially inclined to pay.

Natalie Nougayrède, theguardian
While European leaders believe they are edging towards a solution to the refugee crisis after securing a deal with Turkey, another power watches closely from afar: Russia.

After two days of negotiations, Turkey and the European Union reached a compromise agreement on a plan to reduce the flow of migrants from the Middle East to Europe. At a summit concluding March 18, the heads of government of the 28 EU members and their Turkish counterparts approved the plan, which should take effect March 20. While the deal could help reduce the number of migrants arriving in Europe, questions remain about the signatories' ability and commitment to fully enforce it.

by Burak Bekdil, The Gatestone Institute
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (2nd from left) says his latest round of talks with Europe's leaders was bargaining "a la Kayseri," a Turkish city famous for its cunning merchants.
Turkey has been sliding into an ugly Islamist despotism. Yet its relations with the European Union (EU) it aspires to join have rarely been better. Some call it a mutually "transactional" improvement: "pragmatism."
Others, in less diplomatic language, call it Turkish blackmailing on the back of the refugee crisis.

By Stanley R. Sloan
The next president will have to redesign the U.S. relationship with Europe.
The NATO summit scheduled for July in Warsaw, Poland, will close out the Obama administration’s management of cooperation with America’s transatlantic allies. The president who comes to office in January 2017 will be called on to ensure that this relationship remains a vital support for American interests as well as a touchstone for Western values.


The EU and Turkey have held an emergency summit amid the worsening dispute between those parties over issues such as the effectiveness of Turkey’s use of the funds allocated by the EU for the resettlement of refugees, protection from illegal migration across the EU’s external borders, and assistance to Greece – a transit point for most of these displaced people. However, as much as can be understood from Angela Merkel’s speeches and interviews, there will be no review of the migration policy of the EU as a whole.

There will be no winner in this new deal, only losers, and refugees will be the first, writes Aktar [EPA]

Cengiz Aktar

On March 7, the European Union held yet another summit with Turkey on the topic of refugees flooding Europe. The meeting was a follow-up to the first summit of November 29, 2015, as well as countless bilateral and multilateral meetings on the same topic between Turkish, European and EU officials.

SEMİH İDİZ, hurriyetdailynews

There is a celebratory mood in government circles about the agreement in principle arrived at between Turkey and the EU on the refugee crisis. This is premature though, since EU members still have to ratify the agreement on March 18.

Croatia is now a member of the EU; Montenegro is half way there, at best; Serbia has just opened its first negotiation chapters; and the remaining Western Balkan states have no clear prospect of joining Brussels’ club. That’s not good, claims Tomasz Żornaczuk, and here are his reasons why.

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 13 Issue: 45
By: Grigory Ioffe

In January 2009, that is, during the previous (2008–2010) thaw between Belarus and the West, the International Monetary Fund set up a line of credit for Minsk worth $2.46 billion and then increased it to $3.56 billion precisely when (June 2009) Russia reneged on transmitting the final $500,000 portion of its own $2 billion loan to Belarus (Grigory Ioffe, Reassessing Lukashenka: Belarus in Geopolitical and Cultural Context, 2014, p. 88). Just weeks ago, in February 2016, the 2009 situation—or rather its mirror image—was replayed.

Guy Verhofstadt, theguardian

Our increasingly divided and desperate European leaders are failing to deliver an effective collective response to the escalating refugee crisis. Instead of devising a strategy to protect those fleeing the barbarity of Assad, Islamic State (Isis) and the Russian air force, EU leaders are obsessed with devising a system to “stem the flow” – in other words to push desperate refugees back into the Aegean sea.

Anyone who visits Gaza cannot help but be struck by the humanity of ordinary people, writes Marsh [AP]

Saskia Marsh
More than 10 years have passed since Israeli settlers withdrew from Gaza. Life for the average Gazan has become markedly worse since - exacerbated, some would argue, by the election of Hamas in 2006 and its physical takeover of the territory in 2007.

Patrick Kingsley and Jennifer Rankin, theguardian
What does the deal involve?
It sounds simple enough: one Syrian refugee on the Greek islands will be returned to Turkey and, in exchange, a Syrian asylum seeker in Turkey will be found a home in Europe.

Simon Tisdall, theguardian
Europe’s Faustian pact with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to curtail migration into the EU may carry a devilishly high price tag. Turkey’s authoritarian president has proved an unreliable and problematic partner since the Syrian crisis erupted five years ago. But the EU’s urgent need for his help currently outweighs its deep misgivings. As Faust discovered, the reckoning comes later.

Rachida Dati, theguardian
At a time when the challenges for Europe are multiplying daily, never has politics been so disconnected from reality. Europe tries to lock itself down and EU member countries are at loggerheads over migrants. The reintroduction of borders, announced by many countries, is doomed to fail for lack of resources. Worse, it tramples on the very principle of solidarity. Europe is on the verge of collapse, yet we can’t even see what’s happening.

by Raymond Ibrahim, FrontPage Magazine
As Western politicians and other talking heads insist that the Islamic State ("ISIS") has "nothing whatsoever to do with Islam," not only does ISIS correctly implement Islamic law—whether by demanding jizya from subjugated Christians or by sexually enslaving "infidel" women—but even the "caliphate's" arcane jihadi tactics belong to Islam.

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report 

The French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is steaming through the Red Sea on its way to the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal for joint maneuvers with the Egyptian navy in preparation for a reduced coalition offensive against Islamic State’s deepening grip on Libya.