April, 2016 Geopolitics


By Peter Alagos/Business Reporter

One of the economic priorities of Turkey is to sign free trade agreements with Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries, including Qatar, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said.
“We have to enrich relations between Turkey and the GCC, and we look to Qatar as the cornerstone that will help us advance our relationship with these countries,” the Prime Minister explained in Doha on Thursday.

Bond dumping isn't the real danger.
William T. Wilson

In recent years there has been much speculation over what would happen to U.S. financial markets and the economy if Chinese authorities suddenly decided to sell the approximately $1.3 trillion in U.S. Treasuries or government bonds they are estimated to own. In recent weeks, rumors have circulated that the Saudis were considering selling theirs—up to $750 billion of American dollar-denominated assets held by the kingdom.

Richard Javad Heydarian
A specter is haunting Asia—the specter of full Chinese domination in the South China Sea. Latest reports suggest that China could soon move ahead with building military facilities on the Scarborough Shoal, a contested land feature it has occupied since 2012. This would allow China, according to a Mainland source, to “further perfect” its aerial superiority across the contested waters.

By Matt Purple
The United States is back in Iraq. Actually, it never really left.

President Obama supposedly withdrew all American forces in 2011, except for a few hundred Marines, defense contractors, and military advisors. But it wasn’t long before he began ramping up our presence again, through temporary deployments and other means.


by Burak Bekdil, Hürriyet Daily News
As the world's Muslim leaders admitted at last week's Islamic summit, the past 1,400 tumultuous years of sectarian fighting did not bring peace and happiness to Muslim lands. But, judging from the happy smiles and big speeches at the summit, the next 1,400 tumultuous years may be better.

  russia iran

By REUTERS 
Moscow has little incentive to join the mostly Shi'ite "Axis of Resistance" as this could ruin its ties with other regional powers such as Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
DUBAI/MOSCOW - When Iran took delivery of the first parts of an advanced Russian air defense system this month, it paraded the anti-aircraft missile launchers sent by Moscow to mark Army Day.
 

 

DEBKAfile Special Report 

The US withdrew its forces from the Sinai Peninsula last weekend in retaliation for Egypt's transfer of sovereignty over Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia, according to DEBKAfile's military and intelligence sources. They also report that the move came after Washington protested to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi over its exclusion from the consultations and military coordination between Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel regarding the islands.

 

Central Asia Caucasus Analyst, Eduard Abrahamyan
The recent unprecedented escalation around Nagorno-Karabakh highlighted deep systemic shortcomings in existing international mediation initiatives. The OSCE Minsk Group, dedicated to settling the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, has become largely irrelevant in the new operational situation.

By Garrett Krivicich
Ankara is painting its enemies with too broad a brush.
With fierce clashes between Kurds and Turkish police causing mayhem throughout Turkey’s southeast, and Islamic State–related activity noticeably on the rise, there is no doubt that Turkey has a militancy problem. However, there is one group, commonly overlooked by the Turkish government, that likely poses the biggest threat.

Kick Turkey Out Of NATO

by Michael Rubin

When U.S. officials first approached Turkey about joining NATO, the Turkish government was enthusiastic. Thousands of Turks were fighting alongside American forces in Korea. It was “imperative that democracies work in complete harmony, without competition among themselves or differences in policy objectives,” the U.S. ambassador to Turkey reported in a top-secret memo that Turkish Foreign Minister Mehmet Fuat Koprulu told him.


Project Syndicate, Gareth Evans
CANBERRA – China’s adventurism in the South China Sea has prompted a change in Australian policymaking that merits wide international attention. In making maintenance of a “rules-based global order” a core strategic priority, Australia’s new Defense White Paper adopts language not often found at the heart of national defense charters. It is all the more surprising coming from a conservative government that is usually keen to follow the United States down any path it takes.


By Peter Koenig

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would Abolish Europe’s Sovereignty. Is Madame Merkel Betraying the EU – Endangering the Lives of Future European Generations with her Push for the Nefarious TTIP?


Author Adnan Abu Amer
Translator Cynthia Milan

Israel and Hamas have been escalating their war of words, which observers on both sides fear could turn into violence.

 Uighur men making their way to the Id Kah mosque for afternoon prayers in Kashgar, in China's western Xinjiang region [AFP]

 

Ahmed Rashid
Has China just issued its first conciliatory statement towards the Uighur Muslim ethnic group, which has been persecuted for years? And has it done so out of fear or embarrassment that Uighur Islamic militants have now gone global, fighting for Islamic causes in many corners of the globe?

China, Geopolitics, Politics

BY DAVID P. GOLDMAN 
This is the sort of thing that happens in Mel Brooks movies, but not–at least until now–in geopolitics: Turkey’s claim upon the support of Western Europe comes from its own propensity to collapse. If it does so, the Europeans fear, the refugee stream that inundated Europe during 2015 will acquire another zero. That is why West Germany is willing to humiliate itself in order to prop up the regime of Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.


By ERIC SCHMITT and ALISSA J. RUBIN

James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, in February in Washington. When asked on Monday if the Islamic State was engaging in secret activities in in Britain, Germany and Italy, he said, “Yes, they do. That is a concern, obviously, of ours and our European allies.” Credit Drew Angerer for The New York Times


By Paul Craig Roberts

"Information Clearing House" - The Third World War is currently being fought. How long before it moves into its hot stage? Washington is currently conducting economic and propaganda warfare against four members of the five bloc group of countries known as BRICS—Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

MaSu, cc Flickr  Maersk Line, modified, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Omar Mawji

The Arab Spring uprising left Egypt with an assortment of leaders and an uncertain future. After the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, the Egyptian economy fell into a sustained decline. Soon after the Mubarak era ended, Mohamed Morsi began a short-lived reign that ended with his ousting in July 2013.

By Dimitris Konstantakopoulos

Today, in the German city of Hannover, President Obama and Chancellor Merkel will again discuss about Greece. Greece and Syria are, for some years now, the two countries on which world interest is focused. If we judge by facts, all this “international interest” had, up to now, rather negative influence on the situation in both countries.


by Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi
Abstract: Internal Islamic State documents, including documents obtained by the author and published here for the first time, shed new light on how the Islamic State has come under strain as it is degraded by coalition air strikes and loses territory.

Article illustrative image

Adrien Lelievre 
-Analysis-

ANKARA — President Barack Obama's decision not to attend the April 2 inauguration of a new mosque near Washington D.C. might have spoild the party a bit. The event was billed, after all, as the highlight of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's recent trip to the United States.


Analysis 
Summary

Since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, tension with the West has been high, affecting eastern Ukraine, Syria and hot spots across the former Soviet sphere. Less overtly, Moscow has been working to protect areas vital to Russian interests by raising the stakes of U.S. operations there. This has manifested in numerous aggressive interceptions of U.S. military aircraft in flight, especially over the Black and Baltic seas. The interceptions, which are reportedly occurring more frequently, aim to dissuade Washington from operating in that airspace.

 

By Michael Laurence
Thucydides. Hobbes. Machiavelli. Realists have (re)turned to these thinkers time and again in order to construct and fortify the basic contours of their theories of global politics. From their texts, realists have extracted and put to use a series of ontological arguments concerning the nature of power, the human, the state, and the global milieu through which these forces traverse.

A view of the the Israeli-Syrian border in the occupied Golan Heights, near the village of Majdal Shams, Israel [EPA]

Geoffrey Aronson 

As the beginning of the endgame on Syria commences, Israel is signaling its intention to join in the feasting on Syria's decaying sovereignty - demanding international recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights captured from Syria in the June 1967 war.

 

By ARIEL BEN SOLOMON 
Ankara walking a tightrope amid ongoing crises.
The Turkish government carefully walking a tightrope in building relations with both Iran and its regional archrival Saudi Arabia, in addition to Israel.


Tyler Durden 

Europe is planning on recolonizing Libya, and so it will send in armed forces in the coming months to restore order and stem the flow of migrants coming from Africa. If this expedition army succeeds in securing parts of the country and restoring law and order, Italian and German engineers from ENI and Wintershall will follow suit to help resume the country’s oil production, which will add 1.3 million barrels per day (Libya produced 1.7 million barrels per day before Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011) to the world oil glut.

 By Nathan Halverson

Secret conversations between American diplomats show how a growing water crisis in the Middle East destabilized the region, helping spark civil wars in Syria and Yemen, and how those water shortages are spreading to the United States.

uz-tunnel

Central Asia Caucasus Analyst, Mirzohid Rakhimov
Central Asian nations consider the development of alternative regional transport communications important aspects of their national economic and political strategy, and the republics have become active participants in various international projects to promote economic cooperation with different countries and regions of the world.

By Joel Wuthnow
The Brahmaputra is the next test for Beijing and New Delhi.
On April 18–19, the Chinese and Indian defense ministers will meet in Beijing to discuss border issues. At the top of the agenda will be how to improve stability along the border, where both countries have overlapping sovereignty claims.


Author Mohammed A. Salih
NINEVAH, Iraq — At times, Kurdish Gen. ZiryanShekhwasani accompanied Iraqi army Gen. Najim al-Jabouri to survey through binoculars the battlefield on top of al-Nasr village just a couple of kilometers away. At other times, Shekhwasani stood with his peshmerga troops looking with an air of exasperation at how his Iraqi counterparts were conducting the bloody fight against the Islamic State (IS) militants.

By Daniel Wei Boon Chua

America can't take war off the table.
Territorial disputes in the South China Sea—involving China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines—are destabilizing the region. Although not a claimant, the United States has a vested interest in the outcome. The U.S. Seventh Fleet has been operating in the area since the Cold War, and the maritime disputes involve the Philippines, a close American ally.



Author Uri Savir
Given the total political stalemate regarding a two-state solution, some in the Palestinian leadership have begun reflecting on “out of the box” ideas for policy initiatives leading to Palestinian independence. One such person is professor Sari Nusseibeh, former president of Al-Quds University in Abu Dis in the West Bank. According to a source working with Nusseibeh on the policy proposals, Nusseibeh today supports the establishment of a Jordanian-Palestinian confederation based on two independent states with strong institutional links between them.

Tiran and Sanafir Islands

ByCol. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman and Prof. Joshua Teitelbaum 
BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 340
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The fact that Saudi Arabia has now undertaken to uphold in practice the obligations assumed by Egypt under its peace treaty with Israel, means that Israel's place in the region is no longer perceived by Arab leader Saudi Arabia as an anomaly to be corrected. This is a far cry from normalization of Saudi relations with Israel, but it is nevertheless a welcome ray of light, demonstrating the benefits of cooperation and coordination in a region beset by violence.


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Column: Politics Region: Caucasus Country: Georgia
George Soros is a very successful man, at least where money and power are concerned. The reach of the hedge fund legend through his Open Society Foundations leverages governments and ideas across the breadth of 40 nations now. Here is a look at how Soros’ “New World Lebensraum Idealism” is reshaping reality in the Republic of Georgia.

By Nikolay Pakhomov
The massive European project has no clear goals.
For years we have heard almost daily about serious problems facing the European Union. On the strategic level, there are two ways to deal with those problems. One option is to play Whac-a-Mole, dealing with them one at a time and hoping that, in the meantime, a bigger problem does not arrive.


By Eric Margolis

"Information Clearing House" - The great, long-awaited counterattack against ISIS has finally begun. The offensive that spans Syria and western Iraq is targeting the ISIS-held cities of Raqqa and Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city.

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
The Israeli cabinet holds its weekly session Sunday April 17, on the Golan. Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu will visit Moscow on Thursday, April 21 to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and to launch the most important battle of his political career, and one of Israel's most decisive contests of the last 10 years: the battle over the future of the Golan Heights.

NURAY MERT, hurriyetdailynews
At the end of the Organization of Istanbul Cooperation’s (OIC) Istanbul summit, our Turkish president declared that “terrorism and violence are the two biggest issues facing the Muslim world.” I don’t agree, (and this is not the first time that I don’t agree with the president). I think terror and violence are only two results of the issues that the “Muslim world” is facing. In fact, I’m not sure if such a thing as the “Muslim world” even exists as a collective in any real sense, let alone as the name of an identity. A better term may be “Muslim-majority countries.” Still it is true that there are some common issues that these countries face, and these are “Islam-related issues.”

Geopolitics, Turkey

Central Asia Caucasus Analyst, Armen Grigoryan
Tensions along the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh between April 2 and 5 resulted in the heaviest exchanges of fire since 1994. Even though the use of some types of weapons was quite unexpected, the general logic of developments in the conflict in recent years has made the recent fighting rather predictable. Concerning further hostilities, the question is not if, but when they will happen. While this danger needs to be addressed by means of international mediation, so far only Russia demonstrates substantial activity in this regard. Russia’s unilateral involvement will pursue its own particular regional interests rather than producing a lasting solution to the conflict.

Eldad Beck
Op-ed: While Turkey and Israel begin to thaw their relations following the Istanbul terror attack, Israel should be wary of getting too close to a dictator such as Erdoğan too quickly, taking into account his anti-Semitism and and oppressive policies.

Alex Fishman
Op-ed: The S-300 missile deal between Iran and Russia is more symbolic than an actual threat; Moscow has yet to transfer the missiles, but Israel should do everything it can to ensure its security in an increasingly militarized Middle East.


Author Semih Idiz

Ankara is developing a dual-track approach to the Middle East by simultaneously courting bitter rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran to shore up its position in a region that has defied its plans and ambitions to date. Foreign policy experts say this new approach, which they consider to be a “work in progress,” has the potential to make Turkey an influential regional player again if it is allowed to mature.

We think of the police mainly as crime fighters, but more important is their role in maintaining the dominant social and economic order and curbing dissent, writes Sayigh [AP]

Yezid Sayigh

We think of the police mainly as crime fighters, but more important is their role in maintaining the dominant social and economic order and curbing dissent, writes Sayigh [AP]. The fifth anniversary of the uprisings that challenged autocratic rulers in six Arab states in 2011 has generated many retrospective reflections.

Kurds, Kurdistan, Kurdish

By INDREK TARAND 

These people have a right to self-determination after defending both their identity and indirectly upholding our safety. When the oppressed and marginalized die because they are oppressed and marginalized, the powerful are to blame. – John Green on the refugee crisis It has become routine to demonize the Middle East.

By Salman Rafi
While Russian troops have partially withdrawn from Syria, peace talks continue between U.S.- and Russian-led camps and also between countries at bilateral level as in the case of Russia and Israel.On March 15, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin visited Moscow to hold talks with President Vladimir Putin on Syria and the circumstances that led to Russian pull-out. According to Israeli media, the two leaders also discussed continued military coordination between Jerusalem and Moscow in Syria.


Project Syndicate, Shlomo Ben Ami
MADRID – After years on the sidelines, Russia is back at the center of the Middle East geostrategic game. Against the background of an equivocal United States policy, Russia’s calculated intervention in the Syrian civil war is a rare case in which a limited use of power in the region resulted in a major diplomatic shakeup.


by Raheem Kassam 
Trevor Phillips, who commissioned an infamous 1997 report on "Islamophobia," says he "got almost everything wrong" on Muslim immigration.
The former head of Britain's Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), Trevor Phillips, has admitted he "got almost everything wrong" on Muslim immigration in a damning new report on integration, segregation, and how the followers of Islam are creating "nations within nations" in the West.


by Burak Bekdil
During his visit to Washington, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's security guards harassed and physically assaulted journalists trying to cover the event; they also forcibly attempted to remove several journalists, although they were on the guest list.


Author Metin Gurcan
This year, the coming of spring has not brightened the lives of people in Turkey's southeastern towns, where violence continues. The coming of spring means heavy winter conditions and melting snow are replaced by green trees and many rainy, foggy days. It also means a probable increase and expansion of clashes.


DEBKAfile Exclusive Report 

Turkish president Tayyip Recep Erdogan has raised another large obstacle on the road to Turkish-Israeli reconciliation and normal ties. Saudi King Salman, who is visiting Cairo, confided to his host Egyptian president Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi that Erdogan had made it clear that he would not finally repair Ankara's ties with Israel until Sisi came forward to shake his hand, stopped being hostile and turned a new page in their relations.