April, 2016 International Relations

Ian Black Middle East editor
Bombs hitting hospitals, doctors and rescue workers killed, civilians starving, scores of dead and injured every day – the raw, bleeding statistics of Syria’s unending war are making a nonsense of an already fragile truce and destroying the slim hopes that peace talks can even carry on.

BURAK BEKDİL, hurriyetdailynews
Tragically, and in his own words, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan thinks (or pretends to think) that “the primary reason behind terror in Turkey is to prevent Turkey from getting into the world’s top 10 economies.”

  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.
 


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 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.

 

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.

By Anna Cornelia Beyer
Realism is divided into defensive and offensive realism. Defensive realists, such as Kenneth Waltz, claim that states pursue only as much power as the states around them have. They don’t want to dominate the international system but merely to be able to survive. Offensive realism, proposed by John Mearsheimer, challenges this perspective and maintains that states want to dominate the international system, at least to the point of becoming a regional hegemon.

BURAK BEKDİL, hurriyetdailynews
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has set a marvelous precedent in showing the entire world how a country should best care about the safety of its citizens traveling to… well, “different” foreign lands. In a very smart move, the German Foreign Ministry added a new piece of travel advice to the “tips page” on how German tourists should behave while on a visit to Turkey: “It is strongly advised not to make public political statements against the Turkish state and not to express sympathy for terrorist organizations.”

 

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.

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.

Stratfor (USA)
Summary
During Saudi King Salman's first official visit to Cairo recently, he and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced their intent to revive the often-discussed plans to build a bridge that would create a direct link between their countries. While the bridge plans are somewhat nebulous, the two leaders also signed off on a more concrete accord, an agreement that redraws the maritime boundary between the two nations to return control over two strategic islands situated at the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba, Tiran and Sanafir, to Saudi Arabia. If the bridge is ever built, it could prove a mixed blessing for both states; the island transfer, on the other hand, has created political outrage in Egypt.

By UDI SEGAL
Netanyahu fears a diplomatic move from Obama toward the end of his presidency, but it's not certain that America's next leader won't have similar ambitions.

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.

Hamid Dabashi
The dramatic debate between Senator Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton in Brooklyn on April 14, in anticipation of the New York primaries on April 19, notwithstanding, the national conversations about the US presidential campaign has become positively predictable, if not punishingly boring - except for the grassroots mobilisation it has triggered and that may one day change the shape of politics in this country.

Ian Black in Geneva
UN-sponsored Syrian peace talks are facing a new crisis after opposition negotiators decided to delay their participation in the formal process until officials representing President Bashar al-Assad start to discuss the creation of a transitional government in Damascus – which they have so far refused to do.

Olivier Guitta
Recent terror attacks in Paris and Brussels have sadly shown the mistakes and sometimes the lack of cooperation of security services.
Indeed, the November attacks in Paris were planned by a Brussels-based cell that was likely to be piloted by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) leaders in Syria. But Belgium failed to pass information to France about the members of that cell.


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.


by A. J. Caschetta, The Daily Caller
Every time there's a mass casualty Islamist terror attack, the Western intelligentsia pops the same question. Shortly after the latest ISIS suicide bombers struck in Brussels on March 22, German Green Party MP Franziska Brantner tweeted "Why do they hate us so much?" The intelligentsia's ignorance perseveres in spite of the answer right in front of them: it's not hatred but an ideology called Islamism that compels violence. We are now almost 15 years beyond 9/11, and it's time to stop asking this question after every major jihadist attack.

Simon Tisdall, theguardian
Even by Saudi Arabia’s extravagant standards, this week’s visit to Turkey by King Salman bin Abdulaziz, seen as a key moment for relations between the two leading Sunni Muslim powers, has set new records for opulence and paranoia.


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.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul Aziz and President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi during negotiations held at the Heliopolis Palace   in Cairo yesterday (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Asharq Al-Awsat
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin AbdulAziz announced the inauguration of a bridge project linking north western Saudi Arabia to the Sinai Peninsula at a historic Saudi – Egyptian summit in Cairo yesterday. The Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi named the structure “King Salman Bridge”. Meanwhile, the Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who is also the Second Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence signed an agreement with Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail to demarcate the sea borders of both countries. This agreement was one of 17 signed yesterday.

Jonathan Freedland, theguardian
The contrast was not a happy one. For much of the last week, I’ve been travelling across Israel speaking to those involved in what they see as their country’s finest hour, an event whose 40th anniversary falls this July: the 1976 operation that rescued 102 hostages from Entebbe airport in Uganda. At the time, the sheer audacity and ingenuity of the raid – flying an elite unit of commandos into a faraway airport in the dead of night, killing the hijackers and freeing their captives – captured the imagination of the world. It spawned not one but two Hollywood movies and remained a byword for thrilling derring-do. Those involved – the soldiers, the military planners, the rescued families – look back on that moment still with unalloyed pride.

By Nikolas K. Gvosdev
America's next president will have to start all over with Russia.
In recent weeks, I have had the honor to attend different daylong seminars convened to ponder Russia's future under Vladimir Putin and the future of U.S.-Russia relations: a "Russia Experts Meeting" hosted by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, bringing together some of America's leading specialists in the Russia field, and a "Russia Futures" project, which assembled members of the Naval War College's faculty who study various different aspects of Russia, Europe and Eurasia policy.


The Japan Times
Concerned about the prospect of terrorists getting their hands on nuclear materials, U.S. President Barack Obama in 2010 convened the first Nuclear Security Summit (NSS). In his speech in Prague in 2009, Obama explained that nuclear terrorism was the most immediate and dangerous threat to global security; the NSS was part of a wider effort to secure the world’s stockpile of vulnerable nuclear materials.
The NSS has been held every two years since the first conclave.

SEMİH İDİZ, hurriyetdailynews
It is not possible to consider President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Washington as a success by any count. The “strategic partnership” between the two countries continues but it is clear that relations are currently very tense.

Jonathan Schanzer
When then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last visited Washington in 2013, he received the full “valued ally” treatment, including an appearance with President Obama in the White House Rose Garden.
Nobody wants Turkey out of NATO, after years of military investments and alliance building. But its membership is harder and harder to justify.

 

By Nayef Al-Rodhan
This article was originally published by The Montréal Review.

Introduction

In 1812 Napoleon Bonaparte, at the heights of his power, set out for the most adventurous, and ultimately fatal, military campaign. Napoleon’s Grand Army of over 500,000 men, the largest force ever mobilized to that date, was led to the lands of Russia. Historians have long investigated the misjudgements of this campaign and the question of hubris emerges as an underlying factor for Napoleon’s vehemence to pursue a disastrous campaign.

BURAK BEKDİL, hurriyetdailynews
Apparently, the louder Turkey’s leaders talk of “principled foreign policy,” the faster we should count our spoons.

Here is a tiny, negligible parenthesis of the chronology of our virtuous, moral, unbiased, principled foreign policy: