May, 2016 Geopolitics

Pakflag, cc Flickr openDemocracy, modified, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Geopolitical Monitor, Rakesh Krishnan Simha
One of the ironies of being a Pakistani living abroad, especially in the West, is having to pose as Indian. According to Asghar Choudhri, the chairman of Brooklyn’s Pakistani American Merchant Association, a lot of Pakistanis can’t get jobs after 9/11 and after the botched Times Square bombing of 2010, it’s even worse. “They are now pretending they are Indian so they can get a job,” he told a US wire service.

 Erdogan and Netanyahu

By TOVAH LAZAROFF 
Turkish and Israeli officials plan to hold more meeting toward the restoration of high level diplomatic ties, he told reporters after a cabinet meeting. Two out of Ankara’s three conditions for restoring fully normalized ties with Israel have been met, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said on Monday.

By Luay al-Khatteeb

The smooth Kurdish PR campaign.

“It was the Kurds,” wrote Thomas Friedman in 2014, “who used the window of freedom we opened for them to overcome internal divisions, start to reform their once Sopranos-like politics and create a vibrant economy that is now throwing up skyscrapers and colleges.”


Author Uri Savir
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s surprising turn in appointing Avigdor Liberman, head of the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party, as defense minister May 25 caught the international community off-guard. In the days before the appointment, intense deliberations took place about the upcoming Quartet report on obstacles in the way of a two-state solution and the Paris conference to relaunch a two-state process.

Tayyip-Erdogan.jpg

Robert Fisk

Europe’s growing Kurdish diaspora would be vastly increased if the crushed and war-suffering masses of Diyarbakir could find their way to Germany, Denmark and Sweden
Just why is the Sultan of Turkey so impatient to get hold of that visa-free EU travel for his people to visit Schengen Europe? If the EU doesn’t jump to it, he orated last week, the Turkish parliament would scupper the whole deal and – for this was the implication – let that army of Arab refugees set sail again across the Aegean for Greece. And where was the €3bn Turkey was promised?

 


By Paul Craig Roberts

"Information Clearing House" - The Saker reports that Russia is preparing for World War III, not because Russia intends to initiate aggression but because Russia is alarmed by the hubris and arrogance of the West, by the demonization of Russia, by provocative military actions by the West, by American interference in the Russian province of Chechnya and in former Russian provinces of Ukraine and Georgia, and by the absence of any restraint from Western Europe on Washington’s ability to foment war.


Author Mustafa Akyol 

A poll by the Pew Research Center in October highlighted a trend in Turkish society with foreign policy implications: Turks hold deeply unfavorable views of other nations. The most disliked nation proved to be Israel, with only 2% of Turks expressing any sympathy for the Jewish state. The United States also turned out to be highly unpopular, with only 19% of polled Turks expressing sympathy. Similarly unpopular were the European Union, China, Brazil and Russia.

US-RussiaFlyby, photo credit: US Navy

Geopolitical Monitor, Robert Shines
With the end of the Cold War twenty-five years ago, many in the U.S have taken the country’s continued global hegemony for granted. However, this state of affairs is increasingly being challenged by both Russia and China, exemplified by their aerial flybys and interceptions of the US military within their respective regions.


DEBKAfile Special Report

The US military chiefs fighting ISIS, have recently claiming that the US has re-organized its military resources and is determined to cut down the Islamic state after its lame efforts in the last two years.
These words of encouragement have come from genral Votel commander of US Middle East forces and the first US General to be assigned to Syria in its nearly six years of war, and Lt. Gen Charles Brown commanding the US Al Udied Air Base in Qatar where 750 aircraft operating in the Gulf and Middle East are based.


A Manufactured War Against An Independent Country

By Caleb T. Maupin

The people of the world should ask Western leaders and their allies: Why are you prolonging this war? Why do you continue funding and enabling the terrorists? Isn’t five years of civil war enough? Is overthrowing the Syrian government really worth so much suffering and death?

Selcan Hacaoglu 

As President Erdogan consolidates power in Ankara, separatists 1,000 kilometers away test the limits of his reach.
The curfew in this former Roman and Persian imperial outpost was announced the modern way, online, but word quickly spread like it has here for three millennia. By dawn, tens of thousands of people were gone.
For separatist Kurds in Turkey, curfew is code for crackdown. So when one was declared in Nusaybin on the Syrian border in March, most of its 90,000 residents ran with whatever they could carry.

Russia's Mariinsky Theatre orchestra performs at the amphitheatre in the Syria's historic city of Palmyra [Reuters]

James Denselow
A good means of predicting what Moscow's next steps in the Syria conflict is to listen to what Russian political and military leaders say and prepare for the opposite. While other actors on this most bloody of stages have been characterised by their preference for short-term tactics, the Russians have long had a strategy for their involvement in the country.

Article illustrative image

Will the Turkish President's discarded former allies ever dare to form a new party to challenge him?

Analysis-

ISTANBUL — Justice and Development Party (AKP) leaders never liked the way Ahmet Davutoğlu became Turkey’s prime minister two years ago, nor did they approve of his performance or professional style once he got the job. The only thing they actually appreciated was the way he left.


Author Semih Idiz
Turkey’s ties with the European Union appeared to be set on a better course recently after having remained largely dormant over the past few years. This was not due, however, to a decision by Ankara to introduce the democratic reforms necessary for its membership bid in the EU. The refugee crisis forced Europe into cooperating with Ankara, even though Turkey’s democracy continues to deteriorate under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

aid beyond india

Project Syndicate, Mujobu Moyo
WASHINGTON, DC – Imagine you are a parent with a large number of children and limited resources. Your oldest child is mature enough to move out of your home, but he does not want to. So he stays, consuming resources that his siblings desperately need. Is it right to allow your other children to suffer because their big brother is reluctant to strike out on his own?


MARC PIERINI, Financial Times

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s goal of unchallenged power is firmly rooted after Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s resignation. The novelty is that it is happening with Germany’s acquiescence.
With Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu forced from office, Turkey has passed a political watershed: Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s goal of unchallenged power at the top of the state is rooted ever more firmly in fact. Given his behaviour since he became president in 2014, this in itself is no great surprise; the novelty is that it is happening with Berlin’s full acquiescence.

Cherno, cc Flickr Simon Smith, modified, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Geopolitical Monitor, Petra Posega
Nuclear security is seemingly in the vanguard of global attention, but the large framework of international provisions is increasingly perceived as a toothless tiger. In the contemporary age where asymmetric threats to security are one of the most dangerous ones, the time is high to mitigate the risk of rogue actors having potential access to the materials necessary to develop nuclear weapons.

 

Europe has always misunderstood what Africans want.
Frederick Kuo

“Take up the White Man’s burden, Send forth the best ye breed
Go bind your sons to exile, to serve your captives’ need;” , —Rudyard Kipling
Throughout the last five centuries, Africa has existed in the Western imagination between two polarized extremes. One is the Africa that exists as treasure trove of spoils, a source of slaves to take as free labor, and a vast land full of natural riches for the taking.



By Sumit Ganguly for YaleGlobal Online
A specter is haunting Bangladesh, warns Sumit Ganguly – a specter of unbridled, violent religious extremism that’s targeting intellectuals, journalists, bloggers and religious minorities. Unfortunately, neither of the country’s two dominant political parties has shown any interest in containing this scourge. Here are the reasons why.


Geopolitical Weekly , By Omar Lamrani

Space is becoming more congested, contested and competitive. Since the Soviet Union put the first satellite, Sputnik I, into space in 1957, no nation has deliberately destroyed another's satellite in orbit. But there is a growing possibility that battles may soon be waged in space.


By Pepe Escobar

 "Information Clearing House" - "RT" - So foreign ministers from the 28 NATO member-nations met in Brussels for a two-day summit, while mighty military power Montenegro was inducted as a new member.


Author Cengiz Çandar
The political union of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and departing Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was a marriage of convenience. Davutoglu knew this when Erdogan handpicked him to succeed him as head of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and thus the premiership of Turkey.


By Bradley Martin
There is no reason to believe that Turkey’s facilitation of ISIS operations in the region, and its link to ISIS both economically and politically, will cease.With Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announcing that he would step down at the end of the month due to a falling-out with the Turkish president, it is very unlikely that a major shift in Turkish foreign policy will take place anytime soon.


By John V. Walsh

Along with his self-congratulatory bombast, Donald Trump has offered a rare critique of Official Washington’s “group think” about foreign policy, including the wisdom of NATO expansion and the value of endless war, notes John V. Walsh.

Storefronts along Hudson Street in New York City, circa 1860 to 1900.

By DEIRDRE N. MCCLOSKEY

The Great Enrichment of the past two centuries has one primary source: the liberation of ordinary people to pursue their dreams of economic betterment.
Why are we so rich? An American earns, on average, $130 a day, which puts the U.S. in the highest rank of the league table. China sits at $20 a day (in real, purchasing-power adjusted income) and India at $10, even after their emergence in recent decades from a crippling socialism of $1 a day. After a few more generations of economic betterment, tested in trade, they will be rich, too.

Portraits of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and late president Gamal Abdel Nasser are seen on a wall in Cairo [Getty]

 

Khaled Diab

"I am not pharaoh … After two revolutions, nobody who occupies this chair can become a pharaoh," Egypt's president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi reportedly told a select group of intellectuals and thinkers a few weeks ago, insisting that he accepted and respected criticism.


Author Julian Pecquet
Congress is rolling out the red carpet for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as the six-nation coalition prepares to open shop in Washington.

 

Demonizing Russia , By AFP

 "Information Clearing House" - "AFP" - BRUSSELS: NATO foreign ministers met on Thursday to finalize the alliance’s biggest military build-up since the end of the Cold War to counter what they see as a more aggressive and unpredictable Russia.

By Peter Koenig

What Happens when the accuser of terrorism are themselves the terrorists? – Namely the supra-national corporations and financial oligarchs acting in their own profit-driven interest, but under the direction of Washington and the protection of the US – NATO killer armies? Fear and confusion happens.

By U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Timothy Smith [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Geopolitical Monitor, Michael Hart
President Obama’s upcoming visit to Vietnam could amount to far more than just a symbolic political photo opportunity. It comes amid suggestions that the U.S. may be about to lift an arms embargo which has remained in place for four decades. If this were to happen, it would signal a historic shift in perspective and represent the most significant stride forward in diplomatic relations to date between these two former adversaries, more than 40 years after the end of the Vietnam War.

 

It has been six years since the Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara ship that was aiming to reach the Gaza coast in May 2010.In the wake of the Mavi Marmara crisis, Turkey and Israel relations rapidly worsened; both countries withdrew their ambassadors and cut diplomatic ties. Turkey's downing of a Russian jet along the Syrian border on November 24, 2015 has forced Ankara to adjust its foreign policy and address its energy security issues. The crisis between Turkey and Russia firmly highlighted the dependence of Turkey on Russian energy resources.

TAREK MEGERISI

Libyans and their international partners can unite against the Islamic State, but external political and military engineering is undermining the prerequisite nation building.  

 

Propaganda Alert

By RT

"Information Clearing House" - "RT" - NATO’s former deputy military chief in Europe says his book, a fictional story which describes a nuclear war with Russia over the Baltic nations taking place in 2017, is based on an “entirely plausible” scenario.

Calouste Gulbenkian, circa 1890s

 

Ibrahim Al-Marashi

May 16 marks the 100-year anniversary of the Sykes-Picot Treaty, a secret agreement between Britain and France during World War I to carve up the domains of the Ottoman Empire upon its defeat.


Author Cengiz Çandar
The collision between Turkey and the European Union (EU) was not unexpected, arriving as it did before mid-May. Now, attention has turned to the next looming crisis, between Ankara and Berlin.

Federica Mogherini

By GEORGE JAHN and MATTHEW LEE
VIENNA (AP) — In a move fraught with risk, the United States and other world powers said Monday they would supply Libya's internationally recognized government with weapons to counter the Islamic State and other militant groups gaining footholds in the chaos-wracked country's lawless regions.


Accommodations are plentiful in the kingdom for Sunni Muslim migrants
by Daniel Pipes, Washington Times

As European governments slam the gates shut on illegal Middle Eastern immigrants, where can Syrians and others go to, not far from their homelands, for safety and employment? The answer is obvious but surprisingly neglected: to Saudi Arabia and the other rich Arab sheikhdoms.

 erd-dav

By Gareth H. Jenkins

Ahmet Davutoğlu has left as he came, not in response to popular demand but at President Erdoğan’s behest. Apparently unsighted by his unfailing self-belief, Davutoğlu was caught unprepared when Erdoğan made his move. The overthrow of Davutoğlu has demonstrated the naivety of the EU’s policy of appeasement. The EU officials believed that by focusing on Davutoğlu, they were strengthening him politically as a counterweight to Erdoğan. This may have been naïve, self-serving or both. It was certainly not true. But it did reinforce Erdoğan’s suspicions of Davutoğlu.


by Raymond Ibrahim, The Gatestone Institute

Of all the reasons a majority of Americans support the plan of businessman and U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump to "build a wall" along the U.S.-Mexico border, perhaps the most critical is to avoid letting terrorists into the country. Drugs enter, the victims of traffickers enter, but the most imminent danger comes from operatives of the Islamic State (ISIS) and like-minded groups that are trying to use this porous border as a way to smuggle weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) into the United States and launch terror attacks that could make 9/11 seem like a morning in May.

By Jonathan Marshall

The Obama administration poked Russia in the eye again by activating a missile defense site in Romania while building up NATO forces on Russia’s borders, acts that could escalate toward nuclear war, notes Jonathan Marshall.


Analysis 

In the coming years, national governments, opposition groups and civil society organizations will increasingly turn to popular votes to decide a broad range of EU-related debates.
National governments will probably use referenda (or, more likely, the threat of them) to demand concessions from the European Union, to justify domestic decisions or to increase their own popularity.

Only four years ago, some Washington Middle East “experts” were promoting the “Turkish Model” for the future of political Islam in the Middle East. Now, their silence is deafening. After all, the Model proved not to be a good model. Now, all tricks to float the theory of a democratic rule by political Islam seem to have reached their utter and complete failure. It is hard to imagine that there would be any more ingenious tricks in the future, but who knows.

By Salman Rafi
While the US has expressed its willingness to unblock Iran’s assets as a step towards improving ties between the two countries, the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that nearly $2 billion of Iran’s frozen assets be turned over to the American families of the victims of a 1983 bombing in Beirut and other attacks. Iran has now decided to sue the U.S. for what Tehran calls highway robbery.

Map of Middle East

By ALAN BAKER 
A century after the Sykes Picot Agreement, the Middle East has become a political powder keg and the setting for successive armed conflicts.
The "Middle East" with which we are all familiar is commemorating a curious and even sad 100 year anniversary.


Mark Abadi
It's no surprise the United States pours more money into its military than any other country in the world.In 2015, the US had a defense budget of about $597 billion, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies' most recent World Military Balance report, released earlier this year.

Strangelove-Warroom

MICHAEL KOFMAN

A revanchist Russia and vulnerable Baltic states are on the minds of America’s defense establishment. After Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s trip to Europe to oversee the change of command at European Command (EUCOM), it’s become clear according to senior defense officials that the plan is to transition the role of the command from “reassurance to deterrence.” U.S. military presence is returning in force to Europe in search of that old familiar conventional deterrence in the face of Russian aggression.

A map illustrating the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement.

Author: Rami Khouri
We are into the season when you will be flooded with articles and analyses on the 100-year anniversary of the Sykes-Picot agreement that was signed on May 18, 1916. That agreement between Great Britain and France, with Russian acquiescence, defined how they would divide the spoils of the crumbling Ottoman Empire in the East Mediterranean region.


by Burak Bekdil, The Gatestone Institute
Ismail Kahraman, speaker of Turkey's parliament, last week stated, "We are a Muslim country. That is why we need a religious constitution."
The speaker of the parliament is no ordinary office in Turkey. The speaker comes second in the state protocol only after the president (and even before the prime minister). Such is the seat occupied since November by Ismail Kahraman, an MP from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
  


S.G. GRIMALDI AND SELIM KORUMAY
ISIS-Turkey

There is a duel going on in Turkey’s southern province of Kilis. Since the beginning of the year, forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have fired katyusha rockets into Kilis. The Turkish Armed Forces (Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri, TSK) have responded with artillery fire and airstrikes, reportedly killing at least 862 ISIL fighters this year.