February, 2017 Politics

Kuril Islands

 
Author : Sergei Blagov
Russia has renewed its earlier hardline stance on the territorial feud with Japan over the Kuril Islands by announcing upcoming deployment of additional troops to the disputed islands. On February 23, still known as “Army Day” in Russia, Moscow brushed aside Japanese objections against the deployment, dismissing Tokyo’s stance as irrelevant.

Two new Kurdistans

By Bilal Wahab 
For nearly a century now, the question of whether there should be an independent Kurdish state has loomed over the Middle East. The issue achieved new urgency after U.S. forces evicted Saddam Hussein from northern Iraq after the Gulf War in 1991, effectively creating the preconditions for Kurdish autonomy there. The American-led invasion in 2003 and the war that followed have merely accelerated that process.

NATO, the Middle East and Eastern Europe

 By George Friedman

NATO's mission has shifted, but are its members willing to meet the new challenges?
Over the past week, American officials have attended meetings of NATO and the Munich Security Conference. The topic has been the future of NATO, with the United States demanding once more that the Europeans carry out their obligation to maintain effective military forces in order to participate in the NATO military alliance. 

Allies of Edi Rama


By Kassandra
Legendary EU insider, uncovering the deepest and darkest realities of EU governance and administration
Following our reporting last week on the case of alleged corruption with EU funds, we expanded our investigation, discovering very strange and interesting details regarding what is going on in Albania.

Balkans, Politics
 Turkey's 'Devout Generations'


by Burak Bekdil
The Gatestone Institute
Originally published under the title "What Turkish Islamists Understand about Education."

 Asked what she would do if she were president, a Turkish schoolgirl told CNN-Turk last month, "I would reinstate the death penalty."
It is customary for Turkish TV crews to interview young students at the start of their mid-term holidays, with the cliché closing question invariably being, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" This year's school holiday in January was no exception. One interview, however, produced a chilling portrait of a girl, aged just 7 or 8.

 Ankara’s dilemmas in Syria and Iraq

Semih Idiz
Statements from Ankara regarding developments in Syria suggest that things are moving in a direction that Turkey wants. Take the operation against al-Bab in northern Syria for example. The head of the military recently announced that it has been completed and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been defeated.

Ebrahim Raisi

Author Rohollah Faghihi

A new and powerful figure has joined the list of candidates among Iranian conservatives for the May presidential election: Ebrahim Raisi, a senior cleric who has gradually risen through the ranks to assume powerful positions. Born in the holy city of Mashhad in northeast Iran — home to the shrine of the eighth Shiite imam — Raisi started his career as the prosecutor general of Karaj — a city just west of the capital city, Tehran — two years after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. In 2004, Raisi was appointed as the first deputy of judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi. When incumbent Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani took over the judiciary in 2009, Raisi remained as the first deputy.

America China


A blueprint for American policymakers to improve the U.S.-Chinese relationship.
Joe Renouard

Sino-American relations seem to be at a crossroads, though exactly where the relationship is headed is anyone’s guess. President Trump’s scattershot approach to public diplomacy and policymaking has thus far sparked more questions than answers. Is he acting irresponsibly and provoking unnecessary conflicts, or is he shrewdly testing Beijing’s resolve before he challenges it on trade and security matters? 

Erdoğan's Referendum ‎

Hay Eytan Cohen Yanarocak examines the tumultuous discourse surrounding the Turkish referendum on consolidation of ‎Erdoğan’s political authority.
In the aftermath of unprecedented ‎terrorism in ‎Turkey last month, ‎social ‎networking ‎sites (SNS) ‎are engaged ‎in ‎fierce ‎political ‎debate ‎over ‎the ‎ruling ‎party's attempt to replace the ‎current parliamentary ‎system ‎with ‎a ‎presidential ‎system. ‎

Politics, Turkey
Yahya Sanwar

Ron Ben-Yishai
Analysis: Yahya Sanwar’s election is bad news for Israel. The terrorist who was released as part of the Shalit deal has set inadmissible conditions for a future prisoner and body swap deal and is interested in tightening Hamas’ relations with Iran while preparing for the next round of fighting.

NATO Reforms


NATO reforms should focus on reconfiguring Europe's share of responsibility.
Zalmay Khalilzad

Leaders and policymakers from Europe and around the world will meet at the fifty-third Munich Security Conference on February 17–19. All eyes will be on Vice President Mike Pence, who will lead the U.S. delegation, which will include Defense Secretary James Mattis, for clues on the Trump administration’s approach to foreign and security issues confronting the world.

King Salman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi


by Jonathan Spyer
The Jerusalem Post

In recent years, it has become customary in much analysis of the Middle East emerging from Israel to divide Middle Eastern countries into a series of alliances or "camps."

Syria  inferno

 Among the countless heartbreaking images that came out of the earthly inferno of Aleppo, one remains particularly haunting: that of a grief-stricken mother cradling the lifeless body of her child emerging out of the rubble and raising her face to the heavens in a deafening cry of despair. 

 Trump 'Reichstag Fire'

By Hamid Dabashi

Given his serious unpopularity, an incident for illegal power grab is increasingly a dangerous possibility.

 "Information Clearing House" - "Al Jazeera" - Donald Trump and his top Islamophobe nomenklatura gathered at the White House, now led by the militant crusader Stephen Bannon, are on a desperate lookout for their "Reichstag Fire" and their favourite propaganda outlet, Fox News, is franticly searching for it - even in Canada.

Radhika Desai


By Radhika Desai *

Observers have been collectively scratching their heads at the unfolding Trump presidency. Trump’s campaign braggadocio opposed the establishment of both parties and pointedly continued into his inauguration. 

Politics, United States
Netanyahu Trump

Author Ben Caspit

Translator Danny Wool

As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepared to set off for his historic first meeting on Feb. 15 with US President Donald Trump, a big fight broke out in the Israeli right about the message and agenda that Netanyahu should present to the US president. 

Trump-Putin-Erdogan deal

 DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis 

The NBC report that Russian President Vladimir Putin may be considering making President Donald Trump the “gift” of turning over former NSA analyst Edward Snowden is part of a much broader scheme that is already sending tremors through the Middle East. Snowden won asylum in Moscow after leaking secrets to journalists four years ago.

 Al-Bab

Deniz Zeyrek
There are two weak links lying behind the delay in advancing the al-Bab operation.

The first is the disorder in the groups that form the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which seriously troubles the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), to the extent that if the TSK had been able to plan and conduct the Euphrates Shield operation alone it would have chosen a different path. Commanders, who know their capacities, would have been able to analyze “the enemy,” executing plans with an adequate number of units and equipment under a tactic formulated in the operations center.

 Turkey 'frenemy' jihadis

SUMMARY
Turkey’s mixed messages in crackdown terrorist groups; Ankara on sidelines, again, in Syria; Syrian Kurds consider federalism, view Turkish attack on al-Bab as "fiasco."
Turkish police detained four terrorist suspects linked to the Islamic State (IS), as well as a cache of explosives and suicide belts, as CIA Director Mike Pompeo arrived in Turkey for official talks Feb. 9.

Donald Trump


Should Washington intervene abroad to promote liberty and prosperity—or look inward?
Jacob Heilbrunn
IN HIS inaugural address, Donald Trump vowed to shun globalism and follow a policy of America First. “We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone,” Trump said, “but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow.”

Marine Generals


DAVID BARNO AND NORA BENSAHEL
During his first days in office, President Trump quickly delivered on his foremost campaign promise: to bring change to Washington. He dispensed a flurry of executive orders and memoranda on a wide range of issues, including repealing the Affordable Care Act, building a wall on the Mexican border, and withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Inaugural speech


by Tarek Fatah, The Toronto Sun

U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to "unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism" and " eradicate [it] completely from the face of the earth" in his inaugural speech.
English isn't my first language (Punjabi is), but when I sat down in New Delhi to listen to U.S. President Donald Trump's inaugural address, one sentence in his speech made my jaw drop.

 AN ANCIENT RIVALRY


BY DAVID BATASHVILI 
Much of the regional international developments in the Middle East will probably be defined by their rivalry.
The two most prominent local players in the complex Middle Eastern game are Iran and Turkey. It is their strategies that will define the political future of this region in the coming decades. Inevitably, sometimes these strategies will be in direct contradiction with each other.

 Turkey’s Wealth Fund

Murat Yektin 

The government has transferred the public stakes in a number of major public companies to a recently established sovereign wealth fund, stating that the aim was to secure credit at lower rates for big projects by using the shares in these valuable companies as collateral.
Economy, Politics, Turkey
Trump U.S. Alliances


Robert L. Gallucci

Time for a genuine and open discussion about America’s role in the world.
Conventional wisdom about what sustains America’s security at the most fundamental level has not changed much in seventy years. In fact, for a hundred years or so, we understood that if another country achieved hegemony in Europe or Asia, it would eventually mean trouble for the United States. 

Ahmet Davutoğlu


Ahmet Davutoğlu, former Turkish PM, writes on the legacy of Obama's foreign policy and the challenges ahead for Trump.

Former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Turkey and a Member of Parliament from the AK Party, Turkey

There are few Western politicians whose election aroused as much excitement and hope both in the West and East, in the north and south, as Barack Obama. But there are also few politicians that have caused as much dismay and disappointment worldwide as Obama. Therefore his legacy will certainly be controversial.

Turkey-Greece confrontation


AUTHOR, Cengiz Çandar

This week's revival, after two decades, of the Kardak rivalry between Turkey and Greece is less about those countries' relationship and more about Turkey thumbing its nose at the European Union.

China Trump

Gwynne Dyer
“Passing the TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership] is as important to me as another aircraft carrier,” said former U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter two years ago, as the negotiations on the huge new free trade organization were nearing completion.

US Embassy Controversy

by Aaron Eitan Meyer
President Trump says he and his staff are doing "detailed studies" about moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
The internet and international community are abuzz over President Donald Trump's unprecedented consideration of whether to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem after nearly three quarters of a century. 

Erdogan

This is the second in a series of articles based in part on eyewitness accounts about the rapidly deteriorating socio-political conditions in Turkey and what the future may hold for the country. The first article is available here.

Politics, Turkey
IGAM


Barçın Yinanç

The Research Center on Asylum and Migration (IGAM) recently released a report titled “Challenges and Opportunities of Refugee Integration in Turkey.” Funded by the German Heinrich Böll Foundation, the report was prepared by Doğuş Şimşek from Istanbul’s Koç University and Metin Çorabatır, the UNHCR’s former spokesperson in Turkey who is currently heading IGAM.

 World’s Muslim population


BY DREW DESILVER AND DAVID MASCI

President Donald Trump’s recent executive order temporarily freezing immigration from seven predominantly Islamic countries would affect only about 12% of the world’s Muslims, according to estimates from a 2015 Pew Research Center report on the current and projected size of religious groups. In fact, of the seven countries named in the new immigration ban – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – only one, Iran, is among the 10 countries with the largest Muslim populations.

 Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Author Semih Idiz

Developments in Syria may once again be slipping through Turkey’s fingers. The new Donald Trump administration in Washington has already disappointed Ankara. Rather than being welcomed, Trump’s advocacy of safe zones in Syria — an idea first proposed by Turkey — has ruffled official Turkish feathers. Ankara now fears that such zones will be a step toward granting Syrian Kurds autonomy. Turkish officials have been noticeably mute on the matter, saying they need to see a full proposal before commenting.

Trump’s Agenda


By Peter Koenig

Where is Mr. Trump coming from and where is he going to? What is really on his agenda, what is trustworthy, and what is sheer farce and eventually killed by its own weight of controversy? – While out there, the different agenda items are spun around by the presstitute as anti-Trump and pro-establishment propaganda.

Politics, United States
Hulusi Akar

Yusuf Kanlı
It appears that there are efforts to reactivate the Kardak (Imia) issue between Turkey and Greece… Will, like the 1996 case, the islets bring the two countries to the verge of war in 2017, 21 years later?

 Islamization in France


by Michel Gurfinkiel
Excerpt of an article originally published under the title "Latest Survey Finds 25% of French Teenagers Are Muslims."

Syria Astana talks

 Author Nour Samaha

International peace talks have been taking place for several years now in an effort to come to a political solution for the ongoing war in Syria. Yet the recent Astana talks, much like the previous Geneva talks, have demonstrated that they have little impact on the ground, as both the Syrian government and regional actors continue to push their own agendas.

 Fight over Nationalism


President Trump needs to start caring about the war of words.
James Jay Carafano

The storm is gathering. The next great battle in the world war of ideas will be over the meaning of nationalism. It’s a fight the United States cannot afford to lose—and one that the Trump administration will have to go “over there” to win.