March, 2017 Geopolitics

North Korea


By Michael Brady
Tensions in and around the Korean peninsula continue to escalate and there appears to be no end in sight as North Korea pursues its stated goal of building missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads to the US mainland.

Kadyrov

 


By Emil Souleimanov
At the turn of 2016 and 2017, events took place in parts of Chechnya that again challenged the triumphant statements of local pro-Moscow and federal authorities that the jihadist-inspired insurgency in this North Caucasian republic was eradicated.

Turkey Russian-Kurdish deal


AUTHOR Fehim Taştekin TRANSLATOR Timur Göksel

Turkey’s plans to expand its Operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria and isolate Kurdish forces in the region appear to be backfiring.

Summit at Mar-a-Lago

Gordon G. Chang
President Donald Trump plays host to someone as powerful and as willful as himself early next month at his Mar-a-Lago resort when Chinese ruler Xi Jinping arrives for a two-day visit. The showdown, disguised as an informal get-together, will be the first meeting of the two figures.


Recep Tayyip Erdoğan


By Burak Bekdil
BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 431, March 22, 2017

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The rising tide of an aggressive blend of nationalism and Islamism might be prompting Ankara to pursue its own WMDs, and its preference appears to be long-range missiles. 

Israeli-Russian clash


DEBKAfile Exclusive Report 

The Israeli drone that targeted the Syrian militiaman Yasser Sayad outside the Golan town of Quneitra Sunday, March 19, reinforced the message first carried by the Israeli Arrow 2 which shot down a Syrian SA-5 anti-air missile Friday. The Israeli ambassador was called twice to the Russian foreign ministry.

Trần Đại Quang Rodrigo Duterte

Can American statecraft sway Manila’s support for China?
Richard Javad Heydarian

“We cannot stop China from doing its thing. Even the Americans were not able to stop them,” remarked Philippine resident Rodrigo Duterte in response to reports that China could soon move ahead with building facilities on the hotly contested Scarborough Shoal. His comments provoked a firestorm, with leading political figures and intellectuals calling for the president to refrain from such blatantly defeatist pronouncements, while others threatened impeachment against Duterte.

Kerry Nazarbayev


By Stephen Blank

the CACI Analyst

Central Asia has never ranked high on U.S. priorities. That is unlikely to change under the Trump Administration. Yet recent developments in Central Asia, particularly in Uzbekistan, do offer an opportunity to advance U.S. interests through a greater economic-political presence in the region, whilst also countering growing Chinese economic dominance and Russian efforts at military hegemony at a relatively low cost. The two key countries in this possible opportunity for the U.S. are Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.

Warships South China Sea


By Michael Brady
Reports last week said Japan will send a helicopter carrier into the hotly contested South China Sea in May. The carrier Izumo is based in Yokosuka and its mission is primarily anti-submarine warfare.

 Final Raqqa assault


AUTHOR Fehim Taştekin TRANSLATOR Timur Göksel

It sounded dramatic: The leaders of 50 Syrian Arab tribes met in Sanliurfa, Turkey, and announced they would set up the Army of Al-Jazirah and Euphrates Tribes to end Russian and Iranian occupation of Syria and cleanse the Euphrates and Al Jazeera areas of the Islamic State (IS), the Kurdish nationalist Democratic Union Party/Kurdistan Workers Party (PYD/PKK), Hezbollah and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Syria Iran

Author: Ali Hashem, Al Monitor

 

Six years into the crisis in Syria, Iran sees the outcome of the conflict as shaping the new Middle East. It was Iran’s first overt foreign intervention in decades, one that some Iranian ideologues have called a war for existence. Iranian officials say it spared the Islamic Republic from having to fight a similar war within its own borders. 

Hizballah’s trust in Russia


DEBKAfile Exclusive Report 

Israel finally took a hand in the swiftly moving events looming from Syria over its northern borders by launching multiple air raids against the key northern Syrian air base known as T4 near Palmyra early Friday night March 17.

Qatar Turkey

Author Metin Gurcan

Turkey has been expanding its relations with Gulf Cooperation Council members, particularly Qatar. Turkey-Qatar relations have gained significant momentum during the past three months, led by the personal actions of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who address each other as "brother." This interesting development calls for a closer look.

Erdogan EU

 FINIAN CUNNINGHAM 
The extraordinary war of words erupting between Turkey and the European Union is pushing already strained relations to breaking point. Ankara has banned all Dutch diplomats from its territory after the Netherlands banished Turkish ministers from holding political rallies, while deploying heavy-handed policing to break up the rallies.

Europe's Turkish Awakening

by Burak Bekdil
The Gatestone Institute

Dutch police contain a riot that broke out in Rotterdam on March 11 when pro-Erdogan crowds violently protested the Dutch government's refusal of entry to Turkish government ministers.
Turkey, officially, is a candidate for full membership in the European Union. It is also negotiating with Brussels a deal that would allow millions of Turks to travel to Europe without visa. 

Russia, Turkey,  Israel


BY MICAH HALPERN 
Israel and Russia need to keep on good terms to make certain the region does not spiral into crisis. Russian President Vladimir Putin is a world-class master when it comes to getting what he wants. He leaves nothing to chance.

CHINA MILITARY POWER

China revealed plans to increase its marine force by 400 percent, focusing on strategic intercontinental trade routes.
BY TOM O’CONNOR

US Defence Secretary sees no need for US military action in South China Sea
The world's biggest military is about to grow. Beijing announced last week it would increase military spending by about 7 percent, totaling about $147 billion. Beijing also plans to increase its marine corps by 400 percent in a bid to expand the nation's economic and military influence across Asia and into Africa, according to News Corp. Australian Network. With 2,3 million soldiers, Chinese leaders already command the largest standing army on the planet.

 Russian Defense Architecture NATO Turkey

By Burak Bekdil 

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 424

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Turkey, a NATO ally, may be on the brink of purchasing an air defense system from Russia. If the Turks place that weaponry on their soil, they will no longer have access to the NATO satellite signals critical for that very defense system to be useful. 

General Khalifa Haftar

By Phil Stewart, Idrees Ali and Lin Noueihed | WASHINGTON/CAIRO

Russia appears to have deployed special forces to an airbase in western Egypt near the border with Libya in recent days, U.S., Egyptian and diplomatic sources say, a move that would add to U.S. concerns about Moscow's deepening role in Libya.

Gwadar


By: PTI | Beijing

China is constructing a naval base in Djibouti to provide logistical support in one of the world's busiest waterways in the Indian Ocean.
China is set to increase the number of its marine corps from 20,000 to one lakh (100.000) as part of plans to deploy them overseas for the first time, including at the strategic Gwadar port in Pakistan and military logistics base in Djibouti in the Indian Ocean. The expansion is planned to protect China’s maritime lifelines and its growing interests overseas, Hong-Kong based South China Morning Post reported on Monday.

TURKEY'S ERDOGAN


BY SETH J. FRANTZMAN 
Over the weekend Holland stunned Turkey by preventing rallies over a proposed referendum, drawing fierce rebuke from Ankara.

Holland is a “Nazi remnant,” according Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was prevented from flying to Rotterdam to give a speech, and Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya was deported to Germany.

 Erdoğan’s Forever War

 The turkey analyst,By: Gareth H. Jenkins

The package of proposed amendments to the Turkish constitution that were announced on December 10 foresee the gradual concentration of even more power in the hands of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, leading to the introduction of a full presidential system in November 2019. Yet recent events have shown that the more power Erdoğan exercises, the worse the situation in Turkey becomes.

End of Turkey’s European History

Fabrizio Tassinari
Danish Institute for International Studies

BERLIN—The accusation by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey that Germany perseveres in “Nazi practices,” after a Turkish minister was forbidden from campaigning in Germany, is the latest instance in the perennially tense bilateral relation between Turkey and Europe. 

Military summit on Syria

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report 

EXCLUSIVE: For the first time ever, the top soldiers of the United States, Russia and Turkey are holding a secret meeting in the Turkish town of Antalya for an urgent two-day effort to avert a clash between their three armies, which stand ominously face to face in northern Syria.
(See DEBKAfile’s exclusive disclosure on March 6)

John McCain in Syria

By Whitney Webb

Just a matter of days after John McCain’s “unusual” trip to Syria and Turkey, the Turkish government has cut off water supplies from the Euphrates River into northern Syria, violating international conventions on water rights.

Sub-Saharan migrants


By ERIC MAURICE

How to manage the "ring of fire" on the EU's southern doorstep and the consequences of unrest and poverty?
The question, top of EU leaders' agenda for an age, was the subject of a conference this week in Valletta organised by the Delors Institute think-tank.

Cyprus talks

Barcin Yinanc
The window of opportunity to find a permanent solution to the Cyprus problem is closing – unless some players step in and stick their hands in to keep the window from closing completely. One interesting player could be Israel. A Cyprus peace deal would speed up Israel’s project to provide gas to Turkey, the new Israeli ambassador to Ankara said last week.

Turkish Army in Syria

If Russia and the Syrian army have anything to say about it

by PAUL IDDON
Fresh from its victory over Islamic State militants in Al Bab in northwest Syria, Turkey is reiterating its longstanding threat to attack the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in Manbij to the east.

Anger and protest votes

Why the system will still win
Brexit, Trump’s win, Europe’s populist movements: the West is protesting, from the left and the right, against the neoliberal, globalist orthodoxies of the past 40 years.
by Perry Anderson
Le Monde diplomatiqueWhy the system will still win

The term ‘anti-systemic movements’ was commonly used 25 years ago (1) to characterise forces on the left in revolt against capitalism. Today, it has not lost relevance in the West, but its meaning has changed.

Kurdistan

Verda Ozer
Will an independent Kurdistan be built in northern Iraq? This question has long hung over our heads. However, in his op-ed for the Washington Post on Feb. 22, Bilal Wahab suggested that this is the wrong question. “How many Kurdistans will be formed? This is the right question to be asked from now on,” he wrote.

Turkey’s misstep in Manbij


Turkish move blocked by Syrian forces

SUMMARY
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s latest threat complicates Pentagon planning to oust the Islamic State from its so-called capital; United States provides intelligence for Iraqi strike in Syria.

Arab Summit


DEBKAfile Exclusive Report 

Secret contacts currently underway ahead of the Arab League summit later this month may bring about a sea change in the Arab world’s relationship with Syrian President Bashar Assad, DEBKAfile’s sources report. 

 Euphrates Shield

Murat Yektin
Turkey started its military operation into Syria on Aug. 24, 2016, following a suicide attack by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), or DEASH with its Arabic initials, that killed 59 civilians in the border city of Gaziantep on Aug. 20.

Armageddon

By Paul Craig Roberts

“The U.S. intelligence community’s extraordinary campaign of leaks claiming improper ties between President Trump’s team and Russia seeks to ensure a lucrative New Cold War by blocking detente.” — Gareth Porter

Ayatollah Khamenei

The Iranian Parliament just hosted its annual conference on Palestine and, among the dignitaries - that included Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani - and the 700 foreign guests from more than 50 countries was Asia Times columnist Pepe Escobar.

Mc Master Trump

In Moscow, the appointment of Mc Master as National Security Advisor of President Trump was taken as an unmistakable signal. “McMaster is…a 100 percent threat to Russia from the US, and it’s not getting weaker or smaller. Defense and intelligence wing of Washington will carry out a Russophobic policy,” the first deputy chairman of Russia’s Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security Franz Klintsevich told Sputnik on Tuesday.