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December 30, 2012

Turkey’s Foreign Policy at a Crossroads

October 12, 2012 by

It seems that media consensus has been conclusively reached: Turkey has been forced into a Middle Eastern mess not of its own making; the ‘Zero Problems with Neighbors’ notion, once the foreign policy centerpiece of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), is all but a romantic notion of no use in realpolitik. Turkey’s “policy’s goal – to build strong economic, political, and social ties with the country’s immediate neighbors while decreasing its dependency on the United States – seemed to be within sight,” wrote Sinan Ulgen nearly a year ago.

The West is Playing with Fire in Syria

July 23, 2012 by

While the UN remains paralyzed on whether to extend its observer mission, or impose sanctions, Syria is drifting quickly towards what the International Committee of the Red Cross calls “a state of civil war”, a declaration, with cataclysmic consequences, and which might radically change the rules of the game. Finian Cunningham, Global Research’s Middle East and East Africa Correspondent, notes to the extent to which the Syrian uprising has been exploited, “the irony is that leading NATO members, the United States, Britain and France, as well as their Turkish and Arab allies, are the very parties that have deliberately created the precipice for all-out war in the Middle East.”

T. E. Lawrence and Foreign Intervention in Syria

July 19, 2012 by

“They were discontented always with what government they had; such being their intellectual pride; but few of them honestly, thought out a working, alternative and fewer still agreed upon one.” Thus noted T.E. Lawrence, presumptuously, in his book Seven Pillars of Wisdom, which recounts his exploits as part of the Arab uprising against the Turks during the First World War. “They” are the Syrians, and Lawrence provides a vivid description of the land and its people, which he and a Hashemite led Arab Army where about to wrestle from Ottoman control.

Turkish-Syrian Relations Amid the Syrian Uprising

July 9, 2012 by

As turmoil continues in Syria, the international community continues to press for an intervention to stabilize the situation. As President of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party Bashar al-Assad refuses to relinquish his iron grip over Damascus’ government, more prominent world leaders are calling for him to resign. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has gone far enough to classify the Syrian Uprising as a full-blown civil war. However, calls by the United States, European Union, and Arab League for any possible UN backed resolutions are being blocked by Russia and China.

Obama’s Dwindling Options in Syria

June 14, 2012 by

As the Syrian conflict deepens, the Obama Administration is facing renewed calls to act before full-scale civil war erupts, with neo-conservatives in Washington pressing the administration to support anti-government rebels with military hardware. The President has been unwilling to do so, he has every reason to be wary of engaging in yet another Middle East conflict with no end in sight, and no exit strategy. Moreover, the President knows that such support would in the end likely prove futile, given China, Iran and Russia’s ongoing support for the Assad regime, the absence of unity among opposition groups, and the failure of the opposition to control any significant Syrian territory.

Syrian Regime Change and the Kurdish Problem

May 30, 2012 by

If Assad loses control of his armed forces and the regime loses its legitimacy as the expression of Syrian nationalism, the ingredients don’t seem there for a Lebanon-style civil war with local proxies armed by regional or global actors. That’s because I don’t think that Russia, China, or even Iran see any upside in arming some Ba’ath regime generals of primarily Alawite backgrounds trying to beat back an insurrection powered largely by Syria’s dominant Sunni majority.

In Response to Houla Massacre Australia Expels Syrian Diplomats

May 29, 2012 by

Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr has expelled the Syrian Charge d’Affairs Jawdat Ali Syrian in the wake of the Houla massacre that have reportedly seen 32 children massacred in Syria in recent days. He has said that Australians are “appalled at a regime that could connive in or organise the execution, the killing of men women and children.” Jawdat Ali has 72 hours to leave Australia. The decision follows Britain’s foreign secretary William Hague who has summoned the Syrian diplomat.

What Syria is Teaching the West

April 22, 2012 by

It should come as little surprise to anyone that the fragile cease-fire in Syria has failed and is evidence that - contrary to what many pundits contend - the tide continues to be on Mr. Assad’s side, given the time that has passed, the fractured nature of the opposition, and the bungled manner in which the West has addressed the subject. As Syria demonstrates, with each passing month the Arab Awakening evolves in new and unexpected ways. The question is whether the West is evolving along with the Awakening, or will remain stuck in a unidimensional view of MENA.

The Revolution on a Laptop: YouTube Journeys through the Arab Spring

April 12, 2012 by

An overcast road on the outskirts of a town somewhere in Syria. Strained, panting breath and blurred views of the crabgrass on the highway divider. To the right, maybe 500 yards away, I hear the guttural whuppwhuppwhuppwhupp of automatic gunfire, punctuated by the occasional snap of a sniper rifle. Over the median, a slick river pools into a ditch, oil maybe, no, blood. I see a boy, maybe 16-years-old, crumpled over the road median, one leg folded calmly over the other. I catch a quick look at his head and wonder if there is life in his half-closed eyes. Then I notice the bullet wound in his neck, jagged pink tissue under his chin. The panting voice begins to chant hurried phrases. The only word that I can understand is “Allah”.

Syria: A Way Out

March 3, 2012 by

There are two tales about the crisis in Syria. In one, the vast majority of Syrians have risen up against the brutality of a criminal dictatorship. The government of Bashar al Assad is on the ropes, isolated regionally and internationally, and only holding on because Russia and China vetoed United Nations intervention. U.S. Secretary to State Hillary Clinton describes Assad as “a war criminal,” and President Barak Obama called him a “dead man walking.” In the other, a sinister alliance of feudal Arab monarchies, the U.S. and its European allies, and al-Qaeda mujahedeen are cynically using the issue of democracy to overthrow a government most Syrians support, turn secular Syria into an Islamic stronghold, and transform Damascus into a loyal ally of Washington and Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar Ratchet Up Pressure on Assad

March 3, 2012 by

Running counter to the wishes of the United States and other western nations, Saudi Arabia and Qatar recently announced that they are taking steps to arm the Free Syria Army (FSA). Despite the significance of this step, it is unlikely to shift the civil war in favor of the rebels. The FSA, armed with light weapons, suffered a number of strategic setbacks. Their tactical retreat from the Baba Amr neighborhood in Homs paints a picture of a rebel group that lacks the operational capacity to challenge the Assad regime directly. Even with more equipment and firepower supplied by the international community, without a no fly-zone, similar to Libya, the FSA is likely to face more strategic losses.

The Syrian Uprising: US Follow a Failed path

October 4, 2011 by

United States ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, is quite a feisty diplomat. He shows up unannounced and uninvited at various hot spots in the country, greeted with varying degrees of enthusiasm and, oftentimes, anger. When he made a highly touted appearance in the city of Hama in July, residents reportedly greeted him with flowers. However, his appearance at the home of an opposition figure in Damascus on September 29 earned him a salvo of tomatoes and rocks from angry protesters. Naturally - and as confirmed by various WikiLeaks cables - American diplomats don’t behave independently from the main organ of US foreign policy in Washington, the State Department.