GIS Dossier: Turkey and the Middle East
Ankara is still groping for the right policy mix in dealing with complex challenges to Turkey’s vital interests in the Middle East, North Africa, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea region. A paradigm change, however, diverting its geopolitical attention away from Europe and NATO and toward its historic neighborhood, is already evident.
GIS Dossier: Syria, Round 2
As Islamic State and jihadist rebels head for defeat in Syria’s civil war, the conflict is becoming more internationalized. Turkey has intervened military in the north against the Kurds, the U.S. has bombed Russian military contractors, and a rocket-propelled chess game between Israel on one side and Iran and Hezbollah on the other is heating up. If the key players aren’t careful, Round 2 in Syria could be a regional conflagration.
Syria heads toward renewed conflict
Daesh’s imminent defeat in Syria has brought new tensions to the fore. Iran now has proxies and allies right next door to Israel, while the U.S. has committed to a long-term military presence. Russia’s main objective continues to be securing its Syrian bases, and Turkey is becoming more isolated over its insistence on keeping Kurdish groups from controlling any territory. These factors form a volatile mix that makes it difficult to foresee anything but renewed conflict in the already war-torn country.
Will Kurdistan get a second chance?
The independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan was clearly a miscalculation by President Massoud Barzani. His assumption that Erbil could present a bill to Baghdad for services rendered in defeating Daesh was swiftly trumped by realpolitik. Now, the question is what can be saved from the debacle, and whether war can be avoided in Kurdistan itself.
Opinion: How Kirkuk could trigger a new major war
Iraqi Kurdistan’s disastrous decision to press ahead with an independence referendum has allowed the Iraqi federal government to reassert control over Kirkuk and its vital oil fields. But an even bigger consequence of Baghdad’s resurgence could be a potential conflict with its erstwhile sponsor, Tehran. Any such confrontation would quickly become regional in scope, bringing in Saudi Arabia, the United States and possibly Israel.
The contours of a future Middle East emerge
Events are moving fast in the Middle East. The hoped-for rapprochement between Russia and the U.S. that could bring an end to the war in Syria appears to have collapsed. Growing tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia could spark a war at any moment. But the most explosive issue for this region of minorities is the prospect of independence for Iraqi Kurdistan.
Erdogan’s ‘new Turkey’ resembles an old stereotype
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now unleashed, having consolidated full power over Turkey’s ruling party, parliament and the judiciary. After sweeping away the remnants of democracy and the Kemalist state, he has reached the point of no return. Which raises a simple question: what happened to the “new Turkey” – the assertive, prosperous Islamic powerhouse – that he promised?
America edges back into the Middle East
The United States is cautiously reengaging in the Middle East. To deal with an explosive situation that threatens world peace, President Donald Trump must first tackle the legacy of the Obama years, which left Russia and Iran well entrenched in some of the region's Arab countries. Forcing them out may not be possible, but the U.S. could restore some equilibrium.
Northern Syria after Turkish intervention
Turkey’s decision to intervene in Syria has demolished U.S. plans to press home the ground war against Daesh. Ankara must now decide whether to respect an American-sponsored cease-fire or venture deeper into Syria to break up the emerging Kurdish autonomous zone. If they choose the latter course, as seems likely, the Turks could find themselves in a military quagmire.
Haze around Turkey and the Kurds
Following the failed coup, Turkey is becoming a stronger player. Now that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has leverage and has eliminated much of the Gulen movement’s influence, there is an opportunity for his administration and the Kurds to come to a mutually beneficial arrangement to ease tensions.