Opinion

The United States needs to tell Turkey to change course

Whatever his achievements over the past decade, Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is destroying his country’s parlous democracy. That is a profound problem for Turks and Turkey’s Western allies. Staying silent, out of fear that speaking out would harm some short-term interests, risks Turkey’s longer-term stability.

Last month police arrested more than 50 people close to Erdogan’s government — including prominent business executives and sons of government ministers — on charges of corruption. While graft has long permeated Turkish governments, these allegations are unprecedented. They reach high levels of government and involve not just domestic transgressions but also sizable evasions of Iranian sanctions.

Rather than ensuring a meticulous examination of these charges, Erdogan is burying them. He has removed the case’s lead prosecutors and some 3,000 police officers nationwide, sought to increase government control over a weak judiciary,limited the ability of police to conduct independent investigations, prevented journalists from reporting on the case andmounted a media campaign to destroy his enemies — particularly the followers of powerful religious leader Fethullah Gulen, who were once his strongest allies. And, as he did when protests erupted against his government last summer, Erdogan portrays the events as a massive plot against him. He has also implicated other opposition parties and foreign powers and even threatened to expel the U.S. ambassador. 24.o1.14 More

Turkey’s changing security environment

The current situation highlights increased, intensive integration between the political agendas of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean affairs. The time has come for Turkish strategists to adopt a greater strategic vision for the Eastern Mediterranean basin and the Cyprus dispute which must be more integrated with the Middle Eastern affairs. As a matter of fact, such a new paradigm should cover a wide array of issues including the Turkish-Israeli relations, energy security, and the possible rise of a pro-Tehran/pro-Hezbollah Alawite state in Syria. 15.08.12  More

EU and US sanctions driving Iran into China's hands

China has become Iran's number one trading partner and the two countries have announced plans to more than double their annual bilateral activity to $100bn by 2016


The Iranian conundrum has entered a new phase. From July 1, the European Union banned the sale of protection and indemnity insurance for ships carrying Iranian oil. But will those sanctions dissuade Iran from developing its nuclear facilities? Will they isolate the country? Who can be Iran's allies? Who are the key decision-makers within Iran? Those are key questions for the western policy-makers.

History can provide us with a rare glimpse into the efficacy of sanctions on Iranian trade and the country's economy. After the discovery of Iran's secret uranium enrichment programme in 2002, western companies began to withdraw from Iran and western governments began to ramp up pressure on the Islamic Republic, opening up new opportunities for Chinese firms and diplomats to build economic and strategic ties to Tehran. 09.07.12  More

Where is NATO, where is Turkey in NATO?

If those governing Turkey do not want to share with Israel the data to be obtained by the AN/TPY-2 X-band radar to be located near Kürecik in the Central Anatolian province of Malatya within the framework of NATO’s missile defense system, they should be negotiating this with the United States, not with NATO.

The system is entirely American, including its missile-detecting and early warning satellites, monitoring and target-detecting ground radars, command-control infrastructure and finally its missile-killing missiles. What the Obama administration did was to enable this already existing capability to integrate with NATO for the safety of European allies. Nevertheless, the radar at Kürecik, like its match in Israel, will be operated by American staff but dedicated to NATO. Consequently, Turkey has the right to demand that non-NATO Israel be excluded from the data to be provided by this radar.

Israel is the United States’ strategic ally. And the integration of the missile defense system into NATO does not constitute a total obstacle for other U.S. allies, like Israel, to make use of this system. The system contains a structure with two brains, one American, the other being NATO command-control centers.  More   11.10.2011

Pentagon seeks to sell drones to Iraq, Turkey

Fleets of military drones are proliferating in the Middle East, potentially adding to tensions in the region, under a renewed push by the US Defense Department to lift restrictions on arms sales and boost profits for US manufacturers. 

In May, Iraq agreed to buy at least six unarmed US surveillance drones despite the protests from Iran. Turkey currently is haggling with the US for the purchase of $4 million hunter-killer Predator or $30 million Reaper drones armed with Hellfire missiles and laser-guided bombs for use against the guerrillas of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party).

Israel already has a thriving UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) industry and sells drones, some the size of a Boeing 737 airliner, around the world. Israeli drones keep a constant watch over the Gaza Strip, where residents sometime refer to the buzz of the drones as “zenana” — Arabic slang for a nagging wife. 13.07.12  More

Iran is on the verge of losing Turkey

The prevailing impression until recently was that Turkey had taken Iran’s side on the issue of nuclear energy, despite internal and external criticism. 

Indeed, Ankara truly did all that it could. Last week’s visit to Tehran in particular inspired much hope. Turkey’s aim was to avert a military intervention by either Israel or the U.S. and to solve the matter through negotiation. 

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s meeting with Ayatollah Khamanei was of crucial significance. Things were over and done with when the Shiite leader told the Turkish prime minister that “building weapons of mass destruction amounts to a sin in our religion.” Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu took those words at face value. They acquiesced, even if they did not vouch for it, and proceeded to openly share this both with us in Turkey and with the Western world. They heartily espoused the idea of watching after Iran. 07.04.12  More