Turkey promises to eliminate anti-China media reports

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

 

Turkey promises to eliminate anti-China media reports

BEIJING (Reuters) – Turkey regards China’s security as akin to its own and will move to stamp out any anti-China reports in its media, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday, after meeting his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

China and Turkey have repeatedly vowed to step up cooperation on security and counter-terrorism, amid Beijing’s concerns about ethnic Uighurs from its restive far western region of Xinjiang fighting with militants in the Middle East.

“We take China’s security as our security,” Cavusoglu said, speaking through a Chinese translator during a joint news briefing with Wang in Beijing.

“We absolutely will not allow in Turkey any activities targeting or opposing China. Additionally, we will take measures to eliminate any media reports targeting China,” he added, but did not give details.

Uighurs are a largely Muslim, Turkic-language speaking minority from China’s western Xinjiang region.

Hundreds, possibly thousands, keen to escape unrest in Xinjiang have traveled clandestinely via Southeast Asia to Turkey, with which many see themselves as sharing religious and cultural ties.

Beijing says some Uighurs then end up fighting with Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria. It denies accusations that it restricts the Uighurs’ religious freedoms.

European leaders have been alarmed by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s crackdown on opponents since a failed coup attempt last year, and what critics see as his attack on free speech.

About 150 media outlets have been shut and around 160 journalists jailed, the Turkish Journalists’ Association says.

Turkish authorities say the crackdown is justified by the gravity of the coup attempt, in which rogue soldiers tried to overthrow the government, killing 250 people, mostly civilians.

In 2015, Turkey angered China by expressing concern about reports of restrictions on worship and fasting by Uighurs in Xinjiang during the holy month of Ramadan. Turkish protesters have marched on China’s embassy and consulate in Turkey over the treatment of Uighurs.

The two countries have also quarreled over Thailand’s deportation of Uighur migrants back to China.

But Ankara is keen to tap into Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road infrastructure investment plan to link China with the rest of Asia and the world. Erdogan visited China in May when President Xi Jinping hosted his first Belt and Road summit.

“China is willing to work with Turkey to enhance the ancient spirit of the Silk Road, … and in jointly promoting the Belt and Road plan unlock new cooperative potential,” Wang added.

Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

The Real Picture Of Israel Today

(THIS ARTICLE IS FROM A COMMENT TO ME FROM THE BLOG ‘SEELISTENUNDERSTAND’)

 

Leave Muslims. It is a waste of time to read about them. This is the real picture of Israel today.

  1. Friday evening, when all Jews around the world meet at home for “Kabalat Shabat” (welcoming the Shabat) a Palestinian broke into a settlement in the West Bank and killed 3 unarmed people. He was shot, not killed, by Israeli soldier that was at home on Friday evening vacation. This event reflects the different between Israel and Palestine. The Palestinian terrorist came to kill. The Israeli soldier although he could kill, he never did it. Why? This is because of the difference in Education. The Quran instruct to kill every time everybody who is not Muslim. The Bible is human and he restrict/prohibits the killing. Even when a murderer, like in Friday, came to kill Jews the Jew didn’t kill him. This behavior of the Israeli soldier should be add to the Quran and in parallel the story of 72 virgins are waiting to the Killer in the sky must be deleted. This new/different/changed/updated Quran must be learned in all Arab/Muslim’s schools in order to take out the mood of killing/murdering. Taking it out will contribute to better world. Don’t you, Muslims, want such one?
  2. If the Quran’s instructions to kill every none Muslim in the world, the mother of the murderer came into the picture and, in a TV interview, she praised her son for doing it, meaning to kill the 3 Jews. If this is the face of a typical Muslim mother-what can be expected from the Muslims. If the hope education is such, and we know that children get their education at home not in schools, the situation is very bad.
  3. The situation is bad all over the world as they, the Muslim murderers, imitates each other. The fact that French people were killed encourages Israeli or any other state’s citizens, Muslims, to attack in other places as well. This is the Muslim’s live style that they were used to for many years. The results are that the habits became a norm. Norms are good as long as t6hey help the society. In this case it makes the opposite.
  4. The more funny/peculiar/strange thing is how the murderer purred himself before the murder. He must be pure for the sky after he murders Jews. So, he brought with him a bottle of water which he poured on his hands. Can you, clever people, how come a man is purifying himself after a murder. As from my point of view, there is no forgive nor such a crime, for a murder. If the Quran allows it, please think of the values of the Quran. I know where it stands.
  5. This event is a follow up of the last week’s events when 3 Israeli Muslims killed 2 Israeli Druze policemen. This was one of the acts that were instructed by the Turkish emperor, Mr. Erdugan. The story is very complicated, but, the matter the fact is that he wants to become the regional leader of the Muslim world. In order to implement it he must present some activities. His activity is by supporting the Muslims. His support is expressed by money and to be present in the places of conflicts. So, he is financing a vast system of people that their aim is to spread the Turkish influence in the world. The demonstrations in Mailazia, Jordan, Turkey, Yemen, Palestine and more are just a sample of the demonstrations worldwide. All these will burst, sooner or later. Then it will be very hard/impossible to extinguish the fire. The problem is that each country has its own problems/difficulties/hardship. None is examining the entire of the situation and nobody wants to solve it. The Iranian and N. Korea nuclear advance endanger the world. But nobody takes care of it.
  6. Coming back to Israel, on Friday the Palestinians announced of abeyance of the relations with Israel due to the installation of the magnetometers in all gates to the Al Aqsa. They didn’t mention the security measures. Same Jordan. Both of them, Abu Mazen and King Hussein, know that they will lose their positions without the assistance of Israel. In other words: They exist because of the interest that Israel has in their presence here.
  7. All Arab countries know that without Israel all Arab countries will burst in flames not due to Israel’s activity.
  8. The UN Security Council held discussions concerning the violation of Hezbollah of the UN resolution 1701. The Israeli ambassador to the UN listed 421 violations in May/June 2017. How can Israel trust the Arabs and the UN and rely on them if nobody takes care/fulfill their very clear resolutions. Israel is not going to hand its throat to this bunch of killers.
  9. PM Netanyahu is back in Israel from his visit to Europe. In his successful meeting he met also with the Hungarian PM who said the following: “The Hungarian and the Israeli states have very good politic ties. It consists on mutual understanding and trust. Israel is helping the world to stabilize the political situation in the Middle East and in Europe. If Israel will not fight the militant terror groups by cooperation’s with the moderate Arab states, a new wave of immigrants will flood Europe. Israel is a natural partner to achieve stability and order in the world. We, Hungary, understand your position and we will help you in your fight/efforts for security, having/opening export markets, and stand with you concerning every problem that you will face”. Let’s wish, all of us, that there will be many more people the Hungarian PM that will fight for balancing the world.
  10. I was asked why do you spend that much time to send your daily posts. The reason is that we, Israel, are in the headlines only when we have fights with our enemies and the world hear only the Arab side while the Israeli side is silent as because of 2 reasons: we are, naturally, silent and we are small state and the world like big ones as from them the vast money is coming, not from small ones.
  11. Here is the story of an Israeli product that lead the world. It is Avocado. But, to differ from the S. American one, the Israeli Avocado nutritional values are much beyond the ones that you buy from other sources. Because of it the people are ready to pay, for the Israeli product, much more than for any other. Israel is short of Avocado, for export, although its price jumped to E1.5/unit. Does anybody thinks that the markets can ask for this price if the quality does not justifies it? No, they will never ask/pay for lousy product that much money. The Israeli Avocado is considered today a super food due to its healthy non saturated oils The Israeli Avocado is almost organic. The reason is that the Israeli is not sprayed as much as in S. America. Israel is using the Israeli development of biological pest control. This includes birds, bees and other creatures. All of them are live and they “clean” the crops of pests. Last year the tiny Israel exported to Europe 65000 tons of Avocado, valued $160 million.
  12. So, this is what Israel export. But, there is no good without bad. The bad part is the stealing of the Avocado. Due to its sky high prices, too many people want to share the success. There are professional groups, I don’t want to say from which sector, but you can imagine, that are working during night. “Cleaning” the orchard of its fruits. In the morning yo9u come and it looks like after bombardment. Everything, trees, irrigation systems, agricultural machines etc, all of it completely ruined. One day, after I heard about it, I asked a friend of mine, to inform me when it happens. Sometime later, in the afternoon he called me told that the trees in his orchard was “cleaned” but they found the fruits hidden under a tree, covered with grass. I came there and put an ambush. Sometime late night/early morning a partially loaded truck, stopped nearby and the employees started to load “our” avocados. Just before the finished loading, my friend and myself called them to put their hands up. Some of the escaped in the darkness. But 5 were captured. They were from non Jewish nearby village. We called the police and this group, after paying their penalties, they stopped this work. But, there is no vacuum in this business. Another Arab groups replaced them. We caught them and another group, many times from the same family, as it is a profession, emerge on the stage.
    So, although of the popularity of the Israeli avocado keep buying other Israeli products.
    In friendship
    Amir

Erdogan’s Post-Evolutionary Turkey Floods School Classrooms, Threatens Universities

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES.ORG)

Erdogan’s Post-Evolutionary Turkey Floods School Classrooms, Threatens Universities

Photo of Recep Tayyip Erdogan taken from r4bia.com. Creative commons.

While the earlier education reforms of Turkey’s socially conservative AKP (Justice and Development Party) pointed towards inclusiveness, the current ones have a far more troubling direction.

Not content with removing around 45,000 education ministry staff from the government payroll following an abortive coup in July last year, Turkey’s ruling party is now looking to take down Darwin.

Last month the government announced that the theory of evolution would be removed from the teaching curriculum at Turkish schools until students reach university.

The announcement adds to evidence cited by concerned secularists who suggest Turkey’s education system is being remodelled in line with President Erdogan’s bid to raise “pious generations” and forge a “New Turkey”.

Efforts to rejig the country’s teaching curriculum along more religious lines are not new, dating back at least as February 2012.

What has changed since is President Erdogan’s seemingly unassailable position in post-coup attempt and post-referendum Turkey.

‘New Turkey’

Despite its shrunken majority and the ever-increasing polarization of the Turkish electorate — or perhaps because of these things — AKP is pushing its policy agenda more aggressively than ever before.

Along with the ban on evolution in the classroom, the AKP educational reforms will see the government’s narrative on the 2016 coup attempt embedded in school syllabi, while class time dedicated to modern Turkey’s secular founder Kemal Attaturk will be reduced.

Forced enrolment of some school-age students into controversial religious imam-hatip state schools is another feature of the new education agenda.

The AKP government won praise from both liberals and conservatives for managing to reverse the country’s repressive ban on headscarfs in universities back in 2010. The move allowed women from observant Muslim families to receive further education.

But the imam-hatip schools have faced criticism for discouraging girls from doing that very thing. Secularists see the schools growing role in Turkey’s education system as yet another sign that AKP is trying to recast the country in its own traditionalist image.

An evolving threat

According to the head of curriculum for the Turkish education ministry, teaching evolution in schools is “controversial”, but opponents of the ban were quick to side with science.

Evrim müfredattan çıkarıldı, biyoloji ders saati %33 azaltılırken din dersi saati % 100 arttırıldı. İran’ı kısa zamanda geçeriz İnşaAllah!

They have removed evolution from the curriculum, biology class hours have been reduced by 33%, while religion class hours have been increased by 100%. God willing, we are going to get ahead of Iran soon.

Evrim teorisi dersi kalkıyormuş arkadaşlar, arttık neyin dersini verecekler çocuklarımıza onu merak ediyorum 😠😠😠

They are removing evolution theory class. I am not wondering what they are going to teach our children.

Okullarda evrim dersleri okutulmayacak ama şeriat ceza hukuku din dersi okutulacak # işte yeni Türkiye anlayışı

There won’t be any classes on evolution. But there are classes on Sharia criminal law and religion. This is the meaning of ‘New Turkey’.

Biyoloji dersi ilk ders ilk slayt; evrim bir gerçektir, tartışılamaz. 29 yıldır aklımda. Hoca haklıydı.

Biology class, first class, first slide: evolution is real, and cannot be argued against. I have remembered this for 29 years. The teacher was right.

The international response has also been critical:

 continues to change ‘s identity by erasing evolution from the country’s education curriculum.https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/23/world/europe/turkey-evolution-high-school-curriculum.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Feurope&_r=0 

Schoolchildren in Istanbul. Turkey’s decision to stop teaching evolution in high schools has deepened concerns that the president, a conservative Muslim, wants to radically change the identity of the secular country.

Turkey Drops Evolution From Curriculum, Angering Secularists

A chapter on evolution will no longer appear in ninth graders’ textbooks because it is considered too “controversial” an idea, an education official said.

nytimes.com

Currently the evolution ban only applies to schools, but many fear that universities are being targeted for a serious government-led overhaul, too. Thousands of academics were dismissed from their jobs following the military coup, while out of 180 universities currently operating in Turkey, 15 were shut down.

Iraq, Syria and the Kurdish Fingerprint

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Opinion

Iraq, Syria and the Kurdish Fingerprint

We reap what we sow. Many countries did not pay attention to the fact that maps need constant maintenance to prevent them from aging and rotting, and that relations between entities should be continuously repaired as well.

The first condition of maintenance is to prioritize the notion of citizenship and to build a state that deserves to be called as such; which means a state of law and institutions, a state that guarantees equal rights and duties.

Discrimination against citizens creates a hole in the map; a hole that allows the infiltration of winds and foreign influence. The ruler believes that power can silence the people forever. He has forgotten that the balance of power can be distorted and twisted and that the oppressed can grab any opportunity to take revenge. Grievances can make them jump out of the map.

The ruler commits a fatal error when he gives power the last say and when he refuses to listen to people’s complaints or demands. He believes that he has an endless ability to silence them and that fear can make the wounded and the disadvantaged forget their injuries and the injustice against them.

The worst scenario of all is when the ruler regards a group of citizens as a foreign body that was planted by destiny inside the map, and when he believes that the solution is to abolish the features of this group, separate it from its heritage, weaken its language and force it to gradually relinquish its identity.

The call for holding an independence referendum in Iraq’s Kurdistan region on September 25 has ignited the Kurdish issue. Baghdad opposed the call. Iran rejected it. Ankara saw it as a huge mistake. The reactions of those parties are not surprising. Countries that have scattered Kurds across their maps following World War I, including Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, can disagree over anything but on the necessity to abort the Kurdish dream of having an independent state.

Masoud Barzani is aware of this truth. It is clear that the referendum will not lead to immediate measures. Lessons have taught Barzani to differentiate between dreams and illusions. He understands that rushing to completely leave the Iraqi entity could make the province an easy prey for major players in the region.

It is widely believed that Barzani is hopeless over the future of Iraq as a whole, especially in the wake of the ongoing rivalries between the Sunni and Shiite entities.

However, Barzani knows well that reviewing the borders involves major risks unless it is achieved under an international umbrella that sponsors a process of such size and nature.

ISIS’ invasion of Mosul has accelerated the dismantling of the Iraqi entity. It has intensified conflicts between the Sunnis and the Shiites. It has also increased the distance between Erbil and Baghdad.

ISIS attempted to invade the Kurdish province to fortify its presence in its mountains and take advantage of its location on the border of three countries. The Kurds engaged in a fierce battle to defend their region. They paid heavy prices. The Kurdish leader has once again concluded that the Sykes-Picot entities are artificial and not endlessly viable. He considered that “new maps are drawn with blood.”

Barzani knows that a Kurdish state in northern Iraq is a quasi-impossible dream. Yet, perhaps he is trying to consolidate the right to independence, even if it was not possible to be achieved in the near future. Some people believe that he is ready to accept a less-than-a-divorce formula. A formula that is based on confederate states that would save Erbil and Baghdad from being entangled in complex relations.

However, such formula needs a dance partner. It needs a realistic partner in Baghdad. Without the presence of such collaborator, Baghdad might be pushed towards a new conflict following the fall of ISIS: a conflict that can be triggered in “disputed areas”, beginning with Kirkuk. Some people do not exclude an upcoming confrontation between the Peshmerga and the Popular Mobilization Forces, with all the consequences that may imply on the Iraqi and regional levels.

While talking about Iraq, one should not neglect the deep transformations taking place in Syria. Syria’s Kurds today are different from those who were living there six years ago when the war broke out. Syria’s Kurds did not rush to engage in the country’s uprising. They took the role of spectators and were preparing for the worst. ISIS’ insistence to target their areas has offered them several opportunities. Their victory in Kobani has given them a much longed-for legitimacy. The Democratic Union Party, led by Saleh Muslim, succeeded in militarizing a society that felt threatened.

It was widely believed at the beginning that the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) has not cut its relations with the regime, and that the latter was able to manipulate it at the right time to suit its own interests. Nonetheless, the Kurds proved to be coherent forces at a time when the Syrian opposition was being struck on several sides. Syria’s Kurds have found a major role in fighting ISIS. They received training and arms. Washington was betting on their role, despite Erdogan’s anger and warnings.

It is true that the Turkish Army succeeded in preventing geographic communication between Kurdish areas, but this did not keep the YPG from changing the landscape in several Syrian regions.

Saleh Muslim says that the Syrian regime has practically collapsed. He means the single-party regime. He also says that it was impossible to revert to the pre-war situation in 2011. He notes that the Kurds will live in self-administered zones. The role of the Syrian Democratic Forces in Raqqa reinforces the belief that the Kurds will not have a marginal role.

In the past century, maps were sketched on the detriment of the Kurds. It looked like they were confined inside the borders. Abstaining from treating the Kurds with equity while preserving our maps has led us to the explosion.

It is clear that the Kurdish fingerprint will be seen when drawing the future of Iraq and Syria, which raises the fears of Turkey and Iran.

Ghassan Charbel

Ghassan Charbel

Ghassan Charbel is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

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Now Turkey’s Dictator Erdogan (The Dog) Has Issued Arrest Warrant For An NBA Player As A Terrorist

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘HOT AIR’NEWS)

Keep your friends close and your friends who are homicidal dictators closer, I suppose.

Turkey’s efforts at international diplomacy were clearly bolstered when the Tyrant of Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, gained a White House audience with President Trump. During that meeting the two leaders supposedly discussed the release of American Pastor Andrew Brunson. (Which still hasn’t happened, by the way.) Many observers still seem to believe that Erdogan is holding out because he would like the United States to turn over cleric Fethullah Gulen, currently residing in Pennsylvania. But now Erodgan may be adding another name to his list. NBA center for the Oklahoma City Thunder, Enes Kanter, has an arrest warrant out for him in Turkey and their president really wants him brought to Ankara for “questioning.” (The Oklahoman)

Turkey has issued a warrant for the arrest of Thunder center Enes Kanter, according to a report from a Turkish pro-government publication.

According to a story from international news agency AFP, the Daily Sabah in Turkey reported that Kanter is sought for being a member of a “terror group.” A prosecutor in Istanbul opened an investigation into Kanter’s “alleged membership of an armed terrorist organization,” according to the AFP report…

Daily Sabah reported that the prosecutor would apply for an Interpol red notice to inform Interpol’s members that Kanter’s arrest is sought in an effort to ensure his deportation, according to the AFP report.

In terms of how he managed to get on Erdogan’s radar, Kanter definitely brought the attention on himself. He’s been tweeting out taunts to the Turkish government, daring them to try to come and get him and promising to go there and “spit in all their ugly, hate-filled faces.” On top of that, he’s openly aligned himself with Gulen, expressing his support for the cleric’s movement. Kanter is a citizen of Turkey but has a green card giving him lawful permanent resident status in the United States and has said that he’s working on obtaining US citizenship.

But being critical of the Erdogan regime and siding with Gulen aren’t crimes. (Well.. they’re not crimes in America, anyway. In Turkey that can get you executed.) The fact that he’s a Turkish citizen complicates matters a little, but we still have no reason to give this guy up and send him off to what would almost certainly be a lengthy stretch in a dungeon and some face time with one of Erdogan’s torturers.

Is this something that the Trump administration would ever seriously consider? The charges against Pastor Bronson are completely trumped up, if you’ll pardon the phrase, and it’s a slap in our face that he hasn’t already been released. But if he’s being used as a bargaining chip for some larger game of international diplomacy and intrigue, we’ve hit some dark times indeed.

Meanwhile, in an obvious show of hypocrisy, Turkey still has nothing to say in terms of regrets over Erdogan’s goons beating down unarmed protesters during his visit to Washington. As the Free Beacon reports, dozens of congressmen have signed on to an effort to have the perpetrators either arrested or expelled, but the White House remains silent on the matter thus far.

“This may be how they deal with dissenters in Turkey, but here in America that’s against the law,” Rep. Randy Hultgren (R., Ill.) said in a statement about the letter. “Our country is founded on the rights of free speech and freedom of peaceful assembly. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s security team’s brazen, physical assault on American citizens and legal residents peacefully protesting his policies is outrageous and follows a disturbing pattern. Foreign leaders, diplomats, and staff are invited guests of our nation, and they should act as such. All of those involved—at all levels—must be held accountable.”

You might be able to make the argument that Trump is in a tough spot right now when it comes to Turkey. No matter how deranged Erdogan may be, his country remains a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to dealing with Syria, and to a lesser extent, Russia and Iraq. But there also have to be limits to precisely how much we’re willing to tolerate in the name of cooperation from a supposed ally. We’re running into the same problem with the Philippines right now and it doesn’t paint a very pretty picture for the rest of the world.

More than enough time has passed now for Trump to craft some sort of deal and get Andrew Brunson home. Once that’s accomplished we can deal with Erdogan from at least a slightly stronger position. Dithering and continuing to wait is increasingly turning into a problem for this administration.

U.S. Decries Violence During Turkish President’s Washington Visit

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

U.S. decries violence during Turkish president’s Washington visit

 (My question is, why were these protesters so close to a visiting President in the first place?)
By Yeganeh Torbati | WASHINGTON

The United States on Wednesday said it was voicing its “strongest possible” concern to Turkey over violence that erupted between protesters and Turkish security personnel during Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Washington.

Police said the fighting that flared outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence on Tuesday injured 11 people, including a Washington police officer, and led to two arrests.

“We are communicating our concern to the Turkish government in the strongest possible terms,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

A video posted online showed men in dark suits chasing protesters and punching and kicking them as baton-wielding police tried to intervene. Two men were bloodied from head wounds as bystanders tried to assist dazed protesters.

Erdogan was in the U.S. capital on Tuesday to meet with President Donald Trump.[nL2N1II15R] A spokesman for the Turkish embassy could not be reached for immediate comment.

(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati and Ian Simpson; Editing by Richard Chang and Tom Brown)

New Delhi Makes It Plain: No Third Party Mediation With Pakistan On Kashmir/Jammu

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE KASHMIR OBSERVER NEWS PAPER)

New Delhi had conveyed its position in the matter to all its foreign interlocutors in unequivocal terms, MEA spokesperson Gopal Baglay told reporters here.

His comments came in the wake of an article in the influential Chinese daily Global Times, suggesting that Beijing could consider mediating between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue to protect its economic interests. Notably the ambitious China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) also runs through Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK). India has already conveyed its objection in the matter to Beijing.

The spokesperson said he normally did not react to newspaper reports. However, he would advise this segment of the Chinese media which carried the news report to first understand China’s own position on Kashmir clearly. As far as India was concerned, the Chinese position had been that Kashmir was an issue to be resolved by India and Pakistan.

When it was pointed out to him that Turkish President Erdogan had suggested multilateral talks to resolve the Kashmir issue in a television interview on the eve of his India visit, the spokesperson said the Turkish leader did not raise the matter in any way during his talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Erdogan Says Turkey, US Can Turn Raqqa into ISIS ‘Graveyard’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Middle East

Erdogan Says Turkey, US Can Turn Raqqa into ISIS ‘Graveyard’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday that Ankara and Washington can join forces to turn ISIS’ de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria into a “graveyard” for the jihadists.

“The huge America, the coalition and Turkey can join hands and turn Raaqa into a graveyard for ISIS,” Erdogan told an Istanbul meeting.

“They will look for a place for themselves to hide,” he said.

Erdogan’s comments come ahead of a meeting with President Donald Trump on May 16 in Washington.

Erdogan said Friday that Washington’s support for Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria damaged “the spirit of solidarity” with Turkey, but that he believed a new page would be turned in ties under Trump.

The US believes the YPG is essential in the fight against ISIS.

But Turkey sees the YPG as a terrorist group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging a deadly insurgency against Ankara since 1984.

Turkey this month announced that it had completed its half-year Euphrates Shield operation in northern Syria against jihadists and Kurdish militia, although it is keeping a presence to maintain security in towns now under control of pro-Ankara Syrian rebels.

Ankara is keen to join any US-led operation to clear Raqqa of ISIS jihadists, but without Syrian Kurdish militia forces.

Erdogan on Saturday said he would present Trump at their meeting next month with the “documents” proving YPG’s links to the PKK, which is designated as a terror group by Ankara and Washington.

“We are telling American friends so as not to take a terror group along with them,” the Turkish leader said.
Tension between Turkey and the YPG has been rising. Turkey conducted airstrikes against Kurds in Syria and Iraq on Tuesday, prompting clashes.

Turkey’s military said Saturday that it killed 14 PKK members in air strikes in northern Iraq.

Six fighters were killed around the area of Sinat-Haftan and eight in the countryside around Adiyaman in two separate air strikes, the military said in a statement.

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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How The World Sees Trump, 100 Days In—(And It Isn’t Pretty)

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

How the world sees Trump, 100 days in

Updated 4:53 PM ET, Sat April 29, 2017

(CNN) The world was dumbfounded by the election of Donald Trump, and his first 100 days in office have done little to alleviate a deep sense of uncertainty and unpredictability. Indeed, as one observer put it, the last few weeks alone have caused a severe case of global geostrategic whiplash.

The number of campaign promises that have morphed into presidential U-turns is staggering. Allies and adversaries alike are trying to figure out whether a Trump Doctrine is emerging, or whether, as former CIA Director Michael Hayden recently told me, a discernible doctrine does not exist in what resembles a family-run business of policy from the White House.
National security adviser H.R. McMaster “has hired a very bright woman to write the US National Security Strategy,” he said. “It’s a tough job. I did it twice for George H.W. Bush. But I was building on precedent and historic consensus. It’s really going to be interesting to see what an America First national security strategy looks like when you’ve got to write it down.”
Long-time American allies are comforted, though, knowing McMaster and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis make up an experienced national security team. NATO partners also welcomed Trump’s declaration that he no longer considers the transatlantic military alliance obsolete.
They, along with regional allies, supported Trump enforcing the previously declared US red line in Syria against the regime’s use of chemical weapons on its own people. After such an attack that the West attributed to the Syrian government earlier in the month, Trump launched retaliatory strikes.
But Asian allies, such as South Korea and Japan, are worried about US policy on North Korea. They welcome the tougher stance against Kim Jong Un’s ramped up nuclear missile program, but they were rattled by the USS Carl Vinson debacle, when for a time it was unclear if the aircraft carrier was steaming towards North Korea or not. It raised the question of whether the administration really has its deterrence policy in order, and South Korea was said to feel utter confusion, even betrayal, when the carrier was actually found to be steaming away from, not towards, the Korean Peninsula.
On Iran, signals are slightly harder to read. On the one hand, the State Department again certified Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. Yet a day later, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson strongly hinted the US could walk away from it, or try to link it to other issues it has with Iran. So far the deal remains in place and neither the EU nor the UN would agree to reimpose international sanctions on Tehran, which helped bring the country to the negotiating table.
On the Paris Climate Accord, Trump’s closest advisers seem to be having an almighty tussle about whether he should stay or stray from the historic deal. Big US companies like ExxonMobil are urging the US to abide by the deal and thereby have more say at the table.
Trump has also hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago estate, and seems to have reversed many of his pledges to play hardball with Beijing. But on trade, just recently a Financial Times newspaper headline blared: “Trump Fires First Protectionist Warning over steel Industry,” saying this paves the way for a global showdown on steel and possible sweeping tariffs on steel imports.
In his first 100 days, President Barack Obama visited nine countries. President George W. Bush visited two. Trump has visited none. But next month he visits Brussels for a NATO summit, and Sicily, for a meeting of the G7. Whether he can convince America’s allies that they have a trust-worthy friend with a strategic worldview as their most powerful ally remains to be seen, abroad and at home.
“I think I know what the policy is,” Hayden told me. “I have more difficulty, Christiane, putting this policy into a broader global view. And I think that’s causing unease with you, with me, and with a whole bunch of other folks who are trying to see, ‘Where are the Americans going globally?'”

Afghanistan

Nick Paton Walsh
It was the mother of all statements, but he may have had nothing to do with it.
The MOAB (officially know as the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast) wiped out an ISIS tunnel complex in the volatile eastern part of the country last week, killing around 90 militants.

Why did the US use the MOAB?

Why did the US use the MOAB?
It was the largest non-nuclear bomb used by the US in combat, but whether the new commander in chief personally approved its use is unclear.
The airstrike was immediately followed up by National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster visiting Kabul and assuring President Ashraf Ghani his country had a friend in the US and a strategic review was under way.
Yet outside of the huge bomb and its message of might, little has changed — as the new White House is inheriting the exhaustion of both resolve and policy options of the last.
A massive troop surge? Talks with the Taliban? A lighter footprint training Afghan security forces to secure the country? All have been tried, and all have failed to stop the insurgency controlling or contesting over half Afghanistan, and the heavy-handed rise of ISIS. Add to that the intense and escalating in-fighting in the Kabul political elite, and there is a very messy summer ahead, with few decent options.

China

David McKenzie
It’s arguably the world’s most important bilateral relationship.
But when President Donald Trump was inaugurated back in January, several Chinese policy experts told me there was a lot of nervousness about the incoming leader.

China's delicate balance with North Korea

China’s delicate balance with North Korea
After all, during the campaign Trump said he would name China a currency manipulator on Day One of his term and threatened a trade war.
As President-elect, he spoke to Taiwan’s president on the phone and openly questioned the ‘One China’ policy, a cornerstone of Washington-Beijing relations in which the US recognizes Taiwan as part of China. And Trump accused China of not doing enough to put pressure on North Korea.
100 days on? Well, it’s a 180-degree shift.
In his first phone call with President Xi Jinping, Trump reaffirmed the One China policy. He has praised Beijing for taking some positive steps on the North Korea issue and he recently said that China is not manipulating its currency.
Trump denies these positions represent a flip-flop; the businessman-turned-president is saying it’s all part of a deal.
“I actually told him (Xi Jinping), I said, ‘You’ll make a much better deal on trade if you get rid of this menace or do something about the menace of North Korea.’ Because that’s what it is, it’s a menace right now,” Trump said last week.
Trump said he has developed a strong relationship with Xi Jinping and that their scheduled 15-minute meetings at the Mar-a-Lago summit stretched into “hours.”
But Yan Xuetong, a foreign policy expert at Tsinghua University, told me that the Chinese are skeptical. He said that if North Korea goes ahead with its nuclear program, then China will take the blame.
“Trump will use China as scapegoat to tell (the) American public that it is not his problem,” said Yan.
In Yan’s eyes, at least, the Chinese suspect more Trump policy turns.

Egypt

Ian Lee
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was the first foreign leader to congratulate President Donald Trump after he won the November 2016 presidential election. The two leaders had instantly hit it off when they met a few months earlier in New York.
Their views are more aligned than were those of President Barack Obama, which reacted coolly to the 2013 coup by Egypt’s military — led at the time by Sisi. When he became president soon afterward, he ushered in a new low between Washington and Cairo.

ISIS claims responsibility for church blasts

ISIS claims responsibility for church blasts
It was an open secret that Cairo wished for a Trump victory over Obama’s former secretary of state, Hilary Clinton. Trump was perceived by Cairo as a pragmatist who had little interest in human rights.
In his first days in office, Trump invited Sisi to visit him in Washington. The Egyptian president arrived with three main objectives: deepen military cooperation, strengthen the war against terror and revive Egypt’s economy. The invitation to the White House also gave the Egyptian president a legitimacy that the Obama administration had previously denied him.
Recently, in a gesture of good will and eagerness to cooperate, American Aya Hijazi was released from an Egyptian prison after Trump directly intervened to secure her release.
Expect relations to remain warm as long as Trump’s administration keeps the lid on any criticism of Sisi.

Germany

Nic Robertson
German Chancellor Angela Merkel took heat from Donald Trump even before he was sworn in as president.
He accused her of making a “catastrophic mistake” on migrants, only being as trustworthy as Vladimir Putin, and intentionally trying to take business from the US.

Pence reassures NATO allies in Munich speech

Pence reassures NATO allies in Munich speech
For Europeans, Trump’s attitude to Merkel is symptomatic of wider issues: his like of Brexit and his dislike of the EU’s single market and liberal trade values.
At the EU leaders summit in Malta this February, both French and German leaders said openly that Trump’s attitude was uniting Europe to stand on its own feet.
Since then, Trump has said the EU is “wonderful” and he is “totally in favor of it.” Yet he still supports Brexit and seems unaware of the instability and frustrations Europe feels because of it.
It’s not the only cross-Atlantic reversal he has had. Coming into office, he said NATO was “obsolete.” He told the alliance nations they need to pay their way, and has given them a deadline to promise they will.
In recent weeks Trump has changed his tune. NATO, he said, is “not obsolete” — but he still wants members’ money.
Merkel’s March visit to see Trump at the White House did little to quell European concerns over his attitude to Europe, and trade in particular.
That Merkel was ignored by Trump when asking for a handshake in the Oval Office, and embarrassed by him again at the news conference that followed with an awkward comment about being spied on, reveals this relationship has some way to go before it gets on an even keel.
Iran
Frederik Pleitgen
Iran’s leadership realized that Donald Trump was an unknown commodity, but many in the country’s senior leadership hoped they would be able to deal with the new man in the White House.
“We hope that he will have a pragmatic approach,” Iran’s Deputy Oil Minister, Amir Hossein Azamaninia, told me in an interview during the transition period shortly before Trump took office. He suggested that perhaps President Donald Trump would similar to the businessman Donald Trump — a shrewd dealmaker, whom the Islamic Republic with its oil wealth could possibly even strike deals with.

Iranians worried about US-Iran relationship

Iranians worried about US-Iran relationship
But Iran soon learned that the new administration was going to take a harder line towards Tehran than President Barack Obama had. When Iran tested ballistic missiles in late January — which the US believes could strike targets in Israel — then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn came down hard and fast on Tehran, announcing there would be new sanctions. He also said the US was “putting Iran on notice,” without specifying what that meant.
This harsh reaction and subsequent statements by Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and America’s UN Ambassador Nikki Haley have sowed further uncertainty in Tehran about America’s strategy on Iran. The tough talk and action have put a severe damper on any notion the Rouhani administration had that its fairly constructive relations with Washington during the Obama years would continue.
At the same time, the Trump team’s hard line seems to be having an effect on Iran’s behavior.
There have so far been fewer reports of incidents and close encounters between US and Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf’s narrow Strait of Hormuz than during the end of the Obama administration. And during Iran’s National Revolution Day in February, the leadership did not display ballistic missiles as it usually has.
This has led some experts to believe that Tehran — for all its harsh rhetoric — is making an effort to not further antagonize an American president and Cabinet whom the Iranians view as erratic and very hostile towards the Islamic Republic.
If this was the Trump administrations intent, it could be working.

Iraq

Ben Wedeman
“I would bomb the s**t out of them,” declared candidate Donald Trump, summarizing his strategy to defeat ISIS. “I would bomb those suckers … and I’d take the oil.” The crowds loved it.
A decisive victory over ISIS, plus a grand prize of a lot of cheap oil, sounds great, but the real world just doesn’t work that way and slowly, perhaps, the new administration has learned this in its first 100 days.

Trump's son-in-law visits Iraq

Trump’s son-in-law visits Iraq
For one thing, the battle to liberate the ISIS stronghold of Mosul, Iraq — now into its seventh month — has underscored just how hard it is to defeat the extremists. Since the push in the western part of the city began in February, both the US-led coalition and Iraqi forces have been bombarding ISIS as promised, using much heavier firepower than during the battle for west Mosul in the waning months of the Obama administration.
But the tactic has come at a high cost in terms of civilian casualties, brought home by what US officials concede was probably a US-led airstrike on March 17 that mistakenly killed almost 150 civilians. Hundreds of thousands of civilians are still in western Mosul, often exploited by ISIS as human shields.
But even with the heavy assault, the Trump administration is largely settling down and following the same slow, deliberate approach of the Obama administration.
The battle for Mosul has taken more than half a year and may take many more months. In neighboring Syria, there are nearly a thousand US boots on the ground, backing a mixed Kurdish-Arab force that aims at overrunning the city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of ISIS. When this will happen is anyone’s guess.
And then there’s that other topic Trump has toyed with: taking Iraq’s oil. That was decisively shot down by Defense Secretary James Mattis, who flew to Baghdad in February and told reporters, “We’re not in Iraq to seize anyone’s oil.”

Israel

Oren Liebermann
Donald Trump’s fiery pro-Israel rhetoric during the campaign had the right and far right in Israel salivating at the prospects of a Trump administration, while Palestinians worried about an American government adopting a more hostile stance.
Trump pledged to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, “dismantle” the Iran deal, reduce funding to the United Nations and cut aid to the Palestinians. At the same time, Trump said he wanted to close “the ultimate deal” — a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.

Trump ties to Israeli settlements

Trump ties to Israeli settlements
Save for the last, Trump has moderated his stance and backed off his positions in his first 100 days in office. The Trump administration has said its still considering an embassy move, but has also called Israeli settlements in the West Bank unhelpful for peace and acknowledged that Iran is sticking by the terms of the nuclear deal. Some analysts in Israel have pointed out that Trump’s positions on the region are beginning to resemble Obama’s positions.
The Israeli right wing’s fervor over Trump has cooled somewhat, but it still expects him to be a friend in the White House. From Israel’s perspective, the big star of the Trump administration so far is US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who has repeatedly criticized the United Nations for focusing disproportionately on Israel. And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly praised Trump, refusing to suggest even the slightest hint of criticism, since he entered office.
Meanwhile, a recent visit by Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, left Palestinians cautiously optimistic that prospects weren’t as grim as initially feared and that Trump was serious about attempting to restart negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to meet Trump in Washington shortly after Trump hits the 100-day mark. The meeting could be a litmus test of how the dynamic between Trump, Netanyahu and Abbas develops.

Mexico

Leyla Santiago
President Trump still has yet to meet face-to-face with Mexico’s president, Enrique Pena Nieto, after an awkward encounter during the 2016 campaign. According to Mexican government officials, no plans are in the works, signaling tensions remain between the two leaders.

Mixed messages as top U.S. diplomat visits Mexico

Mixed messages as top U.S. diplomat visits Mexico
Twitter exchanges, however, have cooled down since a public war of words in January between @EPN and @realDonaldTrump over payment for a wall along the US-Mexico border. Mexico still maintains it will not pay for Trump’s muro (wall).
Many Mexicans still fear Trump could cut off a portion of their income, if he imposes taxes on remittances as a form of payment for the wall.
The Mexican government says, though, that its No. 1 concern is human rights violations. It has invested $50 million to expand legal services at its consulates and embassies in the US in an effort to help Mexicans fearing deportation.
Major questions also loom over the fate of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Trump has called the 23-year-old deal that allows free trade between Mexico, Canada and the US a one-sided agreement.
If a good deal is not renegotiated, Mexico plans to walk away from the pact. The uncertainty in trade relations has led Mexico to strengthen ties with other countries and explore opportunities in Asian, European and South American markets instead of the US.
After Mexico featured repeatedly in the US elections, Trump himself is now playing a role in who will become Mexico’s next leader. Anti-Trump rhetoric has become a central part of Mexican campaigns heading toward the 2018 election. Leading candidates are hoping a stance against Trump will protect Mexico’s interests and win over voters.

North Korea

Will Ripley
When I ask ordinary North Koreans about the impact of President Donald Trump on their lives, they give strikingly similar answers. The response is usually something like this: “It doesn’t matter who the US president is. All that matters is that they discontinue America’s hostile policy against my country.”

North Koreans celebrate 'Army day'

North Koreans celebrate ‘Army day’
Of course, they are only repeating the same message given to them by their state-controlled media, the only media North Koreans have access to. Because US politics are not a primary focus of North Korean propaganda, the vast majority of citizens are blissfully unaware of Trump’s twitter account or the cloud of controversy that has swirled around the first 100 days of his administration.
But they are aware of a few key facts. They know that Trump ordered a missile strike on a Syrian regime air base, viewed by many as an indirect threat to Pyongyang. They also know that Trump dispatched the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group to the waters off the Korean Peninsula, albeit by an indirect route.
The reason North Koreans know these things is simple: The actions of the Trump administration play right into their government’s long-standing narrative that they are under the imminent threat of attack by the ‘imperialist’ United States.
People have been told for their entire lives that America could drop a nuclear bomb at anytime. Citizens always voice their unanimous support of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. Of course, in an authoritarian country where political dissent is not tolerated, there are no opposing voices.
The North Korean government uses this ‘imminent threat’ to justify its substantial investment in weapons of mass destruction, even if this means citizens must sacrifice. And government officials in Pyongyang told me the policies of the Trump administration in its first 100 days only add to their sense of urgency to accelerate development of a viable intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the mainland US.
They say such a weapon is key to their survival as a nation, even as critics fear North Korea continuing down the nuclear road will only lead to further diplomatic isolation, economic hardship or worse.
There are signs that North Korea is monitoring and responding to the unpredictable rhetoric and actions of the Trump administration. After news broke that the USS Carl Vinson strike group was headed to the Korean Peninsula, I was hand-delivered a statement in Pyongyang saying, “The DPRK is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the US.”
We’ve never seen dynamics like this before. An untested US President who tweets in real time and isn’t afraid to launch missiles to prove a point. And a North Korean leader who has consolidated his power by purging opponents (including his own uncle) and has launched more missiles than his father and grandfather combined.
This could be a recipe for disaster. Or a recipe for lasting peace. Or perhaps a recipe for the continuation of a decades-long stalemate. If Trump’s first 100 days provide any clues, it’s going to be a wild ride regardless.

Russia

Matthew Chance
President Donald Trump entered the White House on a promise of improving the strained relationship between Washington and Moscow.
He was full of praise for his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, suggesting he might recognize annexed Crimea as Russian, cooperate over international terrorism and join forces in Syria.

Lavrov to US: Respect Syrian sovereignty

Lavrov to US: Respect Syrian sovereignty
It was all music to the Kremlin’s ears and talk was of a pivotal moment, of the Trump administration transforming the way in which the United States and Russia saw each other.
But 100 days on, none of that has come to pass.
“One could say the level of trust on a working level, especially on the military level, has not improved,” said Putin on April 12, “but rather has deteriorated.”
US officials have criticized Russia for fueling conflict in Ukraine, castigated the Kremlin for its treatment of sexual minorities, even bombed Russia’s Syrian ally while implying Moscow might have been complicit in dozens of agonizing deaths there caused by chemical weapons.
Part of the reason is undoubtedly the toxic political atmosphere in Washington, where lingering allegations of Russian interference in the US presidential election are being investigated by Congress.
But there is also a growing sense that the Trump administration, at 100 days old, has finally encountered a stark reality: Russia and the United States simply have different geopolitical priorities — whether in Syria, Ukraine or elsewhere — that won’t be easily reconciled.

Syria

Clarissa Ward
When President Donald Trump first assumed office, his strategy on Syria, like much of his foreign policy, was opaque. On the campaign trail he had said that his priority was to eliminate ISIS — indeed, he promised to put together a plan to do so in his first 30 days. He attempted to place a ban on any Syrian refugees entering the US, calling them a security threat. But on the subject of Syria’s leader, Bashar al-Assad, and the brutal civil war he has presided over that has claimed more than 400,000 lives, he was noticeably silent.

Syria, a war on children?

Syria, a war on children?
Trump’s strong admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin and interesting in getting the relationship with Russia back on track led many to assume that he would do little to interfere in Syria, where Moscow is closely allied with Damascus. This was reinforced by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comment in March that it would be “up to the Syrian people” whether or not Assad would go, a demand long made by the Obama administration. Regime change, it seemed, was no longer desirable for the US.
Yet, within a few weeks, everything changed.
After seeing the aftermath of a chemical weapons attack in Idlib that killed dozens of children, Trump suddenly took action against the Assad regime. Two days later, dozens of American tomahawk missiles rained down on the regime’s Shayrat air base.
The Syrian people were stunned. Those who oppose Assad had dreamed of this moment for many years, but after President Barack Obama had chosen not to enforce his red line against Assad’s use of chemical weapons in 2013, their dream had died. Suddenly, Trump was hailed as something of a hero. Some took to calling him by a new nom de guerre, Abu Ivanka al Amriki.
The strikes on Shayrat changed very little on the ground in Syria. The regime was continuing its daily bombardment within hours.
Still, after six years of standing on the sidelines, the shift in US policy (if it is a sustained shift) has given some cause for optimism. There is hope that perhaps Assad will think twice before using chemical weapons against his own people, that the US may now have more leverage at the negotiating table.
Yet the question still remains: What is the US’s policy on Syria? 100 days into the Trump presidency, we still don’t really know.

Turkey

Ian Lee
Relations with the Obama administration warmed under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan when that suited him and then soured accordingly. They have yet to be really tested under President Donald Trump.
Since taking office, Trump has taken a softer tone in dealing with Turkey. Ankara responded positively to the United States’ missile strike on a Syrian air base. Trump congratulated the Turkish president for the success of his referendum, giving him significantly expanded powers, despite the process being deeply flawed according to international monitors, an opinion echoed by the State Department.

Turkish demonstrators protest vote result

Turkish demonstrators protest vote result
By the time President Barack Obama left office, US-Turkish relations had cooled. The two leaders had differing opinions regarding Syria. Where Obama wanted to focus on defeating ISIS while Erdogan wanted to oust President Bashar al-Assad. The United States saw Syrian Kurdish militants, the YPG, as an ally against ISIS, while the Turks viewed them as terrorists. And Obama criticized Turkey’s crackdown on the political opposition, intellectuals, activists and journalists and wouldn’t extradite spiritual leader Fetullah Gulen, on whom the Turkish blames July’s coup attempt. Elements of Erdogan’s party even accused the United States of supporting the failed effort.
There is optimism in Turkey among the government and its supporters that a new page can be turned, especially when both leaders plan to meet in Washington in May.
But Trump is likely to face similar tensions as Obama did. One of the toughest will be the upcoming operation against ISIS in Raqqa, Syria. Turkey wants to take part but won’t fight along side the YPG. Trump will likely have to choose between a NATO ally and a proven fighting force.

The UK

Phil Black
President Donald Trump helped create what is so far the most iconic image of Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May — the American president holding May’s hand as they walked outside the White House in January.
May later said Trump was “being a gentleman.”

Scotland calls for independence referendum

Scotland calls for independence referendum
She provided the opportunity for his gallantry by swiftly moving to be the first world leader to visit the new president.
May has unashamedly pursued a close bond with Trump, believing “the special relationship” between the UK and US is especially important as Britain prepares for a future outside the European Union.
May has pushed for a quick post-Brexit trade deal while also trying to persuade Trump to align with Britain’s traditional positions on key foreign policy issues like NATO (crucial) and Russia (deserves suspicion).
The British Prime Minister also threw in a sweetener. She invited Trump to visit the UK with full state honors. That usually means time with the Queen, banquets, parades and gilded carriages.
Such invitations are rarely offered to new presidents and it’s proved to be hugely controversial in a country where many disagree with Trump’s policies, including his attempts to block immigration from select, majority-Muslim countries.
More than 1.8 million people signed a petition opposing a state visit “because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen.” Thousands protested on the streets and have promised to do so again when Trump arrives. That could create some awkward moments.
May’s efforts to stay close to Trump will likely be judged by whether she secures a free trade agreement with the United States. But they can’t even begin talking about that officially until after Brexit has taken place, so that’s at least two years away.

In an era of profound cultural transformation, elections and referendums have very real consequences

 

THE WEEKEND ROUNDUP 

In an era of profound cultural transformation, elections and referendums have very real consequences ― such as the repeal of environmental regulations or crackdowns on press freedom. But as much as they reveal how markedly divided societies are at this historical moment, they settle little. For those who are nostalgic for an ideal past, the challenges of a complex future wrought by globalization, digital disruption and increasing cultural diversity remain unresolved. For those looking ahead, there is no going back. The present political reaction is only the first act, not the last. It is the beginning, not the end, of the story of societies in fluid transition.

The recent Turkish referendum, like Brexit and U.S. President Donald Trump’s election, fits a pattern of a territorial divide. Residents in large cities and coastal zones linked to global integration and cosmopolitan culture represented just under half of the vote; rural, small-town and Rust Belt regions linked more to the traditions and economic structures of the past were just over half. But there is also a major difference. The populist, nationalist narrative that won the day in Great Britain and the United States championed the “left behind” and splintered the unresponsive mainstream political parties. In Turkey, the day was won by a conservative, pious and upwardly mobile constituency already empowered by some 15 years of rule by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party. The cultural duel there, backed up by neo-Islamist and nationalist statism, will thus be more intense than elsewhere.

In an interview following the historic vote in her country, novelist Elif Shafak says, “The referendum has not solved anything. If anything, it deepened the existing cultural and ideological divisions.” She also laments the decline of Turkey’s long experiment as a majority-Muslim country attempting to balance culture, secularism and Western democracy. “This is the most significant turning point in Turkey’s modern political history,” she declares. “It is a shift backwards; the end of parliamentary democracy. It is also a dangerous discontinuation of decades of Westernization, secularism and modernization; the discontinuation of Atatürk’s modern Turkey.”

Writing from Istanbul, Behlül Özkan explains the details of the constitutional referendum, how the playing field was tilted in Erdoğan’s favor and how it will have massive implications for Turkey’s future. He also emphasizes the historic importance of Turkey’s reverse. Özkan cites the political theorist Samuel Huntington who, in an essay decades ago on transitions from authoritarian rule, once defined Turkey as a clear example of a one-party system becoming more open and competitive under the constitution put in place by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. It is rare in history to move in the other direction, as Erdoğan has now accomplished.

Also writing from Istanbul, Alev Scott believes Turkey is in for “a decade of paranoia under a modern-day Sultan” who was unnerved by the slim margin of his victory. Noting a widely circulated photograph of the president at his moment of triumph, she saw a man not “celebrating victory” but “a man alarmed by near-defeat.”

Even as critics within Turkey and others abroad expressed concern over the extinguishing of democracy, Trump again showed his affinity for strongman politics by calling to congratulate Erdoğan on his victory. Yet, as with other countries from India to Argentina, there is likely another element as well to this potentially budding bromance. Sam Stein and Igor Bobic report on ethical issues raised by Trump’s business ties with Turkey. In 2012, Erdoğan joined Trump and his family to mark the opening of Trump Towers Istanbul.