Şaban Kardaş: “Central Country? Turkish Foreign Policy in a Tumultuous Middle East”

Source: Flickr/UNHCR

What has become of Turkey’s so-called ‘Zero Problems’ foreign policy? What should we think about the country’s evolving role as a regional actor?  And when we ask the latter question, which region are we actually talking about?   These questions were the focus of a recent discussion, sponsored by the Center for Security Studies, with Dr. Şaban Kardaş, who is an Associate Professor in the Department of International Relations at TOBB University of Economics and Technology in Ankara.

Dr. Kardaş argued that in order to answer these questions properly, we must understand the notion of Turkey as a ‘central’ country or power.  In other words, we must recognize that Turkey’s geography and history seem to demand that Ankara play a leading role in its region. What Dr. Kardaş meant by a ‘region’, however, turned out to be quite expansive indeed.   » More

Chinese Special Operations Forces: Not Like “Back at Bragg”

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Soldiers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, Image: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr.

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 1 January 2015.

The PLA’s special forces: secrets revealed,” promised Want China Times, a Taiwan-based English-language website. The article describes China’s “10 major special operations forces, each with its own unique characteristics and code names” and was based on a translation of an earlier blog posting on the PLA Daily website with photos and descriptions of several People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and People’s Armed Police (PAP) special operations units. » More

Iran’s Beef

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The former US embassy in Teheran, Image: Örlygur Hnefill/Flickr.

This article was originally published by the British American Security Information Council (BASIC) on 21 December 2014.

“Where you stand depends on where you sit” is an old maxim of politics. Where Iranians sit is on a lot of history that inclines them to resent and mistrust America and Britain, and mistrust in particular anything that would compromise their freedom of action. It’s a history of which we in the West are barely aware, but which determines in large part Iran’s view of the world.

The current talks between Iran and six other powers about Iran and nuclear weapon potential are mostly about technical capabilities. The history is rarely taken into account by the other participants. Yet it is a factor.

Iranians remember with chagrin that for a long time, outside powers decided what policies they should follow and who be their leader. » More

Come Fly with Me: Airports and Geographies of Rendition

C-130 Hercules prepares for landing during KEEN SWORD 2015 at Yokota Air Base, Japan. Image: US Air Force/Flickr.

This article was originally published by E-International Relations on 18 December 2014.

A recent Senate intelligence committee report on the use of torture concluded that the CIA has mislead the American public and by implication the wider world. Although fiercely contested by former members of the George W Bush administration, the report served as a reminder about the extensiveness of torture – or specifically the geographies of torture. The process of finding, transporting, imprisoning, questioning, torturing and archiving the treatment of suspects/illegal combatants/terrorists involved a great deal of labor. » More

Summing Up Switzerland’s 2014 Chairmanship of the OSCE

The OSCE Ministerial Council in session in Basel, December 2014. Image: Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äusseres/Flickr

The Swiss presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was dominated by the escalating Ukraine Crisis. Dealing with one of the worst crises in the Euro-Atlantic area since the end of the Cold War was a huge challenge for Swiss diplomacy. Switzerland emerged as an innovative, impartial, and effective crisis manager, but the Ukraine Crisis also clearly demonstrated the limits of the consensus rule within the OSCE. In the end, it led to a serious erosion of trust in the security architecture designed in 1975 and fully implemented after 1990.

With the conclusion of the 21st Ministerial Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) – held in Basel on 4-5 December – Switzerland’s 2014 Chairmanship of the organization can now be assessed. As Swiss Ambassador to the OSCE Thomas Greminger has argued since April of this year, the Ukraine Crisis has been both a curse and an opportunity for the OSCE. » More

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