President Obama During the First U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington, July 2009. Source: The White House: A Dialogue with China
TEL AVIV – In 2010, then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced America’s eastward shift in global strategy. The United States’ “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific region was required not only because of the security threats posed by the rise of China, but also as a consequence of America’s long and costly obsession with the Middle East.
The Middle East has long confronted the US with formidable challenges, which ultimately exceeded America’s imperial capacities and sapped public support. But the real question now is whether America is still able and willing to uphold its global pretensions. After all, Asia is no less a demanding theater than the Middle East. Indeed, dealing with it might require reconciling the pivot to Asia with an ongoing presence in the Middle East, if only because the two regions have much in common. » More
Tank in Cairo. Photo: Jonathan Rashad/flickr.
On October 24, the ISN co-hosted a roundtable discussion with the Cordoba Foundation on the recent political turmoil in Egypt and on the possible ways to resolve it. Today, we present some of the discussion’s highlights, with a particular emphasis on the observations made by Dr Maha Azzam.
The discussion started off by focusing on the ‘narratives’ that the Western media has used to both bound and characterize the Arab Spring. In the following response, Dr Azzam focuses on the term ‘Islamism’ and how it has been misused, often with negative consequences, by media outlets, politicians and others.
Ahmet Davutoglu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, speaks at CSIS in February 2012, courtesy of CSIS/Flickr
Even the supporters of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) are disappointed with the results from Ahmet Davutoğlu’s foreign policy. Only 53 percent of AKP voters agree with his Syria policy; in total, 56 percent of Turks are opposed to it. However, not only with regards to Syria, Turkey’s overall foreign policy has hit the brick wall. There has only been very little progress in other areas as well: whether it is Cyprus, Greece, or Armenia – none of Turkey’s “old” problems with its non-Muslim neighbors have been resolved.
Moreover, relations with Muslim neighbors Iran and Iraq – with the exception of Kurdish northern Iraq – as well as Egypt are tense. In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the AKP has lost its past influence over the involved parties. Neither Israel, nor the PLO or Hamas look to Ankara anymore. Little is left from Turkey’s stance as a regional power. » More
Anti-Morsi Protest in Egypt, 28 June. Image: Wikipedia.
Turkey has firmly condemned the military coup in Egypt which led to the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government. In the first days following the coup, Ankara was at pains to convince the international community (including the UN, the United States, the European Union and the Arab states) to pressure the Egyptian army into re-instating Morsi as president or at least to condemn the military for staging an assault on democracy. As these attempts proved unsuccessful, Ankara criticised the European Union for applying double standards in its evaluation of political transformation in its neighbourhood. The Egyptian coup is currently the main topic on the agenda for Turkish politicians. Numerous demonstrations of support for the toppled Egyptian government have been witnessed in Turkey. » More
A Free Syrian Army member prepares to fight. Photo: Freedom House/flickr.
As the ‘Friends of Syria’ met in Istanbul in late April 2013, one of the questions dominating the meeting was whether Western nations should arm Syria’s rebels. Thus far, such a strategy has been resisted by the United States, while countries such as France and Britain have advocated a relaxing of arms embargoes so that arms could begin to flow to Syria’s rebels. For its part, the external Syrian opposition has been advocating for arming rebels for some time now, along with calls for a no-fly zone or some other form of military intervention that have been ignored by Western powers. Meanwhile, countries such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia have begun to funnel light weapons and other resources to Syria’s rebels. Some evidence even suggests that weapons from Libya are finding their way into Syria. At the same time, Syria’s regional allies, mainly Hizballah and Iran, continue to supply it with weapons, and, in the case of the former at least, actively participate in the fighting. » More