Libya’da Seçimlere kadar Yönetecek Geçici Konsey Seçildi

Libya’da taraflar arasında anlaşma sağlandı ve seçimlere kadar yönetecek geçici konsey belirlendi.
Birleşmiş Milletlerin girişimi ile İsviçre’de toplanan Libya Siyasi Diyalog Forumu (LSDF) üyeleri
yaptıkları seçimle Başkanlık Konseyi Başkanlığına Muhammed Menfi’yi ve Başbakanlığa da
Abdulhamid Dibeybe’yi getirmiştir.
Libya Siyasi Diyalog Forumu, 11 Haziran 2015 tarihinde 22 katılımcı ile BM öncülüğünde Fas’ta
toplanarak hazırlık döneminde yol haritası belirlemek için oluşturuldu. Bunlar özetle;
– İlk aşamada, Milli Mutabakat Hükümeti ile Tobruk’ta bulunan Temsilciler Meclisi arasında
diyalogu başlatmak ve İki kutuplu çatışmayı önlemek,
– Sonrasında Merkezi hükümetin kurulması ve anayasanın hazırlanması için yol haritası
– Geçiş dönemini takip eden 60 gündeyse Merkez Bankası, Denetleme Kurulu, Yolsuzlıkla
Mücadele Kurumu, Yüksek Seçim Kurulu, Anayasa Mahkemesi gibi bağımsız devlet
kurumlarının tesisi öngörülmektedir.

Visits: 242


The newly emerged geopolitics in the Middle East could be understood via
understanding America’s foreign policy preferences in the region, not only in today’s terms
but also in the past since there is an evident controversy. According to the current President
of the United States of America Donald Trump: The U.S. has no interest in maintaining the
free flow of energy. The explanation given falsifies the 40-years long existence of America
in the region (Wecshler, 2020). Since the so-called withdrawal of the U.S. from the region is
providing a basis to understand the emerging geopolitics of the Middle East in its roughest
terms. This article aims to interpret another article titled ‘Tomorrow’ the Middle East is
Emerging Today is written by Will Wechsler on 18 September 2020. With the same order, this
article focuses on the US public views, China’s, Iran’s, Turkey’s, and finally Russia’s regional
The public though is against any incrementally continuous role of the US in the
region for sure. The “multiple presidential campaign cycles” (Wecshler, 2020) in the US
constructs a solid example for people’s views. The military reduction decision is carried by
the ‘election calendar’ rather than strategic thinking either in Iraq or Afghanistan. For
Wecshler (2020), this is the result of malfunctioning U.S. politics coupled with the ever-
the increasing number of divisions inside the country. Therefore, without Trump’s controversial
claim, the public wants the withdrawal of the U.S. and the other parties could easily read the
pools (Wechsler). In the end, despite being more powerful than others in the region, the U.S.
and As a consequence, there is an inevitable emergence of a new geopolitical order,
which was perceived as changeful even closer to become perilous. With the formation of the
new order, its verge as well as limitations are focused and emphasized. Moreover, one should
not forget that the rise and fall of several parties through the years made more adjusted for the
possibility of a more unstable future.
When it comes to the active players in the region, China, it could be right to say, has
not be an assertive one. Yet, being a prominent trading partner for several countries in the
the region is one side; forming a strong navy to secure its energy lifelines would change the
the landscape for the Middle East in the upcoming years as Wecshler (2020) argues. Iran,
Turkey, and finally Russia should be evaluated together as they have already begun to try to
fill the current power vacuum that created by the retraction of the U.S. Resulted from the
mistakes of America; Iran has been extending its influence over Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen,
Syria, and Lebanon by providing it’s with weapons against Israel and Gulf states.
Supposedly Iran also conducts secret operations among the Shite population while expanding its
fluency in international waters and borders (Wecshler, 2020). With the counter-action of
killing Soleimani, it could be thought that Iran is discouraged to make public threats against
the United States of America, whilst still carrying the will of extracting the U.S. out of the
region. For Wechsler, it is important to acknowledge that President Erdogan adopts more of
an Islamic approach as choosing ‘former Ottoman legacy’ over the Kemalist view when
shifted its axis closer to the Muslim Brotherhood at the expense of hurting its relations with
Israel. Military operations in Syria, Iraq, and Libya set an example for Turkey’s close
perspective with the Muslim Brotherhood. Besides, Turkey has an active role in the Eastern
Mediterranean considering the energy disputes with Greece. The final point could be the
relation of Turkey with the United States. It is, for Wecshler (2020), evident that the relation
between them is a formal one because of NATO, but it can be easily changed via the
purchasing of S-400 missiles from Russia. For Russia, it is easily seen that their aims are
contradicted with the U.S. Starting from their alliance with Iran in supporting the criminal
regime of Syria which later on resulted in a horrible war that made the U.S. uncomfortable. It
continues with its expanding presence in the Mediterranean intending to threaten NATO.
Wecshler (2020) argues that even though the fact that Russia is diplomatically weak they
played their hands well. Therefore, Russia’s position remains central in Syria that eventually
enhanced the dialogue with Turkey as well as Israel. For the American side, One of the
great accomplishments of United States Foreign Policy in the last quarter of the 20th century was
expelling Russia from playing a malign role in the region, but Russia got back to the game.
In the near past, non-Arab powers have to fight with the traditional leaders mainly in
Baghdad, Cairo, and Damascus. They held significant military capacity which got the
attention of infamous Arab Street and they struggled for a wider impact on the Arab world.
For the author, they could not go further than being their predecessor’s pale shadow.
To overcome the increase of power of non-Arab countries, there should be a new
regional power coalition to Wecshler (2020), but it seems that rather than coalition the
closeness of Israel and the Gulf States should be defined on shared-interests. Although most
of the states would prefer to make bilateral agreements for their safety they can also sign
secret agreements with Russia which they do not trust or China which they do not know
Although the U.S. made efforts to form multiple administration. For Wecshler (2020), the Gulf-Israel coalition; has finally emerged. It is right to think that formation is beneficial for
the U.S. anyways since Iran, Turkey and Russia’s growing powers are not. It could be used on
the efforts of withdrawal more strongly, but it will worsen the situation in terms of instability.
It would be better if America would empower its existence while reinforcing its place to
newly emerged sharing of interests.

This article is written by Ayça Süngü

Visits: 573

21st September EU Council

On September 21st 2020, the day has been addressed many issues in the actual European
Commission in Brussels: Belarusian crisis, Turkey Eastern Mediterranean issue, Venezuela,
Libya civil war, the European Union-China relations, the Russian issue, Lebanon, the
European Union, and African Relations.
The election was lived on 9th August 2020 in Belarus, and it has been demonstrated that
there was a fraud in the elections and that Alexandr Lukashenko did not receive 80 percent of
the votes and accordingly the EU did not recognize his legitimacy. Also, the President of the
European Parliament, David Sassoli invited Tikhanovskaya (strong opposition leader in
Belarus) to this Council in Brussels. At the end of the meeting between the two, Sassoli
requested the release of those detained in the demonstrations. In addition to this, Borell, the
High Representative of the EU for Foreign Relations and Security Policies, will stand by the
EU in determining Belarus’ destiny; however, he stated that no sanctions can be imposed at
the moment due to the obstacle by Southern Cyprus. According to Southern Cyprus, Turkey
has to be punished by the EU because of the Eastern Mediterranean issue. On the other hand,
at the end of the conference, taking further steps to de-escalate to Turkey was said on that
When the current events were examined, there was a speech about the results of the last
meeting of Venezuela and the International Contact Group, and the ministers agreed that the
international community should mobilize all efforts to help Venezuelans find a peaceful and
democratic solution to the ongoing crisis and to meet the immediate needs of the population.
Moreover, the sanctions imposed on the Head of the House of Representatives in Tobruk,
Akile Lakih, and Nuri Ebu Sehmen on Libya were lifted, and it was decided to impose
sanctions on companies that violate the arms embargo by sending arms from Turkey, Jordan,
and Kazakhstan to Libya.
Ministers of the EU Council was informed about the EU-China Leaders Conference held on
September 14, focusing on the progress of the Comprehensive Investment Agreement
negotiations and the human rights situation by the High Representative. Moreover, on the
Russian issue, it was said that an urgent international investigation, in full transparency and
cooperation, was needed to poison High Representative Navalny and the Organization for the
Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. In addition to these, for the difficult situation that occurred
as a result of the earthquake in Beirut, the needs of the people in Lebanon and the speedy

formation of a new government was talked. Lastly, the EU made discussions on developing
economic and political relations with Africa in the medium and long term. As a result of this
interview, it was stated that strategic priorities should be determined for the 10-year European
Union-Africa Union.
To sum up, in the 21st September 2020 EU Council meeting Belarusian crisis, Turkey
Eastern Mediterranean issue, Venezuela, Libya civil war, the European Union-China
relations, the Russian issue, Lebanon, the European Union, and the African Relations were
discussed. The results of this discussion can be summarized like that: they could not get a
decision on the Belarus crisis, because of Southern Cyprus’ veto, Turkey was warned for
taking further steps to de-escalate, ministers agreed that the international community should
mobilize all efforts to help Venezuelans find a peaceful and democratic solution for
Venezuela, because of supporting weapons to Libya, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Jordan got
sanctions; Comprehensive Investment Agreement negotiations and the human rights situation
between the EU and China were told; there will be opened an investigation for poison High
Representative Navalny; because of the Beirut earthquake, people’s need will be supplied in
Lebanon; and the EU and Africa will develop their relations through economically and politically.

This article is written by Buse Bakkaloğlu

Visits: 385

State and Government in Ibn Khaldun’s Thought

Ibn Khaldun is the North African thinker and statesman who lived in the 14th century and
laid the foundations of historiosophy, sociology and economics. Even though the term
“sociology” is firstly used by the 19th century thinker Auguste Comte -who is accepted as the
founder of sociology by Western sources-, Ibn Khaldun has initiated sociology studies five
hundred years before Comte. He wasn’t aware of the science he initiated at the time, but after
centuries, today his works are considered under the frame of sociology literature.
Ibn Khaldun suggests that social, economic and political transformations include certain
patterns and they proceed in an order. He uses a science he named “umran” to explai his
suggestion. Umran deals with the reasons that necessitate to live together for, in other words
a community life, taking social life and organization of people in its center. According to
Khaldun, there are two reasons that motivate people to live together. First one is the need for
nourishment, which requires cooperation and solidarity. Second one is the need for defence
and protection, which requires sticking together.
The lexical meaning of Umran is to progress and improve. It has two forms: umran badawi
and umran hadhari. Badawi umran means nomadian and it refers to the most primitive
lifestyle. In this form, far from sciences; artisanship such as carpentry, forging, bakery didn’t
exist and even if they did, they existed as silhouettes. The need of cooperation and solidarity
necessitates a social life in badawi umran. The form, quality and quantity of this social
cooperation is expressed with the term “asabiyah”, which is considered as kindredship in
badawi umran. Badawi umran proceeds to hadhari umran. The main future of the transition
from badawi umran to hadhari umran is the increase of the production volume in badawi
umran. At this stage, another factor arises that oblige people to socialize and this factor is the
sovereign power that protects people and their excessive goods against each other and
regulates their relations. When it comes to the level of hadhari umran, it becomes overly
complex to be defined in terms of kindredship. However, since people continue to live
together, asabiyah haven’t disappeared yet but only gained a new meaning. For this form of
umran, in which complex city economies exist with industry and technology; fine arts,
elegant artisanship and science can find place state and asabiyah are indispensable.
According to Ibn Khaldun, umran shares the life of state in space and time. It improves when
state improves, it peaks when state peaks and it disappears when state disappears. Khaldun
suggests that, in the process which leads to states there is a relation between the form of
asabiyah and the shape the state will take. To explain this relation, there are five phases of the
state’s organizational development, from the perspective of the state as a political
1- Victory and Invasion: It’s the foundation stage of state or dynasty. It includes seizing the
power from its previous owner and founding the state/dynasty, by suppressing every sort of
resistance. Sovereign hasn’t separated parties that are involved in the foundation process and

the society, yet. Thus, parties who are closer to sovereign become a part of administration and
this indicates that the dynamism of asabiyah is at the highest level.
2- Domination: It’s the stage where the sovereign seeks to guarantee its domination over the
society and tends to centralize his power. The sovereign desires to cast the notables -who had
become a part of the administration- aside. Nevertheless, he wants to keep them loyal. He
achieves this by paying salary through civilian and military bureaucracies. However, casting
the parties aside, who he had been sharing the same asabiyah, would lead to dissolution of the
asabiyah and his own end.
3- Prosperity: This is the stage of wealth and comfort. At this period, the sovereign
completely hegemonized both his own group and the outsiders of his group. Now he has a
wide tax base and a well-functioning financial order, an effective civilian bureaucracy which
is responsible for enforcing his orders everywhere and a well-trained strong army. He makes
an effort to increase his personal wealth and financial resources of the state, urban
beautification and cultural development. All national subjects of the state benefit from this
economic prosperity.
4- Peace: In this stage development of the state stops. Sovereign is confined with what his
ancestors left. It’s the phase where the structure of the state becomes traditional and its
rationalist elements disappear. Additionally, a tendency of resistance for change exists and
the sovereign rarely answers external threats and developments.
5- Extravagance: The sovereign spends all the wealth his ancestors left prodigally for
pleasure. Thus, he demolishes the institutional structure of the states his ancestors established
and he causes dismemberment of the state. The group who holds the authority changes, the
sovereign changes and the asabiyah dissolves. The state can survive only if a dynasty shift
within the country occurs.
According to Ibn Khaldun, the most critical phase is the transition from prosperity stage to
peace stage when all the stages that the institutional structure of the state goes through are
considered. Since the cultural development of the society continues but a production
mechanism and economic structure to support this cultural development don’t exist, the trust
for the government weakens. Even if the society holds its cultural expectations back for a
while, a feeling of resentment appears after sometime because humans are cultural beings.
“Humans are the children of their habits, not their fathers.” with Khaldun’s words.
Consequently, just as all living beings that are born, grow, develop, age and die; according to
Ibn Khaldun, every social organization is alive in this context and they are established,
develop, age, dissolve and die.
This article is written by Merve Ilgaz and Beyza Kumanova

Visits: 251

Lebanon Needs a New Start


Lebanon is mired in its most serious crisis since the 1975-90 civil war, and the recent explosion in Beirut is just the tip of the iceberg. Any hope the country might have of rising from its ashes will lie, as in Tunisia, in allowing local voices to ring loud and dynamic social movements to develop from the bottom up.

MADRID – “The intellectual capital of the Arab East” and “the ideal place for maximum flowering and pluralism” is how the writer Amin Maalouf, one of Beirut’s most celebrated sons, has described the city as it was in the 1960s. In his latest work, The Shipwreck of Civilizations, Maalouf charts the decline of that vibrant and resplendent Lebanon after it was razed by the same sectarianism that robbed so many countries in the Middle East of a promising future.
At the beginning of August, much of the Lebanese capital was literally razed by a huge explosion at its port. All indications suggest that the tragedy was the result of repeated negligence directly linked to the country’s political sclerosis. On the eve of the disaster, the Lebanese foreign minister had resigned, warning that narrow party interests threatened to turn Lebanon into a failed state.

The explosion in Beirut is just the tip of the iceberg. Lebanon was already experiencing a deep economic and financial crisis that prompted a wave of protests last October against political deadlock, systemic corruption, and the continued interference of foreign powers. Since then, things have gone from bad to worse.

The United Nations World Food Program estimates that the price of food in Lebanon rose by 109% between October 2019 and June 2020. To this must be added the effects of COVID-19, which have been aggravated by the chaos resulting from the explosion. Moreover, this troubled country has the highest number of refugees per capita in the world: today, displaced Syrians make up 30% of the population.

Lebanon is mired in its most serious crisis since the 1975-90 civil war, although in fact the country has never succeeded in closing the door on that bloody chapter. Its recent trajectory represents a paradigmatic case of what the British academic Mary Kaldor calls “new wars.” In this type of conflict, opposing factions seek to encourage extremist identities and perpetuate hostilities, because doing so gives them free rein to pursue extractive policies.

Furthermore, factional leaders tend to use peace agreements to consolidate their positions of power and patronage networks, as was the case with the 1989 Taif Agreement that ended Lebanon’s civil war. This pact slightly modified the confessional quota system that has prevailed in the country’s public bodies since independence, hindering effective governance and the construction of a national identity.

As Kaldor points out, peace agreements often don’t even end the violence. The emergence of the Shia Islamist group Hezbollah during Lebanon’s post-civil-war period attests to that. The group, which many countries classify as a terrorist organization, has used Iranian and Syrian support to establish what has come to be regarded as a state within a state. On August 18, a United Nations-backed special tribunal found a member of Hezbollah guilty of involvement in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in a truck bombing that also claimed the lives of 21 other people. Hezbollah’s leadership, however, was exonerated.

In short, Lebanon has been adrift for many years, and the international community simply cannot look the other way. Let us not forget that the predecessor of the current Lebanese state was conceived precisely a century ago by the victorious powers of World War I, following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. The League of Nations placed Lebanon under a French mandate that lasted until 1943, and France maintains close relations with the country.

French President Emmanuel Macron visited Beirut two days after the explosion and subsequently hosted a UN-backed virtual donor conference, emphasizing that France and other world powers have an obligation to provide emergency aid to Lebanon immediately. The European Union has done this quickly and generously.

But the West, in particular, has a broader historic responsibility that includes encouraging effective governance systems in Lebanon and the rest of the region. All too often, however, it has not been equal to this task, resorting to interventionist excesses and paternalistic attitudes in its desire to assert control.

The case of Libya, for example, shows how Western arrogance in backing regime change without viable reconstruction plans can contribute to state failure. Above all, any policy initiative undertaken on humanitarian grounds should respect a basic maxim of medicine: primum non nocere – “first, do no harm.”

This article is taken from

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Israel and the UAE Just Made Peace. Is It About Iran—Or Turkey?

Turkey, Qatar, and U.S. domestic politics loom just as large as the Islamic Republic in the Middle Eastern powers’ decision to normalize relations.

by Matthew Petti


Israel will establish diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates and hold off on the U.S.-backed plan to annex part of the Palestinian territories, all three countries announced Thursday.
The UAE and Israel have long cooperated on countering Iranian influence, but the latest move portends more cooperation on other issues, including the growing Turkish-Qatari alliance. And it comes as U.S. President Donald Trump comes looking for a diplomatic breakthrough ahead of November’s elections.

“This historic diplomatic breakthrough will advance peace in the Middle East region and is a testament to the bold diplomacy and vision of the three leaders and the courage of the United Arab Emirates and Israel to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential in the region,” the United States, Israel, and the UAE claimed in a joint statement.

The two sides will be establishing a “Strategic Agenda for the Middle East” alongside the United States, according to the statement.

The only other Arab countries to have formal relations with Israel are Egypt and Jordan. The UAE is the first Persian Gulf nation to normalize its relations with Israel.

“Formalizing what has been an informal relationship is a wise move by both parties,” said International Institute for Strategic Studies fellow and former U.S. diplomat Mark Fitzpatrick. “It wins them plaudits from across the political spectrum in the U.S. and strengthens their de facto partnership vis-a-vis Iran.”

The threat of Iran has long loomed large in the UAE-Israeli relationship. Both sides opposed the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, and both sides are currently pushing for the United Nations to impose an arms embargo on the Islamic Republic.

But the move also came just a week after Iranian and UAE foreign ministers held a rare public meeting, signaling that UAE-Iranian relations are beginning to warm.

“Why is this happening now? It has nothing to do with Iran,” said Hussein Ibish, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute. “The word that would sum it up best is Turkey.”
Turkey, Israel, Qatar, and the UAE were once all part of the same pro-U.S. bloc in the Middle East.

Their relations soured during the Arab Spring, when Turkey and Qatar backed uprisings by populist movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood, while the UAE supported established regimes.

“Why the UAE and not any other Gulf country?” Ibish said. “Israel and the UAE share the same threat perception in a unique way. They agree on Iran, but then they agree on Turkey, and the Muslim Brotherhood, and Qatar.”

The UAE-Israeli deal comes as Turkey ramps up its regional efforts along several different fronts.

In recent months, Turkish forces have launched massive offensives against Kurdish militants in Syria and Iraq, intervened against the UAE-backed strongman Khalifa Haftar in Libya, backed Azerbaijan in its post-Soviet territorial dispute with Armenia, and confronted the Greek Navy in disputed waters.

Just this week, Israeli officials formally declared their support for Greece in the eastern Mediterranean dispute.

Israel, however, is not totally aligned against Qatar’s regional activities. Qatar helps finance the unrecognized Palestinian statelet in Gaza in exchange for keeping the Israeli-Gazan border quiet.

Israel’s state broadcaster reported on Wednesday that Israeli officials were asking Qatar to renew its payments to Gaza’s ruling party, Hamas, as militants began to launch explosive balloons across the border.

“Everybody needs somebody to do it,” said Ibish. “If the Hamas regime in Gaza collapsed with nothing to replace it, that’s worse for everyone.”

He said even close UAE allies like Egypt worry that groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda could fill the power vacuum.
The Israeli-UAE deal now opens space for the UAE to appear as a champion of Palestinian rights, as it has apparently suspended Israel’s plans to annex parts of the disputed West Bank.

“The UAE can boast of being the only Arab state to successfully limit Israeli expansion, even though Israel didn’t want to annex the West Bank anyway,” Fitzpatrick claimed.
Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan would have allowed Israel to annex its settlements in the Palestinian territories. Palestinian leaders denounced the plan as a sham and neighboring Jordan warned that annexation would undermine the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty.

Israel pressed ahead, claiming that it would begin annexing territory by July 1.

But the Israeli government was bogged down by the coronavirus pandemic and the possibility of the fourth round of elections in less than two years, and July 1 passed with no announcements.

The U.S.-Israeli-UAE joint statement credits UAE diplomacy for stopping annexation.

“As a result of this diplomatic breakthrough and at the request of President [Donald] Trump with the support of the United Arab Emirates, Israel will suspend declaring sovereignty over” disputed Palestinian territories “and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world,” according to the statement.

The statement adds that “[t]he parties will continue their efforts…to achieve a just, comprehensive and enduring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The statement still leaves the door open for annexation at a later date. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he is “still committed” to annexing the disputed territories.

Palestinian leaders were not thrilled with the Israeli-UAE deal, and the semi-autonomous Palestinian Authority referred to it as a “betrayal of Jerusalem.”

“The Palestinian Authority is very, very weak,” said Israel Policy Forum policy advisor Shira Efron. “This will probably weaken it further, because it’s a failure of its strategy.”

Normalization of relations with Arab countries had been a very strong “incentive” for Israel “to go for peace with the Palestinians,” she explained at a Wednesday video conference hosted by the Israel Policy Forum, and this leverage has now been “taken away” from the Palestinians.

The Israel Policy Forum noted in a statement attached to the event that “beginning the process of normalization with the UAE is not the same as achieving regional peace or a permanent status agreement to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

But the appearance of progress has already helped ingratiate Israel and the UAE with both parties in Washington—both Republicans looking to salvage the Trump peace plan, and Democrats uneasy with prior Israeli plans to annex Palestinian territory.

“We hope this provides a good foundation for building on the vision for peace that the President has laid out, and I wanted to just thank all the participants—the Emiratis, the Israelis, and all of the team on the United States side—that brought this to fruition,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch (R–Idaho) called the Israeli-UAE announcement a “historic agreement” with “the potential to dramatically improve relationships across the Middle East.”

“I look forward to greater collaboration between two key U.S. partners as we address common challenges and shared threats across the region,” he said in a statement.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D–N.Y.) had similar praise.

“This is a mutually beneficial step that will strengthen both countries,” he said in a statement. “I hope that this new breakthrough will give courage to other countries to move forward toward normalization and motivate Palestinians to give peace a chance

Visits: 443

Conflict With Small Powers Derails U.S. Foreign Policy

The Case for Strategic Discipline

By Michael Singh

Over the past decade, U.S. policymakers have argued for a renewed focus on great-power competition. The primary threats facing the United States, they suggest, are powerful states with global reach that seek to counter both American interests and the international order that safeguards them.

But American foreign policy has in reality focused elsewhere. The United States remains mired in struggles with small adversaries, including military conflicts—such as those in the African Sahel and in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria—and efforts at coercion short of war, such as those involving Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela. Entanglement in small conflicts has bedeviled presidents with starkly divergent foreign policies—all of whom entered office vowing to avoid such engagements.

Conflicts with small adversaries are not necessarily incompatible with a focus on great-power competition. After all, steps that the United States takes to contain or deter minor powers, such as stationing forces in South Korea or naval forces in the Persian Gulf, can also shape the behavior of powerful rivals, such as China or Russia. Still, conflicts with minor foes can tie down resources and consume attention, and such conflicts have proliferated in the twenty-first century despite U.S. policymakers’ avowed aim to shift focus away from them. Washington needs to exercise discipline and set a high bar if it is to avoid the next quagmire.

The United States ensnares itself in conflicts with small adversaries in part because even small adversaries can genuinely threaten U.S. interests. Iran, for example, is arguably the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism. On its own and through its proxy network, Iran restricts freedom of navigation through important international waterways and threatens the security of U.S. allies. If Iran were to obtain nuclear weapons, the threat it poses would be magnified: possession of nuclear weapons makes any adversary a major rather than a minor threat, no matter what its economic or conventional military profile. Similarly, a small state connected to a larger, more menacing force—for example, Afghanistan, when it harbored transnational terrorists in the early 2000s—becomes a more serious threat.

U.S. policymakers often respond to such hazards with coercion, or the imposition of costs short of outright war. Because the United States enjoys a significant military and economic advantage over nearly any possible foe, its experience—from the wars against Iraq in 1991 and 2003 to the current “maximum pressure” campaign of economic sanctions against Iran—has borne out the assumption that it can inflict large amounts damage on a rival at little apparent risk to itself. To the extent that such policies do exact costs, these tend to be so diffuse, long term, hidden, or otherwise intangible as to factor relatively little into policy decisions. Moreover, the national security decision-making process tends not to see the tradeoffs among disparate policies, because they are often made in isolation from one another.

Even small adversaries can genuinely threaten U.S. interests.
Policymakers often prefer coercion to brute force because it can be deployed efficiently by executive decision and rarely triggers meaningful congressional oversight. Moreover, it capitalizes on the United States’ advantages in power and wealth and its large and growing arsenal of coercive tools, such as economic sanctions and cyberweapons.

And yet the U.S. experience demonstrates that small adversaries are not, in fact, easy to coerce. Scholars have found that more often than not, U.S. efforts fail to force specific courses of actions on less powerful states. Even those efforts deemed initially successful in achieving their aims often do not seem fruitful in hindsight as U.S. involvement drags on.

One reason for this underwhelming track record is that U.S. policymakers tend to misunderstand the logic of power asymmetries. Armed with an overwhelming advantage in economic and military power, the United States tends to make outsize demands of its small adversaries, perhaps on the assumption that Washington should be able to exact a high price for refraining from waging a war that it could easily win. Because the consequences of U.S. military or economic intervention would be more alarming than those of complying with the United States’ demands, policymakers reason that a rational adversary should accept the demands, however reluctantly­.

But for small states, nearly any conflict with a superpower is existential—and not only a military conflict. Small states tend to fear that making major concessions to the United States could lead to escalating demands and signal weakness to regional and domestic opponents. For these states, the loss of autonomy implied by acquiescence is more worrisome than the potential damage the United States might wreak by following through on economic or military threats.

In sharp contrast, such conflicts do not threaten the United States’ survival, and Washington has only limited attention to pay to any one of them. The United States aims to win, but its adversaries often aim simply not to lose—that is, to survive without conceding until the United States decides that its least costly option is to move on. The result is often stalemate.

When such stalemates develop, the United States often has few good options for exiting them. Coercive campaigns sometimes escalate into outright war. Such was the case in Iraq in 1991 and in Libya in 2011. But these and other experiences—including the 2003 Iraq war and the decades-long U.S. engagement in Afghanistan—have left American officials and the U.S. public wary of turning to military conflict when coercion fails.

For small states, nearly any conflict with a superpower is existential.
But even if escalation is not appealing, neither is simply walking away. American officials often fear that doing so will not only deal a blow to U.S. credibility abroad but lead to domestic political repercussions. When policymakers are not satisfied either to escalate or to disengage, the stalemate often continues.

Small adversaries do their part to maintain such stalemates. Although they might seem to have a strong interest in reaching an accommodation with the United States, in fact they often resist doing so. Even if a small state will not accede to U.S. demands, one might imagine that it would be willing to refrain from provocation in return for an end to coercion. Yet for many of the United States’ small adversaries, opposition to the United States is a matter not simply of policy but of ideology: anti-Americanism is foundational to the Iranian regime, for example, just as it lies at the core of North Korean ideology. These regimes likely believe that they would risk their credibility or even their survival if they gave up their antagonism toward the United States. U.S. officials often fail to understand this dynamic.

The United States neither can nor should eschew conflict with small states altogether. The threats such states pose are often genuine, and addressing them can complement a strategy focused on great-power competition. For this reason, among others, the United States will continue to draw on coercive techniques and even military power in pursuing its interests.

But in the era just ahead, the United States will need to husband its power as rivals such as China catch up to it. To that end, the United States should set a high bar for becoming involved in struggles with small states, and it should engage in them fully cognizant of their difficulty and of the need for a clear and realistic path to success.

Such discipline will require the United States to study the long-term costs of any coercive campaign before undertaking it and to gauge how a particular course of action might affect other, especially higher, priorities. Policymakers should carefully consider how a target state is likely to perceive and respond to the demands the United States makes of it, and they should limit those demands to only what is necessary to safeguard U.S. interests. At the same time, policymakers should be willing to back up their demands credibly and should do so with a range of tools, including limited force, that signal a willingness to entertain risk and go beyond arm’s-length measures such as sanctions. Congress should then use the manifold tools at its disposal to monitor coercive campaigns that fall short of war. It could conduct hearings and appoint independent commissions to help assess the long-term costs and benefits of coercive campaigns in order to inform future policy decisions.

The United States will need to husband its power as rivals such as China catch up to it.
At the same time, the United States should make every effort to enlist the support of its allies in coercive campaigns. Doing so involves tradeoffs: the demands of a larger group of states will likely be less potent, but they will enjoy wider support. Furthermore, the costs of the campaign will be broadly shared, and the partners’ participation will reduce or eliminate the friction that measures such as enforcing sanctions might otherwise cause among allies whose cooperation is necessary to other, higher-priority policy initiatives.

Washington must be wary, however, of being drawn into the conflicts of its partners in small states. U.S. intervention in altercations between small states can turn manageable conflicts into existential ones, narrowing rather than expanding the space for compromise. And the United States should resist too readily connecting regional to global threats. In the wake of 9/11, small conflicts proliferated in part because the United States saw them as part of a global “war on terror.” A similar temptation may lead the United States to connect regional conflicts to great-power competition. Small states can indeed sometimes act as cat’s paws for great-power rivals but are just as often distractions from them.

If the United States is to strike a balance between prudence and disengagement and between economical missions and “forever wars,” it must approach conflicts with discipline and foresight. Efforts to change the behavior of small adversaries have a place in a broad foreign policy predicated on great-power competition and can even complement it. But approached incautiously, conflicts with small adversaries can sap American strength and resolve at a time when they are sorely needed.

This article taken from

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Turkey’s Cross-Border Raids Cannot Defeat PKK But May Turn Up Heat On Uncooperative Iraq

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – 19th June, 2020) Turkey launched another cross-border offensive on Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq this week despite protests from Baghdad, which fears that Ankara will continue expanding its military footprint in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

The stated goal of the air-and-land raids is to roll back the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), blamed by Turkey for repeated attacks on its territory. Although the chances of the operation rooting out the Kurdish insurgency are slim, it once again proves that Iraq is too weak to stand up to its assertive neighbor, experts have told Sputnik.

Huseyin Bagci, the president of the Ankara-based Turkish Foreign Policy Institute, Turkey’s oldest think tank, said that Turkey will continue targeting PKK in Iraq until Baghdad takes the fight against insurgents in its own hands or sides with Turkey in clamping down on them.

“It seems that either Iraqi government will take measures to control PKK, what is nearly impossible, or Turkey will further make operations … It will not bring the end of PKK terrorism but PKK will get always answer from Turkish military,” he said.

Bagci, who is also a professor of international relations at the middle East Technical University, suggested that Iraq and Turkey should find a common strategy to counter PKK. Until then, dealing with Iraqi Kurdish militants will remain ”Turkish business.”

Turkey has a long history of military presence in northern Iraq. It established the first bases there in the mid-1990s and plans to build new facilities to add to the existing 11 bases in the area.

This is bound to raise concerns in Baghdad and Erbil, the main city of Iraqi Kurdistan. The Iraqi government has already condemned Turkish incursions as interference in the country’s sovereignty.

Gareth Jenkins, a non-resident senior research fellow with the Joint Center Silk Road Studies Program and Turkey Center at the Institute for Security & Development Policy in Stockholm, said that Turkey is moving toward the “de facto occupation” of a part of Iraq, in the same way as it has occupied parts of Syria.

“But neither the national government in Baghdad nor the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Erbil northern Iraq is strong enough militarily to oppose Turkey,” he admitted.


Turkey’s incursions in Syria, Libya and now Iraq are reinforcing its image as an interventionist in the Middle East, Gareth Jenkins said further. The current operation, he estimated, is the third time in less than six months that Turkey has started military action in an Arab-majority country.

“The current operations in northern Iraq can damage the PKK but they will not destroy it… When taken together with its actions in Syria and Libya, the current operations in Iraq will reinforce most Arab governments’ perception of Turkey as an aggressive interventionist,” he said.

The operation against PKK shows Turkey’s increasing reliance on military force to achieve its own goals, a decade after Ankara positioned itself as a force for peace and an advocate of the use of soft power, Jenkins said.

The timing of the incursions points to a possible ulterior motive, Jenkins added. Previous offensives against PKK in Iraq frequently occurred in spring or were in response to an upsurge in attacks inside Turkey. This time, the security operation is likely being used by President Tayyip Erdogan for political point scoring.

“President Erdogan is aware that his popularity rises whenever he launches military action and his propaganda outlets can portray him as protecting national security,” Jenkins opined.

Erdogan’s popularity had been in long-term decline even before the coronavirus pandemic, and the economic downturn it is expected to bring about will likely put additional downward pressure on his ratings. In this context, the timing of the raids points to domestic political considerations, although military reasons should not be excluded, the expert said.

Source :

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When the CIA Interferes in Foreign Elections

A Modern-Day History of American Covert Action


This article taken from

Russian President Vladimir Putin tends to respond to questions about his government’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election with a mix of denials and countercharges. It is the United States, he alleged in June 2017, that “all over the world is actively interfering in electoral campaigns in other countries.” The purpose of this claim is to excuse and distract from Russia’s actions, and in many places overseas, it’s working. From Kyiv to Brussels to London, government officials told me that they assume the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) frequently interferes in elections abroad.

This perception is understandable: for decades, it was true. The CIA’s first-ever covert action program was an operation to manipulate Italy’s 1948 election. American intelligence officers spread incendiary propaganda, bankrolled their preferred candidate, and orchestrated grassroots initiatives—all to advantage Italy’s centrist forces over their leftist competitors. After the Italian Communist Party lost, the 1948 operation became “a template,” David Robarge, the CIA’s chief internal historian, told me, for what the agency then did in “many, many countries” in competition with its Soviet counterpart, the KGB. From Chile and Guyana to El Salvador and Japan, the CIA and the KGB targeted democratic elections across the globe. Some of those operations manipulated ballots directly; others manipulated public opinion; all were designed to influence election outcomes.

Then, the Cold War ended, and the opposing objectives of Moscow’s and Washington’s electoral operations—to spread or to contain communism—became obsolete. Since then, Russian intelligence has interfered in many foreign elections, not to advance an ideology but to promote divisive and authoritarian-minded candidates, sow chaos and confusion, and delegitimize the democratic model. But what of the CIA?
Over the past two years, I interviewed more than 130 officials about the century-long history of covert electoral interference, or concealed foreign efforts to manipulate democratic votes of succession. My interviewees included eight former CIA directors and many more CIA officers, as well as directors of national intelligence, secretaries of state, national security advisers, a KGB general, and a former U.S. president. I learned that in the twenty-first century, Washington’s senior-most national security officials have considered using the CIA to interfere in foreign elections at least twice. In one instance—in Serbia in 2000—debate turned into action, as the CIA spent millions of dollars working against the tyrant Slobodan Milosevic. In the other—in Iraq in 2005—the CIA stood down. In both instances, U.S. policymakers weighed the potential benefits of covert action against the perceived risks. These behind-the-scenes stories reveal why, contrary to Putin’s claims, Washington, unlike Moscow, has moved away from the practice of covert electoral interference.

The first case arrived in 2000, when Milosevic, the Yugoslav president, was competing for reelection in Serbia. Milosevic was many things: a Moscow-aligned Communist, a Serbian nationalist, and a grave abuser of human rights. In the mid-1990s, he had enabled a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A few years later, he did the same in Kosovo, as his soldiers systemically terrorized, murdered, and expelled ethnic Albanians. The severity of these atrocities prompted NATO, in 1999, to launch an air campaign against Milosevic’s forces and an international court to indict him as a war criminal. Leon Panetta, U.S. President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff from 1994 to 1997, told me, “Milosevic was viewed as a bad guy and influence and somebody that was going to turn that part of the world upside down if there weren’t steps taken to go after him.”

The 2000 election presented such an opportunity. “I don’t know that we publicly said that our goal was regime change,” said James O’Brien, then Clinton’s special envoy for the Balkans, but “we did not see Milosevic being able to lead a normal country.” From mid-1999 to late 2000, public and private U.S. organizations spent roughly $40 million on Serbian programs, supporting not just Milosevic’s opposition but also the independent media, civic organizations, and get-out-the-vote initiatives. Through this overt engagement, O’Brien explained, the United States aimed to level the playing field in an election that Milosevic was poised to manipulate.

As the State Department, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and U.S.-funded nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) influenced the Serbian election in the light, the CIA did the same in secret. John Sipher told me that between 1991 and 2014, when he was serving as a CIA operations officer, he knew of just one “successful” operation to interfere in an election: in Serbia in 2000. “There was a covert effort to try to support the opposition to Milosevic,” Sipher said, recalling that after Clinton notified select members of Congress, the CIA went to work “supporting and funding and providing help to specific opposition candidates—that was the main thing.”

Sipher, who became the CIA’s station chief in Serbia just after the election, explained that the agency funneled “certainly millions of dollars” into the anti-Milosevic campaign, mostly by meeting with key aides to Serbian opposition leaders outside their country’s borders and “providing them with cash” on the spot.
As the State Department and U.S.-funded NGOs influenced the Serbian election in the light, the CIA did the same in secret.
In an interview, Clinton confirmed that he authorized the CIA to interfere in the 2000 election in favor of Milosevic’s opponents. “I didn’t have a problem with it,” he told me of the CIA’s covert action program, because Milosevic “was a stone-cold killer and had caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.” Just as Cold War–era U.S. presidents believed they could strengthen foreign democracies by undermining communist candidates, Clinton believed he could strengthen Serbian democracy by working against Milosevic. “The guy was a war criminal,” Clinton told me. “I didn’t consider Milosevic to be a democracy candidate; I thought he was trying to get rid of democracy.”

In Serbia, the CIA’s focus was on influencing minds rather than altering ballots. “We did not rig the vote nor knowingly lie to the voters to get them to support the people we hoped to win,” Clinton explained. Instead, the CIA provided money and other types of assistance to the opposition campaign.

Congressional leaders knew about and backed this secret plan. Trent Lott, the Senate majority leader, recalled that when he was briefed on the CIA’s operation, he supported it wholeheartedly. “[Milosevic] was totally out of control,” Lott told me. “We weren’t gonna invade, but it was a mess, and we had to do something.” CIA officers, unlike other U.S. government officials, could operate undercover. “Because of the nature of the way we do business,” explained Douglas Wise, then a CIA operations officer based in the Balkans, “Serbia was a lot more penetrable than it was for people who were much more overt, shall we say.” The U.S. intelligence community’s involvement in the election was “substantial,” Wise continued, as Washington used “all the instruments of our national power to create an outcome that was pleasing for the United States.”
But would it be enough? As the election approached, Clinton worried that Milosevic would cheat his way to victory. “These elections are going to be important, but they probably won’t be fair,” he told Vladimir Putin, Russia’s new president, two and a half weeks before the vote, according to a recently declassified transcript of their conversation. “Milosevic is running behind in the polls, so he’ll probably steal it. It would be preferable for him to lose, but he’ll probably arrange not to.” (Putin, in response, complained about NATO’s intervention the previous year. “We weren’t consulted in the decision to bomb Yugoslavia,” he said. “That’s not fair.”)

U.S. democracy promotion organizations, sharing Clinton’s concerns, sought to ensure that Milosevic could not falsify the vote count. One U.S.-funded NGO trained more than 15,000 activists to monitor polling places. The day of the election, opposition members tallied ballots alongside government officials. The state’s vote count suggested that Milosevic had a narrow lead. The parallel count, however, revealed the truth: he had lost overwhelmingly. Major protests erupted. Milosevic, unable to quell a popular revolution, was forced to resign.

The CIA’s hand remained hidden. Two decades later, now retired American intelligence officers expressed unexplained confidence that their work proved pivotal in defeating Milosevic. Sipher commented on the “success” of the CIA’s operation. Wise said that the United States made “a big difference” and that “a combination” of covert and overt tactics had produced “a positive outcome.” As with all covert operations to influence voters, though, the CIA could not assess its precise impact. “Measuring it is hard,” Sipher recognized. But he noted that Serbian government officials did credit the CIA for their victory behind closed doors. “Many of the key players who became senior figures in the follow-on government continued to meet with us and continued to tell us that it was our efforts that led to their success,” Sipher said, “in terms of helping them with everything, from advertising to financing to how they did things” during the campaign.

In interviews, more senior government officials grew uncomfortable at any mention of the CIA and Milosevic’s defeat. “I know stuff about that, but I’m not able to talk about it,” said John McLaughlin, who was the CIA’s deputy director in 2000. This discomfort made sense: CIA interference in the 2000 election was not representative of the agency’s post–Cold War operations. How often, after all, can a war criminal be ousted by ballot? “There seemed to be a higher comfort level not just in the intelligence part of the world but really just policy writ large that something had to be done in the Balkans,” said Steven Hall, a former CIA operations officer who was stationed in the region in 2000. For Washington, “electoral manipulation” had become “a tool of last resort,” Wise added, and the Serbian case was “the complete exception,” in part because of Milosevic’s atrocities and in part because of the “receptive,” “credible,” and “attractive” nature of the opposition. For such cases, Wise argued generally, “the ends justify the means . . . the risk is you maybe do something that is un-American in the eyes of some.” But the result is “the genocidal maniac is no longer in power.”

When I asked Clinton why covert action was merited in Serbia, he said simply, “There’s a death threshold, and Milosevic crossed it.”

In 2004, U.S. President George W. Bush was on the verge of authorizing another such operation. The story unfolded in the White House Situation Room, where, in the summer and fall, national security officials weighed a familiar proposal: for the CIA to engage in covert electoral interference. This time, the target would be Iraq.

In March 2003, the United States had invaded Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein, the country’s longtime dictator, and seize weapons of mass destruction that he allegedly possessed. Hussein’s government fell within weeks, but no such weapons were found. Struggling to justify the war, Bush renewed his promise to transform Iraq’s political system. In late 2003, he declared that “Iraqi democracy will succeed” and that its citizens would enjoy popular representation. “For [the U.S. government] at that time it was extremely important to have free and fair elections because that’s actually justifying the invasion,” said Arturo Muñoz, then a senior CIA operations officer. “As long as we didn’t find weapons of mass destruction, we were kind of desperate by then to justify ourselves, so at least we can create democracy in this place.” American democracy promotion organizations poured resources into Iraq. The International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute, in particular, launched substantial programs there, helping to produce voter-education materials, train party officials, and facilitate political debates and get-out-the-vote efforts.

The purpose of elections, though, is for voters to determine the direction of their state. In this sense, Bush had a problem: intelligence reports indicated that his preferred candidate, Ayad Allawi, would lose in Iraq’s first-ever parliamentary election, scheduled for January 2005.
The transition from containing Communism to promoting democracy made electoral interference a riskier proposition.
The U.S. intelligence community believed that Iran was manipulating the election in favor of Allawi’s opposition. “Of course, Iran was involved,” said McLaughlin, then the CIA’s deputy director. “Why wouldn’t they be? They’re right next door, they have the capability, and they were close to some of the leadership.” Wise was based in Iraq ahead of the election and a few years later, became the CIA’s station chief there. He described Iranian interference in the Iraqi election as wide-ranging: “We’re talking money, activists, threats, extortion, a paramilitary presence.”

Bush and his advisers debated whether to respond with covert action. John Negroponte, then the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, regularly participated in interagency teleconferences from Baghdad with a sole agenda item: CIA-led electoral interference. “We really thought about it hard,” said Negroponte, who told me that he had been “open to the possibility” in discussions with other senior administration officials.

Deliberations reached a serious enough stage that the White House briefed the congressional leadership on its planning. “[The] top line was that there’s an opportunity here to engage in a way that could provide much more of a guaranteed outcome,” recounted Tom Daschle, then the Senate minority leader. The officials I interviewed could not recall, or were unwilling to share, the operational details of the CIA’s plan, although Daschle told me that it included “a lot of activities that we thought were just untoward and inadvisable.”

For the CIA, interfering in Iraq’s election would be the latest rendition of an age-old operation, and by the fall of 2004, the agency was moving toward action. Allawi had come to expect covert help. “The initial attitude of the U.S. was to support moderate forces, financially and in the media,” he said in 2007. Then, unexpectedly, this assistance “was brought to a halt,” Allawi said, “under the pretext that the U.S. does not want to interfere.”

Within the CIA, Congress, and the White House, an unlikely alliance of officials had united against covert electoral interference. The CIA’s representatives, Negroponte recalled, “least wanted to be involved” with this operation, since it could expose the agency to criticism if detected. McLaughlin, laughing, said that he “wouldn’t disagree” with Negroponte’s recollection. “We had, after all, invaded a country to make it democratic,” he said. “How hypocritical would it be then to subvert their election?” Speaking generally, Muñoz said, “If you’re going to ruin the elections, and it becomes known, and things frequently leak,” then once “word gets out that so-and-so won because the CIA did X, Y, and Z, then you’ve just wrecked the whole foreign policy adventure that you’ve embarked on.”

Congressional leaders also objected to the plan. For Daschle, the arguments against covert action were twofold. The first was a matter of optics: how “terrible it would look” if exposed. The second was normative. “It was no longer the Cold War,” he said. “Doing what we had been doing even twenty years earlier was just not appropriate; it wasn’t keeping with what our country should be all about.” Daschle recalled that Nancy Pelosi, his counterpart in the House of Representatives, was “very vocal” in opposing the plan. Pelosi reportedly found an ally in Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser. “As I heard the debate go on,” Negroponte said, “I realized, ‘It is just not worth it, and people do not want to do it,’ and we rejected it.”

Bush, in attempting to build a democracy, was unwilling to intervene covertly in that democracy’s elections. “You wanted to be pretty much clean and free when it came to interference in their electoral processes,” McLaughlin said. “I was involved in a lot of covert action planning and decisions, and you always have to ask yourself, ‘What are the unintended consequences of what we are proposing to do or thinking about doing?’”

The CIA’s plan was shelved. And come January 2005, Allawi’s coalition lost resoundingly in a contest marred by instability and terrorist attacks. A governing coalition with close ties to Tehran then took power.

How, then, has the role of the CIA changed in the post–Cold War period? As Russian intelligence again manipulates elections around the world, the CIA has charted the opposite course. The Serbian operation, according to various U.S. officials, was an “extraordinary” measure that reflected extraordinary circumstances. For the Iraqi election, which did not involve a ruler like Milošević, U.S. policymakers judged that the risks of covert action were too high. In the years since, based on my interviews with the seven directors of the CIA from July 2004 to January 2017, as well as former directors of national intelligence and deputy CIA directors, the logic behind the Iraqi decision has become the norm. Contrary to Putin’s claims, Washington has all but abandoned the use of covert electoral interference.

In interviews about the CIA’s modern covert action programs, the United States’ former spy chiefs fall into two groups. The first insists that the agency no longer engages in covert electoral interference. David Petraeus, who led the CIA in 2011 and 2012, said he is “not aware . . . in more recent times” of such operations. John Brennan, the CIA’s director from 2013 to 2017, offered a more blanket assurance: “With President Obama and President Bush 43, there was never an effort to try to influence the outcome of a democratic election. We believed it was antithetical to the democratic process to do that.” The CIA once targeted foreign elections, he continued, “but over the course of the last 18 years or so, that has not been the case.”

The second group of officials does not speak in absolutes, suggesting instead that the CIA has moved away from, but not necessarily stopped, influencing elections overseas. “There wasn’t much of it. This is not something that intelligence does with anything like the sense of flexibility and freedom that it might have had in the early Cold War,” said McLaughlin, who, as the CIA’s number two in 2000, would have been involved with the Milosevic case. Since then, such operations have, at the very least, been raised at the highest levels. The Bush administration debated the Iraq scheme; the Obama administration weighed similar proposals. “It’s not like these ideas don’t resurface, but at least in [the Obama] administration they would get rejected,” said Tony Blinken, who served in senior national security positions for the entirety of Barack Obama’s presidency.

Former CIA director John Brennan testifying before the House Intelligence Committee in Washington, May 2017
Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
Of this second group, Leon Panetta, the CIA’s director from 2009 to 2011, was the most forthcoming. He said he never “got into” altering votes directly or spreading disinformation. But on rare occasions, his CIA did influence foreign media outlets ahead of elections in order to “change attitudes within the country.” The CIA’s method, Panetta went on, was to “acquire media within a country or within a region that could very well be used for being able to deliver” a specific message or work to “influence those that may own elements of the media to be able to cooperate, work with you in delivering that message.” As in Italy in 1948 or Serbia in 2000, the programs that Panetta described complemented overt propaganda campaigns. “Even though we were operating on a covert basis,” he said, “you had to make sure that the overt methods that were being used at least delivered the same message.” Even this type of operation presented risks. “There is no question it’s a gamble,” Panetta continued, which is why it was an option of last resort and why more aggressive tactics had been sidelined.

Every interview pointed to the same conclusion: for the CIA, covert electoral interference has become the exception rather than the rule. Either the agency no longer seeks to influence election outcomes, as Brennan and Petraeus asserted, or it does so in rare cases when, as with Milosevic, a tyrant can be ousted by ballot. The exact truth is unknown. But this general shift marks a dramatic departure from the Cold War, when the CIA was interfering in the elections of “many, many” countries. Of this evolution, Negroponte, a former director of national intelligence, said, “Frankly, political action of that kind is really part of the past. Iraq convinced me of that. It was just zero appetite for [electoral] intervention.”

Skeptics will insist that the United States’ intelligence chiefs are lying. But considering present-day realities, the skeptics may be the ones defying logic. It would be self-defeating for the CIA to manipulate foreign elections in all but the most exceptional of circumstances. One reason why concerns the end of the Cold War, which robbed the CIA of its long-running purpose: to counter the Soviet Union. Milosevic, for one, was a relic of a previous era. In September 2001, the CIA found a new focus in counterterrorism, which called for drone strikes and paramilitary operations, not electoral interference.

The United States’ post–Cold War leaders declared an era of liberal democracy defined by free and fair elections. This transition, from containing communism to promoting democracy, made covert electoral interference a riskier proposition. As Michael Hayden, a former CIA director, explained, “Meddling in an electoral process cuts across the grain of our own fundamental beliefs. You might want to do it to level the playing field, you might want to do it because of just the demands of national security, but it doesn’t feel right.” McLaughlin elaborated upon Washington’s evolving outlook. “If you are interfering in an election and are exposed as doing so,” he said, “you are a lot more hypocritical than you would have appeared in the Cold War, when that sort of thing tended to be excused as part of the cost of doing business.”

Hypocrisy, however, had not stopped the CIA before. And in recent years, as great-power competition has reemerged, the United States has had a stake in many foreign elections. Changes in high politics, then, only partly explain this shift in CIA activity. The rest of this story has to do with the spread of the Internet, which has exposed American elections to outside interference. Officials in Washington are reluctant to execute the type of operation to which their country has become so vulnerable. “If you’re in a glass house, don’t throw stones,” Petraeus said. “And we’re the biggest glass house when it comes to Internet connectivity.”

The digital age has also made it harder to maintain the secrecy of covert operations to manipulate foreign electorates. “It’s very difficult to keep that kind of activity from ultimately getting out,” Petraeus continued. And for Washington, getting caught matters. “If the United States were identified as having promoted disinformation or tampering with votes in an election, it would undermine our credibility and our policy efforts, given how inconsistent such actions would be with the values we promote, which are at the heart of our soft power,” said Avril Haines, a former deputy CIA director. “The same is not true for Russia.

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The eastern Mediterranean is becoming ever more perilous as geopolitical fault lines steadily enmesh the region. These rifts emerge from the Cyprus ‘frozen conflict’, competition for valuable gas fields, and the increasingly entangled wars in Libya and Syria.

Overview: Fear and loathing in the Eastern Mediterranean

Asli Aydıntaşbaş Julien Barnes-Dacey Cinzia Bianco Hugh Lovatt Tarek Megerisi

In a world of pandemics, forever wars, and great power showdowns, it might come as a surprise that Europe’s next crisis is emerging from disputes over maritime law. In the eastern Mediterranean, a scramble is under way between countries in the region for access to recently discovered gas fields. Conflicting legal claims to the fields are merging with old and new conflicts, and have led to the creation of a new geopolitical front in the eastern Mediterranean that should cause Europeans substantial concern. At the heart of these tensions lies the unresolved dispute in Cyprus and long-standing antagonism between Turkey and Greece, around which a broader front of anti-Turkey forces is lining up. These disputes have also now grown to encompass the civil wars in Libya and Syria, and have drawn in states from as far afield as the Gulf and Russia.

The eastern Mediterranean’s potential for escalation was evident in February 2020, when France deployed its Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to defensively stalk Turkish frigates sailing near to the contested gas fields close to Cyprus. The fact that NATO allies are staring each other down on the European Union’s doorstep should cause all Europeans to pay greater attention to the region. The escalating conflict in Libya and the rivalry between Turkey and its Gulf rivals now directly intersect with the European-Turkish disputes over gas and territory. What happens in the eastern Mediterranean is no longer a peripheral issue for Europe.

The EU has a direct stake in the matter, but remains divided on how to approach it. The bloc has a significant interest in upholding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus, securing its own energy interests, and advancing a political resolution to the conflict in Libya to manage refugee and terrorism challenges. The anti-Turkey front that has converged in the eastern Mediterranean is led by EU member states Cyprus, Greece, and France. They, in turn, are working with players from further afield, such the United Arab Emirates, whose intensifying competition with Turkey is a defining feature of the strained – and ever-more destabilising – situation in the Middle East. But, collectively, these countries’ activity risks entrenching geopolitical fault lines, with consequences for Europe as a whole, not least the crucial relationship with Turkey.

To address this, the EU and its member states need to change tack and pursue a wider, inclusive deal with Turkey. They will need to incrementally agree on the components of this new bargain and, critically, base it on pragmatic engagement with Ankara rather than escalatory measures against it. Europe’s decision-makers are aware that they cannot afford a complete diplomatic breakdown, much less a kinetic confrontation, with Turkey given the world of trouble already present on their eastern and southern flanks.

This awareness needs to translate into a policy shift in which Europeans remain committed to key policy principles – namely, the sovereignty of Cypriot and, therefore, EU territory – but also recognise the dangers of current tensions with Ankara, as well as the convergence of Middle Eastern conflict lines within areas of their dispute. This approach can only succeed if Turkey also demonstrates its support for it by scaling back its drilling activity and naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean. Europeans should incentivise Turkey to do so by dialling down the recent military and political measures they have put in place. This will help prevent the dispute from slipping into increasingly zero-sum and dangerous positioning, while dispelling the impression that Europe has ganged up on Turkey in a common cause with Arab states.

Cyprus is central to the eastern Mediterranean’s rising tensions. After more than 40 years of frozen conflict, over the past decade hopes rose that the discovery of significant gas reserves could improve the chances of a settlement between the island’s Turkish and Greek communities. In the process, gas exports from Cyprus would help the EU diversify its energy supplies and boost regional cooperation. In time, however, a different impulse took over – one that is now increasing tension between not just Cyprus and Turkey but also between wider regional players.

A collective interest in leveraging eastern Mediterranean gas reserves spurred increased cooperation between Greece, Cyprus, Israel, and Egypt, as well as key energy companies from Italy and France. This grouping has grown to encompass Italy itself, Jordan, and Palestine, culminating in the creation of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) in Cairo in January 2019. Noticeably absent is Turkey – despite its overlapping maritime claims, vast domestic market, and potential as a transit route for eastern Mediterranean gas exports. This coalition has received the backing of the United States, whose relationship with Turkey is also strained due to divergences on a growing number of issues, most recently Ankara’s purchase of Russian-made S-400 air defence systems.

Although the desire to create a geopolitical hub that excludes Turkey was not the organisation’s founding purpose, it has grown to define the emerging coalition. Perceptions of the EMGF as an anti-Turkey club were bolstered when it extended its remit to include regional security cooperation and joint military drills around Cyprus. Greece and Cyprus have sought to leverage the undersea gas reserves and the creation of the EMGF grouping to improve their own political standing – at Turkey’s expense. The forum offers both countries a means to strengthen a broader alliance to counter Turkish influence. Israel and Egypt maintain acrimonious relations with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while the forum’s anti-Turkey slant has also attracted the UAE, which is engaged in an acute regional rivalry with Turkey. Like Egypt, the UAE takes issue with Turkey’s support for Muslim Brotherhood movements across the region.

This fault line is starkest in Libya, where Turkey and the UAE provide military support to opposite sides in the deepening civil war. In November 2019, Ankara and the internationally recognised Libyan government struck a partnership agreement on a maritime boundary, which created an exclusive economic zone that cuts across Greek and Cypriot interests. The move seeks to preclude the proposed EastMed pipeline, which would bring gas to European markets from Israel, Egypt, and Cyprus. Turkey has also recently applied for licences to start drilling off the coast of Libya.

This agreement caused Cyprus and Greece to line up behind Abu Dhabi’s man in Libya, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who France has long supported. But these fault lines also extend into Syria, with supporters of both sides of the civil war hiring Syrian fighters. This draws the Libya and Syria conflicts closer together – and gives Russia a greater opportunity to cement its position in the Mediterranean.

The Turkish government has long suffered from a chronic siege mentality, believing itself to be surrounded by hostile forces that threaten its core interests. The formation of the EMGF appears to vindicate such concerns.

Turkey has little room for manoeuvre to its south and west, despite having the longest contiguous coastline in the eastern Mediterranean. Ankara also believes that making concessions in this part of the sea would be tantamount to conceding to the Greek position on various maritime disputes between the two countries in the Aegean. Turkey’s difficulties are exacerbated by its failure to discover gas in its local waters. Given its own economic woes, Turkey will not cede the potentially lucrative exploitation rights around Cyprus without representation for Turkish Cypriots. Turkey has long favoured a model that allocates maritime rights based on continental shelves. But this differs from the approach adopted by European states, which is based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), to which Turkey is not a signatory.

From Ankara’s perspective, there are clear links between this eastern Mediterranean coalition – as embodied by the EMGF – and wider regional conflicts, as well as the Emirati-led campaign against Turkey. Turkey believes that a slowly emerging superstructure of political, economic, and security interests will inevitably challenge its regional position. This has transformed an economic competition into an existential struggle. Turkey has responded in its traditional fashion – with escalation: namely, by increasing its military presence in Libya and concluding the maritime agreement with the Tripoli-based government. In parallel, Turkey has deployed naval expeditions to explore gas fields claimed by the Republic of Cyprus and to chase away research vessels operating under Republic of Cyprus licences.

The EU’s current eastern Mediterranean policy centres on a ‘soft containment’ of Turkey, as marked by its introduction of new sanctions on the country in February 2020. These measures came at the request of Cyprus, Greece, France, and Italy in a bid to curtail Turkey’s predatory drilling expeditions. This dynamic was further highlighted in May 2020 in a joint declaration by Cyprus, France, Greece, Egypt, and the UAE, which “urged Turkey to fully respect the sovereignty and sovereign rights of all states in their maritime zones in the eastern Mediterranean … [and] strongly condemned Turkey’s military interference in Libya”. Turkey responded by accusing the states of forming an “alliance of evil” that would create “regional chaos and instability”.

Clearly, the EU is right to stick up for the sovereignty of the Cyprus and its maritime claims: the bloc’s non-recognition of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is a pillar of its legal policy on the island. Nevertheless, the exclusionary approach towards Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean has contributed to escalation in Cyprus, as well as Libya, where European interests relating to migration and terrorism are directly under threat. This wider confrontation has also drawn the UAE more deeply into the Mediterranean theatre, a development that should be as much a cause for European concern as Turkey’s widening role. The threat of a confrontation with Turkey on Libya and wider eastern Mediterranean issues risks destabilising the long-standing refugee deal between Ankara and the EU. It could also weaken the EU position on Syria if, as has been mooted, some member states re-engage with Bashar al-Assad as a means of increasing pressure on Turkey, which maintains a military presence in northern Syria. More broadly, unless the pressure eases, this could further worsen Turkey’s relationship with the US, NATO, and the EU more generally.

There is no doubt that the EU needs a more functional relationship with Turkey to protect its core interests in migration, energy, and the Middle East. The EU should now adopt a different approach – one that recognises the need for more constructive engagement with Turkey, and that highlights their shared interests in trade, energy, and regional security. This does not have to involve a miraculous resolution of the Cyprus conflict – or, at the other end of the scale, a move towards the two-state solution supported by hawks in Turkey and Turkish Cypriots. But it might involve the recognition of some Turkish claims around the rights of Turkish Cypriots to the region’s energy spoils. And it should certainly include a rejection of active European participation in the destabilising regional conflict between Ankara and Abu Dhabi. The EU needs to carefully advance the following confidence-building steps that are in sync with core EU principles.

The highly contested, internationalised, and multilayered nature of problems in the eastern Mediterranean makes it impossible to address all sources of tension in one go. Instead, the EU should view the Cyprus conflict as the symbolic heart of the crisis and as a potential way to advance wider de-escalatory measures. While holding firm to its core principles, the EU should explore avenues for addressing technical issues related to gas exploitation. These are easier to engage with and resolve than more ideologically charged political questions around a final resolution of the conflict or maritime law. Besides allowing for meaningful headway on important issues, this approach would build much-needed confidence between the parties.

Firstly, European states should push the Cyprus and Turkish Cypriots towards technical-level discussions, with the goal of ensuring that all Cypriots can benefit from the island’s gas reserves – whether they live in the north or the south. Turkish Cypriots can be represented without needing to recognise the TRNC or legitimise the Turkish military presence on the island. As the EU and the UN already regard Turkish Cypriot leaders as interlocutors on intercommunal issues, they should bring them into discussions on hydrocarbons. This process could be underpinned by a moratorium on gas exploration in Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone, while Turkey would need to pull its drilling ships and navy out of the area.

Bring Turkey into the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum
A wider agreement with Turkey would have to include Turkish access to the regional gas network, both in its current form and in future infrastructure developments. The current configuration of the EMGF as a conduit for political and security developments is aggravating regional tensions. For energy, security, and economic reasons, Europe and Turkey have similar imperatives to reach a deal with each other. The EU should propose Turkish access to the EMGF as an entry point to a wider deal. This would also help improve relations between Turkey and Egypt, and ease exploration and development tension between the EU and Turkey.

Linking up Libya
Enhanced European cooperation with Turkey on Libya is another necessary dimension of a more effective EU approach to the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey’s deal with the Libyan government has angered much of Europe. But Europe’s current response risks marginalising it in the region – and will only prolong the war in Libya, given Turkey’s centrality to any resolution there.

Europeans need to adopt an approach that not only presses Turkey to take a seat at the negotiating table but also provides it with incentives to do so. Europe should simultaneously ask the same of Haftar’s external backers, who in many ways bear greater responsibility than Turkey for the recent escalation in Libya.

The EU should use the assets of its recently deployed naval operation and the opening created by Tripoli’s Turkish-backed military gains to press the UAE to agree to a ceasefire and meaningful political talks. Europe should express frustration with not only Ankara but also Abu Dhabi for its role in escalating the regional conflict. This step would help convince Turkey that the EU is not singling it out. A balanced European approach to Libya, including an impartial attempt to monitor arms-embargo violations, would help persuade Turkey that the southern Mediterranean is not turning into another arena to exclude Turkish influence.

Progress on wider maritime talks would also help advance this effort, given that Turkey’s position in Libya is partly driven by concerns that other actors are looking to squeeze it out in the Mediterranean.

The EU can take steps to ease deepening eastern Mediterranean tensions in accordance with European interests. It should adopt a broad-based approach that recognises and seeks to reconcile the complex linkages that now criss-cross the eastern Mediterranean. The EU has the capacity to ensure that the accumulated benefit of a wider deal prevents backsliding elsewhere. Ultimately, a wider EU approach would aim to turn the current situation on its head, taking advantage of the highly interconnected nature of the issues and of shared interests to create a mutually acceptable stabilising track. The depth of the problems means that no single, all-encompassing bargain is possible. But Europeans could stitch together a patchwork of more self-contained deals as they work towards establishing a ‘new bargain’ with Turkey.

Given the potential for instability in the eastern Mediterranean to affect core EU interests – migration, counter-terrorism, energy security, sovereignty, and more – European states not directly involved in the overlapping conflicts should help improve the relationship with Turkey.

Countries such as Germany have highlighted how they could work to support the political process in Libya. Berlin has already provided a neutral forum for all states to try to agree on core principles. But so far it has failed, partly because of a lack of European consensus on broader eastern Mediterranean issues and relations with Turkey. This was demonstrated most recently by Turkey’s recent pressure on Malta to withdraw its support from the EU’s Mediterranean mission, Operation IRINI. As is so often the case, a lack of unity is fatally undermining Europe’s attempts to become a relevant actor, and is creating further space for other actors beyond Turkey and the UAE – namely Russia – to fill the void.


This article taken from

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Find below an Article written by Kemal Kirişçi and Murat Erdoğan and published at;


It has been more than a month since the first COVID-19 case was detected in Turkey. Since then, the number of cases has shot up significantly, placing Turkey among the top 10 countries worldwide in terms of cases. Government efforts have kept the number of deaths relatively low, and the health system so far appears to be coping reasonably well. However, real challenges in managing the pandemic remain.

One of the most acute challenges relates to Turkey’s vast refugee and migrant population. The number of Syrian refugees, asylum seekers from a range of countries, and irregular migrants in the country surpasses 5 million. Most of them lead precarious lives in difficult circumstances, making them particularly vulnerable to contracting and spreading the virus.

The Turkish government needs to consider the specific circumstances and needs of this population. Bearing in mind that COVID-19 does not recognize borders — and that protecting refugees is an international responsibility — improved international cooperation is urgently needed.


In 2014, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Turkey became the country hosting the largest number of refugees in the world. According to the latest figures from the Turkish Directorate General of Migration Management (DGMM), the Syrian refugee population alone is close to 3.6 million. They reside in towns and cities across practically the whole country, with only less than 2% living in camps. They were granted “temporary protection” upon their arrival and enjoy access to a range of free public services, including education and health care. Additionally, there are an estimated 370,000 asylum seekers and refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, and elsewhere. They too have access to public services.

Finally, there are irregular migrants. This includes asylum seekers whose cases have been rejected and who have not been able to go back to their home countries. There are also undocumented migrants who have become stranded in Turkey in their quest to travel onwards to the European Union. In the last five years, Turkish authorities have detained 1.2 million irregular migrants and have been able to return only a small percentage of them. Considering that not all Syrian refugees are registered, a conservative estimate would put the number of irregular migrants at over one million. This, together with registered Syrian refugees, constitutes close to 6 or 7% of Turkey’s population.


The greatest challenge to these refugees, asylum seekers, and irregular migrants is economic. The March 2016 deal on refugees between the European Union and Turkey and the accompanying Facility for Refugees in Turkey (FRIT) provides close to 1.5 million of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees and 200,000 non-Syrian asylum seekers with a modest financial support. However, this program — known as the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) and implemented by the Turkish Red Crescent — is not comprehensive and is far from meeting the basic economic needs of the refugees. Hence, an estimated one million of Syrian refugees must work to be able to sustain themselves.

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In an economy that has been struggling, and where close to one-third of nationals work informally, the overwhelming majority of refugees, asylum seekers, and irregular migrants are employed informally in very precarious conditions. The massive economic downturn caused by the pandemic, together with measures to prevent the spread of the virus (such as closures of small businesses, social distancing, restrictions on travel, and a ban on people under 20 and over 65 leaving their homes) is further complicating this picture. It is causing many refugees to lose their jobs and their meager income on the one hand, and on the other it is pushing them into such desperation to consider accepting jobs that many refuse to do because of COVID-19.

Registered Syrian refugees and other asylum seekers enjoy access to basic health services. The Turkish health system so far, has been able to cope with COVID-19 cases. This could dramatically change in the coming weeks and months, complicating access to health services. Furthermore, most refugees live in crowded and often particularly squalid conditions, making them more vulnerable to contracting the virus. But it is irregular migrants who are especially vulnerable, as the fear of being detained prevents them from seeking access to health services. Reports that health services are being denied complicates their situation and heightens their risk of exposure to the virus, as well as the risk of spreading it.

COVID-19 has forced Turkish schools to introduce distance learning, like elsewhere in the world. The transition is still ongoing, lack of access to the equipment necessary for online learning is complicating matters for poorer families with children. Enrollment in the Turkish public school system has increased considerably during the last few years. The Conditional Cash Transfers for Education (CCTE), funded by the EU, subsidizes families committed to sending their children regularly to school instead of informal work. With uncertainty around when normal schooling will again be possible, it is going to be important to mount a concerted effort to ensure that refugee and migrant children are able to continue with their schooling to preserve the modest gains of the past.

A final challenge has to do with public attitudes towards refugees and migrants. A significant proportion of the Turkish public has become resentful of them. Initially, the public welcomed Syrian refugees fleeing the violence in Syria. However, as years went by and prospects of their return diminished, this welcome wore out. Growing economic hardship in Turkey and rising unemployment have made matters worse. A survey conducted late in 2017 found that more than 71% of respondents believed that Syrians were taking jobs away from people in Turkey, while another survey found that almost 65% thought the Turkish economy risked deteriorating because of the burden of looking after the refugees. In 2019, 83.2% of those surveyed called for the return of all refugees and disagreed with the government’s policy of hosting them. These results suggest that refugees and migrants risk being stigmatized or even the targets of violence, especially if the COVID-19 pandemic worsens and the economy falls further.

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Oil prices were at record lows for the past couple of months as the the production increased by Saudi Arabia and Russia. But on 9th of April those two states agreed on a major deal to cut oil production.

Find below the news from regarding the sucject.


OPEC+, led by mega-producers Saudi Arabia and Russia, reached a tentative agreement Thursday to impose large cuts in oil production as the coronavirus pandemic fuels an unprecedented collapse in demand, per Bloomberg and Reuters.

Why it matters: The revival of OPEC+ collaboration patches up the early March rupture between the countries, which had pushed already depressed prices down much further by threatening to unleash even more new supplies into the saturated market.

The outlets, citing anonymous sources in the group, say the emerging OPEC+ agreement calls for cutting 10 million barrels per day in May and June.
That would amount to roughly 10% of global demand levels before the outbreak, which analysts now see cutting around 25 to 30 million barrels per day — or more — from global consumption in the near-term.
How it’s playing: Oil prices rose earlier today in apparent expectation of the agreement, but later fell back.

Prices surged late last week when talk of a very steep cut first surfaced. Today’s limited move suggests traders have already priced the reductions in — and recognize they pale in comparison to demand losses.
The global benchmark Brent crude was trading at around $32-per-barrel as of 2:30 p.m. ET — around $10 higher than they were in the middle of last week but below where they started the day.
How it works: Per the Wall Street Journal, Saudi Arabia is pledging to curb 4 million barrels per day from April production levels, while Russia will scale back by 2 million barrels daily.

“The tentative OPEC+ plan would see 10 million barrels a day of cuts through June, dropping to 8 million a day from July and then 6 million a day in the first quarter of next year,” Bloomberg reports, citing an anonymous delegate to the meeting.
What they’re saying: “The market’s muted price reaction is a sobering indicator of the headwinds that remain, namely demand destruction,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Michael Tran told Reuters.

“If true, the preliminary production cut of 10 million bpd among OPEC+ members is a good first step, but it would still not be enough given the 20 million bpd+ supply overhang expected for 2Q20,” the consultancy Rystad Energy said in a note when word of the agreement began emerging.
What’s next: Energy ministers from G20 nations are slated to meet remotely Friday, and Russia and Saudi Arabia are hoping for millions of barrels per day in combined cuts from countries outside the OPEC+ group, including the U.S., the world’s largest producer.

The Trump administration has declined to offer firm commitments, but has repeatedly touted upcoming market-driven cuts in U.S. production as low prices prompt oil-and-gas companies to scale back.

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The unrest in Syria finally affected Turkey in a shocking manner. It was reported that last night 33 soldiers were killed and several injured as a result of a fighter plane attack. The details are not clear yet but the attacks have been realized by Syrian military forces. Turkish forces are in Syria for the last couple of months and they have established 12 observatory points to ensure the safety of the region. However that attack was somehow expected as Syrian military forces are also around the region and trying to kill the terroristswho are against their regime.

Syria is backed up by Russia and Russia declared the region as a non flight zone for Turkish military planes. So Turkey is in a difficult situation right now, it has all the power to answer the attack but by doing that it may face serious problems with Russian Federation so steps should be taken very carefully.

As Turkey sees the Syrian problem very related with the refugee issue it decided not hold the refugees in camps but let them go to Europe by land and sea. Turkey has currently 5 million refugees, most of them Syrian origin. A substantial part of these refugees found a way of living in Turkey but there are still millions looking for migrating to a European country.

Coming months will be very troublesome for Turkey and Europe.

We will follow the developments.

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by Seyfi Taşhan


In one of my contributions that appeared in the Herald Tribune I was answering a question about Turkey’s relations with Israel. My answer to the question was that Turkey has no problem with the Jews and owed empathy and support for their tragedy in Europe before and during WWII. But Turkey cannot be expected to support Israel’s expansionist policies, our hope for a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict ended after Israel first began to expand beyond the 1967 borders. My statement that Turkey cannot support Israel’s aggression was based on this Israeli expansionism. In a meeting with several Israeli think tank members, I said, Turks lost a multinational empire, but they established a state based on the national pact, which defines Turkey’s current borders. The Israeli participants said; you believe in Ataturk’s ideas but we firmly believe in Zionism.

This statement was my belief in that Israel would fulfill its Zionist tenets and aims. During brief of history since the foundation of Israel many attempts were made to contain Israel within the final borders. But all failed to moderate Israel’s obstinacy and narrow mindness buried in Zionism tenets. Palestine now looks like a panther skin. Palestinians map with all the dots at Israel settlements. Can US President Trump’s proposal provide sufficient map clean of Israel settlements? Can this settlement proposal plan home any references to millions of Palestinian refugees in camps in Lebanon and in Jordan? Can the plan guarantee secure borders for Palestine, despite Israelis persistence on Zionism.

Lastly, President Trump said that 20 billion dollars for Palestine would be collected from European Countries. But would any European country agree to pay more money than they already paid for reparations to Israel? I believe that these questions will demonstrate how baseless and ignorant is the proposed plan. Any person with knowledge of Israeli expansionism and mercy in their hearts for Arabs in Palestinian camps will keep themselves away from this play of U.S. and Israel elections.

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At the last week of January 2020, US President Trump announced a plan for bringing permanent peace to the Israel-Palestenian conflict that continues for decades. That plan has been declared, as the deal of the century but many critics claim that it is a one sided plan mainly for the benefit of Israel and Palestinians have nothing to agree within. We have tried to gather information from the respectable sources to deeply analyze that plan.


Jan. 29, 2020;

President Trump stood alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at the White House on Tuesday to reveal a long-awaited plan intended to resolve generations of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Noticeably absent from that announcement, though, was any Palestinian representation, and Palestinian leaders have flatly rejected the plan. The proposed settlement strongly favors Israeli priorities rather than having both sides make significant concessions.

Mr. Trump vowed at the start of his presidency that he would negotiate a “bigger and better deal” to broker peace than anyone could imagine. Three years later, experts say that the plan, developed under the supervision of Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, falls remarkably short of that goal and is unlikely ever to become the basis for a peace agreement.

Here are some of the plan’s main features.

What does the plan say?

While Mr. Trump’s proposal is the latest in a series of United States-brokered attempts to forge peace between Israelis and Palestinians, his framework was a sharp departure from decades of American policy. The United States has long voiced support for the creation of a Palestinian state with only slight adjustments to the Israeli boundaries that existed before the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, when Israel wrested the West Bank from Jordan, and Gaza from Egypt.

Instead, the 181-page Trump plan proposes a West Bank riddled with interconnected chunks of Israeli territory containing Jewish settlements, many of them largely encircled by Palestinian lands. For the Palestinians, it would mean giving up a claim to large amounts of West Bank land — including places where Israel has built settlements over the past half-century and strategic areas along the Jordanian border. Most of the world regards the settlements as illegal.

 The framework also sets aside the longtime goal of a fully autonomous Palestinian state. Instead, Mr. Trump vaguely promised that Palestinians could “achieve an independent state of their very own” but gave few details, while Mr. Netanyahu said the deal provided a “pathway to a Palestinian state” with significant caveats.

The Palestinians do not subscribe to the plan, though the deal provides for a four-year window for them to engage in renewed settlement talks. During that time, Israel would refrain from constructing settlements in those parts of the West Bank that the plan has designated for Palestinians.

Previous American proposals spoke of uprooting tens of thousands of Israelis from the settlements to return those areas to the Palestinians for inclusion in their state, but the Trump plan promises to leave both settlers and Palestinians in their current homes. Rather, it maps out a series of linked settlements and other areas that would officially become Israeli territory in the midst of the West Bank.

The plan also envisaged a Palestinian capital in “eastern Jerusalem,” on the outer edges of the city beyond Israel’s security barrier, while guaranteeing Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem. The city is a holy site for the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths and has long been a sticking point in peace negotiations.

Mr. Netanyahu later clarified that the proposed Palestinian capital would be in Abu Dis, a Palestinian village on the outskirts of the holy city.

The plan proposes transportation links between the unconnected Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza. But the element of the plan that may prove to be its only lasting effect is American recognition of Israel’s claim over the Jordan Valley and all Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

 How would this redraw the map of Israel?

The proposal gives American approval to Israel’s plan to redefine the country’s borders and formally annex settlements in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley that it has long sought to control.

That would leave the West Bank portion of any potential Palestinian state surrounded on all sides by Israel. Israeli forces seized the West Bank from Jordan during the 1967 war, and Israeli settlements have steadily encroached on the region over the decades since, a move largely condemned internationally.

Mr. Netanyahu caused controversy in September when he vowed, while running for re-election, to annex the Jordan Valley, a strategically critical chunk of the occupied West Bank nestled against the border with Jordan. On Tuesday, he made it clear that he saw President Trump’s plan as giving legitimacy to claiming Israeli settlements and the Jordan Valley as Israeli territory.

“For too long, the very heart of the land of Israel where our patriots prayed, our prophets preached and our kings ruled has been outrageously branded as ‘illegally occupied territory,’” Mr. Netanyahu said. “Well today, Mr. President, you are puncturing this big lie.”

Mr. Netanyahu said that his cabinet could move within days to assert sovereignty over those areas, but the decision could be subject to legal challenges because the current government is an interim administration.

 What has the Palestinian reaction been?

Despite Mr. Trump’s assertion that the deal was “a win-win opportunity” for both sides, Palestinians have largely rejected it.

Mahmoud Abbas, the 84-year-old leader of the Palestinian Authority, condemned the plan in a speech on Tuesday evening, calling it a “conspiracy” not worthy of serious consideration.

“We say a thousand times over: no, no, no,” Mr. Abbas said, speaking from Ramallah in the West Bank.

The Palestinian leadership cut off communication with the Trump administration in 2017 after Washington recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and later moved the American Embassy to the city. On the streets of Gaza and the West Bank, protests against the plan broke out on Tuesday.

The reaction from other Arab governments has been mixed. None of the United States’ Arab allies have formally endorsed the plan or committed to ushering it into reality, though ambassadors from Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates attended the announcement.

 Was the focus peace or politics?

David Friedman, the United States ambassador to Israel, said in a call with reporters after the plan was announced that the big reveal was timed in a “nonpolitical way.”

He said that the plan was “fully baked” before an Israeli election last April but that American officials had held off introducing it then. When that election produced no government, the United States again postponed any announcement until after a second election in September, he said.

Now, as Israel approaches a third election in less than a year, which could also fail to produce a government, Mr. Friedman said that the time had been right to introduce the proposal. He noted that American officials had also discussed the plans with Benny Gantz, the leader of the centrist Blue and White Party and Mr. Netanyahu’s main rival in the March 2 election.

But experts say that the timing of the rollout has more to do with the domestic politics of the United States and Israel than with resolving the conflict, with Mr. Trump facing an impeachment trial and Mr. Netanyahu facing trial on corruption charges.

 William F. Wechsler, director of Middle East programs at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based research organization, said in an emailed statement that the plan was unlikely to have a major impact in the short term.

“The announcement’s chosen timing, specific staging, limited participants, and indeed its substance make clear that it has less to do with a good-faith effort to reach peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” Mr. Wechsler said, “and more to do with the immediate legal and electoral challenges that confront both leaders.”

You can find the original text at:


Nir Hasson from interprets the sitaution as follows;

A bulldozer in a china shop. That’s how the section of U.S. President Donald Trump’s peace plan on Jerusalem feels. The authors of the plan talk about the need to treat the issue of Jerusalem’s holy sites with “utmost sensitivity,” but they are brutally trampling over the sensitive, complex and dangerous problems. It shows a minimal understanding of the city, does not delve into details and is rife with major contradictions.

For example, the plan declares the status quo in the holy sites will be maintained: “In particular the status quo at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif should continue uninterrupted.” But in the next paragraph it says: “People of every faith should be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, in a manner that is fully respectful to their religion, taking into account the times of each religion’s prayers and holidays, as well as other religious factors.”

But the most important section of the unwritten status quo on the Temple Mount is that Jews and other non-Muslims have no right to pray there. This status quo was approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself, in his own voice, in 2015. So what is the significance of the status quo if everyone has the right to pray on the Temple Mount?

The authors of the American plan totally accept the view that Israel has the right to continue to keep all the holy sites. This right, according to the authors of the peace plan, who base themselves on Netanyahu here, stems not only from Israel’s ties to these holy sites but also because it is the only ruler that safeguarded the freedom of worship for all religions in Jerusalem. As a result, the plan concludes that Israel should continue to maintain the Holy Basin area.

The plan even includes a list of the 35 holy sites in the city, including the City of David, the Pool of Siloam and numerous churches. For the Palestinians: “Licenses shall be provided to Palestinian tour guides to operate tours in the Old City of Jerusalem as well as at sites sacred to Christianity and Islam in other areas of Jerusalem.” In return, they are supposed to give up what is considered to be a religious symbol and the most important center of their nationalism.

According to the Trump peace plan, almost all of Jerusalem will remain in Israeli hands, except for two small corners: The Shoafat refugee camp and Kafr Akeb in the north of the city. These two neighborhoods, which are within Jerusalem’s municipal borders, were cut off from the capital about 15 years ago when the separation barrier was constructed. As a result of this isolation, Israeli authorities almost completely withdrew from these neighborhoods and anarchy reigned.

As a result, huge apartment buildings were constructed there illegally, and today some 120,000 to 140,000 people live there, most of whom have Israeli residency. In other words, one out of every three Palestinians in Jerusalem lives in these two neighborhoods, which will be left outside of the city according to the plan.

The plan proposes that the Palestinians make these two ill-fated neighborhoods – along with Abu Dis in eastern Jerusalem – their capital. The plan is even surprisingly generous to the Palestinians in the way it allows them to call this capital city al-Quds, “or another name selected by the State of Palestine.” To emphasize their generosity, this phrase is even repeated three times in the document.

Residents of these neighborhoods beyond the fence were shocked by this part of the plan. For a long time, they have feared Israel was plotting to cut them off from their city. Environmental Protection Minister Zeev Elkin even promoted such a plan. On Tuesday, residents of the Shoafat refugee camp and Kafr Akeb could be heard panicking and many were asking if they needed to start looking for apartments inside Jerusalem, or somewhere else in Israel, so as not to lose their rights.

These are Palestinians from Jerusalem, who moved to these neighborhoods because of a housing shortage in East Jerusalem. Their work, schools, health clinics, mosques and relatives are in Jerusalem. If a border is established between them and all this, it will be disastrous for them – and for us.

To calm friends of mine from there, I sent them a copy of the Basic Law on Jerusalem. The law was advanced enthusiastically by the right and it is now the strongest legal barrier to implementing the plan in Jerusalem. The Basic Law on Jerusalem is the most entrenched law in Israel’s law books. If the Israeli government does want to transfer the neighborhoods beyond the fence to the Palestinian Authority or Palestinian state, it will need to approve it with a super-majority of at least 80 Knesset members, and also through a referendum. It seems that for now, the Palestinians in the refugee camp can stay calm. Jerusalem city council member Arieh King has already attacked the plan for dividing Jerusalem.

What will happen to the 200,000 Palestinians who live in East Jerusalem, inside the fence? The plan proposes that they choose between remaining residents of Israel, or becoming citizens of the Palestinian state. No, there is no explanation as to how it will work or who will provide them with services. Which police will serve them? For which parliament will they vote and what authority will that parliament will have over their lives? Or they can become Israeli citizens. As of today, Israel says they have the possibility of becoming citizens, but this is an empty declaration, because the process of receiving citizenship is so difficult and long that it is irrelevant for the great majority of the residents of East Jerusalem.

Nowhere is the plan’s disconnect from reality more apparent than in the section addressing a “special tourist area.” This section states that Israel will allow Palestinians to develop a special tourism zone in Atarot in the far north of Jerusalem, but is located on the Israeli side of the separation barrier – and the future border, according to Trump’s peace plan. It is completely clear that whoever wrote this section has never visited Atarot. The neighborhood is made up of an ugly and neglected industrial zone, the Qalandiya checkpoint, a waste separation facility, a huge concrete wall and an abandoned airport. Why would someone want to visit there?

We can continue analyzing the absurdities of the plan, the lacunae and contradictions – but it would be a waste of time. This proposed peace plan needs to be examined according to only one single measure: Today, two babies were born in the Hadassah University Hospital on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem, one Israeli and one Palestinian. Will this peace plan guarantee them that in another 20 years the two young people will have equal rights? Will both of them have a country? Will both of them be able to influence their own lives by voting? Will they have the right of equal access to resources, space, self-determination, freedom of movement, freedom of worship and dignity?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then this is not a peace plan and it is not a solution – it is part of the problem.

For the original text go to:

BBC sees the situation as follows;

Israel’s prime minister called the plan the “opportunity of the century” and said he was willing to endorse it as the basis for negotiations with the Palestinians.

But the Palestinian president dismissed the plan as the “slap of the century”.

So what is Mr Trump proposing on core issues that divide the two sides?

Palestinian statehood

The Palestinians have long sought to establish an independent, sovereign state in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, which were occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War. Israeli prime ministers have previously accepted the notion of a Palestinian state existing alongside Israel.

The White House said Mr Trump’s plan offered “a viable path to Palestinian statehood”. It “designates land reasonably comparable in size to the West Bank and Gaza for the establishment of the State of Palestine” and would “more than double the size of the land currently used by the Palestinians”.

Israel has agreed to a four-year “land freeze” to secure the possibility of a two-state solution, according to the White House. Mr Trump said that during this time, when the land allocated under his plan for a new Palestinian state would “remain open and undeveloped”, the Palestinians would be able to study the deal, negotiate with Israel, and “achieve the criteria for statehood”.

Mr Trump said the criteria included “adopting basic laws enshrining human rights; protecting against financial and political corruption; stopping the malign activities of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other enemies of peace; ending the incitement of hatred against Israel; and permanently halting the financial compensation to terrorists”.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) said the US plan “recognises Israel’s illegal colonisation and annexation of occupied lands belonging to the State of Palestine”, while Israeli human rights group B’Tselem warned that Palestinians would be “relegated to small, enclosed, isolated enclaves, with no control over their lives”.


Both Israel and the Palestinians hold competing claims to the ancient city. Israel – which occupied the formerly Jordanian-held eastern part in 1967, and effectively annexed it in 1980 in a move not recognised internationally – regards the whole of Jerusalem as its capital.

Palestinian leaders want East Jerusalem – which includes the Old City and major Muslim, Jewish and Christian holy sites, and is home to about 350,000 Palestinians and 200,000 Jewish settlers – to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Mr Trump’s plan says: “Jerusalem will remain the sovereign capital of the State of Israel, and it should remain an undivided city.”

It adds: “The sovereign capital of the State of Palestine should be in the section of East Jerusalem located in all areas east and north” of Israel’s West Bank barrier, including Kafr Aqab, the eastern part of Shuafat, and Abu Dis.

Map of Jerusalem
Presentational white space

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who broke off contacts with the Trump administration in 2017 when it recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, insisted that a Palestinian state without East Jerusalem was impossible. “Jerusalem is not for sale,” he said.

Mr Trump’s plan also says Israel will “continue to safeguard Jerusalem’s holy sites and will guarantee freedom of worship” for people of all faiths.

The plan proposes that the “status quo” at the key holy site in Jerusalem known to Jews as the Temple Mount and al-Haram al-Sharif to Muslims is preserved.


The Palestinians insist on borders based on ceasefire lines which separated Israel and East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza between 1949 and 1967.

Israel says those lines are militarily indefensible and were never intended to be permanent. Its leaders have not previously said where the borders should be, other than making clear that the eastern border should be along the River Jordan.

The White House said it “reached an understanding with Israel regarding a map setting forth borders for a two-state solution”. A joint committee will be formed to “convert the conceptual map into a more detailed and calibrated rendering so that recognition can be immediately achieved”, according to Mr Trump.

The president’s map showed 15 Israeli “enclave communities” – currently Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank – that would be located inside the future Palestinian state and be connected to the rest of Israel by access roads.

Map showing Donald Trump's plan for a State of Palestine
white space

In exchange for letting the settlements remain, the Palestinians would be given territory in what is now Israel that adjoins the West Bank, as well as two large enclaves in the Negev desert, near the border with Egypt, connected by road to Gaza. Gaza itself would be linked to the West Bank by a tunnel.


Since 1967, Israel has built about 140 Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as 121 outposts – settlements not authorised by the government. They have become home to some 600,000 people.

The settlements are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this. Palestinians say all settlements must be removed for a Palestinian state to be viable. Mr Netanyahu has vowed not only to never uproot any settlements but to bring them under Israeli sovereignty.

The White House said that “neither Palestinians nor Israelis will be uprooted from their homes”. Mr Trump said the US would “recognise Israeli sovereignty over the territory that my vision provides to be part of the State of Israel”.

Under Mr Trump’s plan, Israel will “incorporate the vast majority of Israeli settlements into contiguous Israeli territory” and “Israeli enclaves located inside contiguous Palestinian territory will become part of the State of Israel and be connected to it through an effective transportation system”.

Mr Netanyahu told reporters that the Israeli cabinet would vote on Sunday on whether to start the process of applying Israeli sovereignty to the settlements, and to parts of the Jordan Valley allocated to Israel under Mr Trump’s plan.

Map of the West Bank settlements
Presentational white space

Jordan Valley

The Jordan Valley is a fertile strip of land running along the border with Jordan that makes up almost 30% of the West Bank. It is sparsely populated – home to around 65,000 Palestinians and 11,000 Jewish settlers. Palestinians say the valley would form an integral part of the land that they want for a future state.

Israeli leaders see the Jordan Valley as a vital security buffer with the Arab world and have held that Israel would maintain some kind of military control there under any peace deal with the Palestinians. Mr Netanyahu has promised to apply Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea.

Mr Trump’s plan states: “The Jordan Valley, which is critical for Israel’s national security, will be under Israeli sovereignty.”


The United Nations says it supports 5.5 million Palestinian refugees in the Middle East. Most are the descendants of people who fled or were expelled during the Arab-Israeli war that followed Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948.

Palestinians insist on their right to return to their former homes, but Israel says they are not entitled to, arguing that such a move would overwhelm it demographically and lead to its end as a Jewish state.

The White House said that under Mr Trump’s plan, “Palestinian refugees will be given a choice to live within the future State of Palestine, integrate into the countries where they currently live, or resettle in a third country”.

The US will work with the international community to establish “a generous trust to aid in the process of resettling refugees”, it added.


Israel insists any peace deal must include Palestinian recognition of it as the “nation-state of the Jewish people”. Without this, it argues, Palestinians will continue to press their own claims to the land, causing the conflict to endure.

The Palestinians say that what Israel calls itself is its own business, but that to recognise it as the Jewish state would discriminate against Israel’s Arab population of Palestinian origin, who are Muslims, Christians and Druze.

The White House said Mr Trump’s plan aimed to “achieve mutual recognition of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and the future State of Palestine as the nation-state of the Palestinian people”.


Mr Netanyahu has said any Palestinian state should be demilitarised with the powers to govern itself but not to threaten Israel.

Mr Abbas has expressed support for a demilitarised Palestinian state and proposed that an international force patrol it indefinitely, with troops positioned at all border crossings, and within Jerusalem.

The White House said Mr Trump’s plan provided for “a demilitarised Palestinian state living peacefully alongside Israel, with Israel retaining security responsibility west of the Jordan river”. The Palestinians would work with the US and Israel to “assume more security responsibility as Israel reduces its security footprint”.

Mr Netanyahu said the plan would give Israel “a permanent eastern border to defend ourselves”.

He stressed that the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, would be disarmed. Hamas said the talk of it disarming was “delusional”.

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