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Ed Webb

Romanian port struggles to handle flow of Ukrainian grain | AP News - 0 views

  • With Ukraine’s seaports blockaded or captured by Russian forces, neighboring Romania’s Black Sea port of Constanta has emerged as a main conduit for the war-torn country’s grain exports amid a growing world food crisis.It’s Romania’s biggest port, home to Europe’s fastest-loading grain terminal, and has processed nearly a million tons of grain from Ukraine — one of the world’s biggest exporters of wheat and corn — since the Feb. 24 invasion.But port operators say that maintaining, let alone increasing, the volume they handle could soon be impossible without concerted European Union support and investment.
  • Constanta’s proximity by land to Ukraine, and by sea to the Suez Canal, make it the best current route for Ukrainian agricultural exports. Other alternatives include road and rail shipments across Ukraine’s western border into Poland and its Baltic Sea ports.
  • U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization projects up to 181 million people in 41 countries could face food crisis or worse levels of hunger this year in connection with the Ukraine war.
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  • enabled the port over the past four months to ship close to a million tons of Ukrainian grain, most of it arriving by barge down the Danube River. But with 20 times that amount still blocked in Ukraine and the summer harvest season fast approaching in Romania itself and other countries that use Constanta for their exports, Dolghin said it’s likely the pace of Ukrainian grain shipping through his port will slow
  • solutions discussed in Kyiv, Iohannis said, included speeding up Danube barge shipments, increasing the speed of their unloading at Romanian ports, new border crossings for trucks with Ukrainian grain and reopening a decommissioned railway linking Romania with Ukraine and Moldova
Ed Webb

Leaders Of US, Israel, UAE And India Scheduled To Attend I2U2 Virtual Summit Next week:... - 0 views

  • Biden’s visit will also focus on Israel's increasing integration into the region, both through the Abraham Accords with the UAE, Morocco and Bahrain; through deepening ties between Israel, Jordan and Egypt; and also entirely new groupings of partners, including Israel, India, the UAE, and the United States -- what they call I2U2, said the official.
  • a virtual summit with the I2U2 heads of state for discussions of the food security crisis and other areas of cooperation across hemispheres where the UAE and Israel serve as important innovation hubs
    Mainly seeing this "west Asian quad" picked up in the Indian media
Ed Webb

Hunger Games | CEPA - 0 views

  • Vladimir Putin’s most powerful weapon is not in his military arsenal. It is the threat of migration and unrest provoked by disrupting food supplies to Africa and the Middle East.
  • directly affects 1.7 billion people in more than 100 countries, according to the United Nations. Of these 43 million are on the brink of famine, and 570,000 face starvation
  • The planting season is disrupted. Ukrainian farms have been pillaged and destroyed by the occupiers. Many of the men are fighting. Many women are in exile. Full reconstruction will take years, not weeks. Famine already stalks Yemen
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  • Russia put pressure on Finland in 2015 by encouraging illegal migration. We saw the same tactic deployed against Poland from Belarus in 2021.
  • Spooked by the specter of another migration wave, European leaders may urge Ukraine to sign a ceasefire — any ceasefire — so that food moves and people do not
  • forcing Ukraine to surrender to Russia would not bring peace. It will merely postpone the Kremlin’s next military adventure.
  • The immediate answer to Putin’s weaponization of hunger is to use military, economic and other means to halt and reverse Russia’s occupation of Ukraine and to open Black Sea freight routes.
  • weaponized migration works because of the gulf between the rich and poor worlds. Given that Western decision-makers have had thirty unhindered years after the collapse of communism to sort out the world economy and trading system, the blame for this must largely land with them. Instead of reform, they pursued selfish protectionist policies that hobbled poor countries’ growth. Instead of sensible, fair policies on migration and asylum, they created horrible physical and bureaucratic hurdles that enrich people-smugglers.
Ed Webb

A New Operation in Syria? - Carnegie Middle East Center - Carnegie Endowment for Intern... - 0 views

  • Ankara controls large swathes of territory in northern Syria, but its previous attempts at establishing a continuous 30-kilometer-deep safety zone along the entirety of the Turkish-Syrian border have so far failed. Turkish troops and their affiliates still do not control a stretch of around 70 kilometers east and west of the city of Kobani, as well as a larger portion of territory around the city of Qamishli, all the way to the Tigris River in the east
  • Ankara may be calculating that Russia, otherwise busy with the protracted invasion of Ukraine, may not have the time and resources to prevent a new Turkish incursion, nor the political legitimacy to object to it given its own operations in Donbas
  • With Erdoğan facing dramatically unfavorable preelection polls and a dire economic situation, including sky-rocketing inflation and declining levels of foreign investment, his temptation to rally voters around the flag and silence criticism from the opposition coalition on a subject of national interest is obvious
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  • always eager to present itself as a power independent from Russia and the West
  • if the operation proves to be successful and sustainable, it would reinforce Ankara’s plan to “voluntarily repatriate” Syrian refugees from Turkey
  • The United States maintain a small contingent of 900 troops in northeastern Syria, mainly to prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State. Washington’s cooperation with the YPG in this region has been one of the thorniest issues in bilateral relations between Turkey and the United States. A new Turkish operation would probably clash with U.S. interests on the ground, further aggravating the diplomatic spat between Turkey and its Western allies over the sale of U.S. warplanes, relations with Russia, and NATO enlargement.
  • a majority of Syrian refugees currently in Turkey are Sunni Arabs, so by relocating them to northern Syria Turkey would achieve the strategic objective of diluting the Kurdish populations living there
  • other Syrian areas already under Turkey’s control show signs of a lasting presence. Local administrative and security structures are appointed by Turkey, public services such as health and post offices are run by Turkey, and the de facto currency is the Turkish lira
Ed Webb

A New History for a New Turkey: What a 12th-grade textbook has to say about T... - 0 views

  • Rather than simply serving as crude propaganda for Erdoğan’s regime, Contemporary Turkish and World History aspires to do something more ambitious: embed Turkey’s dominant ideology in a whole new nationalist narrative. Taken in its entirety, the book synthesizes diverse strands of Turkish anti-imperialism to offer an all-too-coherent, which is not to say accurate, account of the last hundred years. It celebrates Atatürk and Erdoğan, a century apart, for their struggles against Western hegemony. It praises Cemal Gürsel and Necmettin Erbakan, on abutting pages, for their efforts to promote Turkish industrial independence. And it explains what the works of both John Steinbeck [Con Şıtaynbek] and 50 Cent [Fifti Sent] have to say about the shortcomings of American society.
  • Turkey has long had competing strains of anti-Western, anti-Imperialist and anti-American thought. In the foreign policy realm, Erdogan’s embrace of the Mavi Vatan doctrine showed how his right-wing religious nationalism could make common cause with the left-wing Ulusalcı variety.[5] This book represents a similar alliance in the historiographic realm, demonstrating how the 20th century can be rewritten as a consistent quest for a fully independent Turkey.
  • Ankara is currently being praised for sending indigenously developed drones to Ukraine and simultaneously criticized for holding up Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership. Contemporary Turkish and World History sheds light on the intellectual origins of both these policies
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  • Among the 1930s cultural and intellectual figures given place of pride are Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso and John Steinbeck. Guernica is reproduced in an inset about Picasso, illustrating the artist’s hatred of war. (47) A lengthy excerpt from the Grapes of Wrath concludes with Steinbeck’s denunciation of depression-era America: “And money that might have gone to wages went for gas, for guns, for agents and spies, for blacklists, for drilling. On the highways the people moved like ants and searched for work, for food. And the anger began to ferment.”
  • The book places added emphasis on the harsh terms imposed on Germany at Versailles. Prefiguring the later treatment of Al Qaeda terrorism, the intention appears not so much to justify Nazism, but rather to present injustice as the causal force behind violence and cruelty in world politics.
  • the Holocaust instead appears here as one among several examples of Western barbarity
  • The foundation of the UN is immediately followed by a discussion of Israel under the heading “Imperial Powers in the Remaking of the Middle East.” (80-81) The Palestine problem, students learn, is the principal cause of conflict in the region. It began when the Ottoman Empire, “the biggest obstacle to the foundation of a Jewish state,” grew weak, leading to the creation of Israel.
  • Next comes a discussion of the post-war financial order and the International Monetary Fund. Students learn that “the IMF’s standard formula, which recommends austerity policies for countries in economic crises, generally results in failure, chaos and social unrest.” (81-83) An excerpt, which students are then asked to discuss, explains how the IMF prescribes different policies for developed and developing countries.
  • only in the context of the Cold War origins of the EU does the book engage in any explicitly religious clash-of-civilizations style rhetoric. The idea of European unity is traced back to the Crusades, while a quote about the centrality of Christianity to European identity appears under a dramatic picture of Pope Francis standing with European leaders. (112) The next page states that the EU’s treatment of Turkey’s candidacy, coupled with the fact that “all the countries within it were Christian” had “raised questions” about the EU’s identity.
  • Early Cold War era decolonization also provides an opportunity to celebrate Atatürk’s role as an anti-imperialist hero for Muslims and the entire Third World. (122-123) “Turkey’s national struggle against imperialism in Anatolia struck the first great blow against imperialism in the 20th century,” the authors write. “Mustafa Kemal, with his role in the War of Independence and his political, economic, social and cultural revolutions after it, served as an example for underdeveloped and colonized nations.” Atatürk himself is quoted as saying, in 1922, that “what we are defending is the cause of all Eastern nations, of all oppressed nations.” Thus, the book explains that “the success of the national struggle brought joy to the entire colonized Islamic world, and served as a source of inspiration to members of other faiths.” The section ends with quotes from leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and Habib Bourguiba about how Atatürk inspired them in their own anti-imperial struggles or was simply, in Nehru’s words, “my hero.” An accompanying graphic shows Atatürk’s image superimposed over a map with arrows pointing to all the countries, from Algeria to Indonesia, whose revolutions were supposedly influenced by Turkey’s War of Independence.
  • Amidst the polarization of the Erdoğan era, what is striking in this book is the authors’ efforts to weave together the conflicting strands of Turkish political history into a coherent narrative. Illustrating Ernst Renan’s argument about the role of forgetting in nation-building, this account glosses over the depth of the divisions and hostility between rival historical actors, presenting them as all working side by side toward a common national goal
  • The authors also offer a balanced treatment of the fraught domestic politics during the period from 1945 to 1960 when Turkey held its first democratic election and experienced its first coup. (138-142, 144-146) They focus their criticism on the negative impact of U.S. aid, arguing that Washington intentionally sought to make Turkey economically and politically dependent, then sponsored a coup when these efforts were threatened.
  • The narrative of national independence also helps smooth over Turkey’s Cold War domestic divides. Students are introduced to the ‘68 Generation and left-wing leaders likes Deniz Gezmiş as anti-imperialists protesting against the U.S. Sixth Fleet in support of a fully independent Turkey. (185-186)[9] In this context, Baskin Oran’s work is again cited, this time quoting Uğur Mumcu on the role of “dark forces,” presumably the CIA, in laying the groundwork for Turkey’s 1971 coup.
  • The book also offers a relatively neutral treatment of political activism during the ensuing decade, suggesting that rival ideological movements were all good faith responses to the country’s challenges. On this, the authors quote Kemal Karpat: “Both right and left wing ideologies sought to develop an explanation for social phenomena and a perspective on the future. A person’s choice of one of these ideologies was generally the result of chance or circumstance.” (202) Thus the authors imply that while foreign powers provoked or exploited these movements, the individual citizens who participated in them can be given the benefit of the doubt. Interestingly, the book takes a similar approach in discussing the 2013 Gezi protests: “If various financial interests and foreign intelligence agencies had a role in the Gezi Park events, a majority of the activists were unaware of it and joined these protests of their own will.”
  • Turkey’s real struggle in the 21st century, as in the 20th, is against dependence on foreign technology
  • a book which begins with a portrait of Atatürk ends with a photo of the Bayraktar TB2.
  • the book’s biases are less in the realm of wild distortion and more reminiscent of those that plague ideologically infused nationalistic history education in all too many countries
  • its exaggerated critique of European imperialism may be no more misleading than the whitewashing still found in some European textbooks
  • At moments, Contemporary Turkish and World History is better aligned with recent left-leaning scholarship than the patriotic accounts many Americans grew up reading as well
  • Throughout the 20th century, America defined itself as the world’s premier anti-imperialist power, all while gradually reproducing many of the elements that had defined previous empires.[11] Today, it often seems that Turkey’s aspirations for great power status reflect the facets of 20th century American power it has condemned most vigorously
  • Turkey’s marriage of power projection and anti-colonial critique have been particularly visible – and effective – in Africa. Ankara has presented itself as an “emancipatory actor,” while providing humanitarian aid, establishing military bases, selling weapons across the continent.[13] In doing so, Turkish leaders have faced some of the same contradictions as previous emancipatory actors. In August 2020, for example, members of Mali’s military overthrew a president with whom Erdoğan enjoyed good relations. Ankara expressed its “sorrow” and “deep concern.”[14] Then, a month later, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu became the first foreign official to meet with the country’s new military leaders. “Like a brother,” he “sincerely shared” his hopes for a smooth “transition process” back to democracy
  • Selçuk Bayraktar, the architect of Turkey’s drone program, said that as a student “I was obsessed with Noam Chomsky.” [16] During the 1980s and 90s, America sold Ankara F-16 jets and Sikorsky helicopters that were used to wage a brutal counterinsurgency campaign in southeast Anatolia. No one was more critical of this than left-wing scholars like Chomsky.[17] Now, Ankara is selling Bayraktar drones to Ethiopia, where they are being used to kill civilians and destroy schools in another violent civil war.
Ed Webb

AIPAC Is Endorsing Candidates, But Progressives Should Turn Them Down | Teen Vogue - 0 views

  • When I served as president of Bears for Israel, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s affiliate group at UC Berkeley from 2017-to 2019, I thought I was playing my part to promote peace. But in the past several years, I’ve come to see that AIPAC — alongside an alliance of hawkish U.S. politicians, Christian Zionists, and defense contractors — contributes to the cycle of violence by demanding or benefiting from unconditional support for the Israeli government no matter the cost.
  • I decided to study Arabic in college and worked in humanitarian aid in Greece, where I befriended Syrian-Palestinian refugees. I developed deep relationships with Palestinians through academic programming and made friendships with Palestinian-Americans at school and as a staffer working on Democratic campaigns. My relationships across differences stood in direct contrast to the echo chamber I grew up in, where I was taught that the only option for sustained Jewish safety in a post-Holocaust world was separating ourselves from non-Jews in a militaristic state of our own.
  • there can’t be safety for some at the expense of another and that our Jewish community must reject the idea that our freedom is synonymous with retaining power over others. We must understand that Palestinian and Jewish safety are not mutually exclusive, but are in fact intertwined.
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  • our government has the ability to meaningfully push Israeli policy toward peace by leveraging military aid — and has done so under presidents including Dwight Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan. So long as the status quo remains unchecked, violence will continue.
  • In a telling sign of AIPAC’s willingness to prioritize unconditional support for the Israeli government over all else, its first-ever slate of endorsements this year includes over 100 Republicans who voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election. They have raised millions of dollars to make sure those insurrectionists keep their jobs. In addition to AIPAC endorsing Republicans who are trying to undermine our democracy, they also endorsed dozens of Democrats, including 44 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC).
  • Progressive Democrats should not accept support from AIPAC, full stop. Do members of the CPC want to be connected to an organization that also endorses insurrectionists?
Ed Webb

Appease and enable: The West's disastrous Russia and Turkey policies - POLITICO - 0 views

  • Western powers once again make excuses for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, understanding Turkey’s mysterious “legitimate security concerns,” which often equates to a license to kill. But by appeasing him for the sake of “keeping” the country within NATO, they miss the point that the Turkish leader is not so different from Russian President Vladimir Putin — and that once again, a policy of appeasement simply won’t work. 
  • Turkey has been allowed to indulge in its long-running double game, continuing to play Russia and the West against each other, delivering pre-ordered drones to Kyiv on the one hand, while ignoring sanctions against Moscow and opposing Finland and Sweden’s applications to join NATO on the other. 
  • There are strong similarities between Russian arrogance toward Ukrainians and Turkish high-handedness toward the Kurds.Ankara targets anything that sounds or looks Kurdish — inside or outside the country. And both Erdoğan and Putin see it as their historic missions to “civilize” these “substandard” and finally “non-existing” nations, to invoke their right to self-defense and preventive strikes against Nazis and terrorists respectively, who they say threaten to attack “peace-loving” Russia or Turkey.
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  • This cynical agenda is driven by the fear of losing “NATO partner Turkey” to Russia. In addition, Europeans have been avoiding jeopardizing their economic interests in Turkey and are fearful of placing their refugee deal with Ankara at risk.
  • the systems Erdoğan and Putin have crafted disregard the rule of law and supersede it with one-man rule, as they both have surrounded themselves by oligarchs and yes-men. Both countries are undemocratic, their elections neither free nor fair,  their regimes pushing narratives and pursuing actions that are irredentist, revisionist and bellicose
  • In Turkish-occupied northern Syria, the Kurdish language is banned in official institutions and schools and replaced by Turkish, much like in occupied Ukrainian land, where Russian has ousted the Ukrainian and Turkish Tatar languages.
  • Appeasers fail to understand that Western standards, values and principles are obstacles to the functioning of these regimes
  • they cannot be engaged through values and rules-based approaches but need to be treated as what they are — security threats.
Ed Webb

Secret British 'black propaganda' campaign targeted cold war enemies | Cold war | The G... - 0 views

  • The British government ran a secret “black propaganda” campaign for decades, targeting Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia with leaflets and reports from fake sources aimed at destabilising cold war enemies by encouraging racial tensions, sowing chaos, inciting violence and reinforcing anti-communist ideas, newly declassified documents have revealed.
  • The campaign also sought to mobilise Muslims against Moscow, promoting greater religious conservatism and radical ideas. To appear authentic, documents encouraged hatred of Israel.
  • The Information Research Department (IRD) was set up by the post-second world war Labour government to counter Soviet propaganda attacks on Britain. Its activities mirrored the CIA’s cold war propaganda operations and the extensive efforts of the USSR and its satellites.
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  • The Observer last year revealed the IRD’s major campaign in Indonesia in 1965 that helped encourage anti-communist massacres which left hundreds of thousands dead. There, the IRD prepared pamphlets purporting to be written by Indonesian patriots, but in fact were created by British propagandists, calling on Indonesians to eliminate the PKI, then the biggest communist party in the non-communist world.
  • “The UK did not simply invent material, as the Soviets systematically did, but they definitely intended to deceive audiences in order to get the message across.”
  • “reports” sent to warn other governments, selected journalists and thinktanks about “Soviet subversion” or similar threats.The reports comprised carefully selected facts and analysis often gleaned from intelligence provided by Britain’s security services, but appeared to come from ostensibly independent analysts and institutions that were in reality set up and run by the IRD. One of the first of these, set up in 1964, was the International Committee for the Investigation of Communist Front Organisations.
  • Between 1965 and 1972, the IRD forged at least 11 statements from Novosti, the Soviet state-run news agency. One followed Egypt’s defeat in the 1967 six-day war against Israel and underlined Soviet anger at Egypt’s “waste” of so much of the arms and materiel Moscow had supplied to the country.
  • The IRD also forged literature purporting to come from the Muslim Brotherhood, a mass Islamist organisation that had a significant following across the Middle East. One pamphlet accused Moscow of encouraging the 1967 war, criticised the quality of Soviet military equipment, and called the Soviets “filthy-tongued atheists” who saw the Egyptians as little more than “peasants who lived all their lives nursing reactionary Islamic superstitions”.AdvertisementThe IRD also created an entirely fictive radical Islamist organisation called the League of Believers, which attacked the Russians as non-believers and blamed Arab defeats on a lack of religious faith, a standard trope among religious conservatives at the time.
  • The IRD’s leaflets echoed other claims made by radical Islamists, arguing that military misdeeds should not be blamed on “the atheists or the imperialists or the Zionist Jews” but on “Egyptians who are supposed to be believers”.
  • Other material highlighted the poor view that Moscow took of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the limited aid offered by the Soviets to Palestinian armed nationalist groups. This was contrasted with the more supportive stance of the Chinese, in a bid to widen the split between the two communist powers.
  • One major initiative focused on undermining Ian Smith’s regime in Rhodesia, the former colony that unilaterally declared its independence from the UK in 1965 in an attempt to maintain white minority rule.The IRD set up a fake group of white Rhodesians who opposed Smith. Its leaflets attacked him for lying, creating “chaos” and crippling the economy. “The whole world is against us … We must call a halt while we can still save our country,”
  • In early 1963, the IRD forged a statement from the World Federation of Democratic Youth, a Soviet front organisation, which denounced Africans as uncivilised, “primitive” and morally weak. The forgery received press coverage across the continent, with many newspapers reacting intemperately.
  • A similar forgery in 1966 underlined the “backwardness” and “political immaturity” of Africa. Another, a statement purportedly from Novosti, blamed poor academic results at an international university in Moscow on the quality of the black African students enrolled there. The IRD sent more than 1,000 copies to addresses across the developing world.
  • As with most such efforts, the impact of the IRD’s campaigns was often difficult to judge. On one occasion, IRD officials were able to report that a newspaper in Zanzibar printed one of their forgeries about Soviet racism, and that the publication prompted an angry response. This was seen as a major achievement. Officials were also pleased when Kenyan press used fake material about the 1967 six-day war, and when newspapers across much of the Islamic world printed a fake Novosti bulletin on the conflict. Occasionally, western newspapers unwittingly used IRD materials, too.
  • Though the IRD was shut down in 1977, researchers are now finding evidence that similar efforts continued for almost another decade.“The [new documents] are particularly significant as a precursor to more modern efforts of putting intelligence into the public domain.“Liz Truss has a ’government information cell’, and defence intelligence sends out daily tweets to ‘pre-but’ Russian plots and gain the upper hand in the information war, but for much of the cold war the UK used far more devious means,” Cormac said.
Ed Webb

Fourth Turkish drilling ship arrives from South Korea - Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Mi... - 0 views

  • Why it matters: Turkey has been conducting energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and western Black Sea. Ankara's activities in the eastern Mediterranean have been a source of major contention between Greece, Cyprus and Turkey over conflicting territorial claims.  The tensions reached a high point last October when Turkish forces turned back a Cypriot research vessel for allegedly entering Turkish territory. Yet, revival of the exploratory talks between Ankara and Athens last year offered a diplomatic offramp to the escalation. In March, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul, following third round of talks between the two parties on Feb. 22
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