The Assassination of a Russian Ambassador Won’t Stop Russo-Turkish Reconciliation

Dec. 26 2016

After a brief period during which Ankara and Moscow found themselves backing opposite sides in the Syrian civil war, reconciliation now seems inevitable—despite the dramatic assassination of the Russian envoy to Turkey. Eyal Zisser explains what this renewed alliance portends:

Russia’s [return to the Middle East] has been facilitated by Iranian cooperation, in exchange for substantial profits. Thus in Syria the Russians are bombing targets from the sky and the Iranians are fighting on the ground. It is safe to assume that this partnership between Moscow and Tehran, which also includes Hizballah, is predicated on an agreement to partition Syria and essentially the entire [Arab] Middle East—Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon—into spheres of Russian and Iranian influence. . . .

At the base of the shift in Turkey’s position is the recognition of Russian military might and ability to inflict damage, but also the realization that Washington has abandoned the region and its friends there. The Turks are also realistic enough to understand that under the present circumstances their proxies in Syria, the rebels fighting Assad, have only a slim chance of emerging victorious. Yet aside from all this, Turkey views the Kurds as the real danger. Thus latching onto Moscow and moving against the Kurds, who are supported by Washington, is a prudent and necessary step.

We can assume that in return for its willingness to help stabilize the situation in Syria, Turkey’s proxies—fighting in northern Syria, in the Idlib province and north of Aleppo—will receive immunity that will allow them to stay in control there and focus primarily on fighting with the Turks against the Kurds, who are seeking to establish their own autonomy in those areas. . . .

Turkey’s attachment to Russia strengthens Moscow, which can now maneuver as it pleases between Ankara and Tehran, and via a policy of “divide and conquer” advance its interests at the expense of both.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Middle East, Politics & Current Affairs, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Russia, Syrian civil war, Turkey

How the White House Can Bring Mahmoud Abbas to the Negotiating Table

April 28 2017

Next month, the Palestinian Authority president is expected to arrive in Washington to meet with President Trump, perhaps as a prelude to a summit between Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu under American auspices. A Palestinian delegation is currently in the U.S. to conduct preliminary meetings with administration officials. Eran Lerman discusses what can be accomplished:

The most important aspect [in the present discussions] may remain unspoken. It can be defined as “strategic reassurance”: the realization that after years of uncertainty under Barack Obama, the American administration . . . is once again committed without reservation to its friends in the region, the so-called “camp of stability.”

President Obama’s abandonment of [the former Egyptian president], Hosni Mubarak, regardless of the merits of the case, was catastrophic in terms of the loss of any residual political courage on Abbas’s part. Obama was sympathetic to the Palestinians’ cause, but his policies generated an acute level of uncertainty for the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, laced with what seemed like a measure of support on Obama’s part for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere. This was not an environment in which to take fateful decisions.

The Trump team seems to be working to restore confidence and reconstruct [alliances with] both Israel and the pro-Western Arab states. In this new environment, it could be safer for Abbas to take measured risks and enter into an open-ended negotiation with Netanyahu. The effort may still fall apart, if only because the Palestinians have fallen into the habit of posing preconditions. But there seems to be a better chance of drawing them in when they feel that their traditional patrons in the Arab world, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are once again basking in the sunshine of American strategic support. . . .

At least in theory, it should therefore be easier now for . . . the White House to persuade Abbas to accept a point of entry into negotiations that stays within the two-state paradigm but is no longer predicated on strict adherence to the June 4, 1967 lines.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Donald Trump, Hosni Mubarak, Israel & Zionism, Mahmoud Abbas, Peace Process, U.S. Foreign policy