US Opinion and Commentary

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Turkey Needs Solutions, Not Scapegoats

Posted January 4th, 2017 at 9:41 am (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin Turkey is accustomed to political violence. Coups and assassinations were common in the 1970s and 80s; in the 90s, a war broke out between Kurdish separatists and government forces that devastated southeastern Turkey and led to terrorism in major Turkish cities. But there is something particularly depressing and ominous about the spate […]

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What the Murder of the Russian Ambassador Might Mean

Posted December 21st, 2016 at 1:26 pm (UTC-5)
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Neither Russia nor Turkey has any interest in blowing this out of proportion. Rapprochement between the two countries has been coming along nicely after relations hit rock bottom following Turkey’s shoot-down of a Russian fighter jet more than a year ago, and both sides have more to gain by having the relationship staying on track…

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Will Turkey Revive its Reform Agenda?

Posted December 13th, 2016 at 10:40 am (UTC-5)
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A once dynamic society surrounded by unstable neighbors, which benefited from a set of progressive economic, social, and political reforms over the past decade and was ready to assume a leading role on the global stage, Turkey is now visibly going through one of its most challenging periods in the republic’s history.

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Make Trump Inc. Great Again

Posted November 21st, 2016 at 11:06 am (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin In between Twitter outbursts at the Broadway hit Hamilton, President-elect Donald Trump has been interviewing Cabinet picks — and meeting investors in his far-flung business empire. A week after his upset win over Hillary Clinton, Trump greeted Indian partners Atul Chordia, Sagar Chordia and Kalpesh Mehta at Trump Tower in New York. […]

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Rise of the Bullies: Trump, Erdogan and Putin

Posted November 1st, 2016 at 4:35 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin In these nail-biting days until U.S. presidential elections next week, it is easy to fall into despair about the state of American democracy. Following disclosure that the FBI is taking a renewed look at emails possibly connected to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s private server, polls have narrowed, suggesting a still-plausible path to victory […]

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Get Ready to Walk Away From Incirlik

Posted October 26th, 2016 at 3:08 pm (UTC-5)
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Turkey’s growing instability is imperiling American operations. During the failed coup, Incirlik’s external power was cut off for a week, halting anti-ISIS operations from the air base for several days, limiting them for several more, and increasing the loads on other regional bases. This is unacceptable.

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Turkey’s New Maps Are Reclaiming the Ottoman Empire

Posted October 24th, 2016 at 2:12 pm (UTC-5)
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These maps purport to show the borders laid out in Turkey’s National Pact, a document Erdogan suggested the prime minister of Iraq should read to understand Turkey’s interest in Mosul. Signed…after the Ottoman Empire’s defeat in World War I, the National Pact identified those parts of the empire the government was prepared to fight for.

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Alliances and the Blurred Battle Lines Against ISIS in Syria

Posted September 2nd, 2016 at 4:28 pm (UTC-5)
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Battle lines and alliances seem to be getting murkier in the U.S. fight against Islamic State in Syria.
Last month, Turkey sent tanks and warplanes over its border with Syria in an offensive against Islamic State forces while also targeting U.S.-backed Kurdish forces, whose success against ISIS brought it too close for Turkey’s comfort.
On the day the offensive began, Vice President Joe Biden stood side-by-side with Turkey’s prime minister, signaling which ally the U.S. was standing behind.
How the U.S. will keep both Turkey and the Kurds on its side is just one of the many diplomatic dramas playing out as the five-and-a-half year Syrian civil war continues with no end in sight.

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The Ever Tenuous Alliance Between the U.S. and Turkey

Posted August 10th, 2016 at 4:27 pm (UTC-5)
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As Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sought to mend fences with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, the rift between Ankara and Washington seemed to widen a little more.

Turkey’s Justice Minister fired verbal a warning shot to the United States: hand over cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey claims was behind a July coup attempt, or risk sacrificing America’s relationship with its NATO ally.

Gulen has been living in self-exile in the U.S. since 1999. State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau says extraditing Gulen is a “legal, technical process…governed by a 1981 extradition treaty.”

Turkey and Russia have been on opposite ends of the war in Syria, magnified in November when a Russian warplane that strayed into Turkish airspace was shot down. Now, foreign policy experts are trying to read the tea leaves from the Erdogan-Putin get together.

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Turkey and the West Are Heading for a Breakup

Posted August 3rd, 2016 at 2:41 pm (UTC-5)
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Turkey’s tortured relationship with the West seems to be reaching a crisis point. The botched coup attempt and the reaction in the aftermath have exposed a widening emotional chasm between Ankara and its Western allies. A conviction is strengthening among many in Turkey that the U.S. was behind the violent attempt to overthrow the Turkish government.

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A Troubling Turn for U.S. Relations in the Muslim World

Posted July 25th, 2016 at 12:22 pm (UTC-5)
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When he launched his attempt to rebuild U.S. relations with the Muslim world seven years ago, Barack Obama started with Turkey and Egypt, vital allies that seemed to be on the cusp of change….the two countries have…transformed their political systems and relations with the U.S. — the result has been a disaster for U.S. interests.

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After Failed Coup, Must U.S. Extradite Cleric?

Posted July 19th, 2016 at 11:42 am (UTC-5)
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[T]he crimes Turkey alleges that Gulen must answer for will be critical here. If the notoriously Internet-averse President alleges that criticism of the government on social media is a crime, that’s not likely to satisfy dual criminality. Nasty speech on Twitter is not only legal in the United States, it’s a national pastime.

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The Coup that Wasn’t

Posted July 18th, 2016 at 4:10 pm (UTC-5)
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The attempted coup in Turkey demonstrated the practicalities and pitfalls of how alliances work.

Without mentioning him by name, President Obama reiterated his “unwavering support for the democratically-elected, civilian Government” of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Obama’s paper statement on Saturday specifically mentioned needing Turkey’s cooperation against terrorism (read: Islamic State.)

Erdogan was slow to allow the U.S. to use Incirlik Air Base to launch attacks against ISIS. He has cracked down on human rights, free speech and freedom of the press.

But Turkey is an ally the United States and NATO need if there is hope for peace in the Middle East.

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A Shaken Turkey Faces More Division and Instability

Posted July 18th, 2016 at 12:25 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin When news of an attempted coup in Turkey first broke on Friday, some Turks thought President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had planned it himself to distract attention from his many failures and justify a further doubling down of his authoritarian rule. Now, three days later, it is clear that the coup attempt was […]

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U.S. and Turkey Clash Over Islamic State Lifeline to Syria 

Posted May 19th, 2016 at 9:40 pm (UTC-5)
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By Barbara Slavin It’s called the Manbij pocket and it’s a major impediment to the U.S. goal of defeating the Islamic State (IS) in Syria. The enclave in northern Syria, which borders Turkey for 60 miles, has remained open to IS infiltration. It is a lifeline for the IS “capital” of Raqqa that the Barack […]

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