Category: Middle East (Page 2 of 3)

Weekly Reading List: All about foreign policy Realism.

Hi everyone, been long we had a Weekly Reading List! Not weekly anymore, unfortunately, as I am busy with my work and research, but as Easter break is approaching, and I will be immersed full time in my PhD thesis, here’re a few articles which I want to leave you guys with, which I wrote in the last one month.

JIR2016_1First, the big one.

My research paper got published, titled “Was Putin Ever Friendly to the West?”: An Expository Study of the First Two Terms of President Vladimir Putin, In Light of the Theories of Realism. (Journal of International Relations, Faculty of International Relations, University of Economics in Bratislava 2016, Volume XIV, Issue 1, Pages 58-92. ISSN 1336-1562 (print), ISSN 1339-2751 (online) Published 15. 3. 2016)

You can download the full paper here.

Aurangzeb_in_old_age_2Secondly, most of you would remember I wrote a comparative piece on how modern Russia is like seventeenth century India under the Mughals? I went a bit further and compared Putin and the medieval Indian emperor Aurangzeb. (Which, incidentally got a nice review here!)

I wrote two articles on Russia-Direct, the first one on how unlikely it is for Russia to actually invade the Baltics, and the second one on the fact that Russia and US is not in any New Cold war, but just a usual Great power rivalry with competition and cooperation happening simultaneously.

I also wrote one long essay for The Interpreter Magazine, on how contrary to popular belief, Obama is not a Realist…infact he doesn’t seem to understand what Realism in foreign policy means.

With regards to my weekly columns, here are they. 

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Trump’s fake anti-war position slips

Trump calls for boots on the ground in Syria

One of the weird things about the Republican primary up until now is how “anti-interventionists” and “anti-war”-ists have praised or even supported “the most militaristic person” (Trump’s own self-definition), Donald Trump.

For Anti-Interventionists, Trump vs. Sanders Is Ideal Race,” isolationist Pat Buchanan wrote in an article published at white nationalist website described Trump as an “anti-interventionist” in a headline.

Trump has created that image by saying things like “We can’t continue to be the policemen of the world,” and, “Let Syria and ISIS fight. Why do we care?” But later he said the U.S. should “bomb the shit out of ISIS” and steal Iraq’s oil.

Now at the most recent debate, he called not only for bombing ISIS but also invading with ground troops. He said, “I’m hearing numbers of 20 to 30,000. We have to knock them out fast,” and then added some gibberish about, “We’re not allowed to fight. We can’t fight. … They didn’t want to knock out the oil because of what it’s going to do to the carbon footprint. … We used to fight to win. Now we fight for no reason whatsoever.”

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Analysis: “Freedom of Press”, Turkey and the real story of Zaman takeover

The crescendo of the Conflict: Guest post by Akif Avcı. (Akif is a Doctoral Researcher at the University of Nottingham)


The motivation behind typing this article is to resist against the mainstream media in the issue of the takeover of media group Feza Journalism by the AKP (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, Justice and Development Party) government. Two days ago, a decision has been made by a Turkish court to takeover the Feza Journalism, which owns Turkey’s largest-circulation newspaper and one of the most famous private news agency affiliated with Gulen Movement. Many people gathered in front the Zaman building to protest this seizure. Police forces have attacked the protestors with water-cannons and tear gasses. Many of the journalists, intellectuals, and political party leaders in Turkey have approached the takeover of the Feza media group as a threat to the freedom of press, and declared their solidarity with Gulenist Media.

Supposing this as a threat to the freedom of speech in Turkey-as most of the mainstream media has done so far- is nothing more than masking the truths behind the scene. Rather, this takeover, from my perspective, is the latest attempt of the AKP government in the sense of overcoming its enemy in the ongoing battle between the Gulen Movement and the AKP government, which has become crystallised after the so-called corruption probe started in 17-25 December of 2013. I would like to highlight the fact that there is this agenda needs to be focused on in order to unearth why the AKP has attacked the Gulenist media. This article argues that the takeover is the reflection of intra-capital, intra-state conflict between the AKP government and the Gulen Movement. The task of this article is to uncover the history and unpack what the AKP-Gulen coalition fuelled the neoliberal authoritarian regime. 

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“New Cold War” and policies to confront Russia

Joint editorial by Mitchell Blatt and Sumantra Maitra, editors of Bombs and Dollars


For those who make a career out of observing and analyzing international relations, the Munich security conference is a surreal experience. A lot changed since the passive aggressive rupture in 2007 by Vladimir Putin, in front of a stunned and a little dismissive European audience, and the world has come a long way since then. Russia pummeled Georgia, annexed Crimea, divided Ukraine, and intervened in Syria. Europe faces a migration crisis unlike ever before in history, of an exceptional magnitude and character. Migration and jihadism are used as weapons of blackmail not just by an adversarial Russia but a supposed ally in Turkey, and partners in East Europe. The liberal world order has crashed, and history has returned with a vengeance. Not everything has changed, of course… Stop the War, Code Pink and Global Research Canada still blames Western imperialism. Ed Snowden and Glenn Greenwald still think intelligence-gathering and espionage in times of war are totally outdated and provocative policies, a view shared (rhetorically, at least) by Ted Cruz, for some reason. Donald Trump proudly touts his support from Putin and pledges to buddy up to him in return, while Trump’s supporters comment on Facebook that at least they think an autocratic tyrant who is behind the deaths of dissidents is better than President Obama. Trump defended him, on the grounds that, “the U.S. kills people, too,” and “there’s no evidence” he has killed a journalist, but it doesn’t matter, because even if he did start shooting people on Fifth Avenue, they would still support him. Mitt Romney was mocked in 2012 for stating that Russia was America’s“biggest enemy.” Obama painted him as an out-of-touch old hawk who didn’t know the Cold War ended decades ago. Just this February, Russian PM Dimitry Medvedevsaid, “We are in a new Cold War.” 291150701-e1409886026827

So are we or are we not in a new cold war? And if we are, how big is Putin’s Russia a threat to the West, and how to deal with it?

Well…the question itself is complicated, and the key is in the wording. While news outlets that printed Medvedev’s quote used capital letters for “Cold War,” as if it were a proper noun, it is indisputable that we are in a cold war—not like the one between America and Russia, but a geo-political battle of a different scale. No matter how much German foreign minister tries to Germansplain Medvedev’s remarks, there is no questioning that is true. Russia is a shadow of the former Soviet self and simply lacks the capability for global political, military, economic and ideological confrontation. However, that doesn’t make it any less important, because unlike last time, the West is not united. Many in Western Europe and the U.S. and Canada are complacent and accommodating this time around. But for the Baltic countries and Ukraine, they are in big trouble, and they know it.

To deal with this new development, we need to understand and more importantly accept that we’re in a geo-political conflict. Here’s how. 

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Few blog posts for your holiday weekend reading!

Well, I apologise for not being regular, hectic week. But here’re a few publications by me. It’s that time of the year. When we celebrate the birth of our Lord of Scientific Reasoning, Sir Isaac Newton. 12436640_10203967247220283_1423912340_o

On the ongoing battle of Ramadi. Just remember, this Christmas, there are men and women fighting and dying so that others can live for free.

On what IR theory tells us about what’s happening in South China Sea. (Psstt…it’s called Buckpassing)

On why Turkey and Saudi Arabia are a major threat to Western credibility when it comes to Human Rights.

On the top four takeaways from Putin’s annual Presser. Where he answered some “tough” questions by Russian journalists on about what perfumes he like and how men look up to him on villages. It was surreal to watch, like anything on Russia.

And finally, what according to me, are the top geo-political changes of 2015 and the top challenges of 2016.

That’s pretty much it from me to end this year…Merry Christmas from all of us! Have a wonderful time, with your loved ones! God Bless.


Takeaways from Marco Rubio’s foreign policy speech to Republican Jewish Coalition

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio’s speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition has been energizing conservatives and was shared frequently on Twitter. In it, the Senator from Florida and member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee outlined a hawkish position to bolster what he feels is a waning American influence in the world and support Israel against the boycott campaign. Here are some key takeaways from his speech (which can be viewed in full at his website):

Rubio opposed international campaigns to pressure Israel over its West Bank settlements.

He called the European Union’s product labeling rule, which requires products produced in the West Bank to be labeled as “made in settlements” anti-Semitic.

“The rule applies to no other country – not to Russia, which invaded Georgia and Ukraine, nor China, which occupies Tibet. The EU is singling out only Israel,” Rubio said.

“Discriminatory laws that apply only to Jews are now being written into European law for the first time in more than half a century. I believe we need a president who is not afraid to call this out for what it is: anti-Semitism,” he continued.

He also promised to “defund UN entities that attack Israel or promote anti-Semitism.”

The US did, under President Obama, cut off funding to UNESCO after UNESCO voted to admit Palestine. That was in accordance with laws passed in 1990 and 1994. As such, the US lost its voting rights within UNESCO.

Rubio also promised to oppose the domestic “BDS” (“boycott, divest, and sanction”) campaign within the US.

Rubio would not follow the nuclear deal with Iran.

Rubio reaffirmed his past promises to abandon the nuclear deal the Obama administration and five other nations negotiated with Iran that attempts to stop or limit its nuclear development.

“Let me be loud and clear about how I will begin: I will immediately shred this president’s disastrous deal with Iran. … And those who are now rushing to do business with Iran need to know that upon taking office, I will re-impose the sanctions that President Obama plans to waive over congressional objection,” he said.

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Weekly Reading List: Two important questions and a happy thanksgiving note

Apologies, as I was occupied with a lecture, by Dr Bettina Renz, on Hybrid warfare conducted by Russia. I am not allowed to discuss every detail, but suffice to say that I remain skeptical, as Dr Renz, as well as Dr Mark Galeotti, on the definition, effectiveness and scope of Russian capabilities. Hybrid Renz Talk

However, that’s not the major issue.

After Turkey shot down a Russian jet, I was asked, if there will be a third world war between NATO and Russia. Going by Russian response (bombing food aid convoy, blocking import, deporting Turkish businessmen) I say with extreme sarcasm, the carnage of the ongoing third world war are truly shocking to behold.

So, no…there won’t be a third world war, and you guys can carry on with your thanksgiving plans. There is too much at stake, for both Russia and NATO and neither side would want to escalate further. Let’s just say, this was a test, Putin has been testing NATO resolve, and Turkey was also waiting for an opportunity to show claws. This incident proved that NATO resolve is quite strong, and there is a risk of being burned if someone keeps playing with fire. My first weekly column explains that further.

Also, for those who think China would join an anti-ISIS coalition, good luck, it is not going to happen, as far as one beheading is concerned. China is more than happy to let other powers carry the security burden of middle east, as long as it can continue her mercantile policies in Africa, and focus on South China sea. Also, China has a homegrown Islamist problem, and I don’t think the Chinese leadership is dumb enough to add on to that. My second weekly column.

Before ending, I must say,

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Americans try to be unwelcoming to refugees

Americans lately have a bad habit of drawing conclusions from unrelated circumstances. One of the attackers reportedly was a terrorist who blended himself in with refugees to get into Europe. America, as anyone familiar with geography knows, isn’t Europe, and hundreds of thousands of boats aren’t washing up on America’s shores. So, to whatever degree the attack is relevant to European migration policy, it is not, at any rate, relevant to American policy.

That doesn’t stop demagogues and overreacting politicians from acting on it. Governors in more than a dozen states are trying to stop refugees who will already be admitted to the U.S. anyway from coming to their own states.

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A girl named Sanaa Taleb

My name is Sanaa Taleb. I come from Morocco. I am being imprisoned for 7 months in detention facilities Elliniko and I demand my freedom.

These are the words from a letter that 33  year old Sanaa Taleb released 14 days ago. She is detained from 4th of April this year in one of Greek detention centers for undocumented migrants, south of Athens. Sanaa was almost deported by Greek police ten days ago but the pilot of the plane prevented her deportation; not that he was worried particularly about her forced deportation. “What will the tourists say if they will see a woman with ripped clothes covered in a blood travelling among them?” was his concern.

The police officers brutally beat Sanaa (in handcuffs) the day she rejected deportation and took her back to the women detention facilities Elliniko.

The bruises and scratches from police aggression was still visible on her body when I met her this week in one of the Athens courtroom. “After 6 months of my detention the authorities decided to simply prolong my imprisonment for another 3 months. From then on I decided to reject any food given to me by prison staff,” she explained to me.

on her hand scratches

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Weekly Reading List: South China Sea and overestimating Russia

A lot happened over the week, as you know, but here’s a recap on two issues, in two most volatile places in the world, one where there is a war going on for around 3000 years, and the other being a civilisational clash point, if we borrow a Huntingtonian phrase, but I assure you, the message I convey today is not one of doom, but one of optimism. 

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