May 13, 2012

Erdogan’s Next Move

The Turkish prime minister is apparently trying to consolidate his power, writes ‎Andrew Finkel in the New York Times, but is it the right move for Turkey? ‎

This week, Erdogan said that Turks should begin debating a move from the current ‎parliamentary system, in which most of the governing power rests with the prime minister, ‎toward a presidential system with a more powerful executive, along the lines of the United States ‎or France. Everyone knows what his push for a stronger president means: Erdogan would jump ‎ship before his term as prime minister ends in 2015 and stand as president himself when the job ‎becomes vacant in 2014.  He would continue leading the country, with more power than ever.‎

The most important report on nuclear Iran ‎you are likely to read

Anshel Pfeffer in Haaretz believes that a report by Anthony Cordesman of the ‎Center for Strategic & International Studies’ leaves no room for ambiguity on Iran’s ‎nuclear ambitions. ‎

Anyone who believes that Iran is not yet actively pursuing a nuclear-weapons ‎program and merely developing the capabilities is committing an act of willful ‎delusion. The intelligence supplied to the IAEA and verified by different “member ‎countries,” is clear on that Iran has been working on a wide range of projects for ‎over a decade, all of which are specifically aimed at acquiring the capabilities ‎necessary not only to enrich uranium to weapons-grade, but to assemble a nuclear ‎advice that can be launched by long-range missile. Talk of a fatwa against nuclear ‎weapons is just that: talk.‎

New Tactics, Same Netanyahu

Be it through early elections or a massive coalition, Benjamin ‎Netanyahu’s objectives remain the same, writes Akiva Eldar in the ‎National Interest.

Whether the U.S. president after January 20, 2013, will be Obama or ‎Republican Mitt Romney, Washington will have more freedom to form ‎its Middle East policy in accordance with American strategic interests ‎that don’t necessarily match the ideology and the interests of the current ‎Israeli government. Yet any American president will have less leverage ‎over an Israeli leader who enjoys the backing of 94 out of 120 Knesset ‎members, including those from a central party that supposedly supports ‎generous concessions to the Palestinians.‎

The Hamas-Syrian Split: A Dilemma ‎For Iran’s Palestinian Strategy

Writing in Eurasia Review, Mohammad Ataie examines the impact that Hamas’ ‎somewhat ambiguous stance on Syria has had on the organization’s relationship with ‎key patron Iran. ‎

Hamas Syrian position is still quiet nebulous as the movement’s leadership in Gaza and ‎abroad remain divided over the Syrian crisis. But it is clear that the shadow of tensions ‎between the movement and President Assad has already fallen over Hamas’ relationship ‎with Tehran. For Iran, supporting Hamas is linked to its alliance with President Assad. In ‎other words, despite the Iranian commitment to the Palestinian resistance, the Islamic ‎Republic saw its relationship with the Palestinian as well as the Lebanese resistance from ‎a Syrian perspective. This is well understood in the light of the three decades of Iran’s ‎Levant policy and partnership with Syria.‎

Syria Spins Out of Control

Adam Garfinkle of the American Interest lays the blame for the spiraling chaos in ‎Syria at the feet of the Obama administration. ‎

If, in the fullness of time, a jihadi-led or strongly influenced state arises in Syria, or parts of ‎it, then it is virtually inevitable that the Shi’a-tilted status quo in Lebanon will be upset. ‎Sunni radicals in Damascus will not get along with Hizballah, and there are homegrown ‎Sunni radicals in Lebanon that “friends” in Damascus would encourage and support on their ‎behalf. The likely result? A new civil war, with a beginning epicenter most like in and around ‎Tripoli.‎

Azerbaijan – Israel’s Reluctant Friend

Writing for The Diplomat, Kevyn Lim looks at the advantages and disadvantages of ‎Azeri cooperation with Israel on an Iran strike, and the wider geopolitical ‎consequences of such a move. ‎

Moscow, the region’s preeminent power, continues to view the Caspian basin and the ‎south Caucasus as part of its Soviet-era sphere of influence and is therefore wary of any ‎development that might further diminish its toehold. A direct Israel-Iran faceoff would ‎almost certainly draw the U.S. military into the fray. But the consequences could be worse ‎for Baku if proof of complicity leaks out. And, pipeline routing disputes aside, all five ‎Caspian littoral states – Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan – share ‎an obvious interest in ensuring energy stability.‎


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