Even before an official announcement was made that an agreement had been reached on the JCPOA, it was evident that any negotiation would inevitably bring mixed public opinion around the world. In his Arms Control Today article, Kimball identified that some would complain that ‘the nuclear deal does not address human rights concerns, eliminate Iran’s ballistic missile program, or put an end to Iranian support for terrorism.’
Others also complained that the deal falls short of their expectations for limiting Iran’s nuclear potential and that tougher sanctions could be used to coerce Iran into further limiting its nuclear program. Kimball discussed fallacies with these likely outcomes: the goal of these nuclear negotiations and any subsequent deal was not to address any concerns other than those specifically dealing with Iran’s nuclear development program. Furthermore, the terms of an agreement should be judged as a whole concept focused on reducing Iran’s nuclear capacity and improving the ability to evaluate the possibility of any future nuclear weapons programs. It should not be evaluated solely on the basis of any one feature of the agreement. Kimball also identified that to sustain implementation of an agreement there must be a sufficient amount of domestic support both in Iran and in the United States. So far that support is unbalanced at best, in both places.
The vision of the P5+1 and the EU in implementing the JCPOA was for renewed confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program. The JCPOA allows Iran an opportunity to move forward with its nuclear program as long as it remains consistent with the considerations of the agreement – “gradual evolution, at a reasonable pace.” Iran also views this as an opportunity for the international community to restore its confidence in the Islamic Republic by showing it is capable of cooperating with international partners to improve both global and regional security. In exchange for its guarantee to pursue only the peaceful use of nuclear energy, the JCPOA implements a process to lift all UN Security Council, multilateral and national sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program development. The removal of these sanctions will eventually allow Iran to have full access in areas of trade, energy, finance and technology.
The Hope of Improved Domestic Conditions
Many Iranians were on the edge of their seats as they awaited the outcome of the nuclear negotiations. A combined public opinion poll conducted by the University of Maryland and the University of Tehran concluded that most ordinary Iranians approved of the JCPOA. Immediately after the announcement that Iran had negotiated and finalized a nuclear program agreement with world powers, Iranians took to the streets proudly waving victory signs. Those supporting the agreement, according to the poll, include moderates inside the government, many opposition leaders, a majority of Iranian citizens, and many in the Iranian-American diaspora.
Iranians have much to gain from this new agreement. According to a poll conducted by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, sixty-one percent of respondents believed that reaching this nuclear deal “should facilitate progress toward greater rights and liberties” and that the attention of the nation “previously monopolized by the negotiations could now turn to critical domestic issues” to include the state of basic freedoms. Furthermore, as discovered by the University of Maryland/Tehran opinion poll, fifty-seven percent of Iran’s people fully support limiting its nation’s nuclear centrifuges and stockpile to a level commensurate to support nuclear energy, all while accepting more extensive inspections, in exchange for the lifting of the crushing economic sanctions and expanding nuclear cooperation.
Fear and Mistrust Takes Root
Conversely, the Universities of Maryland and Tehran identified that those opposed to the new nuclear agreement were “the most militantly authoritarian, conservative, and anti-Western leaders and groups within Iran.” They believed that imposing limits on nuclear research activities and dismantling half of Iran’s centrifuges was “unacceptable.” Economic sanctions and international isolation have deeply affected Iran’s domestic infrastructure and economy and many Iranians have sought to blame the US and the West for Iran’s domestic turmoil. There is a significant level of mistrust. These conservative Iranians are doubtful that the sanctions will actually be lifted. Past and present US policies toward Iran and cultural/religious differences leave many Iranians with a very negative opinion of the US government. They believe that the negotiations have little to do with nuclear proliferation and are more an attempt to “dominate Iran or block its development.” Others feel that the US is trying to change “Iran’s domestic political order.” Others fear that the agreement has a potential to fail and the result would be a drastic increase in social hopelessness across Iran:
“People would once again lose their motivation for reforms… The atmosphere for cultural activities and journalism would become tremendously more difficult… A continuation of sanctions would place the country in a defensive mode…and the domestic security organs would increasingly pressure the media and journalists in order to silence any voices of dissent” – anonymous Iranian journalist
Since its inception, the Iranian nuclear program has been the center of international attention. Iran’s nuclear research and development has severe implications for both global and regional geopolitics. Many feared that no agreement would ever be reached and that Iran would leave the negotiations in a worse global position than when talks began. When negotiations were finally reached and the P5+1 announced the birth of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Iranian people took two opposing stances. Those that supported the agreement were optimistic of the changes it could bring to Iran – lifted sanctions, improved social conditions, and the ability to focus on Iran’s domestic issues. For those that were reluctant to get on board or that expressed their anti-American sentiments, opinion polls found the majority of their opposition was rooted in fear and mistrust of America and the West. Such powerful emotions that took decades to build cannot easily be changed, most certainly not overnight. But through successful implementation of the terms of the JCPOA and the exchanges promised to Iran, there is room to believe that those opposed may find hope as well. Only in undoing this unbalanced balancing can the maximum potential of the JCPOA be realized and the optimal benefits to the global community emerge.
What is the public sphere today in Turkey?
The concept of public sphere, which was started to be examined in Europe in the 1960s, has different meanings according to different perspectives, as a definite definition cannot be made today, and this situation creates important discussion topics about the use of such spaces.
Long debated the definition of public space in Europe, in Turkey also began to affect 1980”l year. After the 1980 coup, some communities, which were kept out of sight, fearing that the Republic project would be harmed, demanded the recognition of their ethnic and cultural identities. Thus the concept of the public sphere in Turkey, especially since the early 1990s to be addressed in various academic publications, use and began to discuss political issues.
Especially in the past years, the public sphere debates on the headscarf issue were discussed from various angles. The debate started with Prime Minister Erdogan’s criticism of President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, who did not invite his wife to a NATO dinner, saying “Dolmabahçe is not a public space”, and the President of the Council of Higher Education, Prof.Dr. Erdoğan Teziç; He responded by emphasizing that the public sphere is not a “ geographical definition ” but a functional concept.
Before defining the public sphere, the understanding that shows that the definition of space in the Ottoman Empire was shaped as less private, private, very private and very very private is still one of the biggest reasons for the definition of the public sphere. While expressing, it reminds that he entered the Ottoman literature in a different way in the 19th century. Thinkers who indicate the association of the public sphere with the state in general express it as the sphere that is related to the state, not the “public”. “When you say ‘public’, the state comes to mind immediately; We mean something like government administration, its organs, organizations, officials, or activities, an official domain that is owned or run under state control. However, as Habermas said, the public sphere is above all the sphere in which the public opinion is formed in our social life ”.
As citizens of the city, we observe that some projects have spread to the spaces defined as public space due to the fact that today’s public space and public space concepts have not been defined precisely and construction activities have increased due to the anxiety of rent.
Erdogan’s Calamitous Authoritarianism
Turkey’s President Erdogan is becoming ever more dangerous as he continues to ravage his own country and destabilize scores of states in the Middle East, the Balkans, and North Africa, while cozying up to the West’s foremost advisories. Sadly, there seems to be no appetite for most EU member states to challenge Erdogan and put him on notice that he can no longer pursue his authoritarianism at home and his adventurous meddling abroad with impunity.
To understand the severity of Erdogan’s actions and ambitions and their dire implications, it suffices to quote Ahmet Davutoglu, formerly one of Erdogan’s closest associates who served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and subsequently Prime Minister. Following his forced resignation in May 2016 he stated “I will sustain my faithful relationship with our president until my last breath. No one has ever heard — and will ever hear — a single word against our president come from my mouth.”
Yet on October 12, Davutoglu declared “Erdogan left his friends who struggled and fought with him in exchange for the symbols of ancient Turkey, and he is trying to hold us back now…. You yourself [Erdogan] are the calamity. The biggest calamity that befell this people is the regime that turned the country into a disastrous family business.”
The stunning departure of Davutoglu from his earlier statement shows how desperate conditions have become, and echoed how far and how dangerously Erdogan has gone. Erdogan has inflicted a great calamity on his own people, and his blind ambition outside Turkey is destabilizing many countries while dangerously undermining Turkey’s and its Western allies’ national security and strategic interests.
A brief synopsis of Erdogan’s criminal domestic practices and his foreign misadventures tell the whole story.
Domestically, he incarcerated tens of thousands of innocent citizens on bogus charges, including hundreds of journalists. Meanwhile he is pressuring the courts to send people to prison for insulting him, as no one can even express their thoughts about this ruthlessness. Internationally, Erdogan ordered Turkish intelligence operatives to kill or smuggle back to the country Turkish citizens affiliated with the Gülen movement.
He regularly cracks down on Turkey’s Kurdish minority, preventing them from living a normal life in accordance with their culture, language, and traditions, even though they have been and continue to be loyal Turkish citizens. There is no solution to the conflict except political, as former Foreign Minister Ali Babacan adamantly stated on October 20: “… a solution [to the Kurdish issue] will be political and we will defend democracy persistently.”
Erdogan refuses to accept the law of the sea convention that gives countries, including Cyprus, the right to an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for energy exploration, while threatening the use of force against Greece, another NATO member no less. He openly sent a research ship to the region for oil and gas deposits, which EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called “extremely worrying.”
He invaded Syria with Trump’s blessing to prevent the Syrian Kurds from establishing autonomous rule, under the pretext of fighting the PKK and the YPG (the Syrian Kurdish militia that fought side-by-side the US, and whom Erdogan falsely accuses of being a terrorist group).
He is sending weapons to the Sunni in northern Lebanon while setting up a branch of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) in the country—a practice Erdogan has used often to gain a broader foothold in countries where it has an interest.
While the Turkish economy is in tatters, he is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the Balkans, flooding countries with Turkish imams to spread his Islamic gospel and to ensure their place in his neo-Ottoman orbit. Criticizing Erdogan’s economic leadership, Babacan put it succinctly when he said this month that “It is not possible in Turkey for the economic or financial system to continue, or political legitimacy hold up.”
Erdogan is corrupt to the bone. He conveniently appointed his son-in-law as Finance Minister, which allows him to hoard tens of millions of dollars, as Davutoglu slyly pointed out: “The only accusation against me…is the transfer of land to an educational institution over which I have no personal rights and which I cannot leave to my daughter, my son, my son-in-law or my daughter-in-law.”
Erdogan is backing Azerbaijan in its dispute with Armenia (backed by Iran) over the breakaway territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is inhabited by ethnic Armenians and has been the subject of dispute for over 30 years.
He is exploiting Libya’s civil strife by providing the Government of National Accord (GNA) with drones and military equipment to help Tripoli gain the upper hand in its battle against Khalifa Haftar’s forces. Former Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis said in February 2020 that “The unclear Turkish foreign policy by Erdogan may put Turkey in grave danger due to this expansion towards Libya.”
He is meddling in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an effort to prevent them from settling their dispute unless Israel meets Palestinian demands. He granted several Hamas officials Turkish citizenship to spite Israel, even though Hamas openly calls for Israel’s destruction.
He betrayed NATO by buying the Russian-made S-400 air defense system, which seriously compromises the alliance’s technology and intelligence.
He is destabilizing many countries, including Somalia, Qatar, Libya, and Syria, by dispatching military forces and hardware while violating the air space of other countries like Iraq, Cyprus, and Greece. Yakis said Turkey is engaging in a “highly daring bet where the risks of failure are enormous.”
Erdogan supports extremist Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, and an assortment of jihadists, including ISIS, knowing full well that these groups are sworn enemies of the West—yet he uses them as a tool to promote his wicked Islamic agenda.
He regularly blackmails EU members, threatening to flood Europe with Syria refugees unless they support his foreign escapades such as his invasion of Syria, and provide him with billions in financial aid to cope with the Syrian refugees.
The question is how much more evidence does the EU need to act? A close look at Erdogan’s conduct clearly illuminates his ultimate ambition to restore much of the Ottoman Empire’s influence over the countries that were once under its control.
Erdogan is dangerous. He has cited Hitler as an example of an effective executive presidential system, and may seek to acquire nuclear weapons. It’s time for the EU to wake up and take Erdogan’s long-term agenda seriously, and take severe punitive measures to arrest his potentially calamitous behavior. Sadly, the EU has convinced itself that from a geostrategic perspective Turkey is critically important, which Erdogan is masterfully exploiting.
The EU must be prepared take a stand against Erdogan, with or without the US. Let’s hope, though, that Joe Biden will be the next president and together with the EU warn Erdogan that his days of authoritarianism and foreign adventurism are over.
The views expressed are those of the author.
Syrian Refugees Have Become A Tool Of Duplicitous Politics
Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria the issue of Syrian refugees and internally displace has been the subject of countless articles and reports with international humanitarian organizations and countries involved in the Syrian conflict shifting responsibility for the plight of migrants.
The most notorious example of human suffering put against political games is the Rukban refugee camp located in eastern Syria inside the 55-km zone around Al-Tanf base controlled by the U.S. and its proxies.
According to official information, more than 50,000 people, mostly women and children, currently live in the camp. This is a huge number comparable to the population of a small town. The Syrian government, aware of the plight of people in Rukban, has repeatedly urged Washington to open a humanitarian corridor so that everyone can safely return home. However, all such proposals were ignored by the American side. U.S. also refuse to provide the camp with first aid items. Neighbouring Jordan is inactive, too, despite Rukban being the largest of dozens other temporary detention centres in Syria, where people eke out a meager existence.
At the same time, the problem is not only refugee camps. Syria has been at war for a decade. The country’s economy has suffered greatly over this period, and many cities have been practically grazed to the ground. Moreover, the global coronavirus epidemic didn’t spare Syria and drained the already weakened economy even more. However, Damascus’ attempts of post-war reconstruction and economic recovery were undermined by multiple packages of severe sanctions imposed by the U.S. At the same time, U.S.-based human rights monitors and humanitarian organizations continue to weep over the Syrian citizens’ misery.
The situation is the same for those refugees who stay in camps abroad, especially in countries bordering on Syria, particularly Jordan and Turkey. Ankara has been using Syrian citizens as a leverage against the European states in pursuit of political benefits for a long time. No one pays attention to the lives of people who are used as a change coin in big politics. This is equally true for Rukban where refugees are held in inhuman conditions and not allowed to return to their homeland. In those rare exceptions that they are able to leave, refugees have to pay large sums of money that most of those living in camp are not able to come by.
It’s hard to predict how long the Syrian conflict will go on and when – or if – the American military will leave the Al-Tanf base. One thing can be said for sure: the kind of criminal inaction and disregard for humanitarian catastrophe witnessed in refugee camps is a humiliating failure of modern diplomacy and an unforgivable mistake for the international community. People shouldn’t be a tool in the games of politicians.
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