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Turkey’s Upcoming Critical Elections and Its Possible Impacts on Tense Relations with the EU and US

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Turkey is on the verge of the most critical elections in its history. The country is at risk of being surrendered to the absolute authority and dictatorial regime under the 20-year ruling of the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi – AKP). Turkey’s democracy has suffered long years under the interference of the country’s elites, which paved the way for creating a fragile democracy, recording periodic military coups in the last decades of the 21st century. However, its delicate democracy has disappeared at the hands of an authoritarian leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Its consequences have been costly for Turkish people and harmful to the interests of the western world. Hypnotized by the government-controlled media, almost 40 percent of Turkey supporting the current regime is unaware of what Turkey has lost when it is far from the western values. The western world also has seen the loss of a reliable ally and a model country that combines Islam and democracy, which the world urgently needs today, where jihadist terrorism has been the most significant threat to the world security. This article will answer the questions on the forthcoming elections.

When will the elections take place?

The elections are scheduled for June 18, 2023. However, it will undoubtedly be held before its projected date. Otherwise, Erdogan cannot be a candidate under the terms of the current constitution amended in 2017. The political rivalry, known as “Table for Six” and composed of six political parties in the opposition, stipulates making the elections before April 6, 2023, and gives their support for two-thirds of the required majority, which can allow Erdogan’s candidacy. The second option for the election date has been under rigorous debate. Some believe that Erdogan is authorized to shut down the parliament and take the country to the elections, regardless of seeking parliament’s approval. Others are against this approach and believe that it is a violation of the constitution. However, it would not be wrong to say that no one can stand up against Erdogan’s decision if he shuts down the parliament. As a result, Turkey’s election will absolutely be held before its projected date, and Erdogan will specify the election date. 

Why is this election critical for President Erdogan and his entourage?

Some comments underline that Erdogan cannot let the elections be held if he knows he cannot win. Turkey has become an authoritarian regime after Erdogan’s AKP was elected twice in two consecutive elections in 2006 and 2010. The following period has recorded how the regime lacks transparency and accountability and has been involved in crime, corruption, and terrorism. The AKP regime is one of the most corrupt governments in Turkey’s history. A few pieces of its corrupt regime were unearthed on December 17 and 25, 2013 corruption scandals, implicating Erdogan, his family, and cabinet members. The December 17 investigation found the corrupt transactions of a money launderer, Reza Zarrab, who evaded US nuclear sanctions on Iran. Zarrab used Turkey’s banking system in return for millions of dollars of bribes offered to the ministers and bureaucrats.

On the other hand, the December 25 investigation deciphered a bribing system on government contracts run by President Erdogan and his son. Erdogan was able to shut down these two scandals in 2014, but Reza Zarrab, the chief suspect of the December 17 investigation, was arrested in the US in 2016 with the same accusations Turkish prosecutors made in 2013. The US trials convicted the chief suspect and opened another investigation on Turkey’s state bank, Halk Bank. The details of the current investigation carry some troubling messages for the Turkish government.

These two corruption scandals served as a turning point in Turkey’s politics, and the AKP government purged 40 thousand police officers and around 5 thousand judges and prosecutors from the government. The suspicious July 15 coup attempt in 2016 accelerated Turkey’s authoritarianism. Erdogan changed the constitution, swept power in the referendum, and replaced Turkey’s parliamentarian system with a Middle Eastern-type presidential system. The newly established system under Erdogan’s leadership has created a kleptocratic system, with politicians and bureaucrats involved in countless corrupt practices. Furthermore, they have committed state terrorism, forcefully disappearing the opposition members, torturing them, and illegally confiscating their assets. Some evidence indicates that the members of the AKP government have transferred arms and explosives to the jihadist regions. Therefore, Erdogan and his entourage, fearful of future investigations about their wrongdoings, have been aware of the risks if they lose the power in their hands. Turkey’s political system has been getting dirtier and more criminally involved since the corruption scandals. Therefore, Erdogan’s interest in the table is more critical than ever, and the coming election means for himself and his entourage to fight for survival. 

Can Turkey have fair elections?

No one relies on the current system and believes Turkey can have fair elections. First, the AKP government’s efforts to protect its regime after the December 17-25 corruption scandals and the suspicious July 15 coup attempt have presented opportunities for Erdogan. After purging thousands of police, military personnel, judges, and prosecutors, no one in the country can even dare to ask any question about any government wrongdoings. The purged officers were replaced with AKP followers. All courts have been filled with judges and prosecutors who openly support the AKP regime. The High Election Board (Yuksek Secim Kurulu – YSK) and Supreme Court judges cannot rule on any decision violating the interest of the AKP government. Each judge knows well that they will be labeled as a terrorist right after their home is raided at dawn by the police, be handcuffed in the back, and be detained if their verdict is against the government’s interests. Therefore, YSK is ready to rule on whatever Erdogan wants in the elections.

Second, Anatolian Agency (AA) is Turkey’s only institution reporting election results. However, it is under the absolute control of the AKP government, and it is expected that they will report results in whatever the government allows to share.

Third, no one knows who will be the rival candidate of Erdogan. However, the AKP has already started putting pressure on the possible candidates. One of them is Istanbul’s Municipality Mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, a strong candidate that holds the majority of the votes against Erdogan according to the polls. However, he has been indicted for insulting YSK members, which he said “dumb” during the Istanbul Municipality elections in 2019, and sentenced to 27 months imprisonment and a ban on doing politics. Imamoglu will not be the candidate in the elections if the supreme court approves his conviction. Erdogan is well-prepared to exploit the power of laws and judges against his rival with flimsy accusations.

Fourth, Erdogan will be using all government resources to be reelected. His efforts to shape people’s perceptions have brought him almost 30 percent of consolidated voters in the country. A significant portion of these people do not question impoverishing results of the government’s politics but are satisfied to get social aid in small amounts. They believe that these aids will disappear if the AKP is not elected. Another vital tool in Erdogan’s box to shape perceptions is the power of religion. Oppressed by the secular system in Turkey, these people believe that the mosques will be shut down and there will be a ban on wearing headscarves in the universities and government buildings if the AKP is not reelected. Finally, Erdogan’s perception games cogently convey to his adamant followers that Turkey will be in trouble if he is not sitting in his position.

Fifth, Turkey’s economy is in tatters. The government fails to repair runaway inflation and a collapsing lira that have pushed millions of Turks to the brink of financial ruin. In addition, the country turns out to be the hub of money laundering. Many factors play a crucial role during the economic collapse, but the transition to authoritarianism deserves the most attention. To appease people’s reactions and get their votes, the AKP government raised the minimum wage by 55 percent and civil servants’ salaries by 30 percent in January 2023. The government also approved the early retirement of around 1.5 million people. They all significantly burden Turkey’s economy but will bring votes for Erdogan.

Can Erdogan use security and terrorism cards again?

Using security cards depends on how much Erdogan feels guaranteed to be reelected. The more Erdogan worries about the election results, the more he can actively resort to violence and use the power of terrorism. First, Erdogan is one of the leaders who have exploited the power of terrorism worldwide. Knowing what terrorism means for the western world, Erdogan has accused his opponents of being terrorists. Even though terrorism databases have recorded dozens of terrorist attacks by predominantly the PKK terrorist organization in a year in Turkey, Erdogan’s AKP has swayed influence over police and judiciary and directed to conduct thousands of terrorist investigations. Most of these investigations have used scant evidence and failed to convince the western audience. However, it would be easy for the AKP government to be persuasive in the eyes of Turkish people exposed to Erdogan’s media.

Turkey recorded suspicious terrorist attacks between June 7 and November 1 elections in 2015. When Erdogan’s AKP failed to get the majority in the June 7 elections, Erdogan threatened people and said, “give us 400 members of the parliament and let it finish smoothly.” Then Turkey recorded suspicious terrorist attacks between two periods and its immediate halt right after the AKP got the majority on November 1, 2015, elections.

Turkey already saw two suspicious attacks in Istanbul and Gaziantep provinces in November 2022 and attributed them to a Kurdish group in Syria as the perpetrators, including some ungrounded accusations of the United States being behind the attacks. Before the elections, Turkey will likely be recording suspicious terrorist attacks allegedly by ISIS or PKK to convince Turkish people that “foreign forces”—a common phrase used by the AKP to base conspiracy theories that westerners can interfere with the country’s domestic and international affairs— would threaten Turkey’s security if the AKP government is replaced.

Second, Turkey may record political assassinations to convince the voters. Turkey already witnessed the assassination of the head of Grey Wolves, a nationalist movement that believes in the superiority of Turkish ethnicity, who were targeted in Ankara on December 30, 2022. The motive behind the assassination is unclear. It is related to narco-terrorism for some commentators but is a homicide targeting the Nationalist Movement Party (Milliyetci Hareket Partisi – MHP), a coalition partner of the AKP government, for others.

Third, Turkey may see a fake assassination attempt targeting President Erdogan or one of the eminent members of the AKP government. The percentage of floating voters is around 15 percent. It looks quite significant when the government’s current support is around 40 percent. So it may be convincing to show the AKP as a political victim and get votes.

Fourth, the government may target the opposition members out of the country. For example, well-known seculars, Kurds, or Gulenists could be the target to show the operational capacity of the government abroad.       

Who is the most critical political party in the elections?

Turkey now has two political blocs: the AKP and MHP coalition is against the opposition bloc, Table for Six. The polls show close results with each other. For example, according to the most recent polls in early January 2023, the AKP and MHP partnership vote rate was 38.2, while it was 42.6 for Table for Six parties. On the other hand, the Kurdish Party, People’s Democratic Party (Halklarin Demokratik Partisi – HDP), vote rate is around 12 percent. Erdogan successfully discriminated against and marginalized HDP and showed it as a terrorist organization; therefore, the Table for Six wrongfully excluded and distanced from HDP, keeping it out of their bloc. No matter how HDP is treated, its 12 percent potential votes will be critical to elect the next President.

What states can actively participate in the elections and favor the AKP government?

Turkey has distanced itself from western values and been closer to authoritarian states in the last years. Erdogan’s relationships with the leaders of authoritarian states have made Turkey vulnerable to these countries’ influences. In this context, Russia, Qatar, and Iran are three countries that support Erdogan’s Turkey. Erdogan’s attitude against the United States has gratified Russia and Iran. The Washington Post article underlined how Russia spent millions of dollars to support foreign political parties and candidates. Russia has already  approved Turkey’s request to delay gas payments. It would not be wrong to say that President Putin wants to see Erdogan in Turkey’s leadership because he knows well that Turkey will continue to take the side of Russia and protect its interests in Ukraine and Syria. Qatar draws special attention in terms of its investment in Turkey. The close friendship between Erdogan and the emir of Qatar is based on mutual interests. Erdogan launders his corrupt money through Qatar, and Qatar’s leader and his business people make considerable investments in Turkey’s business and tourism sectors. Qatar has already injected billions of dollars into Turkey It seems that both Russia and Qatar will continue to loan for temporary relief on the economy before the elections. Finally, Iran enjoys being influential in Turkey’s politics and bureaucracy and will give its support for Erdogan’s reelection.

What may happen if Erdogan wins again?

If Erdogan is reelected, it will substantially impact Turkey’s politics and economy. The AKP lacks the capacity to fix the economy because it is the cause of systemic corruption in Turkey. Almost every government contract includes corruption, and the AKP’s reluctance to curb it will produce an increased capacity for corruption. In addition, the government has already raised salaries, increasing the budget deficit. As a result, inflation will soar, and Turkish people will see rising prices after the elections.

There are quite a few opposition voices in Turkey, and they will be silenced, too. Turkey will again see police operations and terrorism accusations against the opposition with scant evidence. Moreover, Erdogan will continue to blackmail and threaten the western world for his interests. Turkey will not see any improvements in human rights and free media issues. On the contrary, disgruntled and desperate people will leave the country and flock to western countries in masses.

What may happen if the rival candidate wins?

Seeing the rival candidate win is not a solid option, considering how the AKP government can interfere with the elections. However, if the rival candidate wins, he will have difficulty restoring Turkey to its original settings in politics and economy. It will be challenging to fix the economy. The swift transition to democracy would be the best solution to rescue Turkey from the remnants of authoritarianism and remove it again from the influences of Russia and Iran. In this context, western support will be critical to returning Turkey to a democratic state. Also, supposing the rival candidate is courageous enough to shed light on AKP’s 20-year wrongdoings, the world, in that case, will be shocked to see how much money is stolen from Turkey, homicides committed, and criminal and mafia groups are supported under the AKP’s leadership.

What can the US and EU do?

The AKP’s 20-year ruling has seen fluctuating relationships between Turkey and the US. The AKP’s early years, which prioritized transitioning to democracy, got support from the US. In the meantime, no one has understood the close friendship between President Erdogan and former President Donald Trump, but it was mainly based on the mutual personal interests of both leaders. It was, for Trump, to protect his business interests in Turkey. In contrast, it was, for Erdogan, to see Trump’s intervention in the Halk Bank investigation in the US that implicated the AKP government. If Erdogan is elected, the US should be ready again to see Erdogan’s blackmails in NATO and use his cards of Syria, Iran, and Russia. The only solution would be to support fair elections and pressure the international community to participate in the country’s elections.

European Union (EU) deserves the most considerable criticism regarding its silence during Turkey’s transition to an authoritarian regime. Fearful of Erdogan’s blackmail to release millions of Syrian and Afghan refugees in Turkey, the EU has watched human rights violations and media closures by doing nothing. Like the United States, the EU should take an active role in a fair election in Turkey. Otherwise, the EU will constantly see Erdogan blackmails on the refugee crisis and his obstacles to Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO. 

To conclude, Turkey will have its most critical elections in 2023. It is a chance to see a democratic Turkey and a reliable member of NATO again if the rival candidate wins the elections. However, the indicators of who can win the elections do not seem promising. Considering his wrongdoings and the possibility of future investigations, Erdogan cannot leave his position and will do whatever is necessary to win the elections. Turkey can have a hard time before the elections depending on how secure Erdogan feels about the election results. If the polls indicate the rival candidate’s possible victory, Turkey will likely record suspicious terrorist attacks or assassinations. Turkey will be drowned in darkness if Erdogan is reelected, and the Turkish people will pay the considerable cost.   

Dr. Mahmut Cengiz is an Assistant Professor and Research Faculty with Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center (TraCCC) and the Schar School of Policy and Government. Dr. Cengiz has international field experience where he has delivered capacity building and training assistance to international partners in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. He also has been involved in the research projects for the Brookings Institute, European Union, and various U.S. agencies.

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Drone attacks on Iran may lead to severe consequences

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Footage shows what is said to be the moment of an explosion at a military industry factory in Isfahan, Iran, January 29, 2023, in this still image obtained from a video [Pool/WANA via Reuters]

Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, said at a news conference in Tehran on Sunday that “a cowardly drone attack on a military site in central Iran will not impede Iran’s progress on its peaceful nuclear program.”

American officials quickly sent out word on Sunday morning that the United States was not responsible for the attack. One official confirmed that it had been conducted by Israel but did not have details about the target. Sometimes Israel gives the United States advance warning of an attack or informs American officials as an operation is being launched. It is unclear what happened in this case.

A drone attack on an Iranian military facility that resulted in a large explosion in the center of the city of Isfahan on Saturday was the work of Mossad, Israel’s premier intelligence agency, according to senior intelligence officials who were familiar with the dialogue between Israel and the United States about the incident.

The facility’s purpose was not clear, and neither was how much damage the strike caused. But Isfahan is a major center of missile production, research, and development for Iran, including the assembly of many of its Shahab medium-range missiles, which can reach Israel and beyond.

The purpose of these attacks is not clear immediately but, experts have different opinions.  Weeks ago, American officials publicly identified Iran as the primary supplier of drones to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine, and they said they believed Russia was also trying to obtain Iranian missiles to use in the conflict. But U.S. officials said they believed this strike was prompted by Israel’s concerns about its own security, not the potential for missile exports to Russia.

The strike came just as Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken was beginning a visit to Israel, his first since Benjamin Netanyahu returned to office as prime minister. The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, William J. Burns, visited Israel last week, though it is not clear anything about the operation in Isfahan was discussed.

Few experts opinioned that it is to curb Russia-Iran linkages, and hinder their cooperation or limit their collaboration. It may be proved a warning in the expected alliance between them and sabotage. Whereas it might be a signal to halt Iran’s nuclear program.

It is also believed that these attacks may be targeted to isolate China. As the US is hesitant to initiate a direct confrontation with China, but, is harming any other country close to China to isolate it. It is well conceived harming any friend of China is a strong signal to China and exerts pressure on China.

American Conspiracies in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Iran, and all around the globe, may all be to counter China. Even strengthening India is also aimed to counter China. The recent intensive diplomatic activities in ASEAN, around China, are also having the same intentions.

Although Israel is also having to sever enmity with Iran and wanted to avail any opportunity to attack Iran, if American interests also coincide, may be the best opportunity for it. American and Israeli linkages, cooperation, and interests are in line and harmonious. There is no other example of similar relations among any other states in any other part of the world.

For Drone attacks, ground support is required, it is well understood that UAE has facilitated ground support because of Arab-Iran enmity. But, India has also played a vital role in ground facilitation. India is one of its largest economic and trade partners with Iran and on the surface a close friend. India under a few projects like Chahbahar Port, Road, Railway network, etc., has deployed is workforce all over Iran, among them, there are trained intelligence and security personnel. Indian intelligence and security personnel have facilitated Israel such drone attacks. There must be severe consequences and Iran may take appropriate actions or reactions.

However, Global peace is at stake, and spreading any conflict in any part of the world is dangerous for the whole world. Efforts should be intensified to contain confrontations, dissolve issues and limit the risk of destabilizing global peace.

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Israelis and Palestinians do what they do best, but for the wrong reasons

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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has put Israel’s closest allies and some of his key partners on the spot.

So has a generation of Palestinian youth that has nothing to lose and no longer sees fruitless engagement with and acquiescence of the Jewish state as a means of realizing their national and socio-economic aspirations.

It’s not that young Palestinians have necessarily given up on a compromise resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On the contrary, however, they believe that armed resistance with the Jenin refugee camp on the West Bank as its focal point will provoke a situation the international community will no longer be able to ignore.

Jenin is home to a black market for pistols, AK-47s, Kalashnikovs, and M16s, and thousands of youths caught in a Catch-22 in which they are ineligible for Israeli work permits because they are on a terrorism list.

So far, the Palestinian youth strategy appears to be working, even if US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s visit to the region was aimed at calming tensions rather than solving problems.

Similarly, that was the message that the heads of Egyptian and Jordanian intelligence reportedly gave President Mahmoud Abbas on the same morning that the Palestinian president met with Mr. Blinken.

The intelligence chiefs’ bosses, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordanian King Abdullah, are in good company as they brace for the fallout of escalating Israeli-Palestinian violence.

So is United Arab Emirates President Mohammed bin Zayed who in recent years spearheaded greater Arab engagement with Israel without a prospect for a resolution of the Palestinian problem, and the kings of Bahrain and Morocco, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Mohammed VI, who followed the UAE leader’s lead.

Returning from a rare visit to Sudan this week, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said the two countries would establish formal diplomatic relations by the end of this year.

Unlike Mr. Al-Sisi and the Bahraini and Moroccan monarchs, Mr. Bin Zayed may be less concerned about domestic unrest in response to the Israeli-Palestinian violence but worries that regional security could be compromised by the potential fallout of Israel’s harsh response to Palestinian militancy compounded by a more aggressive Israeli posture towards Iran.

Struggling with an economic crisis, Egypt and Jordan, where Palestinians account for roughly half of the country’s 11 million people, are particularly vulnerable to the Palestinian plight becoming a catalyst for anti-government protest.

This week, Moroccans protested in several cities against their country’s forging two years ago of diplomatic relations with Israel.

The protests were in anticipation of Morocco’s hosting in March in the disputed Western Sahara a meeting of the foreign ministers of Israel, the United States, the UAE, and Bahrain to celebrate the anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Arab and Jewish states.

Last month, Jordanian security forces and protesters, angry about rising fuel prices and poor governance, clashed in the southern city of Maan.

Such demonstrations have a life of their own, and in a moment, they can turn into a protest against the government, poverty, and waste, and we have a direct confrontation whose results can be lethal,” said an Egyptian journalist.

All of this plays into the hands of militant Palestinian youth.

So does Mr. Netanyahu, as he accommodates hardline Jewish nationalist and ultra-conservative religious figures in his Cabinet who are in charge of national security and Palestine-related affairs.

To be sure, Mr. Netanyahu, in response to last Friday’s killing of Jewish worshippers at a synagogue, refrained from striking back with a sledgehammer as Israel typically does. Mr. Blinken’s visit may have been one reason for Mr. Netanyahu’s reticence.

Israeli officials suggest that behind closed doors, Mr. Blinken and other recent US visitors, including National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and CIA Director Bill Burns, made clear that even if the US and Iran were on one page regarding Iran for the first time in years, their immediate concerns were related to Palestine and the threat to Israeli democracy posed by Mr. Netanyahu’s plans to undermine the independence of his country’s Supreme Court.

“It is a tragedy that we are forced to deal with less important and burning issues at this time. Our mind is on Iran, but our feet are stuck in Silwan,” said a senior Israeli security official, referring to the east Jerusalem neighborhood that is a hotspot of Palestinian-Israeli violence

“The Americans are exerting heavy pressure on the Palestinian issue and equally heavy pressure on the threat to Israeli democracy arising from the Netanyahu government’s legislative blitz. We’re talking to them about Iran and Saudi Arabia, while they want to talk about Jenin and Shireen Abu Akleh and democracy,” a former diplomatic official added.

The former official was referring to last week’s Israeli raid in Jenin, where 10 Palestinians were killed, and the killing last year of Al Jazeera journalist Abu Akleh.

Adopting a more aggressive stance against Iran, Israel is believed to have last month attacked a long-range missile production plant in the Iranian city of Esfahan as well as truck convoys along the Iraq-Syria border convoys carrying ammunition and weapons for Hezbollah, the pro-Iranian Lebanese militia.

Moreover, last week, the US and Israeli militaries staged their most significant and complex exercise to date in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Nevertheless, Mr. Blinken sent mixed messages during his visit, the Israeli assessments of their talks with Mr. Blinken and the two countries’ closer military ties notwithstanding,

For the first time on a visit by a secretary of state, Mr. Blinken met with Israeli civil society organisations focused on LGBTQ rights, integration of ultra-religious Jews and Palestinian Israelis in the Israeli workforce, and Jewish-Palestinian co-existence.

No human rights or other groups working towards an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank were invited.

Even so, the militants and the policies enunciated by the Netanyahu government can take credit for the US focus.

The militants’ resorting to arms, Israel’s harsh response, and Israeli policies that ever more flagrantly violate international law and the Geneva conventions make it increasingly difficult for the United States and Europe to look the other way and for Arab states that maintain diplomatic relations with the Jewish states to limit themselves to verbal condemnations.

Israel’s response so far includes trying to push through legislation that many Palestinians say would amount to collective punishment. It would result in the expedited demolition of the homes of family members of Palestinians who’ve carried out attacks and plans to make it easier for Israelis to get guns.

That has not stopped Azerbaijan from dispatching its first ambassador to Israel in three decades of diplomatic relations with the Jewish state amid escalating tensions with Iran, its southern neighbour, or Chad inaugurating the African country’s first embassy in the country during a visit to Israel by President  Mahamat Deby.

Some analysts argue that the militants’ tactics may be a double-edged sword. Their tactics could backfire, and the militants could fall into a trap if the United States and others effectively remain on the sidelines.

“The deepest tragedy is that the Israeli extreme right seems to be counting on Palestinian rage and desperation to provide them with the opportunity to go as far as they can in their twin goals of annexation and expulsion,” cautioned columnist Hussein Ibish.

In a twist or irony, hardliners on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian divide may find that escalation serves both their interests, even if those interests are diametrically opposite.

Palestinian militants see increased Israeli brutality and violations of international law and the Geneva conventions as making it more difficult for the United States and others to stay on the sidelines or go through the motions of seeking to calm the situation.

So far, the US way to do so does not even amount to a band-aid, let alone a solution. The US is pressuring 86-year-old President Mahmoud’s Palestine Authority to revive security cooperation with Israel and take back control of Jenin and the West Bank city of Nablus.

The US proposition misses a key point: much like West Bank Palestinian militancy in the past, Palestinian youths’ despair is fuelled as much by Israeli policy as it is by the rejection of corrupt and ineffective Palestinian leadership.

“Twenty years ago, we made peace with Israel, but they don’t respect any of it. So, we’re done. We want destruction,” said Ahmad Qassem.

A 24-year-old resident of Jenin. Mr. Qassem has not found work since finishing ninth grade, his last year of school. He was last year released from an Israeli prison after a two-year administrative detention, during which he was never charged or granted a trial.

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Sisi’s visit to Armenia and Azerbaijan to join the Eurasian Union and BRICS

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Photo Credit: Official Facebook Page for the Spokesman of the Egyptian Presidency

President El-Sisi’s visit to India, followed by Armenia and Azerbaijan, came as an affirmation from the Egyptian side and its president, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, of Egypt’s desire to enter into several giant economic blocs, led by the BRICS with the help of China and India, and then the Eurasian Union with the help of Russia and Armenia mainly.  Rather, let us transfer the experience of the Eurasian Union to Egypt and the countries of the region, which is considered as a project for economic and political integration, based on the customs union of the countries of (Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia), as well as the countries of the United Economic Zone, and announcing later its expansion plan, to include other countries of the economic group.  Eurasian, which is known for short as:

(EurAsEC Group)

  From my point of view and my reading of the general political and economic scene of the Egyptian state, and of President Sisi’s moves towards the east mainly, away from those complex calculations of Washington and the West and the political and economic conditionality of the International Monetary Fund and Western loans, Egypt’s accession to the Eurasian Union, or what is known as the Group of Independent States, will enable Egypt in the coming period to  An alliance worked with those countries, leading to the establishment of a free trade zone between Egypt and the countries of the Eurasian Union, led by Russia and Armenia, leading to the establishment of the customs union between Egypt and the countries of Eurasia, ending with the establishment of the United Economic Zone, and even planning to establish a unified currency for the countries of the Eurasian Union, which facilitates  The process of trade exchange between Egypt and those countries in the future, and of course contributes to the impact on the strength of the US dollar and its collapse and devaluation in the end.

  Also, President El-Sisi’s moves towards India, then Armenia and Azerbaijan in particular, is part of the Egyptian support for the eastern bloc, headed by China, Russia and then India.  This reflects the Egyptian vision to enter into the Eurasian Union, so that the emergence of this Eurasian Union can be seen as part of the announced Russian strategy to restore the importance it had previously on the international political arena during the so-called Cold War during the Soviet Union period, and this is mainly in the interest of Egypt and its President El-Sisi moves towards the Eastern Bloc and his aspiration to join the BRICS membership and then the Eurasian Union, so that this Eurasian Union will in the end serve as a counterweight to the European Union, in addition to the role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which includes in its membership both Russia and China.

 Also, the Eurasian Union, led by Russia and Armenia, was able to create a single currency like the euro in the European Union, which is to be called the “Altyn currency”.

 It will be a balance to the forces of the European Union in the eastern bloc, led by Russia, China, India, and then Armenia, with an invitation to the rest of Central Asian countries to join the single Eurasian currency later, which serves the Egyptian side and the economic agendas of developing countries in the foreseeable future, and reduces the value of the dollar in the long run.

 Bearing in mind, the United States opposes the Eurasian customs union project for the easy transfer of goods and commodities between countries, and Washington sees it as an attempt to re-establish Russian hegemony in the concept of the Soviet Union among the post-Soviet states.

  This was explicitly announced by the Russian President, “Vladimir Putin”, that his goal is to expand the membership of the Eurasian Customs Union, to include all post-Soviet countries, to include the Baltic countries that are members of the European Union, on top of which are:

(Armenia – Azerbaijan – Georgia – Kyrgyzstan – Moldova – Tajikistan – Turkmenistan – Ukraine – Uzbekistan)

 In addition to allowing the presence of countries that act as observer members, as is the case in most international federations and blocs, which makes it easier for Egypt, in the event of its completion, to open strong and influential economic and investment partnerships with those countries in the eastern bloc, away from the calculations and pressures of the West.

 The Egyptian Ministry of Trade and Industry has already started several rounds and serious and actual negotiations to join the Eurasian Union with Russia, Armenia and the countries forming it, and it was announced in June 2021 the success of the fourth round of free trade agreement negotiations between Egypt and the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union, with the aim of integration in common economic issues.  Among the countries joining it, and this is what Egypt and President El-Sisi aspire to at the present time.

 The fourth round of negotiations between Egypt and the Eurasian Union countries has already ended in the Russian capital, Moscow, with the Egyptian side making tremendous efforts to join the Eurasian Union.  This was mainly welcomed by the Russian side, and then President El-Sisi’s visit to Armenia strengthened the ability of the Egyptian file to join the Eurasian Union. This was reflected in the strong will and desire of all parties to accept the Egyptian side’s request for membership in the Eurasian Customs Union, in the heart of which is Russia and then Armenia.

  President El-Sisi’s visit to Armenia comes as an important occasion, to move forward towards completing the Egyptian side’s membership file, to complete the negotiations and reach a comprehensive and balanced agreement that meets the aspirations of the Egyptian people and all the peoples of the Eurasian Union countries to develop trade exchange, and enhance industrial and investment cooperation between its parties.  In addition to strengthening rapprochement between Egypt and all its parties in all aspects of economic cooperation and opening prospects for future cooperation between all parties.

  Hence, we conclude that President El-Sisi’s moves towards Armenia and Azerbaijan were carefully calculated and planned by the Egyptian side, to join the powerful Eurasian Union bloc, because President El-Sisi realizes that the success of the agreement with the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union will contribute to strengthening trade, industrial and joint investment cooperation between Egypt and the countries.  Eurasian Union.  In addition, that Egyptian membership in the Eurasian Union bloc next to Russia and Armenia, and then the rest of the former Soviet Union countries, will support the system of transferring expertise and advanced industrial technologies to the Egyptian national industry in various productive sectors, in a way that enhances the capacity and strength of the Egyptian market and transfers various and different experiences to it.

 Here we can understand and analyze the reason for President El-Sisi’s moves to that Eurasian region represented in Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as strengthening Egypt’s relations with the Russian, Chinese and Indian sides, because President El-Sisi and the Egyptian side realize that the agreement with the countries of the Eurasian bloc referred to will support inter-regional trade between Egypt and the countries  Central and North Asia and Europe across and between the countries of the Eurasian Union, and with the markets of the Arab countries and the countries of the African continent through the Egyptian market, through free and preferential trade agreements that link Egypt to those markets, knowing that the volume of trade exchange between Egypt and the countries of the Eurasian Union is with the membership of Russia and Armenia only,  It has reached more than $5 billion, and that percentage is likely to increase if Egypt is officially accepted as a member of the Eurasian bloc and the Eurasian Union, according to plans by President El-Sisi and the Ministry of Industry and Trade in Cairo.

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