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Contributor PerspectivesNov 13, 2019 | 16:40 GMT
An illustration of an aged world map.
Lessons From the Past for Trump's Transactional Foreign Policy
One of the Trump administration's hallmarks has been its transactional approach to foreign policy. Writing in Foreign Policy magazine shortly before the 2016 presidential election, the strategist Rosa Brooks suggested that "To Trump, U.S. alliances, like potential business partners in a real-estate transaction, should always be asked: 'What have you done for me lately?'" Since entering office, President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to walk away from alliances that no longer seem to be paying dividends, regardless of old friendships or cultural affinities. The U-turn in American foreign policy seems to have baffled many observers. However, the Trump administration is anything but the first to pursue a transactional foreign policy. It might be worth taking a look at the experience of the most important comparison case, 18th century Britain.
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On GeopoliticsOct 24, 2019 | 09:00 GMT
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (in front of flag) sit during a meeting in Sochi to discuss the situation in Syria.
The Risks and Rewards of Moscow's Mission in Syria
Just over four years after the Russian military intervention in Syria first began, Moscow continues to enjoy the diplomatic, commercial and military rewards of its operation in the Levant. By driving a wedge between its NATO foes, testing out new weaponry and more, Russia has notched up a number of strategic and tactical successes in Syria. These gains notwithstanding, it's not all clear sailing for Moscow ahead: From greater exposure to militant attacks to the prospect that Russia will suffer collateral damage in regional power battles, there are plenty of risks ahead that could yet sink Moscow's fortunes.
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SnapshotsOct 23, 2019 | 15:31 GMT
In Syria, Russia and Turkey Split the Spoils
After more than six hours of talks, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emerged in Sochi, Russia, on Oct. 22 with an agreement to establish a "Syria Safe Zone" along the Syrian-Turkish border. While the agreement serves the interests of both Moscow and Ankara, the other parties involved in northern Syria will find much to dislike about the deal -- something that will cloud its implementation.
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SnapshotsOct 18, 2019 | 15:41 GMT
In Syria, Turkey and the U.S. Reach a Fragile Cease-Fire
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence emerged Oct. 17 from a marathon meeting in Ankara with an agreement to ostensibly end the bloodletting in northeastern Syria. But while the deal provides a potential foundation for the stabilization of the rocky relationship between the two NATO member states, the agreement is extremely fragile and susceptible to collapse at any moment.
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Contributor PerspectivesOct 16, 2019 | 09:30 GMT
Turkish-backed proxies search for members of the mainly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces in Tal Abyad, Syria, on Oct. 15, 2019.
Turkey Fights a Losing PR Battle Over Syria
On Oct. 9, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan finally confirmed speculation that had been swirling for months: Turkey was beginning major combat operations in northern Syria with the goal of creating a safe zone to eradicate the presence of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and the Islamic State. The issue is complicated, however, by Washington's tactical partnership with the YPG (which rebranded itself as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF) as a joint means of terminating the Islamic State. Wishing to move against the Islamic State, the Obama administration hit upon what it deemed an effective and acceptable approach, committing a limited number of U.S. special forces and airpower and relying on the YPG to conduct the bulk of combat operations against the group. But even if Turkey's contempt for the YPG was always evident, why has it chosen to act unilaterally against the Syrian Kurds now? Ultimately, the
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AssessmentsOct 9, 2019 | 14:15 GMT
A member of the Kurdish Internal Security Police Force of Asayish stands guard at a market in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli on Aug. 5, 2019.
An Impatient Turkey Gets Ready to Enter Northeastern Syria
He's made the threat before, but this time, it might just be the real thing. On Aug. 6, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated his warnings that Turkey is poised to launch a military operation against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) east of the Euphrates River in northeastern Syria. The latest note came two days after Erdogan said Ankara had already notified both the United States and Russia of its plans. This is certainly not Turkey's first warning of an impending offensive in northeastern Syria. Turkey has long sought to push into the area, where the YPG-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) hold ground. Until now, Turkey has not made an incursion because of the presence of U.S. troops there, as well as Washington's opposition to any such move. But Ankara's patience appears to have run out, and several factors suggest Turkey will make an incursion sooner, rather than later --
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AssessmentsOct 7, 2019 | 18:33 GMT
Turkish armored vehicles train near Idlib on the Turkish border with Syria.
Syria: The U.S. Will Step Aside for Turkey's Push Against the SDF
The withdrawal of U.S. troops in the face of an impending incursion by Turkish forces into northeastern Syria will significantly decrease the risk of a clash between them. Turkey appears determined to take action against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a U.S. ally dominated by Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which have cooperated in the fight against transnational terrorism in the region. Both the Turkish operation and the U.S. withdrawal will come with a cost.
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SITUATION REPORTOct 4, 2019 | 13:52 GMT
Syria: U.S. Officials Increasingly Worried About Turkish Incursion Into Syria, Report Says
U.S. government officials are increasingly worried about a looming Turkish incursion into northeastern Syria, according to an Oct. 3 report by The Wall Street Journal. The officials also said that an attack could prompt Washington to withdraw its forces from the country.
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AssessmentsMar 9, 2019 | 14:00 GMT
A column of armored Turkish military vehicles proceeds along a road in a demilitarized zone in the western countryside of Syria's Aleppo province on March 8, 2019.
Ankara Calculates the Risks of an Offensive in Northeastern Syria
With the United States on the cusp of a significant withdrawal from northern Syria and Turkey continuing to court better relations with Russia, Ankara is gearing up to cross its southern border to pursue its cherished goal of taking on the Syrian Democratic Forces. But even as Turkey might soon enjoy clear sailing into northeastern Syria to seek to drive the Syrian Democratic Forces away from key positions, particularly around the Euphrates, pitfalls remain. From remaining U.S. forces to possible Russian resistance, Ankara's likely offensive into the area could even drag it into a dangerous conflict with the numerous other countries involved in Syria.
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SITUATION REPORTFeb 8, 2019 | 16:30 GMT
U.S.: Washington Plans Complete Withdrawal From Syria by End of April
The United States will pull all remaining U.S. troops out of Syria by the end of April, The Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 7. According to one U.S. official, Washington will withdraw its troops with or without a deal to protect the Kurdish-aligned People's Protection Units (YPG) and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
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AssessmentsFeb 4, 2019 | 12:00 GMT
Turkish Central Bank Gov. Murat Cetinkaya delivers a speech in front of inflation graphs in Ankara on Jan. 30, 2019.
Counting the Cost of Potential U.S. Action Against Turkey
U.S.-Turkey relations have rarely been anything but combustible. In the middle of January, however, U.S. President Donald Trump poured fuel on the fire when he took to Twitter to vow that his country would "devastate Turkey economically" if it attacked the Syrian Kurds after the United States withdraws from northern Syria. Trump's threat prompted harsh but measured responses from Ankara; President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed sadness at the comment. The next day his sentiment switched to encouragement after a phone call between the leaders. The back-and-forth was nothing new, reflecting instead the two countries' volatile but multilayered relationship. The pair might frequently frustrate each other, yet both value and need the other to pursue their respective goals at home and in the wider Middle East.
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Contributor PerspectivesJan 23, 2019 | 15:07 GMT
Members of the U.S.-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units carry a wounded Kurdish fighter to a field hospital near the northern Syrian village of Raqqa Samra on June 21, 2017.
The U.S. Decision to Leave Syria Further Erodes Relations With Turkey
Since U.S. President Donald Trump announced the United States' intended withdrawal from Syria in December, what Turkey initially viewed as an opportunity has transformed into another crisis between the two NATO allies. For the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a U.S. withdrawal nominally presented Turkey with the opportunity to militarily eliminate the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara has long considered a terrorist organization, but which the United States has partnered with and relied upon to eradicate the Islamic State. As it stands, the Syria question has warped into a policy issue to satisfy domestic political constituents in both countries. Overindulgence on domestic considerations by Erdogan and Trump will likely allow the remaining elements of the Islamic State and other extremist groups in northern Syria to regroup over time and present new security challenges to both Turkey and other Western interests. Furthermore, it will continue to embitter relations
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SnapshotsJan 16, 2019 | 21:49 GMT
Syria: An Islamic State Attack Muddies the Waters as the U.S. Plans Its Pullout
The stakes over a northern Syrian city at the center of a tug of war between regional and global forces have just risen further. On Jan. 16, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest outside the Kasr al-Umara restaurant in the city of Manbij, resulting in numerous casualties. According to local media, the blast killed nine civilians and a local fighter, while a U.S. official speaking to the media said the explosion killed four American troops and wounded three more. The Islamic State claimed the attack on its Amaq media agency, specifically noting that the assault had killed U.S. soldiers. Events like the Jan. 16 attack in Manbij underline how the jihadist group remains a serious threat to forces on the ground in the area.
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