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The Middle East

In February 2020, the Trump administration made a deal with the Taliban. Under what became known as the Doha Agreement, the US and all foreign forces promised to depart Afghanistan by May 2021, so as long as the Taliban held up its side of the deal to 1) enter into peace talks with the US-backed Afghan government and 2) ensure Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists. So far, the agreement is technically being implemented. Peace negotiations began in September 2020, though they have yet to produce results. The Taliban have also stuck to the letter if not the spirit of the deal by holding off attacks against US and Allied forces (although attacks against the Afghan government and civilians have continued). However, with the May deadline fast approaching, President …
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres meets Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu at UN Headquarters in 2018

With the diversion of Israel’s military resources towards West Bank, Israeli annexation of occupied Palestinian territory appears imminent, pending approval from and coordination with the American administration. Struggling to rally right-wing voters amidst the fight for his political survival in the elections of April, September 2019 and March 2020, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had stated that he would “apply Israeli sovereignty” over the West Bank, if re-elected. Bolstered by the reversal of decades of American policy on the issue and the subsequent release of Trump’s much criticized, one-sided ‘Middle East Peace Plan’ in January 2020, Netanyahu has aggressively pursued the annexation agenda with the emergency government formed with Benny Gantz in March 2020. Considering the expected blockage of the Security …

In October 2019, demonstrators took to the streets of Lebanon, chanting “all of them means all of them”— a cry for the entire government to resign. For the first time in years, the country witnessed the mobilisation of thousands of its citizens across every city. There were even Lebanese protests in major European cities and North America. Together, they formed a united front: citizens coming together regardless of religious affiliation, gender or age differences. Four months after the protests began, the country’s institutions are in shambles, a financial crisis worsens, and the media is in a near-total blackout. Unfortunately, Western attention has turned away from Lebanon. The situation, though, still warrants careful observation, as what happens next could mean a …

Global attention has focused on the Middle East once more after Turkey launched a military operation, named Peace Spring, moving into Northern Syria. The incursion was made possible by the prior withdrawal of US troops. Beforehand, there was little outwardly indication of the troubles to come: Daesh’s territory was conquered and the US and Turkey cooperated in the region. However, everything started to fall apart after the phone call between President Erdogan and President Trump, in which he agreed to withdraw US troops from Northern Syria, became public. Since then, commentators have criticized President Trump’s decision to withdraw, and Turkey’s actions and intentions. It has been claimed that Turkey is solely motivated by its conflict with Kurdish forces, who have …

In contemporary world politics, migration and refugee crises are among the most heartrending and vexatious issues. Syria represents one of the most significant humanitarian crises and disasters of our time. Since the conflict has started in 2011, thousands of civilians have been killed, and millions have been forced to flee from their homeland. Since its outbreak, civil war and terrorism have forced millions of people to seek refuge in neighboring countries, including Turkey, Jordan, Egypt and elsewhere. The massive inflow of refugees from Syria makes Turkey the largest host country for Syrian refugees in the region, and the country hosting most refugees in the world in absolute terms. Even though many Syrian refugees currently reside in refugee camps, the vast …

According to the official results, the coalition led by the ruling AKP has secured a parliamentary majority, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan remains president following the first ever simultaneous parliamentary and presidential election on June 24. Below are some takeaways from Turkey’s historic election: Erdoğan was not built in a day, and neither will be Ince. Erdoğan was elected mayor of Istanbul in 1994 and undertook many practical reforms involving infrastructural improvements. He bided his time until 2002, when he led the AKP to power. Under his mayoral watch, the municipal water system was improved, metro lines were built, trash was picked up regularly, and a political machine was built slowly thanks to the support of small business owners and conservative migrants …

The lights shine, the cameras zoom, and the serious intro music fades. “Let’s talk about the hottest topic: the economy,” says the CNN Türk news program host. On the left are three journalists from mainstream Turkish news outlets, on the right is Muharrem İnce, the presidential candidate of CHP, the center-left party and opposition candidate with the best shot at unseating president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The stone-faced journalist from Hürriyet asks the first question: “It is said that speculators, FETÖ (the term for the followers of accused coup plotter Fethullah Gülen), and economic masterminds are working together and have hurt the capacity of the AKP to help the economy. It’s an economic coup, they say. What do you say?” İnce doesn’t take the …

Saudi Arabia has been omnipresent in the headlines recently. By detaining several significant business figures and senior ministers, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has demonstrated the scope of his newly-inherited authority and violently asserted his power. What followed since, if not utterly unexpected, has been greatly intriguing and perplexing. Developments, however, are not limited to internal Saudi affairs, but also have regional implications. There are signals of a growing Saudi-Israeli cooperation and aligning of interests in their wish to counteract Iran. Two weeks ago, Ayoub Kara, Israeli Communications Minister invited Saudi’s Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh to visit Israel, and a few days later, Saudi online journal Elaph, recorded Israel’s chief-of-staff Gadi Eizenkot saying that Israel is ready to share intelligence …