Yasar Yakis, Arab News

Yasar Yakis

Arab News

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Past articles by Yasar:

Turkey, Egypt inch toward long-awaited normalization

A new semi-concrete step has been taken to further mend Turkish-Egyptian relations, as Turkey has decided to appoint a senior diplomat to Egypt. The diplomat, Salih Mutlu Sen, previously served as Ankara’s permanent representative to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Two details are worth noting in this step. First, news of the appointment came from neither Turkey nor → Read More

No one knows Putin’s endgame in Ukraine

A tug-of-war is in full swing between Russia and Ukraine on the one hand and the US and Russia on the other. Russia has massed up to 100,000 troops along the Ukrainian border, a large concentration that cannot easily be explained as a routine military movement. Russia may be doing this to dissuade NATO from putting pressure on it, or it may be planning a surprise attack → Read More

Erdogan’s risky game in northern Syria

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday announced that Turkey will carry out a military operation east of the Euphrates river in Syria “in a couple of days.” The US has been supplying arms, equipment and ammunition to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), training its fighters, and using the war against Daesh as a pretext to justify this cooperation. Ankara has → Read More

The US must be careful not to overplay its hand

The new US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in announcing that the US would impose on Iran the “strongest sanctions in history,” demonstrated that he is no less tough than his boss. It remains to be seen to what extent these sanctions can be implemented, but before that it may be useful to go back and have a closer look at the implications of president Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the… → Read More

Could Afrin lead to a breakthrough in Turkey-Syria relations?

Turkey’s military operation in the northern Syrian province of Afrin is unfolding almost entirely as predicted. Resistance and difficulties were expected, as they are in any military confrontation. → Read More

Calling a spade a spade in Turkey’s relations with the EU

There was an appetite in the early years of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to support Turkey’s accession to the European Union. This appetite died down in later years for reasons attributable mainly to the EU, but also to Turkey. A belated awareness now seems to be dawning both in Turkey and the EU that a new framework for Turkey-EU relations is needed. → Read More

Afrin assault to cause paradigm shifts in Turkey’s foreign affairs

Turkey’s military operation in Afrin is likely to change several paradigms in the region and beyond. One of them will be the test for NATO solidarity, which is enshrined in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty. This states that an armed attack against one of the member countries shall be considered as an attack against all of them, and they shall take “such action as they deem necessary” to… → Read More

Turkey’s unclear path towards the EU

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Paris last Friday and met with French President Emmanuel Macron, discussing at length his country’s relations with the EU and its hopes of accession to the bloc. The divergent approaches of the two leaders were then voiced at the press conference that followed the talks. Macron made it clear that “recent developments and choices do not allow any… → Read More

How will Turkey fit into new ‘America First’ policy?

The National Security Strategy (NSS) launched on Dec. 18 by US President Donald Trump contains several important points that should not go unnoticed. The NSS maintains the policy line of earlier American administrations, but puts the emphasis on slightly different points. The main line of the strategy is what the president persistently emphasized during the election campaign: “America First.”… → Read More

The fallout from that UN vote

A draft resolution rejecting any unilateral change in the status of Jerusalem, prepared by Palestine and submitted by Egypt, came before the UN Security Council on Dec. 18. As expected, it was vetoed by the US. Turkey and Yemen then submitted to the UN General Assembly a draft resolution with similar content. → Read More

OIC’s rapid response to Jerusalem crisis

President Donald Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was discussed at an extraordinary meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held last week in Istanbul. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s achievement — in his capacity as the sessional OIC chairman — to convene the summit in such a short time has to be congratulated. Both the level of… → Read More

Turkey reaping the whirlwind of misguided foreign policy

Turkey was busy sowing the wind with its Middle East policies since the early stages of the Arab Spring. Chronologically, it started by supporting Muhammad Mursi when he was elected in the first free elections in Egypt. This was the right move. However, this support continued when Mursi made mistakes. He was ousted by Gen. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Turkey was rightly critical, because elected… → Read More

Unnecessary disputes sour Turkey-US relations

Two major NATO allies, Turkey and the US, are embroiled in several disputes that will not bring any advantage to either side. → Read More

A new page in Turkish-Iraqi relations

Because of the fluidity of developments in the Middle East, almost every actor in regional crises may have opposed another actor at one stage, while having cooperated with them at another stage. This is true of Turkey and Iraq in recent years. Ankara turned a deaf ear when Baghdad expressed reservations about oil exports by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). But the KRG’s independence… → Read More

Race heats up for zones of influence in Syria

As the anti-Daesh fight nears an end, the race for zones of influence is flaring up among the big foreign stakeholders, Russia, Iran, the US and Turkey. → Read More

What the Kurdish debacle means for Turkey

Turkey welcomed almost with celebrations the debacle that the peshmerga suffered at the hands of the Iraqi government forces. Nonetheless, it now has to handle the Kurdish issue all the more cautiously. Turkey’s Kurdish policy has several chapters that have to be examined separately, but without losing sight of their inter-related nature. → Read More

Turkey’s interest in the Kurdish conundrum

President Masoud Barzani of Iraqi Kurdistan bet high and lost. This loss may foreclose the Kurdish bid for an independent state for the foreseeable future. → Read More

Only the two at the top can sort this out

NATO allies Turkey and the US are engaged on a collision course that will have a greater effect on the innocent citizens of the two countries than on those who are responsible for the dispute. Last week the US Embassy in Ankara suspended all non-immigrant visa services at US diplomatic missions in Turkey. It followed the arrest of a local employee of the US consulate in Istanbul on charges of… → Read More

Turkey and Iran dance the diplomatic two-step

The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s one-day visit to Tehran last week had been due for several months, but the independence referendum held by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq accelerated the process. The nature of Turkish-Iranian relations was best described by Shahram Akbarzadeh and Alfred Deakin of the Institute for Citizenship and Globalization in Australia;… → Read More

Turkey must beware the Kurdish quagmire

Turkey is among the countries that will be seriously affected by the independence referendum in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. However, the vote was not a surprise for any farsighted leader, since the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani has always said his people were entitled to an independent state and he would continue to work to that end. → Read More