Showing posts from 2020

Turkey gambles in bid to rival China as a key supply chain node

  By James M. Dorsey A projected sharp reduction in trade between the United States and China in the next two years coupled with moves to diversify supply chains potentially position Turkey alongside Vietnam, Mexico, Taiwan and Poland as competitors in efforts to reduce dependency on the People’s Republic, according to a just published study. The study, conducted by the Boston Consulting Group on behalf of the Turkey-US Business Council (TAIK), suggests that Turkey, located on a fault line that separates Europe from Asia, has prerequisites to emerge as a winner provided it invests in its digital, electronics and equipment sectors. TAIK is an affiliate of the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEIK), the country’s oldest and largest business association. The study identifies Africa as one region where the US and Turkish firms bring complimentary assets to the table. Turkey has in recent years significantly expanded its diplomatic, political, military, and economic footp

Turkish shadow boxing reflects growing rivalry with Iran

  By James M. Dorsey Turkey is leveraging its successful backing of Azerbaijan’s recent war against Armenia to counter Iran in the Caucasus and gradually challenge Russia in Central Asia, the heart of what Moscow considers its backyard. The Turkish moves have elicited different responses from Russia and Iran, two countries Turkey views as both partners and rivals. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been careful not to jeopardize his newly found status as a Russian recognized-player in the southern Caucasus. By contrast, Mr. Erdogan seems determined to provoke Iran with statements and postings by-his state-run broadcaster that potentially call into question the territorial integrity of the Islamic republic. In doing so, Mr. Erdogan is fueling Iran’s deepest fears . Iran, not without reason, has long believed that the United States and Saudi Arabia are bent on instigating ethnic unrest in a bid to force Tehran to alter policies, if not topple the Iranian regime. “Tur

The Caspian Sea as Battleground

  Credit: Southfront Second Karabakh War as Cause or Consequence? James M. Dorsey Populated at the time by fluent Hebrew speakers, the Israel desk of Armenia’s for­eign ministry waited back in 1991— in the immediate wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union—for a phone call that never came. The ministry was convinced that Israel, with whom Armenia shared an experience of genocide, were natural allies. The min­istry waited in vain. Israel never made the call. That shared experience could not compete with Armenia’s Turkic nemesis, Azerbaijan, with which it was at war over Nagorno‑Karabakh, a majority ethnic‑Armenian enclave on Azerbaijani territory. “The calculation was simple. Azerbaijan has three strategic assets that Israel is interested in: Muslims, oil, and several thousand Jews. All Armenia has to offer is at best sev­eral hundred Jews,” said an Israeli official at the time. Azerbaijan had one more asset: close political, security, and en­ergy ties to Turkey, which was suppo

Saudi Arabia sends Joe Biden mixed messages

  By James M. Dorsey Saudi Arabia appears to be drawing lines in the sand as the kingdom prepares for a new era in relations with the United States once President-elect Joe Biden assumes office in January. In doing so, the kingdom is seemingly signaling that it is willing to go only so far in seeking to get off on the right foot with a Biden administration. Saudi Arabia seems to be betting that Mr. Biden will be cautious not to rupture relations with the kingdom despite criticism he expressed at times in strong language during the US presidential election campaign. The Saudi bet is not unreasonable. US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Samuel D. Brownback echoed this week what is US policy and could well be the attitude adopted by a Biden administration. Asked why Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave Saudi Arabia a waiver even though his department designated the kingdom in its recently published annual religious freedom report a Country of Particular

France, Belgium and Austria Move into the Frontline of a Battle for the Soul of Islam

  By James M. Dorsey Punching above its weight, the United Arab Emirates is wielding a combination of religious soft power, commercial and economic sway, and hard power in its bid to counter political Islam in ways that potentially could threaten pillars of Western democracy as well as US and European strategic interests. The UAE’s footprint is visible across the globe, most recently in France, the latest arena in what amounts to a battle for the soul of Islam , as well as in US disclosures about the nature of Emirati intervention in Libya. The UAE and Saudi Arabia appear to have been lobbying for a tougher French policy towards political Islam prior to the crackdown initiated by President Emmanuel Macron in the wake of the gruesome killing of a schoolteacher in September and subsequent attacks, including on a church in Nice. The lobbying, emphasizing common interests in countering political Islam and Turkey, with which France is at odds in Libya and the eastern Mediterranean