US, Turkey see win-win partnership in Afghanistan and beyond

Asia Times



[Turkey is being incentivized on various fronts to return to the
Western fold and play its due role as a NATO power]

By MK Bhadrakumar
  

The zeal with which Washington is soliciting Turkey’s services to plot
a way to normalize Afghanistan’s Taliban raises some troubling
questions.

Acting on Washington’s request, Turkey will be hosting high-level
talks on the Afghanistan peace process this April to bring together
the Afghan government and the Taliban. Turkey has appointed a special
envoy to assume the mediation role.

Turkey is entering the cockpit to navigate the Afghan peace process to
a conclusion that meets US objectives. This will have a salutary
effect on the fraught Turkish-American relationship.

The US appreciates that Turkey is an influential member of the
Organization of Islamic Cooperation, enjoys historical links with
Afghanistan and has a positive image among Afghans. But digging
deeper, the unholy US-Turkey alliance in the Syrian conflict creates
disquiet.

The Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) are reluctant to
vacate Afghanistan by the deadline of May 1. Turkey will be overseeing
an open-ended US-NATO presence. The US hopes to retain a strong
intelligence presence backed by special operations forces.

A report Friday from CNN disclosed that the “CIA, which has had a
significant say in US decision-making in Afghanistan, has ‘staked out
some clear positions’ during recent deliberations, arguing in favor of
continuing US involvement.”

The scale of the CIA activities in Afghanistan are not in the public
domain — especially, whether its regional mandate extends beyond the
borders of Afghanistan. The CNN report cited above lifted the veil on
“one of the most heavily guarded bases” of the CIA — Forward Operating
Base Chapman, “a classified US military installation in eastern
Afghanistan.”

Suffice to say, given the presence of the ISIS fighters (including
those transferred from Syria to Afghanistan — allegedly in US
aircraft, according to Russia and Iran) — the nexus between the
Taliban and al-Qaeda, and above all, the presence of Uighur, Central
Asian and Chechen terrorists, Turkey’s induction as the US’ buddy in
Afghanistan is indeed worrisome for regional states.

Turkey has transferred jihadi fighters from Idlib to Libya and
Nagorno-Karabakh to fight hybrid wars.

Significantly, Turkey has abruptly shifted its stance on the Uighur
issue after years of passivity and hyped it up as a diplomatic issue
between Ankara and Beijing. China’s ambassador to Ankara was summoned
to Turkey’s Foreign Ministry last Tuesday.

On the other hand, a perceptible “thaw” in US-Turkey relations is
under way. During the recent NATO ministerial in Brussels, US
Secretary of State Antony Blinken underscored, “I believe having
Turkey in NATO is particularly for the benefit of us.”

Clearly, any American overtures to Turkey will be in need of a
powerful success story. That is where Turkey’s mediatory role in
Afghanistan and a potential role in post-settlement Afghanistan become
templates of Washington’s dual containment strategy toward Russia and
China.

Turkey has staked claims for the mantle of leadership of the Turkic
world stretching from the Black Sea to the steppes of Central Asia and
China’s Xinjiang region. Simply put, Turkey’s role in Afghanistan and
Central Asia will challenge its relationship with Russia, which is
already under strain in Libya, Syria, Caucasus and potentially in the
Black Sea and the Balkans.

In a phone conversation on April 9, Russian President Vladimir Putin
cautioned Turkish president Recep Erdogan about “the importance of
preserving the 1936 Montreux Convention Regarding the Regime of the
Straits with a view to ensuring regional stability and security.”

The Montreux Convention regulates the passage of naval warships
through the Bosporus.

Equally, the US hopes to keep Iran off-balance regionally by
encouraging Turkish revanchism. The Turkish-Iranian rivalry is already
palpable in Iraq where Washington hopes to establish NATO as a
provider of security.

Serious rifts between Ankara and Tehran appear also over
Nagorno-Karabakh. Thus, Afghanistan’s future figured prominently in
the discussions during Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif’s
recent six-day regional tour of Central Asian capitals.

China and Russia are vigilant about the US intentions in Afghanistan.
And both have problematic relations with Erdogan. Turkey’s ascendance
on the Afghan-Central Asian landscape cannot be to their comfort.

During his recent visit to Tehran, China’s State Councilor and Foreign
Minister Wang Yi voiced support for Iran’s membership of the Shanghai
Cooperation Organization. The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
is due to visit Tehran on April 14.

Overall, these geopolitical realignments are taking place as the US
intensifies its suppression of China and Russia. But, for Turkey, the
intervention in Syria has proved profitable. The Turkish-controlled
territories of northern Syria consists of an 8,835-square-kilometer
area already and Ankara has no intentions to vacate its occupation.

Turkey will no doubt look for similar gains. For a start, regaining
primacy in the Western alliance system as the US’s irreplaceable
partner and as Europe’s interlocutor with Muslim Middle East has
always been a Turkish dream.

A clincher will be whether Washington can prevail upon the EU to grant
some special dispensation for Turkey — “associate membership” is one
possibility.

For the EU, too, Turkey becomes a key partner if NATO is to
consolidate in the Black Sea and encircle Russia in its backyard.
Turkey has already positioned itself as a provider of security for the
anti-Russian regime in Ukraine. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky
visited Erdogan on Saturday against the backdrop of rising tensions
with Russia.

Turkish officials are cautiously optimistic about recent high-level
efforts to improve dialogue between Ankara and Brussels. The European
actors are coordinating with Washington.

The EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council
President Charles Michel’s visit to Ankara last Wednesday can be seen
as a significant initial effort to improve relations with Turkey.

As one Turkish commentator put it, the “olive branch” given by the EU
leaders to Erdogan has “five main leaves”, namely:

    A concrete agenda on economic cooperation and migration;
    Handling and updating the problems related to a Customs Union;

    Commitment to continue the flow of funds for refugees in Turkey;

    Adding momentum to relations with Turkey on key cooperation areas; and,

    The Eastern Mediterranean region’s security and stability

All in all, Turkey is being “incentivized” to return to the Western
fold and play its due role as a NATO power.

Today, Turkey is probably the only ally regionally and internationally
that Washington can lean on to wean Pakistan away from the orbit of
Chinese and Russian influence, which truly makes Turkey an
indispensable partner for the US and NATO in a Taliban-ruled
Afghanistan.

Indeed, Russia and Turkey have historically been rivals in
Afghanistan. Turkey has deep-rooted, centuries-old, pan-Islamic ties
with Afghanistan that by far predate Pakistan’s creation in 1947.

How far Pakistan will be willing to play a subaltern role in
Afghanistan’s future remains to be seen. But then, all this must have
Russia worried in regard to the security and stability of its Central
Asian backyard and North Caucasia. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s
visit to Islamabad last week was the first such ministerial visit
since 2012.

Fundamentally, however, the contradictions in US-Turkey relations will
not simply wither away. Those contradictions include the US’ alliance
with Kurds in Syria; US opposition to Turkey’s intervention in Libya;
Erdogan’s abysmal human rights record; discord over Turkey’s S-400
missile deal with Russia; and so on.

But the two Cold War allies are also used to finessing contradictions
whenever opportunities arise to work together to mutual benefit.
Without a doubt, in the power dynamic of the highly strategic regions
surrounding Afghanistan, the two countries can look forward to
“win-win” cooperation.



 

Armenian American Museum Kicks Off Virtual Stakeholder Meetings

Press Contact:
Shant Sahakian, Executive Director
Armenian American Museum and Cultural Center of California
(818) 644-2214
[email protected]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ARMENIAN AMERICAN MUSEUM KICKS OFF VIRTUAL STAKEHOLDER MEETINGS

Glendale, CA () – The Armenian American Museum and Cultural Center of California has kicked off a series of virtual stakeholder meetings to provide donors, supporters, and community members with a progress report on the landmark center and historic groundbreaking year.

The series of virtual stakeholder meetings kicked off with the museum’s Benefactors, Legacy Council, and Founder’s Circle members in March 2021.

“It has been a pleasure to meet with our valued stakeholders and have an opportunity to engage in a dialogue on the exciting future of the Armenian American Museum,” stated Executive Chairman Berdj Karapetian. “We look forward to the upcoming stakeholder meetings to connect with our donors, supporters, and community members with the community-wide celebration of the historic groundbreaking on the horizon.”

The initial meetings have covered a wide range of topics including the museum’s collaboration with the City of Glendale, the museum’s refined building design, the selection process for the General Contractor, the formation of the new Board of Governors, the advancement of the permanent exhibition on the Armenian American experience, the formation of the new Exhibition Committee, upcoming donor opportunities for supporters, and the Groundbreaking Ceremony planned for Summer 2021.

The initial meetings featured presentations by the Board of Trustees, Executive leadership, staff, and architects of the project and concluded with Q&A sessions for stakeholders to ask questions and provide feedback on the museum project.

The museum plans to host several virtual meetings and presentations for the greater community throughout Spring 2021.

For more information on the museum, visit https://www.ArmenianAmericanMuseum.org.

The mission of the Armenian American Museum and Cultural Center of California is to promote understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Armenian American experience. The vision is a cultural campus that enriches the community, educates the public on the Armenian American story, and empowers individuals to embrace cultural diversity and speak out against prejudice.

###

Photo Captions:

First Row:
Board of Trustees Co-Chair Archbishop Hovnan Derderian
Board of Trustees Member Dr. Nazareth E. Darakjian
Board of Trustees Co-Chair Rev. Berdj Djambazian

Second Row:
Board of Trustees Co-Treasurer Talin Yacoubian
Executive Chairman Berdj Karapetian
Executive Vice Chairman Zaven Kazazian
Board of Trustees Co-Chair Avedik Izmirlian

Third Row:
Architect Aram Alajajian
Major Gifts Director Mary Khayat
Executive Director Shant Sahakian

Armenian American Museum and Cultural Center of California
116 North Artsakh Avenue, Suite 205, Glendale, CA 91206
Office: (818) 351-3554
www.ArmenianAmericanMuseum.org
Confidentiality Notice: This communication and any documents, files, or previous e-mail messages attached to it constitute an electronic communication within the scope of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, 18 ISCA 2510. This communication may contain non-public, confidential, or legally privileged information intended for the sole use of the designated recipient(s). The unlawful interception, use, or disclosure of such information is strictly prohibited under 18 USCA 2511 and any applicable laws.




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Turkish press: Turkey’s FM urges Canada to review defense industry restrictions

In this photo taken with a drone, smoke rises from houses burnt by Armenian residents as they leave the Armenian-occupied region of Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan, Nov. 14, 2020. (AP Photo)

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu called on his Canadian counterpart to review Ottawa’s defense industry restrictions against Turkey, diplomatic sources said Monday.

In a phone call, Çavuşoğlu and his Canadian counterpart Marc Garneau spoke about bilateral relations, with Turkey voicing its "discomfort" over the embargo, said the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

"He conveyed concerns about Canada's stance on defense industry restrictions imposed on Turkey and requested their review," the sources said.

The parts under embargo include camera systems for Baykar armed drones. Export licenses were suspended in 2019 during Turkish military activities in Syria. Restrictions were then eased but reimposed during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Canadian arms control group Project Ploughshares said airstrike video released by Baku at the time indicated drones were equipped with imaging and targeting systems made by L3Harris Wescam, a Canada-based unit of L3Harris Technologies Inc.

Turkey's foreign ministry at the time described it as a double standard and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said it was not in line with the spirit of their alliance.

Turkey's military exports to its ally Azerbaijan jumped six-fold last year. Sales of drones and other military equipment rose to $77 million in September alone before fighting broke out in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, data showed.

Last October, Canada suspended exports of some defense products to Turkey over allegations that its technology was being used in the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

In 1991, the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory, and seven adjacent regions.

When new clashes erupted on Sept. 27, 2020, the Armenian army launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces and violated humanitarian cease-fire agreements.

During a six-week conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages, while at least 2,802 of its soldiers were killed.

On Nov. 10, 2020, the two countries signed a Russian-brokered agreement to end the fighting and work toward a comprehensive resolution.

On Jan. 11, the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a pact to develop economic ties and infrastructure to benefit the entire region. It included the establishment of a trilateral working group on Nagorno-Karabakh.

The cease-fire is seen as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia, whose armed forces withdrew in line with the agreement.




Turkish press: Turkey’s FM urges Canada to review defense industry restrictions

In this photo taken with a drone, smoke rises from houses burnt by Armenian residents as they leave the Armenian-occupied region of Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan, Nov. 14, 2020. (AP Photo)

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu called on his Canadian counterpart to review Ottawa’s defense industry restrictions against Turkey, diplomatic sources said Monday.

In a phone call, Çavuşoğlu and his Canadian counterpart Marc Garneau spoke about bilateral relations, with Turkey voicing its "discomfort" over the embargo, said the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

"He conveyed concerns about Canada's stance on defense industry restrictions imposed on Turkey and requested their review," the sources said.

The parts under embargo include camera systems for Baykar armed drones. Export licenses were suspended in 2019 during Turkish military activities in Syria. Restrictions were then eased but reimposed during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Canadian arms control group Project Ploughshares said airstrike video released by Baku at the time indicated drones were equipped with imaging and targeting systems made by L3Harris Wescam, a Canada-based unit of L3Harris Technologies Inc.

Turkey's foreign ministry at the time described it as a double standard and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said it was not in line with the spirit of their alliance.

Turkey's military exports to its ally Azerbaijan jumped six-fold last year. Sales of drones and other military equipment rose to $77 million in September alone before fighting broke out in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, data showed.

Last October, Canada suspended exports of some defense products to Turkey over allegations that its technology was being used in the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

In 1991, the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory, and seven adjacent regions.

When new clashes erupted on Sept. 27, 2020, the Armenian army launched attacks on civilians and Azerbaijani forces and violated humanitarian cease-fire agreements.

During a six-week conflict, Azerbaijan liberated several cities and nearly 300 settlements and villages, while at least 2,802 of its soldiers were killed.

On Nov. 10, 2020, the two countries signed a Russian-brokered agreement to end the fighting and work toward a comprehensive resolution.

On Jan. 11, the leaders of Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a pact to develop economic ties and infrastructure to benefit the entire region. It included the establishment of a trilateral working group on Nagorno-Karabakh.

The cease-fire is seen as a victory for Azerbaijan and a defeat for Armenia, whose armed forces withdrew in line with the agreement.




Turkish press: Canada scraps drone technology export permits to Turkey

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu speaks to the media after talks with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, in Ankara, Turkey, Aug. 25, 2020. (AP File Photo)

Canada canceled export permits for drone technology to Turkey after concluding that the country sold the equipment to the Azerbaijani military forces during fighting in the Armenian-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said Monday.

Turkey, which like Canada is a member of NATO, is a key ally of Azerbaijan, whose forces regained territory after six weeks of fighting, after three decades of Armenian occupation.

“This use was not consistent with Canadian foreign policy, nor end-use assurances given by Turkey,” Garneau said in a statement, adding he had raised his concerns with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu earlier in the day.

The Turkish Embassy in Ottawa criticized the decision, saying that it expects Turkey's NATO allies to refrain from taking steps that would negatively affect bilateral relations and harm solidarity.

Ottawa suspended the permits last October so it could review claims that Azerbaijani drones used in the conflict had been equipped with imaging and targeting systems made by L3Harris Wescam, the Canada-based unit of L3Harris Technologies Inc.

Earlier on Monday, Turkey said Çavuşoğlu had urged Canada to review the defense industry restrictions.

“He conveyed concerns about Canada’s stance on defense industry restrictions imposed on Turkey and requested their review,” foreign ministry sources said.

The parts under embargo include camera systems for Baykar armed drones. Export licenses were suspended in 2019 during Turkish military activities in Syria. Restrictions were then eased but reimposed during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Turkey’s military exports to its ally Azerbaijan jumped six-fold last year.

Earlier in April, President Ilham Aliyev awarded Turkish drone magnate Baykar’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Selçuk Bayraktar with the “Karabakh Order,” which is awarded to soldiers and civilians who played a role in regaining control of Nagorno-Karabakh and its surrounding lands that were under Armenian occupation and recently liberated by Azerbaijan.

Baykar’s Bayraktar TB2s played a vital role during the recent conflict that erupted between Azerbaijan and the fellow ex-Soviet republic of Armenia.

The combat drones, as expressed by many military specialists and defense experts, gave the Azerbaijani army the upper hand in both detecting and destroying enemy forces and military equipment, including armored vehicles, howitzers and Russian-made air defense systems.

The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense released several pieces of footage, captured by the state-of-the-art drones, showing destroyed tanks, artillery and missiles that the Turkish Bayraktar TB2s demolished with ease.

Several analysts used drone footage to document the Armenian losses, tallying at least 185 battle tanks that had been destroyed.

Following the heavy toll on Armenian forces, a Moscow-brokered truce was reached between Armenia and Azerbaijan, after more than six weeks of deadly clashes over Nagorno-Karabakh, a region that lies within Azerbaijan but has been illegally occupied by ethnic Armenian forces backed by Yerevan since a separatist war there ended in 1994. Following the truce, Nagorno-Karabakh’s separatist leader Arayik Harutyunyan acknowledged that "had the hostilities continued at the same pace, we would have lost all of Artsakh (an Armenian name for Nagorno-Karabakh) within days.”

Turkish press: Canada scraps drone technology export permits to Turkey

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu speaks to the media after talks with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, in Ankara, Turkey, Aug. 25, 2020. (AP File Photo)

Canada canceled export permits for drone technology to Turkey after concluding that the country sold the equipment to the Azerbaijani military forces during fighting in the Armenian-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, Foreign Minister Marc Garneau said Monday.

Turkey, which like Canada is a member of NATO, is a key ally of Azerbaijan, whose forces regained territory after six weeks of fighting, after three decades of Armenian occupation.

“This use was not consistent with Canadian foreign policy, nor end-use assurances given by Turkey,” Garneau said in a statement, adding he had raised his concerns with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu earlier in the day.

The Turkish Embassy in Ottawa criticized the decision, saying that it expects Turkey's NATO allies to refrain from taking steps that would negatively affect bilateral relations and harm solidarity.

Ottawa suspended the permits last October so it could review claims that Azerbaijani drones used in the conflict had been equipped with imaging and targeting systems made by L3Harris Wescam, the Canada-based unit of L3Harris Technologies Inc.

Earlier on Monday, Turkey said Çavuşoğlu had urged Canada to review the defense industry restrictions.

“He conveyed concerns about Canada’s stance on defense industry restrictions imposed on Turkey and requested their review,” foreign ministry sources said.

The parts under embargo include camera systems for Baykar armed drones. Export licenses were suspended in 2019 during Turkish military activities in Syria. Restrictions were then eased but reimposed during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Turkey’s military exports to its ally Azerbaijan jumped six-fold last year.

Earlier in April, President Ilham Aliyev awarded Turkish drone magnate Baykar’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Selçuk Bayraktar with the “Karabakh Order,” which is awarded to soldiers and civilians who played a role in regaining control of Nagorno-Karabakh and its surrounding lands that were under Armenian occupation and recently liberated by Azerbaijan.

Baykar’s Bayraktar TB2s played a vital role during the recent conflict that erupted between Azerbaijan and the fellow ex-Soviet republic of Armenia.

The combat drones, as expressed by many military specialists and defense experts, gave the Azerbaijani army the upper hand in both detecting and destroying enemy forces and military equipment, including armored vehicles, howitzers and Russian-made air defense systems.

The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense released several pieces of footage, captured by the state-of-the-art drones, showing destroyed tanks, artillery and missiles that the Turkish Bayraktar TB2s demolished with ease.

Several analysts used drone footage to document the Armenian losses, tallying at least 185 battle tanks that had been destroyed.

Following the heavy toll on Armenian forces, a Moscow-brokered truce was reached between Armenia and Azerbaijan, after more than six weeks of deadly clashes over Nagorno-Karabakh, a region that lies within Azerbaijan but has been illegally occupied by ethnic Armenian forces backed by Yerevan since a separatist war there ended in 1994. Following the truce, Nagorno-Karabakh’s separatist leader Arayik Harutyunyan acknowledged that "had the hostilities continued at the same pace, we would have lost all of Artsakh (an Armenian name for Nagorno-Karabakh) within days.”

Turkish press: Top Turkish, Azerbaijani officials meet in Baku – Turkey News

Turkey’s communications director met the assistant to Azerbaijan’s president in the country’s capital Baku on April 10.

Fahrettin Altun congratulated Hikmet Hajiyev, who also serves as the head of the Foreign Policy Affairs Department of Azerbaijan’s Presidential Administration, on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region from nearly three decades of Armenian occupation last year.

Altun presented Hajiyev a “Victory Helmet” as a memento of Azerbaijan’s triumph.

The Turkish official also attended the meeting of ministers and high-level officials of the Turkic Council on information and media.

Altun led Turkey’s delegation for the meeting, which included Turkish ambassador Erkan Özoral and Serdar Karagöz, board chairman and director general of Anadolu Agency.

In his address, Altun stressed the need for unity in the Turkish world in the face of existing and emerging threats.

“We have to protect and watch over each other and strengthen our defenses. We have to adapt both our perception of threats and our understanding of cooperation and solidarity to the conditions today,” he said.

The 8th summit of the Turkic Council is scheduled to be held in Istanbul on Nov. 12 this year.

The council was established in 2009 as an intergovernmental organization with an overarching aim of promoting comprehensive cooperation among Turkic-speaking states.

It consists of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan as member countries, and Hungary as an observer state.

Turkish press: Top Turkish, Azerbaijani officials meet in Baku – Turkey News

Turkey’s communications director met the assistant to Azerbaijan’s president in the country’s capital Baku on April 10.

Fahrettin Altun congratulated Hikmet Hajiyev, who also serves as the head of the Foreign Policy Affairs Department of Azerbaijan’s Presidential Administration, on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region from nearly three decades of Armenian occupation last year.

Altun presented Hajiyev a “Victory Helmet” as a memento of Azerbaijan’s triumph.

The Turkish official also attended the meeting of ministers and high-level officials of the Turkic Council on information and media.

Altun led Turkey’s delegation for the meeting, which included Turkish ambassador Erkan Özoral and Serdar Karagöz, board chairman and director general of Anadolu Agency.

In his address, Altun stressed the need for unity in the Turkish world in the face of existing and emerging threats.

“We have to protect and watch over each other and strengthen our defenses. We have to adapt both our perception of threats and our understanding of cooperation and solidarity to the conditions today,” he said.

The 8th summit of the Turkic Council is scheduled to be held in Istanbul on Nov. 12 this year.

The council was established in 2009 as an intergovernmental organization with an overarching aim of promoting comprehensive cooperation among Turkic-speaking states.

It consists of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan as member countries, and Hungary as an observer state.