The Turkish prime minister is apparently trying to consolidate his power, writes Andrew Finkel in the New York Times, but is it the right move for Turkey?
This week, Erdogan said that Turks should begin debating a move from the current parliamentary system, in which most of the governing power rests with the prime minister, toward a presidential system with a more powerful executive, along the lines of the United States or France. Everyone knows what his push for a stronger president means: Erdogan would jump ship before his term as prime minister ends in 2015 and stand as president himself when the job becomes vacant in 2014. He would continue leading the country, with more power than ever.
Anshel Pfeffer in Haaretz believes that a report by Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic & International Studies’ leaves no room for ambiguity on Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Anyone who believes that Iran is not yet actively pursuing a nuclear-weapons program and merely developing the capabilities is committing an act of willful delusion. The intelligence supplied to the IAEA and verified by different “member countries,” is clear on that Iran has been working on a wide range of projects for over a decade, all of which are specifically aimed at acquiring the capabilities necessary not only to enrich uranium to weapons-grade, but to assemble a nuclear advice that can be launched by long-range missile. Talk of a fatwa against nuclear weapons is just that: talk.
Be it through early elections or a massive coalition, Benjamin Netanyahu’s objectives remain the same, writes Akiva Eldar in the National Interest.
Whether the U.S. president after January 20, 2013, will be Obama or Republican Mitt Romney, Washington will have more freedom to form its Middle East policy in accordance with American strategic interests that don’t necessarily match the ideology and the interests of the current Israeli government. Yet any American president will have less leverage over an Israeli leader who enjoys the backing of 94 out of 120 Knesset members, including those from a central party that supposedly supports generous concessions to the Palestinians.
Writing in Eurasia Review, Mohammad Ataie examines the impact that Hamas’ somewhat ambiguous stance on Syria has had on the organization’s relationship with key patron Iran.
Hamas Syrian position is still quiet nebulous as the movement’s leadership in Gaza and abroad remain divided over the Syrian crisis. But it is clear that the shadow of tensions between the movement and President Assad has already fallen over Hamas’ relationship with Tehran. For Iran, supporting Hamas is linked to its alliance with President Assad. In other words, despite the Iranian commitment to the Palestinian resistance, the Islamic Republic saw its relationship with the Palestinian as well as the Lebanese resistance from a Syrian perspective. This is well understood in the light of the three decades of Iran’s Levant policy and partnership with Syria.
Adam Garfinkle of the American Interest lays the blame for the spiraling chaos in Syria at the feet of the Obama administration.
If, in the fullness of time, a jihadi-led or strongly influenced state arises in Syria, or parts of it, then it is virtually inevitable that the Shi’a-tilted status quo in Lebanon will be upset. Sunni radicals in Damascus will not get along with Hizballah, and there are homegrown Sunni radicals in Lebanon that “friends” in Damascus would encourage and support on their behalf. The likely result? A new civil war, with a beginning epicenter most like in and around Tripoli.
Writing for The Diplomat, Kevyn Lim looks at the advantages and disadvantages of Azeri cooperation with Israel on an Iran strike, and the wider geopolitical consequences of such a move.
Moscow, the region’s preeminent power, continues to view the Caspian basin and the south Caucasus as part of its Soviet-era sphere of influence and is therefore wary of any development that might further diminish its toehold. A direct Israel-Iran faceoff would almost certainly draw the U.S. military into the fray. But the consequences could be worse for Baku if proof of complicity leaks out. And, pipeline routing disputes aside, all five Caspian littoral states – Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan – share an obvious interest in ensuring energy stability.