Ankaraâ€™s Handling of Syrian War Has Revived Its Own Kurdish Conflict
Turkeyâ€™s promise Monday to let Iraqi Kurdish guerrillas cross its border to defend the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani against the Islamist army of ISIS provides a rare sign of hope for saving Turkeyâ€™s moribund peace process with its own Kurds. Turkeyâ€™s refusal until now to facilitate help for the Syrian Kurdsâ€™ fight has ignited riots and communal violence involving Kurds across much of Turkey.
Russia Faces Deadline in Twelve Weeks to Pay Biggest-Ever Arbitration Penalty
Just eighty-seven days before Russia is mandated to pay a $50 billion penalty to the former owners of the Yukos oil company, there is no public sign yet of a settlement in the dispute, raising the chances that courts in Europe and the US will be asked early next year to authorize the seizures of Russian state-owned airliners, ships, real estate or other commercial property. That step would only further embitter the relations between Russia and the West that have hardened this year over Russiaâ€™s invasions of Ukraine.
An Impressive Nordic Defense Initiative Should Invite the Three Baltic Nations to Join
As Russiaâ€™s attacks on Ukraine revive concerns about the security of its northwestern neighbors as well, last monthâ€™s NATO summit conference took two noteworthy steps, among others, to address the Russian danger. For one, the allies authorized a new quick-response force to reassure the Baltic Statesâ€”Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuaniaâ€”of the allianceâ€™s ability to protect them.
Poroshenko's Party Leads; Yatsenyuk Improves Chance of Remaining Prime Minister
On Sunday, Ukrainians will elect their first parliament since the Maidan revolution and the Russian invasions of Crimea and Donbas. Kyiv-based political analyst Brian Mefford, now a nonresident senior fellow of the Atlantic Council, analyzes Ukrainian politics and elections on his websiteâ€™s blog. Meffordâ€™s analysis will feature on New Atlanticist and the Atlantic Councilâ€™s UkraineAlert newsletter, beginning with his reading this week of the prospects for Sundayâ€™s vote and Ukraineâ€™s next government.
Meffordâ€™s key observations this week are these:
Kyiv Says It Fires 39 Officials as Voters Show Frustration Over Continued Corruption
Eight months after Ukrainians forced the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych, they will elect a parliament amid rising public anger over the persistence of government corruption under the still-new regime of President Petro Poroshenko. Public discussion about how many new leaders are the same as the old crowd has fueled the wave of attacks in recent weeks in which groups of men have accosted politicians on the street, accused them of graft, and heaved them into street-side trash dumpsters.
Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyukâ€™s office said it decided yesterday to dismiss thirty-nine officials, including â€śheads of central executive bodiesâ€ť and â€śdeputy ministersâ€ť after initial investigations of corruption allegations. That statement, on the Cabinet of Ministries website, also laid out a fourteen-month schedule for anti-corruption investigations of thousands of officials, starting with the top ranks.
Buoyed by Successes in Europeâ€™s East, Russia's Leader Turns His Gaze to Serbia and Its Neighbors
Russian President Vladimir Putinâ€™s attack on Ukraine aims to deny that nation a European future, partly by closing the door permanently to membership in NATO or the European Union. Putinâ€™s aims, however, are not limited to extending a Russian sphere of influence over neighbors with Russian-speaking populations. Southeast Europe also figures in Putinâ€™s plans to upend the post-Cold War order in Europe.
Al-Qaeda's ability to exploit political instabilityâ€”most recently caused by the rebel Houthi movement's shocking incursion into Sana'aâ€”and ungoverned spaces throughout Yemen should be a primary concern. This highlights major shortcomings in the US approach to addressing threats from terrorist networks seeking to harm Americans, as outlined in two new Atlantic Council publications, "Do Drone Strikes in Yemen Undermine US Security Objectives?" and "A Blueprint for a Comprehensive US Counterterrorism Strategy in Yemen." Instead of taking a short-term tactical approach that relies heavily on unmanned drone strikes, the US must develop a long-term strategy to address the underlying drivers for extremism that allow terrorist groups to thrive in Yemen.
But Voters Doubt the Political Class, So a Technocratic Government Offers the Best Hope
Four years after Tunisia overthrew its dictator and ignited the Arab Spring revolutions in Egypt, Libya and Yemen, its 11 million people are nearing the end of their countryâ€™s formal political transition. Tunisian voters will elect a parliament on October 26 and a president on November 23, each for a five-year term.
As it approaches this finish line of sorts, Tunisia seems to be the only one of five Arab nations in transition (Syria being the fifth) that is on a clear path to the establishment of a democratic, more stable future. Still, according to Haykel Ben Mahfoudh, the election preparations include clear warning signs of public mistrust with the election process, the established political parties and the political class as a whole. This means the countryâ€™s best hopes may lie in creating a relatively technocratic government that focuses matter-of-factly on delivering better services to the citizenry, Ben Mahfoudh writes on the Atlantic Councilâ€™s MENASource blog.
Fred Hof: US Policy Needs a Ground Game, and Here Are Two Ways to Build It
The US military has escalated air strikes against the Islamist militant ISIS fighters who have been closing in on the Syrian town of Kobani and the nearby Turkish border, in large part because the Syrian civil war is now threatening order in Turkey, a critical NATO ally.
But three weeks of US airstrikes on ISIS in Syria has not turned back the groupâ€™s advance, and even an intense bombing campaign is not going to defeat ISIS, according to the Atlantic Councilâ€™s Fred Hof, a former State Department advisor to President Obama on Syria. Halting ISIS will require a capable force on the ground as well, Hof told CBS News Tuesday. â€śWithout a ground component â€¦ this is going to be an exercise in futility,â€ť he said.
It is South Asia, in a sense, that has won the Nobel Peace Prize this year. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has rightly honored Pakistanâ€™s Malala Yousafzai for her advocacy of education for young girls, and Indiaâ€™s Kailash Satyarthi for his crusade against child labor and enslavement.