So Why Did Turkey Shoot Down That Russian Plane?

Why did Turkey shoot down that Russian warplane? It was certainly not because the SU-24 posed any threat. The plane is old and slow, and the Russians were careful not to arm it with anti-aircraft missiles. And it wasn’t because the Turks are quick on the trigger, either. Three years ago, Turkish President Recep Tayyip … Continue reading “So Why Did Turkey Shoot Down That Russian Plane?”

The Saudis Are Stumbling – They May Take the Middle East With Them

For the past eight decades Saudi Arabia has been careful. Using its vast oil wealth, it’s quietly spread its ultra-conservative brand of Islam throughout the Muslim world, secretly undermined secular regimes in its region, and prudently kept to the shadows while others did the fighting and dying. It was Saudi money that fueled the Mujahedeen … Continue reading “The Saudis Are Stumbling – They May Take the Middle East With Them”

Turkey’s President Gets His Majority – at a Terrible Price

If there’s a lesson to be drawn from the November 1 Turkish elections, it’s that fear works, and there are few people better at engendering it than Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Only five months after his Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its majority in the Turkish parliament, a snap election put it back … Continue reading “Turkey’s President Gets His Majority – at a Terrible Price”

Behind Washington’s ‘Crackpot’ Deal with Turkey to Fight ISIS

The recent agreement between Turkey and the United States to cooperate against the Islamic State in Syria brings to mind the sociologist C. Wright Mills’ description of those who make American foreign policy as “crackpot realists”: realists about advancing their careers, crackpots about the policies they pursue. On paper, the plan allows the U.S. to … Continue reading “Behind Washington’s ‘Crackpot’ Deal with Turkey to Fight ISIS”

Just Listen to What Western Officials Are Saying About Russia

If you want a sleepless night – or month – just listen to what Western security officials are saying these days about a possible confrontation with Russia. “If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States,” warned General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the U.S. Joint … Continue reading “Just Listen to What Western Officials Are Saying About Russia”

The Dark Saudi-Israeli Plot To Tip the Scales in Syria

A quiet meeting this past March in Saudi Arabia, and a recent anonymous leak from the Israeli military, set the stage for what may be a new and wider war in the Middle East. Gathering in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh were Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, newly crowned Saudi King Salman, and the … Continue reading “The Dark Saudi-Israeli Plot To Tip the Scales in Syria”

Yemen’s War Is Redrawing the Middle East’s Fault Lines

Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world, bereft of resources, fractured by tribal divisions and religious sectarianism, and plagued by civil war. And yet this small country tucked into the bottom of the Arabian Peninsula is shattering old alliances and spurring new and surprising ones. As Saudi Arabia continues its air assault on … Continue reading “Yemen’s War Is Redrawing the Middle East’s Fault Lines”

Parsing the East Asian Powder Keg

The past six months have seen an incredible ratcheting up of tensions in the East and South China Seas, where the world’s three largest economies – China, the United States, and Japan – are caught up in an increasingly tangled web of territorial disputes, competing alliances, and historical grievances. In February, U.S. Secretary of State … Continue reading “Parsing the East Asian Powder Keg”

ISIS: The Spoils of the ‘Great Loot’ in the Middle East

“So far as Syria is concerned, it is France and not Turkey that is the enemy.” – T. E. Lawrence, February 1915. It was a curious comment by the oddball but unarguably brilliant British agent and scholar, Thomas Edward Lawrence. The time was World War I, and England and France were locked in a death … Continue reading “ISIS: The Spoils of the ‘Great Loot’ in the Middle East”