Face the Assad Reality In Syria

by PSA Staff | January 31st, 2014 | |Subscribe

Frank G. Wisner is a member of PSA’s Board of Advisors as well as a former Under Secretary of State and of Defense and a former Ambassador to Zambia, Egypt, the Philippines, and India. The article was co-authored by Leslie H. Gelb, a former New York Times columnist and senior government official. Original article posted at the Daily Beast.

Face the Assad Reality In Syria

U.S. policy is going down the drain in Syria diplomatically and militarily. The choice: deal with Assad or fail.

The Syria conference underway in Geneva to transition from the rule of President Assad will fail, and the Obama team knows it. There is no incentive now in the Assad or rebel camps for diplomatic compromise, and the U.S. knows that. Nothing the U.S. and its allies are doing or planning on the military front will compel President Assad to step aside, and the White House understands that full well. The reality on the ground today is that American-helped moderate rebels continue to flounder, while Assad’s forces and those of the jihadi extremists prosper. Obama officials see this as well and realize that nothing they are doing or are likely to do will alter those facts.

So, if President Obama understands what he is doing will fail, why is he doing it?

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Aphrodite’s possibility: Everyone wins in the eastern Mediterranean

by PSA Staff | June 3rd, 2013 | |Subscribe

Marc Grossman is a Vice Chairman of The Cohen Group, a Henry Kissinger Senior fellow at Yale University and a former US Ambassador to Turkey.  Tom Miller is a member of the PSA Board of Directors, President of the International Executive Service Corps, a former US Ambassador to Greece, and US Special Cyprus Coordinator. This article originally ran May 31, 2013, in FuelFix (A Houston Chronicle Publication).

Aphrodite’s possibility: Everyone wins in the eastern Mediterranean

With the violence spilling over the border into Turkey in the form of car bombs, the crisis in Syria surely topped the agenda when President Obama met Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week.

We hope they also took a few minutes to discuss the opportunity to make progress on one of the world’s most intractable problems  – the division of Cyprus — by harnessing  the discovery of a natural gas field about 100 miles south of Cyprus called Aphrodite.  Getting that gas to market could revive the Cypriot economy, enhance Turkey’s relations with Israel and lay the foundations to end Cyprus’ division, a requirement for Turkey’s long-sought membership in the European Union.

Because of the collapse of Cyprus’s banking sector, experts estimate its GDP could shrink by 15% this year and another 15% in 2014.  The EU’s first bailout plan initially created more controversy than confidence; it will take years for Cyprus’s GDP recover.

The Aphrodite field could change the trajectory of that recovery.  There are press reports that Houston-based Noble Energy, the company that found Aphrodite in 2011, estimates that the field contains 142 billion to 227 billion cubic meters of gas worth $45 billion at current prices. (more…)

Turkey’s Regional Engagement: Navigating Through Problems in a Zero-Problems Paradigm

by Jessie Daniels | October 26th, 2010 | |Subscribe

Visitors to Turkey are warned about developing a “Turkish muscle” – the extra belly fat that you get from eating too much Turkish food. Yet it’s the country’s desire to flex its foreign policy muscle that has, at times, proved worrisome. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s “Zero-Problems” foreign policy, which emphasizes regional engagement and outlines an active role in promoting Turkey’s interests on the world stage, is a far cry from Turkey’s past practice of isolating itself from its neighbors. But some of its recent diplomatic forays under this policy, especially the nuclear fuel swap deal with Iran and renewed relations with Syria, have led some in the West to query whether we are losing Turkey.

Earlier this month, I traveled to Turkey on a trip sponsored by the Rumi Forum and discussed the zero-problems policy with officials, parliamentarians, and community leaders, among others. Equally as interesting as learning more about the goals of this new assertiveness, though, was hearing about some of the speed bumps in the process of carrying it out – namely the challenge of working with coalition governments.

At the heart of the zero-problems policy is a desire for peace and stability, goals which political and business leaders alike understandably embrace with vigor. During the trip, contentious issues like Iran and Syria were explained in this context; its diplomacy with Iran helps prevent war in the region, engagement with Syria has economic benefits. Turkey’s desire for stability, though, also requires having stable partners to work with. Divided governments carry an inherent risk of being quite the opposite, and, as such, they constitute a significant impediment for Turkey. (more…)

All blog posts are independently produced by their authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of PSA. Across the Aisle serves as a bipartisan forum for productive discussion of national security and foreign affairs topics.