FROM Henri Barkey
Berlin, Ankara and the international political consequences When a lone gunman assassinated Russia's ambassador to Turkey in a shocking public display at an Ankara photo exhibit yesterday, the international consequences were immediate. Hours later a tractor trailer truck mowed down holiday revelers celebrating at a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 and wounding scores more. Germany has been preparing for terror attacks like the ones that have struck in Paris and Belgium. While authorities are treating these isolated incidents as the work of terrorists, motives and details are still very unclear. One thing is certain: the perception of escalating violence could have far-reaching effects on Europe's policy on immigration, refugees and the war in Syria.
The uneasy alliance between Turkey and the US Turkey is a NATO partner and a key American ally in the Middle East. At one point President Obama even saw President Erdogan as a role model for Muslim leaders. Not anymore. Washington's been watching nervously as Erdogan has turned increasingly autocratic. Anti-American sentiment in Turkey has snowballed in the wake of last month's failed coup, which many Turks blame on an exiled Muslim cleric living in the US. Vice President Biden was in Ankara yesterday to smooth over strained relations, but can the growing rifts be healed given these two nations' clashing alliances in the fight against ISIS?
Is Turkey the Next Dictatorship? Turkey is both the historic "crossroads of Europe and Asia" and a powerful presence in the Middle East. As recently as 2009, President Obama visited Turkey and praised Tayyip Erdogan for curbing the military and showing that Islam can coexist with democracy. Since then, the Prime Minister has brutalized protesters, banned Twitter and YouTube, and jailed scores of reporters. This weekend, after his party won local elections around the country, he promised criminal action against his opponents and said, "There will be those who have to flee." Will he try to prolong his rule? What's at stake for Syria, Iran, Israel and the European Union? Is it time for the US to start paying attention?
Violence and the Politics of Religion in the Middle East Two years of bloody violence against a brutal dictatorship in Syria have awakened the ancient rivalry between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. It's become a religious battle, pitting neighbors against each other in Syria and across the Middle East, and is accentuating hostilities between nations, including Saudi Arabia and Iran. Terrorist organizations, like Shiite Hezbollah and Sunni al Qaeda, are threatening chaos to advance their competing agendas. Is it partly an unintended consequence of America's occupation of Iraq? Is there anything the US can do to contain it?
Human Rights in the era of Donald Trump President Trump’s UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, said today the US might pull out of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Serious violators of human rights are members of the Council itself–and a US resignation could make things worse. Later on today’s show, now that he’s into his second term, comedian turned US Senator Al Franken is telling jokes again.
Trump's 'America First' goes missing abroad In the Middle East, President Trump is changing some policies of the Obama Administration—and reversing his own campaign attacks on Islam as a religion that "hates us." We hear about his visit to Saudi Arabia and what's at stake for the rest of his foreign excursion.
Venezuela spirals into economic and political chaos Venezuela, a country whose potential for prosperity is unmatched, finds itself on the verge of civil war. What sustains the repressive government? With time running out, guest host León Krauze looks at what the international community can do to pull the country from the edge of collapse.
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.