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?
What is Trump's plan for Middle East peace? On his first foreign tour, President Trump has promised "peace" between Israel and the Palestinians. Are there any details for re-starting talks that have been stalled for the past three years?
Terrorism and tweets, hate speech and murder Just days before an election, Britain is coping with a rash of deadly terrorism, and Prime Minister Theresa May is on the defensive. And again today, President Trump has tweeted criticism of the Mayor of London. Later, a double murder in Portland, Oregon has revealed the ugly past of a supposedly “progressive” city. One immediate question: is “hate speech” protected by the First Amendment?
The Trump agenda: where's the beef? President Trump says big things are happening. After celebrating a House bill on health care, he doesn’t yet have Senate agreement. With James Comey’s public testimony scheduled tomorrow, the President today tweeted his selection of a new FBI Director. Is the Chief Executive all style and no substance? Later, terror attacks in Iran and conflicting claims about who’s behind them.