Leadership & Politics Archives

Panelist View  |  July 20, 2007 9:49 AM

India's New Woman: Holier, and Shadier, Than Thou

By M.J. Akbar

After yesterday’s voting, Pratibha Patil looks set to become India’s first woman president. She has reached this constitutional office by accident rather than design. Ms. Patil’s was the last name on a long list, and was chosen at a meeting of the Indian National Congress-led governing alliance after it had become embarrassing for members of the alliance to say "no" to the Congress party any further.

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Guest Analyst  |  October 5, 2007 3:27 PM

Burmese Protests Transcend Politics

The monk-led protests in Burma are about spiritual authority as much as they are about raw political power.

They are deeply rooted in Burma’s religious culture. Nothing illustrates this so well as the chants of the protesting monks and their overturned begging bowls. Everyone in Burma understands the message: the military rulers are evil spirits who have lost their authority.

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Guest Voice  |  November 9, 2007 7:12 PM

Voice from House Arrest: Don't Let Pakistan Follow Burma

By Afsin Yurdakul

‘’I can’t speak for too long on the phone,’’ Asma Jahangir said in a calm, determined tone, ‘‘the military might cut it off.’’ Nonetheless, Pakistan’s leading human rights lawyer and activist accepted my offer of a phone interview this morning. She spoke from her home, where she was being held under house arrest, via the one phone line that the Pakistani police had somehow forgotten to cut off.

She spoke quickly, not because she was nervous, but because she wanted to tell the world as much as she could about what is really going on behind the scenes of Pakistan’s current political turmoil. She said the electronic media is completely shut down, and satellite dishes have been removed from the supermarket shelves, ostensibly by the military, to prevent people from getting or spreading any information about the state of emergency.

Jahangir urged the world not to turn a blind eye to violations of democracy and free speech in Pakistan, and called for maximum international pressure on General Pervez Musharraf.

However, as she was telling me that these are defining moments for her country’s future, the police interjected, and we lost the connection. I called back immediately. A male voice answered (she had been home alone only moments before) and told me that ‘she was not allowed to talk anymore,’ because ‘she was with the police.’ At the moment I have no information regarding her status.

I originally conducted this interview for Turkey’s NTV-MSNBC news portal, where it was published this morning in Turkish. I worry that the interview itself, intended as a chance for her to speak freely, is in fact a chilling example of the ban on free speech in Pakistan today.

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Guest Voice  |  November 12, 2007 4:29 PM

Pakistan: Back to 'American' Ideals

Pakistan was founded on "American" ideals and freedoms: The U.S. must focus on those, and forget Musharraf, if it wants to avoid failure there.

By Akbar Ahmed

The images on TV of lawyers being thrashed in President Musharraf's Emergency are for me extremely disturbing and evidence of a serious breakdown of society. Pakistan was created by M.A. Jinnah, the quintessential lawyer. He created what in 1947 was the largest Muslim nation on earth within the confines of the law and without ever going to jail or engaging in violence of any kind. He founded the country on the basis of democracy, human rights, minority and women's rights.

So what happened? How has Pakistan degenerated from a Muslim democracy founded on women’s rights and religious freedom (Jinnah spent the last Christmas before he died with the Christian community) to a military dictatorship with (despite massive levels of U.S. military aid) some of the highest levels of anti-Americanism in the world?

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Panelist View  |  December 3, 2007 10:24 AM

Commandante Loses to Ballots, Not Bullets

By Ibsen Martínez

*Editor's Note: Martinez has posted a response to reader comments after his article text, below.*

As narrow as Hugo Chavez’s defeat might seem from afar, December 2nd will be inscribed in Venezuelan history as the day Chavez’s schemes to turn Latin America’s longest-living democracy into a totalitarian, one-party autocracy were arrested by ballots, not bullets. His rhetoric during the final, hectic days of the campaign hinted at a violent dénouement.

But the heaviest blow to Chávez is the undeclared war of succession that broke out among the chavista leadership the minute he conceded defeat. In that sense, the real referendum on his and his party’s leadership is yet to be fought. Next year, a succession of popular referenda could be called in every state. Many chavista governors will then be challenged by a newly-energized opposition movement and, for all his charisma, Chávez and his cronies might not have enough support to win.

“The outcome is a stunning development in a country where Mr. Chávez and his supporters control nearly all of the levers of power,” reported New York Times correspondent Simon Romero.

In my view, yesterday’s outcome can only astound those who completely ignore Venezuela’s twentieth-century history. You could say that our last century’s history has been that of a long march towards democracy. There’s no question that there were errors along the way, and it’s certainly still open to discussion whether our former bipartisan representative democracy disappointed the poor. But the fact remains that although Venezuelans might well be inclined to support populist politics, they abhor the idea of living indefinitely under one-man rule.

Radical-left politics have always been a small intellectual elite’s affair in our country. Chávez’s ill-conceived reform bill, largely copied from the Cuban constitution, would have abolished presidential term limits, and allowed the President to declare states of emergency for an unlimited time. He would have been able to suspend human rights guarantees during those states of emergency. The bill would have allowed him to create a new political division in the country by adding new states to the map, where he would have had the legal authority to appoint new governors and mayors.

As to the right to run for indefinitely recurring re-elections, no doubt the most controversial chapter of Chávez’s bill, it concerned and benefited only the incumbent president. No state governor or city mayor would have enjoyed such privilege. By increasing the state’s role in the economy, Chávez would have been authorized to draw from the Central Bank reserves at will.

This election suggests just how much his legendary charisma has waned among the Venezuelan poor. He won more than seven million votes in the December, 2006 presidential elections, but almost four million “faithful” voters deserted him this time. The reason for this, no doubt, has a lot to do with “the paradox of plenty” typical of a petro-state, where it is easier to get a bottle of premium scotch at the local grocery than to buy basic goods such as milk, eggs, black beans and corn flour.

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Guest Voice  |  January 11, 2008 12:59 PM

Don’t Balkanize Kenya

By Njoroge Wachai

The post-election mayhem that has rocked Kenya is horrifying – and embarrassing. Nearly every American I meet inquires about the plight of my extended family. My response is always that I am praying for politicians to come to their senses and talk to, not at, each other, for the sake of the country instead of for themselves.

It’s depressing to see a country slide into chaos when just a month ago it prided itself on its political and economic gains. Once known as a beacon of peace, Kenya now risks being branded unstable and dangerous to visit, tags that will scare away tourists. Economic gains already realized will fast evaporate into thin air.

The post-election violence has seen the wiping out of whole families by machete-wielding hoodlums, who ostensibly are protesting a rigged election. Why spill innocent blood for a political cause? Is the clamor of so-called justice worth the lives of the 500 innocent Kenyans now stacked in mortuaries across the country?

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Guest Voice  |  January 28, 2008 5:42 PM

How Suharto Got It Right

By Pranay Gupte

In the cascade of condemnations and condolences that followed the death of Indonesia’s former strongman Suharto on January 27, one voice was conspicuously missing. That voice was of Dr. Haryono Suyono, the Chicago-trained sociologist who served for almost two decades as Suharto's minister of population and family welfare.

Those two decades represented the most benign of Suharto's authoritarian rule, not the least because of Dr. Haryono's emollient personality. If there was an architect of Suharto's social development policies - one that resulted in a dramatic drop in what had been a galloping rate of population growth in the world's largest Muslim country - it was Dr. Haryono.

He didn’t bring about that drop by coercion. There was no forced sterilization, as there had been in 1975-1977 during then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's "emergency" rule in India, when the Constitution was suspended and the only daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru (India's first prime minister and co-founder, along with Mahatma Gandhi) assumed dictatorial powers that far exceeded anything that Suharto ever exercised. There were no penalties imposed on families with more than one or two children, as had been done for quite a while in nearby China.

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Guest Voice  |  February 15, 2008 5:01 PM

United Pakistan (May) Stand

By Haider Ali Hussein Mullick

While most Americans are closely watching their state primaries, Pakistanis are getting ready to vote in a parliamentary election on Monday. On the ballot are Pakistan's stability, President Pervez Musharraf's political fate, and the future of the U.S-Pakistan strategic relationship. An environment of rising domestic terrorism, economic uncertainty, and political polarization has made Pakistan a top national security priority for all leading American presidential candidates. The question of the day is, Who will win?

But don’t expect a blowout victory on Monday. Indeed, a national consensus government looks increasingly likely – and that may just be what Pakistan needs. Here is why:

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Guest Voices  |  April 8, 2008 4:11 PM

Spring Election Crossroads for Kuwait

KUWAIT CITY -- The recent resignation of members of the Kuwaiti government and subsequent dissolution of parliament reflects severe structural imbalances and an ongoing conflict between a government lacking in strategy and a parliament lacking in vision.

The challenge for Kuwait today is to take advantage of next month's election to shift strategy and prepare for privatization, smaller government, good governance and a diversified modern economy. To succeed, the government must find a way to support meritocracy, open the way for international and regional investment, and relax cultural restrictions surrounding co-education, tourism, women’s rights in the social and personal spheres, entertainment and censorship.

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Guest Voice  |  April 18, 2008 11:01 AM

Turkey's Turmoil: A Blessing in Disguise?

By Diba Nigar Goksel

ISTANBUL - It is nearly impossible for anyone to win hearts and minds in Turkey nowadays.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso treaded carefully on Turkey's political minefield during his visit last week, because any of his moves could have caused the country’s delicate and divided political scene to rupture.

In his speech to the Turkish Parliament, he did not mention the ongoing legal case against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has been accused of anti-secular activity, and he tiptoed around the headscarf debate. Further attempting to show his even-handedness, he spent time with all of the opposition leaders, visiting them personally in their offices.

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Guest Voice  |  May 15, 2008 5:00 PM

Stand Up For Zimbabwe

By Njoroge Wachai

Put aside for a moment today’s situation in Zimbabwe, where political turmoil reigns after President Mugabe’s attempts to rob the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, of his legitimate election victory.

Instead, imagine that it’s November, 2008 in the U.S.. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has just pummeled the GOP’s John McCain in both the popular vote and the Electoral Colleges to claim the U.S. presidency.

But McCain, courtesy of the power of incumbency (Republicans control the White House), adamantly refuses to concede. He and President Bush hoard the official election results in a bid to block Obama from being officially declared the president.

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Guest Voice  |  August 15, 2008 2:25 PM

Pakistan Politics on the Brink Again

By Shuja Nawaz

As Pakistan lurches into another paroxysm of power politics with the threatened impeachment and expected resignation of President Pervez Musharraf, the post-Musharraf picture is not as clear or rosy as the authors of this move may want it to be. The unelected leaders of the coalition government of the Pakistan Peoples' Party and the Pakistan Muslim League (N), Messrs. Asif Ali Zardari and M. Nawaz Sharif respectively may yet find themselves facing a political mess even after Musharraf is gone. There is much that may yet split their on-again, off-again alliance and bring the country to the edge of a new political crisis. In the meantime, the country is sliding into economic chaos and there is no sign that the government has a credible strategy to cope with the impending disaster.

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Guest Voice  |  August 15, 2008 2:36 PM

If Musharraf Steps Down, Will Pakistan Step Up?

By Haider Ali Hussein Mullick

Expecting Pakistan to step up to its responsibilities to its people and the international community if Musharraf steps down is wishful thinking. Further still, Pakistan's bombastic democrats, surprisingly united against Musharraf and equally incompetent in dealing with staggering oil and food prices, and a rising militancy, should expect little with Musharraf's ouster. Al-Qaeda or the Taliban will not lay down their weapons, the budget deficit will not magically disappear, and the thousands protesting high food and energy prices, and rein of Supreme Court justices will not return home happily. For all of that to happen Islamabad's political leaders will have to set their priorities straight and work simultaneously, effectively and strategically toward policies to eradicate terrorism, poverty and a collapsing educational and health system. Without an effective multifaceted approach Islamabad will face failure and so will Kabul, Delhi and Washington.

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Guest Voice  |  September 2, 2008 12:47 PM

Zardari's Pakistan: Lessons from Musharraf's Presidency

By Shuja Nawaz

If the current political math holds, Asif Ali Zardari, the co-Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples' Party appears to be a shoo-in to succeed General Pervez Musharraf as the next regular President of Pakistan on September 6. But he will not have much time to exult. Pakistan today is facing an existential threat from Islamist militants in its Western half; its economy is reeling from the depredations of runaway inflation, food and power shortages, capital flight, falling foreign exchange reserves, and a political system riven by discord. The improbable coalition with former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (N) has fallen apart. With the object of their attacks (Musharraf) no longer around, it seems nothing more was holding them together.

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Guest Voice  |  September 10, 2008 2:15 PM

Enough of the Jerusalem Mantra

By Daniel Seidemann

I was born American. Thirty-five years ago, I chose to become Israeli. My choice in no way reflects a lack of affection for the United States. But patriotism is monogamous: I am an Israeli patriot, and a platonic friend of the land of my birth. I have never voted in a U.S. election and I belong to no U.S. political party. I see myself as an observer of, rather than a participant in, American presidential election politics.

But as a Jerusalemite, I do have a stake in the 2008 Presidential race, like it or not.

Because like in past elections, the candidates and their surrogates are trying to use me - my life, my city - to score points with voters, bolster their pro-Israel credentials, and attack their opponent.

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Guest Voice  |  October 1, 2008 9:52 AM

The Palin Doctrine

By Jeffrey Stacey

Ever since Sarah Palin struggled to define "the Bush Doctrine" in her ABC News quiz, campaign managers, bloggers, and lots of average Americans have been in search of the meaning of the term. But when she and Joseph Biden step up to the microphones in tomorrow's debate, moderator Gwen Ifill should be asking about the Palin Doctrine.

Or should I say "a" Palin Doctrine, because it does not currently exist. Were it to be created, however, it could end up eclipsing the Bush Doctrine. A Palin Doctrine would be further to the right not only of President Bush's policies, but even of John McCain's.

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Guest Voice  |  October 31, 2008 4:25 PM

Beijing's Ballot

HONG KONG - Despite a recent arms deal with Taiwan and nuclear agreement with India, China is still in a comfortable spot with Bush. They saw those moves coming. They appreciate that his international focus is and has consistently been on the Middle East, save the Six-party talks. (But even that initiative--the administration's greatest in the region--actually provides Beijing with leverage over Washington.) After eight years in office, his goals are well-understood and his actions generally predictable. He's a known quantity.

But Bush turns into a pumpkin in a week. So is Beijing rooting for McCain or Obama?

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Guest Voice  |  November 4, 2008 4:26 PM

Congolese Violence and Mineral Rights

By Salil Tripathi

With rebel forces closing in on Goma, residents fleeing homes, refugees their camps, the Congolese army their posts, and charities like Oxfam and ActionAid shutting their operations, Eastern DRC looks set for a return to high-intensity conflict of the sort that has characterized the region for over a decade now. The country already has the largest UN peacekeeping presence, but that has not spared the region. Some 100,000 to 200,000 people have left their homes in recent weeks and nearly two million have been displaced since last year. The Red Cross has already termed the situation a humanitarian disaster.

Kinshasa has accused Rwanda of supporting the rebels: while it is difficult to begin assign blame at this stage, U.S. officials believe that Rwandan authorities have done little to prevent the rebels from using their territory to launch attacks inside the DRC.

That should stop, to reduce tensions. The Congolese have suffered enormously, as have Rwandans in the past, and international reluctance to commit troops - particularly after global misgivings over the very idea of military interventions following the war in Iraq - does not inspire confidence that an amicable solution might be found. But protection of civilians is the primary responsibility of states and rebel forces during armed conflict, and irrespective of political persuasions or ethnic loyalties, warring parties must not breach that international standards. This means providing more resources for
relief: even though, clearly, the exodus from UN-administered camps and seasoned NGOs stopping operations does not bode well.

The tragedy is that the rebels have shifting alliances and what prompts a particular attack varies depending on whom you ask. Ethnic rivalries dating back to the 1994 conflict do matter, but so does the way the country administers its resources.

Beyond the immediate, the DRC must change the way it awards contracts for precious mineral resources. According to some reports, rebel forces are unhappy over the granting of exclusive mineral rights worth $9 billion to Chinese companies. The Lutundula commission of 2005 had expressed grave concerns over the manner in which concessions were awarded, and it was reasonable to expect future awards would be transparent, but nothing is reasonable in this context.

This is not to suggest that the rebels come with squeaky-clean reputations, or that all fault for opaqueness lies with the state alone. But given the abundance of minerals in the country, and given the predatory forays into the country made by its neighbors and external powers, the state must clean up its act and ensure greater transparency. Failure to do so would provide more triggers, more causes, and more sparks, to keep the fires burning.

Panelist View  |  November 6, 2008 3:24 PM

Talks Poised to Bring Iranian Rebirth

Iran will respond to an Israeli/Syrian peace agreement by saying: "It is Syria's decision and therefore we will accept it". The peace may also result in Iran reducing its assistance to Hamas. A Syrian peace agreement with Israel as well as the falling price of petrol may halt Iran's generous help to Hamas.

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 |  December 4, 2008 4:19 PM

Turkish-American Relations Could Chill Come January

Perhaps the entire world has faith that Barack Obama's historic victory will redefine U.S. foreign policy and fix the blemished image of the country abroad. However, there is one nation - in fact a close NATO ally - that has reservations: Turkey.

During his visit to Columbia University in November, I got a chance to ask the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan whether he has concerns about Barack Obama's close stance to the acceptance of what Mr. Erdogan calls "the incidents of 1915" as genocide.

While congratulating Mr. Obama's victory, Mr. Erdogan sent a critical message to the president-elect. He reiterated his expectation from the new administration to pay attention to Turkish sensitivities regarding the issue, for the sake of bilateral relations.

Turkey believes that deaths resulted from inter-communal conflicts and such events were common occurrence during World War I. Therefore, the country strongly rejects the Armenian view, which claims that over a million Armenians were systematically massacred by the Ottoman Empire. Armenians commemorate the genocide every year in April, which always proves to be a difficult month for Turkish foreign policy.

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Guest Voice  |  April 3, 2009 5:38 PM

Turkish Hopes High for Obama's Visit

By Utku Cakirozer
President Obama visits Turkey this weekend on his first overseas trip as U.S. president, and he sets a milestone by doing so: other U.S. presidents have always visited Ankara much later in their terms of office. This isn't a coincidence or a tiny detail. It represents a significant shift in fundamental foreign policy priorities under the new U.S. administration. I believe there are two main reasons for Obama to choose Turkey: The necessity to increase security cooperation and to reshape the global image of the United States in the aftermath of the Bush era.

Obama's presidency has put many Turks on edge, especially those in government; there's a general sense in Ankara that the more security-oriented U.S. Republican party appreciates Turkey's importance more than the Democrats do. But Obama's visit seems poised to dismiss that cliché; his pragmatism in international diplomacy, including public diplomacy, will put an early mark on his presidency as well as his administration's foreign policy.

Prior to his journey, Mr Obama underlined that his priority in foreign policy would be to deal with al-Qaeda terrorism and declared he would send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. But his plan will only be sustainable with the contribution of his NATO allies. Turkey, on the other hand, has NATO's second-largest armed forces and has historically been a staunch ally to the U.S. in many peace and stability missions throughout the world (the only exception being the Turkish Parliament's rejection in 2003 to allow U.S. troops to invade Iraq through Turkish territory.) Since the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, Turkey has been a permanent participant of that multinational force as well. After the talks in Ankara between Obama and the Turkish leaders, one can expect a visible increase in Turkey's military and civilian presence in Afghanistan, with which Turkey had enjoyed a long history of friendly relations. Turkey can also help the U.S. in its efforts to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people.

Turkey can also play a crucial role serving as a main logistics hub for the implementation of Obama's second priority in world affairs: Pulling the troops out of Iraq. Turkey's government is already indicating support for potential U.S. use of Incirlik Air Base and the port of Mersin.

Last year, Istanbul was the venue not only for Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's visit but also for the new round of peace negotiations between Israel and Syria. So President Obama will also look for ways of cooperation with Turkey to deal with Iran's nuclear program and the Middle East Peace Process.

Mr Obama's second reason to visit Turkey aims to deal with a much deeper problem. During the Bush administration, the very strong anti-American (or shall we say anti-Bush-policies) sentiments in Turkey have been an issue of deep concern for both capitals. According to Pew Center polls, America's favorability rating in Turkey in recent years has fluctuated between 9 and 12 percent, far behind Russia, Iran and Syria. According to the latest polls during the electoral campaign, skepticism toward Obama was still higher in Turkey than it was in other European countries, and relatively few Turks believed that American foreign policy would improve under the new administration.

In sharp contrast with the Bush administration's preemptive diplomacy, there have been glimmers of hope for many Turks since Obama's election. The president's readiness to listen to allies and friends in world affairs, and his early decisions - pulling troops out of Iraq, closing the Guantanamo detention center, opening dialogue with Iran - are all good signs.

But in order to leave this upsetting picture in the past and reshape the global image of his country, the president will need an ambitious public relations program in Turkey. In Ankara he will speak before the Turkish Parliament, a rare honor presented to visiting foreign leaders. In Istanbul, he will come together with young Turkish students in a meeting. Youth organizations throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia will also participate through videoconference. He might even use the forum of the UN Alliance of Civilizations initiative (co-chaired by the Turkish and Spanish prime ministers), which will take place while he is in Istanbul, as a platform to reach out the Muslim world.

So Turkey the Muslim country he promised to visit in the first 100 days of his presidency? Officials in both capitals try to downplay this, but the fact remains that Turkey is a country with a predominantly Muslim population. But Turkey is also the only constitutionally secular Muslim nation that has for decades been anchored to the Western institutions like NATO and EU. Turkey has been a link between East and West not only geographically but also culturally and historically. And certainly Turkey has demonstrated that there is a third way through which Islam and Western style democracy can coexist despite occasional ups and downs. This is the message that President Obama ought to emphasize in his visit to Turkey with global implications: that a clash of civilizations is not inevitable.

Having said that, Turkish people want to hear the president's view on where Turkey stands in the eyes of his administration. Stopping at Turkey in his tour to Europe is a clear sign that the president views this country as part of that continent, but Turks wonder whether he is willing to lobby in Europe, as one of his predecessors former president Bill Clinton did in the past, on behalf of Turkey's most important political project: accession to the European Union. They also want to see Obama stand by their side in their struggle against terrorism. They want to see trust, partnership and confidence re-established in U.S.-Turkish relations. They want to see the new president take the lead in restoring peace, security and prosperity in the region they call home.

Utku Cakirozer is a reporter for the Turkish newspaper Milliyet and a Hubert Humphrey Fellow at the University of Maryland.

Guest Voice  |  April 9, 2009 2:22 PM

Obama's Turkish Successes

By Utku Cakirozer

In the aftermath of President Obama's visit to Turkey early this week, PostGlobal asked five Turkey experts from prominent American research and policy institutions for their reactions to President Obama's visit to Turkey. They reached broad consensus on two issues.

First, Obama made it clear to everyone where exactly Turkey stands in the eyes of the United States. He confirmed his administration's perception that Turkey belongs to West, and supported Turkey's European Union accession process. He did this not only symbolically (by including Turkey to his tour to Europe rather than to Middle East), but also with powerful statements before the Turkish parliament in Ankara. While showing great respect to Islam, the religion of the majority of Turkish society, he underlined the secular and democratic nature of the country, too.

Second, he made great strides toward remaking America's image within Turkish society. Between his personal charm, his promise never to make war against Islam, his firm support for Turkey's EU accession process and his promise to continue supporting Turkey's struggle against terror, he gave important signals that Turks immediately understood.

Some observers prefer a cautious stand about the future of the relationship, especially regarding the American Armenian community's expectation that the President will officially declare the killings of Armenians during the First World War as "genocide." These analysts warn that such a development could radically change that rosy forecast for Turkish-American relations.

Other analysts were less satisfied with the President's performance, highlighting his avoidance of certain human rights issues like freedom of expression and women's rights - the roots of which problems, they believe, emanate from the authoritarian attitudes of the AKP government.

Thoughts from the five experts, in their own words, are below. Please add your own impressions in the comment thread.

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Guest Voice  |  April 13, 2009 5:37 PM

Gorbachev's Great Expectations

By Anton Fedyashin

Mikhail Gorbachev came to Washington last month as part of a tour inspired by the promise of a thaw in U.S.-Russian relations. The former General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party and first Soviet President met with American academics and officials, including President Obama and Vice President Biden. Throughout his trip, he argued that the United States and Russia share three fundamental goals, all of which will be impossible to achieve without working as equal partners: controlling nuclear weapons, dealing with Islamic extremism, and cooperating on environmental issues. But finding common ground from which to negotiate won't be easy.

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PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.