Saturday, June 8, 2013

"Awareness in Washington that assumptions about Turkey as a source of regional stability have been over optimistic"

'When they assume their respective positions as National Security Adviser and US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice and Samantha Power will bring more assertive personalities to bear than the outgoing Tom Donilon. Both are schooled in the classic patterns of humanitarian interventionism. In combination with then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, they were powerful advocates of the intervention in Libya. Both will be more inclined to engage actively in foreign policy crises rather than, as was Donilon's practice, to insulate the White House from them. Whether their arrival in more central positions of influence will outweigh President Obama's instinctive caution on issues like Syria remains to be seen. While many experienced analysts in Washington sense that change may be at hand, our sense is that the change may be one of tone rather than substance. Secretary of State Kerry’s voice, favoring diplomatic rather than military solutions, will be influential. His future relationship with Rice will also be important. For the immediate future, we believe US officials will concentrate on trying to arrange a "peace conference" on Syria. Engagement on the ground in the region will be limited to actions like shoring up Jordan's border and air defense capabilities.  Part of the rationale behind this is to reassure the Israelis that they enjoy at least one defensible border and thus restrain them from unilateral action. One unexpected worry for US diplomatic planners is the sudden domestic unrest in Turkey. US protests at what was seen as a heavy-handed response by the security services to peaceful demonstrations have soured relations with Ankara. While no one believes that the demonstrators will be able to prevail against the Turkish state, there is an uncomfortable awareness in Washington that earlier assumptions about Turkey's role as a source of regional stability may have been over optimistic. The same is true of Egypt where Intelligence Community analysts are tracking the drift of Islamist fighters displaced from Mali into southern Libya from where they may be in a position to infiltrate Egypt...'

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