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Fikra Forum

Fikra Forum

خلق الحوار. التأثير على السياسة.

Generating Dialogue. Impacting Policy.

The Advantages of Kurdish Autonomy in Syria

Zara Saleh

Despite the current tactical moves by the Assad regime’s remaining forces to “protect” the Kurds in Syria’s northwestern Afrin province, the regime continues to threaten Syrian Kurds and hint at a restoration of the status quo: a reversal of the federation and self-administration of their areas and those regained from Islamic State (IS). Turkey also rejects the establishment of a Kurdish state on its border, where it recently launched a military campaign that bombarded the city of Afrin, controlled by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Fikra Forum

How Muslims Now View a Pilgrimage to Jerusalem

Madison Rinder

This week’s unusual public visit to Jerusalem by Omani foreign minister Yusuf Bin Alawi called attention to an intriguing recent trend. At the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)’s meeting on December 13, 2017, in Istanbul, convened in response to President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. embassy there, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for Muslims from around the world to travel to Jerusalem and specifically to visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque. While Erdogan’s most recent call was billed as a response to Trump’s announcement, the record shows that this announcement did not precipitate the trend of rising Muslim – and especially Turkish – travel to Jerusalem.

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Perfect Tense: Comparing Israel’s Ties with Jordan and Turkey

Abdullah Sawalha and Abraham Haak

The strategic interests of Jordan and Israel overlap to a remarkable, multilayered fashion. Both countries have shared the unenviable position of being primary targets of Arab, Islamist, and other radicals since their respective founding in 1946 and 1948. Yet their common challenges have not obviated real and recurring divergences of interests that previously culminated in armed conflict. In their case at least, the adage that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” did not always hold.

The United Arab Emirates: Turkey’s new rival

Youssef Sheiko

In a symbolic move following a diplomatic dispute between Ankara and Abu Dhabi, Turkey announced at the beginning of January that it would officially change the name of the street where the United Arab Emirates(UAE) embassy is located to “Fahreddin Pasha Street.” This early 20th century, Ottoman commander had recently been criticized by Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Twitter reposting a comment that accused Fahreddin Pasha of robbing and looting Medina rather than defending it, and remarking on the history of the “ancestors” of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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How will Syria’s Kurds maintain their authority?

Jiwan Soz

With a history of oppression by Damascus regimes, Syrian Kurds have achieved an unprecedented level of de facto autonomy in the past seven years. In the long run, however, these gains are at risk for three related reasons: disunity even within the Syrian Kurdish community; problematic ties to Kurdish parties outside Syria; and tense relations with key neighboring countries. Only if all three issues are addressed can the future of Syria’s Kurds be secured.

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A Consequential Strategy: The “America First” Approach Has Distinct Advantages for the Middle East

Hassan Mneimneh

Hovering far above actual policy, national strategy documents are bound to generate multiple and contradictory readings and assessments. The most recent strategy pair, released less than a year into the new U.S. administration ― and thus, with a limited track record of actions against which to be judged ― has been met with the expected range of accolades, dismissals, and denunciations. Yet, far from being a rhetorical endorsement of a populist “America First” electoral slogan, the strategy that the two documents articulate represent, at multiple levels, a clean break with a U.S. posture that had raised the objections and suspicions of many in the Middle East.