A diplomatic row between Sweden and Turkey escalated this week. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Sweden that it should not expect Ankara’s backing to join NATO, after protesters burned the Quran outside the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm last week. Now, NATO officials are scrambling to defuse the tensions.
Saudi Arabia was a particularly prominent presence at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, but contrary to expectations, their focus was not on energy but rather geopolitics. The country’s finance and foreign ministers each made announcements with significant consequences for the region.
President Joe Biden entered office promising to return the U.S. to the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or the JCPOA. But doing so has proven tricky for Biden’s administration, in part because of the complex politics surrounding the deal in both Washington and Tehran, but also because of the tense relations between the two countries, which soured significantly under Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump.
Libya remains stuck in an intractable crisis, as efforts by the United Nations Support Mission there have so far failed to bridge the divide between the internationally recognized Tripoli-based Government of National Unity, or GNU, and its rival, the Sirte-based Government of National Stability, or GNS.
In early January, the United Arab Emirates’ foreign minister met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. And a once unthinkable meeting between Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Assad is now also in the works. Clearly, 2023 has begun with the momentum for normalizing ties with the Assad regime growing.
The Syrian civil war that has decimated the country for more than decade, provoking a regional humanitarian crisis and drawing in actors ranging from the United States to Russia, has been drawing inexorably to a conclusion for years now. President Bashar al-Assad, with the backing of Iran and Russia, has emerged militarily victorious from the conflict, which began after his government violently repressed civilian protests in 2011. But is the crisis in Syria really over?
Turkish arms exports surged past $4 billion in 2022, up nearly 36 percent from 2021, with exports accounting for 98 percent of the arms contractor Bayraktar’s sales. Clearly, Turkey has arrived as a major arms exporter, but what are the implications of these exports in terms of its choice of partners?
The beginning of a new year always provides an opportunity to reflect on the events of the previous year. While 2022 doesn’t have a flagship event that resonates quite like some years in the recent past, it nonetheless featured or foreshadowed a number of trends and developments that will likely have an impact in 2023 and beyond.