There may be room for experienced optimists yet in the Middle East

by Rashmee

Posted on March 9, 2021


/ POLITICS & AMERICA A former Israeli prime minister once said that in the Middle East, a pessimist is simply an optimist with experience. It’s a clever but dispiriting observation. I wonder what he would make of recent indications that Turkey’s president may be ready to mend ties with Arab countries and thereby turn its … Continue reading “There may be room for experienced optimists yet in the Middle East”

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A presidential son-in-law steps down

by Rashmee

Posted on November 10, 2020


When Berat Albayrak resigned as Turkey’s finance minister it wasn’t immediately clear if his father-in-law, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, would really let him to go. He did, late on Nov. 9. The Turkish lira promptly rallied on investor expectations that the new Central Bank governor (supported by the new finance minister) would raise interest rates … Continue reading “A presidential son-in-law steps down”

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Democracy’s defence lies in the hands of those who practice it. We, the people.

by Rashmee

Posted on September 25, 2020


It’s a familiar dirge. Democracy is in decline. With every month that passes, the world is less democratic. Everywhere you look, there are undemocratic governments. That’s what journalists and op-ed writers constantly insist and TV talking heads assert. I have written about this many times over. (Click here for my November 2018 piece, in the … Continue reading “Democracy’s defence lies in the hands of those who practice it. We, the people.”

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The Zagreb Declaration shows up Europe’s ambiguity on Muslim-majority Albania

by Rashmee

Posted on May 8, 2020


    The countries of the Western Balkans “belong in the European Union”, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on May 6. But she offered no indication of when they might become member states, which is to say, really “belong” in the bloc. On Albania, as with Turkey, Europe faces another defining moment. In March, … Continue reading “The Zagreb Declaration shows up Europe’s ambiguity on Muslim-majority Albania”

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There is a Rumi quote for every moment, including the time of coronavirus

by Rashmee

Posted on March 27, 2020


There is a Rumi quote for every moment. For these times we live in: “Be patient  where you sit in the dark. The dawn is coming.” Truly, Rumi transcends timezones and the times. I saw this over the course of just one fortnight. Days ago, in Washington, D.C. there was this: And at a Tube … Continue reading “There is a Rumi quote for every moment, including the time of coronavirus”

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Coronavirus or not, Europe uses Albania to show it’s business as usual

by Rashmee

Posted on March 25, 2020


The European Union (EU) is trying business as usual, pandemic or not, and it’s using a hot-button issue – accession talks for Albania and North Macedonia – to do so. On Tuesday (March 24), EU foreign and Europe ministers discussed (by videoconference)  a proposal to open talks with the two Balkan countries. It was an … Continue reading “Coronavirus or not, Europe uses Albania to show it’s business as usual”

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Erdorgan waves his refugees trump card in Europe’s face

by Rashmee

Posted on February 28, 2020


Today (Friday, Feb. 28), Turkey’s president Erdogan has been speaking to US President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron about the situation in Syria. The sub-text of any conversation with the Europeans is: Or else. Or else, we’ll release the refugees we hold into Europe. Mr Erdogan’s party, the Justice … Continue reading “Erdorgan waves his refugees trump card in Europe’s face”

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Libya arms embargo is a ‘joke’, said a UN envoy. But it’s peace-making that is a farce

by Rashmee

Posted on February 26, 2020


Now that European foreign ministers have agreed on a new Mediterranean naval mission to enforce the widely breached UN arms embargo on Libya, it’s worth thinking what it might really mean. The mission, which will replace Operation Sophia that was derailed last year, is still to be finalised. A senior UN official recently called the … Continue reading “Libya arms embargo is a ‘joke’, said a UN envoy. But it’s peace-making that is a farce”

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Nato is not threatened by Macron’s call for strategic clarity but by the values gap with Turkey

by Rashmee

Posted on January 20, 2020


I’m with Peter Ricketts on NATO. The man who served as the UK’s permanent representative  to the defense alliance from 2003 to 06, has said (paywall) that Emmanuel Macron’s doubts deserve a sensible and measured response. That is entirely true. Instead of rebukes from Donald Trump and Angela Merkel, Mr Macron’s attempt to force attention … Continue reading “Nato is not threatened by Macron’s call for strategic clarity but by the values gap with Turkey”

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It’s going to be a year of ‘conscious uncoupling’

by Rashmee

Posted on December 22, 2019 / The Arab Weekly


All bets are off on what lies ahead in 2020 but it probably won’t be a sober and well-judged 3M strategy on the part of the West. As 2019 hastens to an end, its defining patterns are clear.  The year was marked by two rancorous relationships: between China and the United States and between Turkey … Continue reading “It’s going to be a year of ‘conscious uncoupling’”

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Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK