General Hodges : It’s time for Turkey-USA 2.0.

Turk of America Journalist Ali Cinar interviewed top former U.S. Military Officials and Ambassador on recent developments between U.S and Turkey.

James Stavridis,Former Commander, EUCOM, and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

F35 Issue:

It seems to me that a technical solution which "walls off" the S-400 is a possibility if both the US and Turkish sides embrace the idea.

Biden Foreign Policy:

The Biden team will take a very international approach to global problems, meaning they will rely on international organizations (NATO, UN, WHO, etc); work closely with allies to face shared challenges (climate, COVID, rise of China); and seek to expand American influence by moral behavior and the "power of example."

YPG Issue:

The US will support Turkey in its fight against the PKK, as it has for years. But the US will continue to see the danger of the Islamic State in the region, and the YPG has been a capable force against them. There are no easy answers here, and both the US and Turkish sides must be transparent and in constant communication to try and resolve our differences on this set of issues.

James Jeffrey, Former United States Special Representative for Syria Engagement and the Special Envoy to the Syria.

US is supporting the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) (evolved from the YPG) as they are an effective partner in the effort to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS. ISIS or Daesh by every account and intelligence assessment I have seen is very much present in Syria especially in those areas under Assad regime control. The 82 international member, including Turkey, anti-ISIS Coalition‘s military headquarters, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve frequently releases publicly press summaries of operations and interviews with leaders which document the remaining strength and location of ISIS elements including in Syria. I know of no challenge by the Government of Turkey to these assessments.

The US understands that YPG and its civilian wing the PYD have links to the terrorist PKK, but neither the YPG nor the PYD is a declared terrorist organization by the United States or any other country except Turkey.

The YPG and PYD operated in Syria along the Turkish border against ISIS before the US entered the Syrian conflict at Kobane in late 2014. This US intervention in support of the YPG was assisted by Turkey, who maintained political contacts with senior PYD officials until 2015.

The Obama and Trump Administrations assured Turkey many times that US support for the YPG/SDF was necessary to defeat ISIS, that the US would ensure neither YPG/SDF elements, nor would weapons provided by the US be used against Turkey. I am certain the Biden Administration will continue those policies.

Ben Hodges, Former U.S. Commander,US Army Europe

F35 Issue:

There is always a solution...key is rebuilding trust between USA and Turkey so that we can work out a solution. While I don’t support Turkey’s decision to purchase S400, I do recognize that it is Turkey’s sovereign choice to do so...but a choice that comes with consequences. Hopefully, together, we can find a ‘golden bridge’ to use as a way out of this situation, with technology of F35 program being protected and Turkey able to defend its airspace and critical infrastructure and population. The Congress has a key role to play here...it won’t be entirely up to the Administration.

Turkey-US Relations:

It’s time for Turkey-USA 2.0. For too long the relationship has been focused on the military aspects...we need to strengthen the relationship in terms of diplomacy and economy. I hope the Administration will place more focus on the greater Black Sea region, where Turkey is such an important Ally. The high priority the Administration is giving to restoring sovereignty of Ukraine is good news...it means that the Administration will have to have an effective strategy for the region, in order to help Ukraine regain its sovereignty. Turkey’s support for Ukraine has been very important.

But we need to think about Turkey in terms of its strategic importance not just on the edge of NATO and Europe...but also as a strong and important friend at the crossroads of the World, with challenges on all sides.

YPG Issue:

I think we have made a mistake in this situation. For sure, ISIS is a terrible enemy and should be crushed. But they are not an existential threat to any of our nations. Kremlin is an existential threat and the Chinese Communist Party Government is an existential threat. We need Allies who are able to help with deterring these threats...strong Allies like Turkey. So decisions that prioritized tactical gains, such as working with YPG in order to crush ISIS, which severely damage relationships with an Ally like Turkey should be reconsidered.

This is also a reflection of my earlier statement that military considerations have taken on too much weight in our relationship. The boundary between US European Command and US Central Command lies along the border between Turkey and Syria...this is not conducive to normal, sustained effective operations in this region. Such a framework may have made sense a few decades ago...but it doesn’t seem fit for purpose now.

Chobani CEO & Founder Hamdi Ulukaya's Humanity First Story Featured In New Documentary on VICE

NORWICH, N.Y., Feb. 16, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Chobani today announced that VICE debuted a new documentary called "Moving Humanity Forward," a film focused on Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya's "anti-CEO" playbook, his people-first business philosophy and refugee advocacy work, and the food maker's efforts to rebuild an upstate New York community. Directed by Nirit Peled, "Moving Humanity Forward" debuted on VICE and VICETV.com on Monday, February 15. The documentary follows the lives of refugees who live in the Utica, New York region and are employed by Chobani, showcasing the positive impact refugee integration in society has on business and communities. The film's heart can be summarized by Ulukaya's belief that "the minute you get a job, that's the minute you stop being a refugee."

The Closest Turk to be at the Biden Administration

It makes us proud to see successful Turks in the international arena. One of these success stories is Fatih Birol, Director of the France-based International Energy Agency. Founded in 1974, the agency is a well-established institution that shapes the world's energy policies. Climate change is among the three issues that President Biden gives utmost importance at the White House.

Fatih Birol spoke at the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources last week.

 Stressing that energy and climate are extremely interdependent in his speech, Birol made suggestions to the US leadership in his speech. After his speech at the Senate, I had an opportunity to have a private conversation with Fatih Birol. Here are the essential notes from the conversation:

- We will work closely with the Biden administration,

- US decisions on energy and climate will affect the economy. This is very important for Turkey and other countries as well,

- We need a global effort and investments in clean energy transformation to reduce emissions,

- If Trump were elected, we would see poor results,

- The number of electric vehicles will increase,

- The importance of wind energy is increasing,

- Countries in the Middle East can suffer from social and economic turmoil. Because the demand for oil will decrease.

- Energy is the sector most affected by Covid-19. 5 million people have lost their jobs. Vaccination is essential for the recovery of this sector, but the process can extend to 2023.

- Turkey can be a pioneer in the Caucasus and the Middle East in renewable energy technologies,

- The natural gas sources in the Black Sea have great importance. Turkey needs to make use of the opportunities.

In addition,  IEA Deputy Executive Director Dave Turk who closely worked with Mr. Fatih Birol  recently appointed a  Deputy Secretary of Energy.

New China Task Force In Pentagon

During President Biden' visit to the Department of Defense after taking office, President Joe Biden announced that  he will re-evaluate Pentagon’s China strategy and that a task force has been established within the department for this purpose. Biden noted that the sensitive areas to be reconsidered include intelligence, technology, and the US military presence in the region.

In addition to the China Strategy, Pentagon is making assessments on various issues such as the positioning of troops in the Middle East and its NATO policy.

Under former President Trump's administration, the China policy was one of the Pentagon's top priorities. The Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin signaled that this orientation will continue. During his visit to the Pentagon, Biden stated that the Department of Defense  established a task force to work on a China strategy. President Biden declared that cooperation between Departments in the government, bipartisan support at Congress, and strong partnerships are required to resolve China issues.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Ely Ratner was announced as the director of the Task Force. The task force will evaluate various subjects, particularly strategy, operational matters, technology, structuring, locating, and management of military forces, intelligence, US partnerships and alliances, and ministry-level relationships with China.

The 15-member task force established at the Pentagon is expected to present its suggestions and recommendations to the Secretary of Defense within four months. The Department of Defense will discuss these recommendations with Congress and other relevant authorities.

Last week, two US aircraft carriers conducted joint military exercises in the South China Sea, and in return were accused by China of "disrupting peace and stability".

The US accuses China of establishing a military presence in the South China Sea and intimidating its neighbors such as Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. All of these countries claim sovereignty on the resource-rich waters of the region.

Pentagon Spokesperson John Kirby said that US forces in Syria are focused on the fight against ISIS and that, contrary to former President Donald Trump's policy, have no responsibility to protect oil reserves.

John Kirby noted that US troops were not involved in the regional conflict since a US firm started working with Kurdish people to extract oil in northern Syria last year.

Addressing the relations of 900 US Army members with oil companies, Kirby stated that "they are not authorized to offer support to any private company or its employees operating on oil resources in Syria".

Green Card Holders Message to President Biden

Every year, millions of people around the world apply for a diversity visa lottery. After this lottery, only 55,000 lucky people are entitled to this visa. The lucky ones whose dreams, future plans and most importantly their hopes are this visa, are working with all their might to reach their visas smoothly.

In order to achieve this, they have to struggle with many difficulties by putting forward all their financial and moral savings. Above all, this visa is sometimes their only option for the future of themselves and their children.

So how can they make this dream come true?

Over 7000 visa holderwho have obtained their visa due to the bans (PP10014 – PP10052) imposed by former President Donald Trump and are waiting to enter the country continue their wait. As of today, the visa validity period of 1000 people has already expired, as long as the prohibitions continue, dozens of people will continue to expire every day.  Many people will not be able to enter the country and use their visas if PP10014 is not removed as soon as possible. There is very little time left for the visa deadlines to expire. If these bans are not canceled as soon as possible, they will not be able to enter the country and use their visas again.

Their  request is for the relevant institutions to fulfill their duties this year as in previous years. When they do their duty, the process will continue smoothly and painlessly and they will have our visas.

The PP10014 and PP10052 bans should be repealed as soon as possible and DV2020 visa holders should enter the country as soon as possible. Thus, the process will begin for 55,000 DV2021 winners waiting for visa interviews. 30 September 2021 is the last day of obtaining visas for DV2021 winners, so as long as the bans continue, thousands of people lose their chances of obtaining visas completely due to consular capacity.
 
All institutions should do their part. This is the most important factor for us who are legal immigrants. As long as the institutions fulfill their duties, the process will go smoothly and visas will be distributed to their owners. In doing so, the experiences and knowledge of the past years are the most important strength of the institutions. America, where millions of immigrants live and thousands of immigrants are added every year, has always done its part in the historical process and will do it again.

They hope that the institutions will fulfill their duties and visas will be given to their owners as soon as possible.

As they used to, they now rely on American laws and institutions.
 

Turkey Unveils Space Program including 2023 Moon Mission

“Our primary and most important goal for our national space program is the contact of the Republic, in its 100th year, with the moon,” the Turkish leader said. “God willing, we are going to the moon.”

Erdogan also declared Turkey’s aim to send Turkish citizens into space with international cooperation, to work with other countries on building a spaceport and to create a “global brand” in satellite technology.

“I hope that this roadmap, which will carry Turkey to the top league in the global space race, will come to life successfully,” he said.

Newly Established Political Action Committee for Turkish American Lawyers

The Turkish Coalition Midwest Political Action Committee (TC-Midwest PAC) in January 2021 became the National Coalition of Turkish American Lawyers PAC (NC-TAL PAC) under new leadership. Please check out the website, www.nationalcoalitiontalpac.org, for the Executive Committee members and other information about the PAC.

President Biden's Foreign Policy Remarks at State Department

US President Joe Biden spent 3 hours at the State Department today. During his visit and meeting with the staff at the State Department, he also made important statements to the press. The State Department was President Biden's first official visit to the ministries.

While US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made the keynote address, Vice President Kamala Harris made a short speech. US Secretary of State Blinken stated, "We need diplomacy to address the climate crisis, to protect communities across our country. We need diplomacy to check the rise of authoritarianism, to prevent the spread of dangerous weapons, to shore up democracy, to defend human rights".

Quoting Joe Biden's expression from his campaign, he has also stated, "foreign policy is domestic policy, and domestic policy is a foreign policy," stressing that strength at home determines strength in the world as well.

Key Remarks  from President Biden's following speech:

-Diplomacy is back. 
-We will show responsibility and transparent leadership in foreign policy.
 -We will pursue an active foreign policy. 
-We are warning Russia and China. We demand from Russia the immediate release of Alexei Navalny.
 -US will not withdraw troops from Germany. 
-We will stop supporting the Yemen [war], but we will also protect the territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia.
- Tim Lenderking will be the US Special Envoy to Yemen. 
-We will defend Democracy and Human Rights.
 -We are warning Myanmar's military coup attempt.It is not acceptable.
- We will have a new refugee plan. We will accept up to 125 thousand new refugees through our new Refugee Admission program.

What about Turkey?

A telephone conversation between President Biden and President Erdogan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu has yet to be held. Although Secretary of State Blinken has made telephone meetings with over 30 Foreign Ministers since he took office, the fact that he still has not contacted his Turkish counterpart leaves a question mark.

When Former President Obama first took office in 2009, his first meeting with the then-President Abdullah Gul and then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was on February 16th.  The 45th President Trump and President Erdoğan had made their first telephone meeting on February 8th. In general, newly-elected US Presidents and State Secretaries have their first meetings with the Canadian and British Prime Ministers.

While the phone call between President Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on February 2nd was recorded as the first contact, yesterday the US Secretary of State Spokesperson Ned Price has made a statement condemning the anti-LGBT discourse and that they were worried about the students arrested at Boğaziçi University.

The Biden Administration Accelerates the Vaccination Process

Describing the vaccine distribution process in the U.S. as a wartime work, President Joe Biden said, "Our plan will take time. Although our intention is good, we will face some obstacles in the process," reminding the public once again that mask-wearing and social distancing rules are to be followed in the process.

President Biden: "Vaccines show great hope, but their distribution in America has so far failed". He added "It's not hard to see that we are in the middle of a once-in-several-generations economic and public health crisis. Deep human suffering is in plain sight, and we have no time to waste. We have to act now."

President Biden's plan includes a national-scale vaccination program, efforts to control the Coronavirus, ensuring the safe opening of schools, establishing mass vaccination areas across the country, increasing the number of tests and contact tracing efforts, eliminating material shortages, granting paid sick leave, eliminating inequalities in the field of health. and the opening of most of the primary and secondary schools within the first 100 days of his presidency.

One of the essential points of the plan is direct emergency aid to families. It was stated that more than 10 million Americans are currently unemployed and 4 million of them were unemployed six months or more in the past year, and 1 out of 10 black workers and 1 out of every 11 Latin workers are unemployed. The statement has also remarked that an additional 140 thousand jobs were also lost in December and that 20 thousand public educators and 400 thousand restaurant employees were unemployed. It was stated that the budget to be allocated for this part of the plan would be 1 trillion dollars.

"More transparent information sharing."

Meeting with state governors, Joe Biden's administration is also starting a process where state governments will be informed more transparently about the vaccination strategy. In this regard, the estimated number of vaccines for the next three weeks will be shared with states and regions.

US Department of Health and Human Services will be sharing the number of doses allocated to each state over the three week period.

200 million more doses of vaccination will be purchased

Biden administration plans to purchase 200 million more doses of vaccination to be delivered by this summer and increase the vaccination supply of the US by 50 percent.

Accordingly, 100 million more doses of vaccines will be purchased from both Pfizer and Moderna - the two vaccines authorized for emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Under the plan, the US expects to have enough doses to vaccinate 300 million people by the end of summer.

The US ranks fifth in the world for vaccination.

The US ranks fifth in the world in terms of the number of vaccines administered in proportion to a country's population. According to Oxford University, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Britain, and Bahrain are ahead of the US.

Covid-19 Status in the US.(As of January 28th-Worldmeter)

Total Death Toll:442,000

Total Cases:26 million

The U.S. has administered 25.6 million doses

President Biden’s National Strategy for the Covid-19 Response and  Pandemic Preparedness  https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/National-Strategy-for-the-COVID-19-Response-and-Pandemic-Preparedness.pdf

Secretary Blinken: “It’s a new day for America and the world.”

The new US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, in his first press conference after taking office, has remarked that "the free press is the cornerstone of democracy." Secretary Blinken announced that daily press briefings would resume starting from next week.He added” We'll strengthen this indispensable institution, lead with the power of our example, and put a premium on diplomacy with our allies and partners to meet today's challenges. I’m excited about all that’s ahead.”

In the Q&A section of the press conference, the first phone call between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the demonstrations which took place after Russia's opposition leader Alexey Navalny was taken into custody on his return from Germany, where he was treated after being poisoned, came into question. Secretary  Blinken said: "It is shocking that the Russian government is so scared of just one man."

He added   "We have already expressed our concerns regarding Navalny and the human rights issues in Russia. It is striking to me that the Russian government is so concerned and even scared of just one man. We investigate all the steps taken by Russia that cause concern on our side. Navalny's voice is the voice of many Russian citizens. His voice should be heard and not be silenced. We are worried about Navalny's safety."

Arms sale deal with UAE is temporarily suspended.

The Biden administration has also temporarily suspended some of the arms sale deals initiated during Trump's presidency. These include a $3 billion F-35 sales deal with the United Arab Emirates commenced during Trump's presidency, in return for a normalization agreement with Israel.

Democrats in Congress strongly opposed the sale of weapons to Arab countries in this regard. However, the attempt in the Senate to block the sale of weapons was fruitless.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that "it is a common development for the new management to review any weapons sales to see whether they are compatible with our strategic interests."

China has also come up.

When asked during the conference whether he shared this view, Antony Blinken said, "My assessment will be in this direction. Steps such as the forced retention of men, women, and children in concentration camps and being trained to adhere to Chinese Communist Party ideology, point towards genocide".

The fate of the nuclear deal with Iran.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that if Iran starts to fulfill its obligations under the agreement, the US will also fulfill its obligations, and this will be used as a platform to create a longer-term commitment with the partners of the USA, but that the USA currently is far from this point.

Normalization between Israel and Arab countries

Secretary Blinken reiterated his support for the Abraham Agreements, signed for the normalization of relations between Israel and Arab countries such as Bahrain and UAE.

"It is a positive development that Israel normalizes its relations with its neighbors," said Blinken.

Secretary of State, Antony Blinken held a phone conversation with the following countries foreign ministers:Mexico,Canada, Japan, South Korea,Germany,India,Iraq,France,Philippines, Australia ,Jordan, UK, Thailand,Italy and Israel

Secretary Blinken has also spoken with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg  and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Joseph Borell

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