Politicians (129)

"Politicians from Turkey and the U.S. comment two countries relationship and current problems, foresight future relations... Presidents, Prime  Ministers, Ministers and Members of Parlement  all speak to TURKOFAMERICA, share their experiences and views with our readers. All exclusive interview from Ankara and Washington, D.C...  


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First Christian Syrian Born Mayor in the U.S.  


Montvale, NJ — population 7,844, 36 miles from New York City’s Manhattan - was incorporated as a borough on August 31, 1894. When he was sworn-in as a mayor on January 4th, 2016, Michael Ghassali made history as the first Christian-born Syrian to become a mayor in the Eastern United States. His mother from Harput, Elazığ in Armenian descent and his father was born in Mardin, a city in southeastern Turkey. He was working as Vice President of Corporate Partnerships for the nonprofit Feed the Children, one of the leading anti-hunger organizations. First, he ran for the city council, later ran for mayor. In the 2016 election, he got 70 percent of the votes and for his second term no one challenged him. He ran for Congress in 2020 election but after COVID he pulled off from the race. Now his Republican party colloquies encourages him to run for as Bergen County Executive. Michael Ghassali answered our questions:  

Two Foreign Policy Experts explain the meaning of President Biden's the Middle East Trip

Journalist Ali Cinar interviewed Prof.Herbert Reginbogin and Prof.Mark Meirowitz about ongoing President Biden's Israel and Saudi Arabia trip. 

Prof.Herbert Reginbogin, Catholic University of America

What is your expectation from President Biden's visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia? We have not seen a clear road map Middle East policy for the Biden Administration? What are the challenges? What can Biden Admin do in the Middle East?

I expect that the changes in European security by Russia's invasion of Ukraine prompted the meeting in Madrid last month by the U.S. and its NATO allies to demonstrate their unity and resolve to collectively defend NATO's territorial integrity against potential Russian incursion and solidarity for Ukraine, will continue in President Biden's bidding in the Middle East next week for a robust regional security architecture. While trying to sidestep the criticism from meeting with Saudi and Israeli figures considering the killing of journalists Jamal Khashoggi and Shireen Abu Aqleh, he is expected to lay out a more precise roadmap for the Middle East by making severe attempts to highlight strategic shifts to prioritize the playbook of promoting "regional integration" between Israel and its Arab neighbors as well as advocating human rights versus economic interests in his travel to the West Bank while meeting Palestinian leader Abbas.  He is expected to voice strong support for a two-state solution, with equal measures for security, freedom, and opportunity for the Palestinian people, which is an essential precondition for Saudi Arabia to join the Abraham Accords as well as the voices among the progressives in the Democratic Party about the unjust treatment of the Palestinians by the Israeli government.

Biden will likely pursue an active role in carrying out policies he believes are of a moral obligation/national interest to the U.S. government, overriding personal moral issues/human rights by emphasizing the context of his visit in terms of the long strategical partnership both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have shared and that his meeting is focused on achieving stability and peace in the Middle East by bolstering the regional security framework embraced by the Abraham Accords. In 2020 Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu, together with four Arab counties (U.A.E., Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan), achieved a breakthrough in officially recognizing Israel. The impact has been greater integration displayed by increased trade and one-on-one contact among their citizens in developing an ecumenical dialogue of shared religious principles, as in the case of the U.A.E., Israel, and others. Biden is expected to continue using this framework to achieve a more extensive network for peace and security as he seeks assistance from the Saudis and other Gulf oil-producing countries to lower skyrocketing fuel prices to lessen global reliance on Russian energy exports while addressing U.S. arms exports and economic trade agreements to foster more significant security preparation for a conflict with  Iranian if the JCPOA should fail and respectively is alive to deal with the issues it fails to address such as supporting Iranian proxies on the Arabic Peninsula and building conventional missiles to be potentially used against Israel and neighboring Arab countries. 

All these issues will be weathered by the humanitarian needs in the region with halting the war in Yemen and Syria and the question of whether Biden can adequately address these controversial issues to attain a policy victory ahead of the U.S. midterm elections.

How would Turkey and the U.S. work in the Middle East, especially in Syria?

With U.S. President Joe Biden traveling to the Middle East since he took office eighteen months ago, his visit comes in the midst uniting the Middle East by neutralizing the Palestinian, Yemen, and Syrian conflicts in the region. In terms of the Syrian conflict, the U.S. supports the PYG/PYD as their allies against the Syrian government while Turkey perceives them as an offshoot of the PKK terrorist organization. To stabilize a working relationship among all three, the objective should be a humanitarian project to rid northern Syria of any forces intent to attack or destabilize Turkey by protecting civilian population when making a sweep of the area.  The three Turkey, U.S. and the YPG should be on the same page that their foe is the Syrian government, and all effort should be directed for this purpose otherwise there is legitimacy in Turkey’s accusation. According to reports that underground tunnels exist in northern Syria that lead to the border of Turkey and if these reports can be substantiated they should be jointly destroyed and investigated as to who is involved. Biden’s trip to the Middle East means that working relationships about coordinating military and diplomatic resources can be a watershed in rebuilding the image of Turkey both in the region and the U.S. but it will take a leap of trust and goodwill.  This can be managed if both presidents are committed to manage and control the situation personally. 

Prof. Mark Meirowitz,SUNY Maritime College

What is your expectation from President Biden's visit to Israel? 

The purpose of Biden's visit is  to reinforce the United States’ iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security and prosperity. That is all fine and good. There are not likely to be any breakthroughs because of the recent collapse of Israel's coalition government, which The Economist called the "coalition of contradictions". The caretaker government under Yair Lapid now is very weak leading up the the elections. Biden is not likely to upset the apple cart by making any earth-shaking announcements concerning the Palestinians, with whom he is planning to meet during his trip.  It has already been announced that the US will not reopen the US Consulate in Jerusalem (which President Trump had closed), but that the Palestinian Affairs Unit which previously reported to the US Ambassador in Israel will now be reconstituted as the Office of Palestinian Affairs and report directly up to the State Department in Washington. Nothing more should be expected at this time. Biden will be cafreful not to make statements or take actions that might interfere with the fragile Israeli political situation. 
Do you think that there would be a peace between Israel and Palestine during Biden admin? What would be best way to move forward?

The way forward will be paved by the Abraham Accords, with lip service to the issue of a peace settlement with the Palestinian Authority and the usual references to a "two-State solution". For Israel and the other participants in the Abraham Accords, the major and existential issue is the threat from Iran, not the Palestinian issue. Given the chaos in Israeli politics which is not likely to subside any time soon, and the continuing threat that Iran will go nuclear, there is virtually zero chance of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority during the Biden administration. 
-Israeli elections.What would be your thoughts on the upcoming election?Having frequent elections in Israel good or bad?Why? 

Five elections in just four years' time is very problematic and is indicative of extreme instability. Israel is completely polarized. The recent coalition government which included an Arab party as coalition member has fallen and now there is a good chance than Netanyahu will be able to pull together the nationalist and right-wing parties to form a new coalition, but whether that coalition be able to achieve a majority and form a new government is unknown and uncertain. Israel is on a seesaw between opposite and incompatible political poles and there is no way in sight to bring these political players together in any form of compromise. 

Growing Momentum as More Republican Mayors and Local Party Leaders Back Selen for Congress

(Chatham, NJ) – Republican County Commissioner Tayfun Selen rolled out five new endorsements from across Morris County, demonstrating continued momentum heading into the Morris County Republican Convention just over two weeks from today. The latest list includes Pequannock Mayor Melissa Florance-Lynch, Rockaway Borough Mayor Tom Mulligan, and Pequannock Councilwoman Kyle Russell as well as Republican Municipal Chairs Sydney Ugalde (Randolph) and Daniel Bevere (Chatham Township). Randolph, Pequannock and Chatham Township are all among the top 10 largest municipalities among Republican primary voters in the Morris County portion of Congressional District 11. Endorsements announced earlier this week from Parsippany, Rockaway Township, and Jefferson Township - which combined account for nearly one-third of all Republican Primary voters in the Morris portion of District 11 – show the growing unity around Selen’s candidacy.

Major Pressure on Russia During the Biden Era

The impacts of U.S. President Joe Biden's sanctions against Russia continue to be spoken in the world public opinion. The U.S. administration has stated that it has decided to impose sanctions against Russia for three reasons. Russia's interference in the presidential elections, the cyberattacks on the U.S. energy sector, and the reports that Russia paid bounties on the U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan were indicated. In this framework, Biden Administration has announced that;

- The expulsion of 10 Russian diplomats
- As of June 14, the U.S. financial institutions will be banned from taking part in the primary market for bonds issued by the Central Bank of Russia, the National Wealth Fund of Russia, and the Russian Ministry of Finance
- 6 technology companies that support Russia's cyber activities are also on the sanction list
- There will also be sanctions imposed against 16 individuals and 16 media outlets that tried to interfere in the 2020 presidential elections.

Biden: "Now is time to de-escalate tensions."

By saying that "We could have gone further, but I chose not to do so," in his special 7-minute talk at the White House, President Biden underlined their unwillingness to kick off a cycle of escalation and conflict with Russia. Biden said, 
" I propose to Putin that we meet in person this summer in Europe. I expressed concern about Russia's military buildup on Ukraine's border and occupied and unoccupied Crimea. I affirmed U.S. support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of #Ukraine, and I strongly urge him to refrain from any military action."

Russian Aggression in Ukraine is Still a Major Problem

It is well known that the U.S. Administration is anxious about Russia's ever-increasing troop buildup around the east of Ukraine and provocations. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and allied member countries in Brussels and made a joint statement on the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Biden Administration is exercising intense international diplomacy to support Ukraine thoroughly and so that Russia does not take action similar to the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Unclarity on U.S. Navy Ships in Black Sea  

The U.S. Department of Defense explained  that demand for warships going to the Black Sea wasn't made recently.In addition, Turkish Foreign Ministry announced that the U.S. has given up sending military ships. It is known that the U.S. The Navy routinely conducts operations within the NATO exercise framework in the Black Sea. It is expected that the U.S. will continue pressuring Russia by collaborating with the allies.

It is not clear whether the U.S. sanctions will bring any changes in Russia's actions especially considering that the previous precautions taken by the U.S. failed to terminate the Russian cyber attacks. Some Russian diplomats were also expelled in 2016 during former President Barack Obama's presidency due to Russia's interference. On the other hand, although Donald Trump does not criticize Putin, he had put in place the option of deporting some Russian diplomats upon the allegations of Russia's poisoning a former intelligence service agent in England in 2018.

Journalist, Ali Cinar

Secretary of State Blinken: Open the borders

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke at the United Nations Security Council and called for the opening of the Turkey-Syria border gates that are currently closed.

Secretary Blinken, who has made critical statements by emphasizing the change in the US administration's approach regarding Syria in the United Nations Security Council, stated that it is mandatory to find a way to help people and said, "This is our responsibility."

Stating that the United Nations Security Council is working on many complex issues, Secretary Blinken pointed out that what is happening in Syria is not one of those "complex issues" and is based on fundamental humanitarian foundations."

Secretary Blinken:"This is a Disaster!"

Blinken urged the authorities to reopen the Öncüpinar/Bab al-Salam border crossing between Turkey and Syria, which couldn't be opened due to the vetoes of China and Russia in 2020 and the Al-Ya'rubiyah border crossing between Iraq and Syria, and said, "There is no good reason the crossing remains closed today. Members of this council have a job to do: Reauthorize all three border crossings for humanitarian assistance."

Mark Lowcock, Secretary-General of United Nations Humanitarian Affairs, reminded that millions of Syrians need humanitarian aid and said, "It has been ten years of despair and disaster for Syrians.".

Secretary Blinken held a meeting with UNGA President Bozkir 

Secretary of State Blinken also had a meeting with Volkan Bozkır, the 75th President of the UN General Assembly. During the press briefing of the meeting, which was held virtually due to COVID-19, Bozkır emphasized the importance of the U.S. for the United Nations and expressed his contentment regarding the new US administration's global policy changes and also the fact that they are working more closely with international organizations.

On the other hand, Secretary Blinken stated that the world's ongoing problems would not be able to be solved by a single country, and the United Nations is one of the best institutions for cooperation and producing solutions.
Secretary Blinken's Full Speech at UNSC:

Journalist, Ali Cinar

President Biden's $2.3 Trillion Infrastructure Plan

President Biden announced the first stage of the plan at an event held at a union training center in Pittsburgh. President Biden defined the massive program that will restructure the American infrastructure over the next eight years as a "once-in-a-generation investment."

According to the details announced by the White House, within the scope of this plan, hundreds of billions of dollars are allocated for the modernization and construction of roads, bridges, public transportation systems, schools, and other infrastructure fields.

The plan can both fix some of the damage caused to the economy by the Coronavirus epidemic and benefit primarily low-income employees.
It is stated that President Joe Biden's choice of Pittsburgh to announce the infrastructure plan has economic and political repercussions. 

It is stated that the infrastructure projects will be financed by the higher taxes that will be obtained from the companies and establishments. It is indicated that this situation may cause repercussions in the business circles and disrupt the attempts of the Biden administration to work with the Republican Congress members.

 President Joe Biden said, "91 companies on the Fortune 500 list, including Amazon, do not pay a single solitary penny in federal income tax." During his speech in which he unveiled the infrastructure plan, he said, "Wall Street didn't build this country. The middle class built this country. And unions built the middle class."

President Biden hopes that the infrastructure plan will be passed by Congress by the summer, which means he will rely on the fact that Democrats narrowly control both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Package Details:
$621 billion for transportation infrastructure and resilience:
$580 billion for manufacturing; research and development; and job training:
$400 billion for the care economy:
$313 billion for schools and housing:
$111 billion for clean water:$100 billion for digital infrastructure

Journalist, Ali Cinar

US Election Seen from Turkey: Turkish People Have "A Very Negative Perception of Joe Biden"

İpek Yezdani is an international freelance journalist based in Turkey. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.Carlos Santamaria: In your opinion, what are two or three issues that people in Turkey are concerned about regarding the upcoming US election?

IY: There are several very important critical issues for Turkey-US relations. One of them is, of course, Syria. During the Obama administration, there was huge support for the Kurdish YPG forces in Syria. During the Trump administration, this support has continued for a while. The Turkish government considers the YPG as a terrorist organization, but on the other hand, Turkey is an ally, a NATO ally, maybe one of the strongest US allies in the Middle East. We has been fighting against this terrorist organization for decades, so this is a very important issue for Turkey.


New York, one of the favorite and important U.S. cities, struggles with the pandemic along with protests, violent crimes, especially shootings, following George Floyd's death. Due to a 23% increase in the crime rate in New York, there is uneasiness in the city.

Mayor of New York Bill de Blasio has stated at the press conference that they will double the number of police forces against increased acts of violence in the city.

Mayor De Blasio indicated that the increase in shooting events in recent days was caused by Coronavirus pandemic which devastated the city economy. He said: "We have had very bad days recently. Unfortunately, we are facing things we have seen and struggled with before and we will fight them once again. The epidemic changed every aspect of life. We don't do the usual things we did before. There is now a great deal of burden on the New York Police Department (NYPD) than ever before.”

Mayor Blasio had cut $1 billion from the New York Police Department's (NYPD) annual budget of $6 billion, and his decision had led to controversy. Mayor Blasio had also stated that the $1 billion budget cut would be invested in youth programs and social services.


NYPD Commissioner Shea Meets New Volunteers

NYPD Commissioner met the new volunteers at the Police Plaza.The Commissioner said: "Our peer-support team plays a crucial role in the well-being of our individual members, and of our department as a whole. This morning, I had the chance to speak to some of our newest volunteers. To them, and to every peer-support member, I say: THANK YOU for all that you do."

Turkish Americans in the 2020 Elections!

In April, Aycha Sirvanci Sawa achieved a stunning election win to become the City Comptroller of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. What's Next for Turkish Americans in the 2020 Election Year?  The next-go-around for Turkish Americans at the ballot box is this July. Two Turkish American lawyers are running in elections in the states of New Jersey and Louisiana. The outcome of these polls could be historically significant for the Turkish American community.

In Letter to Trump, Turkey's Erdogan Urges Better Understanding

Erdogan told Trump that Turkey would continue to 'demonstrate solidarity in every way possible' with the US [File: Peter Nicholls/Pool/Reuters]Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to stand in solidarity with the United States in its struggle against the coronavirus pandemic as it recovers from the outbreak. In a letter sent to President Donald Trump, Erdogan also said he was following "with appreciation" the US president's efforts to control the outbreak. The letter was sent on Tuesday along with a planeload of personal protective equipment that Turkey donated to the US. It was made public on Wednesday. "I hope that this humble assistance will assist your fight against this pandemic and contribute to the speedy recuperation of your citizens who contracted this virus," Erdogan wrote. 

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