Repairing Turkey’s relationship with the West through trade and trust

Maximilian Hess is the founder of the London-based political risk consultancy Enmetena Advisory and a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and associate fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

James Ryan is the Executive Director of the Middle East Research and Information Project. He has a Ph.D. in History from the University of Pennsylvania and writes frequently on politics and culture in Turkey’s past and present.

Nicholas Danforth and Aaron Stein recently cautioned that Washington and the West must ‘come to terms’ with losing Turkey’ as a key geopolitical ally. We disagree. A positive case for how to get the most from the current relationship and prepare for its growth in the future is more urgent than ever. Turkish domestic dynamics are at a particularly tender moment, as Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been dealt a defeat in recent mayoral elections, and is four years away from closing out his final term as President, according to the current constitutional rules.

There are many areas where the US can be a positive influence in the near and medium term, chief among them on Syria policy where the US and Turkey have long been at odds. As Erdoğan and Bashar al-Assad are sending signals of normalization of their bilateral ties, the US could work to make sure a Turkish-Syrian rapprochement does not continue to trample on marginalized refugee populations, or greenlight significant military action against its Kurdish partners. Additionally, Washington can still hope for positive contributions from Ankara with regards to Russia policy and European energy security. Washington’s demands have not, and will not, sway Ankara – but the right offers may.

There remain significant potential upsides to further developing the West’s relationship with Turkey, for both sides of the bargaining table – and in particular for the United States, EU, and regional and global governance. Looking ahead to a post-Erdoğan horizon, western policymaking institutions should find ways to non-coercively signal that a Turkey that restores rule of law, cleans up its human rights record, and reverses its authoritarian slide has friends and wealth waiting for it on the other end.

Addressing these challenges in the international relationship and in Turkey’s domestic dynamics will take work. But Ankara’s geostrategic position is not going away – and is only increasingly important. Even if the U.S. does somehow manage to extract itself from its long-standing overfocus on the Middle East – an always-unlikely outcome made all-but-impossible amid Israel’s war in Gaza and threatened expansion of the conflict – Turkey will remain crucial in a number of areas of Western interests – including with regards to migration towards Europe, efforts to constrain Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin, energy policy particularly on natural gas, and political transition and instability on the horizon in the Caucasus and in Iran.

As Stein and Danforth correctly identify, “U.S. policy is to now engage with Turkey on specific issues of concern, rather than simply build policy around Turkey as a crucial and trusted partner” but while they recognize that transactionalism can result in key benefits to the relationship, they also argue that “where U.S.-Turkish interests overlap…Turkey will work toward these interests without the need for American incentives. Where U.S.-Turkish interests diverge, Turkey will do what it wants regardless of what America tells it”. This is precisely the argument for both more assertive engagement and for offering Ankara more carrots that create an overlap of interests, rather than focusing on sticks and a strategy of coercion.

This relationship has worked best when the messaging from the West has encouraged deeper cooperation, and supported stable democratic growth, best demonstrated in the early years of the Cold War when the Marshall Plan and NATO membership worked to amplify democratic progress.

Carrots and Sticks

To understand Turkey’s role in the western bloc we must clearly understand how Turkey ended up joining Western institutions in the first place. While Turkey has perceived itself as “westernizing” in social, cultural, and institutional modes since the beginning of the republic, it would be a far stretch to say that the regime of Atatürk and his initial successor shared much ideological affinity with Western Europe and the United States. During World War II, the prime motivating factor behind Turkey’s quixotic neutrality was a fear of Russian encroachment on Turkish sovereignty – and it was for this reason Turkey only joined the Allies after the German defeat at Stalingrad, and even then in name only.

A large parliamentary chamber is set up in a semi-circle facing the speaker's chair, with second-story gallery seating on the sides.

Following the war, Stalin voiced several revisionist aspirations on the regime across the Straits and regarding borderland territories in Turkey’s northeastern provinces. This prompted Turkey to hew closely to the western bloc in the San Francisco conference in August 1945, and ultimately join the Marshall Plan in July 1947. It was only after signing those documents, which would ultimately provide Turkey with massive western-backed economic assistance, that Turkey would commit itself to a more democratic future, which would first erupt in the defeat of Atatürk’s party and the ascension of Adnan Menderes’ Democrat Party in the 1950 parliamentary elections.

This sequence of events is often credited to some deep commitment to liberalization on the part of Turkey’s authoritarian ruler of the time – President İsmet İnönü. On the contrary, İnönü had already proved throughout the war to be ruthless in his suppression of dissent and ambivalent in his commitments to liberalism and democracy throughout his career. Rather, it was the perception that limited liberalization and democratization would secure even greater security against a Russian threat that prompted İnönü’s decisions to advance multiparty politics in Turkey. This should be a key example to keep in mind as a post-Erdoğan future creeps closer to a reality.

Knowing what to ask

Learning from these past successful approaches, the West must take a selective but targeted approach towards offering Ankara carrots. The Turkish economy remains strained and Erdogan will likely grab at any and all such opportunities – for evidence one need to look no further than the benefits that Erdogan has extracted from Russia through the construction of the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, set to open next year that have stretched from Russian subsidies for its construction to extracting funds from the programme to help support the Turkish bond markets as they cratered in 2022.

The West – and in particular the United States – has the ability to offer far greater carrots, however, and indeed the Biden Administration and Western allies have quietly already begun to do so. We’ve already seen Turkey open to these efforts. At June’s St. Petersburg International Economic Forum – Russia’s alternative to Davos – Putin himself complained about the successes here, stating “it seems to me that the economic bloc of the Turkish government has lately been focused on obtaining, loans, investments and grants from Western financial institutions…but if this is connected with limiting the trade and economic connections with Russia then the losses for the Turkish economy will be greater than the gains”. Turkish trade with Russia did indeed stall in the first quarter of 2024. And while Washington has expanded its secondary sanctions threats over support for the Russian economy, no notable Turkish financial institutions or even smaller money transfer services were targeted in the first major round of such designations issued on 12 June.

It is, regrettably, unrealistic to hope that Erdogan will join the sanctions regime against Russia in full, or take significant steps to embrace it more. But that is not to say that Turkey is entirely unresponsive to Western sanctions policy against Russia. Erdogan will continue to seek to transact with Russia and the West, but it is clear that he also has very strict red lines for the relationship with Moscow. Ankara has never recognised Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and Erdogan has repeatedly granted Turkish state awards to members of the region’s indigenous Crimean Tatar population and called for the release of activists from the community, which suffers state sponsored discrimination under Putin’s occupation. Erdogan sees Turkey as the leading power in Eurasia, and his support for the Crimean Tatars follows in part from his efforts to position himself as the leader of Turkic peoples across the region, as seen through the Organization of Turkic States that Turkey founded when Erdogan was prime minister in 2009.

It is more urgent than ever that the West engage seriously with the idea that Turkey may be its energy hub of the future – and to transact accordingly – rather than leave open the door to future weaponization of energy supplies by Putin.

The economics of natural gas reveal how Erdogan’s interests are increasingly diverging from Russia’s, even as Turkey remains the main conduit for Russian natural gas entering Europe through the Blue Stream and Turk Stream pipelines and from Turkey to Hungary, Ankara and Serbia through the Balkan Stream pipeline. The latter two were even developed after Russia’s initial 2014 invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. But so too were the Trans-Anatolian and Trans-Adriatic Pipelines, bringing natural gas from Azerbaijan to Europe. The launch of that network, the culmination of a goal first set by the European Union in 2008 to create a ‘southern gas corridor,’ to diversify away from Russia and long backed by the United States as well, came just fourteen months before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

While Azerbaijan carries its own substantial geopolitical risks given its still-unsettled conflict with Armenia and capacity limitations, Baku cannot alone become Europe’s key natural gas provider. Turkey offers the route not only to Azeri gas, but Ankara also itself offers potential crucial additional supplies given recent promising exploration in the Black Sea. Additionally, Ankara can help to push Russian gas further out of the European market thanks to Turkey’s substantial liquefied natural gas (LNG) regasification capacity, making it a potential import hub into the Balkans and south-eastern Europe’s pipeline networks. This is crucial to defeating the claims made by regional populists that there is still a need for Europe to secure Russian gas in the future. It is more urgent than ever that the West engage seriously with the idea that Turkey may be its energy hub of the future – and to transact accordingly – rather than leave open the door to future weaponization of energy supplies by Putin.

Human Rights and Democracy

Restoration of the rule of law and a return to democracy should focus on the independence of the judiciary, which has acted as the vengeful arm of the Erdoğan regime, in targeting political opponents and perceived conspiracists with trumped up charges and thin evidence for over a decade now.

In particular, diplomatic energy should be focused on loosening the grip on Turkey’s Kurdish-led DEM Party (previously the People’s Democracy Party, or HDP). DEM’s co-founder, Selahattin Demirtaş, is among Turkey’s most talented politicians and has been serving lifetime sentences for trumped up terrorism charges for several years. DEM’s elected mayors in the southeast continually face arbitrary suspension and replacement with AKP appointees. Increasingly, Kurds are becoming disaffected with the electoral process in Turkey and there is a serious risk of Kurds turning in bigger numbers to radical, armed groups like the PKK, and set the limited progress achieved in Turkish-Kurdish reconciliation over the past decade back 30-40 years. Releasing Demirtaş and normalizing relationships with the country’s Kurdish population will shore up human rights, democracy and rule of law, and could serve as a crucial step to bringing the US and Turkey closer together on Syria policy.

Behind a marble dais is a speakers chair. Off to the side are other chairs with microphones.

The current regime’s motivations in Syria are driven by a combination of personal animus with Bashar al-Asad, the economic value of refugee labor, the salience of anti-Kurdish nationalism in Turkish politics and the soft-expansionist aims of creating Turkish-sponsored buffer zones along the border. Opponents of Erdoğan might be less engaged on some of these aspects – if the 2023 election was any guide, they would like refugees sent back to Syria as soon as humanly possible – but they certainly share, perhaps with even greater fervor, the desire to freeze out potential Kurdish autonomy in NE Syria.

Any rapprochement between the two sides on this issue will be hard won as long as the United States is committed to cooperating with Kurdish groups in Syria, but calming tensions inside Turkey around this issue is a critical first step. If the Syrian groups are increasingly seen as the champions of Kurdish autonomy by their brothers inside Turkey, and Kurdish electoral advances are repeatedly met with arbitrary repression and prosecution, then the divides between the West and Turkey are likely to deepen no matter what corner Erdoğan’s successor may come from.

Building a healthy relationship

Turkey under Erdogan is a strong candidate for engaging with in a transactional manner, but the asks should be limited, not tailored. The country’s economy remains highly fragile and although Erdogan has allowed orthodox central bankers and Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek to take the lead in trying to stabilize the still-inflating lira since the 2023 elections, there remain substantial risks to the downside. Erdogan recently declared that he still believes in his ‘neo-Fisherite’ economics – which flips the traditional relationship between interest rates and inflation – and may be his own worst enemy. But he has repeatedly adapted policy in response to economic carrots – as Putin’s aforementioned complaint alludes to. There are also already signs that the West is aware of this, with the World Bank, in which the US holds the dominant vote share, last September outlining plans to more than double credit to the Turkish government. Proving a positive partner on this front will not only be able to shape Erdogan’s policy, but help align interests with any future Turkish government. The West can also offer other carrots that would appeal to Erdogan, and even benefit Western interests.

Firstly, recognizing Ankara’s increasingly important geopolitical position across Eurasia – particularly in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus – and working through Turkey, rather than against it, offers a more credible alternative to the region’s strongman leaders who worry about Western interest only being fleeting in response to Russia and challenge Putin’s assertions that increased geopolitical competition there is somehow the result of Western expansion rather than Russian mismanagement. Secondly, by offering to partner with Ankara to boost its own gas production, and invest in LNG networks, Turkish interests can align more with Washington’s own broad desire for promoting American LNG and provide the EU with a sustainable pipeline alternative as well.  

Balancing these carrots will require the West remaining steadfast about its ‘sticks’ as well. The secondary sanctions threat regarding trade with sanctioned Russian entities has already proven effective and cannot be allowed to weaken going forward, otherwise Erdogan will exploit it to secure carrots from Putin as well. Similarly, the west cannot count on Turkey to be a reliable partner as long as power continues to be centralized in the Presidential Palace. Turkey is a tough negotiator, and under Erdogan particularly so. But it has not been lost to the West forever, and by improving the offer, and being serious about the value of democracy, there is still much to be gained for both parties.

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Duss on Democracy Now! discusses JD Vance, Trump and Biden foreign policy

Following J.D. Vance’s first speech at the Republican Convention as the official vice presidential nominee, CIP Executive Vice President Matt Duss joined Democracy Now! to discuss the competing narratives and records on foreign policy espoused by Vance, Trump and Biden. Below are excerpted transcripts of Matt’s discussion.

On the Iraq War:

“The story he wants to tell America about Trumpism, about the MAGA movement is that he was misled; he was told by Washington elites that this [the Iraq War] was a just war, a necessary war and was lied to, so he did his duty as an American citizen and went to serve in Marines in Iraq but then came to realize that that war was based on a lie. And of course that is a very valid argument. It was based on a series of lies and and and untruths and had enormously disastrous effects of course for the region but also for the United States. And that’s again an area where President Biden is quite vulnerable. He was a strong supporter of the Iraq War and to this day has never fully accounted for his support for the war.”


On Trump’s foreign policy record:

“If you look at the actual record of Trump’s presidency, it was in fact quite militarist. It was not isolationist, it was certainly not dovish in any respect. It was just unilateralist. And that I think is consistent with what we saw [in Vance’s speech] last night. It’s not that the United States will be pulling back from the world necessarily. It’s that we will be much more aggressive in advancing our own perceived interests. And if you look at some of the steps Trump took with North Korea, we came closer than ever before to a war in North Korea in 2017. We were on the brink of war with Iran in the wake of the assassination of Qasem Solemaini in January 2020. There was of course the attempt at regime change in Venezuela. So again, I think it’s important to understand all of these in the background even while we recognize the validity of the critique of the foreign policy establishment that we’ve seen from Trump and now from Vance.”


On support for Israel:

“What [Vance] said at the beginning about the kind of political support from many Americans, particularly Christian Americans –I myself grew up in the evangelical church so I can relate to what he’s talking about– there is a deep understanding, a deep sympathy culturally, religiously and politically for the state of Israel for a whole bunch of reasons. I think that is valid, it’s important to understand that. But I think there is a separate conversation about what is the correct policy if people care about Israel. What actually leads to security, not just for Israelis, but to Palestinians, for Palestinians, and for people across the region. And I think that is where we’re going to have real disagreement.”

Read Matt’s recent analysis with co-author Daniel Levy, In the U.K. and France, There Was a Gaza Vote. And in the U.S.?, in The New Republic.

On the Abraham Accords and plans for a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia:

“You heard […] Vance praising the Abraham Accords, and unfortunately the Abraham Accords are not a formula for genuine security. It’s important to understand what the countries in the region –Israel, the United Arab Emirates, some of these other undemocratic and repressive countries– see the purpose of the Abraham Accords as, and that is sustaining their own undemocratic rule. I think that ultimately is not going to be formula either for security of Israel in the long term, certainly not for the Palestinians. I don’t want to blame the Abraham Accords for October 7th attacks, but I will note that the logic behind the Abraham Accords, which is that the Palestinians can just be pushed to the side and kind of just managed in perpetuity. That is the logic and environment in which the October 7th attacks happened.

“Unfortunately this is not an area where the Biden administration is able to offer a counterargument because President Biden himself has adopted the Abraham Accords and now pretends that they can be a basis for regional peace and security, which they cannot.”

Iran’s Election Surprise: A Reformist Victory Amid Turmoil

In a dramatic turn of events, Masoud Pezeshkian’s election as Iran’s new president has set the stage for potential change in a nation grappling with deep-seated discontent and geopolitical turmoil. His victory in a snap presidential election, just 50 days after a helicopter crash that claimed the lives of conservative president Ebrahim Raisi, the foreign minister, a governor, and five others, carries significant implications for Iran, the region, and US-Iran relations. This election comes at a critical juncture, with ongoing conflicts such as the Gaza war, the looming threat of its expansion to Lebanon, continued US sanctions on Iran, a rapidly growing Iranian nuclear program, and shifting geopolitical winds challenging the US-dominated global order.

Pezeshkian’s victory is particularly noteworthy given Iran’s political system, which does not hold free or fair elections and is heavily influenced by unelected institutions and theocratic bodies. The Islamic Republic, born from the 1979 revolution that overthrew the US-backed Shah, has been characterized by a persistent power struggle between its republican factions, which advocate for greater political inclusion and reform, and its religiously fundamentalist and ideological factions, which prioritize theocratic governance and strict adherence to revolutionary principles. This internal tension has shaped Iran’s domestic and foreign policies, creating an often contentious political environment.

This election highlighted the enduring clash within the Islamic Republic’s political landscape, and was set against a backdrop of widespread discontent among Iranians. Many citizens are profoundly disillusioned or actively opposed to a political system that has imposed severe economic hardships, social and political restrictions, including pervasive internet censorship, and the enforcement of traditional religious norms like mandatory hijab, in an increasingly secular society. The political environment has also become more insular in recent years, with reformist and moderate figures who once played significant roles becoming largely marginalized.

Pezeshkian’s victory is significant on multiple levels. His approval to run by the Guardian Council—a 12-member body of clerics and jurists that vets candidates—marked the first time in years that a prominent reformist was allowed to seek the presidency. Pezeshkian, a five-term parliamentarian and former health minister in the reformist government of Mohammad Khatami, has represented Tabriz in northwestern Iran, near the Turkish border, where his core constituency includes Iranian Azeris and Kurds, reflecting his own ethnic heritage.

Speculation abounds regarding the motivations behind the Guardian Council, and by extension the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in allowing Pezeshkian to run. It was likely an attempt to increase voter turnout, which had dropped to historic lows in uncompetitive elections since 2021. The Guardian Council approved six candidates, with Pezeshkian being the only reformist, and his main competitors being hardline conservatives.

His approval to run by the Guardian Council—a 12-member body of clerics and jurists that vets candidates—marked the first time in years that a prominent reformist was allowed to seek the presidency.

The election’s outcome, however, likely deviated from the Guardian Council’s expectations. The first round saw a new historic low turnout of 39.93%, a reflection of the electorate’s deep-seated apathy and disillusionment. However, amid intense rivalry among conservatives, Pezeshkian emerged as the frontrunner, with Saeed Jalili, a staunch hardliner, advancing to the second round. This result shocked the Iranian political landscape, as historically, lower turnout has typically benefited conservative candidates.

In the second round, Pezeshkian, representing the republican wing of the Islamic Republic, faced off against Jalili, who advocated for autarky and a return to the 1979 revolutionary ideology. The results delivered another surprise: turnout increased to 49.68%.

A critical aspect of this election was the electorate’s strategic behavior. Two key groups emerged: those who actively voted for Pezeshkian in both rounds and those who abstained strategically in the first round but participated in the second. The former rejected Jalili’s ideology, while the latter, through calculated abstention, significantly influenced the outcome and sent an undeniable message to the authorities. By abstaining initially, they sent a message of discontent, and the subsequent participation of part of this constituency ensured Pezeshkian’s victory while maintaining their protest voice and signaling ongoing dissatisfaction.

By abstaining initially, [second-round voters] sent a message of discontent, and the subsequent participation of part of this constituency ensured Pezeshkian’s victory while maintaining their protest voice and signaling ongoing dissatisfaction.

Looking ahead, Pezeshkian faces numerous challenges. He ran on a platform calling for an end to mandatory hijab enforcement, easing social restrictions, opening up the political arena, and pursuing constructive international relations, including with the West. During debates, he emphasized the debilitating impact of sanctions and the need for negotiations to lift them. He defended the 2015 nuclear deal, abandoned by the Trump administration, which reimposed US sanctions and decimated the political capital of centrist former president Hassan Rouhani. He also criticized hardliners for actions that he said immensely harmed the country, such as attacks on the Saudi and British embassies.

Hardliners and unelected institutions in Iran will undoubtedly try to obstruct Pezeshkian’s reformist efforts. Their influence, coupled with continued policies of sanctions and regime change from hawkish forces in the US, Israel, and Europe, presents significant challenges. Yet, the Iranian electorate has made its stance unmistakably clear: it rejects extremism and desires a better quality of life, both domestically and through constructive international engagement. Pezeshkian’s platform, centered on economic revitalization and improving diplomatic relations, resonates deeply with the aspirations of many Iranians. This election signals a major moment in Iran, reflecting a collective yearning for progressive change and a break from the past.

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اقتراح لإنشاء مجلس إعادة إعمار غزة

مدير مؤسسة بال ثينك للدراسات الاستراتيجية عمر شعبان
منذ اندلاع الحرب في غزة، استمر الجدل حول إدارة القطاع بعد الحرب دون الوصول إلى خطة ملموسة وشاملة. يحتاج الناس الذين بقوا في غزة إلى تدخل فوري للتخفيف من معاناتهم وتسريع عودة الحياة الى قطاع غزة. إن الدمار شبه الكامل للقطاع، والخسائر الشخصية الهائلة في الأرواح، وعدم المساءلة عن أفعال إسرائيل، وغياب أفق سياسي لإنهاء أكثر من نصف قرن من الاحتلال الذي سبق 7 أكتوبر، يخلق أرضًا خصبة لأولئك الذين يسعون لإشعال المزيد من العنف والتطرف. من الضروري وجود خطة شاملة لإدارة القطاع في فترة ما بعد الحرب مباشرة لضمان الاستقرار الكافي لإعادة بناء القطاع ومنع عودة القتال.
هذا الاقتراح لإدارة غزة بعد الحرب مباشرة يستند إلى مجموعة من الافتراضات: أن للشعب الفلسطيني الحق في العيش حياة طبيعية بكرامة وأمان، وأنه لا يمكن ولا ينبغي لهم الانتظار لفترة طويلة من التشاور قبل تحقيق هذه الحقوق؛ أن إسرائيل ومعها العديد من دول العالم لن تقبل بأن يكون لحماس أي دور سياسي أو حاكم في اليوم التالي، ومن ناحية ثانية بما أن حماس لم تعط مباركتها للحكومة الفلسطينية المعينة حديثًا العمل بشكل كامل في غزة؛ ، فمن المحتمل ألا تسمح لها بالعمل بحرية في غزة.
بالإضافة إلى ذلك، سيكون من غير الواقعي وخطير جدًا محاولة استعادة السلامة العامة أو إطلاق أي عملية إعادة إعمار دون التنسيق والتعاون الكافي مع الموظفين المتبقين من السلطة الفعلية في غزة، أي حماس، التي كانت الهيئة الحاكمة في غزة منذ عام 2007.
ستتطلب إعادة إعمار غزة إشراك موظفي الخدمة المدنية للسلطة الفعلية السابقة جنبا ألى جنب موظفي السلطة الفلسطينية في قطاع غزة . موظفي السلطة الفلسطينية ليسوا كافيين والبعض منهم غادروا قطاع غزة او تقاعدوا والكثير منهم لم يمارس عمله منذ 2007. هناك 5000 موظف بلدي في غزة، لا ينتمي أي منهم للسلطة الفلسطينية . قبل 7 أكتوبر، شمل قطاع العمل الحكومي في قطاع غزة حوالي 24000 موظف في الخدمة المدنية، خاصة في قطاعي التعليم والصحة إضافة لــ 18000 شرطي. عندما تم انتخاب حماس في عام 2007، تم فصل الكثير من موظفي السلطة الفلسطينية في غزة –وإستمر الكثير منهم في مواصلة عملهم تحت إدارة حكم حركة حماس خاصي في قطاعي الصحة و التعليم. يقدر عددهم بحوالي 25000، منهم 15000 موظف مدني و10000 من أفراد الأمن. بعضهم بحاجة إلى إعادة التدريب والتوجيه. لذلك، يعد إشراك موظفي الخدمة المدنية للسلطة الفعلية السابقة أمرًا ضروريًا لبدء عملية الإدارة المدنية مع عودة موظفي السلطة الفلسطينية الذي بقوا في منازلهم دون عمل. تفترض هذه الخطة دمج موظفي السلطة الفلسطينية للعمل في القطاع الحكومي مع موظفي حكومة غزة . ليس من الخيارات عدم إشراكهم جميعا لتعزيز النظام العام وتحقيق النتائج. في ضوء هذه الحقائق، تتكون هذه الخطة من أربعة عناصر متكاملة:
العنصر الأول: إنشاء مجلس إعادة إعمار غزة. سيتألف المجلس من 15 إلى 20 شخصًا، سيكونون في الغالب من موظفي السلطة الفلسطينية الذين يعيشون في غزة، والذين يتم دفع رواتبهم من السلطة الفلسطينية في رام الله. سيقوم هذا المجلس بتنسيق عمله مع المنظمات الدولية التي ستعمل على إعادة إعمار قطاع غزة. يجب التأكيد على أن هذه اللجنة ستكون بمثابة فرع غزة للحكومة الفلسطينية، وستنسق عملها بشكل كامل مع الحكومة الفلسطينية. يجب السماح لأعضائها بالسفر الروتيني واليسير إلى رام الله والعودة منها، والاجتماع مع رئيس السلطة الفلسطينية ورئيس الوزراء. يجب أن تعلن هذه اللجنة أيضًا أنها ستعمل مع موظفي الخدمة المدنية للسلطة الفعلية. هذا ضروري لكسب تعاون ودعم القوى السياسية و المجتمعية في قطاع غزة. يجب على مجلس إعادة إعمار غزة أن يعلن بوضوح أن ولايته لا تحمل أي مسؤوليات سياسية، وأنه هيئة مؤقتة ليس لاكثر من عامين وتكون مسؤوليته محصورة في تخطيط وإطلاق وإدارة عملية التعافي المبكر والإعمار. يجب على المجلس تنسيق عمله وتمويله وخطته مع المجتمع المحلي و الدولي، يتوجب إنشاء موقع إلكتروني للإعلان عن عمله للجمهور والمانحين بشكل منتظم. يجب أن يضمن هذا المجلس فصل أموال الإعمار عن أي أغراض أخرى من خلال تخصيص حساب بنكي مستقل بإشراف محلي دولي . يجب أيضًا إشراك الشتات الفلسطيني في هذا الجهد، حيث يمتلك الكثيرون المعرفة الفنية الأساسية والموارد اللازمة لتحفيز الاستثمار في مستقبل غزة.

يجب أن تشمل المناصب في المجلس ممثيلن من قطاع غزة للقطاعات التالية-

      • قطاع غزة للقطاعات التالية-:
          • قطاع المياه
          • قطاع الكهرباء و الطاقة
          • وزارة الصحة
          • وزارة الشؤون الاجتماعية
          • وزارة الحكم المحلي
          • وزارة الزراعة
          • وزارة الإسكان والأشغال العامة
          • نقابة المقاولين
          • جمعية رجال الأعمال
          • 3 أعضاء من المجتمع المدني، معظمهم من النساء.
          • رئيس الشرطة المحلية
          مراقبون واتصال من المنظمات الدولية، بما في ذلك: الأونروا، برنامج الغذاء العالمي، منظمة الصحة العالمية، اللجنة الدولية للصليب الأحمر، المنظمات غير الحكومية الفلسطينية.


      العنصر الثاني: إنشاء قوة شرطة محلية لإنفاذ القانون و الحفاظ على الأمن و السلم الأهلي. ستكون القوة مكونة من 5000 شخص، منهم 2500 من قوات الأمن التابعة للسلطة الفلسطينية الذين استمروا في العيش في غزة، و2500 من الموظفين المتبقين من السلطة الفعلية في غزة. سيتم تعيين رئيس للشرطة من مصر أو رام الله. و سيتم دعوة 20-25 من كبار محترفي الشرطة من مصر والأردن والمغرب للمجيء إلى غزة للإشراف على وتدريب وتوجيه قوة الشرطة المشكلة حديثًا. سيكون لرئيس قوة الشرطة مقعد في مجلس إعادة إعمار غزة.
      العنصر الثالث: مراقبة وإدارة معابر غزة. يجب دعوة الاتحاد الأوروبي والولايات المتحدة للتعاون مع إدارة المعابر في السلطة الفلسطينية لتحمل المسؤولية عن مراقبة والإشراف على تدفق المواد و بالتنسيق مع الحكومة الاسرائيلية ، إلى جانب موظفين محليين من مختلف وزارات السلطة الفلسطينية في غزة. سيتطلب ذلك أيضًا التنسيق مع رام الله. يستوجب ذلك رفع الحصار على دخول المواد الخام و المعدات اللازمة. يجب فتح معبر رفح بشكل دائم للسماح بعودة العديد من الأشخاص المؤهلين والفنيين الذين غادروا غزة خلال الحرب. لا يمكن أن تكون هناك عملية إعادة إعمار في غزة بدونهم.
      العنصر الرابع والمهم بشكل خاص: تعزيز المجتمع المدني في غزة. يجب إنشاء صندوق خاص من قبل الدول المانحة لمساعدة المجتمع المدني في غزة على إعادة بناء مكاتبهم وممتلكاتهم ومعداتهم والبنية التحتية الأخرى. يجب أن يدعم هذا الصندوق برامج معالجة الاثار النفسية والاجتماعية التي سببتها الحرب وتعزيز ثقافة التسامح والصمود ونبذ العنف والتعايش والسلم الاهلي وبناء النسيج الاجتماعي ، ويكمل عمل المجلس. يشمل ذلك مساعدة الجامعات في غزة التي دمرت بفعل الحرب على إعادة بناء برامجها.
      هناك بالطبع عدة شروط ضرورية لتنفيذ هذا الاقتراح بنجاح. أولاً، يجب أن توافق الولايات المتحدة، السلطة الفلسطينية، إسرائيل، والاتحاد الأوروبي والدول العربية ذات العلاقة خاصة مصر على الخطة – ويجب أن يتوافر للمجلس الدعم و المساندة من كل القوى السياسية في قطاع غزة. ثانيًا، يجب على المجلس أن يعلن أنه هيئة فنية إدارية مؤقتة، لا يحل محل أي هيئة حاكمة أخرى، وليس لديه أي أجندة سياسية تتجاوز إعادة إعمار غزة. أخيرًا، يجب على المجتمع الدولي، وبشكل رئيسي الولايات المتحدة، الاتحاد الأوروبي والدول العربية الرئيسية، تقديم تعهدات مالية كبيرة لمشاريع إعادة الإعمار ودعم الميزانية المخصصة للأنشطة التي ينسقها المجلس. هذه هي خطة عريضة تتطلب خطط تفصيلية يتم إعدادها من قبل المجلس بالتنسيق مع خطط السلطة الفلسطينية والمنظمات التمويل الدولي. يتوجب تعزيز مشاركة شركات القطاع الخاص المحلية والمتضرريين من الحرب وقطاع الحكم البلدي في عملية التخطيط و التنفيذ و الرقابة بقدر الامكان كي تتوفر الحماية و المساندة المجتمعية لعملية إعادة الاعمار.
      يتم تنظيم مؤتمر دولي لإعادة الاعمار تشارك فيه الدول الغنية و المؤسسات الدولية لرصد التمويل اللازم لبدء عملية إعادة الاعمار بشكل كبير بحيث يعطي الامل لمواطني قطاع غزة الذي عانوا ويلات الحرب بمستقبل افضل. يجب تشجيع العشرات من اصحاب الكفاءة والخبرة من فلسطيني الشتات خاصة الذين غادروا قطاع غزة بسبب الحرب على العودة للمساهمة في عملية إعادة الاعمار.
      التحديات السياسية لتنفيذ هذا الاقتراح كبيرة، ولكن يجب على القادة إظهار الرؤية والشجاعة اللازمة لمواجهتها والتغلب عليها إذا أردنا تجنب تكرار هذا الكابوس.

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To read this post in English, click here.

A Proposal for a Gaza Reconstruction Council

Omar Shaban is CIP’s inaugural Leahy Fellow for Human Rights and Security. He is also the founder of PalThink for Strategic Studies, an independent Gaza-based think tank with no political affiliation.

When the war on Gaza ends, the survivors will need immediate help and a government to administer that aid. Yet the debate on the post-war administration of the territory has continued throughout the invasion without reaching a concrete and comprehensive plan. The people who remain in Gaza will require immediate intervention to alleviate their suffering. The near-total devastation of the territory, enormous personal losses of loved ones, and the absence of a political horizon for ending the more than half a century of occupation that preceded October 7th create fertile ground for those seeking to foment more violence and extremism. A comprehensive plan for administration of the territory in the near-term aftermath of the war is necessary to ensure sufficient stability to rebuild the territory and prevent a relapse of fighting.

Terms for Reconstruction

This proposal for the immediate post-war administration of Gaza is built on a set of assumptions: That the Palestinian people have the right to live in dignity, safety, and normalcy, and that they cannot and should not wait for a long process of consultation before these rights are honored; that Israel will not accept Hamas having any political or governing role the day after, and will likely make it difficult for the newly appointed Palestinian Authority (PA) government to operate fully in Gaza; as Hamas did not give its blessing to the recently appointed Palestinian Authority (PA) government, it likely wouldn’t allow it to work in Gaza freely.

Additionally, it would be unrealistic and very risky to attempt to restore public safety or launch any reconstruction process without the adequate coordination and cooperation with the residual personnel of the Gaza de-facto authority, i.e. Hamas, which has been the governing body in Gaza since 2007.

The reconstruction of Gaza will require engaging civil servants of the previous de-facto-authority. Non-Hamas PA employees in Gaza are not enough. There are 5,000 municipal employees in Gaza, none of whom are PA employees. Before October 7,  this sector included approximately 24,000 civil public servants (in the education and health sectors) and 18,000 policemen. When Hamas was elected in 2007, all PA employees in Gaza –estimated to number around 25,000, of which 15,000 are civil public servants and 10,000 are security personnel– were dismissed. Many of them have been furloughed since 2007, and are thus in need of re-training and orientation. Therefore, engaging the public servants of the previous de-facto authority is absolutely necessary to get the process of civil administration started. It is not an option not to engage them to enhance public order and to reach results.

In light of those realities, this plan consists of four integrated elements: a Gaza Reconstruction Council, a police force for domestic security, monitoring and management of the Gaza crossings, and strengthening Gaza’s civil society.

The Gaza Reconstruction Council

The first would be to create a Gaza Reconstruction Council. Ranging from 12 to 15 persons, it will be composed mainly of the PA employees who live in Gaza, who will be paid by the PA in Ramallah and were previously granted permits by Israel to exit Gaza (i.e. who are previously vetted). This body will coordinate its work with the international organizations who will be working on the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. It must be emphasized that this committee is the Gaza branch for the PA government, and it will fully coordinate its work with the PA government. Its members must be allowed to routinely and easily travel to and from Ramallah, meeting with the PA president and Prime Minister. This committee must also announce that it will be working with the public servants of the de facto authority. This is vital to gain Hamas’ cooperation and support.  The Gaza Reconstruction Council should announce clearly, its mandate has no political responsibilities, it is a temporary body whose responsibility is confined to launching and administrating the early recovery and reconstruction process. The council must coordinate its work, finance, and plan with the community; it must set up a website to declare its work to the public and to the donors on a regular basis. This council must ensure the separation of reconstruction funds. The Palestinian diaspora should also be involved in this effort, as many possess key technical knowledge and resources needed to mobilize and invest in Gaza’s future funds.

Positions in the regional council should include the: Head of the water authority, Head of the energy authority, Head of contracting syndicate, Head of businessman association, Chief of police, and 2-3 members of civil society.

In addition, the regional council should have representatives of: Ministry of health, Ministry of social affairs, Ministry of local government, Ministry of agriculture, and the Ministry of housing and public works.

As well as observer-liaisons from international organizations, including: UNRWA, World Food Programme, World Health Organization, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Palestine NGOs.


Domestic and Border Security

The second element is to create a police force for domestic security. A force of 5,000 persons will be composed of 2,500 from PA security forces who have continued to live in Gaza, and 2,500 from residual employees from the Gaza de-facto authority. Responsibility for this force will be given to a head of police from Egypt or Ramallah. 20-23 senior police professionals from Egypt, Jordan and Morocco will be invited to come into Gaza to supervise, train, and orient the newly formed police force.  The head of the police force will have a seat on the Gaza Reconstruction Council.

The third element is the monitoring and management of the Gaza crossings. The European Union (EU) and USA in cooperating with the PA crossing department should be invited to be responsible for monitoring and supervising the in-flow of material, along with  local staff from different PA ministries from Gaza. This will also require coordination with Ramallah. At a minimum, Rafah crossing must be opened permanently to allow many of the qualified and technical people who exited Gaza during the war to return. There can be no reconstruction process in Gaza without them.

Civil Society

A fourth and particularly important element involves strengthening Gaza’s civil society. A special fund must be created by donor countries to help civil society in Gaza rebuild their offices, assets, equipment, and other infrastructure. This fund should support programs for tolerance, resilience, and non-violence, and complement the work of the council. This includes helping Gaza universities destroyed by the war to rebuild their programs.

There are obviously several conditions necessary for the successful implementation of this proposal. First, the United States, PA, Israel and EU must agree to the plan – and there must be a reasonable level of confidence that Hamas will not actively thwart it. Second, the council must announce it is a temporary body, it doesn’t replace any other governing body, and it doesn’t have any political agenda beyond the reconstruction of Gaza. Finally, the international community, mainly the US, EU and key Arab states must make and follow through on major financial pledges for reconstruction and budgetary support for activities coordinated by the council.

The political challenges to implementing this proposal are considerable, but leaders must show vision and courage necessary to confront and overcome them if we are to avoid repeating this nightmare.

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Is Biden’s Israel Policy Cynical or Naive?

Today, Isaac Chotiner of The New Yorker interviewed Executive Vice President Matt Duss about the Biden Administration’s Israel policy, and what other options are available.

CHOTINER: Do you think the sense within the Administration is that Israeli behavior would actually change if the United States started imposing consequences? Because you can come up with examples through history of people saying, “Well, there’s nothing we can really do to change the course of events, so we’re just going to stick by and do the best we can.”

DUSS: I think there is and has been a genuine debate within the Administration about the efficacy of some of these tools for leverage. My own view is that we should find out, because even if you are not effective in changing Israeli behavior, the upside is that the United States would no longer be arming a mass atrocity. I think that’s a pretty big upside. I also think the serious analysis is that Israel simply could not sustain this war for a long time if the United States withdrew its military support.

There’s also just a basic sense that—and I say this as a former staffer myself—once the boss has laid down where he or she will not go, what approaches he or she is or is not willing to consider, then you try and find solutions within those bounds. And I think that’s what we’ve been seeing here.

Read the rest of the interview here.

Biden Ceasefire Push Welcome, Enforcement of US Red Lines Still Critical

Center for International Policy executive vice president Matt Duss issued the following statement in response to President Biden’s speech setting forth the terms for a ceasefire agreement now under consideration by relevant parties:

“The president’s promotion of a long overdue comprehensive ceasefire proposal is welcome. In nearly eight months of war, indiscriminate bombardment and siege, thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians have been killed, and hundreds of thousands more now fear for their survival amid mass displacement and famine. The hostages and their families have endured nearly eight months of unimaginable suffering. The security and well-being of both peoples depend on this ceasefire being agreed, and we applaud the administration’s efforts to secure it. 

We should also note Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statement in reaction to President Biden’s speech, which identified different goals and conditions for ending the war and made a point of referring to the ‘exact draft offered by Israel.’ The possibility of daylight between a proposal Israel would accept and what President Biden outlined means that his administration must take concrete steps to enforce his red lines and secure the ceasefire he set out. As it stands, the US should immediately cease provision of offensive weapons as long as Israel continues to prevent the delivery of humanitarian aid and disregard international law protecting civilians.”

The Center for International Policy has repeatedly urged the Biden Administration to pursue a ceasefire by using its full leverage, including an end to the unconditional supply of weapons to Israel and to US shielding Israel at the UN Security Council and other international legal fora.

CIP Condemns Deadly Airstrike on Rafah Tent Camp, Renews Call for US to Halt Arms

In response to an Israeli airstrike on a tent camp in Rafah that caused the deaths of at least 45 civilians, part of an ongoing offensive in southern Gaza, Center for International Policy’s Vice President for Government Affairs Dylan Williams issued the following statement:

“The mass killing of civilians seeking refuge, whether by mistake or otherwise, is exactly what President Biden said would be unacceptable about an Israeli offensive in Rafah. Biden shouldn’t wait for a pro forma Israeli investigation — he should stand by his word and halt arms right now.”

CIP has been warning for weeks that the Israeli offensive in Rafah is a violation of President Biden’s “red line.”

ICJ Order to Halt the Invasion of Rafah Must Be Respected by All

In response to the International Court of Justice ruling ordering Israel to halt its Rafah offensive, Center for International Policy executive vice president Matt Duss issued the following statement:

“We call on all governments to respect and abide by the International Court of Justice’s order requiring a halt to the invasion of Rafah and to reopen the Rafah border crossing. We specifically call on the United States government to help enforce the order, which is consistent with its own stated position in support of a ceasefire and release of hostages, by halting the transfers of US arms that Israel is using in Rafah.

This historic step to uphold international law and the rights of civilians in conflict is unfortunately necessary in light of the failure of previous appeals to Israel to prevent mass civilian casualties and stop the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. As the Court issues its order, hundreds of thousands of people – many of them already displaced from other parts of the territory – are being driven from Rafah without a plan to ensure they receive the food, shelter and other basic necessities they need to survive.

We also reject all attempts to delegitimize, intimidate or penalize the ICJ or its officers. The security and rights of people around the world hang in the balance as the institutions tasked with upholding international humanitarian law perform their duties. Disagreements with ICJ or International Criminal Court actions may be expressed appropriately and challenged through the established processes, but attempting to undermine or criminalize the multilateral legal bodies that are a core part of the rules-based international system threatens essential US and global security interests.”


Yet another dangerous bill puts weapons for Israel above US law

Today, Janet Abou-Elias and Lillian Mauldin of Women for Weapons Trade Transparency have a column in The Hill arguing against congressional efforts to override presidential pauses of arms shipments. The “Maintaining Our Ironclad Commitment to Israel’s Security Act,” introduced by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), would prevent the president from pausing or delaying the delivery of weapons to Israel without noticing Congress 15 days beforehand of the intent to pause. They write:

Withholding U.S. security assistance has historically been an important check to ensure that allies comply with U.S. national security objectives and international law. Not only that, the U.S. is obligated by its own laws to withhold military assistance from countries that restrict the delivery of U.S. humanitarian aid and from any unit of a foreign security force that has committed a gross violation of human rights.

The author of the latter law himself, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), recently argued that Leahy laws should apply to Israel.

Read the rest of the piece here.