Kadir Ustun is the Executive Director at the SETA Foundation at Washington, D.C. He also serves as an Assistant Editor of Insight Turkey, an academic journal published by the SETA Foundation. Dr. Ustun holds a PhD in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies from Columbia University and a Masters degree in History from Bilkent University. He has contributed to various SETA reports and his writings have appeared in various publications such as Insight Turkey, Al Jazeera English, Daily Sabah, Hurriyet Daily News, Mediterranean Quarterly, and Cairo Review of Global Affairs among others. He is also co-editor of edited volumes History, Politics and Foreign Policy in Turkey, Change and Adaptation in Turkish Foreign Policy, and Politics and Foreign Policy in Turkey: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives.
In an opinion piece published in The Washington Post, a call was made for the United States to start discussing the truth about Israel's nuclear capacity. The piece, signed by expert names in the issue of nuclear weapon proliferation, notes that American government officials have been following a policy of denying Israel's nuclear weapons' existence due to a secret presidential order in effect for 60 years. Experts argue that this policy has become increasingly meaningless, especially as Israeli politicians are making nuclear weapon use threats in Gaza, and it impedes America's ability to effectively handle regional conflict scenarios. While this kind of call is not new, such debates indicate a changing perception of Israel within the American public and a questioning of America's Israel policy.
Internal political disputes in the United States have reached a new phase, jeopardizing aid flow to Ukraine. Republicans, who announced they would not support aid to Ukraine until border security is ensured, deemed Biden's concessions on border security insufficient. More precisely, they stalled the issue at the behest of Trump to potentially exploit the immigration crisis in the presidential elections. Especially after this strategy was accepted in the House of Representatives, it was rejected by Senate Republicans. With the passage of a $95 billion aid package, the Senate shifted the responsibility of aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan to Trump-aligned Republicans. If the House of Representatives rejects this aid package under the pretext of the border crisis, it will mark a new phase in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Avoiding a choice between "war continuation" and "diplomatic solution" until the November elections and managing the current situation should not come as a surprise.
The remarks made by Trump, who is widely expected to run for president as the Republican Party candidate, regarding NATO once again underscored how fragile America's claim to global leadership is. Trump threatened to pressure certain NATO member countries to increase their military spending or face consequences. By stating that Russia could do whatever it wants with these countries, Trump escalated his anti-NATO rhetoric to new heights during his presidency. Trump's longstanding questioning of the concept of collective defense by the United States and his failure to protect a NATO member country practically spells the end of this military alliance. The loss of the deterrent effect of NATO's Article 5-based collective defense concept would not only undermine the alliance's guarantees but also signify the end of America's leadership within the Western alliance. As America engages in a global power struggle with Russia and China, it will become increasingly difficult for the country to conduct this struggle within the Western alliance without establishing unity.
Representative Mike Johnson, the majority leader of the House of Representatives, became the latest political casualty of former President Trump this week with two significant defeats. Johnson's attempt to remove Secretary of Homeland Security Mayorkas failed due to three Republican representatives voting against it. Subsequently, Johnson's move to vote on a $17.6 billion aid package for Israel also failed with opposing votes from both parties. Johnson's lack of political leadership experience is among the significant reasons for this situation. Trump's reluctance to resolve issues such as the immigration crisis and Israel in Congress, which he wanted to use in his presidential election campaign, makes it difficult for Republicans to act unitedly. When the legislative process becomes election-oriented, Congress cannot produce solutions or shake off its dysfunctional image.
The killing of three American soldiers in Jordan by pro-Iran militias via UAV strikes initiated a new escalation in the escalating regional conflict. Since October 7th, concerns about regional warfare seemed obsolete. We previously noted Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's attempt to expand the Gaza conflict regionally and entangle the US in conflict with Iran. The Jordan attack partially succeeded in these efforts. Over the past week, the US conducted military operations in the region, signaling a response.