North Korea has twice signed agreements with the US and frozen its nuclear facilities, only to find that Washington has not lived up to its end of the deal.
In 1994, the Clinton administration pulled back from the brink of war with North Korea and signed an Agreed Framework with Pyongyang that opened up the prospect of the resumption of diplomatic relations. In return for promises of supplies of fuel oil and the construction of two light water power reactors, the North Korean regime shut down its nuclear facilities and placed them under international inspection.
Six years later, work on the power reactors had barely begun and the only step toward formal relations was a visit to Pyongyang by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on the eve of the US presidential election in 2000. After assuming office in 2001, President George W. Bush quickly wrecked the Agreed Framework and branded North Korea part of an “axis of evil” along with Iraq and Iran, leading to a rapid escalation of tensions. Pyongyang pulled out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, expelled the international inspectors and resumed its nuclear programs.
In early 2007, following North Korea’s first nuclear test, the Bush administration used the six-party talks to strike a second nuclear deal with Pyongyang. The agreement committed Washington to nothing other than to provide a limited amount of fuel oil and “move towards” full diplomatic relations. In return, Pyongyang had to freeze its nuclear facilities, allow the return of inspectors, and carry out the step-by step dismantling of all its nuclear programs.
Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Sehalattin Demirtaş has called the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) an “extension of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL),” while ruling out that the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in northern Syria was attacking Turkey.
“What kind of an enmity against Kurds is this that they [the AKP] await a bombing in some part of the country just to accuse the PYD?” he asked during his address to the party deputies on Feb. 23.
“Did the PYD throw a single stone at you from [Syria]? I am not talking about bullets but stones,” he said.
“And then, they are calling us [the HDP] the terror extensions, etc. Is there any better terror extension than you [the AKP]? You are the extension of ISIL. And this is your hypocrisy. Our party keeps calling for peace as yours is doing all this and you expect us to remain silent. The AKP is a political extension of ISIL,” he said
The Turkish government’s Syria policy was based on the assumption that the U.S. and the West would put their weight behind toppling the Bashar al-Assad regime in the fall of 2011, as in Libya earlier in the same year.
Ankara thought it would take a maximum six months for al-Assad to fall. Then there would be elections in Syria, which the Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) government was almost sure the Muslim Brotherhood would win, as was the case in Egypt after the fall of Hosni Mubarak. The belief was that the AK Parti had set an excellent example for the Muslim world by coming to power through non-violent, democratic means.
That was the core of the speech U.S. President Barack Obama delivered at the Turkish Parliament in April 2009 during his first visit overseas as president. There were even parties in the Arab world with names that duplicated or resembled the name “AK Parti,” with the Arab Spring seen as an excellent opportunity for the democratic rise of Islamic politics throughout the region.
Nothing went according to the AK Parti’s design of the Syria situation. First of all, the U.S. and the West suggested a Libya-like operation in the spring months of 2011 when they had the backing of Russia. But then President Erdoğan (then prime minister) and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (then foreign minister) also asked the West to give them a chance to convince al-Assad to treat protesters fairly and allow elections in Syria (after all, Erdoğan and al-Assad had been calling each other “brother” for some time and even enjoying holidays together). When those efforts failed, Ankara made a U-turn and began asking for a military operation. But by then the mood in the West had changed.
Azaz is particularly strategic because it is a key supply route for the opposition groups that Turkey and some other states support and Turkey does not want the Kurds to take it. The Syrian Kurds want to merge the two cantons that they currently rule (Kobani and Jazeera), with a third canton called Afrin. However, to do this they need to take over the territory in between which is currently shared by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and some of the rebel forces which Ankara supports. Turkey wants to stop this takeover as it does not want the Syrian Kurds controlling such a huge swathe of territory so close to its border.