NATO: Keep Urging Turkey to Admit Sweden, Finland as Allies
Nearly nine months after Sweden and Finland applied to join the NATO alliance, Turkey continues to block their accessions. Turkey’s obstruction persists even though the applicants have now met many of its demands, and in spite of sustained high-level engagement from the United States and NATO’s secretary general. Turkish presidential elections, scheduled for May, make a breakthrough unlikely anytime soon. But Sweden’s response to the recent Turkish earthquakes could provide an unexpected opportunity for renewed progress. It is in the U.S. interest, and that of Europe’s future peace and stability, to keep up the effort. The window between now and NATO’s July summit in Vilnius will be crucial for patient diplomacy, backed by pressure, to break the deadlock.
Enormous Earthquakes Exacerbate Syria’s Humanitarian Crisis
A powerful earthquake, registering 7.8 on the Richter scale, struck Türkiye and Syria early Monday morning, with a 7.5 magnitude tremor and other aftershocks felt by countries around the region. Initial figures suggest that in Türkiye as many as 2,921 were killed and 13,293 injured, with 5,600 buildings collapsed. All told, the death toll in Türkiye and Syria stands at 4,300 but is likely to continue to rise. The epicenter of the quake was Türkiye’s southern city of Gaziantep, home to nearly half a million Syrian refugees forced from their homeland amid Syria’s devastating civil war. While the international community mobilized quickly to pledge assistance, aid delivery to Syria — already dealing with massive humanitarian challenges in both rebel- and regime-held areas — will be particularly complicated given the country’s ongoing conflict.
Putin and Erdogan in Iran to Discuss Syria’s Future, Ukraine War
The leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran are gathering in Tehran, with Ankara’s threat of a new incursion into northern Syria likely to top the agenda. While Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has both domestic and strategic reasons for the move, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi want to maintain the status quo in Syria, where both their countries have expended significant resources to prop up the Assad regime. Russia’s war on Ukraine will also feature prominently at the trilateral summit. Iran has offered to provide Moscow with drones and Putin and Erdogan are reportedly set to discuss restarting Ukrainian grain exports in the Black Sea.