Saturday, February 24, 2018
Authors Posts by Ali YURTTAGÜL

Ali YURTTAGÜL

6 POSTS
Ali Yurttagul works for the European Union's Greens-European Free Alliance Group as a political advisor. He is also a member of the Greens and Left Future Party in Turkey. He is a regular columnist on Turkish publications such as Zaman and Today's Zaman. He can be reached at: [email protected] or [email protected]

Mrs. Merkel’s Interest In Turkey

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has visited Turkey and met with Turkish Prime Minister AhmetDavutoğlu three times in a short period.

Turkey has been receiving Berlin’s love in doses that it would never expect to have had. Yet the reason for this “heightened” interest is no secret: the refugee crisis. If Aleppo is seized by Iran and Hezbollah forces with Russian air support, it is a known fact that hundreds of thousands of refugees will flock to the Turkish borders. Turkey cannot keep its borders closed to these people in winter. The number of Syrians who flee to Turkey will soon exceed 3 million. Germany is currently faced with a similar situation. It has received around 1 million refugees over the last 12 months. This year will be no different, it is said.

The crisis in Syria is getting more complicated. The Geneva talks came to a deadlock even before they started, which does not bode well. Russia and Iran are using all their resources to shell cities and villages in order to save the Assad regime. The barrel bombs dropped on Aleppo have devastated this majestic city. Even if Iran and Russia are successful in their efforts, their success will be restricted to saving a ruined regime. And this regime has been knee-deep in bloodshed. This is a disaster scenario for Syria and millions of refugees who have fled this country so far. From a strategic vantage point, Iran and Russia may not see the continuation of the crisis a problem. But this is certainly a huge problem for Turkey, Lebanon and Germany, which are faced with millions of refugees. This is the very reason for Mrs. Merkel’s interest in Turkey. It can be argued that the refugee issue has turned into a matter of life or death from a political perspective.

Even the sanest groups in Germany believe that the “open door” policy is not possible and the refugee numbers and policy should be manageable. Following the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) attacks in Paris and İstanbul, the security dimension of the matter has come to the agenda. Polls indicate that the rate of those who believe that the government cannot handle the refugee policy well is above 80 percent. Although she is a very successful politician in many regards, Mrs. Merkel’s popularity now stands at 48 percent. This is a 10 percent decline in just four weeks. More remarkably, the racist and anti-Islam party Alternative for Germany (AfD) has secured 10 percent of the vote and is ever increasing its electoral popularity. Yet election success from a far-right and racist party is not problem specific to Germany. The situation in France, the Netherlands and Denmark is graver. But Germany is a country that has had traumatic experiences in its past on this subject. The AfD’s election success will be seen as Merkel’s defeat. She is trying to make progress in two directions in order to deal with this problem.

She has learned by now that the search for solidarity within the European Union has reached a dead end. Twenty out of 28 EU member countries don’t want any refugees and also are against a common EU policy regarding refugees. It is impossible for Merkel to make any progress on this path. We can even say that this has evolved into an EU crisis, dealing a serious blow to the Schengen system. Thus, Merkel has to deal not only with refugees but also an EU crisis.

It is therefore no coincidence that she pays frequent visits to Turkey, describing it as a “key country.” Ankara may really save Merkel. There is not much Ankara has to do. If it can show that the issue is “manageable,” it would be enough. The far-right is using uncertainty to pump up people’s fears. In Germany, no one expects the refugee inflow to stop completely. Actually, the German economy needs immigrants. The country’s employment agency calculates that 350,000 refugees can be integrated in the country’s economy on an annual basis. Even to prevent the human traffickers from paving the way for human tragedies in the Aegean sea would be enough to curtail this problem. Ankara’s “open door” policy is correct and Ankara is right to expect solidarity from Europe. Merkel does not come empty-handed. She has not only collected huge funds amounting to 3 billion euros, but also is ready to accept refugees. The Davutoğlu-Merkel connection may turn a new page in the relations.

If Merkel wants to make progress, she has to be sensitive on two matters. The first one is to ensure reliability in EU-Turkish relations. This is the credibility issue. If this can be done, she can voice her criticisms about the freedom of the press and human rights, and those criticisms will be more influential. This will be a win-win situation for her and for Turkey.

We must note that if the far-right movements like the AfD grow stronger in Europe, this will threaten not only Turkey’s EU bid but also the Turkish economy’s performance regardless of this bid. Can you see the path that imposes a common fate on us?

Counterterrorism In The EU And Turkey

The fact that it was German citizens who were killed in a terrorist attack in İstanbul’s Sultanahmet Square and that the Paris massacre was planned in Brussels clearly shows that it is no longer possible to restrict counterterrorism to “national” boundaries.

French security forces hardly noticed the preparations for the attack in Brussels, and prescience of the Paris plot was not possible for Belgian security forces. Terrorism can hit Germany in Sultanahmet Square and it can strike Russia in Egypt. For this reason, the exchange of information among security forces is becoming more and more crucial. Even if all countries accept this fact, the 19th century nation-state reflexes still dominate the flow of information and cooperation. These reflexes are visible in the relations between the European Union and Turkey as well. Given the considerable importance of Turkey’s geographic and political position vis-à-vis the terrorist organizations threatening world peace like the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and al-Qaida, this security weakness is inexpiable. Unfortunately, this fact is not restricted to EU-Turkish relations only. The cooperation between EU member states is not as profound or optimal as one would expect either.

The most important development to have left its mark on the 30 years of the EU so far is the free movement of goods, money, services and individuals, which has come to be defined as the Schengen Agreement. The removal of checks at internal borders resulted in a security weakness which EU countries tried to compensate for by intensifying checks at its outer borders. Thus, a strict visa policy was implemented under the Schengen Agreement. The Schengen Information System (SIS) was introduced to support the agreement. This Strasbourg-based system relies on the data from member states and is the main pillar of the border security system. As it relies solely on data coming from the member countries and lacks data collection, assessment and analysis, the SIS can hardly be considered “intelligent,” despite its huge capacity. The SIS is a giant guided by the “intelligence” of the systems of the member countries. It has many ears and 28 eyes, but a small brain.

Aware of this anatomic problem regarding the SIS, the EU countries established Europol, headquartered in The Hague, it is a security unit characterized by close cooperation. Europol was designed as a security organ acting as an umbrella organization for the security and police departments of the member countries, ensuring uninterrupted flow of information among them. Theoretically, it is an ideal structure. French, German, Swiss and other police officers work at the same offices and use the same canteen. It is suitable for swift settlement of misunderstandings through information flow and assessment. But this hasn’t completely eliminated the security weakness within the EU (in Turkey, such a weakness has never existed). If the data from Belgium and Germany had been correctly analyzed, the Paris attack could probably have been prevented.

Anyway, as it was originally designed as an “intelligence” center, Europol is an information center that feeds solely on the data from the member countries. It is open to non-EU data and information from partner countries like the US. In theory, Europol should have “superior intelligence” as it is supported by 28 members and other sources, and it should be used extensively by EU member states. Unfortunately, this is hardly the case. Despite years of efforts, Europol is not as “rich” as the information centers in Paris, Berlin, Stockholm or London or indeed more “intelligent” than these centers. This is because Europol cannot have direct access to the source of information in the capitals. It has to make do only with the information supplied by the capitals. There are also problems related to language, corporate infrastructures and cultural differences as well.

Despite these flaws, Europol is an important institution, and Turkey has long been a member of it. But this is hardly possible as the “language” problem with Turkey is very profound. Ankara has a very different perspective regarding terrorism. ISIL, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C), Can Dündar, the “Hashashin” and even certain academics all fall into the “terrorism” bracket for Ankara. As long as Turkey is confused regarding counterterrorism, it will carry little strength into the struggle against terror.

The Syrian Problem And The PYD

The third round of talks on Syria, to which the entire world is looking with hope, began in Geneva last week.

No question about it — the start of these talks, which involve hundreds of actors behind the scenes, is auspicious, but the wounds are also deep and it is a process in which many bridges are being and have been burned. After all, we are talking about a conference salon hosting a political regime that has killed its own people with bombs and an atmosphere in which the word “terror” now appears to have so many different meanings. Although everything is on the table at these talks, the Kurds and the Syrian pro-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) appear to be stuck between the chairs at these talks. Ankara and Syrian opposition forces close to Ankara insist that the PYD ought to be included in the delegation representing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, asserting that the PYD does not qualify as “opposition.” As for the Kurds, they are resolute in their desire to participate under the mantle of the “opposition.” In the general tangled mess of these Syrian talks, distinguishing the different opposition sides is no easy job. So, let’s scrutinize this scene closely to try and figure out just where the PYD stands in all this.

While Ankara, Arbil, and nationalist Arab contingency forces in Syria play an important role in making the PYD “stuck between the chairs” in the Geneva talks, it’s important to point out that the PYD is not entirely innocent. When the Syrian crisis was newly under way and it appeared the Assad regime was about to be toppled, it is well-known that Damascus turned three regions along the Turkish border over to PYD control. The PYD rewarded this gesture by allowing Syrian state institutions in these regions to stay standing. This is why, in these “cantons,” we can speak of a shared Assad-PYD leadership. What’s more, this cooperation has not been limited solely to these cantons. In fact, with only a few exceptions, the PYD has avoided violent clashes with Assad forces.

Of course, Assad’s seeming love for the PYD is completely rooted in pragmatic strategy, which could be defined as the search for alliances in regions that can’t be defended militarily. There can also be no question that it is a message to Ankara. Even during the years when the Assad-Baathist regime, which was a deep representation of Arab nationalism, opened its doors to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its leader Abdullah Öcalan, Syria was clear on its strong stance against Syrian Kurds, both in terms of policies and general exclusion. This nationalist strain has an extension in the opposition. In the case of a possible peace process, it is not unthinkable that the PYD could become a power that could threaten the unity of Damascus and the whole of Syria. Both the Kurds and the PYD are aware of this. But the conditions in place today are working in favor of the Kurds. Not only Assad but also Moscow, Washington, Berlin and even Paris are now elbow to elbow with the PYD in talks.

It is not only the PYD’s effective fighting against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forces on the ground in Syria that has sparked the similar views espoused by Washington and Moscow on this organization. It appears now that Washington and Moscow have already come to some sort of agreement in the case of possible peace in Syria and the rebuilding of the country. What these countries both want is a “secular” and democratic structure, not unlike what exists in Turkey. The Shiites, Christian minorities, Druze and secular Muslims as well as the Kurds and the PYD are all seen as critical cornerstones in any secular order that is to emerge in Syria from here onwards. This is why the West’s view on the PYD has changed so deeply in the last couple of years. But despite this, although the West may support the PYD, it does not embrace it. And it cannot embrace it, for it fears not only Arab nationalists but also problems with both Ankara and Arbil. This is why the most chaotic and confused region in the whole mess is composed of the rectangle of Ankara, Arbil, the PYD and the PKK.

In the meantime, everyone — from Washington to the EU, Moscow and Tehran seems to have a horse in the race unfolding in this rectangle. But let’s pay particular attention to the speediest of these horses. Both Ankara and Arbil wish to be in cooperation with the West in this arena and for a conservative type of Islam rooted in Nakshibandi traditions to emerge as the main influence in the region. The leftist and secular policies of the PYD make these two capitals uncomfortable, which is why the PYD is actually a natural ally for Assad, Moscow and Tehran. In the end, though, the solution to this all does not lie in this corner of the rectangle. Instead, it lies in the arena occupied by Ankara, Washington and Arbil. And this is where the drama for the PYD, or more specifically the PKK, is rooted. The PYD-PKK does not only have bad relations with Ankara but also with Arbil. Are they the sole reasons for this fight? They are not. But they have lost their way in this tangled mess.

The Ankara-Arbil axis might well be the most influential and effective line when it comes to bringing about peace in Syria. They don’t even have to do that much. They need to see that despite all its many flaws, the secular democracy carried forward by the 100-year-old Turkish Republic could bring a solution and peace to Iraq and Syria. Are the historical religious wars of Europe not a telling lesson from the past as well? As for the PYD losing its way within the larger tangled mess out there, might it not have something to do with their confusion, not over secularity, but over democracy? When it comes to elbow-to-elbow meetings between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Assad, there don’t seem to be too many problems.

The Syrian Border Extends From Ankara To Berlin

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu attend a joint news conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, January 22, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

I was visiting my mom in Antakya recently.

We were walking in the Kuseyr hill and could hear sounds from the other bank of the Asi River (Orontes), but we could hardly distinguish whether they were artillery shots in Syria, barrel bombs from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or strikes by Russian aircrafts. Occasionally, the raking sounds of a machine gun found us. The sound of the war was coming from very near, not from a distance. The air was tense and as heavy as lead in this region, where Turkmen and Arab villages intermingle on both sides of the river. Syrian refuges were collecting the olives on the ground to survive. Ahead, there were women picking wild herbs.

On the way back to İstanbul, I spoke to representatives of a charity from North Carolina who have gone to Jordan and Lebanon. The refugees there live in misery, they said. They noted that the heaviest burden is on Turkey and they were aware of the atmosphere in Europe. They know about emerging xenophobic and racist forces. “The Germans have adopted a good stance,” one of them says. “God bless them,” the other adds.

It is true that Ankara and Berlin are the two capitals that have adopted the best and boldest attitude to the Syrian refugees crisis. God bless them. Ankara’s move to give Syrian refugees the right to work is the correct decision, albeit coming late, because many refugees were already working but were being employed like slaves, working for very little money in tomato greenhouses, construction sites and restaurants. Their being given the right to work will enable them to earn at least the minimum wage. The approach of the Turkish government and opposition parties to the Syrian refugees is praiseworthy. We must hurry with regard to the integration of the 2 million refugees and 700,000 Syrian children who are of school age. These people are considered to have left permanently by Assad’s Syria. Assad does not want them to return. Even if a cease-fire or peace is attained in Syria, these children won’t leave İzmir, İstanbul, Muğla and Antalya. The best approach is to integrate them within society as soon as possible.

We have to ensure their integration within the social system and the health care system. Camps are not a solution. The history of Palestine is rife with thought-provoking lessons about lives spent in camps. Turkey must see camps as temporary solutions; they should not be permanent. These camps, located near the border, will be prone to security problems. Located away from Syria and isolated from Turkey, these camps should not be permanent solutions.

Turkey has shouldered the burden of sustaining the refugees who have taken shelter across Turkey alone so far. The resources it has spent to this end can hardly be underestimated. The flow of refugees to Europe has disrupted the political balances in many countries, not only in the European Union. Far-right parties and movements are on the rise. Despite this, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is boldly continuing with the “open door” policy. Turkish-German cooperation could make this policy manageable. The solution lies not in Brussels but in cooperation between Ankara and Berlin. Certain EU countries like Poland and Hungary do not want to receive refugees and refugees do not want to go to these countries. The position of France and the UK is important, but they are not so keen. The number of refugees they have offered to accept is ridiculous. A brief look at the debates in recent months is enough to tell us that it would be naive to expect anything but money from Brussels. Yet, the money is not most important point here.

In Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, we have to provide humanitarian living conditions for refugees and a future for their children. If we fail to do this, we cannot prevent the dead bodies of children from washing up on our shores. People will try to leave for the sake of their children.

Not only Europe but also Canada, the US and Latin America should extend a helping hand. If countries like Germany, France and the UK do not accept responsibility, the burden on Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan cannot be assuaged. To date, only Merkel is aware of this responsibility. Paris and Amsterdam are under pressure from politicians like Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders. Such racist perspectives existed before the refugee crisis. These people are simply using this crisis for the time being and will find another in the future. Our answer to racists should be to promote solidarity and humanitarian values. Hatred cannot be tolerated. Le Pen, Wilders, the Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West (PEGIDA) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) feed on the same source of hatred. It was for this reason that the meeting between Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu was important. It took place in Berlin, but it wasn’t very far from the Syrian border.

The Purpose Of Targetting Germany In Istanbul


Gerhard Günther Höppner, Steffen Höppner­, Rudolf Krollman, Hiltrud Krollman, Kar­in Erika Franke-Dütz, Rüdiger Karl Faber­, Marianne Faber, Gernot Eike Mildner, Adolf Jurgen Glorius and Rüdiger Becker.

This is a list of the names of the victims of the terrorist attack in Sultanahmet Square in İstanbul. The lives, loves, sorrows and dreams of these people are unknown to us. Their journey that started in İstanbul and was destined for Dubai or other locations ended in Sultanahmet Square. May God bless them and give patience to their relatives.

The attack on 11 people, 10 of them German citizens, was no coincidence. The place wasn’t,  either. With my close friends Hannes and Christine, I visited this square a couple of days ago. It was under snow, then. It is a unique meeting place of Egyptian, Roman, Ottoman and German history. In the photos released after the terrorist attack, you can see the German Fountain next to the Sultan Ahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque) and the Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia). The fountain symbolizes friendship. This place is a popular attraction for thousands of tourists at any time of day. Germans were the most likely targets. It is eyebrow-raising  that the German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière is visiting İstanbul; maybe he has information confirming this possibility. The fact that the attack was conducted in Sultanahmet Square implies that Turkey’s tourism was the target. The attack seeks to hit Germany and Europe in İstanbul.

This attack indirectly seeks to undermine Turkey’s tourism. Hotel operators in İstanbul now rightly consider the 2016 season to be over. Many companies in Germany and other parts of Europe have announced that their customers can cancel their travels to İstanbul or other parts of Turkey. It wouldn’t be wrong to assume that many people will cancel their travels to İstanbul or other Turkish destinations after this attack.

If Turkish tourism is targeted, both the target and timing were well chosen. January and February are the months when summer holiday bookings are made in Germany and Europe. It is certain that hundreds of thousands of people will revise their plans about Turkey. By targeting Germans, the attack may be seeking to sabotage the tourism sector. Germans have constituted one of the largest groups of visitors to Turkey for years. It may not be coincidental that this attack came weeks after Russia’s boycott. The target, place and timing were all well-thought.

From the information disclosed by the authorities, we have learned that the suicide bomber was a Syrian citizen born in 1988 and living in Saudi Arabia. We don’t know if this information, released with unexpected speed, is reliable. The Turkish Prime Minister and the government’s spokesperson have announced that the attack was carried out by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). This information could be confirmed in the coming days. The parallels between the Suruç and Ankara attacks imply this source as well. Nevertheless, the investigation must consider all the possibilities. ISIL is not the only fundamentalist terrorist organization and there are other sources that use such groups as well.

In the Syrian crisis, it is unclear who is linked to whom, but there are certain facts. The implicit cooperation between the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and ISIL and al-Nusra has continued for years. For the last five years, Assad has been dropping barrel bombs on Aleppo, Homs and Hama but has carefully avoided ISIL or al-Nusra controlled locations. He apparently seeks to force the world to choose the lesser of two evils.

Iran and Russia are targeting the opposition forces, not ISIL or al-Nusra. It is no coincidence that the Russian warplane was downed at least 100 kilometers west of the ISIL front.
Common sense prevailed in the news reports and commentaries on German TV channels a few hours after the incident. There was no panic. German Chancellor Angela Merkel sent out a solidarity message in a speech. German youths in İstanbul seem to be shocked by the incident, but they say they aren’t afraid. Understandably, the German media outlets focus not only on İstanbul but also on Diyarbakır. They note that peace dominated the region until a few months ago. “Enough with this sorrow,” they seem to say.

I hope this attack has served as an eye-opener for those who think with the categories of friend and enemy, helping them­ to show that İstanbul and Berlin are actually very close to each other.

Davutoğlu’s Dead End

Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu addresses the media in Ankara in this June 13, 2013 file photo. Davutoglu said Syria's worsening war now posed a danger to all countries because President Bashar al-Assad's government had been allowed to continue its "crimes" while jihadists from around the world flooded in to fight him. To match Interview SYRIA-CRISIS/TURKEY REUTERS/Umit Bektas/Files (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS PROFILE)

Our country experienced a visible level of palace intrigue during the second half of 2015, not just when democracy was completely discounted, but when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Deniz Baykal met together. Voters were forced to make not a free choice, but a choice dictated by fear. This is the indisputable truth. But it does not answer why it is that voters experiencing real fear chose to take shelter not with the opposition, but with the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and the AKP won because they told the country, “We got your message” and “We’re returning to our factory settings.” They won because they tried to distance themselves from arrogance, disdain and excessive spending. By keeping its electoral campaigning as far away from debates on the new presidential system as possible, the AKP’s whole “We got your message” theme took on more meaning. It should be noted that Ahmet Bey’s successful copying of the CHP’s social and economic policies also wound up pushing the AKP toward victory. While shining the spotlight on the minimum wage and thereby causing that wage to be raised, was really a success of the CHP, it was the AKP who reaped the benefit of the idea.

AKP head Davutoğlu’s post-election balcony speech was inspiring. He gave us warm rhetoric about peace, love and embracing all of Turkey. His words were akin to fresh water in a desert, the desert being the socially polarized, economically shaky vistas of Turkey over the last year. His stance, in favor of a state of law and the supremacy of justice, democracy and basic rights, was good to hear. Unfortunately, though, Davutoglu’s words remained right there on that balcony; they were never transformed into any sort of political platform. And in the meantime, we’ve witnessed a full scale trampling of press freedom in Turkey. Some of our most notable journalists have been arrested, imprisoned and put on trial: Can Dündar, Ekrem Dumanlı, Hidayet Karaca, Cengiz Çandar, Bülent Keneş and others. The structure of our state of law appears to be teetering, about to collapse at any moment into a heap of junk. No private company or press entity seems safe anymore in the face of the new politically motivated criminal courts we’ve seen created by Ankara. Companies are being seized, newspapers shut down, television channels taken off the air, all without official court decisions. While real terror rages unhampered in parts of the country, thousands of innocent people are accused of being involved in “terror groups” because they refuse to obey those in power. There are rampant arrests and firings. We now have a country where corruption is apparently no longer a crime. Ankara tells us, “There was no corruption.” They toy with our minds.

At the same time, we know that Ahmet Bey and many important figures in the AKP actually have nothing to do with corruption, or the corrupt policies we are seeing. But we also know that these people have failed to push any transparency bills through Parliament. All you need to do is take a quick glance at the decisions coming down from the Cabinet to see this. The fact that a politician like Efkan Ala — who made his utter disregard for parliamentary democracy and the state of law crystal clear in the past — is now our minister of the interior says it all. And was it Ahmet Bey’s decision to reward a politician who swung around a large stick and spoke threateningly outside the Hurriyet daily’s office with the title of deputy minister? We doubt this. Which is where the dead end facing Ahmet Bey lies. Despite his titles as both head of the AKP and prime minister, Ahmet Bey is not the final address for decisions. He is hopeless in the face of decisions coming out of the palace in Ankara. We all know, and have experienced first hand, the fact that it is none other than Tayyip Bey who is shaping the decisions.

After the Gezi protests, Tayyip Bey decided to shape all his politics based on the oldest fault line that exists in Turkey: secular-Muslim polarization. The Zaman newspaper and the Gülen movement in general have stayed far from this fault line. They are now being punished for not lining up behind Tayyip Bey. Not because they are involved in terror. Could there be anything more ridiculous than trying to connect entities like the Koza İpek Media Group or Bank Asya with being involved in a terror group? If this is the way things are going, anyone in Turkey stands to be a potential terror suspect. Ahmet Bey doesn’t need to look far to see evidence of what’s happening. When he wakes up in the morning, all he needs to do is glance at the rhetoric of the pro-government media to see its language of hatred and the direct threats issued at other papers like Zaman, Cumhuriyet and Hurriyet.

Ahmet Bey could potentially have used all the political, ethnic and social wealth at his fingertips to embrace all of Turkey, to rebuild a state of law and to bring about domestic peace. Can he still, though? Perhaps. But the developments we see are not inspiring.