In June of 2018, after tortuous weeks of hinting, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed Matter of A-R-C-G, a 2014 case recognizing some types of domestic violence claims as a valid basis for asylum in the U.S. Utilizing a rarely employed mechanism, the AG certified a case, Matter of A-B-, to himself in order to instruct Immigration Judges under his authority to cease considering domestic violence claims legally sufficient for asylum. The case, technically a Memo from the Attorney General to Immigration Judges, appears at first blush to merely reverse A-R-C-G-, but Sessions went much further. The decision is racist, misogynistic, and dehumanizing. It bears all the ugly hallmarks of the world’s rising nativist leaders.
The Trump administration has made more legislative progress toward advancing women’s rights and well-being as a goal of U.S. foreign policy than the last two Democratic presidential administrations. This isn’t only surprising because of the partisan divide, but also because the Trump administration has cut foreign aid to women and left the position of U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues vacant. How can we make sense of the administration’s successes in this area when it has otherwise has shown little tangible policy progress in advancing women’s rights within the U.S. or elsewhere? The answer appears to reside in a growing, strong bipartisan consensus that women need to be equal agents of peace and security in American foreign policy. Both this important policy advance and the consensus behind it are clear in the recent passage of the Women, Peace, and Security Act of 2017 (WPSA).
Recently-confirmed U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted back in 2016 that Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey was a “totalitarian Islamist dictatorship”. Things have gone further south in recent months, mainly due to stark policy differences between the two governments on the Kurds in Northern Syria, along the Turkish border. Specifically, the U.S. continues to arm the Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) in Northern Syria despite Turkey’s protests. Moreover, relations have been aggravated by the United States’ refusal to extradite the Pennsylvania-based Muslim cleric Fetullah Gulen, whom Turkey accuses of plotting the failed coup in July 2016. And relations hit a new low in fall 2017, when the arrest of two local U.S. Consulate employees in Istanbul caused a dueling visa ban between the two countries that lasted for two months. U.S.-Turkish relations have many points of tension, but developments in the border region of Antakya may provide some common ground. These developments show a radically different side of Turkey not often represented in the U.S. media. At the grassroots, women activists from the ethno-religious Arab Alawite minority group are pushing for a more inclusive, secularist, egalitarian nation.
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