The POMED Wire

Erdogan Calls for Snap Election amid Rising Tensions with Kurds

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan  has announced a ‘re-run’ election following the expiration of a 45-day period in which the newly elected parliament was tasked with building a coalition government. President Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) failed to gain a majority in  the June parliamentary elections for the first time since 2002, which resulted in the party seeking out potential coalition partners.  The election also saw the emergence of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP), which many credit for denying the AKP the critical majority.

AKP leadership met with both the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), yet after negotiations, neither party was willing to form a coalition. The Turkish constitution mandates that a new round of elections be scheduled 90 days after the deadline ends, which in this case, seems to be around or on November 1.

Regarding the upcoming elections, Michael Werz, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, stated that, “Most recent opinion polls that we have seen have the AKP actually losing slightly, the Kurdish Party being as strong as they were before, and the opposition actually gaining a few percentage points.”  The continued uncertainty …

First U.S. Fighter Jets Leave Incirlik Air Base

On Wednesday, the first U.S. manned airstrikes against the Islamic State took off from Incirlik, Air Base in Eastern Turkey. The United States sent six F-16 jets and approximately 300 airmen to the base on Sunday, August 9 after Turkey accepted U.S. requests to use these facilities as launching pads for manned aircraft strikes in Syria and Northern Iraq just last month. The use of air bases in Incirlik (and Diyarbakir) authorized last month mark a significant departure from Turkey’s initial unwillingness to actively support air campaigns against Islamic State targets.

For almost four months, tense negotiations between American and Turkish officials regarding joint military cooperation left U.S. policy makers frustrated, with some decision-makers calling the option of using Incirlik facilities a “test of [Turkey's] sincerity”. Despite recent disagreements between the two countries regarding the Islamic State, Turkey and the United States have historically shared a fairly benign military relationship. Since 2002, Turkey was considered to be a “key ally” in the “War on Terror”, and received more than $73 million in U.S. assistance that year. According to the Security Assistance Monitor, military and police assistance to Turkey topped $5.2 million, and arms sales reached $543 …

Syrian Human Rights Activist Freed; Assad’s Relative Arrested for Murder

Photo Credit: SCM

Syrian authorities have released human rights activist Mazen Darwish after being detained in 2011 on charges of “promoting terrorist acts” and criticizing President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, spending more than three years in jail pending a verdict. He was freed ahead of a final verdict which will come at the end of this month, but is still required to stand trial. The U.S. State Department welcomed the release of Darwish, stressing that the Syrian regime should drop the remaining charges and that the United States “strongly condemns the imprisonment by the regime of tens of thousands of Syrians without fair trials.” Said Boumedouha of Amnesty International said that while Darwish’s release comes as a “welcome relief, he “should have never been jailed in the first place.”

Darwish’s release is seen by some a gesture of goodwill by al-Assad, and the New York Times writes that the move may be indicative of Assad’s “intense diplomatic maneuvering” to try to end the country’s civil war. His release comes as the struggling Syrian regime appears to me making overtures to its neighbors, sending a high ranking diplomat to the Gulf for the first time in over four years.

On Saturday, …

Highlights of the 2014 Human Rights Report on Libya

Political violence following the fall of Col. Muammar Gaddafi has resulted in a widespread disintegration of civil and human rights despite the retention of a parliamentary system. In June 2014, Libyans elected an interim Parliament with a 42 percent turnout. These representatives approved a new administration to be headed by Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni. In November 2014, the Supreme Court of Libya invalidated the Thinni administration, dissolving the existing remnants of a civil structure. Poor governance has resulted in a weak central government, an absence of law enforcement, and a spike in violent crime. The lack of a functioning civil structure has resulted in numerous human rights abuses carried out by armed groups, as violent clashes occur often between terrorist groups, rebel militias, and armed groups associated with the former government administrations. 2,800 people are estimated to have died in the conflicts, with thousands more expected to have been subject to torture, arbitrary arrest, and unlawful imprisonment.

Libya’s rule of law has greatly degenerated in 2014. The UN Support mission in Libya has reported many instances of torture and killings by both government and non-government militants. In many cases, a complicated network of temporary alliances between armed groups made it …

Iraqi Parliament Supports Sweeping Reforms

Photo Credit: Reuters

Today, the Iraqi Parliament voted unanimously to approve a monumental government restructuring program set forth by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Sunday. The plan passed with little to no debate, leading the New York Times to call the decision a “rare show of unity.”

This news comes after widespread discontent in the country regarding corruption, social services, infrastructure, and other issues came to a head on Friday, when Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the country’s foremost Shi’a cleric, called for reforms. Two days later, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who replaced Nouri al-Maliki last year, proposed a restructuring program that details changes to the current administration, as well as reforms to the economy and state run-infrastructure.

The reforms aim to cut entitlements such as excessive security details, exclusive privileges, and nepotistic hiring practices for state officials. Cost-cutting is also evident, as Abadi has proposed an increase in quality and efficiency through mergers of existing ministries and institutions, as well as salary reform and the imposition of upper limits for officials. In response to widespread protests about the lack of electricity and running water, a fast-tracked package and monitoring system to provide these services is also included. One …

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