Turkey to re-run Istanbul election lost by Erdogan’s AKP

Robie de Guzman   •   May 7, 2019   •   1025

AK Party representative of high election board Recep Ozel saying fresh Istanbul mayoral election will be held on June 23, 2019. | Courtesy: Reuters

Turkish authorities on Monday (May 6) scrapped the result of a vote for Istanbul mayor lost by President Tayyip Erdogan’s candidate, responding to calls by his AK Party for a re-run, in a move that hit the lira and drew opposition accusations of “dictatorship.”

The High Election Board ruled that a fresh Istanbul mayoral contest will be held on June 23. The AK Party representative on the board, Recep Ozel, said the decision was based on unsigned results documents from the March 31 election and on some ballot box officials not being civil servants.

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which narrowly won the mayor’s office in the country’s largest city, called the ruling a “plain dictatorship.”

Ekrem Imamoglu, the CHP mayor who officially took office after a smattering of recounts were completed across Istanbul last month, also condemned the YSK for annulling the results under AKP pressure.

Reuters witnesses said people were banging on pots and pans in protest against the ruling in several Istanbul districts.

The AKP had appealed for an election re-run after initial results and a series of recounts showed it had lost control of Istanbul for the first time in 25 years.

It was a shock loss for Erdogan, who in the 1990s served as the city’s mayor and had campaigned hard ahead of the nationwide local vote, his first electoral test since last year’s sharp currency crisis tipped the Turkish economy into recession.

Turkey held a re-run of general elections in 2015 when the AK Party failed for the first time since its founding to form a single-party government. In a repeat election, AK Party found the support to form it again. (REUTERS)

Russia, Turkey agree ceasefire deal for Syria’s Idlib

UNTV News   •   March 6, 2020

Turkey and Russia agreed a ceasefire deal on Thursday (March 5) in Syria’s Idlib region, their two leaders said after talks in Moscow to contain a conflict which has displaced nearly a million people in three months.

Russia and Turkey back opposing sides in Syria’s nine-year conflict, with Moscow supporting President Bashar al-Assad and Turkey backing some rebel groups. Several previous deals to end the fighting in Idlib have collapsed.

The latest offensive in Idlib by Assad’s forces, backed by Russian air strikes, sparked what the United Nations says may be the worst humanitarian crisis yet in a war that has driven millions from their homes and killed hundreds of thousands.

The Russian military has, however, repeatedly played down any talk of a refugee crisis and accused Turkey of violating international law by pouring enough troops into Idlib to make up a mechanised division.

Turkey, which has the second largest army in the transatlantic NATO alliance, has funnelled troops and equipment into the region in recent weeks to resist the Syrian government advance and prevent a wave of refugees over its southern border.

Russia also raced to reinforce its troops in Syria by sea and air before the Putin-Erdogan talks.

Assad himself has vowed to recapture “every inch” of Syrian territory, but his depleted military depends heavily on Moscow’s power and Iranian-backed militias on the ground. Iran was not a party to Thursday’s deal.

Speaking on Russian TV channel Russia 24, Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad said the Russian-Syrian plan was to normalise relations with Turkey, despite their aggressive behaviour.

“Our common goal with Russia was and remains to make Turkey change its policy from the support of the terrorists and to bring our relations back to normal.” Assad said,”For us and for you (Russia), Turkey is a neighbour state, it would be natural to have normal relations with a neighbour state.

The fighting, which raised the prospect of a direct clash between Russia and Turkey, has killed around 60 Turkish troops in the region since last month. Two hours after the joint announcement Turkey’s defence ministry said two soldiers were killed after Syrian government forces opened fire in Idlib.

Putin expressed his regret to Erdogan about the recent killing of 34 Turkish troops in an air strike, saying the Syrian military had not known of their location.

Ahead of the talks, at least 16 civilians were killed when Russian air strikes hit a gathering of displaced people near the town of Maarat Misrin in Idlib, according to civil defence workers helping clear the rubble and search for survivors.

Russia denies targeting civilians.

Turkey hosts some 3.6 million Syrian refugees and says it cannot handle more. Seeking to extract more funding and support from Europe over Idlib, Ankara said last week it would no longer abide by a 2016 deal in which it stopped migrants crossing into the European Union in return for billions of euros in aid. (Reuters)

(Production: Anton Derbenev)

”Everyone wants to go to Europe”- displaced Syrians flee as fighting escalates

UNTV News   •   March 5, 2020

Thousands of displaced Syrians stranded at the border with Turkey say they have nowhere to go but Turkey and then hopefully on to Europe.

Men, women and children have fled escalating violence in Idlib to displaced persons camps in border-towns like Atmeh, where the Turkish border is blocked off by an imposing grey concrete wall topped with barbed wire.

“The only solution before us is to enter Turkey, and from Turkey to Europe – any country that we can go to,” said 33-year-old displaced Syrian, Amer al-Ahmed on Wednesday (March 4). “We have nowhere else to go.”

U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock, said on Tuesday (March 3) that the number of displaced people has surged to 980,000, more than half of them children, who are now coping with inadequate shelter and a lack of sanitation facilities in areas near the Turkish border.

“Everyone wants to go to Europe because the situation is tragic here,” said Ahmed al-Khaled, 36, adding that he hopes the borders are opened.

Escalating military action by Russia and Turkey in Idlib risks a direct confrontation between the two major foreign powers in Syria’s war, days ahead of a summit of their leaders to hammer out a deal to halt the fighting.

Both countries say they hope to avoid a head-on clash, but after Turkey ramped up attacks on Russian-backed Syrian forces and Russian military police helped secure a town seized from Turkey-backed rebels, all sides acknowledge the risk.

Turkey, which has sent thousands of troops and military hardware into Idlib to confront Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, hosts 3.6 million Syrians and has closed its border saying it cannot take in more migrants. (REUTERS CONNECT)

(Production: Mahmoud Hassano, Hamuda Hassan, Nadeen Ebrahim)

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9 dead in Turkey after earthquake hits Iran border area

UNTV News   •   February 24, 2020

BASKALE, TURKEY (FEBRUARY 23, 2020)DAMAGED HOMES

Nine people died and hundreds of buildings collapsed in southeastern Turkey on Sunday (February 23) after a magnitude-5.7 earthquake struck near the border with Iran, injuring dozens in villages and towns in both countries, government officials said.

Three of those killed were children and 37 Turks were injured, including nine critically, Turkey’s health ministry said.

The shallow tremor caused more than 1,000 buildings to collapse in Turkey, prompting a brief rescue effort to find those trapped under rubble.

The quake damaged buildings some 90 km (56 miles) to the west in the Turkish city of Van, and to the east in dozens of villages in Iran, where state TV said 75 people were injured including six in hospital, though there were no fatalities.

Crisscrossed by major fault lines, Iran and Turkey are among the most earthquake-prone countries in the world.—Yesim Dikmen via Reuters Connect

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