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

Robie de Guzman   •   May 7, 2019   •   914

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)

Turkey created a ‘very terrible’ situation in Syria – Pentagon chief

Robie de Guzman   •   October 24, 2019

US Secretary for Defense Mark Esper

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Thursday (October 24) criticised Turkey for its military incursion into Syria, saying it had put the U.S. and its allies in a “very terrible situation”.

Last week, Esper said he would press NATO allies “to take collective and individual diplomatic and economic measures in response” to Turkey’s incursion into northeastern Syria, even as critics have pointed out that U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision enabled the Turkish offensive. Earlier this month, Trump announced that the United States would be withdrawing its troops from northeastern Syria, clearing the way for Turkish troops to launch an offensive against Kurdish fighters in the area.

“There was not a possibility that we were going to start a war with a NATO ally,” Esper said.

Speaking at an event organised in Brussels by the German Marshall Fund think tank, the Defense Secretary urged Ankara to demonstrate that it was still a “responsible” NATO ally.

The American pullout from northeastern Syria has raised concern that it could allow a resurgence of Islamic State militants.

Esper said he already talked to his British and French counterparts and that the U.S. was still committed to continue the fight against Islamic State militants. He was expected to discuss the topic further at a meeting of NATO defence ministers later in the day. (Reuters)

(Production: Christian Levaux, Jorrit Donner-Wittkopf)

Turkey Pres. Erdogan vows to resume Syria assault if U.S. promises not met

Robie de Guzman   •   October 22, 2019

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin (not pictured) in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, 22 October 2019. EPA-EFE/SERGEI CHIRIKOV / POOL

Kurdish forces are continuing to withdraw in northeast Syria but Turkey will resume its military assault there once a U.S.-brokered ceasefire expires if promises given by Washington are not kept, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday (October 22).

Speaking ahead of an official visit to Russia, Erdogan also said he would discuss with Russian President Vladimir Putin how a Syrian constitutional committee that is due to meet in late October can make concrete progress.

“We will also find the opportunity to the steps to be taken to end the presence of the PKK/PYD/YPG in areas where the regime elements are. Separately, we will discuss what we can do for the constitutional committee to work in a healthy way and to put forth concrete work,” he added

A five-day pause in Turkey’s cross-border military offensive to allow the withdrawal of Kurdish YPG fighters from the border area expires at 10 pm (1900 GMT) on Tuesday.

“The withdrawal is continuing at the moment. According to the information I have received from my defense minister, around 700-800 (YPG fighters) have already withdrawn and the rest is around 1200-1300. They are continuing to withdraw,” Erdogan said.

Turkey says Kurdish YPG militia forces must leave a “safe zone” it wants to establish along its border with northeast Syria. Ankara views the YPG as terrorists with links to Kurdish insurgents operating in southeast Turkey. (Reuters)

(Production: Mert Ozkan)

U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo in Ankara for talks on Turkey’s Syria offensive

Robie de Guzman   •   October 17, 2019

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listens to US President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks during a meeting with President of Italy Sergio Mattarella in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 16 October 2019. EPA-EFE/MICHAEL REYNOLDS / POOL

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Ankara on Thursday (October 17) as part of Washington’s efforts to convince Turkey to halt its offensive against Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria.

Turkey’s week-long assault has created a new humanitarian crisis in Syria with 160,000 civilians taking flight, a security alert over thousands of Islamic State fighters abandoned in Kurdish jails, and a political maelstrom at home for Trump.

Trump has been accused of abandoning Kurdish fighters, who were Washington’s main partners in the battle to dismantle Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Syria, by withdrawing troops from the border as Turkey launched its offensive on Oct. 9.

Following a phone call with Erdogan, who has rejected calls for ceasefire or mediation, Trump dispatched top aides including Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Ankara for emergency talks to try to persuade Turkey to halt the offensive. (Reuters)

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