Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Turkey's border with Syria stabilizing while Turkey's internal political contest moves forward

I believe Turkey's Tayyip Erdogan is the most talented active politician in the world today. Which means that because he is from a medium sized country, I expect him to consistently outclass his opposition. I also do not expect him to make major foreign policy blunders. I feel like recent news confirms my expectations.

Erdogan wants to further amend Turkey's constitution to affirm civilian ascendency over the military that originally wrote the constitution in 1982. His AKP party fell slightly short of the majority it would need to make changes without support from other parties. One way or another Erdogan will work that out. I might have thought he would find allies from outside his party. Instead it seems that some of the seats awarded to opposition parties will revert to Erdogan's AKP because of invalid candidacies.
ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan faced a turbulent start of his third term as the main opposition party and Kurds said they will boycott parliament's swearing-in on Tuesday to protest bans on elected candidates.

Erdogan's AK Party, which has turned Turkey into one of the world's fastest-growing economies, comfortably won a June 12 vote in an outcome investors welcomed as an opportunity to build consensus around government plans to write a new constitution.

But the boycotts by the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) have cast a shadow over the vote's outcome and raised the possibility of massive by-elections.

The CHP won 135 seats in the 550-parliament, while the BDP won 36 seats. Taking CHP and BDP together, more than 30 percent of candidates elected will be boycotting the swearing-in.

"We will not take the oath unless the way is open for all our deputies to take the oath," CHP leader Kemal KiIlicdaroglu said, after a court rejected an appeal for the release of two of the party's candidates who were under detention without having been convicted.
I don't have much comment on Turkey's internal politics other than to wish Turkey well. This dispute will be resolved between people loyal to Turkey on both sides. The side with one of the world's greatest politicians has a big advantage in this conflict though.

What Turkey does not need is a military to military conflict with Syria, on Syrian territory, with Assad facing the end of his regime if he loses. I detected some hope last week on the part of US officials that the disturbances in Syria might be heading in that direction. Notably Hillary Clinton made comments about Syrian troops "near Turkey's border" as if that has some meaning.
Clinton said she has discussed the border situation with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu while President Barack Obama has done the same with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"And it just is very clear to us that unless the Syrian forces immediately end their attacks and their provocations that are not only now affecting their own citizens but endangering the potential border clashes, then we're going to see an escalation of conflict in the area," Clinton said.

"We are closely consulting with Turkey. But this is a very worrisome development by the Syrians," she said.
Clinton and Obama are not politicians in the league of Erdogan. Contrary the "fears" (are you sure those weren't hopes?) of Clinton and the Obama administration, sounds currently coming from Turkey sound as if there is an interest in de-escalating any situation rather than magnifying it.
ISTANBUL — The number of Syrian refugees taking shelter in tent cities in Turkey has decreased to 10,757 after several hundred people turned back home, Turkish officials said Tuesday.

"On June 27-28, 441 of those who had crossed to our country returned home of their own free will, while another 76 Syrian citizens were admitted in," the emergency situations agency of the prime minister's office said on its website.
Erdogan is not going to play Israel in 2006 or the United States in 2003 and try to invade a Muslim country. This will not happen quickly and he also will not allow a situation to remain that could in the future descend to that. At least I hope this to be the case. But in the case of Turkey I feel more confident than I would in most other cases.

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