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Notable Events of April 2019
Local Elections of Turkey
The local elections held on 31st of March led to several conclusions and procedures. AKP, the party in power did not significantly decreased its votes but it can be considered the loser of the elections as they lost two main cities namely İstanbul and Ankara to the opposition party CHP. For the first time in 20 years CHP has increased its votes significantly and won the elections in several major cities. AKP won most of the municipalities in the central and eastern Turkey and CHP won most of the coastal cities together with the capital Ankara. The statistics indicates that higher income regions voted for CHP and lower income regions voted for AKP.
At the election night the main information supplier for the media has stopped giving the results for over 10 hours. In the mean time AKP candidate declared that he has won the election of Istanbul and became the mayor of Istanbul. However, that proved to be wrong in the following day and it has been understood that the candidate of CHP has won the elections by approximately 20.000 votes. Such a margin was very small for a city which has more than 8 million voters so AKP has used all means to change that situation. That led to endless recounting of votes and a great stress at the society as Istanbul is without doubt the most important city of Turkey and AKP benefitted from the power of the city for the last 25 years. Following 20 days of recounting the votes the candidate of CHP has officially been declared as the mayor of Istanbul.
S400 Conflict With USA
Turkey is traditionally a country who buys weapons from the western world and pays a substantial percentage of its budget to do that. That means a lot of money and all the weapon seller countries follow Turkey carefully. US is the main supplier of all types of weapons to Turkey. However recent developments, heavy conditions of US for using the weapons, lots of embargo threats and the price of defense missiles directed Turkey to Russia to buy S400 missiles. That was very good for the relations between Russia and Turkey but that affected US-Turkey relations very negatively. During April several high level US officials reflected their positions against this dealing and some of them threatened Turkey for possible economic embargos. Turkey have understood the seriousness of the situation and continuing its efforts to solve that S400 crisis. President Erdoğan, Minister of Economy Albayrak and Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu contacted with Trump and other officials multiple times.
It seems that in order not to attract more attentions Turkey will suspend the delivery of the missiles and shall have more time to find a mutual solution. US implies that deploying those missiles may cause Turkey its NATO membership. Time will show if Turkey shall take a new direction towards east or shall stay at the NATO alliance.
Economic Package of Berat Albayrak
Since the first day in his office Minister of Economy Berat Albayrak has been criticized heavily as he does not have a sound background for such a title and his mere success is the fact that he is the son-in-law of President Erdoğan. Critics have been proved right as Turkey went a very severe economic crisis in the autumn of 2018. Foreign currencies nearly doubled, which means the purchasing power of Turkish Lira decreased to half and interest rates sky rocketed to 25% annually. During that time Minister Albayrak was always positive and telling that things would be good soon, but that did not happen as the economy of Turkey is still seriously in a crisis and the unemployment levels are at record highs. To overcome that crisis Albayrak has opened a new economic package during April but it was not containing specific measures, mainly they were showing the directions of the economy. That new package did not directly affect the markets. The same week he went to US to present the package to the international experts of economy, he also met with Trump in his office. But the results were very disappointing, at Financial Times and several other publications he has been criticized very badly, the main point was that he told nothing noteworthy and told nothing to solve the problems of Turkey. It will be the benefit of Turkey if international experts are wrong.
Sudan – Dictator Omer Al Bashir Has Been Arrested
In Sudan 30 years of Omer al Bashir’s dictatorship has finally came to an end. During his time Sudan became a country of fear, oppression and internal wars. The freedom of press was nonexistent, there were torture houses and an entire generation grew up in terror and fear. He also committed several war crimes and humanity crimes. He was transferred to Kober prison, a maximum-security prison notorious for holding political prisoners during his 30-year dictatorship and millions of dollars have been found in his residence.
Sudan’s military has said that it would prosecute Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), but would not extradite him. The military, which has dissolved the government, has said it would remain in power for up to two years, despite large street protests against their rule. It seems that people of Sudan are now hopeful for the future. Time will show if the new regime shall bring back the democracy or shall create a new dictator in Sudan.
Sri Lanka Bombing Events
In April, On Easter Sunday, suicide bombers killed at least 253 people and injured some 500 at churches and top-end hotels across Sri Lanka. There were foreigners among the victims but most of them were Sri Lankans. The attacks have been held in coordination and 6 bombings have been realized at the same time by suicide killers. As the target was mainly the churches and high end hotels it was easy to identify the attackers and Sri Lankan authorities believe that the attacks have been held by a local islamist group called as National Thowheed Jamat (NTJ). Sri Lankan police has taken severe measurements to prevent possible upcoming attacks and identified the suicide bombers as belonging to middle to high class families.
Sunday’s attacks were the worst ever against Sri Lanka’s small Christian minority, who make up just 7% of the 21 million population. Theravada Buddhism is Sri Lanka’s biggest religion, accounting for about 70% of the population. Hindus and Muslims make up around 12% and 10% of the population respectively.
US Military Aids to YPG
Although not official YPG is the extension of the terrorist group PKK which fights with Turkey for more than 30 years to establish an independent Kurdish Federation on mostly Turkey’s soil. Turkey has lost tens of thousands of civilians and soldiers during those fights. YPG appeared as a handy tool which US used extensively during the conflict in Syria. As things relatively better in Syria, ISIS has been almost removed and peace is slowly coming to the Syrian land, YPG is becoming one of the main figures at the area. US continued to send military aids to YPG in April, as they have declared their intentions to leave the Syria soon and it is obvious that they want to use YPG as their subcontractors at the region. However with all the right reasons Turkey heavily objects to this situation and the relation between Turkey and US is very tense for that matter. As the region is very problematic and parties to this conflict change sides easily, it is very difficult to predict the future of the region and the future of US-YPG relations.