Sunday, 30 August 2015

Turkey faces fractious interim rule as PM gives up on forming new gov’t

Political uncertainty has sent the lira currency to a series of record lows
In this Saturday, May 30, 2015 photo, supporters of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister and leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) Ahmet Davutoğlu, some holding Turkish flags, wait for their appearance in Istanbul, Turkey, during a rally to commemorate the anniversary of city's conquest by the Ottoman Turks. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
In this Saturday, May 30, 2015 photo, supporters of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister and leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) Ahmet Davutoğlu, some holding Turkish flags, wait for their appearance in Istanbul, Turkey, during a rally to commemorate the anniversary of city’s conquest by the Ottoman Turks. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Ankara, Reuters—Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu will formally give up trying to form the next government on Tuesday after weeks of coalition talks failed, raising the prospect of a fractious interim administration leading the country to a new election.
Davutoğlu had been trying to find a junior coalition partner since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its parliamentary majority in an election in June, leaving it unable to govern alone for the first time since it came to power in 2002.
AKP spokesman Beşir Atalay said Davutoğlu would hand the mandate back to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at a meeting later on Tuesday, and that the party would hold a congress on September 12.
The NATO member has not seen this level of political uncertainty since the fragile coalition governments of the 1990s – turmoil it could do without as it takes on a frontline role in the US-led campaign against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) insurgents in Syria and battles Kurdish militants at home.
Davutoğlu met the leader of the right-wing opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on Monday in a last-ditch effort to agree a working government, but the nationalist leader refused all the options he presented.
“After yesterday’s talks, no coalition option remains for the party. Davutoğlu will therefore return the mandate to the president this evening,” a senior party official told Reuters earlier, asking not to be named because of the sensitivity of the situation.
Erdoğan could theoretically now hand the mandate to form the next government to the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Turkey’s second biggest party, although it is also highly unlikely to be able to agree a working coalition before an August 23 deadline.
Under the terms of the constitution, if no government is formed by August 23, Erdoğan must dissolve Davutoğlu’s caretaker cabinet and call on an interim power-sharing government to lead Turkey to a new election in the autumn.

Paralysis looms

Such a temporary arrangement would theoretically hand cabinet positions to four parties with deep ideological divisions, paralyzing policy-making and deepening the instability that has sent the lira currency to a series of record lows.
But even forming such an interim “election cabinet” is likely to be difficult.
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) said it would offer representatives to take part, but the nationalist MHP has made clear it would not countenance doing so.
Senior AKP officials had been betting that the nationalists, virulently opposed to greater Kurdish political power, would do anything possible to avoid a scenario in which the HDP held cabinet seats, and that they might support a short-lived minority AKP government in return for a new election.
But nationalist leader Devlet Bahceli has ruled that out, leaving an interim power-sharing cabinet as virtually the only option. He is apparently calculating that the prospect of Kurdish politicians in ministerial positions will so enrage those on Turkey’s political right that they will flock to support his party at the next election.
Parliament could in theory also vote to allow the current cabinet to continue working until a new election, but the MHP has already said it would vote against such a move and other opposition parties have little incentive to do any different.

Ground operation “imminent” as coalition forces continue to arrive in central Yemen: source

Arafat Madabish
Written by : 
on : Sunday, 30 Aug, 2015

Egyptian officials refused to meet with aides of ex-president Saleh, FM Riyadh Yassin says
Soldiers stand on a tank of the Saudi-led coalition deployed on the outskirts of the southern Yemeni port city of Aden, on August 3, 2015. (AFP Photo/Saleh Al-Obeidi)
Soldiers stand on a tank of the Saudi-led coalition deployed on the outskirts of the southern Yemeni port city of Aden, on August 3, 2015. (AFP Photo/Saleh Al-Obeidi)
Sana’a and Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—A coordinated ground operation including forces from the Saudi-led anti-Houthi coalition, the Yemeni army, and volunteers loyal to Yemen’s government will soon be launched to liberate areas of the country still under the control of the Iran-backed Houthi movement, a source close to the government said.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, the source, who requested anonymity, said coalition forces were meanwhile continuing to arrive in the central Ma’rib province in preparation for an “imminent” operation to retake the capital Sana’a from the Houthis.
The Shi’ite group, backed by Iran and forces loyal to Yemen’s ousted ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, took over the capital in September of 2014 and then spread to other areas of the country. The Houthis then launched a coup in February deposing Yemen’s internationally recognized President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and his government.
A Saudi-led air campaign was launched against the Houthis in March after Hadi requested Saudi Arabia and its Arab allies intervene in the country. Coalition ground forces have been arriving on the country since the liberation of the southern port city of Aden last month, but this would mark the first time a ground operation has been launched in the country since the conflict began.
So far, “thousands” of ground troops from the coalition, government loyalists, and the Yemeni army, as well as tanks, 30 military vehicles, and eight Apache helicopters have headed to Ma’rib in preparation for the assault on the capital, the source said.
Speaking in the Sudanese capital Khartoum during an official visit, President Hadi on Saturday said the war in Yemen was “based on stopping Iranian expansion in the region.”
Foreign Minister Riyadh Yassin meanwhile visited Cairo on Saturday where he met with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shokri.
Yassin told Asharq Al-Awsat Egypt and Yemen have signed an agreement to “help train Yemeni diplomatic cadres in Cairo in order to create a new diplomatic community in Yemen in the fastest possible time.”
He added that Egyptian officials had also refused to meet with aides of former president Saleh due to their “not being serious about finding a solution to the crisis” in Yemen.
“Saleh’s aides simply want to use such meetings as ‘photo opportunities’ and to be seen with officials from different countries in order to influence public opinion and give the impression that these officials welcome their point of view and that of Saleh and his party [the General People’s Congress],” Yassin said.
Egypt will also be sending planes to Yemen loaded with humanitarian supplies and medical teams. Wounded Yemenis caught up in the conflict will also be transported to Cairo for treatment.
Sawsan Abu-Husain contributed additional reporting from Cairo

Saturday, 22 August 2015

France train shooting: Hollande thanks 'heroes' who foiled gunman

  • 4 hours ago
  • From the sectionEurope
Media captionAmericans Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos and Briton Chris Norman tell of what they did - a third American, Spencer Stone, was hospitalised
French President Francois Hollande has thanked three American men hailed as heroes for overpowering a heavily-armed gunman on a train in northern France.
The incident happened on the high-speed Thalys service near Arras on Friday. A 26-year-old Moroccan man was arrested.
One of the Americans said they took an AK-47 assault rifle and a handgun from the attacker as they saw him walk down the aisle of the train.
One of the Americans and another passenger were seriously hurt.
In a press conference on Saturday, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the suspect's identity had yet to be confirmed, but it was believed that he had radical Islamist beliefs.


Two of the American men who overpowered the gunman, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos, are members of the Air Force and the National Guard respectively.
They were travelling on the train from Amsterdam to Paris on Friday evening with a childhood friend, Anthony Sadler, who also helped restrain the attacker.
Media captionInterior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve: "[The suspect's] details were flagged up to the French authorities... in February 2014, due to his involvement in radical Islamist movements"
When a French passenger tried to enter a toilet on the train, he encountered the gunman, tried to overpower him and the gun was then fired, Mr Cazeneuve said.
A French-American passenger was injured by the bullet, and the American passengers intervened shortly afterward, he said.
"Spencer got to the guy first and grabbed the guy by the neck," Mr Skarlatos told Sky News.
"I grabbed the handgun, got that away from the guy and threw it. Then I grabbed the AK-47, which was at his feet, and started muzzle-bumping him in the head with it.
"Everybody just started beating the guy while Spencer held the chokehold until he went unconscious."
Forensics experts check the crime scene, 21 Aug
Scene-of-crime experts were quickly summoned
When he checked the AK-47, Mr Skarlatos said it had jammed and would not have been able to fire. The cartridge for the handgun had also been dropped, he said.
Mr Sandler said: "I came to see my friends on my first trip in Europe, and we stopped a terrorist. Kinda crazy."
Mr Cazeneuve said Mr Hollande had thanked the men by telephone and will meet them in the coming days.
Chris Norman, a British man living in France, was also hurt while trying to subdue the attacker.
"I came in at the end of it all and helped get him under control," he said at a news conference in Arras.
Media captionAnthony Sadler's father Tony says he is "still wrapping his head around" events of the past 24 hours
"The guy pulled out a cutter and started cutting Spencer - he cut behind his neck and nearly cut his thumb off."
The second seriously injured man, who has not been identified, suffered severe cuts to his neck. Spencer Stone went to help him despite his own injuries. Mr Stone remains in hospital.
"I'm really proud of my friend that he just reacted so quickly and so bravely," Anthony Sadler said.
"He was really the first one over there. Even after being injured himself, he went to go help the other man who was bleeding also. Without his help, he would have died.
"That man was bleeding from his neck profusely."
French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade, 21 Aug
French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade, who was on board, said: "I thought it was the end"
The 554 passengers included French actor Jean-Hugues Anglade, the star of Betty Blue and Nikita, who was lightly wounded breaking glass to sound the alarm.
In an interview with Paris Match magazine, Mr Anglade said train staff entered a private cabin and locked it when they heard gunshots, leaving the passengers alone.
"I thought it was the end, that we were going to die, that he was going to kill us all," he said.
"I really could see us all dying because we were all prisoners in that train, it would have been impossible to escape from that nightmare."
The American men and Mr Norman were awarded medals for bravery by authorities in Arras.
In a statement, British Prime Minister David Cameron praised the "extraordinary courage of the passengers who intervened and helped disarm the gunman, including the British consultant Chris Norman".
"The bravery of Mr Norman and the other passengers helped to prevent a terrible incident," he said.
US President Barack Obama also praised those who took action.
"It is clear that their heroic actions may have prevented a far worse tragedy," the White House said in a statement.

Belgian investigation

Mr Cazeneuve said the suspect had lived in Spain until 2014, and in Belgium this year.
Spanish intelligence passed on information about the suspect to France in February 2014, he said.
Anti-terror investigators in Paris now have 96 hours to question the suspect.
Belgian prosecutors also opened an anti-terror investigation on Saturday morning.
France has been on edge since the attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket in Paris in January, which left 17 people dead.

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