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Turkey and the Levant

Stories under this heading cover Turkey as well as the Levant – a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean region of Western Asia, consisting of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Palestine.

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MPs again fail to elect next president of Lebanon

MPs again fail to elect next president of Lebanon

MPs in Lebanon failed again to elect a new president on Thursday for an eighth time, despite the deepening impact of the political deadlock on the country’s economic woes. Lebanon has been without a head of state for a month after president Michel Aoun left office at the end of October with no successor. Parliament is split between supporters of the powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah movement and its opponents, neither of whom have a clear majority. Lawmaker Michel Moawad, who is seen as close to the United States, won the support of 37 lawmakers Thursday — well short of the required majority — while 52 spoilt ballots were cast, mainly by pro-Hezbollah lawmakers. Only 111 of parliament’s 128 lawmakers showed up for the vote. By convention, Lebanon’s presidency goes to a Maronite Christian, the premiership is reserved for a Sunni Muslim and the post of parliament speaker goes to a Shiite Muslim. Parliament is expected to convene for a new attempt to elect a president on December 8.

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Editor's choice
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MPs again fail to elect next president of Lebanon

MPs again fail to elect next president of Lebanon

MPs in Lebanon failed again to elect a new president on Thursday for an eighth time, despite the deepening impact of the political deadlock on the country’s economic woes. Lebanon has been without a head of state for a month after president Michel Aoun left office at the end of October with no successor. Parliament is split between supporters of the powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah movement and its opponents, neither of whom have a clear majority. Lawmaker Michel Moawad, who is seen as close to the United States, won the support of 37 lawmakers Thursday — well short of the required majority — while 52 spoilt ballots were cast, mainly by pro-Hezbollah lawmakers. Only 111 of parliament’s 128 lawmakers showed up for the vote. By convention, Lebanon’s presidency goes to a Maronite Christian, the premiership is reserved for a Sunni Muslim and the post of parliament speaker goes to a Shiite Muslim. Parliament is expected to convene for a new attempt to elect a president on December 8.
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Lebanon is still without a president

Lebanon is still without a president

Lebanese MPs failed for a sixth time on Thursday to elect a president to fill the vacancy left by Michel Aoun whose term expired last month. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri announced that a seventh vote would be held next Thursday. A total of 112 MPs cast ballots on Thursday, from a total of 128. Independent MP Michel Mouawad received 43  votes and academic Issam Khalifeh received seven. One vote was cast for former MP and presidential candidate Sleiman Frangieh.  Ziad Baroud, a former minister, received three. MP Michel Daher, a non-Maronite who did not submit his candidacy, received one vote, and two ballots were canceled. However, 46 blank votes were cast by Hezbollah. Parliament is split between supporters of Hezbollah and its opponents. 
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Terrorism strikes at the heart of Turkey

Terrorism strikes at the heart of Turkey

Terrorism struck at the heart of Turkey on Sunday afternoon (13 November) At least six people were killed and 81 others injured, two seriously, when an explosion hit Istanbul’s iconic pedestrian street, Istiklal Cadesi, just off the city's Taksim Square. At all times of the day and night crowds congregate in the street. to shop, eat and drink, and often just to watch other people. The street attracts both local people as well as visitors from other parts of Turkey and from across the world, and for many Istiqlal Caddesi represents Istanbul and Turkey's vibrant diversity. An attack on Istiqlal Caddesi is indeed an attack on the heart of Turkey. Turkey has blamed the outlawed Kurdish organisation PKK for the attack.  Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said early Monday that the suspect who had carried out the attack had been captured He said 21 others linked to the bomber were also detained, adding the existing findings showed it was an attack perpetrated by the PKK/YPG terrorist group, referring to a branch of the PKK group in Syria's north. "We have evaluated that the instruction for the attack came from Kobani," Soylu told reporters, adding that the bomber had "passed through Afrin in northern Syria." Turkey has imposed a ban on reporting of the incident, but various sources say that the bomber was a woman.
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Greek and Turkish defence ministers met in Brussels

Greek and Turkish defence ministers met in Brussels

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and his Greek counterpart Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, met on Thursday (13 October) on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Brussels, amid ongoing tensions between their two countries. The meeting between the two ministers comes as the two countries amid ongoing disagreements between Athens and Ankara on a range of issues, including the Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus, migrant pushbacks and more. Both ministers were in Brussels to attend the Meeting of NATO Ministers of Defence. The two uneasy NATO neighbors have long-standing sea and air boundary disputes which lead to near-daily air force patrols and interception missions mostly around Greek islands near Turkey's coastline. The situation exacerbated recently as both sides started deploying troops on small islands in the Aegean that up to now have been largely demilitarised.
Opinion: Is the meeting between Pashinyan and Erdogan in Prague enough to stimulate the Armenia-Turkey normalisation process?

The first face to face meeting between Armenian prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, and Turkish President, Recip Tayip Erdogan, took place in Prague on 6 October, on the margins of the summit of the European Political Community. In this op-ed for commonspace.eu, Benyamin Poghosyan says that whilst in the summer there was hope of an early breakthrough in the Armenia-Turkey normalisation process, decisions agreed by the special envoys of the two countries have not been implemented.

dennis2020 Mon, 10/10/2022 - 08:15
Monday Commentary: Success in Prague
On 6 October in Prague, the leaders of 44 European countries gathered in the historic settings of Prague Castle for the first meeting of the European Political Community (EPC). Such an initiative was needed. The war in Ukraine, Russia’s bellicose postures, and the threat of an energy crisis caused by the disruption of Russian energy supplies have helped focus the minds of European leaders. Prague offered an opportunity to discuss and analyse and approximate positions. Important discussions on the margins of the main event, such as the quadripartite meeting with Armenia and Azerbaijan and the Turkey-Armenia leaders meeting, contributed to the process of resolving some of the more intractable problems of the last decades. The work of the European Political Community needs now to be taken forward. In future, the biggest task of the EPC will be to engage Russia. But not yet. For the moment the Community has done what is needed, which is to contribute to build a united front against Russian aggression in Ukraine. It must continue to do so until Russian aggression ends.
dennis2020 Mon, 10/10/2022 - 07:27
Erdogan and Pashinyan met in Prague

Turkish President, Recip Tayip Erdogan and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met at Prague Castle on Thursday, (6 October) on the margines of the first summit of the European Political Community.

dennis2020 Fri, 10/07/2022 - 06:53