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Daily Brief: Erdogan Increases Control Over Turkey's Armed Forces

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August 1, 2016

Daily News Brief

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Erdogan Increases Control Over Turkey’s Armed Forces

Turkish President Recep Tayyep Erdogan issued a decree (AP) Sunday instituting sweeping changes to the military, increasing his government's control over the armed forces. The president and the prime minister can now give direct orders to army, air force, and navy commanders. Erdogan also stacked (Reuters) the top military council with government ministers and dismissed nearly 1,400 military personnel. His administration has embarked on a sweeping purge following last month's attempted coup, dismissing, detaining, or placing under investigation more than 60,000 people. On Monday, Erdogan's government announced it had arrested eleven (BBC) of the soldiers who attempted to capture him the night of the attempted coup. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Turkish nationals gathered in Cologne, Germany, to express their support for Erdogan (Politico Europe). Turkey summoned a German diplomat after a German court barred Erdogan (AP) from addressing the rally.


"The Turkish military is a crucial ally in fighting terrorism, reining in the Islamic State, and in controlling the migrant tide that has overwhelmed Europe. Chaos within the military symbolizes not only its waning power in the country—and the rise of the police, which Mr. Erdogan built up as a bulwark to the military—but also its diminished reliability as a partner to the West," write Tim Arango and Ceylan Yeginsu in the New York Times.

"[Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of the U.S. Central Command] wasn’t alone in worrying about the fate of the Turkish military, which is the second-largest force in NATO after the United States. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper also said on Thursday that the government’s backlash has 'affected all segments of the national security apparatus in Turkey…. Many of our interlocutors have been purged or arrested. There’s no question that this is going to set back and make more difficult' Washington’s policymaking in the Middle East," writes Paul McCleary in Foreign Policy.

"In the wake of the attempted putsch, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is not only purging [Fethullah Gulen]'s alleged supporters at home in Turkey, but is also pressing countries around the world to crack down on Gulenist organisations. The diplomatic offensive is forcing nations to choose between their relations with Ankara and often popular local schools and hospitals, in a move that analysts warn could damage Turkey’s international ties and image," write Laura Pitel and Jack Farchy in the Financial Times.


Malaysia's New Security Law Prompts Rights Concerns

A new security law (BBC) gives Prime Minister Najib Razak sweeping powers to declare a state of emergency and gives security forces wide authority to arrest, impose curfews, and seize property. The prime minister said the laws are needed to fight terrorism, but the United Nations expressed concern the move would lead to human rights violations.

JAPAN: Tokyo elected its first female governor Sunday (Bloomberg), picking former environment minister Yuriko Koike. Koike's election comes amid soaring costs and scandals plaguing the city’s preparations for the 2020 Olympics.


Taliban Claim Attack on Kabul Compound

One police officer was killed and four were wounded in an attack (Reuters) Monday on a compound used mainly by foreign contractors in the Afghan capital. The blast was the latest in a series of attacks on foreign targets in the capital.

This CFR InfoGuide looks at the Taliban's history in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

INDIA: A curfew continued in India-administered Kashmir Monday amid a separatist strike (Indian Express).


Syrian Rebels Launch Operation to Break Aleppo Siege

Rebel militias Sunday night began an offensive aimed at breaking a government siege of the opposition-controlled section of Aleppo (Guardian). The nearly three-week-long encirclement has left civilians in the city with shortages of food, water, and medicine. The rebels shot down a Russian helicopter Monday south of Aleppo, apparently killing all five on board.


Al-Shabab Claims Suicide Bombings in Mogadishu

Two suicide bombings in Somalia’s capital Sunday left six people dead (CNN). The Al-Shabaab militant group said it was targeting Somalia’s Criminal Investigative Police Division; police battled the gunmen in a shootout after the blasts.

SOUTH AFRICA: The country’s ruling party faces a strong challenge (Bloomberg) in municipal elections Wednesday as poverty, a weak economy, and scandals connected to the president threaten its control of the country’s cities.

CFR's John Campbell looks at factors weighing on South Africa's upcoming elections in this Expert Brief.


Reports: European Governments Losing Track of Child Migrants

European officials estimate there are as many as 10,000 child migrants (WSJ) who are unaccounted for in the European Union. More than 88,000 unaccompanied child migrants entered the EU last year, according to official figures.

UK: UK members of the European Parliament are scrambling to shape legislation (Politico Europe) that favors the UK as the country prepares to leave the EU. Some lawmakers from other countries have called for them to be sidelined.


Tens of Thousands Protest in Brazil Ahead of Olympics

Protesters in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro demand the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff and the prosecution of her successor, Michel Temer (McClatchy). The Olympics are slated to open on Friday.

CFR's Matthew Taylor discusses Brazil's political and economic challenges in this blog post.

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