Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Foreign Digest: Turkey, Spain, Colombia

Turkish Purge Continues and Expands
The Islamist authoritarian government of Turkey continues its purge as a result of the failed military coup in July.  The state of emergency it declared has been extended, while the types of institutions and people targeted by purge has expanded in order to eliminate viable opposition to the regime, with the excuse of preventing another coup.  The purge has been targeted especially the cleric’s followers.  Tens of thousands of Turks have been fired or imprisoned from the military, police and civil servants to judges and even to academia because of alleged involvement in the coup. 

The United States continues to decline to extradite a Muslim cleric living in Pennsylvania in exile, whom the Turkish government blames for coordinating the coup, even though the cleric had condemned the coup and promotes peaceful democratic transition, as Turkey has not provided convincing evidence of his complicity. 

Update on the Spanish parliamentary elections
            The Socialist Party has ousted its leader because of his refusal to accept a conservative-led minority coalition government to avoid a third parliamentary ballot in the divided kingdom of Spain.  It is hoped the ouster will facilitate the formation of Spain’s first coalition government between the ruling center-right party, which won the most seats, and a centrist pro-business party.  The Socialists would not govern in any grand coalition with their longtime political rivals, but are expected to abstain in the vote of confidence, which would allow the acting Prime Minister to form a government, with the assent of King Felipe VI, who has been urging the parties to reach a compromise for the sake of national unity. 

Because the conservatives and the Socialists have dominated Spanish politics since the establishment of the constitutional monarchy in 1975, Spain has never had a coalition government, let alone a minority government.  The kingdom has been without an effective government since December.  The conservatives had increased their vote totals in the June voting while the Socialists suffered defeats recently in regional elections.  

Colombians Reject the Peace Deal with Marxist Narco-Terrorists
            A referendum for a peace deal with the Marxist narco-terrorists was rejected by Colombians.  There was a low turnout for the vote.  The deal would have set aside congressional seats for the rebels and provided them amnesty for crimes in exchange for laying down their arms.  The five-decade rebellion has killed over 200,000 people.  Colombians were particularly opposed to impunity for the narco-terrorists. 

            A military campaign by the previous conservative government, backed by the United States, had caused major blows to the rebels and forced them to negotiate.  The terrorists had received some support from the Socialist dictatorship of Venezuela.  A smaller leftist rebel group continues to operate in Colombia, but has also expressed readiness to lay down arms, pending the result of the peace deal with the larger group.  

           It is unclear if the current conservative Government would renegotiate the deal or stand down, which could allow the return of the popular former conservative President who initiated the victorious military campaign.  

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