GCC demands deterrent UN action against Syria

Updated 11 September 2013
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GCC demands deterrent UN action against Syria

Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries renewed their calls to the UN on Tuesday to take “deterrent action” against Bashar Assad’s regime over an alleged chemical attack that killed hundreds of Syrians.
GCC foreign ministers also denounced the participation of foreign forces and militias in the killing of Syrian people, urging the UN to act immediately to protect Syrians and help them defend themselves.
 “The UN Security Council must assume its responsibilities,” Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled Al-Khalifa said at the start of a GCC ministerial meeting in Jeddah.
He urged “deterrent measures against the perpetrators of this ugly crime, for which the Syrian regime is responsible.” 
Sheikh Khaled’s statement made no mention of Russia’s latest proposal to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international supervision for eventual destruction.
The surprise proposal was made on Monday and is aimed at averting punitive US strikes against the Syrian regime.
The ministers expressed their deep concern over the worsening situation in Syria and its negative impact on the region’s security and stability. They denounced the “dangerous human rights violations by Assad’s regime against his people, using all kinds of weapons, including weapons of mass destruction.”
The meeting held the regime responsible for the continuing tragedy. 
Sheikh Khaled said the Russian proposal would not end the plight of Syrians. “We’ve heard of the initiative. It’s all about chemical weapons, but doesn’t stop the bloodshed.”
A group of US senators was crafting a new measure Tuesday that ties authorization for a military strike on Syria to action by the United Nations.
The lawmakers, including allies and foes of President Barack Obama, were altering a resolution currently under debate which would green-light limited US strikes.
Meanwhile, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Muallem said Tuesday his  country wanted to join the chemical weapons ban treaty and is ready to give other countries and the United Nations access to its arsenal.
The GCC meeting denounced the recent terrorist bombing in Bahrain and supported the measures taken by Manama to fight terrorism. It also denounced the terrorist attack on the UAE embassy in Libya.
The meeting hoped that Hassan Rowhani’s election as the president of Iran would improve GCC-Tehran ties, instill respect for the sovereignty of countries in the region and curb interference in the internal affairs of other countries. 
It urged Tehran to respond favorably to diplomatic efforts to resolve its nuclear issue peacefully.
 


Erdogan declares victory in Turkish presidential election

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan waves to supporters as he leaves his residence in Istanbul, Turkey on Sunday. (REUTERS)
Updated 44 min 30 sec ago
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Erdogan declares victory in Turkish presidential election

  • Erdogan has just under 53 percent in the presidential poll while Ince, of the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP), was on 31 percent, state-run Anadolu news agency said, based on a 96 percent vote count
  • The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) was polling 11 percent, well over the 10 percent minimum threshold needed to win 46 seats, which would make it the second largest opposition party in the new chamber

ANKARA: Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AK Party claimed victory in Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary polls on Sunday, overcoming the biggest electoral challenge to their rule in a decade and a half.
However, the main opposition party said it was too early to concede defeat and said it believed Erdogan could still fall short of the 50 percent needed to avoid a presidential runoff on July 8.
“Our people have given us the job of carrying out the presidential and executive posts,” Erdogan said in a short national address, even as votes were still being counted.
“I hope nobody will try to cast a shadow on the results and harm democracy in order to hide their own failure,” he added, clearly aiming to preempt opposition complaints of foul play.
Erdogan, 64, the most popular but also the most divisive politician in modern Turkish history, later waved to cheering, flag-waving supporters from the top of a bus in Istanbul.
Sunday’s vote ushers in a powerful new executive presidency long sought by Erdogan and backed by a small majority of Turks in a 2017 referendum. Critics say it will further erode democracy in the NATO member state and entrench one-man rule.
Erdogan’s victory paves the way for another five-year term, and under the new constitution he could serve a further term from 2023, taking him to 2028.
An unexpectedly strong showing by the AK Party’s alliance partner, the nationalist MHP, could translate into the stable parliamentary majority that Erdogan seeks to govern freely.
“This sets the stage for speeding up reforms,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek tweeted of the results.
In early trading in Asia the lira currency firmed modestly versus the dollar on hopes of a stable working relationship between president and parliament.

OPPOSITION DOUBTS
Erdogan’s main presidential rival, Muharrem Ince of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) urged election monitors to remain at polling stations to help ensure against possible election fraud, as final results came in from large cities where his party typically performs strongly.
With 99 percent of votes counted in the presidential race, Erdogan had 52.5 percent, well ahead of Ince on 31 percent, broadcasters said.
The opposition raised doubts about the accuracy and reliability of the figures released by state-run Anadolu news agency, the sole distributor of the official vote tally.
However, an opposition platform collating its own vote tally from monitors based at polling stations around the country broadly confirmed the Anadolu figures.
Opposition parties and NGOs had deployed up to half a million monitors at ballot boxes to ward against possible electoral fraud. They said election law changes and fraud allegations in the 2017 referendum raised fears about the fairness of Sunday’s elections.
Erdogan said there had been no serious voting violations.
In Sunday’s parliamentary contest, the Islamist-rooted AK Party won 42 percent and its MHP ally 11 percent, based on 99 percent of votes counted, broadcasters said.
In the opposition camp, the CHP had 23 percent and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) 11 percent — above the threshold it needs to reach to enter parliament. The opposition nationalist Iyi (Good) party received 10 percent.
Election turnout nationwide was very high at around 87 percent for both contests, the state broadcaster said.
Erdogan argues that his new powers will better enable him to tackle the nation’s economic problems — the lira has lost 20 percent against the dollar this year — and crush Kurdish rebels in southeast Turkey and in neighboring Iraq and Syria.
Investors would welcome the prospect of a stable working relationship between the president and the new parliament, although they also have concerns about Erdogan’s recent comments suggesting he wants to take greater control of monetary policy.
Erdogan has declared himself an “enemy of interest rates,” raising fears he will pressure the central bank to cut borrowing costs after the election despite double-digit inflation.
He brought forward the elections from November 2019, but he faced an unexpectedly feisty challenge from Ince, a former physics teacher and veteran CHP lawmaker, who galvanized Turkey’s long-demoralized and divided opposition.
Turkey held Sunday’s elections under a state of emergency declared after a failed military coup in July 2016 Erdogan blamed on his former ally, US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.
It limits some freedoms and allows the government to bypass parliament with decrees, though Erdogan says he will soon lift the measure
Since the coup attempt Erdogan has waged a sweeping crackdown on Gulen’s followers in Turkey, detaining some 160,000 people, according to the United Nations.
Critics, including the European Union which Turkey still nominally aspires to join, say Erdogan has used the crackdown to stifle dissent. He says his tough measures are needed to safeguard national security.