47 suspected militants, 5 troops killed in Egypt's Sinai

Egypt's army on Thursday said 47 militants and five of its troops were killed as part of its military offensive in the restive Sinai Peninsula, where it is fighting Daesh. (File/AFP)
Updated 16 May 2019

47 suspected militants, 5 troops killed in Egypt's Sinai

  • As part of the wide-ranging operation to secure Egypt's borders, 158 "criminal elements" were arrested
  • The armed forces also neutralised 385 explosive devices that insurgents planted targeting security forces

CAIRO: Egypt's army on Thursday said 47 militants and five of its troops were killed as part of its military offensive in the restive Sinai Peninsula, where it is fighting Daesh.
The suspected militants had "guns of different makes, ammunition, explosive devices in northern and central Sinai" in their possession, according to a slickly produced video statement posted on the armed forces' social media accounts.
As part of the wide-ranging operation to secure Egypt's borders, 158 "criminal elements" were arrested.
The armed forces also neutralised 385 explosive devices that insurgents planted targeting security forces.
The army did not specify when the deaths and arrests took place, saying only that they happened as part of "recent efforts" against extremists.
The Sinai Peninsula, in the north-east of the country, is the epicentre of a hardened extremist insurgency spearheaded by Daesh.
In February 2018, the army launched a nationwide operation against militants, focusing mainly on the North Sinai region.
Some 650 militants and around 45 soldiers have been killed since the start of the offensive, according to the armed forces.
No independent statistic are available to verify the deaths and the region is largely cut off to journalists.
Terror attacks have surged following the 2013 military ouster of president Mohamed Morsi, who was replaced by former army general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
The Egyptian president has presented himself as a bulwark against terrorism and a rock of political stability amid a region in turmoil.


Turkey’s rulers plot law changes to block breakaway parties’ power grab

Updated 28 May 2020

Turkey’s rulers plot law changes to block breakaway parties’ power grab

  • President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP is working on a plan to stop parliamentary deputies from transferring to other parties

ANKARA: Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is looking at ways to change electoral laws in order to block challenges to power from two new breakaway political parties.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP and its nationalist coalition partner the MHP are working on a plan to stop parliamentary deputies from transferring to other parties — a move that has fueled rumors of an imminent snap election in the country.

Under Turkish election rules, political parties must settle their organization procedures in at least half of the nation’s cities and hold their first convention six months ahead of an election date.

Any political party with 20 lawmakers in Turkey’s parliament is entitled to take part in elections and be eligible for financial aid from the treasury for the electoral process.

The leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has hinted at the possibility of transferring some CHP lawmakers to the newly founded parties to secure their participation in elections.

Turkey’s ex-premier, Ahmet Davutoglu, and the country’s former economy czar, Ali Babacan, both longtime allies of Erdogan, recently left the AKP to establish their own opposition groups, and have come under pressure from the AKP and MHP to leave their parties out of the race.

Babacan has been critical of Erdogan’s move away from a parliamentary system of governance in Turkey to one providing the president with wide-ranging powers without any strong checks and balances.

“The AKP is abolishing what it built with its own hands. The reputation and the economy of the country is in ruins. The number of competent people has declined in the ruling party. Decisions are being taken without consultations and inside a family,” Babacan said in a recent interview.

He also claimed that AKP officials were competing against each other for personal financial gain.

Babacan, a founding member of the AKP, was highly respected among foreign investors during his time running the economy. He resigned from the party last year over “deep differences” to set up his DEVA grouping on March 9 with a diverse team of former AKP officials and liberal figures.

Berk Esen, a political analyst from Ankara’s Bilkent University, believes Babacan’s recent statements have angered Erdogan.

“As a technocrat, Babacan gains respect from secular circles as well as the international community, which Erdogan clearly lacks. Despite being in office for 13 years, Babacan has not been tainted by corruption allegations and is known as the chief architect of Turkey’s rapid economic growth during the AKP’s first two terms,” he told Arab News.

“The legislation that the AKP-MHP coalition is working on may prevent deputy transfer only in case early elections are scheduled for the fall. Otherwise, the newly established parties will most likely build their organizations across the country and become viable for elections by summer, if not the spring of 2021.”

If Davutoglu and Babacan were successful in capturing disillusioned voters, they could prevent the ruling coalition getting the 51 percent of votes needed to secure a parliamentary majority.