Just what the Middle East needs

By a vote of 51.4% – 48.6% the Turks approved a referendum today which gives their current President executive powers similar to those of the US President. There’s some question as to how legitimate a lot of the “yes” votes were, though:

The CHP is refusing to accept the Yes victory and is demanding a recount of 60% of the votes, criticising a decision to pass unstamped ballot papers as valid unless proven otherwise.

Three of Turkey’s biggest cities – Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir – all voted No to the constitutional changes.

Hmm. Rural votes went one way, urban votes went the other. Where have I seen that pattern before?

Mr Erdogan says the changes are needed to address Turkey’s security challenges nine months after an attempted coup, and to avoid the fragile coalition governments of the past.

The new system, he argues, will resemble those in France and the US and will bring calm in a time of turmoil marked by a Kurdish insurgency, Islamist militancy and conflict in neighbouring Syria, which has led to a huge refugee influx.

Critics of the changes fear the move will make the president’s position too powerful, arguing that it amounts to one-man rule, without the checks and balances of other presidential systems such as those in France and the US.

They say his ability to retain ties to a political party – Mr Erdogan could resume leadership of the AKP he co-founded – will end any chance of impartiality.

Even if the CHP’s objections stand, the country is obviously terribly polarized, which is not what the world and the region needs. It’s one more country at odds with itself, like its neighbors Syria and Iraq. It’s also a NATO member with a large air force base at Incirlik in Adana on the southern coast that’s used by the US Air Force in its bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. For good measure it’s believed there are some 50-90 US nuclear weapons on that base.

If it were me I think I’d be considering a pullback of those nukes.

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