MAS Special ReportLEVANT: Middle East and North Africa

Weekly review NATO - UE LEVANT Western Balkans Black Sea Region

LEVANT Bulletin - Political and military progresses in Middle East and North Africa, July 2018

Laurenţiu Sfinteş

There are more differences than similarities between the intern conflict in Libya and the civil war in Syria, both coming from the “Arabian spring” beginnings. How the post electoral situation goes in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon or Iraq? In Yemen’s conflict there is a critical period. What happens with Gaza’s protests? Netanyahu was in Moscow. Abbas just after him. What important law was recently given in Knesset? Will a new govern enter Iraq? What happens with the “century’s treaty” between Israelis and the Palestinians? Which are the changes in Turkey’s security structures after the beginning of the new presidential regime? Who is the new Turkish defence minister?

Sursă foto: Mediafax

SUMMARY

 

NORTH AFRICA

The first woman mayor ever elected for Tunis’s capital, Souad Abderrahim, started with her new mandate. Although she run coming from the Islamic Ennahda Party, she mentioned that she’s of modern and secular formation. The measures she wants to take as a mayor: cleaning the city, planting trees, both domains suffering since the “Arabian spring” began, in 2011. And, of course, she will continue to fight for Tunisian women’s rights.

The Libya conflict continues, both economic and military. Even though on land the general Haftar had a series of successes by taking the control over the coast cities that were still under Al Qaida/ISIS domination, for example: Derna, the situation remains tense and the country divided between the power structures from Tripoli, internationally known, and the ones in Benghazi, known just by a part of the international community, especially the Arabian states. The main debate is on the oil-bearing fields and the harbor terminals, the oil being the only currency that maintains Libya on the line.

Both general’s Haftar policies, not clearly defined but obvious, need financial support, actually oil resources that can be exported. But the National Oil Corp. (NOC) has the head office in Tripoli, internationally known as functioning under the local’s government authority, therefore Benghazi does not benefit the services of an official exporter. In these circumstances, Hafter tried to “attack” NOC through a company from East Libya. The bad move was immediately denounced by the US embassy, along with the diplomacy missions of Great Britain, Italy and France, which, even if they say they support general’s actions (he lived 20 years in exile in U.S.), they do not support unbalancing the local oil market, by creating a phantom company which damages the current contracts.

Libya’s map does not look as divided as in the previous period, because it has areas under the control of different factions, the Libyan National Army (LNA) continuing to move through West and South. Still, the main battle will be for taking the control over the oil lands, the transport infrastructure, the export harbor capacities, as well as for legitimizing the official export lines, where the importer states continue prefer the old contact points, the national company in Tripoli.

General Hafter, military supported by Egypt and Russia, by a series of Arabian states, and encouraged by the occidental states for its capacities against the terrorism, did not developed yet a sense of political-economic opportunities, this way risking to lose the advantages offered by the military superiority.

The “Maghreb 2030” candidature started to be, as some Algerian governmental sources say, a serious common action for Algeria, Morocco and Tunis, by proposing the organization of the 2030 World Football Championship in locations from the three countries. The declaration was made recently, on 3th of July, by the Algerian Sports Minister, Mohamed Hattab, and comes after a large series of candidatures previously made in Morocco. Such project could contribute, according to a first analyze, to reducing the organization spending, as well as reducing the current tensions between the three states, developing the infrastructure and refreshing the tourism.

 

EGYPT

 

High rank officers will have immunity, according to a law approved by the Egyptian parliament, on 3th of July, 2018. The law provisions refer to militaries that were decisional involved in the period after July 2013, after the actual president, Abdel Fattah el- Sisi, came to power. The names of the militaries that will benefit the provisions of this law will be selected by president Sisi, but it is said that all of those who were involved in the anti-opposition operations (generals, of course), as well as the anti-terrorism operations in Sinai Peninsula, could benefit it. Another interesting provision is the one that forces the future presidential candidates that are ex-military commanders, to firstly obtain the agreement of the Supreme Council of the Army Forces. This could happened as in general’s Sami Anan case, ex-chief of the Egyptian Army Major State, ex-candidate at the presidential elections in 2018, who found out in detention that he does not have complete the candidate file. 

Starting with 14th of July, the emergency condition was extended with three more years. The decision was taken by president Sisi and approved, in the same day, by the Egyptian parliament. This is the fifth extension of the emergency condition and the reason was the critical situation, the terrorist’s actions risk and, therefore, in order to protect the Egyptian citizen’s life. According to Emergency Condition Law provisions, nr.162, promulgated in 1958, they could also be prisoned if they act against the presidential decisions.

The big economic infrastructure projects will be extended with a petrochemical complex, the biggest in the Middle East. The Egyptian Oil Minister and the Suez Canal Authority signed the contract for building this complex in the economic area of Ain Sukhna, included in the preferential area afferent to Suez Canal. The value of this investment will be around 11 billion us dollars, the processed combustible being imported from Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

The import dependence, as well as the subsidiary for maintaining low prices for intern consumers represent strong economic brakes for the Egyptian economy. This is why, they hope that making this mega projects, as well as identifying new intern resources, could allow a bigger energetically independency of the country, with consequences in the regional bilateral relations.

 

ARAB STATES IN THE GULF

 

The Qatar religious Muslims will be able to go in pilgrimage in Mecca, as the king Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud decided, the owner of the two Islamic houses from the Saudi Arabia territory. Sometimes, the Saudi authorities use the acceptance of pilgrimages from the states they have issues with, as a way to negotiate with these. This is why the message sent to Qatar is a reconciliation one, after the political and diplomatically conflict between Riyadh and Doha. It is possible that the decision taken to have as a reason also the fact that the Qataris pilgrims spend way more than others from the Muslim countries.  This year’s Haji pilgrimage will be between 8th and 13th of the Muslim month, Dhul-Hijjah, and 19-24 august, when around 2, 5 million pilgrims are awaited in Mecca.

 

The intervention in Yemen continues but with no results, although the leader-states of the anti-Houthi coalition, Saudi Arabia and the United Arabian Emirates/ EAU, are on the 9h and 10th place regarding the military forces, according to a report made by the Haaretz press. [1]The Israeli newspaper quotes the annual report U.S. News & World Report “Power Rankings”.

The main weaknesses identified in the Saudi forces are: lack of experience, US logistical dependence and human resource. Another Saudi army problem is the command ultra-centralized structure, specific to authoritarian regimes, the lack of empathy between the command structures, made of the members of the Royal House, and the fighters, Saudis or mercenaries, especially from Sudan.  

The same kind of issues are also in the military structures of EAU, but these have a better experience in the land troops of Special Forces domain. This is what led to a division of the tasks in the campaign that takes the control over the Hodeida harbor, from the Houthi militias, the Saudi forces assuring the air support, meanwhile the EAU was involved in the land campaign. Even in these circumstances, the operations are hardly deploying, in a minefield and having as an enemy the Houthi militias, inferiorly armed, but with decades of experience in the guerilla war.

Being under economic and terrestrial blockade, Qatar will spend 4 billion us dollars to achieve Eurofighter aircrafts. According to a news recently offered by Middle East Monitor[2], the achievement is a part of the, little but yet powerful, emirate’s plan to gain support in the competition against his strong neighbor, the Saudi Arabia. Along those who could finance this achievement, are creditors from France, Italy and Great Britain. Qatar also announced its availability in contributing with forces in Afghanistan, and at the recent NATO summit it was officially confirmed that together with the United Arabian Emirates, it will contribute at the “Resolute Support Mission”.

Probably Qatar will dislocate in Afghanistan a part of the 24 Typhoon planes, recently achieved, in December 2017, for the amount of 6, 6 million us dollars. Searching for an external support, on another meridian, no too far, Doha recently investigated the field also regarding the achievement of the S-400 Russian systems, an option that already became a norm for the states that want to show how one can be friendly, in the same time, with two different cardinal points.  

The preparations for the decision regarding the Salwa Canal started, being a canal that Saudi Arabia wants to build at its border with Qatar. Starting with 25th of June, the analysis period of the 5 international companies’ offers started. These hope to receive a positive answer for this 746 million us dollars project. The canal will be built integrally on the Saudi territory, with 60km length, 200 meters width and 15-20 meters depth.

The project will make Qatar an islander, by breaking its terrestrial connection, but, according to a Saudi part, this is not the only aspect that matters in the decision regarding the realization of the project. The Riyadh wants to build a specific number of resorts on the canal’s coast, therefore, they do not want sand on beaches as Salma, Sakak, Khor al- Adeed and Ras Abu Qamees. We listed them for the eventually future touristic destinations. There will be built two harbors, Salwa and Aqlat al- Zawayed. Last on the list are a military base and a nuclear discard deposit. The Saudi Arabia has projects in this area also. What more can you wish for from the border with a neighbor you have a conflict with?



[1] Why Saudi Arabia and ‘Little Sparta’ Still Can’t Defeat Iran in Yemen, 17 July 2018 https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/.premium-why-saudi-arabia-and-little-sparta-still-can-t-defeat-iran-in-yemen-1.6273832

[2]  https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180711-qatar-to-seek-4bn-loan-for-typhoon-fighter-jets/

 

JORDAN

 

The new Jordanian govern asked and obtained[1] the trust vote from the Parliament/Deputy Chamber. After the protests shock and Saudi Arabia financially supporting the Amman with a 2, 5 us billion dollars loan, there was no hurry. The deputies discussed for a week, and the vote unsurprisingly was given at the end of the 7 days. From the 124 deputies that were present, 79 voted for, the others against or abstained. It had to exist also an opposition.

The new Prime Minister, Omar Razzaz, ex education minister, with a recent history at the World Bank Group, seems to be the ideal man to promise everyone what they wish for. The new govern will reduce taxes, costs, increasing, will create work places, will improve the administrative activity, will fight against corruption, will also solve other issues. Generally, the prime-ministers who assumed such reforms and tried to apply them -which in the Jordanian circumstances, means severe economic adjustments- had short and very short incomplete mandates. This was the case of Razzaz predecessor’s, the ex-prime-minister Hani Mulki.  As we see things now, Omar Razzaz prepares for a long mandate.



[1] http://jordantimes.com/news/local/parliaments-extraordinary-session-prorogued

 

IRAQ

 

IISIS remains a threat for center and west of Iraq, and the military operations continue in this area. Although the Iraq territory is officially liberated from the ISIL terrorist group, its cells continues to act especially in districts as Salah Uddin, Kirkuk and Diyala. ISIL mostly attacks the civil population so that they can have an increased impact over the local communities. The patrol operations of the Iraqi forces are executed especially by the members of the Popular Unities of Mobilization, Shia group, which creates supplementary tensions with the Sunni local population.

Even if the election results are delaying, the negotiation between the parties and the political Iraqi groups are in process. The interim situation (the votes still being to be count in a number of circumscriptions) made the official announce of the post-electoral alliances to be postponed, although public declarations regarding potential coalitions were not to be missed. Basically, the winning Sairoon group, led by the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, already announced a treaty with the al-Nasr group, led by the actual prime-minister, Haider al-Abadu, as well as the Fatah Alliance, having Hadi al-Amiri as a leader. Meanwhile, Sadr asks abstention regarding the political discussions and commitments, including abroad, until the elections results is not official made.

Importantly in these negotiations is the Kurdish factor, as the Iraqi constitutional system asks the Kurdish presence in all the official political structures, at presidency and govern. In these circumstances, the Kurdish parties, which, in general, were united at negotiation, have an important pressure point of view which they use to solve some regional issues.

At the moment, important for the Kurdish is solving Kirkuk city’s condition and the surrounded region, which, according to the constitution, should be solved through a referendum. Hurried to organize the referendum for independency, despite Bagdad’s warnings and the international community, the Kurdish had to support the measures responding shock of the central govern that decided to occupy the region (military). Therefore, even if they represent the majority in the field, the Kurdish are no longer the administrators of Kirkuk, an extremely rich area in petrol deposits. The post electoral situations offers them again the chance to negotiate. Considering that the coalition that seems to have the majority in the parliament is also a part of the group of the actual Prime Minister, Abadi, the one who demanded to occupy the Kirkuk city, the conjecture does not look advantageous neither for the Kurdish, nor for this group of Shia political structures. And for this to become even more complicated, in the Kurdish political groups was opened another rivalry, regarding the person that will be proposed for Iraq’s presidency. Traditionally, the proposal came from the Patriotic Union in Kurdistan (UPK), the second representative party of Iraqi Kurdish, as a consequence of the responsibility division between the main Kurdish party, Democrat Kurd Party (PDK), which had the region’s presidency, as well as the local governs one, and UPK, administrator of the east region part, and also representative in Bagdad by electing the Iraqi president from his team. The president’s position in Iraq has a more symbolist meanings, but for the Kurdish the official symbolism is very important, so signals that the PDK wants this position appeared. Another negotiation, and another, and another…

We must remark that, as in the Lebanon case, where there is a similar constitutional commitment -which allows an official representation of all important communities and afferent political groups- the Iraqi political class does not seem to be nervous that the constitutional deadline of parliament’s functioning passed- expired on 1th of July, or that the laws approved after this date can be considered un-constitutional.

For now, the votes are still counting, the negotiations are still in process. 

Meanwhile, the protests are extending, in Basra, Iraqi’s south cities, the most rich in oil area in the country, to another Iraqi cities, Amrah, Nasiriya, Samawa, and even in the cities Shia Najaf and Karbala, and also Bagdad. The protests causes are firstly the poor economic situation of these districts and secondly the bad services offered by the administration. The electric energy breaks, or the dole are also reasons why the population is on the street.

The political incertitude does not bring anything positive for those who protests and it is also bad for the actual prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, because he cannot find an important solving solution for this situations still, as he is interim. Yet, he receives the remonstrant blaming for leading only based on the oil incomes, 80% coming from south Iraq, but without getting any significant improvements to citizens’ life from this region. 

After the first victims showed up, caused by the confrontation with the Iraqi police, the situation seems to get out of the authorities control.

 

IRAN

 

Teheran asked the U.S. to come at the International Justice Court in Hague. In a press bulletin/2018/34, offered by this institution on 17th of July[1], are presented the conditions of the juridical conflict that Iran has against U.S. and which refers mainly to breaking the Washington bilateral treaty between the two states, signed in 1955, and asking economic sanctions after withdrawing from the Nuclear Treaty. Teheran’s juridical movement is interesting because it forces the American part to come in front of the well-known international jurisprudence tribunal, on European territory, where they hope there will be more Iraqi understanding. Another practically reason is a potential court decision, before the final one, for the sanctions to be raised until the file will be judged.

In a similar file (another U.S breaking of the same treaty from 1955, a petition file made again by Iran, in 2016) the American part said that the issue is out of the Court’s jurisdiction. We must remark the effort Iran is making to appeal to international juridical canals, but Teheran’s economic situation stays under pressure and cannot wait such results, which can come only after a few years, and surely, without demanding a conduct line in the bilateral relations.

The conflicts between U.S. and Iran are various, the sanctions addressing only to some of these. Eight from the 12 conditions imposed by the American secretary, Mike Pompeo, for retaking the nuclear treaty, refers to involving Iran in Middle East. According to U.S., Iran has a negative influence in the region, especially in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and the Palestinian Territories and it became a threat for Washington’s local allies. For Teheran, withdrawing from the nuclear treaty and making sanctions, are just punitive measures made by U.S. after the Syria failure.

An Arabian wise saying says that “Time is made of cold”. This could be the economic option of the bilateral conflict. Another wise saying, Arabian, says “Time is like a sword”. The confrontational option. Between Teheran and Jerusalem and Teheran and Washington, the one that waste the gold to not encounter the sword are the Arabian states in the region, blocked in the fight’s logic for the regional influence. And Hague is a bridge that is too far away



[1] http://www.icj-cij.org/files/case-related/175/175-20180717-PRE-01-00-EN.pdf

 

ISRAEL

 

The Jewish language becomes the only official language in Israel, after the approval of the law that assures Jewish as the first language against the Arabian language and the other minorities’ languages in the country. In the morning of 19th of July, after an extremely severe debate in the Israeli parliament, Knesset, the legislative proposal, known as the Nationality Law, or the National State Law, author being Avi Dichter, the president of Knesset’s External Business and Defence Committee, but also Shin Bet ex-chief, had 62 votes for, 55 against, 2 abstained, from a total of 120 parliamentary.

In those less than 500 words of the law are the details that give this document significations beyond identifying the Jewish language as the only official language of the state:

-Israel state is the “native land”, the “shelter/historic house” of the Jewish people;

-only Jewish have the right to auto determination in Israel state;

-Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, the Jewish language is the official language;

-the colonies/ Israeli implants are “national value” and the state assures its promoting;

The law give a “special statute” to the Arabian language, used for at least 20% of the country’s population (the Israeli Arabian community and around 9% Jewish), without saying what this terms means.

The legislative proposal had previously a stronger content favoring the Jewish language and related to the Jewish people’s rights over the territories that today have Israeli statute, but, as a consequence of the protests series, not only the Israeli’s Arabian community, they give up some of these provisions.  Moreover, the potential critics coming from the Europeans partners, produces abstains regarding the approval of a radical text, in order to consolidate the Jewish character of the state.

Despite these circumstances, the law remains extremely controversial, and makes even stronger the breach between the communities in Israel, creates issues in the Israel-E.U. relation, where the minority’s rights, including the linguistic ones, are positively promoted.

The prime-minister lost the right to declare war without consulting the minister’s office, according to a law approved on 17th of July, by Knesset. The previous provisions, approved at the beginnings of May, were giving the prime minister the possibility to make the war declaration, after consulting only the defence minister. If he would have had the defence portfolio, the Israeli minister had the right, without any consultation, to put the country in an external conflict. As a consequence of the critics brought to these provisions, they decided to come back to the version that provided the consultation and approval of the Security Office/ National Security Ministerial Committee, made of the ones that have the most important ministerial portfolios, a group created since the Yom Kippur war period.

 

LEBANON

 

The internal pressure to repatriate the Syrian refugee increases, after creating favorable conditions in Syria, by extending the Damascus regime control over the border regions with Lebanon. One of the supporters for the Syrian refugees to leave the Lebanon territory is Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasr Allah, who during a broadcasted speech, transmitted on 13th of July, promised to offer “help” for their transference back to Syria. They are already doing a volunteered repatriation process, where already were signed 3.000 individuals, but the authorities and the Lebanon political leaders are interested in accelerating this process.

Hosting over 1 million Syrian refugees on the Lebanon territory, mostly Sunni, was not seen as a temporary solution for the Lebanon Shia community as well as for the Christian one (the Christian leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, Gebran Bassil, created a structure in his political group to repatriate the refugees, saying that these represent a threat against Lebanon’s identity and economy), as a consequence of the potential impact over the intern ethnical balance. In these circumstances, we understand the organizational measures that the Lebanon forces institutions took to quickly create conditions to return the Syrian refugees back to their home. 

 

SYRIA

 

The Damascus regime’s forces defensive, in South of Syria, is close to an end, through a transfer treaty of the Syrian rebels from Quneitra district, at the border with Golan Heights, in North of the country, still occupied by the Syrian army opposition.  The treaty is a continuation of the similar agreements, made with the support of the Russian military forces, which assumed their monitoring through the military police, which allowed that 90% of Daraa previously controlled territory, to comeback under Damascus control. Of course, before to get to such agreements, the regime used its military arsenal, as well as the Russian air support, to send the rebels the message that they do not have any alternative.

South agreements from 15-20 July week, made possible a treaty to evacuate the habitants and the Syrian military who have been besieged for three years, in two cities from Idlib district, Fuaa and Kafraya.  The two districts, inhabited by Shia population, were in the last period, permanently, a negotiation subject between the rebels and the government, both consuming important military and human resource. 

The Quneitra treaty does not include the Salafist-Islamist group, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (the Organization to Liberating the Levant), nor the Jaysh ibn al-Waleed (the Khalid ibn al-Waleed army), another Salafist group, loyal to ISIL, which controls a territory of some hundreds of meters at the Syria border with Israel and Jordan.

The Kurdish reconsider Damascus, according to a recent evolution and statements, some unconfirmed, of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a group majoritarian Kurdish from North Syria. Staying between the incertitude of the U.S. support and the perspective of a Turkish forces intervention, the Kurdish Syrians, are trying to promote their autonomy book, won through fight, also in the negotiation with Damascus. The announcements regarding opening some connection offices between SDF and Damascus in another big cities that are under Syrian’s control, as well as the cooperation for common exploitation of the Tishrin dam and the Tabqa hydroelectric state (which is under SDF’s control), were not confirmed yet. Either way it is confirmed the meeting in Alep of 55 representatives of the Arabian and Kurdish tribes from North of the country, which declared their opposition against Turkey’s actions in the region, but also the support for the Syrian army. 

 

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

 

Egypt takes part in calming the situation in Gaza, which reached and explosive point due to the confrontations in the last months between the Israeli forces ant the Palestinian protestant. The protests increased at the Big Comeback March, on 30th March, and more after Earth’s Day, Nakba, on 15th of May, a day after the U.S. embassy inauguration in Jerusalem. Thing got worse for Israel, whose militaries produced tens of victims among the protestant, as well as for Hamas, which had to face an extremely difficult situation in assuring the subsistence for the Palestinian population, and to justify the big number of militants/”operatives” in Israeli perception, who were the first in provoking the Israeli forces.

At the beginning of June, Israel consolidated the economic blockade, and Hamas took the decision to intensify the dragon fire attacks, an asymmetrical way but yet efficient. At the moment, Egypt interfered convincing Hamas to demand the Al-Zouari unity- responsible for launching dragon and balloons fire- to start the attack over the border with Israel and to initiate, among the other Palestinian factions, creating a government of national alliance, based on the reconciliation treaty from 2017. The Egyptian pressure, as well as the imminence of an Israeli attack (that took place[1] during the night of 19/20 July), created the circumstances to reevaluate the protests and its effects. Nevertheless, the progress is far from calming and a social explosion in Gaza, with dramatic consequences for both parts, always remains a hypothesis.

Abbas goes after Netanyahu, in Moscow, trying to prevent the loss of the Palestinian issues in the full agenda of president Putin, in the first half of July. Kremlin remains the last hope for the Palestinians, after the U.S. decided that “the Deal of the Century” will have Israel as a winner.

The Palestinian part wants that Washington admitting Jerusalem as capital to be only the first step, next being an offer of temporary borders for a demilitarized Palestinian state, on only 11% of the historical Palestine’s territory, 50% of what they previously promised the Palestinians, the border and the air space control still being in Israel’s responsibility. “Today, our region and Palestine, goes through a difficult time”, said[2] on 14th of July, Mahmoud Abbas, the Russian president. And Putin answered, as the regional anecdote: “You are right also”.



[1] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/worldnews/10961451/Israel-bombs-Gaza-as-crisis-escalates-with-more-Hamas-rocket-attacks-In-pictures.html

[2] http://en.kremlin.ru/catalog/persons/94/events/57994

 

TURKEY

The emergency condition is gone, still the emergency measures become permanent, thanks to a legislative package proposed at the same time by the Development and Justice Party, of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Therefore, the two years period ended on 19th of July, when the Turkish authorities, under the “emergency condition” cover, arrested thousands of people, liberated tens thousands of civil servants from their governmental positions, passed in reserve thousands of militaries, especially with superior ranks, and they even “severely violated human’s rights”, according to a ONU report released this spring[1]. After the Turkish parliament’s vote, which is about to be analyzed in the following period, a series of measures from the emergency period are still available, and other are to be added. As follows, for three years it will be available the measure to fire the members of the forces structures for possible connections with the terrorists structures. The districts could prohibit the access, on security reasons, on administrative territories that hey led, and the individuals suspected of terrorism could be imprisoned for 12 days without knowing the accusations they have on them. The measures are presented by the Turkish authorities as being similar to the European regulations (“the French model” is invoked).

According to the Justice Minister, Abdulhamit Gul, “ending the emergency condition does not mean ending the fight against terrorism”. One of the facilities offered by the emergency condition, the possibility of ruling through presidential decree, was anyway useless since the extended power that the Turkish president has at the moment. We will have to see the effects of these restrictive measures, as we know that the emergency condition was a stop point for the foreign investors, produced economic loses, and increased the inflation. The economic rights are in the same category as the civil rights, and Turkey could need both.

The guarantor of the Turkish secular states is now the Islamic president, Erdogan, according to 703 Decree, conciliar in the same day, 9th July, with the inauguration ceremony. Through this document, the Turkish army loses the main attributions that it had as an institution that could influence the top decisions, including the political ones, which actually attracted them on the previous decades, the definition as “guarantor of the Turkish secular state”. The main measures in the decree are:

-the previous legislation that provides the responsibilities and the authority domain of the chief of General Major State of the Turkish army is annulled. Therefore, the SMG chief will from now on subordinate the Defence Minister, not the prime minister, as it was before the military coup in 2016, or the president, as it was in the emergency condition.

-the Supreme Military Council is abolished, an institution created in 1972, which had the responsibility of selecting the officers to promote them to general rank. The president will from now on have the last word;

-the National Security Council and the National Security Secretary also are disappearing, structures created after the military coup in 1960 that were seen as instruments the Turkish militaries used to influence the political decisions. Their responsibilities will be transferred to one of the structures council consultative type, created under the president control.

-it was eliminated the provision that involved stint condition in order to be promoted to general ranks, as well as the period of a mandate in a military position. The president can decide this, as he can also decide that offering ranks to generals to be made not only in august, as it was until now, a tradition since the Mustafa Kemal Ataturk period (he became commander of the Turkish army forces on 5th Of August 1921).

Through this decree, the minister of defence become the most important person in taking security decisions. The defence minister takes all the responsibilities regarding the defence policy, military education, financing and the Turkish army budget. Therefore, the defence minister will decide the recruit issues, logistical and equipment, including weaponry. He will hence decide the future achievements of the Turkish army forces. The commander of the forces categories will subordinate the defence minister. In emergency cases, the president can give direct orders to these commanders, without hierarchic interferences, avoiding the situations as the ones during the military coup in 2016.

In these circumstance, the defence minister occupant becomes, himself, an extremely important person in the new executive. The ex SMG chief from the military coup period, but also the previous ones, the emergency condition, general Halusi Akar, meets a hard to believe ascension in the summer of 2016. How he managed to act against the PKK and the Kurdish groups from Syria’s territory, made president Erdogan trust him abilities.

The new minister, who also remains a 4 stars general, has at least 7 years more in this rank, than any other commander of the Turkish army forces category. This authority will meet no issues. The only unknowns are his detachment for the occidental values (being previously known as a general with pro-NATO, pro-West opinions), since Turkey seems to play also an East cart, and the foreign political options, where he has something to say.



[1]  https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=22853

 

YEMEN 

 

The most dangerous occupation in Yemen remains the journalism, although the fighters in the two camps could contest this affirmation. In a conflict where all orientation combatants do no hold back from attacking the civil population, with missiles, for the Houthi militias, with aviation hits for the coalition led by Saudi Arabia, the journalists were, most of the times, between the two front lines and they paid for it.

27 journalists were killed in this conflict, started in 2014, 12 are hostages of the Houthi militias, one is hostage of the local group affiliated to Al-Qaida. In the first half of 2018, were recorded around 100 breaks of the press freedom, including journalist’s abductions, arrests, torture, blocking newspapers sites, unpaying the salaries. 47 of these were made by the Yemen governmental authorities (supported by the Saudi coalition), 39 by Houthi, and 8 by other groups.

Journalists became the enemies of both camps because the Yemen war is one without any rules, front lines, sometimes without combatants in uniforms. And the journalistic truth annoys each camp.