World View: Turkey Blames Syrian Regime for Terrorist Bombings in Border Town

This morning's key headlines from

  • Turkey blames Syrian regime for terrorist bombings in border town
  • Nawaz Sharif appears to be the winner in Pakistan's elections

Turkey blames Syrian regime for terrorist bombings in border town

Aftermath of the explosions in Reyhanli (Zaman)
Aftermath of the explosions in Reyhanli (Zaman)

At least 45 people were killed and hundreds injured by two massive car bombs that exploded on Saturday in the Turkish town of Reyhanli. Reyhanli is on the border with Syria, and has an Arabic-speaking Sunni Muslim population, which has been a draw for both anti-regime Syrian refugees and also as headquarters for NGOs and aid groups operating in Syria. According to Turkey's deputy prime minister, the assailants were linked to Syria's intelligence service, al-Mukhabarat:

"We have to a great extent completed our work toward identifying the assailants. We have established that the organization and assailants have links to the pro-regime al-Mukhabarat (Syrian intelligence) organization."

There are now some 400,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey, and many of them have been flooding into Reyhanli, resulting in friction between citizens and refugees. One possibility is that the intended effect of the bombings was to worsen relationships between the two groups, and indeed many refugees are fleeing from Reyhanli, fearing attacks by citizens who blame the refugees for bringing the bombings.

Turkey's foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu vowed that Turkey would act:

"Those who for whatever reason attempt to bring the external chaos into our country will get a response."

However, these kinds of statements are similar to those we hear all the time from politicians in Turkey, in Washington, and in Europe. Repeatedly making one "red line" ultimatum after another, but then doing nothing after the red line is crossed except to announce a new red line only destroys the credibility of the West, and causes the al-Assad regime, as well as Russia and Iran, to treat any such statements with contempt. Zaman (Istanbul) and BBC

Nawaz Sharif appears to be the winner in Pakistan's elections

Nawaz Sharif waves to supporters (AFP)
Nawaz Sharif waves to supporters (AFP)

Attempts by Pakistan's Taliban to use terrorist violence across the country to disrupt Pakistan's elections on Saturday killed 15 people, but did not prevent millions of people from voting in the first election in Pakistan's history that would lead to a peaceful transition from one civilian government to another, resulting in the highest election turnout in decades.

Official results will be announced on Sunday, but former two-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif declared victory on Saturday evening, based on a partial vote count. This is considered a remarkable comeback for Sharif, who was overthrown and forced into exile in a military coup when Gen. Pervez Musharraf seized power in 1999. Sharif vowed to deliver on all the promises he made during the campaign -- to end the electric power cuts, sometimes lasting 18 hours per day; to turn around the devastated economy; and to end the corruption of the current government.

The second place candidate was former world cricket champion and international playboy Imran Khan, who was the "hope and change" candidate. Khan beat Sharif in some regions, and won the vote among younger voters, but lost to Sharif because he had almost no government experience.

From America's point of view, the major question is whether Pakistan's policies towards America's "war on terror" and drone strikes will change. Khan was very vehement in promising to end all Pakistani participation in America's involvement in Afghanistan. Nawaz has said similar things, but not nearly as vehemently. AFP and CNN

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