Turkey’s June 7 General Election and the Risk of an Increase in Violence in Turkey’s Kurdish Regions

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 3, No. 5, May 2015.

By George Dyson

Supporters of Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) wait for him to arrive to deliver a speech during a rally in Istanbul, Turkey, Sunday, May 24, 2015. Turkey will hold general election on June 7, 2015. Although it is a relatively small party, all eyes will be on HDP. If it reaches the minimum 10 percent threshold required for entering parliament as a party, it could effectively thwart Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ambition to lead a presidential system following a constitutional change. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Supporters of Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) wait for him to arrive to deliver a speech during a rally in Istanbul, Turkey, Sunday, May 24, 2015. Turkey will hold general election on June 7, 2015. Although it is a relatively small party, all eyes will be on HDP. If it reaches the minimum 10 percent threshold required for entering parliament as a party, it could effectively thwart Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ambition to lead a presidential system following a constitutional change. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Single digit differences in the percentage of votes attained by parties in Turkey’s upcoming general election could lead to radically different outcomes, all of which hold consequences for the health of the ongoing peace process (the “resolution process”) between the Turkish state and Kurdish armed groups in the country’s restive south east. If political groups close to the Kurdish movements find themselves frustrated at the ballot box, unable to cross Turkey’s high threshold that keeps smaller parties out of the mainstream, there is a chance of an increase in violence, even moves towards secession. Similarly, the ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party), if it does not do sufficiently well at the next elections, may find it hard to push through with the resolution process. However, there are other potential outcomes that would not degrade the resolution process. Turkey’s south east regions with large Kurdish populations hold great economic potential, with hydrocarbon reserves, a mobile population and proximity to an opening Iran and a flourishing Northern Iraq. A collapse of the resolution process and an increase in the conflict could seriously prejudice this potential and lead to greater instability across Turkey. Continued cooperation could help bring greater stability to the wider region.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the President of Turkey, is seeking to change the constitution to endow the presidential position with more powers, despite apparent divisions within his party over the issue. While, as president, Erdoğan is technically no longer a member of his party and is not running in the coming election, he is campaigning feverishly against the opposition. His party, the incumbent AKP, has been in power now for three terms and has seen its share of the vote rise and fall. But, while always maintaining enough seats to form a government, it has seen its number of seats consistently fall. Current polls suggest AKP will not have the backing it needs to change the constitution. Many polls suggest that the AKP share of the vote may fall by at least 5-6% (compared to its 2011 election result, where AKP took 49.8% of the vote) at the coming elections, but that they will still be the largest party. However, if they lose much more than this, they may even be unable to form a government.

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The West and its Arab Allies Must Militarily Engage ISIL

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 3, No. 5, May 2015.

By Mark Nader

FILE - In this Monday, June 16, 2014 file photo, demonstrators chant pro-Islamic State group slogans as they wave the group's flags in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul, 225 miles (360 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq. The IS declaration of a "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria inspired a stream of thousands of foreign fighters to join it and earned it pledges of allegiance by individual militants around the region. (AP Photo, File)

In this Monday, June 16, 2014 file photo, demonstrators chant pro-Islamic State group slogans as they wave the group’s flags in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul, 225 miles (360 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq. The IS declaration of a “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria inspired a stream of thousands of foreign fighters to join it and earned it pledges of allegiance by individual militants around the region. (AP Photo, File)

Since proclaiming itself a caliphate on 29 June 2014, militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have killed over 5,000 civilians in Iraq, while displacing hundreds of thousands more.[1] In Syria, ISIL has embedded itself in the country’s ongoing civil war, where the actions of the Islamic State have led to the deaths of more than 200,000 people[2] and the displacement of more than three million civilians.[3] Although ISIL began as a splinter group of al Qaeda, known as al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), it has since grown into a hybrid organization that is “part terrorist network, part guerilla army, and part proto-state,” within which terrorists with transnational ambitions have taken refuge.[4]

Militants of the Islamic State seek to eliminate the state system altogether and replace it with a global Islamic caliphate that is governed in accordance with Islamic law. The next few pages are devoted to answering the question: what are ISIL’s short, intermediate, and long-term objectives? Many leading foreign policy experts believe that the Islamic State represents an international security threat, however, the degree of this threat, and the strategy that is best to combat it is the subject of disagreement.[5] Next, I will discuss the consequences of failing to destroy ISIL, the contributing factors that led to the rise of this terrorist network, and policy recommendations by experts to combat this phenomenon. It is my position that in order to defeat ISIL we must destroy the organization altogether. This requires a strategy to strengthen the periphery states[6] surrounding ISIL in order to contain their militants and to prevent them from further expanding; a sustained air campaign designed to destroy key infrastructure targets and to disrupt ISIL’s logistical capabilities; and a comprehensive ground operation consisting of combat troops to root out all existing traces of the Islamic State.[7]

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Nine Scholars Offer Views on South China Sea Dispute

Recent satellite imagery from the  Centre national d'études spatiales (CNES) show that China is building an island on Fiery Cross Reef near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

Recent satellite imagery from the Centre national d’études spatiales (CNES) show that China is building an island on Fiery Cross Reef near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 3, No. 5, May 2015.

By Anders Corr, Ph.D., and Matthew Michaelides

Today, 100 participants gathered at the Harvard Club of New York City for the Journal of Political Risk’s Conference on the South China Sea to discuss all aspects of the ongoing territorial dispute between China and the Southeast Asian states of the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia. Papers given at the presentation will be among those compiled and released in a forthcoming book on the South China Sea dispute.

The event opened with a discussion of some of the recent actions taken by China in the South China Sea. Bill Hayton, author of The South China Sea: The Struggle for Power in Asia (Yale University Press, 2014), spoke on China’s recent island-building operations on several disputed reefs and islands in the South China Sea, including Mischief Reef and Fiery Cross Reef. Mr. Hayton noted that China acts as it does because it genuinely, albeit wrongly, thinks of itself as the rightful owner of maritime territory within the 9-dash line. He noted that China did not claim new features in the recent island-building, rather it built on features occupied for 20 years or more. Lastly, Mr. Hayton predicted that China would continue to expand, provoking further conflict.

Speakers at the event proposed several constructive proposals for resolving the dispute presently facing the Southeast Asian region.

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Effect of South China Sea Air Strips on the Range of Chinese Surface-to-Air Missiles and the J-10 Fighter

The authors publish, for the first time, a new map showing the effect of South China Sea Air Strips being built by the People’s Liberation Army, on the Effective Range of Chinese S-400 surface-to-air missiles and the J-10 multi-purpose fighter.

The authors publish, for the first time, a new map showing the effect of South China Sea Air Strips being built by the People’s Liberation Army, on the Effective Range of Chinese S-400 surface-to-air missiles and the J-10 multi-purpose fighter.

Journal of Political Risk, Vol. 3, No. 5, May 2015.

By Anders Corr, Ph.D. and Matthew Michaelides

In mid-April, China started building a military air strip in the South China Sea,[1] and to the extent that air strips are replicated on China’s other occupied South China Sea atolls and shoals, it will dramatically increase the effective range of its military aircraft and rocketry, including surveillance, search and rescue, helicopter, transport, bomber, and fighter aircraft, as well as its surface-to-air missile (SAM) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities.

Chinese air assets advantaged by the South China Sea air strips include the Chengdu J-10[2] and J-11 fourth-generation multi-purpose fighter jets[3], the Soviet-made S-400 SAMs[4], the twin-propeller Y-12 Turbo Panda maritime patrol[5] and surveillance aircraft, ASW aircraft and helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles such as the Pterodactyl Wing Loong[6], and cruise missiles such as the Chang Zian (Also spelled Chang Jian, or Long Sword)[7], with a range of up to 2,000 kilometers.[8]

With its weaponry closer than ever to the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia, not to mention potential refueling of bombers and tankers, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF)[9] will have improved air power projection capabilities towards Australia and India.  SAMs based on the new islands will significantly augment already-existing naval SAMs such as the HQ-9 (with an operating range of up to 100km).[10]

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