Editor's note: This is Chatter, our morning rundown of what you need and want to know around the world. Fortunately for us all, you can have Chatter emailed to you every day. Just sign up here!
NEED TO KNOW:
In June, Turkey held a national election. In that vote the party of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the AKP, was denied a majority in parliament for the first time in more than a decade. There were a few people who celebrated that development, which was a pretty big deal.
But five months later, a coalition government had still failed to form. So on Sunday Turkey held elections again. This time the AKP regained its majority in a stunning turnaround. It won just shy of 50 percent of the vote.
This means the AKP will no longer need to form a coalition government. Turkey will return to one-party rule. And Erdogan will have a mandate. This is a worrying development for anyone concerned about Turkey’s democratic cred.
Erdogan has recently taken more to authoritarian ways. He has cracked down on the media, even more than usual for Turkey, a country that jails journalists in record numbers. He has also restricted the internet and other forms of free speech. The president oversaw the brutal crushing of an Occupy-style protest camp in 2013.
His political party, the AKP or Justice and Development Party, is Islamist. And under Erdogan, the country has turned more Islamic principles into state law. Islamic education is being strengthened in the schools, the sale of alcohol has been banned on university campuses, and people have been jailed for blasphemy. This doesn’t sit well with Turkey’s traditionally secular majority, which includes the army.
So many people are going to be holding their breaths as they watch where Erdogan takes Turkey now.
WANT TO KNOW:
You might have missed this gem on Friday: the administration of US President Obama announced that the United States would be sending Special Forces units to Syria. It is common practice to announce things on Friday afternoons that you want people to forget about by Monday.
On the surface this seems to signal a change in policy. Obama has always said they he doesn’t want to put “boots on the ground” in Syria. That’s good because the majority of Americans are not okay with getting involved in another ground war in the Middle East. Fortunately, Obama has always had his fighter jets and drones that can drop bombs.
In reality, Obama’s announcement on Friday was more of an admission. Special Forces have been going into Syria for a while now. This isn’t a new policy so much as the growth of an old one.
Obama said on Friday that a small Special Forces contingent of less than 50 troops will be sent to Syria. Their mission is to “advise and assist” America’s rebel partners on the ground. Obama’s announcement comes about a month after Russia joined the other side of the fight, launching airstrikes that regularly target Syrian rebels, many of them supported by the United States.
STRANGE BUT TRUE:
Air traffic in western Germany came to halt for several hours today. But it wasn’t because of a storm or mechanical failure or anything like that. It was because a bunch of construction workers found a 275-pound bomb buried near one of the main runways at Duesseldorf’s airport.
Apparently this happens pretty often in Germany. In 2009, near the same site, an 1,100-pound bomb was unearthed. It has been 70 years since the end of WWII fighting in Germany, but the country remains riddled with unexploded ordnance from allied bombing campaigns.
So it’s actually somewhat common for German construction crews to just happen upon huge bombs. In today's case, crews disposed of the bomb in a controlled explosion — hence the flight delays. Authorities said they would plan some further digs at the airport to make sure there aren’t any more bombs.