Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Sitrep - 27 July, 2016

Four terror attacks in the German region of Bavaria in a week have prompted officials to consider deploying troops onto the streets for the first time since WWII. The separate attacks included a shooting at a McDonalds, bombing at a café, axe assault on a train and the use of a machete.

Bavaria is the core of German way of life and its politics. It is also the entry point for refugees flowing into the country since Berlin opened the EU borders late last year. After tightening asylum regulations, accepting border controls along the Balkans and forging a deal with Turkey the refugee torrent has since slowed to a trickle. Yet the task of integrating refugees is only beginning.

The attacks were conducted by young Muslim men. While they do not directly link with the refugee issue, it will encourage anti-Muslim sentiment in the EU. German chancellor Angela Merkel’s political security will also be weakened as opposition parties take advantage to claw back some of her prodigious support. Upcoming regional elections will display if her party is declining.

In Turkey, Amnesty International released evidence showing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s crackdown on coup sympathisers includes torture. Although numbers vary, more than 50,000 people from the military, judiciary, civil service, education and media have been arrested since the failed putsch on July 15. Mr Erdoğan has also suggested a reintroduction of the death penalty.

The allegations and warning of capital punishment will increase friction between Turkey and the EU at a time when Brussels needs Mr Erdoğan’s cooperation in managing migrants. The present EU/Turkey deal (swapping one illegal migrant for a vetted migrant) was set for renegotiation in September but following the coup and the attacks in Germany it may now struggle to pass.

Mr Erdoğan’s is increasing his power and creating room to reform other international relationships. Already, Turkey’s relationship with Russia and Israel is showing signs of mending, but the US wonders where it stands with the Middle Eastern power. Turkey will take time to cool, but Mr Erdoğan is shifting the country into a new, powerful and more aware geopolitical position.

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