Erdogan Announces State of Emergency

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Turkey’s state of emergency, India’s opposition protests, and reports that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken asked for a “pause” in the Middle East.

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Turkey Imposes State of Emergency in South

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at Turkey’s state of emergency, India’s opposition protests, and reports that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken asked for a “pause” in the Middle East.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.

Turkey Imposes State of Emergency in South

Following a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit the country in the early hours of Monday morning, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared a three-month state of emergency in the 10 worst-affected provinces.

At time of writing, the death toll was just over 11,000. There has also been economic fallout; after a 7 percent drop on Wednesday and an overall 16 percent slump since the earthquake, Turkey’s stock exchange halted trading.

Erdogan said that the state of emergency was needed so that rescue work could be “carried out quickly,” although he was short on details. Erdogan is clearly conscious of history; after a devastating 1999 earthquake, the government’s slow response doomed then-Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, paving the way for Erdogan’s rise. In an effort to avoid that fate, the president has sought to appear at the forefront of relief efforts.

However, the collapse of thousands of buildings in southern cities that saw widespread construction growth during Erdogan’s tenure—driven by companies close to the government—could, according to Politico, end up making the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) look bad for not enforcing more stringent building standards.

If the state of emergency does indeed lift after three months, it will end shortly before Turkey’s May 14 elections. The last state of emergency in Turkey, which was put in place in 2016 after a failed coup attempt, lasted two years.

Meanwhile, in northwest Syria, there is a different challenge: how to get aid to the people who live there? The areas hit by the earthquake include millions of people already displaced by civil war. Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad has requested that European countries send aid, but for over a decade, since the Syrian civil war began, the Syrian government has been accused of withholding aid from areas controlled by the opposition.

As Charles Lister argues in FP, “The regime has a consistent, decadelong track record of manipulating, diverting, stealing, and spoiling humanitarian aid” and the only border crossing Syria and Russia had allowed for international aid access is now closed due to earthquake damage.

“With the response in its infancy the need for humanitarian aid is stark,” International Rescue Committee (IRC) Syria Country Director Tanya Evans said in a statement. “In this time of increased need it is critical that the levels of aid crossing also increase at pace too.”

What We’re Following Today 

India’s Congress Party calls for an investigation. Protesters from India’s opposition parties are calling for an investigation into the Adani Group, and specifically into allegations made by a U.S. short-selling firm, Hindenburg Research, which has accused the company of fraudulent practices. The Adani Group has denied wrongdoing. Members of India’s opposition Congress Party have urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to investigate in various ways across the country.

In Delhi, Congress Party members threw fake currency notes in the air. Some burned a suitcase covered with images of Modi and Gautam Adani, head of the Adani Group. In Mumbai and Chennai, they protested outside office buildings. So far, however, protests against the Adani Group are not widespread and are mostly limited to political opposition and the financial sector.

Blinken reportedly asked Israel and PA to “pause.” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to “pause” certain actions, Axios reports. This included Israeli “settlement activity, the demolitions of Palestinian homes and evictions of Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”

The United States also reportedly asked the Palestinian Authority to resume security cooperation and pause further steps against Israel at the United Nations and in other international forums. The Israeli side reportedly said it could stop some but not all of the requested activity, while the Palestinians reportedly said they would “pause” if it would be mutual.

Keep an Eye On

A murdered candidate was elected mayor in Ecuador. Omar Menéndez was shot dead by gunmen mere hours before polls opened for his mayoral race in Puerto López. The 41-year-old won. A teenager was also killed in the attack; the motive is still being investigated. A member of Menéndez’s party is expected to replace him.

Crime, believed to be connected to increasingly influential drug gangs, is escalating in Ecuador. This attack comes just two weeks after a different mayoral candidate was shot and killed in the coastal town of Salinas. A proposal to change the constitution so that criminals could be extradited to maximum security jails in the United States was also put to voters this week, but it failed, with 51 percent of voters casting their ballots against it.

Russia hits more civilian targets. Ukrainian authorities have said that Russia has hit a hospital and five apartment buildings in the town of Vovchansk in the country’s northeast. Russia also continued shelling of the mining town of Vuhledar. Ukraine also said this week saw the deadliest 24 hours of the war thus far.

Meanwhile, Russia said that western countries providing arms to Ukraine effectively constituted NATO involvement, and that they could lead to “unpredictable” escalation. “The U.S. and its allies are trying to prolong the conflict as much as possible,” said Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Russia invaded Ukraine almost a year ago—an anniversary Ukraine has warned Russia is planning to mark with an intensified offensive.

Ukraine and Belarus Are Fighting the Same War by Eric S. Edelman, Vlad Kobets, and David J. Kramer.

Are U.S. Sanctions on Russia Working? by Ravi Agrawal

The Deeper Reason Netanyahu Won’t Arm Ukraine Against Russia by Steven A. Cook

Pregnant pause. The publisher of the Irish parenting website EveryMum discriminated against a sales executive. The cause of that discrimination? Pregnancy.

The publisher, which dismissed the employee four months after she revealed she was pregnant—ostensibly due to poor performance—was ordered to pay her 32,500 euros (approximately $35,000), equivalent to six months salary.

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