Here’s a roundup of Al Jazeera’s coverage of the Middle East this week.
Turkey’s opposition chooses the man it believes can beat President Erdogan, Israel kills six Palestinians in a raid on Jenin and a month has passed since the earthquakes that devastated Turkey and Syria. Here is his summary of our coverage, written by Abubakr Al-Shamahi, Middle East and North Africa editor at Al Jazeera Digital.
Many observers think Turkey’s political opposition has its best chance yet to unseat longtime leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan in May’s presidential election. The economy used to be one of Erdogan’s main selling points, but he has struggled for years and inflation continues to rise. The opposition, in all its different guises, including defectors from among Erdogan’s closest allies, has rallied in recent years and scored some notable victories, such as in the 2019 mayoral races in Istanbul and Ankara. And last month’s devastating earthquakes, which killed more than 45,000 people in Turkey, raised questions about the government’s response and the seemingly lax enforcement of housing regulations that is believed to have caused so many buildings to collapse.
And yet, the events of the past week may help explain some of the reasons why the opposition has dealt so few serious blows against Erdogan and his AK party in two decades of parliamentary and presidential elections. At first it seemed that six opposition parties were in agreement on their candidate for president, namely the head of the CHP, Kemal Kilicdaroglu. Sure, the 74-year-old economist isn’t exactly the most charismatic guy, and he’s overseen the party’s electoral defeats over the past decade. And yes, as a member of the Alevi religious minority, he probably won’t attract many Turkish nationalists. Still, a unified opposition should at least give him a fighting chance to cross the line.
But then Meral Aksener, leader of the main opposition nationalist bloc (there’s also a pro-government nationalist bloc, stick with me) decided that, well, actually, Kilicdaroglu wasn’t up to the job, and publicly announced that the mayors of Istanbul and Ankara would be better options. Cue a weekend of emergency opposition talks, a return to the table for Aksener and – crisis averted – the united opposition behind Kilicdaroglu – again.
Has Aksener’s game weakened Kilicdaroglu? Or has the eventual demonstration of public unity strengthened the opposition? It depends who you ask. But one thing is for sure: don’t write off Erdogan just yet.
Israeli raid on Jenin kills six
Israeli forces killed six Palestinians in Jenin this week, in the latest armed incursion into the occupied West Bank. Among the dead was Abdelfattah Kharousheh, a Palestinian fighter whom Israel accused of being behind a shooting that killed two Israeli settlers last week.
Israeli soldiers were filmed dancing and singing with settlers in the occupied West Bank city of Huwara, where attacks on the Jewish holiday of Purim left five Palestinians injured ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/mA5FIjQLR9
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) March 7, 2023
Kharousheh’s funeral further exposed the growing divide between many Palestinian fighters in the West Bank and the Palestinian Authority. The PA partially governs areas of the territory, and his forces fired tear gas at mourners during the funeral. The confrontation appears to have stemmed from the prominent placement of a Hamas flag on Kharousheh’s body. Hamas is the Palestinian group to which Kharousheh belonged, but the Palestinian Authority is controlled by Fatah, Hamas’s rival.
There are also divisions on the Israeli side. Weekend, Opponents of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demonstrated against his plan to weaken the independence of the judiciary for the ninth consecutive week. They received welcome support. when dozens of air force reservists He said he would not attend a training day this week in protest against the government, prompting an angry response from Netanyahu and his supporters.
(READ: Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians, according to figures)
Earthquakes, a month later
A month ago, people went to sleep in their houses, not knowing the destruction that a magnitude 7.8 earthquake it was about to lead to southeastern Turkey and northwestern Syria. More than 52,000 people died and, for hundreds of kilometers, cities, towns and villages were devastated. Our attention has been focused on the survivors and their attempts to resuscitate their lives and rebuild their homes. they could possibly use the 1999 Marmara earthquake recovery planin northwestern Turkey, as a model for reconstruction, but at the same time, the people of Antakya, the historic Antioch, they are concerned that the rush to rebuild ancient sites threatens the city’s identity and heritage.
And then there’s all the care that’s still needed to people with something called crush syndrome, a debilitating condition that can affect people who spend hours under the weight of rubble. A two-year-old boy named Nour has already lost one leg to the condition and is at risk of losing the other.
(READ: Young Syrian refugees in Turkey worried about their future after the earthquake)
I also recommend taking the time to read this. Personal account by Al Jazeera reporter Resul Serdar, who has been covering the aftermath of the earthquakes. He describes the horrible despair he has witnessed in the last month, including in his own hometown, Adıyaman, where he was able to meet with his family.
and now something different
In the Zagros Mountains of Iraq, skiing is becoming more popular. A tourism company, VIKurdistan, decided to sponsor a visit by a group of refugees, who came to ski for the first time. As you can imagine, she loved it.
The United States faces calls to deny entry to Bezalel Smotrich, Israel’s far-right finance minister | US Secretary of Defense makes surprise trip to Iraq | Israeli forces kill 15-year-old Palestinian after “shooting him in the back” | Qatar appoints Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani as Prime Minister | Israeli attack puts Aleppo international airport in Syria out of service | international parliamentarians urges to raise human rights in Bahrain in assembly | Online scam swindles Egyptians out of close to half a million dollars | Supreme Leader of Iran promises punishment for poisoning schoolgirl | Syria condemns US general’s visit to territory controlled by Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces | Tunisian opposition defy ban on rally protests | Iran pledges to cooperate on nuclear issues with the IAEA | People in northwestern Syria fear cholera epidemic | Libya approves constitutional changes in step towards the elections |
quote of the week
“The attack came a few days after the Tunisian president spoke. His speech was inciting against us, and the results of it have begun to be seen.” | Nikki Yanga, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo trying to leave Tunisia, after President Kais Saied said migration from sub-Saharan Africa threatens to change his country’s identity. the african union has postponed an upcoming conference scheduled for Tunisia, having previously criticized Saied’s comments.