Turkey blames Syrian group for car bombings
Turkey accuses a group linked to Syrian intelligence of weekend blasts, Sharif claims victory in Pakistan’s historic elections, and surprise candidates challenge Iran’s supreme leader. Today is Monday, May 13, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.
A man checks an apartment in a damaged building at the site of a blast in the town of Reyhanli in Hatay province, near the Turkish-Syrian border, May 13, 2013. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
Finger-pointing follows Syria spillover. Turkey called for international action against Assad after accusing a group linked to Syrian intelligence of being responsible for car bombings that killed 46 people in the Turkish border town of Reyhanli:
The bombings took place as prospects appeared to improve for diplomacy to try to end the war, after Moscow and Washington announced a joint effort to bring government and rebels to an international conference. Officials from Syria’s opposition coalition, in crisis since its president resigned in March, said it would meet in Istanbul on May 23 to decide whether to participate.
Syria denied involvement in the blasts, and authorities have arrested nine Turkish citizens in relation to the bombings. The attacks prompted protests, as some rallied against Turkish foreign policy and others blamed the 300,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey for bringing violence across the border. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday that at least 82,000 people have been killed in the two-year-long civil war, with another 12,500 missing.
Back with backing. Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is set to lead Pakistan’s government again without coalescing with his rivals. Sharif declared victory in a weekend election that marked the first time Pakistan transitioned between civilian governments:
Sharif may not win enough seats to rule on his own but has built up enough momentum to avoid having to form a coalition with his main rivals, former cricketer Imran Khan’s Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). [Sharif] held off a challenge from Khan, who had hoped to break decades of dominance by Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and the PPP, led by the Bhutto family.
Sharif was jailed and exiled after being ousted by a military coup in 1999. He has since waited patiently for his third chance to lead Pakistan, avoiding entanglements with the ruling PPP. Despite election-related violence, 60 percent of eligible voters turned out for Saturday’s election. Sharif’s government must tackle militant violence and corruption, among other challenges. Sharif is expected to focus on privatization and deregulation in order to stimulate Pakistan’s failing economy, and may ask the IMF for another bailout.
Things get interesting in Iranian elections. Two independent candidates running in Iran’s June elections may make Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s job more difficult than he hoped:
Both Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, the nationalist protégé of outspoken President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president and Iran’s best known political grandee, are seen as a threat to the leader’s authority.
Even if they lose, the other candidates could spur public interest in the election and hurt Khamenei’s effort to keep a conservative as president. The Iranian leadership hopes to show off a functional political system to the international community as U.N. sanctions take effect and the country maintains allegiance to Syria’s Assad regime. Yet the last-minute entry of two major candidates highlights the rift between Khamenei – who holds the ultimate authority in Iran – and the president.
Nota Bene: Rescue workers in Bangladesh near the end of their mission as the death toll from last month’s building collapse hits 1,127.
Delicious and nutritious – Eating insects could help fight world hunger, U.N. report finds. (BBC)
Bad “Brexit” – Reuters columnist Hugo Dixon argues that leaving the EU would be the wrong move for the UK. (Reuters)
Jihadi rehab – Former Guantanamo Bay prisoners could be reformed the old-fashioned way. (The Atlantic)
Dangers of democracy – China’s Communist Party warns against Western ideals. (The New York Times)
Abandoned by America – Afghans dependant on U.S. jobs face layoffs as troops withdraw. (The Los Angeles Times)
From the File: