Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Victoria Clark
Monday, June 25, 2018, 2:58 PM

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won a sweeping victory in Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday, reports the Wall Street Journal. The June 24 elections garnered international attention as the world waited to see whether Erdogan’s opponents could end his 15-year-long grip on power and stop his proposed constitutional changes that will now vastly expand his presidential authority. Erdogan won 52.5 percent of the vote. His strongest opponent, Muharrem Ince of the secular Republican People’s Party, won 30.6 percent. According to Reuters, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe announced that Erdogan and members of his party used their offices to secure an unfair advantage over the other candidates. This conclusion coincides with reports of voter fraud throughout the country. When Ince was asked if he would call for a recount in light of the allegations, he said he would not: “Did they steal? Yes. Did they steal 10 million votes? No.”

The U.S. denied a former secretary-general of NATO access to the United States because he visited Iran in 2013, reports the New York Times. Javier Solana, who led the organization from 1995 to 1999, said this is the first time his electronic application for travel authorization was denied. Solana traveled to Iran in 2013 to attend the presidential inauguration, but he did not hold any political position at the time. During his time as European foreign policy chief, Solano played an integral role in the Iran nuclear deal negotiations. He said he will now attempt to apply for a visa to the United States.

Zimbabwe’s president survived an explosion at a campaign rally on Monday, according to Reuters. Two people died and 49 were injured in the attack. Police did not confirm a motive, but news outlets are referring to the explosion as an assassination attempt. Emmerson Mnangagawa became president in November of 2017 after Robert Mugabe was forced from power in a coup. The presidential and parliamentary elections are set to take place on July 30, and officials say the explosion will not delay the vote. According to CNN, another explosion occurred in Ethiopia on June 23 at an event attended by prime minister Abiy Ahmed. More than a hundred people were injured, and one person died. It appears the two explosions are unrelated.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported a surge of illegal drone use along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the Washington Post. Officials suspect that traffickers are using the drones to spot weakness along the border. At least one vehicle successfully carried tens of thousands of dollars worth of drugs across the border. According to James Thom, a Customs operations director, the U.S. is struggling to address the issue: “To date, I don’t know that we’ve successfully been able to detect and track drone activity.”

North Korea may relocate its long-range artillery guns away from the Korean border, reports the Associated Press. South Korea’s prime minister made the announcement Monday amid talks to address tensions on the peninsula. Many experts have called this move significant, as it hints that North Korea may be willing to take further steps to denuclearize the region. Others say that removing the artillery is essentially meaningless given the number of weapons the North has in its possession.

Jared Kushner discussed the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan during an interview with a Palestinian newspaper. Kushner, who serves as one of his father-in-law’s top advisers on the Middle East, is currently on a multinational trip to the region. The interview underscored the United States’ desire to address economic concerns in the region, as well as the “traditional core issues” that separate Israel and Palestine. Kushner responded to the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, who recently called Kushner’s visit a “waste of time and bound to fail.” Kushner criticized Abbas for his unwillingness to engage: “To make a deal both sides will have to take a leap … I am not sure President Abbas has the ability to do that.” When pressed, Kushner suggested leaders should consider letting the people vote on the agreement. He urged both Israelis and Palestinians to “show your leadership that you support efforts to achieve peace.” The Times has the full interview transcript.

A new group of federal prosecutors joined Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s case against Russian trolls at the Internet Research Agency, reports the Washington Post. People familiar with the matter say this decision will allow the new attorneys to continue the prosecution whenever the special counsel’s other work ends. The new prosecutors will take over a case that is expected to take years, given that many of those indicted are Russian citizens who will never be extradited. Mueller’s is preparing for the July trial of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort on bank- and tax-fraud charges.

The New York Times offered an in-depth account of how one of its reporters had her records seized as part of a leak investigation into a former Senate staffer. Reporter Ali Watkins engaged in a three-year personal relationship with James Wolfe, a former Senate staffer who has been charged with three counts of lying to the FBI about his contact with reporters. The Times’ story outlines a complicated relationship that frequently crossed the line between personal and professional. More than three dozen people were interviewed for the story, but both Watkins and Wolfe declined to comment.

ICYMI: Last Weekend on Lawfare

Stephanie Leutert explained who is crossing the U.S. border and their reasons for coming.

Harry Graver summarized the Supreme Court’s ruling in Ortiz v. United States.

Jen Patja Howell posted the latest Lawfare Podcast which featured former CIA and NSA director Gen. Michael Hayden.

Gerald Steinberg reviewed Israel’s policies for funding non-governmental organizations.

David Kris laid out the implications of the Carpenter ruling for foreign intelligence surveillance.

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