Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Sunday, December 15th, 2019

Islamists Hope to Stay On Top as Tunisians Choose Parliament

Islamists Hope to Stay On Top  as Tunisians Choose Parliament

TUNIS, Tunisia Tunisians were electing a new parliament Sunday amid a tumultuous political season, with a moderate Islamist party and a jailed tycoon s populist movement vying to come out on top of a crowded field .
Security was tight for the vote, with some 100,000 police officers and soldiers patrolling 4,500 polling stations, notably along the Algerian and Libyan borders .
Economic concerns are paramount to voters in this North African nation on the Mediterranean Sea, which kicked off the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011 and built a democracy but is still struggling with high unemployment and attacks by extremists .
Voters are choosing among nearly 16,000 candidates from more than 200 parties to fill the 217 seats on the Assembly of People s Representatives. Preliminary results are expected by Thursday .
It will be tough for a single party to win a majority for the five-year term, although the Islamist party Ennahdha and the Qalb Tounes spokesman Mustafa Bali tweeted Saturday .
Erdogan s announcement came just two days after U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, discussed tensions in the region .
Secretary Esper and Minister Akar acknowledged the progress made on the implementation of a security mechanism in northeast Syria and affirmed the mechanism as the way to secure the border in a sustainable manner, ensure the Global Coalition can prevent an ISIS resurgence, and remain fully committed to the close coordination of military operations ,” Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement .
Turkey views the People s Protection Units, or YPG, as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which has waged an insurgency against Turkey for 35 years. Ankara and Washington consider the PKK a terror group but they diverge on the issue of the YPG, which forms the core of U.S.-backed Syrian forces against ISIS and is loosely linked with the SDF .
In August, Turkey and the U.S. reached a deal to carry out joint patrols and move Syrian Kurdish fighters away from the border. However, both nations disagree on the size of the area to be monitored by joint patrols, and also on who is to oversee it. Turkey wants its soldiers to monitor an area as deep as 19 miles. The U.S. and the Kurdish forces have identified an area only as deep as 9 miles deep .
Three joint U.S.-Turkish ground patrols have run since launching almost a month ago. Kurdish forces have moved away from the frontier and set up new local forces to control border posts, and dismantled fortifications considered a threat by Turkey .
We gave all warnings to our interlocutors regarding the east of the Euphrates and we have acted with sufficient patience ,” Erdogan said at the opening of his AK party s annual camp, as reported by Reuters . “We ve made our preparations, we ve completed our operation plans, given the necessary instructions .”
The U.S European Command tweeted Saturday apparently in response to the Turkish threats saying the U.S. and Turkish militaries were already working «to address Turkey s legitimate security concerns
«The Department of Defense will be transparent as each phase of the security mechanism is implemented it said .
Turkey s state-owned Anadolou Agency reported late Saturday that nine trucks loaded with armored vehicles and a bus carrying military personnel had been sent to a border district near the demilitarized zone. The convoy was sent to reinforce military units based on the Syrian border, according to Anadolou, and it was unclear whether they were tied to potential operations in Syria .
Erdogan said his country wants to send 2 million Syrian refugees now in Turkey to the area it has called a «safe zone But the Syrian Kurdish group administering the area said only those from the area can return a number likely to be much smaller. (Fox news )