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June 28, 2016
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On Monday, Turkey restored full diplomatic relations with Israel, a former ally estranged for six years, and apologized to Russia for shooting down a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian border last November. There are financial reasons for both acts of rapprochement: Restoring ties with Israel cleared the way for natural gas deals that will move gas from Israel to Turkey, and from Turkey to Europe; and Russian President Vladimir Putin had demanded the apology before he would consider lifting sanctions on the import of Turkish goods and exports of Russian tourists to Turkey.

Last Nov. 24, Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian Su-24 in the mountainous Turkish-Syria border area. The pilot was killed, and a Russian marine was shot dead in a helicopter rescue attempt. On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sent Putin a letter apologizing for the downing and informing "the family of the deceased Russian pilot that I share their pain and to offer my condolences to them," according to a statement from Erdogan's spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov added that "the letter states, in particular, that Russia is a friend to Turkey and a strategic partner, with which the Turkish authorities would not wish to spoil relations."

Turkish-Israeli ties were greatly strained after Israel launched a military raid in 2010 on Turkish aid ship the Mavi Marmara, en route to Gaza, killing 10 Turkish activists. Erdogan has since alienated Europe over his hardline on Syrian refugees and increasingly authoritarian policies, the U.S. over Turkey's attacks on Kurdish fighters aiding the U.S. to battle the Islamic State, and Iran by demanding the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"Turkey had been going through a deep sense of isolation for the past few years, having switched from its famous 'zero problems with neighbors' policy to a place where they had no neighbors without problems,” Asli Aydintasbas at the European Council on Foreign Relations tells The New York Times. "This was the loneliest point in the history of the republic — Qatar and Saudi Arabia looking like the government's only real friends." Erdogan is also dealing with a domestic insurgency and economic downturn, she added. "At the core of the decision to mend ties with Israel and Russia is an existential need for survival." Peter Weber

1:18 p.m. ET
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President Trump is considering further revisions to refugee admission procedures, Reuters reported Friday evening, including a plan to suspend a program that allows refugees to settle with family members already living in the United States. In the new proposal, incoming refugees would be delayed by additional scrutiny before being admitted to rejoin their families.

Also on the table is increased use of security advisory opinions (SAOs) for refugees coming from high-risk countries. SAOs are in-depth security checks that are currently mandatory for male refugees from some countries; the new plan would apply them to women as well. Refugee fingerprinting requirements may be expanded, too.

The Department of Homeland Security declined a Reuters request for comment as the proposed changes are still under review. Bonnie Kristian

12:39 p.m. ET
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Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Saturday announced Madrid will remove Catalan President Carles Puigdemont from his position, suspend Catalonia's regional autonomy, and impose direct national rule to suppress the Catalan independence movement.

This is an unprecedented step under the current Spanish Constitution. Rajoy is invoking the document's Article 155, which says if a region "acts in a way that is seriously prejudicial to the general interest of Spain," the national government can, with majority Senate approval, "take all measures necessary" to stop it.

Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras labeled the move "totalitarianism," and Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau called it "an attack on everyone's rights and freedoms." Puigdemont led a large protest in Barcelona Saturday afternoon.

In a referendum earlier this month, 90 percent of Catalans who turned out to vote endorsed independence from Spain. The vote was held despite intense opposition from Madrid, including widespread reports of police brutality against would-be voters. Catalan leaders have sought international assistance to negotiate a peaceful resolution, but so far their calls have gone unanswered. Bonnie Kristian

12:15 p.m. ET

President Trump indicated on Twitter Saturday he will most likely release 3,600 top-secret files about the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy this coming week, with the caveat that new information could lead him to change his mind:

The Oct. 26 release deadline was set by a 1992 law. Trump can miss that deadline if he certifies that publishing the papers at that time would cause "an identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or conduct of foreign relations [that] outweighs the public interest in disclosure." Members of both houses of Congress from both major parties have sponsored legislation urging Trump to go ahead with publication. Bonnie Kristian

11:10 a.m. ET

Georgia state Rep. Betty Price (R), who is an anesthesiologist and the wife of former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who resigned last month, asked in a committee hearing Tuesday whether some sort of quarantine of people with HIV might be a viable option for limiting the spread of HIV/AIDS. Price's comments come as the surgeon general reports a new HIV epidemic could be brewing in places like Georgia.

"If you wouldn't mind commenting on the surveillance of partners, tracking of contacts, that sort of thing — what are we legally able to do?" Dr. Price asked Dr. Pascale Wortley, director of the Georgia Department of Public Health's HIV/AIDS Epidemiology Surveillance Section. "I don't want to say the 'quarantine' word, but I guess I just said it," she added, noting that "public dollars are expended heavily in prophylaxis and treatment of this condition, so we have a public interest in curtailing the spread."

Wortley replied that Georgia already has a program called "Partner Services that involves talking to people who are newly diagnosed with HIV and asking them to list out partners" so either the patient or a public health worker can contact them. Watch the rest of the exchange below; the relevant section runs from around 1:02:00 to 1:05:30. Bonnie Kristian

10:43 a.m. ET

President Trump spoke at length about his social media habits in a Friday transcript of a forthcoming interview with Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo. He said his Twitter account is an important way to spread his views, manipulate lawmakers, and keep the public's attention — among other purposes. The interview will air on FBN Sunday and Monday, but in the meantime, read below seven of Trump's most noteworthy Twitter-related comments from the conversation. Bonnie Kristian

1. "Tweeting is like a typewriter — when I put it out, you put it immediately on your show."

2. "You have to keep people interested."

3. "You know what I find; the ones [who] don't want me to [tweet] are the enemies."

4. "I was in a faraway land, and I was tweeting. And I said very little. I said, like, 'I'm in Italy right now,' you know, for the summits. So, 'I'm in Italy right now and the weather is wonderful.' And one of the dishonest networks said, 'Donald Trump is on a Twitter stomp again.'" (See the Italy tweets here.)

5. "When somebody says something about me, I am able to go 'bing, bing, bing' and I take care of it."

6. "I doubt I would be [president] if it weren't for social media, to be honest with you."

7. "[My tweets] are well crafted. I was always good student." [Donald Trump, via FBN]

10:20 a.m. ET
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After the Senate on Thursday approved the GOP budget plan 51-49, House Republicans are considering whether to pass the Senate version as-is to accelerate their tax reform agenda. "There's a very clear possibility that the House clears this next week," House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said of the Senate legislation Friday.

The conservative House Freedom Caucus on Friday agreed to back the Senate bill if House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will first pledge to schedule a floor vote on taxes by the second week in November. Ryan has said he intends to complete tax reform by "early November," but many on the Hill consider that schedule deeply unrealistic.

President Trump addressed the situation on Twitter Friday and Saturday, decrying Democratic opposition, complaining of inadequate media coverage, and promising historic tax cuts soon. "Budget that just passed is a really big deal, especially in terms of what will be the biggest tax cut in U.S. history," he wrote Saturday morning. "MSM barely covered!" Bonnie Kristian

8:31 a.m. ET
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Secretary of Defense James Mattis spoke with members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Friday, a conversation in which Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reports Mattis said he is mulling expanded U.S. military action in Africa in the wake of the attack in Niger that killed four U.S. soldiers.

"The war is morphing," Graham said. "You're going to see more actions in Africa, not less; you're going to see more aggression by the United States toward our enemies, not less; you're going to have decisions being made not in the White House but out in the field."

Meanwhile, other lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have argued the Niger incident highlights the need to reconsider the broad war-making authority the executive branch has claimed in the post-9/11 era. "The many questions surrounding the death of American service members in Niger show the urgent need to have a public discussion about the current extent of our military operations around the world," said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). Likewise, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said present threats necessitate "a sober national conversation about Congress' constitutional role in authorizing the use of military force." Bonnie Kristian

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