Meanwhile in Ankara, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demonstrates yet another play in the "soft-to-hard" dictatorship book as he's claiming victory in a Sunday referendum to abolish parliament and give both executive and legislative power to himself.
President Tayyip Erdogan declared victory in a referendum on Sunday to grant him sweeping powers in the biggest overhaul of modern Turkish politics, but opponents said the vote was marred by irregularities and they would challenge its result.
Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast and its three main cities, including the capital Ankara and the largest city Istanbul, looked set to vote "No" after a bitter and divisive campaign.
Erdogan said 25 million people had supported the proposal, which will replace Turkey's parliamentary system with an all-powerful presidency and abolish the office of prime minister, giving the "Yes" camp 51.5 percent of the vote.
That appeared short of the decisive victory for which he and the ruling AK Party had aggressively campaigned. Nevertheless, thousands of flag-waving supporters rallied in Ankara and Istanbul in celebration.
"For the first time in the history of the Republic, we are changing our ruling system through civil politics," Erdogan said, referring to the military coups which marred Turkish politics for decades. "That is why it is very significant."
Under the changes, most of which will only come into effect after the next elections due in 2019, the president will appoint the cabinet and an undefined number of vice-presidents, and be able to select and remove senior civil servants without parliamentary approval.
There has been some speculation that Erdogan could call new elections so that his new powers could take effect right away. However, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek told Reuters there was no such plan, and the elections would still be held in 2019.
If there was still somehow any doubt that last year's comically bad abortive coup was being used to turn Turkey, an EU member and US NATO ally, into a full dictatorship, that went up in flames last night. Opposition lawmakers are still planning to challenge the vote, but my guess is after all is said and done that Erdogan will be the last one standing in this game.
Also please note that Turkey's constitution can be changed and the legislative branch abolished by a simple majority referendum, and Erdogan is the guy counting the votes. He's eligible to remain in power until 2029, unless you know, the goalposts are moved again. Who's going to stop him? In just ten months, Erdogan has wrapped up near total power at a speed that even Vlad Putin would be impressed by.
This won't be good for anyone in the neighborhood, starting with of course Turkish Kurds. We'll see where Erdogan goes, but my guess is he's the new dictator for life on the block and he has both an EU and NATO freebie card in his pocket.