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World Week Ahead: Assessing Turkish Elections, Gates’ Tenure

BY Larisa Epatko  June 13, 2011 at 10:15 AM EDT

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Umit Bektas/AFP/Getty Images)TURKEY | Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) won nearly 50 percent of the vote in Sunday’s parliamentary elections — the best showing since it came to power in 2002 — but now it must deal with a constitutional overhaul and growing refugee crisis from neighboring Syria.

Pro-Kurdish candidates fared well in Turkey’s elections as well, nearly doubling their seats in parliament.

Despite its successful showing, the ruling party’s tally of 326 out of 550 seats fell just short of the 330 seats it needed to call a referendum to redraft the constitution, so Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pictured at right) will have to garner a consensus to seek its revision. Turkey has been operating with a constitution imposed by a military junta in 1982.

Erdogan also will have to deal with an influx of Syrians at the border who are trying to escape the fighting in their country between anti-government protesters and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Watch: After Erdogan and his wife cast their ballots, celebrations ensue when supporters of the ruling AKP learn of the party’s gains, while people in Kurdish-populated regions protest the vote results in this Reuters video.

We’ll have more on what comes next for Turkey, in addition to tracking:

AFGHANISTAN | A coalition task force is preparing a set of recommendations on battlefield practices to reduce the number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan. The report is expected to come out this week.

Read: The Wall Street Journal has more on the task force’s upcoming recommendations and describes the scope of the problem:

“Overall, Afghan insurgents are responsible for 85 percent of 1,653 civilian casualties in Afghanistan this year, according to military numbers shown to the Wall Street Journal. But coalition forces have been responsible for a 5-percentage-point increase in civilian deaths and injuries this year compared with the first five months of 2010.”

GATES | Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who will retire at the end of this month, is scheduled to hold his final press conference on Thursday. We’ll take the opportunity to ask a number of military analysts to assess Gates’ tenure on his handling of the Defense Department and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Watch: Former Assistant Secretary of State Richard Burt and retired Army Lt. Gen. David Barno discuss Gates’ recent comments about NATO’s “dim” future if other coalition allies don’t pull their own weight.

SAUDI ARABIA | A demonstration is expected Friday to protest restrictions on women drivers in Saudi Arabia. Women there must take taxis or be chauffeured by a man related by marriage or blood.

Read: Farzaneh Milani, chairwoman of the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Virginia, writes in an opinion piece for the New York Timesabout the impact the ban on women drivers is having on society.

We’ll check in with a GlobalPost reporter in Saudi Arabia to see how the protests are being received.

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