Editor’s Note: A version of this story first appeared in CNN’s Meanwhile in the Middle East newsletter, a three-times-a-week look inside the region’s biggest stories. Sign up here.

Abu Dhabi, UAE

The devastating earthquake On February 6, Turkey was hit by a devastating earthquake. It killed at least 45,000 people and left millions homeless in nearly a dozen countries. estimated at $34 billion – or roughly 4% of the country’s annual economic output, according to the World Bank.

The indirect cost of the earthquake could be even higher, and recovery may be costly. neither easy nor quick.

The Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation estimates that the total cost of the quake at $84.1 billion, the lion’s share of which would be for housing, at $70.8 billion, with lost national income pegged at $10.4 billion and lost working days at $2.91 billion.

“I do not recall… any economic disaster at this level in the history of the Republic of Turkey,” said Arda Tunca, an Istanbul-based economist at PolitikYol.

Turkey’s economy had been slowing even before the earthquake. The government’s unconventional monetary policies caused inflation to skyrocket, further increasing income inequality, and creating a currency crisis which saw the lira losing 30% of its dollar value last year. Turkey’s economy grew 5.6% last year, Reuters reported, citing official data.

Economists believe that the earthquake will make the economic structural weaknesses worse and could impact the outcome of the presidential and parliamentary election. expected in mid-May.

Still, Tunca says that while the physical damage from the quake is colossal, the cost to the country’s GDP won’t be as pronounced when compared to the 1999 earthquake in Izmit, which hit the country’s industrial heartland and killed more than 17,000. According to the OECD the quake impacted areas were responsible for more than 17,000. a third of the country’s GDP.

The provinces most affected by the February 6 quake represent some 15% of Turkey’s population. According to the Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation, they contribute 9% of the nation’s GDP, 11% of income tax and 14% of income from agriculture and fisheries.

“Economic growth would slow down at first but I don’t expect a recessionary threat due to the earthquake,” said Selva Demiralp, a professor of economics at Koc University in Istanbul. “I don’t expect the impact on (economic) growth to be more than 1 to 2 (percentage) points.”

There has been growing criticism of the country’s preparedness for the quake, whether through policies to mitigate the economic impact or prevent the scale of the damage seen in the disaster.

It is still not clear how Turkey will rebuild its economy or provide housing for the newly homeless. It could be crucial in determining the future of Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Analysts and economists predict that he will be a political failure as he seeks another term.

The government’s 2023 budget, released before the earthquake, had planned for increased spending in an election year, foreseeing a deficit of 660 billion liras ($34.9 billion).

The government has already announced some measures that analysts said were designed to shore up Erdogan’s popularity, including a near 55% increase in the minimum wage, early retirement and cheaper housing loans.

Economists say that Turkey’s fiscal position is strong. The country’s budget deficit is less than its economic output. The government has more spending power.

“Turkey starts from a position of relative fiscal strength,” said Selva Bahar Baziki of Bloomberg Economics. “The necessary quake spending will likely result in the government breaching their budget targets. Given the high humanitarian toll, this would be the year to do it.”

CNN reported that Quake-related public expenditure is currently at 2.6% GDP, but could soon rise to 5.5%.

Budget deficits are often plugged by governments using more debt and/or raising taxes. Both options are possible, according to economists. However, post-quake taxation is a sensitive topic in the country and could be risky in an election.

After the 1999 quake, Turkey introduced an “earthquake tax” that was initially introduced as a temporary measure to help cushion economic damage, but subsequently became a permanent tax.

Concerns have been raised in the country about the possibility that the state might have misappropriated those tax revenues. Opposition leaders called for greater transparency from the government regarding the fate of the money. When asked in 2020, Erdogan said the money “was not spent out of its purpose.” Since then, the government has said little more about how the money was spent.

“The funds created for earthquake preparedness have been used for projects such as road constructions, infrastructure build-ups, etc. other than earthquake preparedness,” said Tunca. “In other words, no buffers or cushions have been set in place to limit the economic impacts of such disasters.”

The Turkish presidency didn’t respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Analysts say it’s too early to tell precisely what impact the economic fallout will have on Erdogan’s prospects for re-election.

The president’s approval rating was low even before the quake. MetroPOLL, a Turkish research company, conducted a December poll. 52.1% of respondents didn’t approve of his handling of his job as president. A month prior, a poll found that only a narrow majority of voters approved of his handling as president. would not vote for Erdogan If an election were to be held on this day.

But, last week’s polls showed the Turkish opposition. had not picked up fresh supportReuters reported that Reuters was not able to identify a candidate or provide a concrete plan to rebuild the areas affected by the earthquake.

Most of the provinces most affected by the earthquake voted for Erdogan and his ruling AK Party during the 2018 elections. However, Erdogan and the AK Party won some provinces with a plurality or a small majority of votes.

These provinces are just a few of the many. poorest in the countryThe World Bank states.

Research conducted by Demiralp as well as academics Evren Balta from Ozyegin University and Seda Demiralp from Isik University, found that while the ruling AK Party’s voters’ high partisanship is a strong hindrance to voter defection, economic and democratic failures could tip the balance.

“Our data shows that respondents who report being able to make ends meet are more likely to vote for the incumbent AKP again,” the research concludes. “However, once worsening economic fundamentals push more people below the poverty line, the possibility of defection increases.”

This could allow opposition parties to take votes from the incumbent rulers “despite identity-based cleavages if they target economically and democratically dissatisfied voters via clear messages.”

For Tunca, the economic fallout from the quake poses a real risk for Erdogan’s prospects.

“The magnitude of Turkey’s social earthquake is much greater than that of the tectonic one,” he said. “There is a tug of war between the government and the opposition, and it seems that the winner is going to be unknown until the very end of the elections.”

This report was co-authored by Nadeen Emrahim and Isil Saiyuce.

This article has been amended to reflect that the survey was actually conducted by academics.

Sub-Saharan African countries repatriate citizens from Tunisia after ‘shocking’ statements from country’s president

Sub-Saharan African Countries, including Ivory Coast and Mali, Guinea, Gabon, and Guinea, include Mali, Guinea, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Mali and Guinea. helping their citizens return from Tunisia A controversial statement was made by Kais Saied (Tunisian President), who has led an effort to crack down on illegal immigration to North African countries since last month.

  • Background: In a meeting with Tunisia’s National Security Council on February 21, Saied described illegal border crossing from sub-Saharan Africa into Tunisia as a “criminal enterprise hatched at the beginning of this century to change the demographic composition of Tunisia.” He said the immigration aims to turn Tunisia into “only an African country with no belonging to the Arab and Muslim worlds.” In a later speech on February 23, Saied maintained there is no racial discrimination in Tunisia and said that Africans residing in Tunisia legally are welcome. According to state news agency TAP, 58 African migrants were arrested on Friday for allegedly illegally crossing the border.
  • Why it mattersSaied, who was seized power in 2021 by his foes as a coup, now faces challenges to his rule at his home. Reuters on Sunday reported that opposition figures and rights groups have said that the president’s crackdown on migrants was meant to distract from Tunisia’s economic crisis.

Iranian Supreme Leader says schoolgirls’ poisoning is an ‘unforgivable crime’

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday said that the poisoning of schoolgirls in recent months across Iran is an “unforgivable crime,” state-run news agency IRNA reported. Khamenei urged authorities to pursue the issue, saying that “if it is proven that the students were poisoned, the perpetrators of this crime should be severely punished.”

  • BackgroundAfter reports of rising concern about Iran, there are more concerns that hundreds of schoolgirls In the country, over 900 students have been poisoned in the past few months. On Wednesday, Iran’s semi-official Mehr News reported that Shahriar Heydari, a member of parliament, said that “nearly 900 students” from across the country had been poisoned so far, citing an unnamed, “reliable source.”
  • Why it is important: A local and has been prompted by the reports. international outcry. While it is unclear whether the incidents were linked and if the students were targeted, some believe them to be deliberate attempts at shutting down girls’ schools, and even potentially linked to recent protests that spread under the slogan, “Women, Life, Freedom.”

Iran to allow further IAEA access following discussions – IAEA chief

Following a trip to Iran, Rafael Grossi, director of the agency, said that Iran will provide more access and monitoring capabilities for the International Atomic Energy Agency. The additional monitoring is set to start “very, very soon,” said Grossi, with an IAEA team arriving within a few days to begin reinstalling the equipment at several sites.

  • Background: Prior to the news conference, the IAEA released a joint statement with Iran’s atomic energy agency in which the two bodies agreed that interactions between them will be “carried out in the spirit of collaboration.” Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said he hopes the IAEA will remain neutral and fair to Iran’s nuclear energy program and refrain from being affected “by certain powers which are pursuing their own specific goals,” reported Iranian state television Press TV on Saturday.
  • Why it is important: Last week, restricted IAEA report seen by CNN said that uranium particles enriched to near bomb-grade levels have been found at an Iranian nuclear facility, as the US warned that Tehran’s ability to build a nuclear bomb was accelerating. The president of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Mohammad Eslami, rejected the recent IAEA report, which detected particles of uranium enriched to 83.7% at the Fordow nuclear facility in Iran, saying there has been ‘“no deviation” in Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities.

A new sphinx statue has been discovered in Egypt – but this one is thought to be Roman.

During an excavation mission in Qena (a southern Egyptian city located on the eastern banks the River Nile), the smiling sculpture and remains of a shrine were discovered.

MamdouhEldamaty, an ex-minister of antiquities, and professor of Egyptology at Ain Shams University, stated that the shrine was carved in limestone. It consisted of a platform on two levels. Egypt’s ministry of tourism and antiquities. There was a ladder and water storage container made of mudbrick.

The smiling sphinx statue was carved from limestone in the basin. It is believed to have been built during the Byzantine era.

Eldamaty described the statue as bearing “royal facial features.” It had a “soft smile” with two dimples. It also wore a nemes on its head, the striped cloth headdress traditionally worn by pharaohs of ancient Egypt, with a cobra-shaped end or “uraeus.”

Below the sphinx was discovered a Roman stela, which contained hieroglyphic and deotic writings dating back to the Roman era.

Professor said the statue could represent the Roman Emperor Claudius, the fourth Roman emperor who ruled from the year 41 to 54, but noted that more studies are needed to verify the structure’s owner and history.

The discovery was made on the eastern side Dendera Temple in Qena. There are still excavations ongoing.

In mythologies from ancient Egyptian, Persian, and Greek cultures, sphinxes appear frequently. They are often found in close proximity to tombs and religious buildings.

New sphinx statues are not uncommon to be found in Egypt. But the country’s most famous sphinx, the Great Sphinx of Giza, dates back to around 2,500 BC and represents the ancient Egyptian Pharoah Khafre.

By Nadeen Embrahim

Ziya Sutdelisi, 53, a former local administrator, receives a free haircut from a volunteer from Gaziantep, in the village of Buyuknacar, near Pazarcik, Kahramanmaras province on Sunday, one month after a massive earthquake struck southeast Turkey.

Source link