The Overflow for July 18th

International News

The Attempted coup

At the height of the attempt to overthrow Turkish President Erdogan, the rebel pilots of two F-16 fighter jets had Erdogan's plane in their sights, and yet he was able to fly on. The Turkish leader was returning to Istanbul from a holiday after a faction in the military launched the coup attempt on Friday night, sealing off a bridge across the Bosphorus, trying to capture Istanbul's main airport and sending tanks to parliament in Ankara.

"At least two F-16s harassed Erdogan's plane while it was in the air and en route to Istanbul. They locked their radars on his plane and on two other F-16s protecting him," a former military officer with knowledge of the events told reporters. "Why they didn't fire is a mystery," he said.

A senior Turkish official confirmed to reporters that Erdogan's business jet had been harassed while flying from the airport that serves Marmaris by two F-16s commandeered by the coup plotters but that he had managed to reach Istanbul safely.

Erdogan said as the coup unfolded that the plotters had tried to attack him in the resort town of Marmaris and had bombed places he had been at shortly after he left. Around 25 soldiers in helicopters descended on a hotel in Marmaris on ropes, shooting, just after Erdogan had left in an attempt to seize him.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim had also been directly targeted in Istanbul during the coup bid and had narrowly escaped, the official said, without giving details.


One road leads to aleppo

Syria's army and allied militia fighters seized the only road into the rebel-held part of Aleppo on Sunday, tightening a siege around opposition areas of the northern city, which President Bashar al-Assad has pledged to recapture. Aleppo has been a major battlefield of Syria's civil war since rebels swept into it in the summer of 2012, and an opposition defeat there would mark their biggest setback in five years of conflict.

Around 300,000 people live in rebel-held eastern Aleppo and for months their lifeline has been a highway leading north from the city known as the Castello Road. Nearly two weeks ago, pro-government forces advanced to positions overlooking the road, effectively cutting it off - although some trucks still braved the hazardous route last week, an opposition official in Aleppo said.

Four rebel sources said that the army, backed by militias and fighters from Lebanon's Hezbollah, advanced to the road itself on Sunday. "They've reached the road - it's completely cut," Zakaria Malahifji of the Aleppo-based rebel group Fastaqim told reporters.


Armenian Hostages

Armed men seized a police station and hostages in Armenia's capital Yerevan yesterday, killing one police officer in the process before demanding Armenians take to the streets to secure the release of jailed opposition politicians. Their main demand was to free Jirair Sefilian, an opposition leader whom the authorities have accused of plotting civil unrest. Sefilian was jailed in June over allegations of illegally possessing weapons.

Armenia's security service said one policeman had been killed and two wounded in the violence, but that negotiations were now underway to try to persuade the hostage takers to lay down their weapons.

"Special units remain on the scene in a state of combat readiness, but the order to attack or take any other action has not been given to them," the National Security Service said in a statement. Two hostages had been freed, it said, and "several" hostages remained. The city's deputy police chief, Valery Osipyan, was reported to be among them. Photographs from the scene show the area crowded with white armoured police vehicles.

Though far smaller in scale, suggestions by one opposition politician that an armed uprising was underway stoked speculation that the hostage takers had drawn inspiration from an unsuccessful coup attempt in neighbouring Turkey.

"Dear compatriots. It has started. We ask everyone to take to the streets," one of the men said. "Our demand is to set free all political prisoners ... and for them to be brought here."

Another hostage-taker said: "The police station has been in our hands for three and a half hours. We have captured all the weapons. There is no other way. We appeal to you. Don't leave us here alone. We are doing our bit - you do your bit." However, there were no reports of crowds taking to the streets.

UK News

in the eu and in uk

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would not rule out the possibility of Scotland remaining in the European Union as well as part of Britain, which backed Brexit in a referendum mainly due to voters in England and Wales.

"When you are in uncharted territory you have effectively a blank sheet of paper in front of you then you have an opportunity to think things that may have been previously unthinkable," Sturgeon told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

Asked if Scotland could stay in the EU while England and Wales exited the bloc, Sturgeon said: "I don't think that should be ruled out at this stage."

Voters in Scotland rejected independence in 2014 but 62% backed remaining part of the EU in a referendum on June 23rd in which the majority of voters across the four countries which make up the United Kingdom backed Brexit. Sturgeon said after the Brexit result that a second independence referendum was now a possibility, though she has also stressed that would not happen until it was clear most Scots were in favour of breaking from the United Kingdom.

turgeon also said Prime Minister Theresa May's comments on Friday, saying Britain would not trigger formal divorce talks with the EU until a "UK approach" had been agreed, gives her a strong bargaining position. "That put Scotland in a very, very strong position, that puts me in a strong position."


a generous settlement

Britain's Brexit minister said he wanted a generous settlement for Britons living in the EU and for Europeans in Britain after the country voted to leave the 28-nation bloc, but declined to fully guarantee the rights of EU citizens. David Davis, who has said Britain should begin the formal process of leaving the EU by triggering Article 50 in early 2017, said on Sunday that the rights of EU citizens living in Britain should be agreed along with those of Britons in Europe.

"I want to see a generous settlement for the people here already because they didn't pick this circumstance," Davis told Sky News on Sunday. "We want to do that at the same time as we get a similarly generous settlement for British citizens living in the EU," he said.

Davis said he backed the rights of those living and working in Britain and expected all citizens to be well-protected. However, he suggested that there could be limits if there is an increase in immigration from the 27 remaining EU countries before Brexit occurs.

"One way of dealing with it could be saying OK, only people arriving before a certain date get this protection," he said, declining to fully guarantee the rights of those already in Britain.


No second vote

The majority of Britons are opposed to a second referendum on membership of the European Union and almost half believe new Prime Minister Theresa May should carry on without calling a general election, according to a poll published on Saturday. A survey by ComRes found that 57% of those asked didn't support a second referendum on Brexit against only 29% who did. And a total of 46% thought May should not call an election.

In June, four million people signed a petition to seek a second referendum. But May, who took over as prime minister after David Cameron resigned in the wake of the result, has ruled out a second vote, saying "Brexit means Brexit".

Long Reads

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I learned early that the richness of life is found in adventure.
— William O. Douglas
News sourced from Reuters and AP.