Turkey's parliament on Dec. 21 voted 269-125 in favor of a security and military cooperation deal signed with Libya's internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) last month. A senior U.S. State Department official described the maritime agreement between Ankara and Tripoli as "unhelpful" and "provocative."
A National Libyan Army forces naval combat vessel seized a Grenada-flagged ship with a Turkish crew on Dec. 21 in Libyan territorial waters off the eastern city of Derna and towed it to Ras El Hilal port. It was not immediately clear what the ship was carrying. Turkey has been backing the Libyan Government of National Accord led by Fayez al-Serraj as it fights off a months-long offensive by Khalifa Haftar's forces.
The United States will not deliver F-35 fighter jets to Turkey due to the latter's decision to purchase the Russian-made S-400 missile systems, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has said. “They have accepted the S-400s which means they won’t receive the F-35s,” Esper told reporters at the Pentagon on Dec. 20.
U.S. President Donald Trump has announced his approval of a massive $738 billion defense spending bill that calls for sanctions against Turkey over its purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems. The bill includes a prohibition on transferring the fifth-generation F-35 joint strike fighter, or its parts, to Turkey and calls for Trump to implement sanctions on Turkey over the acquisition under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.
Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chairs Sezai Temelli and Pervin Buldan met with U.S. Ambassador to Turkey David Satterfield in the party's headquarters in the capital Ankara on Dec. 19, where they discussed relations between Turkey and the United States, as well the latest developments in the region. HDP deputy chair Hişyar Özsoy was also present during the meeting that took place as a courtesy visit.
The controversial Kanal Istanbul project could jeopardize Montreux Convention, former chief of staff İlker Başbuğ said. Başbuğ noted that in the case of a change in conditions, which this project would create, member states could annul or choose not to abide by the convention.
Allegations that Turkey used white phosphorus in northern Syria during Operation Peace Spring must be investigated, U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has said, while criticizing James Jeffrey, U.S. Representative for Syria Engagement, for failing to follow up on statements he made during a House Foreign Affairs hearing on Oct. 23, when he said he was “looking into” allegations of chemical weapons use against civilians.
Russia is very concerned by the prospect of Turkey sending troops into Libya, Interfax reported, citing a Russian Foreign Ministry source, who also said that the security deal signed between Turkey and Libya's internationally recognized government raises many questions for Russia. Hours later, Erdoğan said that Turkey can't remain silent against "mercenaries" like Russian-backed Wagner that support the forces of Khalifa Haftar in Libya.
Libya's Tripoli-based U.N.-recognized government on Dec. 19 activated a new pact for military cooperation with Turkey as it faces an offensive by the eastern-based Libyan National Army forces led by Khalifa Haftar.
Greece has decided to buy a total of five armed drones from the United States and Israel after Turkey's move to deploy its own armed drones to northern Cyprus, The Times reported on Dec. 18. The newspaper quoted Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos as saying that the drones could be used to “immobilize” their Turkish counterparts should they enter Greek airspace.
Turkey's Foreign Ministry is working with German authorities about a Turkish student's death at a Germany train station. Mert Çokluk's family has said that their son might have been a victim of a murder due to a confidential computer program he was working on, whereas the German authorities ruled the case as a suicide.
Turkey is allowing senior Hamas operatives to plot attacks against Israel from Istanbul, The Telegraph reported citing transcripts of Israeli police interrogations with suspects. The Turkish government has offered Hamas safe harbor in Istanbul, the daily said, even as Arab states such as Saudi Arabia have distanced themselves from the group and moved closer to Israel.
A Turkish court has issued a warrant against former German Green Party deputy Memet Kılıç over insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in an interview he gave to online news website ABC published with the title "Charge of Genocide against Erdoğan: The Banana Republic treatment" on July 12, 2017. During the first hearing of the case that was held in the absence of Kılıç in the capital Ankara on Dec. 17, Kılıç's lawyer said that his client's defense must be taken in Germany.
The U.S. Senate has passed a defense spending bill that includes a handful of anti-Turkey measures over Ankara's purchase of S-400 missile defense systems. The bill included a prohibition on transferring the fifth-generation F-35 joint strike fighter, or its parts, to Turkey and calls for Trump to implement sanctions on Turkey over the acquisition under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that money gained from the Syrian oil fields should be used to fund Turkey's plans to establish refugee towns in a planned “safe zone” in northern Syria. “Let's together extract the oil from those oil wells and then by executing these projects in that terror region, let's settle these people who are currently refugees in their houses and schools that we build," he said.