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.
Independent lawmaker and former ambassador Öztürk Yılmaz said that Turkish parliament will recognize U.S. killings of Native Americans as genocide if it's put to vote. "I think it would be approved if it's put to vote in parliament. I hope that such a process begins and we'll discuss it," Yılmaz said, as he echoed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's earlier remarks on the issue.
The Trump administration does not recognize the Ottoman Empire's treatment of Armenians as genocide despite the U.S. Senate passing a resolution on the matter, State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement on Dec. 17. "The position of the administration has not changed. Our views are reflected in the President’s definitive statement on this issue from last April," Ortagus said.
CHP lawmakers have placed dissenting opinions to a deal on military cooperation between Turkey and Libya, saying that the deal would pave the way for the transfer of paramilitary powers from Turkey to Libya, as well as those in Syria's jihadist hub Idlib, under "consultancy services" and "coordination of intelligence and operational activities." Libya's stability can't be restored if Turkey continues to take sides in the war, they also said.
The New Democracy government in Greece has been preparing for the worst in the country's relations with Ankara, with Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis ramping up security in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean, especially off Crete, to prevent close contact with Turkey. The move comes following a deal signed between Turkey and the Tripoli government that infuriated Greece.
Pentagon chief Mark Esper has said that he needs to talk to his Turkish counterpart in order to understand President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's remarks on shutting two strategic bases down. "It has not been brought up to me before. The first I heard of it was reading it in the papers as you just mentioned and so I need to talk to my defense counterpart to understand what they really mean and how serious they are," Esper said.
Murat Yetkin writes: At the moment, the state of Turkish-American relations looks like two train wagons heading towards each other on the same railway at full speed. The trains are not of the same size or strength. Both of their respective machinists don’t seem to have the intention to hit the brakes. So it’s safe to say there is really something to worry about it.
Former MI6 Agent Gustaf Edward Le Mesurier's death was the result of a fall, according to the forensic report. Only sleep-aids were found in Le Mesurier's blood, and no foreign DNA was found on the tissue. Le Mesurier was found dead in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district early on Nov. 11 and an investigation was launched into the incident.
A source from the Pentagon said that the United States is trying to maintain constructive dialogue with Turkey, amid a fresh row over President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's remarks on shutting down two U.S. strategic compounds. "We see our troops in Turkey as a symbol of our decades-long responsibility to help protect our NATO ally and strategic partner," Sputnik cited the source as saying in response to Erdoğan's threat to shut down the military base in İncirlik and the Kürecik Radar Station in protest of the Armenian Genocide bill that was passed in the U.S. Congress.
Some 63 bar associations have jointly released a statement saying that the recent deliberations on a bill seeking to pardon men sentenced for child sexual abuse -- on the condition that they are married to their victims -- are "worrisome." The bar associations fear that such measures will normalize rape and forced marriages.
Syrian President Bashar Assad said that the United States is selling to Turkey oil seized from Syrian oil wells and accused Ankara of being Washington's “accomplice” regarding this business. "The Turkish regime plays a direct part in selling the oil, previously with al-Nusra, later with ISIS and today with the Americans," he said during an interview with the Chinese television channel Phoenix.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened to close down an American air force base and a radar station in Turkey in the event that Washington imposes sanctions against Ankara due to its recent military incursion into northeastern Syria. “If necessary, we'll close İncirlik and Kürecik,” Erdoğan said, referring to the İncirlik Air Force Base in the southern province of Adana and the Kürecik Radar Station in the southeastern province of Malatya.
The European Union should spend more than the 6 billion euros already allotted to fund Syrian refugees in Turkey, and speed up the flow of that money, said Faruk Kaymakcı, the Turkish deputy minister for foreign affairs. “As long as the crisis is there we have to work together. The 6 billion euros will not solve the problem when it is finally all spent,” Kaymakcı told reporters in Istanbul on Dec. 14.
Turkey has repatriated four more foreign national militants to the U.K., the Interior Ministry said. The ministry did not specify which group the fighters belonged to, but in recent months the ministry has been stressing the return of ISIS militants.