Diplomacy
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu is set to visit Iraq on Jan. 9, a day after Iran launched missiles at U.S.-led forces in Iraq, retaliating for the U.S. drone strike on an Iranian commander. "Within the context of our intensified diplomatic efforts to alleviate the escalated tension in the aftermath of recent developments in the region, Çavuşoğlu will pay a visit to Iraq," a statement released from the Foreign Ministry read.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and the foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany and Italy warned of the "escalation of violence" in Libya and said the EU rejects Turkish plans to send troops to the North African country. Turkey intervening with military personnel would "increase the external interference" in Libya's conflict, they said.
There will be no end to the war in Libya if we do not stop it, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said, adding that Ankara is opposed to mercenaries coming to Libya. "Our aim is to establish a ceasefire as soon as possible and to contribute to the revival of the political process and to accelerate it,” Çavuşoğlu said, adding that the only means of solution is the political solution.
The news of Qasem Soleimani's death shocked Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, adding that the assassination was carried out a couple of hours after he held a phone call with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump. "It's very clear that Qasem Soleimani proved himself and was exceptionally valued by Khamanei," Erdoğan said, adding that "this won't end here, there will be a follow-up process."
Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Haftar has urged all Libyans to take up arms against Turkish troops. While declaring "jihad," Haftar said that the issue is no longer a question of liberating Tripoli from militias, but of "facing a colonizer," accusing Ankara of wanting to "regain control of Libya." "We accept the challenge and declare jihad and a call to arms," he also said.
As Iran continues to mourn the death of top commander Qasem Soleimani, the Islamic Republic's President Hassan Rouhani urged the countries in the region to unite against the U.S. "If we do not take unanimous stance against America’s mistakes, a great danger will threaten our region," he told President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who pointed to the need for restoring stability and security in the region.
The European Union has expressed its “strong concern” about the Turkish parliament's decision to authorize military deployments to Libya. It has also called on Turkey to abide by the U.N. arms embargo on Libya.
Turkish Foreign Ministry has said that Turkey is gravely concerned over escalating tensions between the United States and Iran following the killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander Qasem Soleimani by a U.S air strike in Baghdad. It said the U.S. move will escalate “mistrust and instability” in the region. The ministry also issued a travel advisory on Jan. 3, asking Turkish citizens to delay trips to Iraq amid the strained tension in the country.
Ankara lashed out at Israel, Greece and Cyprus for signing a controversial natural gas pipepline agreement on Thursday. “Any project that ignores Turkey as well as the equal rights of the Turkish Cypriots will not be successful," Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson said. Despite Turkey's objections the project has received the support of the U.S. the EU.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump discussed the situation in Libya in a telephone call on Jan. 2. The White House issued a readout of the phone call afterwards, saying: "President Trump pointed out that foreign interference is complicating the situation in Libya.”
Greek President Pavlopoulos wished Happy New Year to Turkey, urging it to live in peace with Greece. He warned that “Greece is ready to face any threat against our homeland – Greece will face them prepared and united.”
Turkey's parliament has backed a motion on sending troops to Libya as part of a deal reached between Ankara and the internationally-recognized Tripoli government. While the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) voted in support of the motion, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Felicity (Saadet) Party and the right-wing İYİ (Good) Party voted against it.
An Istanbul court has ordered the arrest of five suspects as part of an investigation into ex-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn's transit through Turkey after fleeing Japan. Meanwhile, Turkey’s MNG Jet has confirmed that two business jets it operates for charter flights were used by Ghosn to stage his daring escape.
Turkey may hold off from sending troops to Libya if forces loyal to eastern commander Khalifa Haftar halt their offensive against the Tripoli government and pull back, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Jan. 1. The Turkish parliament will hold a meeting to vote on a draft motion on Jan. 2 for sending troops to Libya.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said that the government doesn't rule out the risk of Turkish troops engaging in close combat with eastern Libyan troops loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar. "The risk exists in the worst case scenario," Çavuşoğlu said in his meeting with CHP officials, who in return said that all scenarios must be taken into account before sending Turkish soldiers there.
Editor's Picks
Ahmet Murat Aytaç writes: The recent inhumane attack against migrant workers that took place in the Mazıdağı district of Sakarya should be analyzed within the framework of economic oppression. No matter what triggered the assaults, the general tendency in Turkey right now is to deny the ethnic dimension of the conflict.
duvar englis podcasts
In this week's episode, Duvar English Editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel hosts American political scientist Wendy Pearlman to talk about her latest book "We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria," which was recently published in Turkish. Pearlman spoke to hundreds of Syrian refugees, collecting human stories from one of recent history's biggest humanitarian crises.
Politics
A Turkish court has sentenced Halis Bayancuk, who is described as the leader of ISIS in Turkey, to 12 years and six months in jail. Bayancuk, who goes by the name Abu Hanzala, has been detained several times before in Turkey, but only to be freed later because of a lack of evidence or problems involving the charges against him.
Gli the Hagia Sophia cat has fallen ill two months after the site was converted into a mosque and will live away from people in a private room. Caretakers of the 16-year-old cat, who was born at Hagia Sophia, previously warned worshippers to not overwhelm Gli after footage of them taking pictures of Gli with flashes and feeding him unhealthy food emerged on social media.
Islamist cult leader Ahmet Mahmut Ünlü has said that he is ready to name a total of 150 Salafi associations taking up arms as part of their preparations to fight in Turkey. "I've made a list of these associations and in which provinces they are located. If the prosecutors summon me and ask me what I know, I'm ready to name at least 150 of them," a journalist cited Ünlü as saying.
İYİ Party leader Meral Akşener has slammed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for "giving the youth a massive prison," as she commented on the unemployment figures and the economy. "You gave them unemployment, hopelessness and depression," Akşener said. Your gift to the youth is a country that they don't feel belonging to and that they can't breathe in," she added.
AKP Group Deputy Chair Bülent Turan has praised President Erdoğan for "making" French President Macron tweet in Turkish. "Macron tweeted in Turkish and said that he is ready for dialogue. The name of the man who made a French President tweet in Turkish is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan," Turan said. Erdoğan also responded to Macron's gesture, saying that Turkey intends to listen to all sincere calls and make room for diplomacy.
Turkey has strongly condemned a Greek daily for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın deeming the move "a provocation." Another government official to condemn the headline was Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who said that the headline "will remain as a document of shame" in the history of the Greek press.
The HDP has said that its MYK member Serhat Aktemur was abducted in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır by individuals claiming to be National Intelligence Organization (MİT) members. Aktemur said that the three individuals in question threatened to kill him by saying, "If we see you around, we'll shoot you."
Turkish paraglider Hasan Kaya took to the skies in southern Turkey with a bed pretending to sleep. Kaval has previously attached a metal-framed red leather sofa with wheels and a television to a parachute and took to the skies in Turkey’s southwestern Ölüdeniz neighborhood.
Some 40 medical chambers affiliated with the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) have released a joint statement reiterating their support for the organization. “We are fortunate to have our professional organization that prioritizes and defends the right of public health, and does not compromise when it comes to scientific and free thinking," the chambers said, following MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli's call for the TTB's closure.
Since early summer, forest fires have been raging in the Cudi Mountains in Turkey's southeastern province of Şırnak amid claims that the blazes erupted due to deliberate military operations in the area. Ecologist Asrın Keleş from the People's Democratic Congress (HDK) said that it was abundantly clear that the fires did not erupt due to natural causes. "We received information that the forests were being shot with gunfire at night,” Keleş said.
A Turkish court sentenced former co-chair of Democratic Regions Party (DBP) Sebahat Tuncel to 11 months in prison on charges of "insulting" the president, because she said Erdoğan was "an enemy of women and Kurds."
Turkey's Court of Cassation, the top appeals court, has found a male employee at fault for using the women's toilet at the store where he was working at. The court rejected the employee's demand for a compensation after he was fired from his job.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has determined that dozens of firms and restaurants in Turkey use fake ingredients in their products to cut down on costs. With the Turkish lira continuing to decline in value as the country experiences a serious economic downturn, some food producers and restaurants are cutting on costs and cutting corners, and deceiving their customers in the process.
Several Turkish citizens have sent petitions to the parliament, raising their concerns about the safety of 5G technology. The parliament's committee on petition has asked the issue to the Information Technologies and Communication Authority (BTK) and was told that Turkey was “working to produce the 5G infrastructure locally.”
Bursts of steam rising from Mount Nemrut have raised concern among locals, amid speculations that the dormant volcano can become active again if triggered by earthquakes. “There are many fault lines arund Mount Nemrut. If these fault lines are ruptured, theoretically a [volcanic] movement can occur in Mount Nemrut. This is always a possibility,” Prof. Dr. Aydın Büyük Saraç said.
Enis Berberoğlu's lawyer has called for the reinstatement of his client's deputy status after the Constitutional Court ruled that the former CHP lawmaker's rights were violated when he was dismissed from parliament earlier this year.
President Erdoğan has said that the government is preparing to introduce new measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, since "people have not complied with the rules." The virus infections began increasing after Ankara loosened restrictions on public activity, starting in June. Critics have also accused the government of hypocrisy with regards to the measures, pointing out that social distancing measures were being overlooked in several occasions, such as the rallies of the AKP.
Islamic communities that are known to have close ties to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have recently speeded up efforts to establish their own foundations. On Sept. 17, two more such foundations have been established, one of which has close ties to the İsmailağa community, while the other has close ties to pro-government KİHMED.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sept. 18 Turkey was saddened by news that Libya's internationally recognized Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj wants to quit next month. "A development like this, hearing such news, has been upsetting for us," Erdoğan told reporters in Istanbul, adding that Turkish delegations may hold talks with Sarraj's government in the coming week.
Various rights groups have said that human rights violations recorded in prisons have spiked during the COVID-19 outbreak. As a recent example of the rights violation, the groups said that authorities had confiscated several personal belongings of a group of inmates during their transfer to two newly opened Diyarbakır prisons.
The mother of a murder suspect was found dead with a single bullet to the back of her head on Sept. 17. Her son, a suspect in his girlfriend's death, her husband and the family's attorney blamed her death on TV host Müge Anlı because she had said the mother had "failed to raise a son."
Economy
Turkey's state-owned Halkbank has urged a judge to dismiss a U.S. indictment accusing the bank of helping Iran evade American sanctions. At a hearing in Manhattan federal court on Sept. 18, a lawyer for Halkbank said its status as a Turkish “instrumentality” shielded it from prosecution because of sovereign immunity.
Turkey's unemployment rate rose to 13.4 percent. and participation edged up in the May-July period in which a coronavirus lockdown was lifted and a ban on layoffs remained in place, data showed on Sept. 10, painting a clearer picture of the pandemic's fallout.
Turkish Airlines (THY) observed a drop of almost 65 percent in the number of August travelers compared to the year before. Domestic flights saw a smaller drop of 47.1 percent, while international flights shrank by 75.4 percent, THY said.
Urban Beat
The 48th Istanbul Music Festival will be held online, streaming pre-recorded performances in historical venues. Starting on Sept. 18, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) will make available the performances that honor composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
Ali Demir writes: So the property of the local non-Muslims collapsed, and what happened? Nothing! The whole country is now composed of non-local foreigners. The greedy tailor apprentice that murdered his master could not sew a jacket, and will never be able to.
The tomb and gold jewels of a woman dubbed the "Carian Princess" can now be seen in the Aegean province of Muğla's Bodrum Castle. Recovered in 1989, the body is thought to belong to a woman in her 40s.
Turkey's news agenda has focused on "renovations" that resulted in dramatic results, often adding incoherent elements. Most recently, footage of "renovation" in Istanbul's Galata Tower had shown workers drilling into original walls.