Diplomacy
The al-Shabab militant group claimed responsibility for the deadly truck bomb attack of Dec. 28 in Mogadishu and said that the target was a Turkish convoy and the militias guarding them. The group has accused Turkey of training Somali forces and for "taking over economic resources" in Somalia. "The Mujahedeen hit the convoy and inflicted heavy losses on the Turks and the apostate militias who were protecting them," it said.
Killer of Turkey's then-Los Angeles Consulate General Kemal Arıkan was released on parole, prompting criticism from Ankara. "Hampig Sassounian has regrettably been approved for release on parole on Dec. 27, 2019 in a trial in California," a statement released by the Foreign Ministry read. Sassounian gunned down Arıkan at a red light in Los Angeles in 1982 - an act that was deemed as terrorism by President Reagan.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said that if Athens and Ankara cannot solve their dispute about maritime zones in the Mediterranean they should turn to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague to settle the disagreement. Mitsotakis' remarks came after Turkey and Libya’s Tripoli-based government signed a maritime agreement last month, which gives Ankara access to a contested economic zone across the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) will not back a motion on sending troops to Libya as part of a deal reached between Ankara and the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA). "What business do we have in Libya?" CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu asked, adding that the ruling Justice and Government Party (AKP) wants to go to Libya to support the Muslim Brotherhood.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has said that any attack on the observation posts in Syria's Idlib will be responded to. "In no way will we evacuate 12 observation points heroically carrying out their mission of ensuring the ceasefire; we are not going to leave," Akar said. The minister also commented on the possibility of Turkey sending troops to Libya under a new security pact if the country’s GNA requests it.
A day after a devastating truck bombing that killed 90 people, including two Turkish nationals, in the Somalian capital Mogadishu, a Turkish military cargo plane landed in the city to evacuate people badly wounded. The plane also brought emergency medical staff and supplies, which had been transferred to a Turkish-run hospital in Mogadishu. Ten injured Somalis and the bodies of two dead Turks were loaded on the plane on Dec. 29.
Italian Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte has said that he talked to President Erdoğan recently to urge him to refrain from military intervention in Libya, arguing that this would lead to civilians casualties and neither side was likely to win. "We must be united, we cannot allow actors even much more distant from Libya, to position themselves, settle their role in the Libyan scenario and claim the primacy for any solutions," Conte said.
Ankara-backed Syrian rebels will be joining troops and naval forces that Turkey will deploy to Libya to support the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) to defeat strongman Khalifa Haftar, Bloomberg reported on Dec. 27. In a deepening proxy war, Turkey aims to send its navy to protect Tripoli, while its troops train and coordinate forces of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, according to a senior Turkish official.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan’s Kanal Istanbul project to build an artificial artery connecting the Black Sea to the Marmara Sea, parallel to the Bosporus, would not change the Montreux Convention establishing the legal status of the Black Sea, Aleksei Erkhov, the Russian Ambassador to Ankara, said on Thursday. Talking to Turkish journalist Murat Yetkin, Erkhov suggested that such a channel would not change the traffic situation much.
Bouthaina Shaaban, a political and media adviser to Bashar al-Assad who often speaks on his behalf, said “our lands should be totally and completely liberated from foreign occupiers, whether they are terrorists, or the Turks or the Americans.” She also warned of "operations" against American troops guarding Syrian oil fields, saying the U.S. has "absolutely no right" to Syria's oil.
As Syrian and Russian forces have intensified their bombardment of targets in Idlib, Trump on Dec. 26 warned Moscow, Damascus and Tehran against killing civilians, while also praising Turkey for its efforts to stop the "carnage." "Russia, Syria, and Iran are killing, or on their way to killing, thousands if innocent civilians in Idlib Province. Don’t do it! Turkey is working hard to stop this carnage," Trump said in a tweet.
Libya’s internationally recognized government has formally requested Turkey's military support, the Turkish presidency's communication director said on Dec. 27. A day earlier, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had said Turkey would send troops to Libya at the request of Tripoli as soon as next month. "We will put the bill on sending troops to Libya on the agenda as soon as parliament opens," Erdoğan had said on Dec. 26.
Slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's fiancee Hatice Cengiz has urged the international community to act against the death sentences given in the case into the journalist's murder to prevent the truth from being covered up by Riyadh. Branding the ruling as "unjust and invalid," Cengiz noted that the motive of the murder remains unclear since closed hearings were held during the trial.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan arrived in Tunis on Dec. 25 in an unannounced visit for talks with Tunisian President Kais Saied, the Turkish presidency said. In a statement, Erdoğan's office said he was accompanied by Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, as well as National Intelligence Agency (MİT) chief Hakan Fidan. It provided no further details on the content or purpose of the talks.
Trump administration opposed a bill that would sanction Turkey for its purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems, arguing that the legislation would “effectively terminate U.S.-Turkey defense trade," a seven-page memo obtained by The Daily Beast showed. The bill would “treat Turkey as a pariah in NATO, feeding a narrative that the Russian Federation would likely seek to amplify and exploit," the administration said.
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.