Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson has said that the Donald Trump administration needs to take measures against the U.S. Congress' moves that target Turkey or otherwise the ties between the two countries will worsen. Ömer Çelik made the remarks while commenting on Trump's recent approval of a $738 billion defense bill which includes provisions calling for sanctions against Turkey.
An Istanbul court has ordered the confiscation of part of the assets belonging to the dissident writer Ragıp Zarakolu as part of an ongoing trial. The court said the purpose of the confiscation order is to "have Zarakolu come to the hearings" as the writer has been living in Sweden since 2013.
Russian-backed Syrian forces have gained ground in Idlib after a week-long renewed assault against the last rebel enclave in Syria's northwest, gaining more than 20 villages and hilltops and coming close to one of 12 Turkish observation posts in the northwest. Syrian troops neared the observation post outside the village of Surman from three sides and an activist collective has said the government troops were now about 2.5 miles from the Turkish post.
President Erdoğan has said that Turkey cannot handle a fresh wave of migrants from Syria, adding that more than 80,000 people were currently on the move from Idlib. "If the violence towards the people of Idlib does not stop, this number will increase even more. In that case, Turkey will not carry such a migrant burden on its own," Erdoğan said, adding that Turkey was doing everything possible to stop bombardments in Idlib.
Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor said on Dec. 23 five people had been sentenced to death and three more to jail terms totaling 24 years in the case of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in October last year. Saudi Public Prosecutor Shalaan al-Shalaan, reading out the preliminary verdict in the trial, said Saud al-Qahtani, a former high-profile Saudi royal adviser, had been investigated but was not charged and was released.
Unknown assailants set the car of a Turkish consulate employee ablaze early on Dec. 23 in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, amid tense relations between the two countries over several issues, including mineral rights in the Aegean Sea to Cyprus. "There was extended damage," a Greek official said about the incident that took place around 3:30 am. There were no injuries.
Group knocks down cardboard boxes to pretend they’re demolishing Great Wall of China in support of Uighurs
A group led by the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (İHH) in the southeastern province of Urfa knocked down several cardboard boxes to pretend that they're demolishing the Great Wall of China in support of Uighurs. Also on the same day, thousands of protesters marched in support of China's Uighurs in Istanbul and voiced solidarity with Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil after the furore caused by his criticism of China's policies.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has slammed new U.S. sanctions against the Nord Stream-2 and TurkStream pipelines, saying that a state with a national debt of $22 trillion forbids creditworthy countries from developing the real sector of their economies. "The American ideology of life did not withstand global competition," Zakharova said.
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.