Diplomacy
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.
Turkey's foreign ministry has summoned the U.S. ambassador in Ankara over a resolution passed by U.S. lawmakers recognizing the mass killings of Armenians a century ago as a genocide. The ministry has voiced Turkey's strong criticism of the resolution to David Satterfield.
The U.S. Senate has approved a resolution recognizing early 20th century killings of Armenians as “genocide.” Turkey condemned the measure, with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu saying that the U.S. Senate's move “is not legally binding and has no validity.”
The installation process of the Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems is expected be completed by the spring of 2020, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has said. Akar also said Turkey is in dialogue with its NATO allies, particularly the U.S., to work a solution to the matter.
A U.S. Senate committee voted on Dec. 11 to advance a sanctions bill against Turkey for its offensive in northeastern Syria and purchase of a Russian missile defense system. The Republican-led Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted by 18-4 to send the "Promoting American National Security and Preventing the Resurgence of ISIS Act of 2019" for a vote in the full Senate.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continued to slam the Nobel academy for the second day, calling it a "vampire community" for awarding Peter Handke. "The fact that the Nobel gave the award to this representative of the vampire intelligentsia group shows that a vampire community was formed," Erdoğan said, while also praising Aziz Sancar and Orhan Pamuk in his speech.
A Turkish court ruled on Dec. 11 to keep U.S. consulate employee Metin Topuz in jail as his trial on espionage charges continues. Topuz is accused of having links to the network of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.
Russia, Turkey and Iran are concerned about the increased presence of terrorist groups in Syria's Idlib province, the trio said in a joint statement after talks in Kazakhstan, pledging to coordinate actions aimed at eliminating the militants. Moscow, Ankara and Tehran "highlighted the necessity to establish calm on the ground," the trio said in a joint statement after the talks, also attended by representatives of the Damascus government and the Syrian armed opposition.
Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu has said that Ankara may reconsider İncirlik's status if the U.S. Congress imposes sanctions on the country amid the rift between two NATO allies over Ankara's purchase of Russian S-400 systems. The minister also said that Turkey had a constructive approach towards the U.S. on the issue, adding that the Congress needs to understand that they can't achieve anything through imposition.
The United States has barred a former Saudi diplomat from entering the country over his alleged role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Mohammed al Otaibi was serving as the Saudi consul general in Istanbul when Khashoggi was killed 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
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.