Diplomacy
Turkish journalist Murat Yetkin has penned 13 questions regarding the planned 'safe zone' and the 120-hour ceasefire agreement between Ankara and Washington regarding the former's military offensive in northeastern Syria.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said that they had withdrawn from the border town of Ras al Ain under a U.S.-brokered ceasefire deal. Ras al Ain is one of two towns on the Turkish-Syrian border that have been the main targets of Turkey's offensive to push back Kurdish fighters and create a more than 30 km (about 20 miles) deep "safe zone" inside Syria.
Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has praised the country's coast guard for its ability to limit irregular migration, while also calling on Europe to stop criticizing Turkey's military offensive in northeastern Syria.
Russia promised Turkey that the Syrian Kurdish militants will not be in the territories across the border, Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu has said, adding that Ankara will not oppose if the YPG is removed by Russia and the Syrian army.
After nine days of hectic diplomacy and military offensive in Syria, Turkey and the U.S. reached a ceasefire deal that includes the withdrawal of YPG militants. The deal was hailed by both Ankara and Washington, with Trump saying, 'Millions of lives will be saved.'
Two days after the emergence of Trump's letter to Erdoğan, the Turkish President said that the necessary actions will be taken when the time is right. "It's not our priority today," he said.
In a letter obtained by a Fox Business reporter, U.S. President Trump urges Turkish President Erdoğan to halt the country's offensive in northern Syria. The letter included phrases outside diplomatic niceties, such as, "Don't be a tough guy" and "Don't be a fool."
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar rejected claims that the army has chemical weapons, saying that the YPG will carry out attacks with chemical weapons and then blame it on Turkey.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Turkey to end its offensive in Syria, saying that Germany won't deliver any weapons to Turkey under the current conditions.
As tensions between Turkey and the U.S. mount, whether President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will meet with the U.S. delegation remains unknown, with contradictory statements coming from the Turkish side.
A week after Turkey launched its military offensive in Syria's northeast, the Russian-backed Syrian army entered Manbij, as the U.S. troops withdrew from the city. Commenting on the offensive, a Russian envoy said that Ankara and Damascus were in talks.
U.S. President Donald Trump imposes sanctions against Turkey, whilst also urging the country to end its offensive in Syria, a decision that was applauded by Congress.
In response to Western criticism over Turkey's operation in northeastern Syria, Erdoğan questioned the West's loyalty to Turkey as a partner in NATO. "Are we partners in NATO, or not? Or did you allow a terror organization to join NATO without my knowledge" Erdoğan said her asked German chancellor Merkel.
Spain, Austria and Belgium joined Germany and France on Oct. 14 in backing an arms embargo on Turkey over its Syrian offensive but top exporter Italy had yet to declare its position, leaving an-EU wide ban in doubt. Paris and Berlin suspended weapons sales to Turkey, a NATO ally, over the weekend, while Finland and the Netherlands said earlier they were also stopping arms exports, in what EU diplomats said could be a first step in a series of EU sanctions aimed at persuading Ankara to halt the fighting.
As Turkey readies its troops for a military operation in Syria's north, U.S. President Donald Trump raised eyebrows in Ankara by threatening to 'destroy and obliterate' the Turkish economy. Hours later, Trump went on to praise the cooperation between Ankara and Washington, as the date of the meeting between two presidents was announced.
Editor's Pick
duvar englis podcasts
Duvar English’s editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel and pollster Can Selçuki are joined by Robert Bosch Academy's Galip Dalay to discuss the impact of Turkish government's recent domestic policy moves on Ankara's international relations. They look for answers to whether there is any possibility that Turkey's relations with the West might change for the better any time soon.
Taner Akçam writes: The regime’s bold stroke vis-a-vis Hagia Sophia should not be seen as stemming from desperation. Rather, it is simply meant to relay the not-so-subtle message of the path to be followed by the "New Republic", and that message is that the “annihilationist tradition” of the old regime, inherited by the Republic’s founders, will be retained in the era to come.
Politics
A prominent health expert has said that about 3,000 people are believed to have been infected with the COVID-19 virus during the prayers held at Istanbul's Hagia Sophia on July 24. "There were about 1,000 asymptotic patients there, based on forecasts. If we think of the transmission rate, those patients have infected 2,000-3,000 others. I believe that gathering will increase the cases in Istanbul,” Assoc. Pro. Dr. Üner said on Aug. 8.
Turkey's parliament speaker Mustafa Şentop, from the ruling AKP, has said that there is no need for Turkey to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, an international accord designed to protect women. Şentop's comments came as the AKP is considering whether to pull Turkey out of the convention, alarming campaigners who see the pact as key to combating rising domestic violence.
Turkey's Arab Alawite community has celebrated the Gadir Hum holiday amid concerns of rising cases of coronavirus in Turkey. Mehmet Ali Dönmez, who organized Gadir Hum festivities in the Samandağ district of Hatay, which is prominently Arab Alawite, said that the celebration of the festival is in defiance of cultural assimilation.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has voiced support to Finance Minister Berat Albayrak amid the country's worsening economy. Several AKP officials, including Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, defended Albayrak on Twitter via using the hashtag "We stand with Berat Albayrak."
Amnesty International has called on the Turkish government to "fully implement" the Istanbul Convention rather withdraw from it. The prominent organization said that Turkey's withdrawal from the convention would have "disastrous consequences" for millions of women and girls in the country.
Rights organizations will take the case of Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal -- who have been on a hunger strike since April 5 to support their demand for a fair trial -- to the Constitutional Court. The move comes after an Istanbul court in July denied the release of Timtik and Ünsal, despite a medical report that says it is not “suitable” for the two lawyers to remain in jail.
Some 64 percent of Turkish people are of the belief that it is not safe to allow schools to reopen on Aug. 31 amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to a recent survey conducted by Metropoll. The survey also looked at how supporters of different political parties view this issue, finding that 53 percent of AKP voters do not support the government's planned move.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that the country's economy is on the fast lane, downplaying Turkish Lira's sharp fall against dollar and euro. "No one should try to deceive the public. We're stronger than yesterday," he said. While experts voice concern on the situation, Erdoğan claimed that the "zigzags" in the economy can be seen around the world following the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Two people were detained for shooting the car of a restaurant owner over late takeaway delivery in the southern province of Adana on Aug. 6. E.K. and his friend Ö.T. opened fire on the restaurant owner with a pump rifle and blank cartridge following an argument.
The Turkish Interior Ministry on Aug. 7 announced that coronavirus quarantines are currently underway in 83 residential areas in 32 provinces. The areas are home to some 54,053 people. The ministry's comments came as the country's daily COVID-19 cases have recently shown a sharp rebounding trend, with more than 1,000 daily jump in successive days.
The Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK) has protested a factory run by the tuna fish company Dardanel in the province of Çanakkale after it imposed a closed-circuit working system on some of its employees after they contracted coronavirus. The workers have been forced to stay in quarantine dormitories since July 26.
Congolese opposition politician Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko has disappeared in Ankara after flying to the Turkish capital for health treatment in late July. He boarded a plane belonging to Qatar and landed at Ankara's Esenboğa airport on July 30, and has not been heard from since.
Employees of Turkish Airlines (THY) have been facing an uncertain future due to the salary crisis that has been ongoing for five months in the company. According to Sözcü, talks between the THY and Hava-İş, the Turkish union representing a large number of workers in the civil aviation sector, have failed to reach a conclusion.
Turkish steeplechaser Gülcan Mıngır has been banned for two years after a re-test of her samples from the London Olympics in 2012 revealed the presence of a prohibited substance, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) said on Aug. 6. The 31-year-old's ban has been backdated to Feb 3, 2020.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Aug. 6 that return of Germans from holiday destinations such as Western Balkan countries and Turkey is increasingly contributing to the rise in new coronavirus cases. Spahn also said that everyone arriving from high-risk areas will be tested for the disease unless they can produce a negative test certificate no more than two days old.
Former MHP deputy Cemal Enginyurt has said it was him who started the legal process that led to the cancellation of a dissident-led congress back in 2016 aiming to challenge the leadership of Devlet Bahçeli. “When Meral Akşener won the congress with 715 votes on June 19, it was me who took the case to the court. It was me that led to the cancellation of the congress, which they had won," Enginyurt said on Aug. 5.
Good (İYİ) Party leader Meral Akşener has said that the majority of the Turkish people want to return to a parliamentary system, adding that the current "freakish" system can't govern the country. "Turkey's economy has worsened, the youth doesn't have hope to find jobs, agriculture and industry have collapsed. The people are suffering from not being able to find food and fear being unemployed," she said.
Twitter has announced that it is introducing a new label for government officials and state-backed media organisations to help users make informed decisions. The labels will initially be added to officials representing the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – Russia, China, France, the UK, and the US, the company said.
Turkish women did four times as much household and care work as men during lockdowns aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), research supported by the United Nations Development Programme showed on Aug. 6. The gender gap in paid work narrowed under lockdown as a result of changes in work patterns and a fall in men's paid work hours, the research found.
Economy
The Turkish Lira has devalued drastically against the dollar, reaching almost seven liras on the dollar. Ankara has invested almost $60 billion in currency interventions in 2020 to no avail, Financial Times reported on July 28.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on July 15 that companies involved in construction of the TurkStream pipeline will be subject to the U.S. penalties unless they stop their works. “It’s a clear warning to companies. Aiding and abetting Russia’s malign influence projects will not be tolerated. Get out now or risk the consequences,” he said.
The Turkish Petroleum Refineries Corporation (TÜPRAŞ) ranked as Turkey's largest industrial business with 87.9 billion liras in annual production revenue. The oil company was followed mostly by automotive producers.
On the second anniversary of Turkey's transformation into a presidential system, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has prepared a report detailing how the country stands in the ensuing years, finding that the Turkish lira has lost four times its value since 2007.
Urban Beat
Mois Gabay writes: Do you think the Camondo family will be included in the Beyoğlu Culture Road project conducted by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism? What about Arif Ergin’s “Tekvin” novel, in which he imagined that there would be a “Camondo Museum” one day?
Artifacts from Istanbul's ancient Hagia Sophia will be displayed in a nearby public building that will be transformed into a museum. Formerly used as a land office, the late-19th-century building in historical Sultanahmet will be converted on the president's orders.
Luke Frostick writes: Edanur Kuntman’s Tales from Behind the Window has been nominated for an Eisner Award. If she wins, she will be the first Turk to win an Eisner. The story is a piece of creative-nonfiction and its main narrative is drawn from the memories of Kuntman’s grandmother growing up in the Çarşamba district of Samsun.