Diplomacy
The United States has urged Turkey to look into the reports of human rights violations and war crimes that took place at the hands of Ankara-backed rebels during Turkey's Operation Peace Spring, while citing the killing of Syrian Kurdish politician Hevrin Khalaf as an example of the incidents. Washington also asked Ankara to investigate the reports of usage of chemical weapons, specifically white phosphorus.
An ISIS militant has been waiting in the buffer zone between Turkey and Greece after being deported by the former and rejected by the latter. The U.S. citizen militant is among the first jihadists that Turkey deported, as the repatriation of ISIS members has become a subject of debate due to the European countries stripping them of their citizenship in order not to take them back.
Two House Republicans and 15 Democrats have urged U.S. President Donald Trump to rescind his invitation of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a letter. "Turkish forces have killed civilians and members of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a critical U.S. partner in the fight against ISIS, and displaced over one hundred thousand people from their homes in northern Syria,” the letter read.
President Erdoğan has slammed the European Union for its decision to sanction Turkey in relation to the country's drilling activities off the coast of Cyprus, saying that the bloc should "reconsider" its attitude towards Turkey, "which keeps ISIS militants in prisons and under control in Syria."
Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey have repeatedly violated an arms embargo on Libya, the United Nations Security Council Libya sanctions committee has said, adding that the three countries "routinely and sometimes blatantly supplied weapons with little effort to disguise the source."
European Union foreign ministers agreed on economic sanctions over Turkey's drilling off the coast of Cyprus, setting up the legal framework for travel bans and asset freezes but leaving names until a later date. The move was slammed by Turkish Foreign Ministry, which said that the country "will not cease to protect our rights stemming from international law and rights and interests of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus."
Renowned Turkish journalist Murat Yetkin, in an article which he penned before President Tayyip Erdoğan departed Ankara for Washington, analyzed possible outcome of the summit between Erdoğan and U.S. President Donald Trump due on Nov. 13. According to Yetkin the worst case scenario would take place if the U.S. Senate has passed a sanctions bill or a resolution on Armenian genocide while Erdoğan is in town.
Former British intelligence officer and a major White Helmets backer James Gustaf Edward Le Mesurier was found dead in Istanbul's Beyoğlu district. His death came just days after Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova accused him of being a spy in the Balkans and the Middle East.
Turkey began deporting foreign ISIS militants that it apprehended in Syria to their countries of origin on Nov. 11, following Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu's remarks last week regarding Ankara's determination in not keeping the jihadists in Turkey. "Turkey is not a hotel for ISIS members of others," Soylu said previously, adding that revoking citizenships of the militants will not prevent Turkey from repatriating them.
Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley has said that the number of U.S. troops to remain in Syria following U.S. President Donald Trump's decision of a pullout will be fewer than 1,000. "But we're not going to go into specific numbers because we're still going through the analysis right now," Milley said in an interview.
As Erdoğan's visit to the U.S. nears, White House National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien said that Ankara should "get rid of" Russian S-400 missile systems, adding that U.S. President Donald Trump will tell Erdoğan "very clearly" that there is no place for Russian military purchases in NATO.
Turkey's presidential spokesman on Saturday received U.S. Syria envoy James Jeffrey and U.S. Ambassador to Turkey David Satterfield in Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul. They discussed the recent developments in Syria, as well as details of President Erdoğan's upcoming visit to the U.S.
Washington prepares for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visit, amid memories of violent events from two years ago, as new State Department memos detail the events that unfolded between protesters and Erdoğan's security detail during the two-day visit in 2017.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that Baghdadi's wife and close family members are under Turkish custody, adding that the apprehensions demonstrate Ankara's resolve in the fight against the jihadist group.
Republican and Democratic U.S. senators asked President Donald Trump's administration on Wednesday to let them know and to respond with sanctions if reports are true that Turkey is violating a ceasefire agreement in Syria. In the letter, the senators cited reports that Turkish forces are operating outside an agreed-upon "safe zone" in northeastern Syria, and that Turkish or Turkish-backed forces are attacking Syrian Kurds near Tal Tamr.
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Ankara's conflict-oriented foreign policy has received the public's support for military operations, but public opinion often fails to translate into votes. While Ankara's "enemy" in military conflict is ever-changing, the northern Syria conflict was revealed to be the only intervention that expanded the government's voter base.
Selahattin Demirtaş writes: You have re-arrested us after six years. You say we are the instigators of the Kobane massacres when we were actually the victims. Do you think you will be able to make us responsible for this through conspiracies based on secret witnesses and be saved from responsibility? You must genuinely believe that the fascism you rely on today will always exist.
Politics
The lira sank to a record low to near 8 versus the dollar after Turkey’s central bank ignored investors' calls to raise its main interest rate. The decision to leave the rate unchanged prompted economists to question the central bank’s commitment to lowering inflation and its independence from the government.
Putin said on Oct. 22 Russia and Turkey disagree about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but emphasized strong ties between Moscow and Ankara. Erdoğan "might seem tough, but is a flexible politician and reliable partner for Russia," Putin said.
A 24-year-old woman was shot dead by her brother in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, news portal Jinnews reported on Oct. 21. Meanwhile, a local court discounted a femicide assailant's sentence on "good behavior," adding to the list of killers that Turkish courts are lenient toward.
Protesting miners from around Turkey were promised a solution within 10 days during an Oct. 21 meeting with Justice and Development Party (AKP) Group Deputy Chairwoman Özlem Zengin. Hundreds of miners started marching to the capital earlier this month, as survivors of the Soma Mining Disaster are yet to receive damages, and workers in Ermenek have 13 months of unpaid wages.
A newly passed legislation will allow ministries to veil their budget items as they submit their budget proposals to parliament. This means that they are no longer obliged to make it public how much is paid to private contractors for projects.
Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Dönmez said on Oct. 22 Turkey will operate the gas field which it recently discovered in the Black Sea on its own, but it may cooperate with foreign firms in terms of detailed work and equipment. The minister's comments came after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Oct. 17 Turkey had raised the estimated reserves of the field to 405 billion cubic meters after finding an additional 85 bcm.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has confirmed that Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems were tested last week, as he also dismissed NATO allies' concerns on the issue. Akar also said that the S-400 won’t be integrated into NATO’s command-and-control infrastructure, but rather "used as a standalone system similar to the use of Russian-made S-300 weapons that exist within NATO."
Turkey's Health Ministry will regulate the administration of flu shots through the online government portal as supplies will fall short of soaring demand. Patients will need to obtain prescriptions from their family practitioner, report to a pharmacy with their prescription. Pharmacies will be supplied shots only after receipt of a prescription.
The AKP and its ally MHP on Oct. 21 rejected the HDP's demand to investigate what really unfolded during the 2014 Kobane protests for the 10th time. The HDP's demand came after dozens of its members, including co-mayors of the eastern province of Kars, were arrested over the protests six years later earlier this month.
A bus assistant in Turkey sexually harassed a 17-year-old passenger on a trip with Metro Turizm vehicle, notorious for sexual assault incidents. The company told an Instagram user who shared footage of the assault that the worker was uninsured, and asked them to remove the video.
Ankara said on Oct. 21 it extended the stay of its Oruç Reis survey vessel and two other ships in a disputed area of the eastern Mediterranean until Oct. 27. Ankara had withdrawn Oruç Reis from last month to "allow for diplomacy" before a European Union summit at which Cyprus sought sanctions against Turkey, but sent it back this month, prompting an angry rebuke from Greece, France and Germany.
Turkey's Constitutional Court has determined that teacher and author Tahir Baykuşak's rights were violated by police who assaulted him during an ID check in Istanbul in 2016. The court said that a proper investigation was not carried out and that the mistreatment of police violated the 17th Article of the constitution.
Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Oct. 21 condemned Turkey for "violating international law" during one-day regional summit. Turkish Foreign Ministry rejected the "baseless" allegations a day later, saying that Ankara will continue to protect "our rights and the Turkish Cypriots' rights with determination."
Turkey's southeastern city of Diyarbakır is nestled in Mesopotamia and has a deep legacy spanning millenniums and civilizations. A recent discovery on the 8000-year-old Amida Höyük archaeological site has unearthed an 1800-year-old heating system that was quite sophisticated for the time.
Turkish police on Oct. 22 detained 14 people in anti-ISIS operations in Istanbul. Police said that 13 of those apprehended are foreigners and their extradition processes began. Sources told state-run Anadolu Agency that some of the suspects were active in Syria.
Refugee children are isolated to a single school in the central Turkish province of Kırşehir, daily Evrensel reported. The school has reached enrollment figures of more than 1,000 elementary and middle school students, all of whom are refugees. Smaller numbers of refugee children coming from relatively well-to-do families were reportedly able to enroll in regular schools alongside Turkish students.
Turkey's three opposition parties have denounced a recent proposal by the AKP for the establishment of the Turkey Environmental Agency, which they claim will pave the way for corruption and nepotism. "It runs parallel or even rival to the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning in terms of its inspection authority but it itself is exempt from both internal and external inspection,” the CHP said.
Turkey's Deputy Interior Minister İsmail Çataklı has said that reports of Ankara mulling re-imposing curfews are "completely baseless." Çataklı's comments came after Reuters, citing a senior official, said that the government is weighing the re-implementation of lockdowns to stem rising coronavirus cases in the country.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's salary has been raised by 8.3 percent to a total of 88,000 Turkish Liras, as part of a budget proposal submitted by the ruling AKP government to parliament. Erdoğan's new salary will be effective as of January 2021. Earlier in October, Erdoğan had urged the believers of Islam to have “patience” in the face of financial problems.
Economy
The Turkish government has said that it "laughs off" boycotts imposed on Turkish products in Saudi Arabia, Morocco and United Arab Emirates. "We laugh off some countries' boycotts against Turkey. They should first learn to stand as independent countries," AKP deputy leader Numan Kurtulmuş said on Oct. 18.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected that income per capita in Turkey would drop to 2005 levels, an annual average of $7,720. The IMF also predicted a five percent contraction in the Turkish economy until the end of 2020, despite Ankara's 0.3 percent growth projection.
Turkey's net international investment deficit grew by $20 billion from the end of 2019 to reach a total $365.8 billion at the end of August. Turkey's international assets shrunk by 10.2 percent to reach $227.4 billion in the same period.
President Erdoğan on Oct. 17 announced the discovery of an additional 85 billion cubic meters of natural gas in the Black Sea, following a similar find in August. As a result of testing, analysis and detailed engineering work, another 85 billion cubic meters were added to the reserves we had discovered. The total amount of natural gas reserves in the TUNA-1 well of the Sakarya Gas Field reached 405 billion cubic meters," Erdoğan said.
Data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) revealed a dip in real estate sales vis-a-vis last year in September, dropping by 6.9 percent for some 136,744 residences sold. Meanwhile, the total volume of sales between January and September was larger than the number in 2019.
Urban Beat
Kurdish artist Zehra Doğan's work that she created during her two prison sentences between 2016 and 2019 are on display in Turkey for the first time. The artist was jailed on terrorism charges and gained international fame after finishing her second sentence and holding a show at London's Tate Modern.
Turkey's Presidential Symphony Orchestra will thrive thanks to the completion of its long-awaited music hall, Conductor Cemi'i Can Deliorman said. Having been in the works for 25 years, the music hall's large auditorium can seat more than two thousand viewers.
Alterations on Istanbul's iconic Hagia Sophia reportedly violated guidelines mandated under the site's "UNESCO World Heritage" status. Converted within two weeks of the legal ruling that allowed Muslim worship, the ancient structure's mosaics were unlawfully covered up, and any work on it was deemed practically impossible, architectural publication Mimarlık Magazine reported.