Diplomacy
A group of protesters held a demonstration at noon on Nov. 13 at Lafayette Park, across from the White House, to protest Turkish President Erdoğan's visit to the U.S. The last time Erdoğan visited Washington, his bodyguards were caught on video beating demonstrators at Sheridan Circle.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli has voiced his support for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, saying that "our prayers are with the Turkish delegation in the U.S." Bahçeli's remarks came hours before the meeting between Erdoğan and Trump, which was described as "meaningful and important" by the MHP leader.
Former National Security Advisor John Bolton has accused U.S. President Donald Trump of making his personal interests guide his foreign policy decisions, as he said that there is a personal or business relationship dictating Trump’s position on Turkey because none of his advisers are aligned with him on the issue. The Trump Organization has a property in Istanbul, and the president's daughter Ivanka Trump attended the opening with President Erdoğan in 2012.
Turkey-backed Syrian rebels have once again been accused of committing human rights violations, with military officials of the U.S. having drone footage that appear to show several incidents that civilians were executed. Some in the U.S. military who saw the American drone footage said the video, combined with initial, internal military reports, raised strong concerns about apparent war crimes, several U.S. military officials said.
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.
Editor's Pick
Soner Çağaptay and Raffaella A. Del Sarto write: The EU often praises itself as a promoter of democracy and regional stability by highlighting the power of its enlargement process to include new members in the “neighbourhood.” Yet in the case of Turkey, its ill-conceived policies may well have contributed to the opposite. A clumsy EU has repeatedly gotten its policy toward Turkey wrong, often inadvertently helping Erdoğan at key points during his rise while creating preventable tensions with Ankara.
Politics
Russia's President Vladimir Putin called on Oct. 29 for an immediate ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh and peace talks that would review proposals from many countries including Turkey.
Turkey's testing of Russian S-400 missile defense systems continues to draw rebuke from the United States. "That risk is very real because they… continue to pursue the S-400. And, of course, with the testing of it, sanctions is very much something that is on the table," R. Clarke Cooper, the top State Department official in charge of arms sales, said on Oct. 28.
A 120-year-old woman living in Turkey's southeastern province of Şırnak has beaten the novel coronavirus. Following a 15-day-long treatment, Menica Encü was discharged from hospital accompanied by applauds on Oct. 28.
A Turkish court has sentenced a high school teacher to 52 years and five months in jail for sexually abusing five of his students. Child advocates have been calling for better sex abuse prevention for years. The Turkish government says it will work on prevention but has not specified how.
Twelve women who were violently detained by police during a femicide protest are now facing charges of battery from police officers, the indictment against them revealed. The women are primarily accused of holding an illegal assembly in protest of the brutal murder of 27-year-old Pınar Gültekin.
Some 210 migrants were discovered inside the trailer of a freight lorry in the eastern province of Van on Oct. 29. Migration officials reportedly searched the lorry during routine road controls and detained the lorry driver. Some 18 of the migrants were children.
Unmonitored and extensive mining in eastern Turkey threatens to destroy all life in the area, an environmental activist said. Divriği Life and Nature Platform has launched a social media campaign to organize locals against mining.
Turkey's parliament, hampered by the increased authority granted to the presidency after the country transitioned to a presidential system two year ago, has received a budget hike of 8.4 percent for the upcoming year. Parliament Speaker Şentop said that parliament had been working at full speed in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some 20 non-governmental organizations slammed Istanbul Municipality's search for a landscape design for the city's iconic Taksim Square on the grounds that the process didn't allow for "democratic input" from all stakeholders. Istanbul Municipality held a design contest for potential landscapes for Taksim Square that yielded three final projects on Sept. 20, which were offered up to the public for voting.
Turkey's largest mining union Maden-İş blasted miners who are members of the organization and who are striking for severance pay as "provocateurs." Laborers from two mines in Turkey have roused up attention recently by marching to the capital of Ankara in protest of being denied their rights.
An ancient church in the southeastern province of Mardin once belonging to Turkey's dwindling Assyrian community is being sold by its owner. The owners of the property gave up on selling the ancient church in 2015 after fierce reaction mounted against the sale, though realtor Mahsum Altay said there were no legal obstacles to selling the church.
President Erdoğan has said that Armenia employed PKK and YPG militants to fight against Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh. "They say, 'You're sending foreign militants to Azerbaijan from Syria.' I told Mr. President [Putin] that around 2,000 PKK and YPG militants are fighting for Armenia with 600$ salary," Erdoğan said, to which Putin reportedly responded by saying, "I don't know about that."
AKP spokesperson Ömer Çelik deemed CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu's call on First Lady Emine Erdoğan to burn her Hermes handbag following calls to boycott French goods "violence against women." President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had a harsher tone, saying, "If you have the guts, talk about me."
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on Oct. 28 raised the alarm about a 62 percent weekly surge in number of COVID-19 cases in the country's most populated city Istanbul, describing the infection rate as "frightening." "If we don’t get the situation in Istanbul under control, the outbreak will spiral out of control,” Koca said in a press conference, following a meeting of the government's science board.
Turkey's opposition Good (İYİ) Party leader Meral Akşener urged the president to respond to "adolescent-like European leaders with statesmanship" instead of the "same adolescent attitude." The chairwoman's comments are in reference to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's brawl with French President Emmanuel Macron over the latter's strong stance against "Islamist separatism."
A new metro line running between Istanbul's neighborhoods of Mecidiyeköy and Mahmutbey on the European side opened on Oct. 28. Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu announced that the new line will be at the service of Istanbulites for free for the first 10 days.
Ali Babacan, the former deputy prime minister from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) who founded the opposition DEVA in March, has said that critics of the government are being arrested or left unemployed for just expressing their opinions. “People are being detained just for speaking, for writing. You cannot consider a thought a crime. If you want just one opinion to persist in this country, this cannot happen. It is impossible,” Babacan said.
Turkish police on Oct. 28 detained five people over their alleged involvement in the suicide bombing that shook Hatay's İskenderun district earlier this week. İskenderun was rocked by an explosion on Oct. 26 which the authorities blamed on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
President Erdoğan has asked whether people believe that "anyone can't bring home the bread." "Do you believe that anyone can't bring home the bread? Do you think such thing exists in Turkey? Turkey is ahead of many countries in terms of its minimum wage and salaries," Erdoğan told reporters, adding that Turkey is "at a great spot" when one looks at data from the IMF and OECD.
Economy
Turkey's Central Bank Governor Murat Uysal said that it has no target on exchange rates as the lira touched a new low for a third day on Oct. 28. Uysal said higher import costs, with the lira tumbling to record lows beyond 8.3 to the dollar, rising food prices and strong credit growth were the main causes of the upward revision.
Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak has said that the economy is growing despite the tumbling Turkish Lira. The lira weakened to a record low on Oct. 26, hit by investor unease over the central bank's decision last week to keep its policy rate on hold and various sources of geopolitical concern. Strains in ties with the United States, a row with France, a dispute between Turkey and Greece over maritime rights and the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh have all unsettled investors.
Turkish monthly inflation was almost four times greater than the official rate in September, according to a new model developed by a group of academics and researchers. According to the independent Inflation Research Group (ENAG)'s first published finding, consumer prices in September rose 3.61 percent from the previous month, compared to the official Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK)'s calculation of 0.97 percent increase.
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.
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.
Urban Beat
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.
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.