Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has said that the municipality will withdraw from a cooperation protocol regarding the controversial Kanal Istanbul project, which has been criticized for possibly paving the way for “unearned income” at the expense of the environment, adding that a workshop on the project will be held by the municipality in the first week of January.
Former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu turned down an offer by opposition right-wing Good Party (İP) leader Meral Akşener to transfer members to Future Party if they failed to fulfill the requirement for the minimum number of members to join the general election. "If we're in a difficult situation, we will meet with everyone and form a democratic coalition," Davutoğlu said.
PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan's lawyer İbrahim Bilmez has said that they are prevented from meeting with their client on İmralı Island, adding that they've been filing two applications per week since the beginning of 2019, but only five of them were approved. "Strong political and legal struggle is required for this system to be abolished. As long as this isolation system is not removed, arbitrariness will continue," Bilmez said.
Saliha Aydeniz has resigned from the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) and joined its sister party Democratic Regions Party (DBP). As a result, the number of political parties represented in Turkish parliament has risen to 10.
Filiz Buluttekin, Sur co-mayor from the HDP, was detained early on Dec. 20, with police reportedly laying her, her son and her husband on the ground during the raid and pointing guns at them. State-run Anadolu Agency said investigations were being conducted against Buluttekin on charges of terrorism propaganda, insulting the Turkish people, the government and parliament.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has confirmed that Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, the mother of Qatar Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, purchased land from the area on which Kanal Istanbul will be built. "Why are they bothered when the mother of Qatar Emir makes such a purchase? There are places that the Emir himself bought here. We opened the doors for it," Erdoğan said.
A newly surfaced footage showing Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül kissing the hands of a religious cult leader has stirred debate, with many urging the government to quit its relations with cults. While the minister said that the footage is from a time that he wasn't a lawmaker, the issue was slammed in parliament by the main opposition CHP. "Haven't we learned a lesson?" the party's Group Deputy Chair Özgür Özel asked the minister.
Turkey's Interior Ministry has removed from office four more mayors on terror charges and replaced them with district governors. Three of the sacked mayors are from the HDP, whereas the other is from the CHP.
Chanting slogans in support of Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan can't be accepted as a crime if they're not calling for violence, Turkey's top court has said, adding that they are instead within the boundaries of freedom of expression. "Expressing, suggesting or advising thoughts criticizing the way a country is ruled are under the protection of freedom of expression even if they are disturbing for state officials or a significant portion of the society," the court said.
Khaled Khoja, the former head of the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition (SNC), swapped Syrian opposition for Turkish opposition last week via becoming one of the founders of former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu's breakaway Future Party. Khoja, who uses Alptekin Hocaoğlu as his Turkish name, says "I wanted to become part of this reformist [Future] party because it will strive for individual freedoms and rights in Turkey."
Former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş was barred from reading an issue of daily Evrensel that included an interview conducted with him, his lawyer has said. "The reasons behind these bans are arbitrary in almost all prisons. Only the pro-government newspapers are allowed. Different and opposition voices can't enter jails," he tweeted.
Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu said that the sale of lots on the Kanal Istanbul project to the mother of the Qatar Emir was being looked into. "What kind of an estate trade was this? Are we talking about a sincerely nationally beneficial process or are there things we don't know?" said İmamoğlu, adding that when evaluating the financial aspect of the project, Istanbul's priorities must be considered.
İbrahim Burak Oğuz, mayor of the Urla district of the Aegean province of İzmir, has been arrested over alleged links to the Gülen movement. The CHP's İzmir provincial head has criticized the arrest, saying: "There is no chance of FETÖ living in the CHP. We condemn that those who came [to the office] with elections are removed with the hand of the law."
Murat Yetkin writes: Erdoğan’s government has been depriving tens of millions of citizens living in big cities and opted for opposition mayors, from crucial loans to be used on infrastructure. If he aims to punish those who voted in favor of the opposition instead of his candidates, it’s evident that this reaction isn’t working, and is, instead, backfiring.
Former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has unveiled the 143-page program for his newly-launched Future Party. The program vowed to recognize the legal status of cemevis, the worship house of the Alevis, a heterodox non-Sunni faith that accoutns for as much as a quarter of the country's population. Regarding the Kurds, the program vowed to fight against identity-based discrimination