Politics
Aegean Army Commander Lt. Gen. Ali Sivri's aide was detained over his suspected links to the movement of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, which is the group widely believed to have carried out the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt. Aide F.Ö. is accused of having links to one of the Gülenist "imams," identified only as L.Ç.
Turkish opposition parties have said that they would be willing to hold early elections, as they commented on the months-long rumors on snap polls that intensified following MHP leader Bahçeli's "urgent" call to amend political parties law for the continuation of the presidential system, although the main motive is to complicate new parties' efforts of running in elections. They also expect elections to be held in 2021.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that Turkey will soon reveal what "it is doing in Syria and Libya." “What are they saying to us? 'What are you doing in Syria?' 'What are you doing in Idlib?' What are you doing in Libya?' You will very soon understand very well what we are doing here,” Erdoğan said on May 27.
President Erdoğan and MHP leader Bahçeli have stepped out in the public eye for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak. The two leaders took a ferry from Istanbul to Democracy and Freedom Island, also known as Yassıada, for an inauguration ceremony.
Lawyers for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have sued five officials from the main opposition CHP's İzmir provincial organization for what they describe as "insults" to the president. One of the cases refers to CHP councillor Dila Koyurga's social posts from seven years ago, when she was 17 years old.
Future Party leader Ahmet Davutoğlu has claimed that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited the Pelican group, which is said to be consisting of staunch supporters of Erdoğan who are influential in the pro-government media, in their residence. "The coup that was done against me in the party was carried out by Pelican. I saw that there were acts that were carried out upon orders behind it. Mr. President visited them in their residence," Davutoğlu said.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reportedly ordered officials of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to go out on the streets to listen to people's complaints. "You have to be the most careful ones on wearing masks and abiding by social distancing. You'll describe the normalization process to them and listen to their demands," Erdoğan reportedly told the party members.
Former Chief of General Staff Gen. İsmail Hakkı Karadayı, known for his role in ousting the Welfare (Refah) Party from power 23 years ago, died at age 88 in Istanbul on May 26. Karadayı was the Chief of General Staff when military leadership issued a memorandum against the government of Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan on Feb. 28, 1997.
A municipal council member from the AKP has shot the car of a councilor from the CHP in the Kargı district of the northern province of Çorum. "I barely survived," Sonay Ergül said, adding that he managed to escape from the scene of the armed attack, but was caught again to be thrown rocks at.
Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) held an online meeting with main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), recently-founded offshoots of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Islamist Felicity Party (Saadet). Meeting in the context of Eid al-Fitr greetings, the deputies noted that the Turkish opposition must unite to establish a political environment with less polarization and more freedoms.
DEVA leader Ali Babacan has claimed that AKP officials are in a race for gaining personal financial benefits. "The AKP is destroying what it built with its own hands. The reputation and the economy of the country is in ruins. The number of competent people have decreased in the ruling party. Decisions are being adopted without consultations and inside a family," he said.
Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has said that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) continues its duties with "selfless personnel," in an apparent reference to the resignation of Chief of Staff of the Turkish Navy Rear Admiral Cihat Yaycı. "The army is on duty in line with our President's orders. No one should doubt that," Akar said.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli has called for "urgent" reforms in the law on political parties for the continuation of the presidential system. "When the recent developments are taken into account, it's understood that these reforms need to be issued urgently. It can be brought to parliament's agenda when it opens following the coronavirus pandemic," Bahçeli said.
Politicians have exchanged Eid al-Fitr celebrations through video conferences amid a tense political environment in Turkey. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) said it won't exchange greetings with the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), Future Party and the Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA). A similar stance was adopted by its ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which won't talk to İYİ (Good) Party in addition to the aforementioned three.
Main opposition CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu has slammed President Erdoğan for accusing the CHP of “rejoicing” at the broadcasting of the Italian protest song "Bella Ciao" from the minarets of İzmir mosques. Kılıçdaroğlu said that “Worship places are holy” and the CHP does not accept anything being broadcast from mosques other than the calls to prayer and national anthem.
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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.
Politics
Turkey's southernmost province of Hatay was rocked by an explosion on Oct. 26 and authorities said that two militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) were nabbed following the blast. Hatay Governor Rahmi Doğan said that the two militants were a part of a group of four who had flown from the Syrian town of Manbij to the Amanos Mountains in Hatay using paramotors.
A report prepared by a number of civil society organizations regarding trials in Turkey prosecuting conscientious objectors to mandatory military service in the country has influenced the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers to pressure Turkey on recognizing the right to conscientious objection.
President Erdoğan and the newly-elected Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar on Oct. 26 voiced their support for a two-state solution on the divided island of Cyprus. "We believe a two-state solution must now be brought to the table with a realistic proposal," Erdoğan said. Erdoğan also said that he would visit Turkish Cyprus on Nov. 15 and expressed his desire to have a picnic at Varosha.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said that at least 78 Turkey-backed Syrian rebels were killed and dozens more were injured in Russian airstrikes on a military training camp in Idlib. Those targeted were in a camp belonging to Faylaq al-Sham, the monitor said, adding that it was the deadliest attack since the ceasefire came into force in March.
The second indictment against human rights defender and businessman Osman Kavala presents no new grounds to justify his detention and is politically motivated, said Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) in a statement.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has urged the UNESCO to release its report on the restoration works in the iconic Hagia Sophia as soon as possible. Lavrov said that for Russia Hagia Sophia is particularly valuable from the spiritual point of view.
Twenty-eight of Istanbul's 39 districts have registered more than 50 percent increase in COVID-19 infections in the past week compared to the average of this month, said Health Minister Fahrettin Koca. “The increase rate is 50-60 percent in 11 districts, 60-70 percent in 10 districts, and 70-80 percent in seven districts,” he told reporters on Oct. 26.
A Canadian vehicle manufacturer has suspended the delivery of aircraft engines to Turkey in the wake of reports that some of those engines are being used on Turkish combat drones deployed by Azerbaijan in its conflict against Armenian forces over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Former main opposition CHP deputy Enis Berberoğlu's lawyer has appealed to the Constitutional Court following two lower courts' refusal to retry him over violations of his rights to participate in politics and personal freedom.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told a worker to enjoy a nice cup of tea as the latter complained of not being able to bring home bread. Erdoğan said that the worker's plea sounded like a huge exaggeration, evoking infamous French ruler Marie-Antoinette who told the people to eat cake if they can't find bread.
A dynamite blast in the construction of Turkey's first nuclear power plant damaged cars that were parked in the nearby lot, ANKA News Agency reported on Oct. 25. Locals have complained from the use of dynamite in the construction before, saying that the dust harms their crops, and the blasts have even cracked the walls of their homes.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has challenged the United States on a sanctions threat over Ankara’s support to Baku in its clashes with Armenia. "You [Americans] do not know who you are playing with. Go ahead with your sanctions," Erdoğan said. He also slammed the U.S. for not delivering promised F-35 fighter jets.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said that Baku would use Turkish F-16 jets in case of an external attack on the country. "They've been asking me about why Turkish F-16s are here. I'm tired of answering. Everyone knows that the F-16s are waiting. They came here for a drill and our Turkish brothers kept them here for moral support. They'll see those F-16s if there is an external attack on us," Aliyev said.
Mehmet Ayışığı is a well-known and well-liked figure in Istanbul's Kurtuluş neighborhood, wandering the streets and calling out to customers with his signature voice. After Ayışığı's cart was confiscated by the Şişli Municipality due to noise complaints, area residents marched together with the vendor in a gesture of solidarity against police.
Known for its lush natural beauty, the environmental integrity of the town of Şavşat is under threat due to a hydroelectric power plant, where construction is due to continue despite being previously blocked by a regional court. “The people of the area are very determined. They will definitely not allow the construction of a hydroelectric power plant,” said Tahsin Yazıcı of the Kireçli village, saying that the villagers would use their democratic rights.
Turkish law enforcement detained some 38 journalists in the first eight months of 2020, a report by the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TİHV) revealed. Meanwhile, access to 53 news stories and 75 websites was blocked. Charges of insulting the president resulted in the detention of 24 people, the arrest of three and an investigation into one person.
Istanbul police violently detained around 40 members of a pro-Kurdish youth union involving pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party's (HDP) Youth Assembly, Mesopotamia Agency reported on Oct. 25. Police claimed that a banner held up by demonstrators was criminal on the grounds that it displayed a photo of İbrahim Kaypakkaya, a deceased Turkish leftist.
Economy
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.