While jihadists have lost in Syria, the war is not over. It is saddening to see the Syrian army, which is fighting the remaining jihadists, as being referred to as “the regime forces.”
In September 2018, an agreement was signed in Sochi which set a deadline to disarm and remove the jihadists. Back then, this was something Turkey was committed to, though it did not uphold its pledge. As a result, the Syrian army began to clean up the jihadists in Idlib.
The Turkish government does not want peace in its neighbor. What it wants is construction. On the other hand, the US recently condemned attacks from Russia and Iran whilst emphasizing its support to Turkey.
The Russian Embassy in Ankara responded to this with an image from the state-owned Anatolian News Agency (AA), on the US’ provision of weapons to the Kurds.
The US’ and Russia’s messages to Turkey actually conceal a huge arms trade. What really matters for them is the sale of weapons to Turkey.
In the past 10 years, Turkey bought 8.2 billion dollars worth of armament. When you add the 2.5 billion dollars worth for the S-400 system, the figure is 10.7 billion dollars. Some 35.24 percent of imports were from the US while 23.24 percent of them came from Russia.
In other words, regardless of the US’ and Russia’s messages, they are involved in a 6-billion-dollar arm trade and compete against each other.
Beyond the arms trade, the US and Russia and involved in an even greater energy trade.
Russia is selling a nuclear power plant to Turkey but as it did not properly build the foundations of the plant, Moscow brought a possible disaster threat to country. The concrete base of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant failed twice. That was on Turkish territory, in the Mediterranean province of Mersin.
Russia is also Turkey’s largest supplier of gas. In 2018, it sold 23.6 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Ankara. In addition, Russia sells coal to Turkey. In 2017, it sold the country 14.4 million tons of coal. That is, one in every three buckets of coal in Turkey came from Russia. And one should not omit oil imports. In 2018, in every four barrels Turkey bought one came from Russia, thus making it the biggest supplier beyond Iran and Iraq.
On that account, Russia’s motives with Turkey are quite clear. Yet this does not apply to the US. Because while Russia sells Turkey nuclear plants, coal and oil, the US buys its own domestically consumed oil from the region. In 2018, the US imported 575 million barrels of oil from a total of 3.6 billion barrels from the Gulf countries, predominantly from Saudi Arabia and Iraq. When one considers that Turkey’s 2018 oil import amounted to 21 million barrels, one understands the situation a little better.
Russia has many reasons to side with Turkey. In the past ten years, for each 10 Turkish Liras Turkey spent on arms, 2.5 liras went to Russia. One third of the coal Turkey imported as well as one fourth of the oil and half of the natural gas as well as an entire nuclear power plant have been bought from Russia.
Likewise, the US has many reasons to side with Turkey. In the past ten years, for each 10 Turkish Liras Turkey spent on arms, 3.5 liras went to the US. But the US’ main interest lies not in selling arms and oil. The US has bought 25 to 30 times the oil Turkey is importing annually, from the Middle East. This oil is bought from oil companies that partner with the US and which is sold to the American people.
While Russia needs to sell its energy to Turkey, the US must stay within the Middle East to get its oil. That is why they are both seeking Turkey on their side.
Love thy neighbor
A Turkish saying goes, “Don’t buy a house, buy a neighbor.” This is a splendid saying which often serves as a mantra in the Middle East.
At the moment, Turkey is paying for the Syrian war with its loved ones and economy. But it is only by achieving peace with its neighbors that it can attain a win-win situation.
Today, Ankara is not Wuhan. Wuhan is a good example compared to our capital city. Today, Ankara is a construction site. Ankara residents have to remind the city again that they do not want a municipal administration that works for contractors — alongside a presidential system that works for contractors.
This good news about the discovery of natural gas reserves in the Black Sea at the same time means a disaster for the environment. Turkey is a country in which environmental protection standards are very low, and it cannot control even this. This project will be the end of the Black Sea.
As Turkish politics have been reduced to a binary dichotomy between the government bloc and the opposition, İYİ Party plays a somewhat unifying and dampening effect in that regard. But while the government is out of touch with the people, the opposition is not tuned in with it either.
In the past four months, none of our municipalities prepared the infrastructure for washing our hands. They were not able to meet the sidewalk conditions of 1.5 meters width for the social distancing of pedestrians. Almost all of our 1,397 municipalities have failed according to these criteria, including opposition ones.
Even though there are now 163,000 cases detected in Turkey and even more cases that are undetected, the malls are opening. At what cost and for whose sake they are opening? It is quite apparent that they are not opening for our sake; the data is clear. When you review the equation from the point of view of the novel coronavirus, then you have five huge reasons not to step inside these malls.
In Turkey, the pandemic seems to have also opened asphalt season for some local administrations. Municipalities regarded this period as a huge opportunity to pave asphalt.
The Energy Ministry’s 2019-2023 Strategic Plan tells us a lot about the government's intentions. It is obviously a plan that still insists on coal and hydroelectric power policies, and that has solar and wind energy only as an accessory. The climate crisis is not even mentioned.
The first coronavirus month in Turkey will be recorded in history as the month of opportunism, the month of abusing a pandemic. It kept some of its people at home and others at mines and factories, turning the country into a labor camp. Only the local administrations were left, but there were policies to curb their powers as well.
As a host to 85 percent of all international travels, Istanbul has become an attraction center for coronavirus. And as a host to 38 percent of Turkey’s domestic travels, Istanbul spread the virus to the rest of the country.
The Turkish government has not taken steps related to the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak. They actually took steps in the opposite direction asking people to do their own homework and resisting a total lockdown in the country. Meanwhile, the opposition self-quarantined itself politically.
Both the stage that the capitalism has reached globally and Turkey’s implementation of it, cannot be neglected while discussing the underlying factors which tie the climate crisis and the COVID-19 outbreak to each other.
In 2019, the number of issues broke the record with 935 extreme meteorological issues recorded in Turkey. That's 9 times the overall number recorded for the second half of the 20th century. Last year, floods occurred in cities including Ordu, Düzce, Trabzon, Antalya and Mersin that cost the lives of many people.
Thanks to a Special Communication Tax that was introduced after the 1999 earthquake, some 67.5 billion Turkish Liras have been collected up to now for earthquake relief. But rather than on earthquake preparedness, the money was largely spent on construction projects.
Kanal Istanbul is a project based on unjust profit-earning that is well-known first to Turkish companies, followed by Arab, European, and even Pakistani capital owners. But we still don’t know the full truth of what is going on with the project. Good that we do not know, because if we did, the Kanal Istanbul project would end immediately.
According to OECD data, Turkey allocated 289 million dollars for waste management in 2008. Ever since, the country has developed and grown, right? Despite this, the money allocated for waste management fell to 147 million dollars in 2015. We have a government that does not want to manage waste and spend money on it. Burying trash is easy; the soil is free.
President Erdoğan's government recently suffered two fiascos, one involved thermal power plants while the other had to do with a plan to rescue the private company “Simit Sarayı”. So why would it press forward with the Kanal Istanbul project?
It is possible for us to close down all coal mines! The way to this has been paved with the veto on the proposed bill. But if we leave public policy unattended and representatives continue to leave parliament seats empty, the opposite will happen. I should point out as a warning that, just like the Environment and City Planning Minister could actually be referring to the business schedule when he says “we installed a filter in 6 months,” a similar wordplay could be at hand with the veto. We will go after the answer together, I promise.
We know how much the ministry earned from shopping bags in the first nine months of the year. At 25 kuruş (cents) for each nylon bag, 15 kuruş were deposited to the ministry and the total was 188 million lira. You heard it right, 18.8 billion kuruş.
The Ministry of Forestry routinely opens up forest ecosystems for economic exploitation. It distributes permits to use forests for mineral exploitation, mining, construction and even for oil drilling. In 2012, 2,810 permits were granted for those purposes. Between 2012 and 2018, that number rose to 18,515.
The government has found a way to take back the Bosphorus after losing İstanbul elections. The Ministry of Environment and Urbanization has drafted a 28 point legislative proposal called the Boshporus Law. With the new law, Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and four provinces no longer have any authority in the Bosphorus.
Volkswagen's investment plan in Turkey is a scandal. It is no less than an attempt to rescue a drowning company ensnared in corruption. While the Turkish public will bear the economic costs of this plan, environmental damage will also be caused.
Erdoğan changed the climate of the UN Climate Action Summit. He talked about how he multiplied fossil fuels and how not recycling waste is a good thing, and he put concrete as a policy on the world stage.
Turkey wants to be a party to the Paris Agreement as the structure of the deal allows countries to increase emissions. Turkey, which is among the 12 countries that have not yet joined the agreement, had added 193.5 million tons to climate changing greenhouse gases in last 20 years before 2010.