Damascus
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.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem has lashed out at Ankara during a speech before the UN General Assembly, accusing the Turks of occupying swathes of Syrian land. He singled out Turkey as a sponsor of terrorism in Syria and the surrounding region, and accused Ankara of committing “a war crime and a crime against humanity” by restricting civilian access to water in several towns controlled by Turkish forces.
The Russian strategy in Syria has entered a new phase, which is the combination of the hard reality on the field and the deceptive perception that there is hope for withdrawal. Moscow wants to couple its military gains with economic advances and the achievement of a political solution. While one could have anticipated how Russia […]
While displaying empathy with regards to Turkey’s sensitivities, Russia is realizing that it will not be able to find a sustained solution in Syria without winning over the Kurds. This is a point on which Turkey opts to be shortsighted.
Musa Özuğurlu writes: Russia, by any means, wishes to see al-Assad in power at least for another term. It is trying quite unattainable formulas to make it possible for Muslim Brotherhood to return to Damascus after so many years. Let us see whether or not these attempts will bring the political transition and thus relief to Syria?
Russia boosted spending to form a force consisting of Arabs in northern Syria in a bid to counter U.S. influence in the region, Cıburi tribe sheikh Fewaz Zobea told Rudaw, adding that Moscow is trying to pull youth from Arab tribes to its side by arming them and paying their salaries in dollars.
While the ENKS and the PYD agree on certain topics, a deep gap remains between the two groups. And the American and French pressure will do little to close that gap. Moreover, Barzani’s ties with Turkey limit his capabilities. Given the KDP and the PKK were fighting each other in the Qandil mountains, how could the two movements unite on the Syrian front?
Relinquishing its vocation to be a social state, the Turkish government is now providing us with its bank details amid the coronavirus pandemic. What this shows is that the Turkish state does not intend to give a helping hand to citizens during tough times. Despite that, it is not ready to give up on its endless wars in Syria and Libya.
Faruk Loğoğlu writes: Let us remember the diplomatic breakthroughs triggered by disparate unrelated events in the world. The Ping-Pong diplomacy started with an invitation by China of an American ping-pong team in 1971. Turkish-Greek relations took a turn for the better after the two successive earthquakes in 1999. Today, Syria needs help to fight COVID-19. Turkey should be a leading partner in this humanitarian endeavor.
Turkish and Russian officials have largely reached an agreement on details of a ceasefire in Syria's Idlib region during talks in Ankara, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on March 12. "The Russian military delegation arrived and talks continue. We reached a great deal of agreement," Akar told reporters in the capital Ankara, adding that all Turkish forces in Idlib remained in place.
Libya's eastern-based government linked to military commander Khalifa Haftar opened an embassy in Syria on March 3 and called for the two countries to unite in their common fight against Turkey-backed militant groups. "Terrorism will kill any Arab country if it's permitted and if the criminal [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan is permitted to win this fight," Syria's deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad said at a ceremony to open the embassy.
The Turkish army should head to Damascus, put a sack over Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's head and deal the final blow to the "bloody and filthy regime" if politics and diplomacy fail, MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli said on March 3. Bahçeli, who is an ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said that Russia and Syria should not test Turkey's patience any longer.
Turkish Defense Ministry has said that Turkey downed a Syrian L-39 type warplane in Idlib. On March 1, Turkey downed two Syrian jets in Idlib. The Syrian military closed the airspace over the province, warning that it would treat any violators as hostile targets and shoot them down.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on March 2 said that the losses of the Syrian army "are just beginning," adding "If they do not withdraw to the lines Turkey has determined as soon as possible, they will not have a head left on their shoulders." He also said that the "the regime suffered one of its biggest losses" after last week's attack that killed 34 Turkish soldiers in Idlib.
A group of people on early Feb. 28 protested outside the Russian Consulate General in Istanbul against an attack that targeted Turkish troops in northwestern Idlib, Syria. “The whole world knows that Russia and [Syrian] regime forces were behind the attack,” said Sezgin Çelik, one of the protesters.
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Şenay Aydemir writes: It seems like Netflix, rather than providing resources to Turkey and contributing to the advancement of the sector, chooses to work with producers that already have a strong share in the market. Though the Netflix Turkey team claims they are open to all kinds of projects and ideas, they are obviously more open to certain ideas, projects and production companies.
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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.