Hulusi Akar
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has confirmed that Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems were tested last week, as he also dismissed NATO allies' concerns on the issue. Akar also said that the S-400 won’t be integrated into NATO’s command-and-control infrastructure, but rather "used as a standalone system similar to the use of Russian-made S-300 weapons that exist within NATO."
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has told his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar that they are concerned about reports that Syrian rebels are sent to Nagorno-Karabakh to fight. “Reports on militants from terrorist organizations from the Middle East being transferred to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone are especially concerning for the Russian Defense Ministry,” Moscow said, adding that the concern was conveyed to Akar.
Turkey’s involvement in Nagorno-Karabakh war must irk NATO the most among the conflicts in the mix it has to deal with. This is because it has to do with its very original task of dealing with “the Russian threat.”
Armenia accused Turkey on Sept. 28 of providing direct military support for Azerbaijan. According to the Armenian Foreign Ministry, Turkish military experts "are fighting side by side" with Azerbaijan, which it said was also using Turkish weapons including drones and warplanes.
Turkey has strongly condemned a Greek daily for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın deeming the move "a provocation." Another government official to condemn the headline was Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who said that the headline "will remain as a document of shame" in the history of the Greek press.
An Ankara court on Sept. 10 ordered OdaTV journalist Müyesser Yıldız to pay 20,000 Turkish Liras in compensation to Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on the grounds of “insulting” him, after she cited a secret witness in a trial related to the coup attempt who said Akar a was a member of the Gülen movement, T24 reported.
HDP deputy Garo Paylan has said that natural gas could've been provided to all residences free of charge with the money spent on S-400 missile defense systems that are currently "rotting in warehouses." Paylan asked whether an agreement was signed to purchase the second batch of S-400s and whether the installation is not completed over sanctions threats from Washington.
Turkey on Aug. 27 issued a new Navtex to carry out live-fire gunnery exercises in the eastern Mediterranean on Sept. 1 and 2. The Navtex issued at 9.30 a.m. comes as Greece, Cyprus, France and Italy conduct joint military exercises south of Cyprus amid heightened tensions between Turkey and Greece.
Libya's internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) has announced that it will sign a tripartite deal with Turkey and Qatar for military training and consultancy facilities in the country to be established. The statement came after Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Turkish Chief of Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler on Aug. 17 visited GNA Premier Fayez al-Sarraj in Tripoli.
Turkey wants to resolve its dispute with Greece over energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean through dialogue, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Aug. 12, while vowing to defend Turkey's coastal interests. "We want to reach political solutions through peaceful means in line with international laws," Akar said.
Four years after the attempted takeover, a number of crucial questions remain unanswered, especially on former army chief Hulusi Akar and MİT chief Hakan Fidan. "Erdoğan protected Akar and Fidan in an incomprehensible manner. The fact that these two officials made an evaluation mistake caused a lot of people to get killed or wounded," journalist Mehmet Yılmaz told Duvar English.
Warplanes struck overnight at an airbase that was recently recaptured by Libya's internationally recognized government from eastern forces with help from Turkey, a military source with the eastern forces and a resident nearby said. A resident at the nearby town of Zintan said explosions were heard from the direction of the base.
Former military judge Ahmet Zeki Üçok has been handed a six-month suspended prison sentence on charges of "insulting" Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who was the chief of staff during the failed coup attempt of July 15, 2016. Üçok had said that Akar needed to "stand trial" for negligence in the coup attempt.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) have carried out airstrikes on Iraq's Sinjar as part of an operation called "Claw-Eagle." Defense Minister Hulusi Akar directed operation from the Air Force Command Control Center alongside Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler, Land Forces Commander Gen. Ümit Dündar, Air Forces Commander Gen. Hasan Küçükakyüz and Naval Forces Commander Adnan Özbal.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and senior military officials inspected the troops in Şanlıurfa on the Syrian border on June 5. Akar held face-to-face and videconference meetings with the commanders on the border. President Erdoğan also attended some of these meetings by phone and praised the military’s cross-border operations.
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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.
Selahattin Demirtaş writes: You have re-arrested us after six years. You say we are the instigators of the Kobane massacres when we were actually the victims. Do you think you will be able to make us responsible for this through conspiracies based on secret witnesses and be saved from responsibility? You must genuinely believe that the fascism you rely on today will always exist.
Politics
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's salary has been raised by 8.3 percent to a total of 88,000 Turkish Liras, as part of a budget proposal submitted by the ruling AKP government to parliament. Erdoğan's new salary will be effective as of January 2021. Earlier in October, Erdoğan had urged the believers of Islam to have “patience” in the face of financial problems.
Some 32 deputies in parliament failed to take the stand except to take an oath, daily BirGün reported on Oct. 21. A total of 27 of said deputies were members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), receiving more than 500,000 liras in annual salaries when combined.
The trial into the murder of prominent Kurdish human rights lawyer Tahir Elçi started on Oct. 21, amid further obstacles to securing an effective investigation into the killing. None of the three defendant police officers attended the hearing in person in the courtroom, but instead appeared via the video system. Elçi family's lawyers said that this is against the normal procedure and the case was being handled in a “negligent” and “impartial” way.
Turkish police have seized 879 animal and plant fossils worth $10 million from two houses owned by Islamic televangelist cult leader Adnan Oktar. Officials said the fossils would be delivered to a museum in Ankara.
The Istanbul 15th High Criminal Court has rejected exiled journalist Can Dündar's appeal against the seizure of his assets. The court has said that it has found the 14th High Criminal Court's Oct. 7-dated decision “in accordance with procedure and law.”
In a parliamentary question addressing Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, HDP lawmaker Ali Kenanoğlu has asked what kind of legal proceedings the ministry has run against the assailants of 36 publicly known hate crime incidents that were committed against Alevis in the last eight years. Kenanoğlu's inquiry came after unidentified assailants on Oct. 20 painted threatening messages on an Istanbul apartment building housing Alevis.
Turkey said it would not hesitate to send soldiers and provide military support for Azerbaijan if such a request were made by Baku. "There is already a military cooperation agreement between Turkey and Azerbaijan. If there is a need and Azerbaijan makes such a request, then Turkey would do it openly [provide military support]," Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Oct. 21.
Unidentified assailants have stabbed a 14-year-old Syrian child to death in Turkey's Central Anatolian province of Konya. Vail El-Mansur was on his way to the tailor shop he was working at when he was murdered brutally.
Turkish authorities seized 220 kilograms of cocaine on a ship that arrived at a port in the country's southern coast from Brazil. Police in the coastal province of Mersin found the cocaine hidden in a container carrying packages of paper.
Istanbul University's Cerrahpaşa Medical School has been observing twice as many patients, the dean said on Oct. 20. Turkey's official numbers receded to early May levels on the same day, observing some 2,026 diagnoses. "There's almost a doubling of the number of cases and patients seeking help in Cerrahpaşa. The winter might be rough for all of us," the dean said.
Turkey will send some 110,000 tons of grains and flour to countries in need, primarily Syria, a presidential decree in the Official Gazette said on Oct. 21. While the grains will be handed out by Ankara's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) and the Turkish Red Crescent, any wages related to the operation will be taken out of the Treasury's budget as well.
During a recession that has dealt a deep blow to agricultural producers across Turkey, potato farmers are struggling to get by while retailers purchase produce cheap and sell at high prices to consumers. "I don't like the AKP anymore,” said one 70-year-old farmer, who has grown potatoes in Niğde for 45 years.
A controversial social media legislation has enabled the Turkish government to swiftly block access to scores of news reports from critical newspapers and websites within the past month. "What we are facing is a heavy censorship mechanism,” cyber-rights expert Yaman Akdeniz told the daily Cumhuriyet.
The death of Serkan Tumay in a prison raised concerns on the prison conditions in Turkey once again. While Tumay's family says that he was tortured by prison guards repeatedly and died as a result in Kırıkkale F-Type Prison, opposition deputies Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu and Gülizar Biçer Karaca asked Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül to explain how he died.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found Turkey guilty of violating the right to free speech of Prof. Baskın Oran and Prof. İbrahim Kaboğlu, who faced prosecution in 2005 for publishing a report on the country's minorities. The ECHR said that the legal proceedings against the two academics had “inevitably created pressure" on them leading to “self-censorship.”
The Coalition for Women in Journalism has launched a petition demanding that Turkey immediately drop charges against journalist Ayşegül Doğan, who prosecutors accuse of "being a member of an armed organization." "Today, Ayşegül Doğan has become the target of the government due to her journalism, which touches on social issues such as the struggle for peace, women's struggle and labor," read the petition.
Five years later after the killing of Kurdish lawyer Tahir Elçi, the case still remains unsolved, amid claims that the Turkish intelligence service's neglect played a role in the murder. Diyarbakır Bar Association and Tahir Elçi Human Rights Foundation have criticized the indictment in the murder case, saying that the inclusion of an alleged PKK member as a suspect in the case is inconsistent and is an attempt to divert the attention from the real perpetrators.
A HDP lawmaker has submitted two separate parliamentary questions inquiring about the whereabouts of Bahtiyar Fırat who went missing on Oct. 14 amid concerns that he might have been abducted by state agents. MP Sait Dede asked Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdulahmit Gül if they will issue a statement with regards to the fate of Fırat considering that 17,000 people have been so far victims of enforced disappearances while under detention in Turkey.
Hatice Cengiz, the fiancée of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, on Oct. 20 filed a lawsuit against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a U.S. court, accusing the kingdom’s de facto ruler of ordering the journalist's killing.
Economy
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.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected that income per capita in Turkey would drop to 2005 levels, an annual average of $7,720. The IMF also predicted a five percent contraction in the Turkish economy until the end of 2020, despite Ankara's 0.3 percent growth projection.
Turkey's net international investment deficit grew by $20 billion from the end of 2019 to reach a total $365.8 billion at the end of August. Turkey's international assets shrunk by 10.2 percent to reach $227.4 billion in the same period.
President Erdoğan on Oct. 17 announced the discovery of an additional 85 billion cubic meters of natural gas in the Black Sea, following a similar find in August. As a result of testing, analysis and detailed engineering work, another 85 billion cubic meters were added to the reserves we had discovered. The total amount of natural gas reserves in the TUNA-1 well of the Sakarya Gas Field reached 405 billion cubic meters," Erdoğan said.
Data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) revealed a dip in real estate sales vis-a-vis last year in September, dropping by 6.9 percent for some 136,744 residences sold. Meanwhile, the total volume of sales between January and September was larger than the number in 2019.
Urban Beat
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.