Idlib conflict
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.
A Turkish military vehicle was hit by a blast on Aug. 17 during a joint Russian-Turkish patrol in northwest Syria's Idlib region. The Turkish Defense Ministry said that the attack on the 25th joint patrol caused a slight damage to one of the vehicles. Russia has repeatedly noted that the patrols are unsafe due to potential attacks by militants.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told his counterparts from Turkey and Iran on July 1 that there was a need for peaceful dialogue between the opposing forces in Syrian war. "An inclusive inter-Syrian dialogue should be actively promoted within the framework of the constitutional committee in Geneva. I propose to support this process, to help the participants to meet and start a direct dialogue," Putin said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on April 14 repeated an offer to the United States to establish a technical working group including NATO to help solve a dispute over Ankara's purchase of S-400 Russian missile defenses that angered Washington. "We offer the U.S. to establish a technical working group with NATO's inclusion and NATO can lead this technical working group actually. And this offer is still on the table," he said.
Turkey said on April 5 it would minimize its troop movements in operation zones in neighbouring Syria in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Troops deployed in Syria will now enter and exit operation areas only with the permission of the head of the army, the defense ministry said. "Thus, the movement of staff and troops is minimized, unless it is mandatory," it added.
Turkey has vowed to neutralize radical elements that impede the Russian-Turkish joint patrols in Syria's Idlib, the Russian Defense Ministry said on March 23. The ministry added that the latest joint patrol took place earlier in the day on a shortened route due to safety concerns. Their first joint patrol was also cut short earlier this month due to what Moscow called rebel provocations.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said that Turkey and Russia have agreed on the details of a ceasefire in Syria's Idlib region. Under the agreement, Turkish and Russian forces will carry out joint patrols along the M4 highway linking Syria's east and west, and establish a security corridor on either side of it. A Russian delegation arrived in Ankara on March 10 to work out details. Akar said there were signs that migration from Idlib towards Turkish borders had stopped after the ceasefire deal.
Turkey will activate S-400 missile defense systems that it purchased from Russia in April, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, adding that he had also asked for U.S. Patriot systems. Commenting on the ceasefire in Idlib, Erdoğan said that Turkey's military observation posts in the province will retain their current status, adding the agreement laid the groundwork for the normalization of the region.
The United States has voiced support for a ceasefire agreed by Moscow and Ankara for northwest Syria's Idlib region, saying that it expects to talk to NATO ally Turkey about the details of the ceasefire, adding that the most important point is whether Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and its backers will abide by the deal.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that Turkey has the full right to defend itself in Syria. "We believe firmly that our NATO partner Turkey has the full right to defend itself against the risk that’s being created by what [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad, the Russians and the Iranians are doing inside of Syria," Pompeo said on March 5.
President Erdoğan has responded to criticism on laughing during a speech he made on the deaths of over 30 Turkish soldiers, saying that it constitutes "a diabolic campaign." During his meeting with a group of Istanbul lawmakers of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the footage of his speech was screened. "The whole conversation was ironic," Erdoğan said.
Two more Turkish soldiers were killed by government forces in northwest Syria, the defense ministry said on March 4. NATO member Turkey has seen 59 troops killed in Idlib since the beginning of February. The latest casualties included six wounded, the defense ministry said, adding it retaliated and struck Syrian targets.
European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara on March 4. Following the meeting, Borrell said he told Erdoğan that the situation at the border with Greece was "unacceptable."
Over 60 intellectuals from Turkey have signed a petition calling for military retreat in Northern Syria and for troops to return home after 36 soldiers were killed in Idlib Feb. 27. Among the intellectuals are academics, authors, journalists and artists.
Iran's Foreign Ministry accused the United States of compromising the Astana peace process between Iran, Turkey and Russia in an official statement on Feb. 28. The statement also claimed that the U.S. "has always sought to create tensions in the region in an irresponsible manner" and that it justifies its presence in Syria with its interest in their oil resources.
Editor's Pick
Soner Çağaptay and Raffaella A. Del Sarto write: The EU often praises itself as a promoter of democracy and regional stability by highlighting the power of its enlargement process to include new members in the “neighbourhood.” Yet in the case of Turkey, its ill-conceived policies may well have contributed to the opposite. A clumsy EU has repeatedly gotten its policy toward Turkey wrong, often inadvertently helping Erdoğan at key points during his rise while creating preventable tensions with Ankara.
Politics
President Erdoğan has filed a criminal complaint with Turkish authorities against prominent Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders saying that he had insulted him on social media. "Even though the crime was committed directly against the person in the presidential seat, the value that is being violated is the state's political government structure," Erdoğan's lawyers said.
Turkish police have apprehended seven ISIS militants who were preparing for attacks in the capital Ankara in the latest round of operations against the jihadist group. According to authorities, the militants were seeking to attack Oct. 29 Republic Day celebrations and Nov. 10 ceremonies that are held each year to commemorate Turkey's founding father Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu right in his case against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. While Turkish courts ruled that Kılıçdaroğlu "attacked Erdoğan's personal rights" in two separate speeches in 2012, the ECHR ruled that the country violated the main opposition leader's freedom of expression.
A coal thermal power plant in the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir is predicted to make more than 11 million people ill over the course of 35 years, a health impact report for the project revealed. The Right to Clean Air Plaform reported that the pollutants from the Alpu Coal Thermal Power Plant will spread to 24 provinces and destroy local farming land.
A group of miners from the Central Anatolian district of Ermenek set off once again on their march to demand unpaid wages, only to be met with a gendarmerie blockade on Oct. 26. In a video showing the miners' exchange with officers, one of them is heard saying "We are angry. We are hungry, that's why we're yelling. You can't yell!"
One of downtown Istanbul's last remaining green spaces was rezoned to allow construction despite the protest of locals. Also designated as an emergency meeting point, the green space was permitted for the construction of a 10-story building.
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.
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.
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.