Idlib
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.
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.
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.
Two Turkish soldiers were killed in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib in a rocket attack by "some radical groups," the Defense Ministry said late on March 19.
The United States believes Russia has killed dozens of Turkish military personnel in the course of its military operations in Syria, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on March 17. Pompeo did not specify where or during which incident the Turkish soldiers were killed.
Russia and Turkey cut short their first joint patrol in Syria's Idlib on March 15 after rebels and civilians opposed to a ceasefire agreement cut off a main roadway to block its path. Hundreds of civilians and rebels cut off the roadway, rejecting the presence of Russian forces and what they said was an agreement that did not guarantee their re-settlement after being pushed out by violence.
Turkish President Erdoğan on March 17 held a teleconference with the leaders of France, Germany and Britain. The quartet summit discussed the Syria crisis and migrant issue as well as joint action against coronavirus, Turkish presidency said.
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.
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.
U.S. special representative for Syria James Jeffrey did not rule out supplying Turkey with Patriot missile systems for the conflict in Syria's Idlib, but said that Ankara had to "clarify" its position on the rival Russian S-400s.
Turkish President Erdoğan has said that he expects NATO's full support in the conflict in Syria and that the alliance is in a "critical process" in which it should show its solidarity with Turkey. "Turkey's Syria border is also NATO's southeastern border. A crisis stemming from Syria threatens our region and as a matter of fact the whole Europe due to security and humanitarian concerns," Erdoğan said.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on March 7 there had been no violations of the ceasefire in Syria's Idlib, as part of the agreement reached between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on March 5, while Russia said there have been a few shootings in the region. A day earlier, Putin told Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that the agreement would stabilize the situation in Idlib.
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.
Syria's war-battered Idlib region was quiet but tense on March 6 as a ceasefire deal between Moscow and Ankara took effect, with residents and opposition forces describing a lull in air raids that have pounded the last rebel-held enclave in Syria. Russia and Turkey made the agreement late on March 5, after six hours of talks in Moscow, to contain a conflict that has displaced nearly a million people in three months in northwest Syria.
Editor's Pick
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
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca slammed Istanbulites' Sunday outing on İstiklal Avenue on Oct. 18, saying that anyone who entered the crowd healthy would come out ill. Meanwhile, some 1,815 COVID-19 diagnoses were made on Oct. 18, while some 72 patients died.
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.
A committee of main opposition CHP politicians said that the construction of a visitors' center on southeast Turkey's iconic Mount Nemrut was a betrayal to nature. The CHP committee noted that the site was pending assignment as a UNESCO geopark and that the construction was putting it in jeopardy.
The NATO has criticized a possible test by Turkey of its Russian-made S-400 missile launcher and stepped up calls on Ankara to opt for a different defense system. “Any test of the S-400 air defense system by Turkey, if confirmed, would be regrettable. It is important Turkey continues to work with other allies to find alternative solutions," it said in a statement.
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu sent congratulatory messages to HDP co-chairs Mithat Sancar and Pervin Buldan on the party's eighth foundation anniversary. "I underline once again that we will never give up on building peace and fraternity," İmamoğlu said.
Five health workers have died of COVID-19 in just one day, the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) said on Oct. 18, as it criticized the government for not being able to manage the pandemic properly. The names of the health workers were revealed as Dr. Salih Kanlı, Dr. Turan Yıldırım, Ferhat Gencer, Harun Dönmez and Yasemin Çolak. The number of health workers who died of COVID-19 in the past eight days rose to 13.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has cancelled his planned visit to Turkey after Ankara said it was restarting operations of a survey ship that it withdrew last month. Maas said that Ankara's renewed push "severely damaged" the atmosphere of trust and said that Turkey can't have any interest in the long-term continuation of the conflicts that it's involved in.
Denizli Governor Ali Fuat Atik has prompted fury for ordering a restaurant to be closed because a waiter working there didn't recognize him. Following criticism on social media, Atik apologized, saying that he was saddened by his approach to the man. Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu also commented on the incident, saying that he found it appropriate for the governor to apologize.
Some 2,500 academics worldwide, including famed international scholars Judith Butler, Noam Chomsky, Silvia Federici, Etienne Balibar and Enzo Traverso, have signed a petition for Turkey to release Cihan Erdal, a PhD candidate and researcher at Carleton University in Canada and an LGBT activist, who was detained in Istanbul on Sept. 25.
A show owner in Denizli has told the governor of the province that he wants to die because of the worsening economy when asked why he was not wearing a mask. "I've had enough. I want to die. Look at the economy. I gained 15 liras on Tuesday and 100 liras on Wednesday. What use does it have even if that 100 liras is all profit?" the shop owner said.
In the government's latest attempt to criminalize the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), summary of proceedings have been prepared against 18 of its deputies, bringing charges against them for attending demonstrations and for making statements including the word "Kurdistan."
Osman Kavala remains behind bars as one of Turkey's most high-profile political prisoners, while President Erdoğan appointed the prosecutor who prepared Kavala's indictment to the post of Deputy Justice Minister. The appointment came within seven days of the indictment's preparation, and removed the prior appointee by presidential decree.
Hale Gönültaş reports: Turkey's financial crimes unit has determined that Afghan criminals engaged in drug smuggling and in the funding of terror operations are exploiting Afghan refugees in Turkey via bank transfers. As migrants are unable to transport large sums of money and often cannot open bank accounts in Turkey, they rely on moneychangers who transfer cash for a fee, and this is usually the only option.
A missile was fired into the sky on Oct. 16 on Turkey's Black Sea coast where the military was expected to test its Russian-made S-400 defense systems, according to local video obtained by Reuters. "If confirmed, we would condemn in the strongest terms the S-400 test missile launch as incompatible with Turkey’s responsibilities as a NATO  Ally and strategic partner of the United States," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.
Health Ministry failed to deliver an Oct. 15 data release that was designed to offset the repercussions of the revelation that Ankara's official COVID-19 numbers had been excluding asymptomatic patients. The ministry said that Fahrettin Koca's promise to release all data starting on Oct. 15 had been "misunderstood," and that they would only share certain numbers with the WHO.
Former President Abdullah Gül said that he was "appalled" by the attacks on Turkey's Constitutional Court, the most recent of which accused a member of threatening a military coup. The coup debate closely followed discussions on overhauling the Constitutional Court, which many members of the governing bloc in Ankara voiced support for.
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.
Economy
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.
Turkish exporters are struggling with shrinking markets as Morocco appears to have joined the countries that are effectively boycotting all products made in Turkey. Sources from the Moroccan Ministry of Trade indicate that measures have been put in place to prevent unfair competition from Turkish textile producers who are dominating the local market.
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.
CHP deputy Mustafa Adıgüzel has found a lost letter penned by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Turkey's founding father, to a U.S. child called Curtis La France. "My advice to the intelligent and hardworking children of the U.S. is to not perceive everything they hear about Turks as true and attach importance to basing their opinions on scientific and sound examinations. I wish you success and happiness," Atatürk said in the letter.
The 39th Istanbul Film Festival will offer viewings both online and in-person, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV) noted. While tickets will become available on Oct. 2, showings will start a week later and last for 10 days.