Idlib
Russian FM Lavrov said another round of consultations between Russia and Turkey is currently being prepared regarding Syria's Idlib. In response to the criticism of the Syrian army over its assaults in Idlib, Lavrov said within the framework of the agreements reached between Erdoğan and Putin, Moscow had never promised that “terrorists would not be retaliated” if they themselves initiated attacks.
"Several" Turkish soldiers were killed in Libya, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, as he confirmed that Ankara sent Syrian National Army militants to the war-ravaged country. "We have several martyrs, but in return we neutralized nearly 100 legionaries," Erdoğan said in a speech in the western province of İzmir on Feb. 22.
A number of allegations have recently surfaced over Adnan Tanrıverdi, a former security aide to President Erdoğan. Tanrıverdi is said to oversee SADAT, a shadowy paramilitary group close to the President. Allegations of the company’s involvement in the combat training of the jihadist paramilitary groups loyal to Turkey go further to suggest that SADAT pushed for the current escalation in Idlib. Can it be compared to Iran's Revolutionary Guards?
The U.S. State Department has extended condolences to Turkey following an airstrike that killed two Turkish soldiers and wounded five others in Idlib. "We send condolences to the Turkish government on the death of these soldiers. These attacks have now killed multiple Turkish personnel," a U.S. State Department spokeswoman said. "We stand by our NATO ally Turkey against these actions."
The Russian Defense Ministry has said that Turkish military convoys with a length of several kilometers have been entering Syria's northwestern province of Idlib in recent weeks. It has also urged Ankara to allow Idlib residents to enter other parts of Syria.
During a phone call with his Russian counterpart, Turkish President Erdoğan said that the Idlib crisis can only be resolved by fully implementing the Sochi deal. Erdoğan also told Putin that the Syrian government forces must be "restrained" in Idlib, according to a statement released by the Turkish presidency.
Turkish Defense Minister Akar said the U.S. could send Patriot missile systems to Turkey to be stationed on the southern border in the face of ballistic missile threats from Syria, while at the same time Ankara plans to activate the Russian S-400 missile defense systems by spring.
An airstrike has killed two Turkish soldiers in Syria's Idlib, Turkish Defense Ministry said on Feb. 20. Amid the escalating situation, Turkey asked the United States to deploy two Patriot missile-defense batteries on its southern border to free it to punish any future attacks by Syrian troops backed by Russian air power, Bloomberg cited a Turkish official as saying.
Ankara and Moscow are discussing possible joint patrols as one way to reach a deal to halt fighting and stem an exodus of civilians in Syria's Idlib region, a Turkish official said on Feb. 20. The official said the talks with Russia had not been "completely without a result." The discussions had moved forward but reached no final decision, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The U.N. envoys of the United States, Britain and Germany on Feb. 19 called on the Syrian government to end its attacks on Turkey's observation posts in Idlib at a Security Council meeting in New York.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is seeking to ensure a humanitarian catastrophe does not befall northwest Syria's Idlib province, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Feb. 18, adding that Washington and Ankara are "working together" to determine what can be done amid a Syrian army offensive. A day later, Erdoğan said that a military operation in Idlib was a "matter of time."
HTS was supposed to have been eliminated with the Sochi Agreement. But HTS swept the groups Turkey was supporting and formed its own emirate in Idlib. They have now reunited with the “revolutionary” spirit of pre-2015. The story is this clear. This is the profile of Turkey's ally in the field.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said that disagreements between Moscow and Ankara over Syria’s Idlib will have no impact on the deliveries of S-400 missile defense systems. A senior U.S. official also commented on the issue, saying that strains between Turkey and Russia over Idlib appear not to have shaken Turkish plans to deploy the S-400s, despite a threat of U.S sanctions.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has praised the good ties between Moscow and Ankara, adding that the countries will sometimes disagree. "We have a very good relationship with Turkey. It does not mean that we must agree on all the issues," he said. "I strongly believe that in the relations between any two countries there cannot be a complete consensus on any problem," Lavrov added.
A Turkish delegation will visit Russia next week to hold talks on clashes in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib, Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu said on Feb. 15. Turkey wants to solve issues with Russia over Idlib through diplomacy but will take other “measures” if necessary, Çavuşoğlu said.
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.