ISIS
An American oil company has signed a deal with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to develop and modernize existing oil fields in northeastern Syria, Al-Monitor reported on July 30. The deal was made “with the acknowledgement and encouragement of the White House," sources told Al-Monitor.
Hale Gönültaş reports: A Yazidi woman who has been in captivity since 2014 was rescued from a home in Ankara. Abducted by an ISIS member in Iraq, the young woman was trafficked, eventually being tracked down by a family member.
The United States has designated a key ISIS financial facilitator in Turkey, Adnan Muhammad Amin al-Rawi, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said in a statement on July 28. According to OFAC, al-Rawi has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, ISIS.
Turkey on July 20 commemorates victims of an ISIS suicide bombing in the Suruç district of the southeastern Urfa province, as the search for justice continues on its fifth year. News reports following the attack pointed to how the bombing could have been prevented since authorities had the necessary intelligence on ISIS militants.
The fifth hearing of the trial for fugitive suspects in the 2015 Ankara bombing perpetrated by members of a Turkish ISIS cell took place this week, and lawyers have called upon the suspects to be extradited from the camps in Syria in which they are being held. 16 fugitive suspects are being tried for the bombing, which killed 103 people near the train station in Turkey’s capital Ankara.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) holds ISIS' Turkey leader İlhami Balı, who is responsible for ordering a number of deadly bomb attacks, in a prisoner camp, according to police documents, which didn't state the name of the camp. The file was added to the case into the fugitive suspects of Oct. 10, 2015 Ankara bombing.
İslam Özkan writes: Rather than dividing it, it appears that Turkey’s strategy and polarizing policies in Libya have contributed to unifying the enemy camp. Though the attack against the al-Wattiyah airbase did not inflict huge damage on Turkey’s air defense system, Turkey’s efforts in Libya will likely get harder in the future.
KRG President Nechirvan Barzani and Prime Minister Masrour Barzani met on May 30 with Maj. Gen. Eric Hill, commander of Coalition's Special Operations Forces to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Hill pointed out that the KRG is an important partner of the United States and Coalition Forces in the fight against ISIS.
Filiz Gazi reports: At the latest hearing of a trial regarding the 2015 Suruç massacre on May 20 - in which ISIS killed 33 young leftists - a lawyer seeking justice for the victims has revealed that hours of surveillance footage following the attack was likely erased or concealed. The next hearing in the Suruç case has been scheduled for August 18.
A man suspected of carrying out attacks on Turkish-owned businesses in Bavaria was a follower of ISIS, German authorities have said. Police apprehended the suspect on May 8 at a train station after he was caught traveling without a ticket. In his bag, police said they found 10 functional pipe bombs. They later found 13 more pipe bombs and 10 kilograms of explosive chemicals in a car left in a parking garage.
The lawyer of Halis Bayancuk, dubbed Turkey's ISIS leader, has said that his client must be freed "since his speeches are based on Islam." "ISIS and al-Qaeda say, 'Democracy is kuffar' and call the rulers who don't rule with Islamic principles 'taghut.' My client also accepts non-Islamic governance as 'taghut' and says democracy is 'kuffar.' However, he says these because these concepts are included in the Quran," the lawyer said.
Opposition deputies from the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) put forward parliamentary questions denouncing the Turkish government’s efforts at demographic engineering to make Kurds a minority in towns where they are the majority. The parliamentary questions also claimed that destroying the demographics of an area constituted a crime against humanity.
The Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) has congratulated the Yazidi New Year Çarşema Sor, also known as Red Wednesday, while also wishing for the Yazidi women and children held captive by ISIS militants to be freed. On the first Wednesday after April 13 each year, Yazidis celebrate the festival of Çarşema Sor, which they believe that marks the day when the world was fermented by God and life on earth started.
Halis Bayancuk -- believed to be ISIS' most senior operative in Turkey -- was re-arrested on April 9, upon an appeal of prosecutors, just hours after a court ruled to free him. The re-arrest order came after the decision to release Bayancuk caused an uproar among Turkish citizens.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has called for a humanitarian truce and committed to suspending most military operations in northeast Syria amid the coronavirus outbreak. “We hope that this humanitarian truce will help to open the door for dialogue and political solution and to put an end to the war in the world and Syria,” the group said.
Editor's Pick
duvar englis podcasts
Duvar English’s editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel and pollster Can Selçuki are joined by Robert Bosch Academy's Galip Dalay to discuss the impact of Turkish government's recent domestic policy moves on Ankara's international relations. They look for answers to whether there is any possibility that Turkey's relations with the West might change for the better any time soon.
Taner Akçam writes: The regime’s bold stroke vis-a-vis Hagia Sophia should not be seen as stemming from desperation. Rather, it is simply meant to relay the not-so-subtle message of the path to be followed by the "New Republic", and that message is that the “annihilationist tradition” of the old regime, inherited by the Republic’s founders, will be retained in the era to come.
Politics
Economist and former Treasury advisor Mahfi Eğilmez has said that the Turkish economy is no longer predictable. "In an unpredictable economy, due to the fact the risks increase, this means that expenses will also increase,” Eğilmez wrote in a column on Aug. 5.
Şaban Vatan, the father of Rabia Naz who was found dead in a suspicious way two years ago, has been stopped by the police for wearing a t-shirt that read “Where are you justice?” and “What happened to Rabia Naz?” “So it turns out, a person's being in Taksim with a t-shirt that has Rabia Naz's picture on, is a crime," Vatan wrote on Twitter.
A prominent health expert has said that about 3,000 people are believed to have been infected with the COVID-19 virus during the prayers held at Istanbul's Hagia Sophia on July 24. "There were about 1,000 asymptotic patients there, based on forecasts. If we think of the transmission rate, those patients have infected 2,000-3,000 others. I believe that gathering will increase the cases in Istanbul,” Assoc. Pro. Dr. Üner said on Aug. 8.
Turkey's parliament speaker Mustafa Şentop, from the ruling AKP, has said that there is no need for Turkey to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, an international accord designed to protect women. Şentop's comments came as the AKP is considering whether to pull Turkey out of the convention, alarming campaigners who see the pact as key to combating rising domestic violence.
Turkey's Arab Alawite community has celebrated the Gadir Hum holiday amid concerns of rising cases of coronavirus in Turkey. Mehmet Ali Dönmez, who organized Gadir Hum festivities in the Samandağ district of Hatay, which is prominently Arab Alawite, said that the celebration of the festival is in defiance of cultural assimilation.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has voiced support to Finance Minister Berat Albayrak amid the country's worsening economy. Several AKP officials, including Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Health Minister Fahrettin Koca, defended Albayrak on Twitter via using the hashtag "We stand with Berat Albayrak."
Amnesty International has called on the Turkish government to "fully implement" the Istanbul Convention rather withdraw from it. The prominent organization said that Turkey's withdrawal from the convention would have "disastrous consequences" for millions of women and girls in the country.
Rights organizations will take the case of Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal -- who have been on a hunger strike since April 5 to support their demand for a fair trial -- to the Constitutional Court. The move comes after an Istanbul court in July denied the release of Timtik and Ünsal, despite a medical report that says it is not “suitable” for the two lawyers to remain in jail.
Some 64 percent of Turkish people are of the belief that it is not safe to allow schools to reopen on Aug. 31 amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to a recent survey conducted by Metropoll. The survey also looked at how supporters of different political parties view this issue, finding that 53 percent of AKP voters do not support the government's planned move.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that the country's economy is on the fast lane, downplaying Turkish Lira's sharp fall against dollar and euro. "No one should try to deceive the public. We're stronger than yesterday," he said. While experts voice concern on the situation, Erdoğan claimed that the "zigzags" in the economy can be seen around the world following the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Two people were detained for shooting the car of a restaurant owner over late takeaway delivery in the southern province of Adana on Aug. 6. E.K. and his friend Ö.T. opened fire on the restaurant owner with a pump rifle and blank cartridge following an argument.
The Turkish Interior Ministry on Aug. 7 announced that coronavirus quarantines are currently underway in 83 residential areas in 32 provinces. The areas are home to some 54,053 people. The ministry's comments came as the country's daily COVID-19 cases have recently shown a sharp rebounding trend, with more than 1,000 daily jump in successive days.
The Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK) has protested a factory run by the tuna fish company Dardanel in the province of Çanakkale after it imposed a closed-circuit working system on some of its employees after they contracted coronavirus. The workers have been forced to stay in quarantine dormitories since July 26.
Congolese opposition politician Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko has disappeared in Ankara after flying to the Turkish capital for health treatment in late July. He boarded a plane belonging to Qatar and landed at Ankara's Esenboğa airport on July 30, and has not been heard from since.
Employees of Turkish Airlines (THY) have been facing an uncertain future due to the salary crisis that has been ongoing for five months in the company. According to Sözcü, talks between the THY and Hava-İş, the Turkish union representing a large number of workers in the civil aviation sector, have failed to reach a conclusion.
Turkish steeplechaser Gülcan Mıngır has been banned for two years after a re-test of her samples from the London Olympics in 2012 revealed the presence of a prohibited substance, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) said on Aug. 6. The 31-year-old's ban has been backdated to Feb 3, 2020.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Aug. 6 that return of Germans from holiday destinations such as Western Balkan countries and Turkey is increasingly contributing to the rise in new coronavirus cases. Spahn also said that everyone arriving from high-risk areas will be tested for the disease unless they can produce a negative test certificate no more than two days old.
Former MHP deputy Cemal Enginyurt has said it was him who started the legal process that led to the cancellation of a dissident-led congress back in 2016 aiming to challenge the leadership of Devlet Bahçeli. “When Meral Akşener won the congress with 715 votes on June 19, it was me who took the case to the court. It was me that led to the cancellation of the congress, which they had won," Enginyurt said on Aug. 5.
Good (İYİ) Party leader Meral Akşener has said that the majority of the Turkish people want to return to a parliamentary system, adding that the current "freakish" system can't govern the country. "Turkey's economy has worsened, the youth doesn't have hope to find jobs, agriculture and industry have collapsed. The people are suffering from not being able to find food and fear being unemployed," she said.
Economy
The Turkish Lira has devalued drastically against the dollar, reaching almost seven liras on the dollar. Ankara has invested almost $60 billion in currency interventions in 2020 to no avail, Financial Times reported on July 28.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on July 15 that companies involved in construction of the TurkStream pipeline will be subject to the U.S. penalties unless they stop their works. “It’s a clear warning to companies. Aiding and abetting Russia’s malign influence projects will not be tolerated. Get out now or risk the consequences,” he said.
The Turkish Petroleum Refineries Corporation (TÜPRAŞ) ranked as Turkey's largest industrial business with 87.9 billion liras in annual production revenue. The oil company was followed mostly by automotive producers.
On the second anniversary of Turkey's transformation into a presidential system, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has prepared a report detailing how the country stands in the ensuing years, finding that the Turkish lira has lost four times its value since 2007.
Urban Beat
Mois Gabay writes: Do you think the Camondo family will be included in the Beyoğlu Culture Road project conducted by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism? What about Arif Ergin’s “Tekvin” novel, in which he imagined that there would be a “Camondo Museum” one day?
Artifacts from Istanbul's ancient Hagia Sophia will be displayed in a nearby public building that will be transformed into a museum. Formerly used as a land office, the late-19th-century building in historical Sultanahmet will be converted on the president's orders.
Luke Frostick writes: Edanur Kuntman’s Tales from Behind the Window has been nominated for an Eisner Award. If she wins, she will be the first Turk to win an Eisner. The story is a piece of creative-nonfiction and its main narrative is drawn from the memories of Kuntman’s grandmother growing up in the Çarşamba district of Samsun.