Syrian conflict
A roadside bomb planted by Syrian militants detonated near a joint Russian-Turkish patrol in northern Syria early on July 14, injuring three Russian soldiers, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The Russian statement said an unspecified number of Turkish troops were also hurt. Two sources said there were no Turkish casualties in the attack.
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.
Human Rights Watch on March 31 said Turkish authorities’ failure to ensure adequate water supplies to Kurdish-held areas in Syria's northeast is compromising humanitarian agencies’ ability to prepare and protect vulnerable communities in the COVID-19 pandemic. Turkish authorities have interrupted water pumping several times since the start of the year, with the latest interruption on March 29, it cited aid organizations as saying.
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.
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.
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.
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham praised Turkey's efforts in Syria's Idlib. "Very much appreciate what Turkey is doing to stand with the people of Idlib, Syria. It is time for the world, including the United States, to declare a no-fly zone over Idlib before the humanitarian crisis escalates," he said.
The Istanbul Governor's Office has banned anti-war rhetoric, meetings and propaganda until March 10 to ensure "peace and safety in the city." The official statement from the governor's office said that such ideology could lead to public unrest amid the government's military operations in Idlib.
Libya's eastern-based government linked to military commander Khalifa Haftar opened an embassy in Syria on March 3 and called for the two countries to unite in their common fight against Turkey-backed militant groups. "Terrorism will kill any Arab country if it's permitted and if the criminal [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan is permitted to win this fight," Syria's deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad said at a ceremony to open the embassy.
A U.S. delegation arrived in Turkey on March 2 to hold talks on the situation in the embattled province of Idlib, Syria. During their visit, the U.S. delegation is expected to meet representatives of the UN and NGOs to discuss the humanitarian crisis of some one million refugees fleeing the clashes in Idlib.
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.
Radar tracks showed that Syrian and Russian forces were flying in formation during the attack that killed at least 36 Turkish soldiers in Syria's Idlib province on Feb. 27, Permanent Representative of Turkey Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioğlu said on Friday. "Turkish forces were alone in that area. The logical conclusion of that is that they were deliberately targeted," he said, disputing the Russian narrative.
A 'Justice March' that lawyers from across Turkey were planning to conduct on Mar. 2 to protest the decay of the judicial system has been postponed in light of the death of 33 Turkish soldiers in Syrian army attacks in Idlib, the Ankara Bar Association said. The march would have been carried out "in search of judicial independence, a state of law and a fair judiciary and to condemn the executive pressures on the judiciary."
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that three Turkish soldiers were killed in Syria's Idlib, adding that developments there are turning in Ankara's favor. "Our battle will continue. We are saying that we're in Idlib as per the Adana Agreement," Erdoğan said, referring to an agreement signed in 1998 by Turkey’s then-President Süleyman Demirel and Syria’s then-President Hafez al-Assad.
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duvar englis podcasts
Duvar English’s editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel and pollster Can Selçuki discuss the underlying factors behind the recent moves of Turkey's ruling alliance which paves the way for further polarization in politics as the country enters the final months of 2020. They also analyze the effects of the sharp decline of the Turkish Lira against foreign currencies over public's perception.
Dinçer Demirkent writes: Interior Minister Soylu said that the head of the Constitutional Court would be unable to commute to work without his protection team. What he meant was that he was the Minister who assigned the security team to the judge, implying he might just remove them. By doing so, Süleyman Soylu openly violates the article 138 of the Turkish Constitution; basic principle for the independence of the judiciary.
Politics
A group led by forensic science expert and human rights defender Prof. Şebnem Korur Fincancı won the elections for the leadership of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB). Fincancı is now expected to be elected the leader of the association in the upcoming meeting.
A women's prison in southeast Turkey banned a book that was co-authored by the chairman of Turkey's Constitutional Court (AYM). The book that was found "suspicious" by the prison is about freedom of expression.
The New York Times reported on Sept. 28 that Trump Towers Istanbul has netted U.S. President Donald Trump $1 million in 2016 and 2017. Trump has long had business ties in and with Turkey, the most visible example being the Trump Towers Istanbul, which licenses the Trump name.
Turkish prosecutors have launched an investigation into Tele1 TV editor-in-chief Merdan Yanardağ over his reports that Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor Yüksel Kocaman paid a visit to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan following his wedding ceremony. The court ruled for Yanardağ's release, but imposed judicial control measures involving regularly reporting at his local police station as well as overseas travel ban.
Halk TV, a broadcaster that's critical of the government, blacked out on Sept. 28 following a ruling from Turkey's Radio and Television High Council (RTÜK). The five-day blackout is a first in the council's history, as such harsh sanctions haven't been issued before.
The Turkish presidency has prepared a video and an anthem on the occasion of the anniversary of the Naval Battle of Preveza which took place near the port of Prevaza in northwestern Greece in 1538. The video is a historic recreation of the battle but also includes various shots of Turkish naval officers.
A one-year-old toddler has been tortured to death in Istanbul, daily Birgün reported on Sept. 28. The toddler named “Hayat” (which translates as “Life” in Turkish) was reported to have bruises and burn scars on the body. The police reportedly detained the father whereas the mother is currently missing.
A fake "scientific publication" robbed some 50 people, mostly academics, of a total one million liras in southeast Turkey. The fraud allegedly offered users publication, and created an online space by copying legitimate websites.
Deputies and officials of pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) protested the detention of dozens of members last week, on charges related to the October 2014 Kobane protests. The HDP members are accused of inciting violence in the events that lead to the deaths of 37 people, as members of Turkish Hizbullah also took to the streets.
Turkey's first coronavirus vaccine was administered on Sept. 28 in Istanbul University. A 53-year-old health worker volunteered to receive the shot, and said that he hoped it would eliminate the pandemic soon.
Daily BirGün released video showing the crime scene of Nadira Kadirova's alleged suicide, revealing signs of a struggle in the suspicious death of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Şirin Ünal's help. Meanwhile, the daily released a video of Kadirova's mother at her grave, accusing the deputy of killing the young woman.
Kurdish singer Cesim Başboğa said that he was threatened by gendarmerie officials and MİT members to not sing in Kurdish in Bitlis' Tatvan district. According to Başboğa, a MİT official "banned" him to sing in Kurdish, saying, "I'm warning you for the last time. You'll be in trouble in the smallest mistake."
Turkish police have denied that three HDP politicians, including Mayor Ayhan Bilgen, were hospitalized over food poisoning while under detention. According to the police statement that was released after the HDP's claims on the issue, Bilgen was taken to a hospital over an infection in his body. Deputy Hüseyin Kaçmaz earlier on Sept. 28 said that Bilgen, İsmail Şengün and Can Memiş were taken to a hospital over food poisoning.
Turkish prosecutors have prepared a second indictment in connection with the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul. The indictment against the six suspects, including two consulate workers and four other Saudi nationals, was sent to the court to be combined with the main case.
Turkey's Industry and Technology Ministry falsely advertised opening a factory in a mass opening event, only to be refuted by the facility's board who said they'd been in business for 45 years. It was later claimed that the name was erroneously added, and that some of the factories had merely been invested in, and not built from scratch.
Police in the southeastern province of Şırnak are refusing to release the numbers of arrests for selling and using drugs amid a surge in illegal substances in recent years. "It has been determined that such information cannot be accessed on an individual basis," police responded to an inquiry by Duvar.
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.
City water in a district of western Kütahya was revealed to contain levels of arsenic 350 times higher than the acceptable standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO). The water also reportedly contains 8,000 times the acceptable level of boron, and deaths from cancer in the Emet district are three times as high as the other districts of Kütahya.
The Turkish government's restrictions on card and board games are hurting business for old-fashioned coffee houses. Old-fashioned coffeehouses are an important part of social life, especially for retired and unemployed men in Turkey, and board and card games are among the primary activities.
Economy
Turkey's Central Bank unexpectedly hiked interest rates on Sept. 24, triggering an improvement in the lira's value against the dollar. The Turkish Lira has sunk to record lows over the past month as Ankara's currency interventions proved futile.
Turkey's state-owned Halkbank has urged a judge to dismiss a U.S. indictment accusing the bank of helping Iran evade American sanctions. At a hearing in Manhattan federal court on Sept. 18, a lawyer for Halkbank said its status as a Turkish “instrumentality” shielded it from prosecution because of sovereign immunity.
U.S. tech giant Amazon offered up its speed-delivery subscription to Turkish consumers on Sept. 15. The monthly subscription fee was set for 7.99 Turkish Liras, about one dollar with the current exchange rates.
Turkey's unemployment rate rose to 13.4 percent. and participation edged up in the May-July period in which a coronavirus lockdown was lifted and a ban on layoffs remained in place, data showed on Sept. 10, painting a clearer picture of the pandemic's fallout.
Urban Beat
Istanbulites will select the new face of Taksim Square from among three projects as part of the Istanbul Municipality's plans to renovate the area. Şerif Süveydan, Bünyamin Derman and Kutlu İnanç Bal were the winners in the contest that was held by Istanbul Planning Agency and Istanbul Municipality's Department of Cultural Assets.
The Odunpazarı Modern Museum in western Eskişehir won the award for "international project of the year over £1m" at the London Museums+Heritage Awards. The museum opened its doors just over a year ago in the city's ancient Odunpazarı neighborhood.
The 48th Istanbul Music Festival will be held online, streaming pre-recorded performances in historical venues. Starting on Sept. 18, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) will make available the performances that honor composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
Heavy presence of the Asian tiger mosquito was detected in four Istanbul districts, concerning locals as the bug can carry malaria, the Zika virus and encephalitis. The invasive species have been increasing in population around Istanbul in the past decade, an Istanbul University veterinarian said.
Ali Demir writes: So the property of the local non-Muslims collapsed, and what happened? Nothing! The whole country is now composed of non-local foreigners. The greedy tailor apprentice that murdered his master could not sew a jacket, and will never be able to.