Washington-Ankara
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tore into President Donald Trump on Sept. 24 after he declined to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the presidential election in November. “You are not in North Korea, you are not in Turkey, you are not in Russia, Mr. President. You are in the United States of America, it is a democracy, so why don’t you just try for a moment to honor your oath of office, to the Constitution of the United States?” she said.
US special envoy for Syria James Jeffrey arrived in Turkey on Aug. 26 with an accompanying delegation to discuss the latest efforts to resolve the Syrian conflict. "We have exciting developments on the Syrian account," Jeffrey told reporters at the airport. "The military phase of this conflict needs to end. There is no more ground to be gained by the regime. The regime needs to return to the negotiating table and deal with the rest of the international community. That's our priority," he said.
Turkish state lender Halkbank has lost a bid to have the U.S. judge overseeing a criminal case accusing it of helping Iran evade American sanctions recuse himself. “Haklbank’s recusal motion is a belated rerun of the Zarrab recusal motion, supplemented by 1,014 additional pages of exhibits and two purported expert declarations,” the judge wrote.
Former U.S. national security adviser John Bolton has said that Turkey didn't submit sufficient evidence for the extradition of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen. According to Bolton, Turkey submitted the same materials for his extradition several times. "Department of Justice officials felt that there just wasn't enough there to consider sending Fethullah Gülen back, so that never happened," Bolton said.
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 has voiced discontent with the United States' decision to provide International Military Education and Training (IMET) to Greek Cypriot soldiers in accordance with the 2020 fiscal year appropriations act. "This and similar steps do not contribute to the efforts towards the settlement of the Cyprus issue, but on the contrary, lead to strengthening the intransigent attitude of the Greek Cypriot side," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.
The U.S. has criticized Turkey over deportations and entry bans of non-Muslims in its report on religious freedoms. The State Department cited community sources as saying that some of the deportations and entry bans during the year targeted foreign-citizen members of the community who had lived legally, as long-term residents, in the country for decades and who had previously not experienced any immigration difficulties.
Russia boosted spending to form a force consisting of Arabs in northern Syria in a bid to counter U.S. influence in the region, Cıburi tribe sheikh Fewaz Zobea told Rudaw, adding that Moscow is trying to pull youth from Arab tribes to its side by arming them and paying their salaries in dollars.
President Erdoğan has sent a letter to U.S. President Trump, voicing his hope that the U.S. Congress would better understand the strategic importance of their relations, given solidarity and supplies shared during the coronavirus pandemic. “I hope that in the upcoming period, with the spirit of solidarity we have displayed during the pandemic, Congress and the U.S. media will better understand the strategic importance of our relations,” he said.
Turkey has slammed The New York Times and CNN International for using pictures taken in Istanbul in their reports on new U.S. travel restrictions over coronavirus. "It is disturbing to see that following the U.S. announcement to suspend travel to the United States from Schengen Countries, The New York Times and CNN used photos from Istanbul in their coverage in total contradiction with principles of professional and objective journalism," Ambassador Kılıç said.
The United States has asked Ankara to guarantee that it will not activate S-400 missile defense systems that it purchased from Russia to supply Patriot batteries, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on March 10. "They [the U.S.] softened significantly on this S-400 issue. They are now at the point of 'promise us you won't make the S-400s operational,'" he added.
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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
A man has threatened his wife with two bullets, accusing her of cheating on him just because both her and a male colleague's coronavirus tests came out positive. The abusive husband's threats that lasted for days caused the woman to give early birth.
A summary of proceedings was prepared against CHP Group Deputy Chair Özgür Özel for calling Erdoğan "a lame duck" in 2019, when in fact Erdoğan used the same for the CHP a day earlier. Özel said that the prosecutor who accuses him of insulting the president needs to launch an investigation into Erdoğan as well since he used the same phrase against the main opposition.
A building housing Alevi families in suburban Istanbul was the scene of a hate crime, daily Cumhuriyet reported on Oct. 20. Police started an investigation into the incident, the most recent in Turkey's long record of hate crimes. "Everyone should hear our voice," resident Muhterem Aydoğdu said.
The health director of the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa warned locals that hot peppers don't protect from coronavirus. The director also said that locals thought the heat protected from the illness, but that both were misconceptions.
Medical students from Istanbul University started a boycott of their dining hall, requesting free, quality meals. The students are asking that attending doctors be allowed in the personnel cafeteria everyday, and that students who are simply working at the hospital be offered meals during their shifts.
After having been blocked in Turkey for five years, the European Court of Human Rights is expecting Turkey to provide a defense of its decision to block access to the website sendika.org, which mainly covers labor issues. The website's lawyers took the countless bans to the ECHR in February after Turkey's Constitutional Court failed to look into the case for five years.
The downgrading of the protected status of various areas in Ayvalık is among the latest attempts by the government to incentivize development projects in the region, a troubling trend that has threatened natural areas throughout the country. The authorities also want to downgrade the protected status of a significant section of Cunda Island, according to Ayvalık Nature Platform director Nebahat Dinler.
Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has refuted reports that the Menzil cult is active within the ministry, while also promising to fight all cults. The minister's remarks came after Ali Edizer, a deputy chief physician, was removed from his post after defending Islamist polygamy on social media. His links to the Menzil cult surfaced later on, adding to the years-long suspicion that the religious group is active in the ministry.
An Ankara appeals court has ruled that Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu's referring to renowned political expert Prof. Baskın Oran as a “servant” and “despicable” person fell within the scope of freedom of expression.
Turkish Health Ministry has revised its daily coronavirus toll for Oct. 19 following an inconsistency in data. The ministry initially said that the country registered 1,958 new coronavirus "patients" in the last 24 hours, but later revised the figure as 2,026.
Former Mardin Mayor Ahmet Türk on Oct. 19 testified for Ankara prosecutors as part of an investigation into 2014 Kobane protests. Türk said that he went to Kobane at the time within the knowledge of Turkish authorities and the aid to Kobane was dispatched under the coordination of Mardin Governor's Office.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades has congratulated the new leader of the Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus Ersin Tatar and has expressed hope that Tatar would support a new UN-led peace initiative to solve the Cyprus issue. Tatar is a supporter of separate administrations on the Mediterranean island which split after a 1974 Turkish invasion in response to a brief Greek-inspired coup.
Turkey began withdrawing its troops from the “ninth” military observation point in Morek city, in northwestern Syria, according to various reports. Turkish forces have been stationed in Morek for nearly two years and four months.
Ankara-backed presidential candidate Ersin Tatar won the elections in Turkish Cyprus. In his victory speech, Tatar thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with whom he has strong relations. They will never tear the ties between us and Turkey," he said. "Yes, we are open to an agreement with Cyprus but the Turkish Cypriot people will accept the terms of this agreement with a free will," he added.
President Erdoğan has said that the southeastern border province of Şırnak has the same advantages as the other 80 provinces. "What exists in Turkey's 80 other provinces in the name of democracy, rights and freedoms exists here. We serve on the basis of democracy and development for everyone. We have been doing in Şırnak whatever we have been doing for Turkey's development since we came to power," Erdoğan said.
Istanbul Municipality will replace certain vertical gardens with ivy and other climbing plants to settle the controversy surrounding their removal. Istanbul Municipality decided to remove the vertical gardens on the grounds that they had limited ecological benefits, but large financial costs.
Economy
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.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected that income per capita in Turkey would drop to 2005 levels, an annual average of $7,720. The IMF also predicted a five percent contraction in the Turkish economy until the end of 2020, despite Ankara's 0.3 percent growth projection.
Turkey's net international investment deficit grew by $20 billion from the end of 2019 to reach a total $365.8 billion at the end of August. Turkey's international assets shrunk by 10.2 percent to reach $227.4 billion in the same period.
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.
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.
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.
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.