by instituDE, published on 25 September 2023


"Loneliness Kills" by Omer Guler, Institute for Diplomacy and Economy

I should confess that I was first impressed by the cover of "The Lonely Century" by Noreena Hertz. As I immersed myself in the book from the very beginning, I realized that the content is better than the cover. 

I am writing this article because reading this book made me better understand the persecution that I and millions of others have been suffering in Turkey after the failed, or as many argue, staged or controlled, 15 July coup attempt in 2016.

As the title of one of the book's chapters suggests, "loneliness kills".

Now, try to put yourself in the shoes of a Gülenist or a dissident in Turkey. Dismissed from public service or lost your job in the private sector, have no right to a fair trial, mistreated/tortured by the police, discriminated against and dehumanized in society, and have no ties with friends, former colleagues and even siblings and parents. This is the utmost loneliness that Noreena Hertz describes: disconnected not only from your friends, relatives, and colleagues but also from your government, public institutions, and society. And you are not only disconnected but discriminated against, too.

Considering the broad definition of loneliness put forward by Noreena Hertz and 'loneliness kills,' it will help us better understand 'modern forms of genocide.' Because it is beyond doubt that persecution and dehumanization create loneliness for the victims, and loneliness kills.

"Meet the world's new arms dealers", The Economist

If South Korea is the undisputed leader among emerging arms exporters, second place goes to Turkey. Since the ruling AK party came to power in 2002 it has poured money into its defence industry. A goal of achieving near-autarky in weapons production has become more pressing in the face of American and European sanctions.

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) thinks that between 2018 and 2022 Turkey's weapons exports increased by 69% compared with the previous five-year period, and that its share of the global arms market doubled. According to a report in July by a local industry body, the value of its defence and aerospace exports rose by 38% in 2022, compared with the previous year, reaching $4.4bn. The target for this year is $6bn. More sales to other countries are likely, both because Turkey's ships are competitively priced and because Turkey has few qualms about who it will sell to.

Yet Turkey's export charge is led by armed drones. On July 18th Turkey signed a $3bn agreement with Saudi Arabia to supply the Akinci unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV). It was made by Baykar, which also produces the Bayraktar TB2—a drone that has been used in combat by Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, Libya and Ukraine. The TB2 was developed to hunt Kurdish militants after America refused to sell Turkey its Predator drone. More than 20 countries lined up to buy it because it was cheaper and more readily available than the American alternative, and more reliable than the Chinese UCAVS that had previously dominated the non-Western market.

The Akinci is more powerful. It will find buyers among several other Gulf countries, such as Oman, Qatar and the UAE, which are keen to hedge against souring relations with America by reducing their reliance on its weaponry. These countries also have ambitions to build their own defence industries; they see Turkey as a willing partner and as an example to follow.

Turkey's ambitions are shown by what else is in the pipeline. Its new navy flagship, the Anadolu, is a 25,000-tonne amphibious assault ship and light aircraft-carrier that will carry Bayraktar UCAVS. At least one Gulf country is said to be in talks to buy a similar ship. Turkey's fifth-generation fighter jet, the KAAN, in which Pakistan and Azerbaijan are partners, should fly before the end of the year. Developed with help from Britain's BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce, the KAAN could be seen as a response to Turkey's ejection from the f-35 partner programme (as punishment for buying the s-400). Turkey will market the plane to anyone America will not sell f-35s to—or who balks at the conditions. Once again, Gulf countries may be first in line.

"Turkey gloats at Menendez indictment but will it get the F-16 jets?" by Adam Lucente, Al-Monitor

The announcement of federal corruption charges against Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., on Friday leading up to him stepping down as the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), was met by snarky reactions in Turkish news outlets and social media, a response to the lawmaker's strong and persistent criticism of Turkey.

Menendez, a well-known foreign policy figure and established power broker in the Senate, allegedly participated in a bribery scheme involving his wife, Nadine, and three businesspeople in his state of New Jersey, federal prosecutors announced on Friday. 

"The biggest obstacle to the sale of F-16s to Turkey was Menendez," Asli Aydintasbas, a visiting fellow at Brookings, tweeted on Friday, adding that Turkey is following the indictment "very closely."

Differences between Erdogan and Biden, however, could still delay the purchase. The US president has yet to invite his Turkish counterpart to the White House, and the two did not meet while in New York this week for the United Nations General Assembly meetings. 

Erdogan's delay in ratifying Sweden's NATO bid, new US sanctions on Turkish firms allegedly doing business with Russia, and tension with US allies in Syria have all created a rift between Washington and Ankara, making the F-16 sale less about Menendez and more about the bilateral relationship. 

"Mr. Erdogan in New York: A Transactional Foreign Policy Should be Repaid in Kind" by Sinan Ciddi, The Foundation for Defense of Democracies 

Currently on the table for Turkey is a doubling of its World Bank loan exposure to a total of $35 billion; the US is the largest shareholder in the World Bank. 

But the question remains: Is Erdogan's Turkey a reliable ally of the West? Beyond the ongoing bargaining over Sweden's NATO accession, Erdogan's foreign policy raises doubts in several areas. 

On Ukraine, Erdogan allows Turkish firms to sell dual-use technologies to the Russian military. Turkey refuses to participate in the sanctions regime against Moscow, which over 40 allied countries implement. Furthermore, Erdogan is no longer perceived to be a persuasive mediator with Putin, given that Moscow refuses to re-enter the grain deal, even after Erdogan's recent meeting with Putin in Sochi.

On Israel, a shipment from Turkey of 16 tons of rocket-making material, bound for Gaza, was very recently seized by Israeli authorities at its port in Ashdod. Ankara refuses to designate Hamas as a terrorist organization and provides the Hamas leadership sanctuary and offices on Turkish soil.

The US Treasury continues to sanction numerous Turkish persons and entities over their continued efforts to habitually evade international sanctions.

A smart way to approach Mr. Erdogan in New York is along the lines suggested in June by Ambassador Daniel Fried in the JST: be clear and consistent and respond to his conditions with ones of our own. 

If Turkey desires to receive budget support, like other distressed states, this is the realm of the IMF. IMF loans come with strong conditionality that, among other things, provides budget transparency. Erdogan does not want IMF programs and prefers World Bank project lending, possibly because disclosing government budget spending on his part would reveal corrupt practices.


Opposition leader Aksener reveals CHP leader's offer of joint presidential candidate in 2018

Opposition Good Party leader Meral Aksener revealed on September 18 that Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu had proposed former President Abdullah Gul as a joint presidential candidate for the 2018 elections. Aksener shared this information during her party's Thrace Organization Meeting in Edirne province, confirming that Kilicdaroglu made the offer when she requested 15 deputies from the CHP for her party.

She explained that she declined the offer, as her party had already nominated her as a candidate, and her party members would not accept Gul's candidacy. To enable the recently established Good Party to participate in the 2018 general election, the CHP allocated its 15 deputies to the party, granting them the right to form a parliamentary group and enter the election.

Former CHP senior reveals internal polls showed Kilicdaroglu trailing Erdogan

Onursal Adiguzel, a member of the Republican People's Party (CHP) Party Assembly and former Deputy Chair of Information and Communication Technologies, revealed in an interview that in January, internal polls conducted by the CHP suggested that party leader and presidential candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu was trailing behind Erdogan, contrary to what some CHP members believed. 

Adiguzel stated that these surveys indicated a close race between Kilicdaroglu and Erdogan, but the party leadership ignored the results despite objections within the CHP. 

Adiguzel resigned from his position in the CHP after the first round of the presidential election amid criticisms regarding the party's election data system. He also claimed that the system functioned correctly, but data came in slowly from the party organization.

Lawsuit filed against 28 individuals for attack on Istanbul Mayor Imamoglu

A lawsuit has been filed against 28 individuals on charges of "attempted armed and simple injury" in connection with an attack directed at Ekrem Imamoglu during his Erzurum rally on May 7 before the elections.

The indictment, prepared by the Erzurum Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, includes 15 victims and 20 complainants, including Imamoglu, his advisor Murat Ongun, and Suat Dulger, the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Erzurum Provincial Chair.

The indictment highlights that it was unclear who the attackers were and their purpose when they started chanting. 

The prosecutor also argues that the suspects did not know each other, arrived separately, lacked unity of purpose, and did not act in an organized manner. Some of the attackers, identified through CCTV footage, claimed they did not throw stones, with one stating that he threw pine cones, he found on the ground, while another said he threw plums at the participants.


Erdogan asks Musk to consider building Tesla factory in Turkey

During a meeting in New York at the Turkish House, Turkish President Erdogan asked Tesla CEO Elon Musk to consider building a Tesla factory in Turkey, according to the presidency's communications directorate. Musk reportedly said several Turkish suppliers already work with Tesla, and Turkey is a strong candidate for their next factory location.

Erdogan and Musk also discussed potential cooperation in artificial intelligence and SpaceX's Starlink satellite internet venture. Musk expressed interest in working with Turkish authorities to obtain the license to offer Starlink services in Turkey, the communications directorate claimed.

Additionally, Erdogan invited Musk to attend the Teknofest aerospace and technology festival in Izmir at the end of September, and Musk reportedly expressed his willingness to participate.

Alibaba announces $2 billion investment to Turkey

Alibaba, the major Chinese e-commerce company, plans to invest $2 billion in Turkey, a signal of the growing economic relationship between the two countries. This announcement was shared by Alibaba's President, Michael Evans, after meeting with Turkish President Erdogan in Istanbul on September 15. Evans expressed confidence in Turkey's solid economic foundations and highlighted that Alibaba has already contributed $1.4 billion to Turkey through its Turkish unit, Trendyol.

Turkey's Central Bank raises interest rates to 30% 

On September 21, Turkey's Central Bank increased interest rates by 500 basis points, lifting from 25% to 30%. The decision, made during the monthly monetary policy committee meeting, was attributed to the rising inflation and fuel prices. 

The Central Bank's statement noted that inflation had exceeded expectations in July and August. The statement also mentioned ongoing concerns such as strong domestic demand, persistent services inflation, rising oil prices, and deteriorating inflation expectations, which collectively contribute to increased inflation risks.

Turkey secures €895.7 million World Bank financing for green transformation

Turkey secured a €895.7 million ($966 million) financing deal with the World Bank for green transformation initiatives, announced the Treasury and Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek. He said this financing aligns with the World Bank's commitment to provide $35 billion in funding to Turkey over a three-year period. 

According to the minister, the financing will be used for new investments in the real sector, including reconstruction efforts following February's earthquakes and initiatives for green transformation. 


Documentary on dismissal of civil servants removed from Antalya Film Festival lineup

The film "The Decree," initially chosen for the national documentary competition at the 60th Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival, has been removed from the lineup due to an ongoing legal process involving one of the documentary's topics. Festival sources revealed that this decision stemmed from instructions given by the Culture and Tourism Ministry, which threatened to withdraw financial support if the film remained in the selection. The Antalya Governor's Office also reportedly warned against potential bans and disruptions if the movie wasn't removed.

Director Nejla Demirci reported that the Constitutional Court had previously ruled in favor of her film during its production and awarded compensation. Jury members from various competition categories also expressed their support for the director and declared they would participate in the festival only if "The Decree" was reinstated in the Documentary Competition selection.


Drone strike kills three Iraqi counter-terrorism members in Kurdistan Region

On September 18, a drone strike hit the Arbid military airport in Iraq's Kurdistan region, resulting in three members of the Iraqi counter-terrorism service losing their lives and three others sustaining injuries, according to the Iraqi military.

Iraqi military spokesman Yahya Rasool mentioned that the drone had entered Iraqi airspace from Turkey's border.

Additionally, a local official and a security source reported six casualties and two members of the Kurdish security forces were wounded in the strike.

Ankara has not claimed any responsibility for the attack.

Netanyahu and Erdogan meet in New York, discuss bilateral relations and regional peace

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held their first-ever meeting on September 19 in New York during the United Nations General Assembly summit. They reportedly discussed strengthening bilateral relations and the potential for Saudi Arabia to normalize ties with Israel.

The Turkish presidency tweeted about the meeting, noting that discussions covered international and regional issues, political and economic relations between the two countries, and the latest developments regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Netanyahu's office issued a statement after the meeting, stating that the leaders agreed to further advance Israel-Turkey relations in trade and energy sectors. According to the statement, they also addressed regional and international matters, including the potential normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Turkey and Israel are set to collaborate on energy drilling, as President Erdogan stated on September 21, and they also plan to establish energy networks connecting to Europe through Turkey.

Biden Administration issues new sanctions on Iran-related entities across multiple countries

On September 19, the Biden administration imposed new sanctions related to Iran, targeting several individuals and entities in Iran, Russia, China, and Turkey involved in Tehran's development of drones and military aircraft.

These sanctions specifically focus on seven individuals and four entities across these countries, including 2 Turkish citizens, foreign exchange brokers Mehmet Tokdemir and Alaaddin Aykut, who the US Department of Treasury claims have been involved in facilitating shipments and financial transactions related to the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company and its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and military aircraft programs.

Turkey and Greece to resume confidence-building talks in November

Turkish President Erdogan and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis met on September 20 in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly and agreed to restart confidence-building talks that were halted in 2022, according to an announcement from the Turkish government.

A statement released after their meeting stated that the new round of talks is scheduled for November. The statement added that Erdogan and Mitsotakis also affirmed their commitment to follow the road map discussed during Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Gerapetritis' recent visit to Turkey earlier this month.

Turkish Foreign Minister meets with US Secretary of State in New York

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on September 22 in New York during the 78th UN General Assembly. According to Turkish diplomatic sources, the meeting, which lasted for 35 minutes, involved discussions on enhancing bilateral relations and addressing specific, constructive steps for the future. Additionally, the conversation covered topics such as the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Sweden's NATO membership, and developments in Karabakh. 

US State Department said that Blinken emphasized the significance of the US-Turkey relationship and expressed support for increased economic and bilateral cooperation. The statement added that he also stressed the importance of swiftly ratifying Sweden's NATO accession.

Ukraine-annexed coal exported to Turkey, Russian customs data reveals

Ukraine's coal, valued at a minimum of $14.3 million, has been exported to Turkey this year, based on Russian customs data assessed by Reuters. Approximately 160,400 tonnes of coal from eastern Ukrainian regions annexed by Russia, Donetsk and Luhansk, arrived in Turkey between February and July 2023. Three producers mentioned in the data confirmed shipping coal from these regions to Turkey during that time.

In contrast to the US and EU, Turkey has not imposed trade restrictions on Russia or Moscow-controlled areas of Ukraine. While the US has cautioned against aiding Russia's actions in Ukraine, Turkey remains a significant destination for coal exports from these annexed regions, accounting for 95% of shipments during the period.