by instituDE, published on 29 April 2024


"No Breakthrough in Iraq but Insights for Turkey's Upcoming Summer Offensive" by Mustafa Enes Esen, The Institute for Diplomacy and Economy 

Erdogan has engaged different powerful actors in Iraq in this visit. Nonetheless, the fact that Ankara has to deal with several stakeholders who mistrust and undermine each other makes any real progress sluggish, at best, in Iraq for Turkey.  

For Ankara, the political and diplomatic support of the Iraqi government holds greater significance than its troop contributions, as Ankara seeks recognition of the legitimacy of its operations 40 km deep within Iraq. At least, this is what Turkey expects from its Iraqi counterparts. 

While Baghdad has recently taken a firmer stance against the PKK and designated it a banned organization, it lacks the capacity and willingness to assist in a prospective military operation with Turkey.

The most tangible outcome of this visit was the signing of a transportation agreement, the Iraq Development Road project, involving Turkey, Iraq, Qatar, and the UAE. This project is positioned to compete with the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) initiative, which currently excludes Turkey and Iraq. While the Iraq Development Road project holds the promise of generating tens of thousands of new jobs in Iraq, skepticism lingers regarding its feasibility as a viable alternative to the well-established trade routes in the region. 

President Erdogan's recent visit to Iraq was marked by the signing of numerous agreements and high honors. Nonetheless, there was no breakthrough in key issues such as military operations against the PKK, the resumption of oil flow via the Kirkuk-Ceyhan Oil Pipeline, and water resources. And it is unlikely that Turkey will reap lasting economic benefits without solving the underlying mistrust between Erbil and Baghdad.

"Rise and Fall of the AKP’s Islamist Appeal in Turkey" by Mustafa Gul, The Washington Institute

President Erdogan’s gradual distancing from reformist Islamist ideas and embrace of an increasingly nationalistic outlook—all while simultaneously deconstructing and reconstructing alliances over the past decade to meet his needs—appears to have provided an opening for the relatively new Islamist YRP (the New Welfare Party).

The middle and lower-middle class in Turkey, President Erdogan’s "organic" Islamist base, has seen their relative wealth deteriorate over the past decade. Meanwhile, the new beneficiaries of the economic program, those with higher incomes, backed Erdogan more for economic and political opportunitism than ideological alignment. This shift in support has left President Erdogan’s organic base struggling with a cost-of-living crisis while opportunistic newcomers reap the economic and political benefits of a government that Erdogan’s pious base brought to power.

The cost-of-living crisis remains rampant. Therefore, the YRP potentially stands to meet the disappointment and frustration of those masses left behind. The YRP, however, is hardly the ideal answer to the ownership crisis Islamism faces in Türkiye. President Erdogan’s reformist Islamism found appeal among larger masses precisely because of its more liberal outlook; in contrast, the YRP is too conservative to garner such appeal at the moment. However, the March 31 elections suggest that it indeed is a serious contender for ownership of the Islamist “cause.”

"Former CIA Officer Slams Turkish Claims of U.S. Role in 2016 Coup Attempt as 'Amateurish and Baseless' by Mahmut Cengiz, Homeland Security Today,

This is an interview to present the perspective of a former CIA Operations Officer who was in Turkey during the coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Some of the officer’s answers are provided below without any commentary.  

“The simple question that we can pose to Erdogan and his government: (a) If you DID NOT KNOW about the coup, how were you able to provide, within 12 hours of the alleged coup, a list of over 10,000 employees across many governmental institutions and at various levels of responsibilities who were Gulenists and have infested the ranks of your government?, (b) If you KNEW about the coup and had a long list of alleged suspects, why did you not arrest them much earlier than the day of the coup to avoid the fatalities? It doesn’t matter what their answer is, as either way, they’re at fault for not acting in time, or they must explain how they could produce a long list of suspects.”  

"Turkish accusations of US involvement in the alleged coup were amateurish and baseless. In any calculus, the US would not benefit from a coup in Turkey, especially without having a solid and viable alternate who would take over and guarantee the solidarity of the country, and honor the NATO agreements, and US Turkey defense collaboration. A chaotic Turkey would have been detrimental to US interests."

"Russia may have known about the coup murmur but opted to stay silent to see what would surface. To them, it didn't matter who was in charge of Turkey, as long as they understood to avoid endangering Russia's interest in preserving the Bashar Al Assad regime in Damascus."  

"The impact of the alleged coup attempt devastated Turkey's chances of meaningful collaboration with the European Union and solidified all negative impressions or assumptions about Erdogan and his regime. Erdogan may have benefited in the short term but hurt Turkey in the long term. This damage of the alleged coup attempt is so profound that it would take the Turkish people a few decades to fix what Erdogan's regime has done in his era."


  • Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan will pay a visit to Riyadh on 28-29 April 2024 to attend the Contact Group meeting on Gaza as mandated by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab League. Minister Fidan is also expected to hold bilateral meetings during the visit.


MHP Leader Calls for Stringent Measures Against Pro-Kurdish Party 

Far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, an ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, called for stringent measures against the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Equality and Democracy Party (DEM Party) on April 22. 

Bahceli indicated measures such as revoking the citizenship of its members, confiscating their assets, lifting the parliamentary immunity of its deputies, and shutting down the party.

Bahçeli's statement came after an incident recorded on video during the inauguration of Adnan Orhan and Fatma Gülan Önkol, the recently elected co-mayors of Diyarbakır's Sur district from the DEM Party. During the event, an attendee demanded the removal of pictures of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, and President Erdogan while making derogatory remarks. 

Justice Minister Yılmaz Tunç commented on Bahçeli's remarks about the DEM Party during a reception in parliament on April 23, marking the 104th anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish parliament. Tunç stated that a closure case against the DEM Party would be "inevitable" if it fails to distance itself from terrorism and continues to support such activities.

Aksener Steps Down as Party Leader, Dervisoglu Elected as New Chairman

Meral Aksener, leader of the nationalist opposition Good Party, delivered a farewell speech on April 27 at an extraordinary party congress held at the ATO Congresium in Ankara, where members would choose a new leader for the party.

In her speech, Aksener said that she has stood by all the decisions she has made throughout her political career and knows how to bear the consequences when necessary. The extraordinary congress was convened following the Good Party's loss in the recent local elections, securing only 3.7 percent of the nationwide vote and winning just one provincial municipality.

Musavat Dervisoglu was elected as the new chairman at the extraordinary congress. Party Group Deputy Chairman Müsavat Dervisoglu failed to secure an absolute majority in the first two rounds of voting, competing against other candidates, including Good Party Group Chairman Koray Aydın, Migration Policies Chairman Tolga Akalın, and Founding Board Member Gunay Kodaz. Dervisoglu was elected as the new leader of the Good Party in the third round of voting.


Central Bank Keeps Policy Rate Unchanged at 50 Percent

The Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey (CBRT), chaired by Fatih Karahan, convened on April 25 and maintained the policy rate, known as the one-week repo auction interest rate, at 50 percent.

In the announcement issued by the Central Bank, the following statements were highlighted: "Despite ongoing weakening, the monthly inflation trend in March exceeded expectations. Considering the lagged effects of monetary tightening and potential upward risks to inflation, the Committee opted to keep the policy rate unchanged." 

The bank also reiterated its cautious approach and stated that if a significant and lasting deterioration in inflation is anticipated, monetary policy will be tightened.

Turkey's Poverty Line Hits 58,200 Lira 

According to the Public Service Employees Union (Birleşik KAMU-İŞ), Turkey's poverty line has climbed to 58,205 lira ($1,790), while millions in the country try to survive on a minimum wage of 17,002 lira ($522). The poverty line, representing the total amount needed for a family of four to cover essential expenses without deprivation, has increased by 27,575 lira over the past year. 

The hunger line, indicating the minimum amount required for basic food expenses for a family of four, has decreased by 209 lira to 19,890 lira in April compared to the previous month due to a seasonal decline in vegetable prices. However, the hunger threshold increased by 8,257 lira in the last year.

Turkey Ranks 22nd in Global Military Spending with $15.8 Billion in 2023

A recent Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report shows that Turkey allocated $15.8 billion for military expenses in 2023, ranking it the 22nd largest spender globally.

The report highlights a significant increase in Turkey's military expenditure, rising by 37 percent since 2022 and 59 percent since 2014. Turkey's share of global military spending in 2023 amounted to 0.6 percent of the total spending. In terms of GDP, Turkey devoted 1.5 percent to military expenses in 2023.

Turkey in Talks with ExxonMobil for a Multibillion-dollar LNG Deal 

The Financial Times reported on April 28 that Turkey is currently in discussions with US energy giant ExxonMobil to finalize a multibillion-dollar deal for liquefied natural gas (LNG) procurement.

In an interview with the FT, Turkish Energy Minister Alparslan Bayraktar stated that the country aims to diversify its energy sources to minimize reliance on any single partner. 

The proposed deal with Exxon would secure up to 2.5 million tonnes of LNG annually for Turkey, which could last for a decade, the minister added. Bayraktar also mentioned that the specific commercial terms of the agreement with Exxon are still being discussed.


Kurdish Journalists Arrested on Terrorism Charges After Home Raids

Three out of nine Kurdish journalists detained earlier this week were arrested on April 26 after giving testimony to a prosecutor, while six were released under judicial supervision.

Turkish police carried out coordinated raids in Istanbul, Ankara, and southeastern Sanliurfa province on April 23, resulting in the detention of the nine journalists as part of an operation based in Istanbul. They remained in police custody until April 26, when they were able to testify.

Following their testimony, journalists Esra Solin Dal, Mehmet Aslan, and Erdogan Alayumat were arrested on charges of "membership in a terrorist organization." The other six journalists—Enes Sezgin, Saliha Aras, Yeşim Alıcı, Beste Argat Balcı, Şirin Ermiş, and Doğan Kaynak—working for various Kurdish news outlets, were released under judicial supervision.

US State Department Report Exposes Human Rights Abuses in Turkey

The US State Department's annual human rights report highlights widespread human rights abuses in Turkey, affecting various groups, including Kurds, followers of the Gulen movement, civil society members, and journalists.

Released on April 22, the 2023 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices includes an 86-page section focusing on Turkey. The report identifies numerous significant human rights issues, such as enforced disappearances and instances of torture or cruel treatment.

According to the report, as of July 2023, there were 15,539 detainees in Turkish prisons allegedly linked to the Gulen movement, based on data from the Turkish justice ministry. It also notes the Turkish government's global efforts to apprehend suspected Gulen movement members and reports of bilateral pressure on other countries to take adverse actions against individuals without proper legal procedures.

ECHR Rules Against Turkey for Jailed UN Judge

The European Court of Human Rights, based in Strasbourg, has once again found Turkey guilty in the case of former judge and Ambassador Aydın Sefa Akay. Akay was arrested for using ByLock following the alleged coup attempt on July 15. Turkey has been ordered to pay a total of 28,000 Euros in compensation to Akay. 

The court made this decision on April 23, based on Akay's application submitted in 2017. It ruled that Turkey violated Akay's right to freedom and security under Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights and his right to respect for family and private life under Article 8. 

Akay, whose sentence of 7 years and 6 months was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2021, remains incarcerated in Rize.

83-Year-Old Kurdish Woman Jailed Again Despite Health Concerns

An ailing 83-year-old Kurdish woman named Makbule Ozer was imprisoned for a second time on April 22. The court's decision followed a medical report from Turkey's Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK), which deemed her fit to remain in prison.

Özer had initially been arrested in May 2022, along with her husband, 79-year-old Hadi Özer, and later released for medical reasons in September 2022. However, following a new ATK report issued in November 2023, she was deemed fit to be incarcerated again. 

She is currently serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence for her alleged connections to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Over 550 Children Accompany Mothers in Turkish Prisons 

2023 data from the Justice Ministry revealed that 552 children under the age of six are currently living with their mothers in prisons, while Turkey celebrated its 104th National Sovereignty and Children's Day on April 23.

The number of children accompanying their mothers in prison surged in Turkey following the coup attempt in July 2016, during which tens of thousands of women were arrested.

Elif Esen, deputy chair of the opposition Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), visited children in Ankara's Sincan Prison and İstanbul's Silivri Prison on Children's Day. She reported to the Gazete Duvar news website that these children lack basic necessities.

CoE Has No Plans for Sanctions on Turkey

Daniel Höltgen, the Council of Europe's director of communications and spokesperson for the secretary-general, said that the Committee of Ministers has no intention of imposing sanctions on Turkey for not complying with European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) rulings regarding the release of businessman Osman Kavala. 

T24 news website reported on April 26 that Höltgen made this statement during a press briefing at the CoE headquarters in Strasbourg, marking the organization's 75th anniversary.

Despite the ECtHR's repeated calls and the initiation of infringement proceedings against Turkey, Höltgen mentioned that member states show no interest in enforcing sanctions. "The infringement procedure was started as a signal to Turkey rather than as a precursor to expulsion," Höltgen said.


Freedom Flotilla Blocked in Turkey Amid Israeli Pressure

A "freedom flotilla" aiming to deliver aid to Gaza was stopped in Turkey on April 27 after being refused the use of two of its ships, which organizers attribute to Israeli pressure.

The coalition of NGOs and other associations couldn't depart as planned after Guinea-Bissau, the West African country, withdrew its flagged vessels, already loaded with over 5,000 tons of life-saving aid.

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition stated that Guinea-Bissau authorities made several "extraordinary" requests for information, including destinations, potential additional port calls, cargo manifest, and estimated arrival dates and times.

Turkish authorities and state media have not commented on the flotilla so far. 

Three of the flotilla's ships have been docked for a week at the port of Tuzla, south of Istanbul, with plans to set sail on April 26.

President Erdogan's Planned Visit to USA on May 9 Postponed

President Erdogan's visit to the USA, which was planned for May 9, has been postponed. The postponement was confirmed by Öncü Keceli, Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Spokesperson Keceli announced that the visit was postponed to a later date that would suit both parties.

Before Keceli's statement, the Bloomberg news agency announced that the meeting was postponed. Following Bloomberg's news, Reuters agency also announced the postponement. According to the news, the official said the meeting "was postponed due to changes in Erdogan's schedule, and a new date will be determined shortly."

Although Turkish officials announced that Erdogan would visit Washington on May 9 and meet with US President Joe Biden, there has been no official confirmation from Washington regarding this meeting so far.

Several high-level US diplomats traveled over the past few days to Ankara to lay the ground for the summit, notably US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs John Bass and the State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism, Elizabeth Richard, who was in the Turkish capital on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Turkey's new ambassador to the United States, Sedat Onal, is expected to arrive in Washington on April 29.

Erdogan's Landmark Visit to Iraq Signals New Phase in Relations

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan made a highly anticipated visit to Iraq on April 22, marking the first visit by a Turkish leader since 2011.

During a joint news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani in Baghdad, Erdogan announced that relations between the two countries were entering a new phase. Both sides agreed to collaborate against Kurdish militants, enhance economic ties through a new trade corridor, and address Iraq's water needs.

Sudani stated that the two nations reached an agreement on a strategic framework that will oversee security, trade, and energy, along with a 10-year deal concerning the management of water resources tailored to meet Iraq's needs.

After talks with Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid, Erdogan emphasized the need for Iraq to eradicate terrorism while Rashid expressed support for joint efforts against terrorism, but he opposed any attacks on Iraqi soil.

During Erdogan's one-day visit, 26 memoranda of understanding (MOUs) were signed, covering various areas such as culture, agriculture, education, and health.

Erdogan and Sudani also oversaw the signing of a memorandum between Turkey, Iraq, Qatar, and the UAE for cooperation on Iraq's $17 billion Development Road project, with Qatari and Emirati ministers in attendance.

After meetings in Baghdad, Erdogan traveled to Erbil, the provincial capital of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, for talks with Iraqi Kurdish officials. 

In Erbil, Erdogan met with Kurdish officials Nechirvan Barzani and Masrour Barzani. According to the Directorate of Communications of the Turkish Presidency, discussions focused on regional and global issues, including counterterrorism efforts.

Later on the same day, Turkish Defence Minister Yasar Guler announced that Turkey and Iraq had agreed to establish a joint military operations center and would collaborate on shared objectives.

Steinmeier's Diplomatic Visit to Turkey Highlights Bilateral Relations 

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier began his visit to Turkey on April 22, starting in Istanbul. He emphasized the strong personal connections between Germans and Turks.

During his visit to Istanbul's Sirkeci train station, where many Turkish migrants embarked on journeys to Germany, Steinmeier acknowledged their contribution to building Germany.

Steinmeier's first significant meeting was with Istanbul's mayor, opposition politician Ekrem İmamoğlu. In discussions with the President, İmamoğlu expressed disappointment over the current strained relations between Turkey, Germany, and the EU, according to the sources close to Steinmeier. The German President showed keen interest in his talks with the opposition figure, the sources said.

Steinmeier also invited people from the business world, journalists, politicians, and sports world to the historical summer residence of the German Embassy in Istanbul, Tarabya.

Steinmeier also visited the headquarters of the German logistics company DHL at Istanbul Airport.

Steinmeier then went to Gaziantep and attended the April 23 celebration in Gaziantep and then visited the container city established for earthquake victims in Nurdağı district. 

On April 24, Steinmeier met with Ankara Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Mansur Yavaş at Ankara University (AÜ) Faculty of Languages, History and Geography after visiting Anıtkabir.

The same day, President Erdogan and Steinmeier held a joint press conference after their private and inter-delegation meetings at the Presidential Complex. In the press conference, Steinmeier touched upon the relations between the two countries and the humanitarian crisis in Palestine.

Steinmeier, who came to the German Embassy in Ankara from the Presidential Complex, met with CHP Chairman Özgür Özel.