by instituDE, published on 3 June 2024


"The Limits of Turkish Armed Drones: Allies are Irreplaceable" by Hasim Tekines, The Institute for Diplomacy and Economy  

Recent reports indicate that Kurdish PKK forces may have successfully downed several Turkish drones. The PKK claims to have acquired a defense system capable of countering Turkish UAVs, and while the details remain murky, there is a possibility that these systems were supplied by external actors. A pro-government media outlet underscores that the PKK acquired these anti-drone capabilities through Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in Iraq, which in turn received them from Iran—a claim that cannot be easily discounted. Another website considered close to Turkish authorities indicates that the PKK has acquired Iranian-made Meraj anti-drone kamikaze systems. Or it can be Russia which developed advanced jamming technology against U.S. precision-guided missiles in Ukraine. Russia can provide similar capabilities to groups opposing Turkey.

Turkey’s drone technology has undoubtedly transformed its military capabilities, offering significant tactical advantages in various conflict zones. However, the recent attacks on Turkish drones by the PKK and the potential involvement of external actors like Iran and Russia underscore the limitations and evolving nature of drone warfare.

In the rapidly changing landscape of drone warfare, maintaining technological superiority requires a collaborative approach that leverages the strengths of both national and allied capabilities. Turkey’s success on the battlefield will depend not only on its drones but also on its ability to integrate and utilize the best available technology from its NATO partners.

"Post-election challenges ahead: Will Erdoğan opt AKP out?" by Murat Yetkin, Yetkin Report

If Erdoğan can eventually make the difficult decision to administer a similar bitter pill to his party, which has kept him in power for over twenty years, as he has to the public in the economic sphere, the AKP could reverse its signs of chronic vote loss. Before making this tough decision, he needs to navigate three scenarios and a dilemma ahead.

1. Embrace the “political normalization” line, or “softening in politics,” initiated by CHP leader Özgür Özel’s dialogue proposal genuinely,

2. Continue the power politics he has followed so far, perhaps with some cosmetic concessions, with the support of MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli,

3. Use the time gained for the March 31 review to cover up the anticipated improvements in the economy until August-September, possibly with foreign policy-security issues, not to transform the AKP but to make people forget the defeat.

The first scenario implies a retreat from the polarization and confrontation politics that have kept Erdoğan in power for twenty years. Choosing this scenario would indeed be the most radical and bitter decision for Erdoğan. It might also require a process of self-criticism and purging within the AKP.

The second scenario means renewing the informal, unwritten coalition protocol between the AKP and MHP within the People’s Alliance. It would require both Erdoğan and Bahçeli to shed certain burdens but would mean the continuation of polarization/confrontation politics.

The third scenario is the least risky for Erdoğan. It means dismissing a few scapegoats within the AKP, considering March 31 not as a sign of a “chain reaction” but as a “road accident,” and not deviating from his current course.

"Yalçınkaya v Türkiye: The implications and potential consequences of continuing non-compliance" by Dr Suzanne Egan, Human Rights in Context

Many authors have advocated the need for more robust measures to be taken by the Council of Europe as a whole in cases such as Kavala where a judgment arising from the infringement procedure is ignored. These include suggestions for direct dialogue with domestic institutions, including courts who are responsible for the execution, the introduction of fines for non-implementation, and ultimately the imposition of even more robust sanctions. 

Donald and Leach, among others, are critical of the reluctance of PACE to use its powers of suspension in a more forthright manner, including with respect to states like Azerbaijan and Turkey “which have persisted with backsliding despite being under full monitoring”. Others have questioned why the CoM has failed to use its statutory powers more robustly “…especially where there are clear signs of a crisis and it is more beneficial for the legitimacy, effectiveness and reputation of the international organization to expel recalcitrant members’.

The Committee of Ministers should prioritize monitoring the Yalçınkaya judgment with clear timelines, establish a mechanism for dialogue with national courts, and consider ways to encourage compliance in domestic proceedings. The Committee of Ministers and PACE should act swiftly against Turkey’s reluctance to comply with the Court’s ruling, including taking infringement proceedings, imposing graduated sanctions, and considering expulsion as a last resort.


  • Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan will pay an official visit to China on 3-5 June 2024 upon the invitation of his counterpart Wang Yi. During the visit, both parties are expected to discuss bilateral relations as well as current regional and global issues.


Former CHP Leader Visits Imprisoned Kurdish leader Demirtas

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, former leader of Turkey’s Republican People’s Party (CHP), said on May 28 that terrorism would end if imprisoned Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtas were freed, highlighting that civil politics would advance significantly.

Kilicdaroglu made these comments after visiting Demirtas, former co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), and Adnan Selcuk Mizrakli, former mayor of Diyarbakir, in Edirne prison.

The visit also addressed broader issues in Turkish politics, including the exodus of young people from the country and the need for democratization. Kilicdaroglu argued that normalization in Turkey cannot occur as long as authoritarian structures persist.

Ruling Party Criticized for Spending $11 Million on Washington Buildings Amid Calls for Savings

The ruling AK Party has purchased two buildings in Washington for its representative office in the USA, spending around $11 million, according to claims by Good Party Deputy Chairman Turhan Comez on a live TV program.

Comez said that $4.055 million was paid for the first building. He also claimed that the ruling party bought another historic building, formerly the French Embassy, which was used as a strategic center in WWI, for $6.094 million.

Additionally, Comez mentioned that $1.5 million was paid to a company overseeing Turkey's lobbying and legal affairs for real estate brokerage.

These purchases have sparked comments that while the ruling party is urging savings in Turkey, it is investing heavily in real estate in the USA.

Good Party Lawmaker Resigns, Expected to Join Main Opposition

A lawmaker from the nationalist opposition Good Party resigned from the party on May 31 amid a growing trend of members leaving since last year. 

Antalya MP Aykut Kaya announced his resignation in a statement on his X account, saying that “the conditions to serve my nation and country within the party have disappeared.”

Medyascope news website reported citing rumours that Kaya will join the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) before its group meeting on June 4, with CHP leader Ozgur Ozel expected to welcome him into the party officially.


Israel Scrambles for New Suppliers After Turkey Halts Trade

Israeli importers are urgently seeking new sources for essential goods like cement, food, and cars after Turkey halted all trade with Israel. Two major Israeli auto importers reported that some Toyota and Hyundai models are now stuck at Turkish ports due to the trade ban.

Shay Pauzner, the deputy director general of the Israel Builders Association, noted that Turkey supplied about 40% of Israel's cement imports. While the industry is now looking to European suppliers, the costs will be significantly higher than Turkish cement, he said.

In response, Israeli officials plan to boost local production to prevent shortages, Reuters reported. A recent survey by the Israeli Manufacturers' Association revealed that 80% of manufacturers have found alternatives to Turkish suppliers, and 60% have enough inventory to last three months.

Turkey's Risk Premium Hits 4-Year Low, Finance Minister Highlights Policy Success

Minister of Treasury and Finance Mehmet Simsek tweeted on May 28 that the CDS, indicating the risk premium, has hit its lowest point in the past four years. He noted that while developing countries saw an average improvement of 50 basis points in risk premium over the last year, Turkey experienced over 400 basis points, attributing this to the effective policies in place.

However, immediate comments were made on Simsek's tweet. A commentator posted that this significant decrease was due to Turkey being among the countries with the highest CDS.

Central Bank's Net Reserve Turns Positive After 4 Years

After four years, the Turkish Central Bank's (CBRT) net reserve, excluding swaps, has turned positive. Bloomberg HT's calculation based on CBRT data shows a recovery of $5.3 billion in bank reserves in the first four days of this week. As a result, net reserves, excluding swaps, reached +$0.2 billion for the first time since March 2020.

The bank is also expected to bolster its net foreign exchange position with new reserve purchases next week.

International Donors Pledge 1 Billion Euros for Syrian Refugees in Turkey

During a meeting led by the EU on May 27, international donors pledged 1 billion euros for Syrian refugees in Turkey and an additional 4 billion euros for those in neighbouring countries. 

The EU, chaired by its foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, committed 2.12 billion euros for 2024 and 2025. This number includes 560 million euros already promised for this year for Syrians displaced within the country and in Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq, with the same amount pledged for 2025. Additionally, the bloc pledged 1 billion euros for Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Turkey Emerges as Key Player in Gold Smuggling from Africa

According to the latest report by SwissAid, billions of dollars worth of gold are smuggled out of Africa annually, with most of it going to the United Arab Emirates for processing. The report, based on data spanning a decade until 2022, estimates the illicit trade to be valued between $23.7 billion and $35 billion each year, with over 435 tons of bullion smuggled out of Africa in 2022 alone.

Highlighting Turkey's growing role in the global gold sector, the report points out that the country is home to two LBMA-certified refineries and a significant gold market, notably the Kuyumcukent complex. In 2022, Turkey imported 379.3 tonnes of gold valued at $20.4 billion from various sources worldwide.

Although African gold imports into Turkey remained below 10 tonnes in most years between 2012 and 2022, there was a notable peak of 41.5 tonnes in 2020. Most of this gold came from countries like Libya, South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, and Mauritania, as indicated by export data.

The report suggests that the surge in 2020 was primarily due to gold imports from Libya, possibly involving smuggling. Despite minimal discrepancies between Libyan and Turkish authorities' figures, the report claims that much of this gold is illicitly obtained. 

Some of this illicit gold trade is believed to fund the activities of Khalifa Haftar, the military leader in eastern Libya. In 2023, it's estimated that over 8.5 tonnes of gold were smuggled from Libya to Turkey, according to the report.


Turkish Police Detain 90 People Over Alleged Gulen Movement Links

Turkey's interior minister, Ali Yerlikaya, announced on his X account on May 30 that 90 people were detained in 17 provinces over alleged ties to the Gulen movement. 

According to Yerlikaya, the detainees included individuals suspected of infiltrating the police and judiciary, as well as those accused of using the ByLock messaging app to communicate secretly. Additionally, some detainees were wanted for Gulen-related convictions upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeals. 

The minister also said that during raids in provinces including Ankara, Istanbul, and Izmir, significant amounts of foreign currency and Turkish lira, along with digital materials and documents, were confiscated.

On May 31, a Turkish court in Istanbul arrested 23-year-old nursing student Esengül Arslan, one of the detainees, for allegedly receiving funds from her relatives abroad, which authorities have labelled as "terrorist financing."

Esengül Arslan's father, Aziz Arslan, a former teacher, was dismissed from his job by a government decree and later sentenced to 10 years for alleged links to the Gulen movement and has been in jail for 6 years.

Turkish Authorities Foil Assassination Attempt on Israeli Honorary Consul, Arrest 7

Turkish authorities foiled an assassination attempt on Israeli honorary consul Jak Eskinazi in İzmir, arresting seven people, including three government officials. Despite the seriousness of the case, the operation was not made public. Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya, who regularly updates the public on police operations in the country, has also not commented on this operation so far.

On May 4, İzmir’s counterterrorism police, supported by special forces, intercepted a vehicle at the Kemalpaşa toll booth. The two main suspects, Taşkın Yorulmaz and Berk Yalçın, were travelling from Istanbul to İzmir. Yorulmaz had recruited Yalçın as a hitman and personally transported him.

The first operation led to four detentions. Further investigation brought the total to nine by May 7, with seven suspects arrested, including three state employees: Yunus Emre Sehri, a correctional officer at Buca Prison; Yavuz Ceylan, an Izmir Municipality employee; and Ozkan Keser, a municipal employee in Cigli district.

Evidence showed that Yorulmaz was in contact with Ceylan and Keser, who allegedly encouraged him to attack the Israeli consulate, claiming it would be state-approved.

Eskinazi told local media that he had been warned of a possible assassination attempt a month earlier. “I have been under protection for a long time, and these measures were tightened after the warning,” he said, without commenting on the arrests or investigation details.

Turkish Foreign Ministry Mandates Private App to Monitor Staff's Communications 

The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs now mandates its staff to install a specific messaging app called Chat-in on their phones. This app allows ministry officials to monitor internal communications and even access deleted messages. Developed by Kale İleri Teknoloji and available for download by everyone on both the Apple Store and Google Play, the app operates similarly to WhatsApp, enabling messaging, image and video sharing, and online calls.

During a parliamentary session on May 29, Peoples’ Equality and Democracy Party (DEM) MP Cengiz Candar raised concerns about ministry employees' unease regarding the app's usage. He also highlighted a growing discontent among Foreign Ministry personnel, with many considering leaving for the private sector due to these measures.

According to Candar, all Foreign Ministry staff, except the minister and select individuals, are required to install Chat-in. This directive subjects all communications, including deleted messages, to scrutiny, even for personnel stationed abroad. Candar also criticized the ministry's approach, suggesting it fosters an atmosphere of suspicion rather than addressing security concerns. 


Turkish President Erdogan to Attend G7 Summit in Italy

The Italian government, currently presiding over the G7, announced that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will attend the upcoming G7 summit in Italy next month. 

President Erdogan confirmed his participation in the summit during a phone call with Italy's Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, on May 29. The summit is scheduled to take place from June 13th to 15th at Borgo Egnazia in Italy's Apulia Region.

Secretary Blinken Meets Turkish Foreign Minister Fidan in Prague 

The US Department of State announced that Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan in Prague, Czechia, on May 30. The meeting took place during an informal gathering of NATO Foreign Ministers. Reuters foreign policy reporter Humeyra Pamuk noted that they began with a one-on-one discussion, excluding delegations.

During their meeting, Secretary Blinken and Foreign Minister Fidan reportedly talked about efforts to secure a ceasefire in Gaza, aiming to free hostages and increase humanitarian aid to the region. They also discussed the importance of preventing regional instability and explored ways to support peace and prosperity in the Caucasus, the US Department of State said.

On May 31, Blinken had a phone call with Fidan to discuss a proposal for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the release of hostages, the State Department said.

Turkey Opposes NATO Involvement in Ukraine Conflict

On May 31, Turkish foreign minister Hakan Fidan said his country opposes NATO's involvement in the Ukraine war, as some alliance members permit Kyiv to strike Russia using their weapons.

Washington approved Ukraine's use of US weapons to defend its Kharkiv region on May 30. Similarly, Germany announced on May 31 that it had authorized Ukraine to use German-delivered weapons against targets in Russia.

"We support aid to Ukraine and its ability to deter Russia, but we don't want NATO to engage in this war," said Fidan after a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Prague, warning that the conflict could escalate regionally and lead to more severe crises.

Iraqi Prime Minister Aims for Ankara-Damascus Reconciliation Following Erdogan's Visit

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani stated in an interview released on May 31 that his government is actively working on reconciliation between Ankara and Damascus. His remarks follow Turkish President Erdogan's visit to Baghdad last month, the first in over a decade.

"We hope to see progress soon," Sudani told Turkey's private Haberturk TV and confirmed being in contact with both Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to advance reconciliation efforts.

Sudani also highlighted Iraq's role in facilitating the normalization deal between Tehran and Riyadh, stating, "We are aiming to establish a similar basis for reconciliation and dialogue between Syria and Turkey."

SOHR: Turkish Authorities Hand Over Syrian Mercenaries to Russian Forces in Niger

Turkish authorities have reportedly handed over control of Syrian mercenaries, including their top commanders, to Russian military forces in Niger, causing discontent and claims of betrayal, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

SOHR reports that this sudden transfer involved members of the Syrian National Army from Turkish barracks in Africa to Russian command.

Initially contracted to protect Turkish interests, the mercenaries now face combat against the Islamic State and al-Qaeda in Burkina Faso and Niger without their consent.

SOHR sources said this handover violated the terms of the six-month contracts signed by these fighters and has damaged their trust and morale.

Turkish Authorities Release Swedish Criminal Gang Leader on Bail

Turkish authorities have bailed out a notorious gang leader, Ismail Abdo, who is one of Sweden’s most wanted criminals and is sought on an Interpol Red Notice, the Demiroren News Agency reported on May 27.

He was captured in southern Adana province after police stopped a suspicious car. Abdo, known for his involvement in a drug market dispute in Sweden with his former partner Rawa Majid, was released on bail of TL 20,000 ($620) after being taken to court along with the driver, Ahmet Y., who was also released under judicial supervision.