Islamist party leader supports main opposition leader'spresidential candidacy
Journalist Ismail Saymaz claimed that duringa meeting with Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu andthe other opposition party chairs Ahmet Davutoglu, Ali Babacan, and IslamistFelicity Party leader Temel Karamollaoglu expressed his support forKilicdaroglu's potential presidential candidacy.
Babacan, the head of DEVA Party, and Future Party leader Davutoglu"did not object to his support," Saymaz wrote on his social mediapost on February 2.
Former HDP co-chair points to Good Party for a potential failureon joint candidate
While answering the questions of PIRHA, a news agency of Turkey'sAlevi community, Selahattin Demirtas, jailed former co-chair of the Peoples'Democratic Party (HDP), said that thenationalist wing would be to blame if the HDP and the six-party oppositionNation Alliance are unable to agree on a joint presidential candidate for theupcoming elections.
"Everyone should know that the Good Party will beresponsible if a consensus cannot be reached on a joint presidential candidate,"Demirtas added.
Good Party has frequently announced that it will not join thealliance if the HDP becomes a part of the opposition bloc.
Ruling party seeks to expand its alliance with Islamist parties
Bulent Turan, the deputy chairman of the ruling Justice andDevelopment Party's parliamentary group, signaled that theparty wants to extend its alliance with new parties.
Turan named the Islamist HUDA-PAR and the New Welfare Party amongthese parties on a television broadcast on February 5. "There are someissues that HUDA-PAR and AKP think differently, but if we can agree oncommon issues concerning Turkey's security, we can walk together. And FatihErbakan (New Welfare Party chair) should be with us, not the Table ofSix," Turan said.
Turkish foreign ministry summons western states ambassadors due totemporary mission closures
Following the temporary closure of several consulates in Istanbuldue to a growing terrorist threat, Turkish interior minister, Suleyman Soylu, accused the UnitedStates and Western countries of waging a psychological war against Turkey onFebruary 2.
Soylu also claimed that the closure of diplomatic missions was anattempt to harm Turkey's tourism sector.
On the same day, the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned theambassadors of nine Western countries, including the US, to criticize theirdecisions to issue security alerts and temporarily close diplomatic missions.
Mevlut Cavusoglu, foreign minister of Turkey, also said on February3 that Western countries intentionally had not shared with Turkey thedetails of their intelligence to support their assertions for the closureof their missions. Cavusoglu pointed out that these countries are trying toportray Turkey as volatile.
In a meeting pre-recorded and broadcasted on February 5, TurkishPresident Erdogan said that ifWestern missions continue to issue security warnings and temporarily closeconsulates in Turkey, they would pay heavily for this.
Turkey hopes to collect $5.32 billion in debt relief before tightelections
According to a report submitted to a parliamentarycommission, the government expects tocollect 100 billion lira (5.32 billion dollars) as part of a restructuringof public debt totaling 1 trillion lira under a draft law.
The restructuring package, which Turkish President Erdoganannounced last week to get public support ahead of tight elections to be heldin May, will allow individuals and businesses to restructure unpaid tax andsocial security debt.
Turkey's tourism revenue hits record in 2022 while trade deficitdeepens
According to the data released by the Turkish StatisticalInstitute on January 31, the tourism sector in Turkey generated a record46.3 billion dollars in revenue in 2022, while the country's foreign tradedeficit exceeded 109 billiondollars.
Tourist revenues increased by 53%, while the total deficit inforeign trade increased by 137% compared to the previous year. While importsincreased by 34% to 363.7 billion dollars, exports increased by 12.9% to 254.1billion dollars. The deficit in December increased by 42% from a year earlier,reaching 9.7 billion dollars.
In 2022, Turkey's largest importer was Russia with 58 billion 853million dollars, followed by China with 41 billion 354 million dollars.
Inflation figures exceed expectations in January
Turkish annual inflation fell to 57.68% in January, according to official figures released onFebruary 3, but remained significantly above expectations despite efforts to suppressinflation before the elections in May. Consumer price inflation was projectedto be 53.5% annually.
According to the Turkish Statistical Institute, consumer pricesincreased by 6.65% compared to the previous month.
Turkey ranks 103rd inglobal democracy index
Turkey ranked 103rd out of 167countries in the DemocracyIndex 2022, with a score of 4.35 out of 10. WhileAfghanistan received 0.32 points, placing it in the last place, Norway took thefirst spot with 9.88 points.
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), anews and general affairs publication, publishes the Index, which ranks theworld's most and least democratic countries.
Turkey was classified as a "hybridregime," a combination of democratic and autocratic features. According tothe EIU, Turkey is the only hybrid regime in Western Europe, the second lowestclassification after the "authoritarian regime."
The report also indicatedthat Turkey's democratic values are deteriorating as elections are generallynot free and just, the media is subject to censorship, the rule of law isvery weak, and corruption is widespread. "Turkey's declining trendreflects the growing authoritarianism of the autocratic president." thereport added.
Court sentences 14Bogazici University students over protests for newly appointed rector
An Istanbul court sentenced 14 Boğaziçi University students between one year and two years and sixmonths in prison for staging protests in 2021 against the appointmentof Prof. Dr. Naci Inci as the university's new president.
The local court found all studentsguilty of "violating" the Law on Meetings and Demonstrations.
US Congress senators say F-16 sale to Turkey depends on Nordiccountries' NATO membership
A bipartisan group of senators declared on February2 that the US Congress could not accept a 20 billion dollars sale ofF-16 fighter jets to Turkey until Ankara ratifies Sweden and Finland's NATOmemberships. It is the first time Congress officially and directly linked theF-16 sale to Turkey with the NATO membership of two Nordiccountries.
"Once Turkey ratifies the NATO accession protocols,Congress can consider selling F-16 fighter jets. Failure to do so willcall into question the pending sale." 29 Democratic and Republicansenators said in a letter to President Joe Biden.
Top US sanctions official warns Turkey of Russian sanctions, asksfor more cooperation
On February 2-3, Brian Nelson, the chief sanctions official at theUS Treasury Department, met with the Turkishgovernment and business leaders to urge greater cooperation in halting the flowof chemicals, microchips, and other products that Russia could utilize in thewar in Ukraine.
In a speech to bankers, Nelson warned that due to a significant increasein exports to Russia, Turkish firms would lose access to G7 markets or arevulnerable to sanctions risks. Nelson also urged Turkish bankers to performmore thorough due diligence on Russian-related transactions.
During meetings in Ankara and Istanbul, Nelson and a delegationwith him raised concerns about tens of millions of dollars in exports toRussia, a senior US official told Reuters on condition of anonymity andquestioned what Turkey's stance would be against Russia.
As a result of US pressure, Havas, Turkey's largest groundhandling service provider, has recently informed Russian andBelarussian airlines that it may cease delivering parts, fuel, and otherservices to their U.S.-origin aircraft.
A pro-Iran group allegedly attacks a Turkish base in northernIraq
On February 1, a series of rockets were fired at aTurkish military base near the northeastern Iraqi city of Mosul. Two missileshit the base grounds while the others landed nearby, but no injuries werereported.
According to Iraqi and international media, a pro-Iranian groupcalled "The Islamic Resistance Ahrar al-Iraq Brigade" claimedresponsibility for the attack. The group is allegedly backed by theIran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMU).
Answering a question about the attack, Turkish Defense MinisterHulusi Akar said such attacks occasionally occurred, and Turkish Armed Forcesresponded immediately.
Turkey signs natural gas deal with Oman
Turkish Energy Minister Fatih Donmez announced on January30 that Turkey signed a 10-year natural gas purchase agreement with Oman topurchase 1.4 billion cubic meters of gas annually.
"Turkey's two-faced 'sultan' is no friend of the west. It'stime to play hardball" by Simon Tisdall, The Guardian
The increasingly aggressive, authoritarian and schismatic policiespursued at home and abroad over two decades by its choleric sultan-presidenthave upended long-cherished assumptions. Turkey's reliability and usefulness asa trusted western ally is almost at an end.
Is it time to admit that two-faced Recep Tayyip Erdogan is nofriend of the west – and punish him accordingly?
Destabilizing incursions and occupations of the Syrian and Iraqiborderlands are yet another extension of Erdogan's obsessive war on the Kurds.His prospective rapprochement with Damascus further undercuts western securitypolicy.
Electoral bribes and political skulduggery, unchallenged bystate-controlled media and obscured by a climate of fear, point to another Erdoganvictory.
President Erdogan's increasingly hostile stance towards NATO anddemocratic principles can no longer go unpunished. What should the westerndemocracies do about Erdogan, assuming he wins again? More sanctions, includingon him personally, are one possibility. Yet, to get Erdogan's attention, anypunitive measures will need to go further.
Overcautious, risk-averse Biden and Stoltenberg should remind Erdoganthat NATO is a community of values as well as rules; and suspend Turkey'smembership, if necessary, by amending the North Atlantic treaty.
Turkey is not indispensable. If need be, the western democraciescan live safely without it – until that happy day dawns when Ankara'scantankerous sultan is finally defenestrated and debagged.
"Double standards has become our routine: USA, Europe,Russia, PKK" by Namik Tan, retd. Turkish Ambassador, Yetkin Report
The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a travelwarning to Turkish citizens due to the recent violence in the US and Europeancountries. What a thoughtful gesture!
On the other hand, Iran is trying to silence and intimidate itspeople, who have rebelled against the current outdated government at the costof their lives, by using oppression and violence. But Turkey has never issuedany warnings to its citizens who may want to visit this country.
The United States has been recklessly supporting PKK-affiliatedPYD/YPG elements in Syria for a long time, and we rightfully condemn the US onevery occasion. But, when the PKK/PYD/YPG flag flutters in Moscow, and theissue comes to Russia, which does not recognize the PKK as a terroristorganization, there is neither protest nor criticism.
Turkey requests the member states of the Council of Europe,especially Greece, to respect the decisions of the European Court of HumanRights (ECHR). On the other side, it can easily say that it does not recognizethe decisions of the ECtHR about Osman Kavala and Selahattin Demirtas if thecourt does not rule in favor of Turkey.
While Turkey does not implement a principled, consistent, reliable,and predictable foreign policy, expecting others to act in this direction isunreasonable.
"Why are foreign mobsters, drug gangs attracted toTurkey?" by Fehim Tastekin, Al-Monitor
Bloody score-settlings and shootouts between foreign thugs havebeen on the rise in Turkey, stoking criticism that lax legislation andinadequate action on the ground have made the country a safe haven for crimebosses from the region and beyond.
In one of the highest-profile murders, Jovan Vukotic, the leaderof Montenegro's notorious Skaljari drug gang, was gunned down in his car incentral Istanbul in September by two hitmen on a motorbike. Members of a rivalclan, Kavac, and their Turkish collaborators stand accused of the murder.
For Timur Soykan, an investigative Turkish journalist who hasauthored a book on underworld vendettas, the events show that "Kavacleaders felt safe" in Istanbul.
According to economy writer Bahadir Ozgur, Turkey has becomeattractive to crime bosses because it is relatively easy for them to enter thecountry and obtain residence permits, foster ties with people in thebureaucracy, the police and politics at low costs and set up companies withlocal partners to launder money.
"The character of the government makes things easier,"Ozgur told Al-Monitor, adding that Turkey lacks agreements on the extraditionof criminals with many countries and often implements arbitrarily existingones.
"Turkish opposition's economic policy proposal:Realistic" by Fatih Ozatay, Yetkin Report
Turkey's opposition alliance, Nation Alliance, announced theCommon Policies' Consensus Text on Monday, January 30, 2023.
First comes the policies aimed at creating macroeconomic stabilityin the economy, finance, and employment section of the Consensus Text. Thesecond group consists of priority structural reforms.
The inflation target, one of the numerical targets, is quiterealistic. It is expected to reach one digit in two years. The prediction thatthe average growth rate will be above 5 percent is also realistic, given thatthe risk perception for Turkey will decrease significantly.
On the other hand, the targets of doubling the per capita incomein dollars and increasing exports to 600 billion dollars in five years soundedsomehow ambitious to me. Getting the credit rating back to the' investmentgrade' level may take a long time. However, the announced program will enablerapid progress toward this goal. The promise to strengthen internationalforeign exchange reserves is also realistic.
To sum up, the announced program, if applicable, is valuable inensuring stability in the economy and putting the institutional structure onthe right path.
"Turkey's push into Iraq risks deeper conflict" by AminaIsmail, Reuters
Turkish military outposts are just some of the dozens of newmilitary bases Turkey has established on Iraqi soil in the past two years as itsteps up its decades-long offensive against Kurdish militants sheltered in theremote and rugged region.
Turkey could become further embroiled if its new Iraqi bases comeunder sustained attack, while its growing presence may also embolden Iran toexpand military action in Iraq against groups it accuses of fomenting unrest athome, Kurdish officials say.
Beyond the humanitarian impact, Turkey's incursion risks wideningthe conflict by giving carte blanche to regional rival Iran to step upintelligence operations inside Iraq and take its own military action, Kurdishofficials say.
Northern Iraq's fragmented politics mean that neither the federalgovernment in Baghdad nor the KRG regional authority are strong enough to challengeTurkey's presence - or to meet Ankara's goal of containing the PKK themselves.
"NATO Must Stand Up to Turkey's Blackmail" by JamesSiebens and Mathieu Droin, Foreign Policy
The truth is that only when the US government presses Turkey aboutits problematic behavior do other allies dare to nod in agreement. This was thecase in late 2020, when then-U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo directlyconfronted and threatened Turkey in a ministerial meeting. However, the recentvisit of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to Washington demonstratedthat the Biden administration is neither ready to give in to Turkey's bargainsnor ready to firmly push back.
The aim should be to reverse the current diplomatic initiative andshow Turkey what it stands to lose rather than what it stands to gain.Incentives and concessions should come as a reward, not as a starting point.
The goal of engaging Turkey on these issues should not be toquestion its value as an ally or to challenge its interests. Rather, thepresent moment calls for NATO leaders to demonstrate the values of the allianceand to set clearer expectations for how allies are expected to behave.