by instituDE, published on 31 July 2023


"Turkish politics in search for a new party and leader" by Mehmet Gun, Yetkin Report

According to polling Metropoll’s post-election survey, 23 percent of those who voted for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s coalition and 29 percent of those who voted for the opposition want another party they could vote for. Truly, there is a part of society that is unhappy with the way the country’s progress in the rule of law, democracy, and the economy, who have lost faith in politics, and who were disappointed by the lack of change wrought by the election.

It is not realistic to expect AK Party or Erdogan to realize these reforms and transform Turkey, since it is clear he will relinquish neither the Presidency nor his party’s leadership. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has ripped up the concepts of a central bank and price stability with his fevered public and monetary policy, cannot even be trusted to return the economy to rationality. 

"Realigning priorities: Egypt's strategic shift toward Qatar, Turkey, and Iran" by Amr Salah Mohamed, Middle East Institute

Egypt's ambition to become a natural gas hub in the Mediterranean is another goal with a political dimension for its regional realignment. However, Egypt still needed the cooperation of Turkey, which has contested its ambitious gas exploration efforts in the Mediterranean. De-escalation with Turkey could result in a settlement over the two countries’ respective maritime economic zones and boost Egypt’s exploration in the area. That would not only increase Egypt's political significance for Europe but could also generate substantial profits. Following the Cairo-Ankara rapprochement, a deal between Libya and Turkey that allowed Turkish companies to explore in waters that are disputed with Egypt was suspended.

But for Egypt the advantage of repairing relations with Turkey extends to the Horn of Africa as well, a region where Iran, too, has influence. For years, the Turkish presence in the Horn of Africa, including Ankara’s construction of a military base in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, and efforts to establish a footprint on the Red Sea through Sudan, has alarmed Egypt. Today, rapprochement could help Egypt to break the Turkish pincer from the west and the south. 

Turkey, the second-largest foreign investor in Ethiopia, signed a military cooperation agreement with Addis Ababa in 2021 amid an escalation with Cairo. The use of Turkish and Iranian drones in Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s war in Tigray suggested potential Turkish and Iranian military support. Moreover, Turkey offered to mediate negotiations between Ethiopia and Sudan over the GERD a few years ago. Today, by approaching Iran and Turkey, Egypt could benefit from their leverage over Ethiopia to help reach a fair deal for both sides.

As a condition for normalizing ties, Egypt demanded that Turkey and Qatar end their support for the Muslim Brotherhood. Approaching Turkey and Qatar has allowed Egypt to disrupt the presence of the group’s leaders and key figures in both countries, while pressuring others to move elsewhere and lowering the tone of their critics.

"In Turkey, when forests are not on fire, they are being destroyed by greedy men in suits" by Arzu Geybullayeva, Global Voices

Since 2019, the local residents of Ikizkoy village in Turkey's southwestern province of Mugla have been trying to prevent deforestation in the Akbelen forest, which is situated near their village. But in Turkey, the preservation of green spaces has never been a priority for the ruling Justice and Development Party, which has no sound environmental policy.

The crackdown in 2013 against a group of environmentalists trying to prevent the destruction of Gezi Park was a defining moment for the ruling government, marking the AKP's anti-environmental turn. Since then, scores of protests have erupted across Turkey, often staged and organized by local residents trying to protect the remaining green spaces and prevent the expansion of power plants. 

Turkey only ratified the 2015 Paris Agreement, which set a goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celcius, in October 2021, five years after signing the agreement. At the time, Turkey also announced its goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2053.

According to Climate Action Tracker, the country's efforts to reach the Paris Accord's goals are “critically insufficient.” And ratifying the Paris Agreement was not done with pure intentions. The decision came shortly after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan received guarantees of financial support from France, Germany, the World Bank's International Finance Corporation, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, according to reports by Politico and Reuters.


Parliament rejects motion for general debate on tax increases and price hikes

On July 25, an extraordinary session of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey was convened to address the motion presented by the main opposition party, CHP. The motion called for a general debate to find solutions to the challenges arising from the increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) and Special Consumption Tax (SCT) rates, as well as the price hikes on essential goods.

Under the chairmanship of Celal Adan, the Deputy Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the General Assembly completed the preliminary discussions on the CHP's proposal. During the session, representatives from various political party groups delivered speeches expressing their views on the matter. The motion was not accepted after the voting.

Government rents drones for 1.2 million liras a day from Erdogan's son-in-law 

President Erdogan's son-in-law, Selcuk Bayraktar, is renting five drones to Turkey's General Directorate of Forestry through his company Baykar for 1.2 million liras per day. Although Erdogan denied involvement in May, it was later revealed that the General Directorate of Forestry held two separate tenders in April to rent six UAVs, with a total cost of 287.6 million liras. Five UAVs were rented from Baykar for 183.6 million liras, and the sixth one from Turkish Aerospace Industries for 99.2 million liras. These six UAVs are in service from June 1 to Oct. 31.

Istanbul Mayor Imamoglu pens a letter supporting change within CHP 

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoğlu, a member of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), wrote a detailed letter dated July 28 for Gazete Oksijen on the need for change within his party. He highlighted the necessity of a new and democratic organizational structure for political parties in Turkey. 

Imamoglu also emphasized the importance of moving away from identity politics and forming cross-party alliances to address the country's issues. He stressed the qualities of a democratic leader, including accountability, transparency, and prioritizing the needs of society. Imamoglu's call for change in CHP leadership came after signals of the need for renewal within the party.


Turkey's Central Bank raises year-end inflation forecast to 58%

The new governor of Turkey's Central Bank, Hafize Gaye Erkan, announced on July 27 a significant increase in the year-end annual inflation projection. The forecast has been revised to 58%, up from the previous estimate of 22.3%. 

Governor Erkan emphasized the commitment to maintain monetary-tightening policies and indicated that further tightening measures will be implemented gradually until there is a notable improvement in the inflation outlook.

Erdogan appoints former NY Fed official as Turkey's deputy Central Bank head

In a significant shift from unconventional economic policies to more conventional ones, President Erdogan replaced all three deputy Central Bank governors on July 28. Mustafa Duman, Emrah Sener, and Taha Cakmak have been replaced by Hatice Karahan, Cevdet Akcay, and Fatih Karahan. 

Fatih Karahan, who holds a PhD in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, previously worked as an economic research advisor at New York Fed and a principal economist at Amazon. 

Hatice Karahan, a Syracuse University graduate and former economic adviser to Erdogan, becomes the first woman in this position. Earlier in June, Gaye Erkan was appointed as the first woman governor of the Central Bank.


Environmental protests in southwest Turkey escalate as villagers clash with security forces  

Environmental campaigners in southwest Turkey have been protesting for four days in a forest against the felling of trees for a coal mine's expansion. Clashes with police resulted in 14 people being detained. Security forces and armored vehicles were used to block protesters from entering the woodland in Mugla province, and tear gas and water cannons were also used by the police since July 24.

In 2020, permission was granted to YK Energy, a Turkish company, to expand the mine in a 780-acre forest area in Akbelen. However, locals filed a lawsuit challenging these permissions, and the court's ruling is still pending.

The protests have gained national attention, and Turkey's main opposition leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu of CHP, led a delegation to show solidarity with the protesters in the affected Akbelen area on July 28.
Kilicdaroglu visited villagers and activists protesting the tree-cutting in Akbelen Forest. The villagers voiced their concerns, and Kilicdaroglu stated that the forest belongs not only to them but to all 85 million people in Turkey. Protesters urged him to go to the tree cutting area, leading to a confrontation with the gendarmerie. Three people were detained after the attack.

On June 29, Turkish gendarmerie carried out another violent attack on villagers. During the incident, one environmentalist suffered head trauma, and at least 22 people were detained.

Security forces detain 50 human rights defenders during Saturday Mothers' Vigil despite court ruling

Turkish police detained 50 human rights defenders during the Saturday Mothers' vigil in Istanbul's Galatasaray Square on July 29. The protesters were demanding information about their relatives who disappeared under custody since 1995. However, they were later released after spending hours in custody. 

The Constitutional Court had ruled on Feb. 23 that the ban on the gathering and police intervention against it was a "violation of the right to organize meetings and demonstrations."


President Erdogan holds talks with Palestinian Leader Abbas and Hamas Leader Haniyeh in Ankara

On July 24, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Ankara upon President Erdogan's invitation. Abbas was welcomed with an official ceremony at the Presidential Palace on July 25. Following their meeting, President Abbas spoke at a joint press conference, expressing his appreciation for the continuous improvement in relations between their countries. He conveyed his pleasure over the ongoing ministerial meetings and the forthcoming operationalization of the Jenin Organized Industrial Zone, a project supported by the Palestine Investment Fund and Turkish entrepreneurs.

President Erdogan emphasized the importance of a two-state solution for achieving a just and lasting peace in the region. He also firmly voiced opposition to any actions that seek to alter the historical status quo of holy sites, with particular concern for the revered Al-Aqsa Mosque.

On July 26, Turkish President Erdogan also hosted a rare meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh. According to Turkish Presidency, Erdogan said during the meeting that the division among Palestinians benefits those who seek to undermine the peace efforts in the region. 

The meeting took place ahead of reconciliation talks between major Palestinian groups, including Fatah and Hamas, scheduled for July 30 in Cairo, Egypt. This meeting marks a significant step in advancing dialogue between the rival Palestinian leaders, and it comes amid increasing regional efforts to promote reconciliation.

China's new foreign minister holds high-level talks in Ankara 

China's newly appointed Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Ankara on July 26, marking the highest-level visit from Beijing since 2021. During his meeting with Turkish President Erdogan and Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, the focus was on strengthening cooperation, especially in the economic sphere.

They discussed bilateral relations and international issues, with Erdogan expressing Turkey's interest in convening the first meeting of the High-Level Working Group. This group aims to align China's Belt and Road Initiative with Turkey's Middle Corridor project, which seeks to establish a corridor connecting Turkey's eastern border to the Turkic republics in Central Asia and China via the Caspian basin.

Furthermore, the two top diplomats discussed enhancing economic and commercial ties, including mutual investments in various fields such as nuclear energy, agriculture, civil aviation, culture, and tourism.

Reuters also reported Wang and Fidan's discussions covered the situation of Uyghurs, the latest developments in Ukraine, and the global financial system.

Turkish drone strike kills four suspected PKK members in Northern Iraq

Four suspected members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) were killed and one injured in a Turkish drone strike in Iraq's Sulaimaniya province on July 28, according to Iraqi Kurdistan's counterterrorism service. 

The strike targeted their vehicle in Sharbazher district and the mayor confirmed it was hit twice within 10 minutes. Turkey often carries out air strikes in northern Iraq against the PKK and the Syrian Kurdish YPG.

Italy and Turkey unite bids to co-host Euro 2032

Italy and Turkey jointly requested to bid together as hosts for Euro 2032, according to UEFA's statement on July 28. Italy had already submitted a bid in April for the 2032 tournament, while Turkey had submitted bids for either 2028 or 2032. 

UEFA said it would collaborate with the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) and the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) to ensure their joint bid meets all the necessary requirements.