Turkish opposition lawmaker receives intensive care after fight inparliament
During the talks for the 2023 budgets of the Parliament onDecember 6, a debate between right-wing opposition Good Party and the rulingJustice and Development Party (AKP) deputies resulted in a fistfight in theparliament.
Good Party deputy Huseyin Ors who suffered a heart spasm after hewas punched in the head by ruling party lawmaker Zafer Isik, was taken to thehospital. Ors received intensive care after electroshockrestored his cardiac rhythm to normal. Many politicians visited Ors in thehospital.
Lawmaker Ors was released from the hospital on December 9.
Top court overrules former HDP mayor's sentence for"terrorism"
The Court of Cassation, the country's highest court of appeals, overturned thenine-year sentence given to Selcuk Mizrakli, the former mayor of theprovince of Diyarbakir in Turkey, for terrorism charges.
The Court ruled that the decision was based on"incomplete inquiry," and Mizrakli's right to defense wasviolated. The court, however, denied Mizrakli's demand for the release. Aretrial will be heard in the local court.
On August 19, 2019, Mizrakli, the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP)mayor, was removed from office on "terrorism" charges.
President Erdogan: I will run for the presidency for the last time
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared on December10 that he would run for the presidency in the forthcoming elections forthe last time and hand it over to the Turkish youth.
The question of whether Erdogan could run for office again isstill being discussed as his five-year term as president comes to an endin June 2023. A politician can constitutionally be elected presidenttwice.
In the presidential elections held in 2014, Erdogan was electedpresident for the first time. In the elections held in June 2018, Erdogan kepthis seat for a second time and became the first president under thenew presidential system.
Turkey's AKP plots early election
According to the news in Middle East Eye, the rulingJustice and Development Party (AKP), in coordination with its ally, theNationalist Movement Party (MHP), plans to set an early date for parliamentaryand presidential elections scheduled for next June.
The unnamed source, close to the AKP, said the party is making allnecessary preparations and plans for the possibility of holding earlyparliamentary and presidential elections, noting that the preparations are notrelated to a specific date.
Next April is the date being circulated in AKP circles, the sourcesaid.
Official inflation rate realizes as 84.39% in November
The Turkish Statistical Institute announced on December5 that Turkey's monthly inflation rate was 2.88 percent in November, with anannual rate of 84.39 percent. The annual inflation rate was 85.5 percent in thepreceding month. However, the Inflation Research Group (ENAG), comprised ofindependent economists, claims that the monthly inflation rate was 4.24percent and the annual rate was 170.70 percent.
The official inflation figure is highly critical as it will affectthe 2023 minimum wage negotiations, which are expected to be finalized inDecember.
The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) requested an 84percent rise in the minimum wage from 5,500 to 10,182 Turkish liras.
Turkey Plans Talks with Russia toSeek Discount on Gas Imports
Senior Turkish officials said that Turkey would host talks with aRussian delegation in Ankara on December 9 to seek a discount of more than 25%for the price of its gas imports from Russia.
A deal with Russia could ease the pressure on the lira, one of theworld's worst-performing currencies over the last year, and help PresidentErdogan avoid hiking energy prices ahead of elections next year to boost hispopularity at a time when Europe is facing an energy crunch.
Turkey wants the discount to apply to 2023 payments and someprevious payments made in 2022 retrospectively, said the officials who spoke oncondition of anonymity about the closed-door preparations.
If Turkey can't secure a discount at a desirable level, then itwill seek deferrals for payments, preferably until 2024, the officials saidwithout elaborating.
Missing Iranianjournalist in Turkey reappears in Iran's Evin prison
Mohammad Bagher Moradi, an opponentIranian journalist, fled from his country to Turkey with hisfather in 2014 after receiving a five-year prison sentence for conspiracy againstIran. Moradi then disappeared in Turkey in May.
Salih Efe, his lawyer in Turkey, claimsthat he was held in a secret detention center used by Turkish intelligence forfive months and questioned under torture in the first days. He reappeared in Tehran's notorious Evin prison, notorious for alleged human rightsabuses and torture, after being handed over to Iranian intelligencein early November.
Efe said that he is currently planninglegal action against the Turkish government for violating the rights of aperson who had been granted conditional refugee status in Turkey.
Price cap on Russian oil causes oil tanker jam off thecoast of Turkey
Following the implementation of a price cap (60 dollars perbarrel) on Russian oil on December 5, an oil tanker traffic jam formed offthe coast of Turkey. Tankers only from G7 and European Union member states,insurance companies, and credit institutions are permitted to carry Russian oilto third-party countries under the price cap. With that move, the West seeks tolimit Russia's revenue as punishment for its invasion of Ukraine.
Ankara also demands proof from the tankers that they haveinsurance to cover accidents such as oil leaks and crashes beginning in earlyDecember under the notice issued last month.
Russia is also concerned about an increase in the number of oiltankers in the Bosphorus Strait and announced that it ishaving discussions with insurance and transportation companies to comply withnew Turkish insurance standards.
On behalf of G7 countries and Australia, an official said thecongestion was caused by Turkey's new insurance regulations, not by the pricecap on Russian crude.
According to U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo, theprice cap only applies to Russian oil and does not necessitate additional checks on shipspassing through the Bosphorus Strait.
Western officials are also in discussions with Turkey to clarifythe execution of the Oil Price Cap and reach a resolution to end oil tankerqueues.
On December 9, the European Commission stated that the delays wereunconnected to the price cap and that Turkey may continue to verify insurancepolicies "in the same way as previously."
But Ankara has refused tolift new insurance standards despite pressures. On December 9, 28 oiltankers were waiting to leave the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits.
Turkey's warning exacerbates the dispute over themilitarization of Greek islands
On December 6, Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey's foreign minister, warned to "dowhatever is required" if Athens does not stop militarizing itsislands off the Turkish coast.
At a joint press conference with his Romanian counterpart inAnkara, Cavusoglu said, "Greece needs to give up on this.""Either they back off and follow the accords, or we take whatever actionis required."
Cavusoglu made his most recent remarks following the news ofGreek military exercises, including tanks, artillery, and attack helicopters onRhodes and Lesbos.
U.S. announces sanctions on a Turkish businessman for facilitatingIranian oil sales
On December 8, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned a networkrun by Turkish businessman Sitki Ayan, accused of facilitating the sale ofIranian oil valued at hundreds of millions of dollars.
According to the department, Ayan's network assisted the IslamicRevolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in transferring Iranian oil to China, Europe,and the United Arab Emirates and then funneled theproceeds back to the IRGC.
Ayan's company, Som Petrol, was likewise sanctioned on December 8,which has been operating in Iran for several years.
In a written statement to Reuters' request for comment, Ayan said hehad only worked with Iranian official government entities throughout his life.
"U.S. troops to expand patrols in Syria despite tension withTurkey" by Dan Lamothe and Louisa Loveluck, Washington Post
The Pentagon is preparing to resume full ground operationsalongside Kurdish partners in northern Syria, officials said, a move that risksfurther inflaming relations with NATO ally Turkey.
Three U.S. officials said it is possible Turkey could followthrough on its threat to send ground forces into northern Syria this month,potentially jeopardizing the Americans there.
"The United States did not approve Turkey's recent strikes inSyria," a White House official said, adding that while "Turkey haslegitimate security concerns related to terrorism, we do not believe thatmilitary escalation that destabilizes the situation in Syria will resolve thoseconcerns."
"Turkish Aggression in Syria Is a Gift to ISIS" by DavidL. Phillips, The National Interest
Beginning in 2016, approximately 60,000 militants from more than100 countries passed through Turkey to Syria. MIT provided them with logisticalsupport, funds, and weapons, even arranging medical care in Turkish hospitalsfor jihadis wounded on the battlefield.
In contrast to Turkey's duplicity, the Kurds are America'sindispensable allies. The SDF - with Kurds at its core—has been the tip of thespear against ISIS.
Now, Turkey is massing more troops on the Syrian border,threatening a massive cross-border operation. Turkey justifies its aggressionby claiming that the SDF was responsible for the Istanbul bombing that killedsix people and wounded eighty-one on November 13. Turkey wants to inspire ajailbreak so ISIS members can join this stage of the fight.
We can speculate about Erdogan's motives. Domestic support forErdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) is eroding dramatically duringthe run-up to Turkey's June 2023 national elections. He believes that callingKurds terrorists and killing Kurds will rally Turkey's nationalist base insupport of the AKP.
Turkey may be a NATO ally, but Kurds are America's friends in thefight against violent extremism.
"In Turkey, a child bride scandal puts religious cults in thespotlight" by Arzu Geybullayeva, Global Voices
They call themselves the Ismailaga Brotherhood and are amongTurkey's countless religious orders and brotherhoods. But though thesereligious groups normally slip under the radar, the Ismailaga Brotherhood has recentlybeen making the headlines over a child bride scandal.
The journalists who broke the case are now facing a targetingcampaign against them, with some even urging officials to launch aninvestigation into the reporters and try them in court.
Journalist Timur Soykan also revealed in his investigation thatnumerous officers and officials were made aware of the abuse after the victimwas brought into a hospital when she was 14. But neither the parents nor thehusband were arrested.
According to researcher Salim Cevik, the ruling Justice andDevelopment Party (AKP) "maintains a special relationship [with thesecommunities] based on a policy of carrots and sticks." This policy islargely dominated by the ruling party making "state resources available tothese religious communities in exchange for electoral support," opinesCevik. This is typically done by providing land or financial support forreligious organizations.
"The Turkish connection: How Erdogan's confidant helped Iranfinance terror" by Politico Staff
On March 22, 2021, several of the world's most dangerous mendescended on Beirut's historic seaside Summerland Hotel - not to swim in theMediterranean or explore the sumptuous resort's "Le Beach Pop Up,"but to talk Turkey.
The meeting was a secret one between a delegation of seniorIranian military and government officials and a business group from Turkey ledby a confidant of President Erdogan. According to Western diplomats, both sideswere keen to deepen their partnership in smuggling Iranian oil to buyers inChina and Russia to raise funds for Tehran's terror proxies.
A little more than a year after the meeting, all of the keyattendees would find their names on U.S. sanctions lists, with one importantexception: Turkish businessman Sitki Ayan, a friend of President Erdogan - thetwo men attended the same high school — and the man at the center of itall.
In 2014, Ayan's name made headlines across Turkey after therelease of secretly recorded calls, purportedly between the Turkish presidentand his son Bilal Erdogan, including one in which the elder Erdogan said theyshould demand more money from a "Mr. Sitki" than the $10 million they'dbeen offered. The Turkish leader dismissed the call as an "immoralmontage," implying it was fake, but the recording helped trigger a wave ofprotests, scrutiny of his ties to Ayan, and even calls for his resignation.
While it's not clear whether Erdogan was aware of the extent ofhis friend Ayan's engagement with the Iranians, Western diplomats say it'sdifficult to believe he could not have been, considering the nature of hisbusiness dealings and the involvement of high-ranking Iranians.