by instituDE, published on 6 November 2023


"U.S. Investigating Whether Adams Received Illegal Donations From Turkey" by William K. Rashbaum, Dana Rubinstein and Jeffery C. Mays, The New York Times

Federal prosecutors and the F.B.I. are conducting a broad public corruption investigation into whether Mayor Eric Adams’s 2021 election campaign conspired with the Turkish government to receive illegal foreign donations, according to a search warrant obtained by The New York Times.

The investigation burst into public view on Thursday when federal agents conducted an early-morning raid at the Brooklyn home of the mayor’s chief fund-raiser, Brianna Suggs. 

Investigators also sought to learn more about the potential involvement of a Brooklyn construction company with ties to Turkey, as well as a small university in Washington, D.C., that also has ties to the country and to Mr. Adams.

According to the search warrant, investigators were also focused on whether the mayor’s campaign kicked back benefits to the construction company’s officials and employees, and to Turkish officials.

There was no indication that the investigation was targeting the mayor, and he is not accused of wrongdoing. Yet the raid apparently prompted him to abruptly cancel several meetings scheduled for Thursday morning in Washington, D.C., where he planned to speak with White House officials and members of Congress about the migrant crisis.

Mr. Adams has boasted of his ties to Turkey, most recently during a flag-raising he hosted for the country in Lower Manhattan last week. The mayor said that there were probably no other mayors in New York City history who had visited Turkey as frequently as he has.

"Turkey and Iran: Toward an “Axis of Revisionism” amid the war in Gaza?" by Sinem Adar, Hamidreza Azizi, Middle East Institute

Beyond their rhetorical criticism of the lack of American leadership in pressuring Israel for a ceasefire, Ankara and Tehran are worried that a stronger U.S. presence in the Middle East is detrimental to their regional interests. The war in Gaza might, depending on its longevity, help close the ranks between Turkey and Iran, given their shared objection to a U.S.-led regional and world order. Yet there are serious limitations to a sustainable alliance between the two countries.

Beyond their relations with Hamas, Turkey and Iran have other overlapping interests as well. Both actors are disturbed by the American presence in Syria. Even though Tehran considers both the U.S. and Turkey as occupying forces in Syria, it feels that its disagreements with Turkey can be managed diplomatically. 

Interests might also be starting to align in the South Caucasus under the shadow of an ongoing Iranian-Turkish rivalry. Azeri officials lately appear open to replacing the Zangezur corridor with a route passing through Iran. So far, it seems that both Turkey and Russia are aligned with Iran in shaping regional dynamics in the South Caucasus without Western interference.

In fact, Ankara and Tehran converge on their working assumptions about a changing world order. Yet Ankara and Tehran do not only converge on the assumptions. Both the AKP and the Iranian leadership challenge the coherence and viability of Western institutions. Israel’s refusal to issue visas for U.N. officials in protest of the U.N. chief’s indirect criticism only sharpens the view in Ankara and Tehran that international institutions are dysfunctional.

Yet there are obvious limits to the emergence of an “Axis of Revisionism.” First and foremost, Turkey remains a NATO member. Indeed, being a member of the Western security architecture allows Turkey to be more flexible. Its NATO membership enables Ankara’s so-called balancing act between its Western allies and Russia. Unlike Iran’s revolutionary revisionist stance, Turkey’s revisionism is reformist.

Overall, Iranian and Turkish interests seem to be increasingly aligning, particularly in their united front against Israel’s actions toward Hamas and in opposing the resurgence of a U.S.-led regional order. However, their historical competition for strategic dominance in areas like Iraq and Syria, coupled with the distinct forms of revisionism that the AKP and Iranian leadership champion on the global stage, suggests that any emerging alliance between them might remain tenuous and susceptible to strains in the mid to long term.

"What is driving Turkey’s Erdogan pro-Hamas, fiery Israel criticism?" by Semih Idiz, Al-Monitor

It did not take long for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to abandon his initially cautious tone over the Gaza conflict and revert to a staunchly pro-Hamas and blisteringly anti-Israel position.

Having failed to secure an international role in the Israel-Hamas war, Erdogan is now using the crisis politically at home, where sympathy for the Palestinians and contempt for Israel is widespread, analysts say.

“The common denominator, however, is his opportunism,” foreign policy expert Barcin Yinanc told Al-Monitor. “None of Erdogan’s international initiatives elicited a response. He decided, therefore, to use this opportunity to score domestic points.”

“[Erdogan] does not think more than six months ahead,” said Yinanc. “By that time, the elections will be over, and the situation regarding Hamas will have changed. He will likely adopt the position he believes is the most pragmatic one then.”

Retired ambassador Rende believes that Erdogan’s response to Hamas’ attack and its aftermath has seriously undermined Turkey’s international position.

“[Turkey] has neither any soft power nor any hard power left anymore to be able to influence anything at this stage,” he said.


Ozgur Ozel elected as new leader of Turkey's main opposition party

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) elected Ozgur Ozel as its new leader, marking the end of the 13-year term for the previous leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu. This leadership change comes as the country prepares for local elections in March.

Ozel secured 812 out of 1,366 possible votes during a lengthy and tense party congress in Ankara, which required two voting rounds. Despite calls from party members to withdraw, Kilicdaroglu chose to go to a second round after Ozel fell short of a majority in the first round.

"We are embarking on the road to victory in the local elections," Ozel said in his victory speech and thanked Kilicdaroglu for his contributions to the party. 

Ozel, aged 49, who has been the CHP's deputy parliamentary group chairman since 2015, declared his candidacy in September.

Turkey's main opposition party falls short of gender quota in provincial lections

Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) is obligated by its bylaws to enforce a 33 per cent gender quota in provincial and district administrations, along with Party Assembly elections. However, in the recent provincial administration elections, the CHP was only able to elect three female provincial chairs out of 81 provinces.

The party's representation of women in top provincial administrations remained at four per cent with the election of Zeynep Erdogan Sarica in Erzincan, Zeliha Aksaz Sahbaz in Kutahya, and Sevinc Soyer Yazgan in Usak province.

In the Parliament, the CHP currently holds 130 seats, but only 24 of these deputies are women, accounting for 18 per cent of the total seats.


Turkey plans to shift to inflation-adjusted accounting but may exclude financial institutions

Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek announced on October 31 that Turkey is planning to shift to inflation-adjusted accounting, but financial institutions may not be subject to this change. According to the Treasury, Turkish companies' balance sheets will be adjusted for inflation until the end of 2023, and this practice may continue until 2026 based on current inflation projections. 

Financial institutions, particularly banks, are expected to be most affected by this adjustment. Simsek indicated that there could be an exception for financial institutions, exempting them from this practice, while other sectors would transition to inflation-adjusted accounting.

Turkey considers new crypto-asset legislation to exit FATF grey list

Turkey is working on new legislation concerning crypto-assets in an effort to convince the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to remove it from the "grey list" of countries deemed to have taken insufficient measures against money laundering and terrorist financing. In 2021, FATF downgraded Turkey to this status.

Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek, addressing a parliamentary commission on October 31, said that the only remaining issue for compliance with the FATF was related to crypto-assets. He announced that a law proposal on crypto-assets would be submitted to the parliament as soon as possible. Simsek also added that once this legislation is in place, there should be no more reasons for Turkey to remain on the grey list, provided there are no other political considerations.

Inflation shows slight easing despite ongoing monetary tightening

Official data released on November 3 revealed that Turkey's year-on-year inflation slightly eased to 61.36% after three consecutive months of rising inflation. In July, inflation started to climb again, reaching 61.53% in September, following eight months of decline, primarily due to a favorable base effect from the same month in the previous year.

The data from the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK) also showed a monthly inflation rate of 3.43%. The key contributors to this inflation were items in the clothing, housing, restaurant, and hotel categories.


Former HDP deputy arrested following airport detention

On November 1, a Turkish court arrested Huda Kaya, a former deputy of the opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). She had been detained at Istanbul Airport 10 minutes before her flight was scheduled to depart. Her arrest was related to charges of "participating in an illegal meeting or demonstration, insisting on not dispersing despite warnings and use of force, and resisting to prevent people from doing their duty" within the scope of the Kobane investigation, as announced by her lawyer, Zilan Leventoglu.

Leventoglu also noted that although Kaya had been easily accessible and at her residence for months, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office had categorized her as a fugitive. Leventoglu added that despite her willingness to provide her testimony, the court did not remove this "fugitive" status. 

Later on November 1, a Turkish court ordered Kaya's arrest, which was announced by the HDP's successor, Peoples' Equality and Democracy Party (HEDEP).

Turkey detains 3 journalists in a week for alleged misinformation

On November 2, journalist Cengiz Erdinc was detained in Balikesir for allegedly spreading misinformation, marking the third journalist detention in two days. Ankara prosecutors ordered Erdinc's detention, accusing him of "openly spreading misleading information" but later was released by the court on condition of "judicial control."

On November 1, journalists Tolga Sardan and Dincer Gokce were also detained on similar grounds. But, Sardan was later arrested by a court with charges of "public dissemination of misleading information" under a 2022 disinformation law.

Turkey's controversial law criminalizing the spread of false or misleading information has led to multiple journalist detentions. Reporters Without Borders ranks Turkey 165th out of 180 countries in its latest press freedom index.

HRW calls on Turkey to investigate civilian harm in Syria aerial campaign

On November 3, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on Turkey to investigate the harm caused to civilians during its aerial campaign against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Syria from October 5 to 10 after a bombing near government buildings in Ankara. HRW held the Turkish Armed Forces responsible for not taking adequate precautions to prevent civilian casualties.

Human Rights Watch also urged Turkey to conduct immediate investigations into these incidents and provide compensation to the victims or their families.

Human rights organizations demand immediate release of jailed Kurdish politicians

Four prominent human rights organizations issued a joint statement on November 3, calling for the immediate release of Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag. These former co-chairs of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) have been in prison for seven years on terrorism-related charges. 

The organizations behind the statement include Human Rights Watch, the Turkey Human Rights Litigation Support Project, the International Commission of Jurists, and the International Federation for Human Rights.

Demirtas and Yuksekdag, who were detained in 2016, were vocal critics of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its leader, President Erdogan, before their incarceration. Their imprisonment persists despite rulings from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) urging their release.

Justice minister claims Constitutional Court overstepped jurisdiction in MP's release

Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc defended the non-implementation of the Constitutional Court's decision to release imprisoned Workers' Party of Turkey (TIP) member Can Atalay while answering the questions of the daily Hurriyet. Tunc claimed that the Constitutional Court exceeded its jurisdiction and attempted to change the Constitution.

Tunc referred to Article 154 of the Constitution, which designates the Court of Cassation as the final authority for reviewing decisions made by lower courts, making their decisions final. He claimed that the Constitutional Court, through its release decision, was changing the Constitution through a difference in interpretation.

On October 25, the Constitutional Court ruled that the rights of imprisoned MP Atalay had been violated, ordering his immediate release. However, the criminal court did not release the MP and instead referred the case to the Court of Cassation, the highest court of appeals in Turkey.


Turkey and Iran express joint concern over Israel-Hamas conflict

On November 1, the foreign ministers of Turkey and Iran jointly expressed concern about the expansion of the Israel-Hamas conflict in the region after their meeting in Ankara. 

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan emphasized the need for a ceasefire and peace, while his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, reminded Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's call for Muslim countries to halt trade with Israel, including oil exports and suggested cutting diplomatic ties with Israel. This statement appeared to reference Azerbaijan, a major Muslim-majority oil exporter to Israel and a close ally of Turkey in the region. 

Amir-Abdollahian also met with Turkish President Erdogan.

US imposes new round of sanctions on companies aiding Russia in Ukraine conflict

On November 2, the United States imposed a new round of sanctions on Russia's international supply chains, targeting 130 individuals and companies. The U.S. claims that these entities, including those in the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, are aiding Moscow in its war efforts against Ukraine.

The recent sanctions include Chinese, Emirati, Russian, Swiss, and Turkish companies, with a focus on logistics and financial services firms. Among those targeted, Turkish national Berk Turken and his companies were accused of having connections to Russian intelligence. The U.S. Treasury Department alleged that Turken's network facilitated payments and shipping arrangements to circumvent sanctions and transport goods from Turkey to Russia.

Turkey recalls ambassador to Israel amid Gaza conflict

On November 4, the Turkish Foreign Ministry announced the recall of its ambassador to Israel for consultations due to the ongoing conflict in Gaza and the worsening humanitarian situation in the region. This decision represents a significant setback in the recent efforts to restore diplomatic relations between the two nations. 

In response, Israel's Foreign Ministry marked Turkey's move as another step in supporting the Hamas terrorist organization, as previously stated by the Turkish president.

“Netanyahu is no longer someone we can talk to. We have written him off,” President Erdogan said, but he emphasized that completely severing diplomatic ties with Israel is not currently considered.