Turkiye in April 2023
April 3, 2023
- Turkiye’s Trade Deficit Rose 51.4% in February (Sky News Arabia Business). On Friday, the Turkish Statistical Institute revealed that the country’s foreign trade deficit increased by 51.4% year-on-year in February, reaching $12.08 billion. This increase is attributed to a 10.1% jump in imports, amounting to $30.71 billion, while exports experienced a 6.4% decline to $18.64 billion.
- Türkiye Denounces Deal Between New Jersey National Guard and Greek Cypriots (Daily Sabah). An agreement between the National Guard of the State of New Jersey and the Greek Cypriot administration’s Defense Ministry drew the ire of Türkiye, a staunch supporter of Turkish Cypriots on the divided island. The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Sunday condemned the deal that is “encouraging the Greek Cypriot side’s armament.”
- Defense Minister Akar Announced the Elimination of 340 Members of the U.S.-Backed PKK and Its Syrian Offshoot, the YPG, in the Last Three Months (Daily Sabah). Akar used a term to indicate that the terrorists were killed, injured, or captured alive, though the term mainly refers to the first category in most cases.
- Türkiye to Put Black Sea Gas into Use on April 21, 2023 (Daily Sabah). Türkiye operates two seismic research ships, the Oruç Reis and the Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa, and three drillships: Fatih, Kanuni, and Yavuz. The three drilling vessels are expected to join hands soon and work simultaneously in the Black Sea to expedite utilizing the natural gas discovered in the region.
April 4, 2023
- Inflation in Türkiye Continues Downward Trajectory, and Factory Activity Is Improving (Sky News Arabia Business). Consumer prices in March rose 2.29 percent month-on-month, lower than the 2.85 percent expected in a Reuters poll.
- Signs of the Turkish-Israeli Crisis in the Context of the Armenian Massacre (Al Sharq Al Awsat). The Turkish ambassador to Tel Aviv, Şakir Ozkan Turunlar, sent a letter to the Haifa municipality, requesting the cancellation of its decision to name a street in Haifa the “Armenian massacre.” The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned of a diplomatic crisis between the two countries and demanded that the municipality cancel its decision.
5 April 2023
- Erdogan’s Political Fate May Be Determined by Turkiye’s Kurds (CNN World). Turkey’s persecuted pro-Kurdish party has emerged as a kingmaker in the country’s upcoming election, playing a decisive role that may just tip the balance enough to unseat two-decade ruler Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In a key setback to the Turkish president and leader of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) last month announced that it would not put forward its own presidential candidate, a move analysts say allows its supporters to vote for Erdogan’s main rival…The HDP’s decision not to field a candidate came just three days after the head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kilicdaroglu, Erdogan’s main rival, visited the party’s co-chairs. He told reporters that the solution to Turkey’s problems, “including the Kurdish problem,” lies in parliament,” according to Turkish media.
- 21 Captured In Operations Against Gulenists in Turkiye (Daily Sabah). Police conducted an Istanbul-based operation against the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) Wednesday leading to the detention of 21 suspects. Four others with outstanding arrest warrants remain at large.Istanbul’s organized crime and intelligence units raided several locations in Istanbul…The Gulenist organization (FETÖ) has been under more intense scrutiny since the July 15, 2016, coup attempt its infiltrators in the army carried out. The Ministry of National Defense announced last year that 24,387 Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) members were sacked since the coup attempt for possible ties to the group, while administrative inquiries are underway for 781 others.
- Turkish Opposition Media Slams Erdogan for Holding Ministerial Meetings with Assad Regime (Cumhuriyet). President of the AKP, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, took a step back in his policy regarding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which he declared that he would not meet, saying he was a “murderer.” After Erdogan gave the message that he could meet with Assad in the past months, the first contact at the ministerial level was established between the two countries.
6 April 2023
- Political Tensions Escalate as Turkiye’s May 14 Elections Approach (Sharq al Awsat). The head of the opposition “Good Party,” Meral Aksener, accused President Erdogan of being responsible for a shooting at the headquarters of her regional party in Istanbul last week after he threatened her not to mess around with him during a television interview.
11 April 2023
Turkey Warns America and the Talabanis in an Attack on America’s Syrian Allies
This week’s second significant Syria-related event was the Turkish drone attack on the commander-in-chief of the Syrian Democratic Forces, Mazloum Abdi, and the head of the Syrian Democratic Council, Ilham Ahmed, at Sulaimaniyah International Airport in Iraq. The two leaders were traveling in a convoy accompanied by US military personnel when a Turkish drone fired a missile that narrowly missed them. PUK leader Bafel Talabani, who has close ties to Mazloum, accused the rival KDP of conducting an espionage operation leading the Turks to the whereabouts of Mazloum.
It is also quite possible, however, that the drone strike was intended as a Turkish warning to Talabani himself due to Talabani’s relationship with the SDF. Ankara’s frustration with Talabani has boiled over in the aftermath of the crash of two helicopters that crashed in Iraqi Kurdistan on March 15 while carrying SDF troops between Sulaymaniyah and Syria. Turkish foreign minister Cavusoglu in a statement on Monday, April 10 claimed Talabani’s PUK had received helicopters from France and given them to “terrorists,” and he also noted that the United States controls the airspace in that region and thus must be aware of these flights. CavasogluInteractive Table said Turkish military operations in Iraq will continue and called upon the Iraqi government to cooperate in joint operations.
For the United States, the Turkish strike against the SDF is part of a combination of rising pressures against the US presence in northeast Syria, coming close on the heels of a series of Iranian-sponsored militia attacks to which the United States responded with airstrikes. The latest of those Iran-backed attacks came on April 11 when the small US base at the Conoco oil field near Deir ez Zour came under fire by an armed drone. The US military presence in northeast Syria is therefore under intensifying pressure from both north and south.
12 April 2023
- Erdogan Unveils AK Party’s Election Manifesto (Anadolu Agency). Türkiye will continue with investment, production, and export until reaching the goal of bringing its foreign trade volume to $1 trillion, Erdogan said. “In the coming period, with an annual growth rate of 5.5%, we will increase our national income to $1.5 trillion and then to our main target of $2 trillion,” the president said.
13 April 2023
- Antakya, Hatay After Removing Rubble of the Devastating Earthquake (Syria TV). The city center of Antakya in Hatay turned into a void after removing the rubble of the devastating earthquake, which struck 11 states in southern Turkiye on the sixth of last February.
14 April 2023
- Türkiye Launches World’s First Drone Carrier (Al Quds Al Arabi). Türkiye unveiled the “TCG Anadolu” ship, the world’s first military drone carrier and one of the latest products of the local defense industries. During the delivery ceremony, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that they are making a confident and steady move towards establishing fully independent and self-reliant defense industries in the country.
- Turkiye’s Normalization Talks with Syria: 4 Key Topics on the Agenda (Hurriyet). The normalization talks between Turkey and Syria will continue in May with a meeting of the foreign ministers. Turkey has four agenda items on the table: humanitarian aid; the return of refugees; reviving the political process and ensuring the representation of the Syrian opposition; and the fight against [PKK] terrorism.
- Erdoğan Confident of Victory in First Round of Presidential Race (Hurriyet Daily News). President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed confidence that he will win the presidential elections in the first round by securing 50 percent of votes, stressing that he is observing the people’s massive attention towards him in the public rallies and other meetings…On a question about the fact that Türkiye’s polls are being closely followed by the international community, Erdoğan said “It is important in regard to Türkiye’s place in the world.” The West has some calculations over Türkiye; the president stressed. “Türkiye will convey a message to the West through these elections…This country is no longer waiting for the West’s reaction while fighting against terror or shaping its economic policies.”
18 April 2023
- US State Department Greenlights Sale of F-16 Modernization Kits to Türkiye (Anadolu Agency). Congress has the right to object to the State Department’s determination within 15 business days for sales approvals granted to NATO members, including Türkiye, a member of the alliance for over 70 years. The sales package includes equipment and engineering support to upgrade the Link-16 tactical data link system of Türkiye’s existing F-16 jets to the Block Upgrade-2 level and Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance Systems.
- Türkiye says 10 YPG/PKK Terrorists ‘Neutralized’ after Northern Syria Attack (Anadolu Agency). Turkish defense minister Hulusi Akar said the terrorists were “neutralized” in a retaliatory move after they attacked the Turkish military base. Turkish authorities use the term “neutralized” to imply that the terrorists surrendered, were killed, or were captured.
19 April 2023
- Türkiye Seizes Key Terror Hideout in Northern Iraq (Anadolu Agency). Turkish soldiers seized a cave that served as a terrorist hideout in northern Iraq, said the Turkish national defense minister on Tuesday. Speaking at an event in Kayseri province, Hulusi Akar said 12 terrorists were neutralized after an attack targeting a Turkish military base in northern Syria. “Terror hideouts and camps continue to be destroyed. Yesterday, Turkish soldiers also entered a cave called Cemco in the Zap region in northern Iraq, which terrorists see as a so-called fortress and described as ‘unassailable’,” Akar said.
- Türkish President Expresses Concern Over Gannouchi Arrest in Tunisia (Anadolu Agency). Türkiye’s president said late Tuesday that he would speak to authorities in Tunisia to convey his concern over the arrest of Ennahda Party leader Rached Ghannouchi.
- Ukraine Says Black Sea Grain Deal Risks Being Shut Down (Daily Sabah). Ukrainian Black Sea ports were blockaded after Russia’s invasion last year. However, access to three of them was cleared last July under a deal between Moscow and Kyiv that the United Nations and Türkiye brokered. The agreement – intended to help ease a global food crisis – was extended last month. However, Ukraine said the number of cargo ships passing through the Bosporus carrying Ukrainian agricultural products was critically low. On Tuesday, defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Ukraine’s Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov discussed the Black Sea Grain Initiative in central Türkiye.
- Türkiye Elections: Thousands of Russian Twitter Accounts Reactivated in Turkish (Middle East Eye). Turkish Twitter is specifically prone to trolling and manufacturing fake news since the major political parties, ruling and opposition, push their agenda through bot accounts. Since the 2016 US presidential elections, Russia has been frequently blamed for alleged election interference through social media and leaks.
20 April 2023
- US Supreme Court Rejects Immunity for Turkish Bank in Iran Sanctions Case (Times Of Israel). Halkbank was hit with US criminal charges in 2019 that it took part in a yearlong scheme to launder billions of dollars worth of Iranian oil and natural gas proceeds, violating sanctions on Iran. According to court documents, the funds were used to buy gold, and the transactions were disguised as food and medicine purchases to fall under a humanitarian exemption to the sanctions.
- Is Turkey’s Shutdown of Hatay Airport Designed to Help Erdogan in Polls? (Al-Monitor). The mayor of Hatay, who represents the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said …“Everyone is wondering why tickets cannot be bought to Hatay until May 17,” he said in a statement to Cumhuriyet. “If there is a problem with the runway, let them explain it; otherwise, they should tell us why the planes cannot land full of passengers…” According to a tweet by HaberTurk journalist Sevilay Yilman, Savas told her that at least 500,000 Hatay voters were away from the province and suggested their absence would harm the opposition alliance.
- Turkish Interior Minister: US Losing Reputation as World Grows Increasingly Disenchanted (Al Mayadeen). Interior Minister Soylu added that Europe is a pawn for the United States. Turkish media quoted Soylu saying, “There is no such thing as Europe, do not exaggerate the matter, and there is nothing special here.”
21 April 2023
- Turkiye’s Kilicdaroglu Garners Record Attention in Video Discussing His Alevi Faith (Al-Monitor). Opposition presidential candidate Kilicdaroglu’s tweet, which included the video viewed more than 73 million times as of this writing, marks the first time he has spoken about his faith since the start of the election campaign. His faith has been one of the top contentious issues in the lead-up to his presidential candidacy, as many — including officials of the Republican People’s Party (CHP)-allied Good Party — have argued that Turkiye’s conservatives and Islamists would shy away from voting for an Alevi.
- Türkiye Launches Black Sea Gas Deliveries in Historic Milestone (The Daily Sabah). Türkiye Thursday started natural gas production from a vast reserve discovered in the Black Sea, which promises to curb the country’s external dependence and cut consumer energy prices…Meanwhile, Erdoğan Thursday also announced that natural gas used in kitchens and for hot water, equivalent to 25 cubic meters per month on average, would be free for a year. He also said all households would be offered a month of free natural gas for domestic consumption.
- Head of Turkish Opposition “Good” Party Pledges to Deport Syrians If Elected (Sham News Network). During an election rally speech, Aksener declared that the Syrians would inevitably face deportation. Aksener supports the opposition leader of the Turkish Republican People’s Party, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, as a presidential candidate in the context of the “Six-Party Table” alliance.
April 24, 2023
- Turkiye’s Undecided Voters Could Sway Erdogan’s Fateful Elections (Al-Monitor). With less than four weeks until the elections, up to 15% of voters remain undecided. Pollsters say that their last-minute decisions will likely sway the race’s outcome. Undecided voters, particularly young people who will vote for the first time, are increasingly at the center of the campaign.
- Türkiye Interior Minister Accuses US of Creating a ‘Terrorist State’ on Its Borders” (Al Sharq Al Awsat). Turkish Interior Minister Suleiman Soylu asserted that “this threat will not dissipate unless the influence of America in the region is removed.” On Saturday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar affirmed that the military forces persist in their determined efforts to counter terrorism in northern Syria and Iraq, successfully eliminating 21 “terrorists” in the region over the last four days.
- All Eyes on Black Sea Grain Deal as ‘Expected’ Closure Looms (Daily Sabah). Russia’s refusal to approve any new vessels for the safe export of Ukraine’s grain through the Black Sea, unless their operators guarantee the transits will be done by May 18, “the expected date of … closure,” could result in the winding down of the existing deal as early as this week.
25 April 2023
- Biden Remembers Armenian Genocide, Turkiye Slams ‘Worthless Opportunist Politicians’ (Al Arabiya). The US president made a campaign pledge to recognize the genocide and, on Monday, vowed to ensure that such an atrocity “never again” takes place… However, Turkiye blasted Biden’s decision to recognize the genocide two years ago, saying his statement had no legal basis and would open a deep wound in bilateral ties.
26 April 2023
- Cavusoglu: Our Forces Will Not Withdraw from Northern Iraq and Syria for Now (Anadolu Agency). In a televised interview on Monday evening, the Turkish Foreign Minister stated, “Our withdrawal from northern Iraq and northern Syria would mean the cessation of our military operations against terrorism and the approach of terrorists to our borders, posing a threat to our national security.” Cavusoglu emphasized, “We do not aspire to annex parts of Syrian lands, and we can only withdraw from northern Syria when security is established and full stability returns to those areas.”
- Iraq’s Northern Oil Exports Show Few Signs of Restarting after Stoppage (Daily Sabah). The KRG and SOMO (Iraq’s state-owned crude marketing company) are eyeing an early May export restart, two sources said, with one adding that this is far from guaranteed. According to a separate industry source, a restart is at least 2-3 weeks away.
- Expected Decrease of $5 Billion in Turkish Central Bank Reserves (SNA Business). Bankers said on Tuesday that the Turkish Central Bank’s total reserves are expected to have decreased by more than five billion dollars to around $116 billion last week due to the increased demand for foreign exchange as the May elections approach.
27 April 2023
- Turkiye’s Erdogan Cancels Campaign Travel after Health Scare (Al-Monitor). With just 17 days to go until the elections, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s health caused alarm on Wednesday after canceling his campaign travel two days in a row, including a previously planned trip for a high-profile ceremony at Turkiye’s new power plant in Mersin on Thursday. The cancelation follows a health scare the Turkish leader suffered during a live TV interview on Tuesday night.
- Türkiye to Gain Nuclear Status as 1st Fuel Delivery due for Akkuyu (Daily Sabah). Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) is being built by Russia’s state atomic energy company Rosatom in Mersin province on the southern Mediterranean coastline. It is scheduled to see the first of its four reactors go online in the first half of this year. Akkuyu will eventually boast a capacity to provide about 10% of Türkiye’s electricity needs.
- Turkiye’s Election in a Dead Heat, Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu Tied at 45% (Al-Monitor). The margin of error is +/-3. The survey found a statistical tie between Erdogan and Kilicdaroglu at 45.2% and 44.9%.