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Turkiye in March 2024

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2024-3-6

  1. Turkiye Arrests 7 for Alleged Mossad EspionageTurkish authorities have detained seven individuals suspected of espionage for Israel’s Mossad. The operation, a collaborative effort by Turkiye’s Intelligence Service and Istanbul Security Directorate, uncovered a network led by former government employee Hamza Turhan Ayberk. Ayberk, identified through his connections with a figure named Victoria, reportedly recruited government workers to gather Middle Eastern data for Mossad since 2019. Investigations reveal Ayberk’s activities ranged from information collection to surveillance and threats, employing encrypted communications and digital currencies to elude detection. This arrest follows revelations of Mossad’s recruitment tactics in Turkiye, involving Syrians, Palestinians, and individuals linked to Hamas, highlighting a sophisticated espionage network within the country.

2024-3-12

  1. UN Committee Says Turkish Airstrikes in Northeast Syria Could Be War Crimes.The attacks targeted what Turkey claimed were military facilities of the Syrian Democratic Forces, as well as infrastructure for electricity and gasoline production, reportedly destroying 194 targets and eliminating 162 terrorists. The SDF’s self-administration reported over 200 sites were hit across the northeast during this period. The airstrikes also targeted residential areas, including a camp for internally displaced people, disrupting services provided by NGOs. There were no identified military targets near the attacked sites, raising concerns that these incidents may amount to direct attacks on civilians, potentially amounting to war crimes.
  2. Turkiye Says It’s Countering Israeli “Disinformation” on Gaza.Türkiye’s Communications Director Fahrettin Altun has highlighted the country’s efforts to counter nearly 200 disinformation attempts by Israel, especially regarding the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Speaking to Fokusplus, Altun emphasized the threat of disinformation as a national security issue and stressed the importance of truth in combating misinformation. He criticized the systematic use of disinformation by Israel to justify its actions in Gaza and underscored the media’s responsibility to report news ethically and impartially. Altun reaffirmed Türkiye’s commitment to supporting Palestine and bringing Israel’s alleged war crimes and atrocities to international attention.
  3. Turkish Senior Officials Will Visit Baghdad to Discuss Actions Against PKK.Türkiye’s top security and diplomatic officials, including Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, Defense Minister Yaşar Güler, and National Intelligence Organization head Ibrahim Kalın, are set to visit Baghdad for talks on counterterrorism cooperation, particularly against the PKK terrorist group. Discussions will focus on establishing a joint operations center with Iraq for a more effective fight against terrorism and securing the Turkish-Iraqi border. This visit follows intensified diplomatic and military efforts by Türkiye to eliminate terrorist threats, underlining Ankara’s commitment to addressing terrorism at its source and ensuring national security without seeking permission from other countries.  Türkiye earlier announced plans to establish a security belt 30-40 kilometers deep inside Iraq by summer to counter PKK attacks, echoing efforts in Syria. Turkish Defense Minister Yaşar Güler emphasized the initiative aligns with President Erdoğan’s strategy to secure borders and eliminate terrorism. 

2024-3-13

  1. Erdoğan Set for Strategic Visit to Iraq in April Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is scheduled to visit Iraq before the end of April, his first trip to Baghdad since 2012. The trip coincides with Turkiye’s establishment of a Joint Turkish-Iraqi Operations Center aimed at eliminating the PKK presence in Northern Iraq. This strategic initiative targets control points in critical regions such as Kandil, Sinjar, Mahmur, Suleimaniyah, and Gara. The collaboration includes intelligence sharing, logistical support, and military coordination to conduct operations effectively. 
  2. Erdogan Warns Against Spillover of Ukraine Conflict into NATOTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cautioned against any actions that could escalate the Ukraine conflict or spread it to NATO territories. Advocating for Ukraine’s sovereignty while maintaining balanced ties with Russia, Turkey has emerged as a key mediator, providing support to Ukraine yet opposing sanctions on Moscow. Erdogan, addressing foreign ambassadors in Ankara, highlighted Turkey’s efforts to revive the Black Sea grain deal and emphasized the importance of peace initiatives that include Russia. He announced plans to host Russian President Vladimir Putin after Russia’s elections.
  3. Turkey’s Strategic Pivot to Somalia Turkey has marked a significant presence in the Horn of Africa by signing a military and economic agreement with Somalia on February 8, positioning it as a key gateway to Africa due to its strategic geographical location. This partnership includes an oil exploration agreement in Somalia’s regions, signaling Somalia’s potential emergence as a major oil producer. Turkey’s turn towards Somalia with full political and military weight aims to bolster the Somali army to eliminate the Al-Shabab movement within two years, raising regional and international concerns about Turkey’s growing influence in the area despite normalization efforts with several Arab countries in recent years. Turkey’s significant investments in Africa highlight its commitment to being a major player in the region amidst geopolitical rivalries.

2024-3-14

  1. Turkish Foreign Ministry Says “Global Pressure” is Forcing the US to Pressure Israel over Humanitarian Concerns in GazaThe Turkish Foreign Ministry suggested that global pressure is what has led the United States to take its recent steps to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. In recent talks with US officials, Turkish officials emphasized establishing a ceasefire and initiating a two-state solution. Both countries agree on the importance of protecting civilians and ensuring continuous humanitarian aid delivery, but Turkiye’s position is that land-based aid delivery cannot be replaced by costly, less effective methods such as the US plan to build a new pier. Turkiye continues to support Gaza with ongoing aid deliveries, including 3,000 tons recently sent, but claims that Israeli authorities are hindering aid delivery.
  2. Turkish Delegation to Iraq Will Discuss Resumption of Kurdistan’s Oil ExportsA high-level Turkish delegation, including the Ministers of Defense and Foreign Affairs and the Head of the National Intelligence Agency, is visiting Baghdad for discussions with Iraqi officials. A source revealed to Kurdistan24 that the agenda includes talks on resuming oil exports from the Kurdistan Region through Turkey’s Ceyhan port, securing the shared border to hinder PKK movements, and preparations for the Turkish President’s visit to Baghdad.
  3. Turkey and Germany Sign MoU to Enhance Trade RelationsThe Independent Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association of Turkey (MÜSİAD) and the German Association for Small and Medium-sized Businesses (BVMW) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to foster trade relations and cooperation. Announced at the “SME Future Day 2024” event in Berlin, with Turkish Trade Minister Ömer Bolat highlighting the event, this agreement marks a new chapter in the forty-year economic and industrial partnership between Turkey and Germany. Minister Bolat emphasized the close ties in energy, tourism, technology, education, and defense, noting significant mutual investments and the potential for future collaborative ventures.
  4. New Bayraktar Drone Hits Target with Supersonic Missile in Groundbreaking TestTurkey’s Bayraktar AKINCI, a combat unmanned aerial vehicle, achieved a milestone by successfully conducting a test fire with the UAV-122, a supersonic missile developed by Roketsan. Highlighting the UAV-122 missile’s attributes, such as high precision, adaptability for low/high altitude, and exceptional maneuverability, Bayraktar considers the test a significant advance in Turkish aviation, as Turkiye focuses on developing its indigenous technology capabilities in defense.

2024-3-19

  1. Turkish FM Urges PUK in Iraq to Sever Ties with PKK Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan called on the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in Suleymaniyah, Iraq, to dissociate from PKK terrorists, emphasizing the need for the PUK to rectify their cooperation with the group deemed a national security threat by Ankara. During a live broadcast, Fidan expressed Ankara’s desire for renewed friendship and collaboration against the PKK, highlighting the expectation for the PUK to cease support for the PKK and YPG. Fidan’s remarks are part of Türkiye’s broader effort to mobilize regional actions against the PKK, a group responsible for over 40,000 deaths in its long-standing conflict with Türkiye.

2024-3-20

  1. U.S. Signals Willingness for Strategic Dialogue on Syria with Turkiye Turkiye’s “Hürriyet” newspaper reported that for the first time, the United States has conveyed its readiness to engage in a strategic dialogue with Ankara on the Syrian conflict. This development follows the resolution of two major issues: Sweden’s NATO membership and the sale of F-16 jets to Turkiye, paving the way for a new political climate in US-Turkish relations. However, the contentious issue of U.S. cooperation with the Kurdish YPG, the backbone of the SDF in Syria, remains, with Turkiye seeking adherence to the 2019 agreement for the removal of Kurdish forces from the Turkiye-Syria border and the cessation of support to Kurdish factions aiming to establish a state.
  2. Turkiye Blames Moscow and Tehran for Failure of Normalization with Damascus Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said that normalization with Damascus is unattainable due to Syrian decisions being influenced by Russian and Iranian allies. Fidan emphasized the need for Syria to consider its allies’ stances and dismissed the possibility of direct dialogue under current conditions. This stance is compounded by Moscow’s declaration that normalization is currently impossible, citing regional dynamics and American strikes on Iranian targets as distractions from Turkish-Syrian relations. Turkiye denies plans for a Erdogan-Assad meeting in Moscow and continues to threaten military actions in Kurdish regions for national security. Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reaffirmed his commitment to completing the previously announced “security belt” in northern Syria, planning to extend it 30 to 40 kilometers deep. Starting next summer, Turkiye aims to fully secure its borders with Iraq while continuing its security efforts in Syria. 

2024-3-21

  1. Turkish Foreign Minister Stresses EU Membership Shouldn’t Be Hindered by Political Agendas Hakan Fidan, Turkey’s Foreign Minister, emphasized the importance of Turkey’s EU accession process, stating it should not be left to sterile political agendas. During a joint press conference with Spain’s Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares, in Ankara, Fidan highlighted Spain’s principled stance on Gaza and its support for the Palestinian people from day one. He reiterated Turkey’s strategic goal of joining the EU and praised Spain as a major trading partner, aiming for a $20 billion trade volume. Fidan also called for an immediate ceasefire and humanitarian aid delivery to Gaza, advocating for a lasting peace based on a two-state solution.
  2. PKK Says it Has Acquired Air Defense System and Downed 15 Turkish Drones On the occasion of Nowruz, the Central Command of the People’s Defense Center (an arm of the PKK) revealed that PKK fighters have acquired the capability to neutralize armed drones and claimed to have downed a total of 15 Turkish drones to date. The PKK announcement aimed to underscore that the “Kurdish resistance” had made significant advances in military capabilities against Turkiye’s reliance on drone warfare.
  3. Turkey and Iraq to Sign Comprehensive Agreement During Erdogan’s Post-Ramadan Visit Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan announced plans for a significant bilateral agreement between Ankara and Baghdad, aimed at enhancing security and economic cooperation, to be signed during President Erdogan’s visit to Iraq in April. This move, marking Erdogan’s first visit to Baghdad in 12 years, signifies Turkey’s efforts to institutionalize and deepen relations with Iraq. The discussions have focused on combating threats from the PKK and have led to its designation as a banned organization in Iraq, with Turkey pushing for further classification as a terrorist group. 
  4. Erdogan Touts Turkiye’s Production of a Fifth-Generation Fighter President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hailed Turkey’s entry into the exclusive circle of countries capable of producing fifth-generation fighter jets, thanks to the “Kaan” fighter project. Speaking at a Justice and Development Party rally in Isparta, Erdogan highlighted Turkey’s significant advancements in drone technology and defense industries, transitioning from heavy dependence on foreign technology to achieving an 80% domestic production rate. The “Kaan” fighter, which completed its first flight in February, represents a leap in Turkey’s defense capabilities, positioning the country as a leader in modern warfare technologies and self-reliance in arms production.

2024-3-25

  1. Turkish Intelligence Says ISIS-K Behind terrorist Attacks in Turkey, Iran, and Russia Investigations into a devastating attack at Crocus City Hall in Moscow reveal connections to ISIS’s Khorasan Group, linking this incident to similar attacks in Turkey and Iran. Turkish intelligence agencies have determined that the orchestrators behind the Moscow concert hall attack, which resulted in 143 civilian casualties, are from the same ISIS cell responsible for assaults on Istanbul’s Santa Maria Church and a memorial event in Kirman, Iran. This revelation highlights the Khorasan Group’s extensive operational reach, prompting increased security measures across Turkey to counter this emerging threat.
  2. How Will the Crocus Attack Affect Russia’s Relations with Syria and Turkey? Following the devastating Crocus terrorist attack, Russia may be moving swiftly to combat ISIS, particularly within Syria, signaling deeper military engagements in the country. Russian President Vladimir Putin has engaged in discussions with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Bashar al-Assad, promising enhanced anti-terrorism cooperation. Experts suggest that Russia will seek to execute more strikes against terrorist organizations across its borders, leveraging regional and international alliances. 

2024-3-26

  1. Turkey Captures 40 Suspected ISIS Militants following Moscow AttackTurkey has apprehended 40 individuals suspected of ISIS affiliations across eight provinces following revelations that a suspect in the recent Moscow attack traveled from Turkey to Russia. Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya highlighted the country’s ongoing efforts against ISIS, with 1,316 operations leading to 2,733 detentions. This development coincides with Russian reports identifying Shamsidin Fariduni, a Tajikistan national linked to the Crocus City Hall attack, who documented his stay in Turkey prior to the incident. The attack, leaving 133 dead, was claimed by ISIS-K, a branch active in Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
  2. Indonesia Enhances Military with Turkish-Indonesian Developed Kaplan TanksIndonesia has officially incorporated the Kaplan tank, co-developed with Türkiye, into its military arsenal, marking a significant advancement in the country’s defense capabilities. Over ten units of these modern medium-weight tanks, also known as Tiger or Harimau in Bahasa, were introduced by Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto. This collaboration between Turkish manufacturer FNSS and Indonesian manufacturer PT Pindad showcases Indonesia’s trust in Turkish military technology expertise. Additionally, Indonesia collaborates with Turkish company TUSAS on producing ANKA Drones, highlighting the expanding defense partnership between the two nations.
  3. Turkey Prioritizes F-16 Modernization in U.S. Purchase PlanTurkey is meticulously reviewing the Draft Offer and Acceptance Letters for the purchase of F-16 jets from the U.S., with a focus not on acquiring new F-16 Block 70 aircraft in one go but prioritizing the modernization of its existing fleet. The package includes F-16 Block 70 fighters and 79 modernization kits. Additionally, funds will be allocated for the development of Turkey’s national combat aircraft, KAAN, and the purchase of the Eurofighter Typhoon. The total cost will be determined after further discussions between Turkish and U.S. officials, aiming for completion by 2028. Turkey has also proposed that production and modernization occur domestically

2024-3-27

  1. Biden Invites Erdogan for White House Visit in May President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is set to visit the United States on May 9th, accepting an official invitation from President Joe Biden for discussions at the White House. This marks President Erdoğan’s first visit to Washington as Biden’s guest, with the meeting poised to address pivotal issues. Key topics include counter-terrorism efforts, the situation in Gaza, and defense cooperation, with particular emphasis on the F-16 supply and modernization process, as well as Turkey’s stance on Israel’s actions in Gaza and the ongoing support for a two-state solution. The leaders will also discuss Ankara’s discomfort over the U.S.’s support for YPG in northern Syria. The visit is seen as a reciprocal gesture for Turkish approval for Sweden’s accession to NATO.
  2. Turkey and Hashd al-Shaabi Form Alliance Against PKK in Sinjar Turkey reportedly has forged an alliance with the pro-Iran militia Hashd al-Shaabi to tackle the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) influence in Sinjar. This collaboration aims to enhance security and address PKK threats along Turkey’s southern border. The partnership follows a 2020 agreement between Erbil and Baghdad to stabilize Sinjar, which has been hindered by the continued presence of armed groups, including the PKK and Hashd al-Shaabi, after the area’s liberation from ISIS.
  3. Turkey Denies Military Activities with Israel The Turkish Ministry of Defense has categorically denied any form of military cooperation with Israel, including training, exercises, or defense industry collaboration. This statement comes during ongoing violence in Gaza, with Turkey reiterating its unwavering support for Palestine and emphasizing its commitment not to engage in activities that could harm Palestinians.
  4. Turkey Detains 147 Suspected ISIS Affiliates in Nationwide Operations Turkey’s Interior Minister announced the arrest of 147 individuals suspected of ISIS connections in nationwide raids across 30 provinces. These suspects were reportedly active within ISIS, engaged in armed conflict, and involved in funding the organization. This comes as part of a broader crackdown that has seen 2,919 arrests since June 1st for suspected ties to extremist groups. Additionally, two suspects linked to a Moscow suburb attack claimed by ISIS had stayed in Turkey before flying back to Russia.

2024-3-28

  1. Erdogan Calls for Increased Pressure on Israel to Adhere to UN Security Council Ceasefire ResolutionTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged for intensified international pressure on Israel to comply with a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Speaking at a rally for the “People’s Alliance,” Erdogan welcomed the resolution, which was supported by 14 out of 15 member states, with the United States abstaining. He emphasized Turkey’s commitment to fulfilling the resolution’s requirements and vowed to strive for peace and stability in Gaza. Erdogan also condemned the “massacres” committed by Israel against Palestinians and praised the Palestinian resistance as a lesson in humanity and courage.
  2. Israel Denies Turkey and Qatar’s Requests for Humanitarian Aid Drops in Northern Gaza Israel has rejected requests from Turkey and Qatar to deliver humanitarian aid to northern Gaza. This decision comes as nine other countries, including the United States, Jordan, Egypt, the UAE, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, and recently Singapore, received approval for aid drops in Gaza. Israel’s refusal is attributed to the absence of diplomatic relations with Qatar and a significant political rift with Turkey since the beginning of the October 7 conflict.
  3. Russian Oil Companies Face Payment Challenges as Türkiye and China Increase Bank Scrutiny Russian oil firms are experiencing significant delays in receiving payments from China, Turkey, and the UAE due to heightened sanctions compliance by banks in these countries, wary of US secondary sanctions. This increased scrutiny, which includes the requirement for written guarantees that transactions do not involve entities from the US SDN list, has disrupted the flow of funds to Moscow, aligning with US sanctions goals. The situation has been exacerbated since December, following a US Treasury executive order that heightened the risk of secondary sanctions for evasion of the Russian oil price cap, leading to additional documentation and verification processes that prolong transaction times.

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