ACLS

Turkiye in October 2023

Table of Contents

October 2,2023

Ankara Bombing: A Critical Juncture in U.S.-Turkiye Relations and Global Geopolitics 

 Ankara Attack:

On October 1, 2023, at approximately 9:30 a.m. local time, a suicide bombing occurred near the General Directorate of Security and the Parliament building in Ankara, Turkiye. The attack was executed by two individuals who arrived at the scene in a vehicle (Al Jazeera). One of the attackers detonated himself at the main gate of the building, while the other was shot in the head by security forces before he could detonate his own explosives (Al-Hadath). Two police officers were injured in the attack, sustaining non-life-threatening injuries (Anadolu Agency).

Claim of Responsibility:

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group classified as a terrorist organization by Turkiye and Western countries, claimed responsibility for the attack. The PKK stated that the operation was carried out by a team affiliated with the Khaledin Brigade. Turkiye immediately responded to the attack by striking 20 alleged PKK military sites in north Iraq  (Sharq Awsat).

Political Reactions:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was attending a parliamentary session nearby, stated that “terrorists will never achieve their goals,” emphasizing Turkiye’s resolve to continue its fight against terrorism (Anadolu Agency). The attack drew international condemnation, including from the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, European Council President Charles Michel, and several Arab nations (Daily Sabah).

Additional Details:

The vehicle used in the attack was hijacked in the city of Kayseri, 260 kilometers southeast of Ankara, and its driver was killed (Sharq Awsat). The attack was the first of its kind in Ankara since 2016 and occurred one kilometer from the site where President Erdogan was attending the opening of the new session of Parliament (Sharq Awsat). Surveillance footage showed one of the attackers exiting the vehicle and rushing towards the gate while firing a light weapon (Al Jazeera). Turkish authorities have launched an investigation into the attack and imposed a media ban on further coverage (Al Jazeera).

Roads leading to the Ministry of Interior and Parliament in Ankara were closed following the attack (Al Arabiya). This incident has led to heightened security measures and an ongoing investigation. It has also drawn a wide range of international reactions, emphasizing the global implications of such attacks.

Expert Analysis: Turkiye’s recent actions and statements reflect a proactive stance in regional affairs. Its engagement with Israel, characterized by public warnings, indicates a willingness to play a significant role in shaping regional stability and diplomatic relations. At the same time, Turkiye is considering the extension of its military presence in Syria and Iraq, demonstrating a strategic, long-term commitment to its regional objectives. This focus aligns with the current international attention on the Israeli-Hamas conflict, providing Turkiye an opportunity to advance its interests in Syria. While there have been calls from the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria for UN investigations, this could offer Turkiye a platform for dialogue and clarification of its actions. Furthermore, the transfer of foreign detainees between Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and Turkish intelligence underscores Turkiye’s complex but key role in regional security dynamics.

October 3, 2023

  1. Turkiye to Resume Iraqi Oil Pipeline Operations Following Payment Dispute Resolution (New Arab). Turkiye announced the resumption of an Iraqi oil pipeline that was halted in March due to a payment dispute with the Kurdish autonomous region. The pipeline, which previously exported about 450,000 barrels per day, will restart operations this week.
  2. Turkish Coast Guard Rescues 374 Migrants in Aegean Sea (Anadolu Agency). Türkiye’s Coast Guard rescued 374 irregular migrants in the Aegean Sea, including 41 off the coast of Datca district in Mugla province and 165 off Canakkale province. An additional 68 migrants were rescued off Izmir province after being pushed into Turkish waters by Greek forces. Türkiye and global rights organizations have criticized Greece for its illegal pushback practices, citing violations of international law and humanitarian values.
  3. Ankara Bombing: Turkiye’s Counterterrorism Measures and Global Implications (ACLS). On October 1, 2023, a suicide bombing near Ankara’s General Directorate of Security and Parliament building left two police officers injured. The PKK claimed responsibility for the attack, prompting Turkiye to launch airstrikes on PKK sites in northern Iraq. President Erdogan vowed to continue the fight against terrorism, while international leaders condemned the attack. The incident has led to heightened security measures and could have far-reaching implications for Turkiye’s relations with NATO and the U.S., particularly in the realms of intelligence sharing and military cooperation.

 

October 4, 2023

  1. Erdogan Seeks Allied Support in Turkiye’s Anti-Terror Efforts (Al Nahar). As Predicted in the Region’s Section: ‘Turkiye’s Possible Three-Pronged Responses: Military Escalations, NATO Cooperation, and U.S. Diplomatic Strains’, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated today that he expects “tangible support from allies” in Turkiye’s fight against terrorism. Turkish police have conducted nationwide raids, arresting dozens suspected of ties to the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Furthermore, Turkiye announced today that the attack on the interior ministry is linked to Syria. One assailant, Hasan Oğuz, was reported to have association with the PKK and is believed to have entered Turkiye from Syria. The probe also focuses on the origin of the weapons and explosives used, which are also being reported to have been smuggled from Syria. The United States would benefit from preparing for all the possible upcoming scenarios.   
  2. Turkiye’s Strategic Push for Zangezur Corridor Sparks Tensions with Iran (Al Hurra). Turkiye aims to open the Zangezur Corridor, connecting Azerbaijan to Nakhchivan and bypassing Iran. President Erdogan’s announcement has been met with stern warnings from Iran, cautioning geopolitical instability. The corridor could reshape regional dynamics, affecting Iran’s influence and transit income, while bolstering Turkiye-Azerbaijan relations. 
  3. Turkiye Emerges as Europe’s Natural Gas Lifeline (Star). Turkiye is leveraging its strategic position to become Europe’s key natural gas supplier, especially in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. With new export agreements in place, Turkiye aims to fill the energy void in Europe and establish itself as a pivotal natural gas hub.
  4. France Stirs Controversy Over Karabakh; Foreign Minister Targets Turkiye’s Territorial Integrity (Sabah). France’s Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna faces backlash for a social media post implying Mount Ararat as part of Armenia, challenging Turkiye’s territorial integrity. This follows Azerbaijan’s successful anti-terror operation in Karabakh, which has been largely cleared of armed groups despite ongoing disinformation campaigns, particularly from some Armenian circles.
  5. UK and Turkiye Negotiate Financing for Third Railway Project (Al Monitor). The UK’s export credit agency, UK Export Finance (UKEF), is in talks with Turkiye to finance a third railway project. This follows UKEF’s recent underwriting of £781 million for a high-speed electric railway in southern Turkiye. The negotiations align with the UK’s broader infrastructure and sustainable energy interests in the region.
  6. Erdoğan Urges Removal of “Coup-Constitutional Shackles” as Turkiye Nears 100th Republic Anniversary (Star). In a recent speech, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan emphasized the need for a new constitution, stating that it’s time to “remove the shackles” imposed by past military coups, specifically referring to the coups of May 27, 1960, and September 12, 1980. Erdoğan expressed that these “coup-constitutional shackles” have hindered Turkiye’s progress and that the country should aim for a more democratic and civil constitution as it approaches its 100th Republic anniversary.

 

October 5, 2023

  1. Fidan Warns ‘Third Parties,’ Implicitly U.S., to Avoid PKK Sites in Syria (Hurriyet). Top Turkish security officials held a meeting coinciding with a second round of airstrikes against 16 PKK targets in Northern Iraq. Following the meeting, Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan declared PKK facilities in Iraq and Syria as ‘legitimate targets,’ subtly warning the U.S.-led coalition in Syria. A few hours later, Turkish forces attacked a Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) barracks in Al-Hasakah, Syria causing explosions and prompting ambulance dispatches. Concurrently, Iraq’s Defense Minister announced he will be visiting Ankara this Thursday to discuss the security issues. The timing and gravity of these statements are both unprecedented and highly significant. For a deep dive analysis of this issue, read: The Region’s edition: Ankara Bombing: A Critical Juncture in U.S.-Turkiye Relations and Global Geopolitics
  2. Azerbaijan Boycotts Karabakh Talks, Citing Exclusion of Turkiye (Daily Sabah). Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev opted out of peace talks with Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, scheduled in Spain. The decision follows the rejection of Turkiye’s participation and perceived bias from France. Azerbaijan criticized France’s lack of neutrality and its support for Armenia, questioning the effectiveness of the talks.

 

October 6, 2023

  1. Turkish Troops May Extend Stay in Iraq and Syria. Turkish authorities indicate that their military presence in Iraq and Syria could be extended for another two years due to ongoing security concerns (Iraqi News). 

 

October 10, 2023

  1. Erdoğan Addresses Israel-Gaza Conflict and Turkey’s Anti-Terror Operations. President Erdoğan emphasized the need to protect civilians in the escalating Israel-Gaza conflict, calling for an end to bombings by both sides. He announced Turkey’s plans to send humanitarian aid to Gaza and reiterated the country’s support for a two-state solution. Erdoğan also reported that Turkey eliminated 162 PKK/YPG terrorists in recent operations in northern Iraq and Syria, following a thwarted attack in Ankara. (Daily Sabah). 
  2. Turkish Foreign Minister to Attend ECO Meeting in Azerbaijan. Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan is set to visit Shusha, Azerbaijan, to participate in the 27th meeting of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) Council of Ministers. The meeting will review work done in 2023 under ECO and discuss current issues. Turkey aims to continue contributing to peace, stability, and prosperity in the ECO region, which includes member states like Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan (Anadolu Agency). 

 

October 11, 2023

  1. Erdogan Warns of Escalating Gaza Conflict Due to U.S. and Israeli Actions. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed concerns over escalating violence in Gaza, warning both the U.S. and Israel. In a phone call with Israeli President Isaac Herzog, Erdogan urged Israel to halt indiscriminate attacks on civilians. He also questioned the presence of the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford near Israel, suggesting it could further escalate tensions. Erdogan held talks with Palestinian and Lebanese leaders and called for all parties to push for peace (Daily Sabah, Sharq Awsat).  
  2. Erdoğan and Putin Discuss the Israel-Palestine Crisis. Erdoğan and Putin discussed ways to prevent the escalation of Israel-Palestine tensions and address humanitarian needs. Erdoğan conveyed Turkey’s concerns about targeting civilian settlements (Daily Sabah).
  3. Lavrov Accuses West of Fueling Karabakh Tensions for Geopolitical Gains. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov criticized Western involvement in the Karabakh situation, stating it serves geopolitical ambitions rather than peace. He said Brussels and Washington are destabilizing the South Caucasus. Lavrov also criticized UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for not maintaining an unbiased position, citing his remarks at the 2023 Summit for Democracy (Anadolu Agency). 

 

October 12, 2023

  1. Defense Minister Yaşar Güler Attends Key NATO Meeting in Brussels. Defense Minister Yaşar Güler participated in a significant NATO meeting in Brussels, focusing on urgent strategies and responses. The meeting included around 50 countries and featured a session on Ukraine’s defense needs. Güler met with key counterparts, including U.S. ‘s Lloyd J. Austin and Britain’s Grant Shapps (Hurriyet).
  2. Turkey Intensifies Operations Against PKK in Syria, Iraq. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that Turkey had “successfully completed the first phase” of its bombing campaign, destroying 192 targets and killing 162 PKK and YPG fighters (Al Hadath). 

 

October 13, 2023

  1. Turkish and Iranian Parliament Speakers Discuss Palestinian Developments. Turkish Parliament Speaker, Mustafa Şentop, held a phone call with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, to discuss the military conflict between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza. They emphasized the need to halt attacks on Gaza and declared an immediate ceasefire to pave the way for a just peace. Şentop stressed the importance of addressing basic needs in the region and warned against escalating tensions. He called for collective action within the Islamic world and highlighted the value of humanitarian aid and protecting innocent civilians in Gaza (Anadolu Agency).
  2. Turkiye Urges the US to Cut Ties with Syrian Separatist Terrorists. Turkiye has responded to the US executive order on Syria by reiterating its expectation for the US to end its engagement with separatist terrorist groups in Syria. Turkiye’s Operation Peace Spring in 2019 significantly weakened the PKK/YPG and Daesh/ISIS terror groups, creating a more stable environment in northern Syria. Ankara urges Washington to support its stability-oriented policies for Syria’s unity and territorial integrity, emphasizing the importance of deep-rooted relations between the two allies (Anadolu Agency).
  3. Turkiye Continues Deportations During Escalating Military Situation – International Law Implications. Turkiye’s ongoing deportation of Syrians, coinciding with a military escalation in northwestern Syria, raises concerns about potential violations of international agreements. Despite its previous hosting of 3.6 million Syrian refugees, Turkiye’s recent forced deportations are viewed by some legal experts as contrary to international law, specifically the principle of non-refoulement. Turkish authorities are responding to domestic pressures, and the international community is wary of forced deportations, considering the dire living conditions in Syria (NPA Syria).
  4. Erdogan Denounces Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza, Calls for International Action. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed concern about the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, emphasizing that withholding essential resources like electricity, water, food, and fuel from 2 million people is inhumane and violates the laws of war. Erdogan called on the international community, particularly Western nations, to address the crisis. He also questioned the U.S. policy’s role in restoring peace to the Israel-Palestine conflict and criticized Israeli actions, which have further exacerbated living conditions in Gaza (TRT World).
  5. Türkiye-Africa Business Forum Fosters New Collaborations. The Türkiye-Africa Business and Economic Forum in Istanbul is set to strengthen economic relations between Türkiye and African nations. The Turkish Trade Minister highlighted the growth of trade and cooperation, with bilateral business volume rising from $5.4 billion in 2003 to $40.7 billion in 2022. Investments by Turkish business people in Africa reached $10 billion, while Turkish contractors engaged in projects worth $85.5 billion. The forum aims to further expand cooperation and partnerships, with a goal of achieving $75 billion in bilateral trade between Türkiye and Africa (TRT World).
  6. Russia and Türkiye Collaborate to Combat Fake News. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has emphasized the need for Russia and Türkiye to work together to counter the impact of fake news and provocative stories in the media. Lavrov believes that media outlets can play a crucial role in building trust and mutual understanding between the two nations. He called for joint efforts to address common challenges and threats in the information sphere and minimize the effects of disinformation. Collaboration in the media sphere is seen as beneficial for both countries and contributes to bilateral dialogue (Hurriyet Daily News).

October 16,2023

Turkiye Warns Israel Over Potential Gaza Invasion. A Turkish newspaper “Star” report suggests that any Israeli ground invasion in Gaza would result in significant losses for both sides. The report argues that Israel would face difficulty in repairing its damaged image, especially after the strategic blows dealt by Hamas. It also highlights the broader regional implications of the ongoing conflict (Al Jazeera).

Turkiye Condemns Israel’s Gaza Relocation Directive. Turkiye’s foreign ministry criticizes Israel’s directive for Palestinians in northern Gaza to move south, calling it a “clear violation of international law” and inhumane. The ministry urges Israel to cease its “merciless and indiscriminate actions” against civilians in Gaza amid ongoing conflict (TRT World).

Turkish Parliament Reviews Military Extension in Syria, Iraq. On October 17, the Turkish Parliament will review a presidential memorandum to extend the authorization for sending troops to Iraq and Syria for another two years. Additionally, a draft law concerning the regulation of short-term tourist rentals, like Airbnb, will be discussed, with proposed fines for violations (Syria TV).

Israeli-Hamas Conflict Distracts from Turkiye’s Syria Operations. The Israeli-Hamas conflict has diverted Western attention from Turkiye’s military activities in northeastern Syria, says former US Representative Tom Garrett. Turkiye has targeted infrastructure in the region, exploiting the West’s focus on the Middle East crisis to gain concessions. The U.S. has deployed aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean, raising concerns about the conflict’s potential expansion (North Press).

Autonomous Administration Calls for UN Investigation into Turkish Actions in Syria. The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria has called on the United Nations to form a committee investigating Turkiye’s recent attacks on the region’s infrastructure and civilians. Badran Jia Kurd, co-head of the Department of Foreign Relations, appealed for specialized teams to assess the impact and urged for accountability for war crimes (North Press).

Tahrir Al-Sham Hands Over Detainees to Turkish Intelligence. Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham handed over three foreign fighters to Turkish intelligence at the Bab al-Hawa crossing north of Idlib. The detainees, an Iranian, a Frenchman, and a Qatari, were arrested more than a year ago on charges of collaboration. This continues the ongoing process of transferring foreign detainees between the two entities (North Press).

October 17, 2023

  1. Turkiye’s Foreign Minister Discusses Hostage Release with Hamas Leader. Turkiye’s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan spoke with Hamas Political Bureau Chief Ismail Haniyeh about the release of hostages in Gaza. This marks the first public contact between Turkish officials and Hamas since the latter’s attack on Israel on October 7. Turkiye’s President Erdogan has been actively working for the hostages’ release and warned Iran against escalating tensions in the Israel-Hamas conflict. Fidan is set to visit Lebanon following his recent trip to Egypt (Al Monitor).
  2. President Erdogan Discusses Israel-Hamas Conflict with Global Leaders. In his phone call with the Iranian President Raisi, Erdogan emphasized the importance of ending the conflicts for global peace urging Iran to avoid actions that may escalate tensions and highlighted the potential for mutual positive steps to achieve a lasting Israel-Palestine solution. During his call with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Erodgan urged Western countries to take action against human rights violations in Gaza, while Sunak reiterated the U.K.’s unwavering support for Israel (TRT World, Daily Sabah).
  3. Turkish Foreign Minister Fidan to Visit Lebanon for High-Level Talks. Minister of Foreign Affairs Hakan Fidan is set to visit Lebanon on October 17 at the invitation of his Lebanese counterpart, Abdallah Bouhabib. The visit aims to discuss bilateral relations as well as current regional and international developments (Hurriyet).
  4. Estonia Inks $211M Deal with Turkiye for Armored Vehicles. Estonia is set to sign a $211 million contract with Turkiye for the acquisition of armored vehicles for its Defense Forces. Over 200 vehicles will be designated for the 2nd infantry brigade, which has seen significant investment recently. Four additional vehicles will be used for demining by the Estonian Rescue Agency. The deal is expected to be finalized on Wednesday, coinciding with a visit from Turkish National Defense Minister Yasar Guler (Anadolu Agency).
  5. Turkiye Delays Sweden’s NATO Membership During Fighter Jet Negotiations. Turkiye delays Sweden’s NATO entry, awaiting U.S. approval for a $20 billion F-16 fighter jet deal. This marks a second postponement, as Turkiye seeks positive signals from the U.S. for the jet sale. The timeline for Sweden’s NATO membership remains uncertain (Reuters).

 

October 18, 2023

  1. Turkish Foreign Minister Reaffirms Commitment to Anti-Terror Operations. Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan emphasized Turkiye’s dedication to combating terrorism, particularly through cross-border anti-terror operations in northern Syria and Iraq. Fidan discussed various foreign policy issues, including the situation in Syria, Israel’s actions in Gaza, the Abraham Accords, and the presence of the U.S. aircraft carrier in the Eastern Mediterranean. He also mentioned potential visits by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and highlighted growing internal divisions in Israel regarding its approach to Iran (Anadolu Agency). 
  2. Türkiye Proposes Guarantorship Model for Israel-Palestine Conflict Resolution. Türkiye’s Foreign Minister, Hakan Fidan, has presented a guarantorship model to address the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict. Fidan emphasized the need for regional responsibility and a two-state solution during discussions with Ankara Bureau Chiefs (Daily Sabah).
  3. Erdogan Dismisses Turkish Immigration Chief During Crisis. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dismissed Gozde Azkurul, the Director General of the Foreigners Department at the Presidency of the Immigration Department, just three months after her appointment. The move comes during a major migration crisis in Turkiye and follows a series of leadership changes in the department. No specific reason was provided for Azkurul’s dismissal. Meanwhile, Turkish Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced that strict measures against illegal immigration are showing results, with a significant number of illegal immigrants leaving the country (Syria TV). 

 

October 19, 2023

  1. Turkish Defense Minister Discusses Regional Developments with Iranian Chief of Staff. According to a statement from the Turkish Ministry of Defense, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar held a phone call with Iranian Chief of Staff General Mohammad Bagher on Thursday. During the call, they discussed the latest regional developments, as well as issues related to security, defense, and regional matters (Anadolu Agency).
  2. UK Foreign Secretary Visits Turkiye, Egypt, and Qatar to Address Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly plans to visit Turkiye, Egypt, and Qatar to discuss the implications of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the region. During his three-day tour, Cleverly will explore ways to prevent the escalation of the conflict into the broader region and seek a peaceful resolution. The visit aims to maintain regional stability, secure the release of hostages, and facilitate humanitarian aid access to Gaza (Anadolu Agency).
  3. Turkish Manufacturers Secure $211 Million Armored Vehicle Deal with Estonia. Turkiye’s Otokar and Nurol Makina have signed a contract with Estonia to supply 230 armored vehicles worth approximately $211 million. The contract includes 4X4 and 6X6 vehicles for Estonian security forces, as well as four-wheeled armored vehicles for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Centre of the Estonian Rescue Board. The deal strengthens defense ties between Turkiye and Estonia, with both countries emphasizing the importance of cooperation in the defense industry. The vehicles supplied will enhance the Estonian army’s capabilities and regional security (Daily Sabah).

 

October 20, 2023

  1. Turkish Artillery Strikes Eight Villages in Northern Aleppo, Injures Civilians. Turkish forces have bombarded eight villages in the northern countryside of Aleppo, where Kurdish forces and the Syrian regime are stationed. The artillery strikes resulted in injuries to a man and a woman in the village of Aqiba, who were taken to the hospital for treatment. The attacks come amid ongoing ground clashes between pro-Turkish factions and Kurdish and regime forces in the region (SOHR). 
  2. Bayraktar Pledges $10M Aid to Gaza Amid Crisis. Selcuk Bayraktar, Chairman of Turkish drone company Baykar, announced a $10 million humanitarian aid package for Gaza. Bayraktar condemned Israel’s actions in the region and called on the international community to act urgently for peace and justice (TRT Arabic). 
  3. Turkey Welcomes U.S. Decision to Lift Sanctions on Venezuela as “Step in the Right Direction. The Turkish Foreign Ministry has praised the U.S. for lifting sanctions on Venezuela, calling it a “step in the right direction.” The ministry also expressed Turkey’s willingness to support Venezuela in ensuring that its 2024 elections are transparent and fair. The statement emphasized Turkey’s stance against unilateral sanctions and affirmed its continued support for Venezuela. This comes after the U.S. suspended some sanctions on Venezuela’s oil, natural gas, and gold sectors following an agreement between the Venezuelan government and the opposition to hold elections in 2024 (Anadolu Agency).
  4. Turkish Justice Minister Criticizes UN Security Council for Acting Like a “War Council”. Turkey’s Minister of Justice Yılmaz Tunç has criticized the UN Security Council for its stance on the Gaza conflict, stating that it acts like a “war council.” Tunç pointed out that a bill calling for humanitarian aid access to Gaza and the protection of civilians was vetoed by the United States. He made these comments during the 18th Forensic Medicine Days event, where he also stated that war crimes are being committed in Gaza “in front of the eyes of the world.” (Hurriyet). 

October 23,2023

Analysis: Türkiye’s recent diplomatic activities reveal a nation adept at balancing its relationships with both regional and global powers. The recalibration of its stance on Hamas, under pressure from the United States, indicates a strategic shift aimed at maintaining balanced ties with key players like Israel. Türkiye’s call for a “guarantee mechanism” in the Israel-Hamas conflict further underscores its desire to act as a mediator while advocating for responsible international behavior. The country’s humanitarian aid mission to Gaza highlights its commitment to humanitarian causes, even as it navigates complex diplomatic relations with Egypt and Israel. Türkiye’s involvement in the upcoming Ukraine peace talks showcases its unique position as a mediator with open channels to both Russia and Ukraine. Its joint military exercises with Azerbaijan signify a commitment to regional security and a willingness to display military cooperation openly. The country’s role in addressing irregular migration to Europe is increasingly recognized, as evidenced by Greece’s call for cooperation. Finally, the significant decline in the number of Syrian refugees in Türkiye indicates the country’s efforts to manage its internal challenges. Overall, Türkiye’s diplomatic moves in the past week demonstrate a nation keen on playing a constructive role on the international stage.

Intercepts: 

Turkiye Cools Ties with Hamas While Navigating Diplomatic Tightrope. Turkiye is recalibrating its stance regarding Hamas after the recent conflict with Israel. President Erdogan, seeking normalization with regional powers, has restrained his rhetoric to avoid damaging relations with Israel. While Turkiye has cooled its ties with Hamas, it remains a potential mediator for Western nations. Pressure to sever ties with Hamas primarily comes from the United States. Turkiye’s efforts focus on securing a ceasefire, humanitarian aid, and a two-state solution. Domestic factors and energy interests in the Eastern Mediterranean contribute to Turkiye’s cautious approach (Al Monitor).

Turkish FM Calls for Guarantee Mechanism in Israel-Hamas Conflict. Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan has urged the implementation of a “guarantee mechanism” to oversee the obligations of parties in the Israel-Hamas conflict. Fidan emphasized the need for responsible international behavior and warned against unconditional military aid to Israel or unrealistic plans. He advocated for a two-state solution and called for a humanitarian ceasefire in a Cairo summit attended by various leaders, where a clear agreement was not reached (Hurriyet).

Turkish Presidential Aircraft Carries Medical Aid and Experts for Gaza via Egypt. A Turkish presidential aircraft loaded with medicines and medical supplies, accompanied by a team of 20 expert healthcare professionals, has departed from Ankara to Cairo, Egypt. The team, including doctors, will conduct feasibility studies for field hospitals to be established in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and the Rafah border crossing, as part of cooperation with the Egyptian Health Ministry. This humanitarian effort aims to provide much-needed medical assistance to Gaza during the ongoing crisis (Daily Sabah).

Türkiye to Join Ukraine Peace Talks, Says President Zelenskyy. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that Türkiye will participate in the upcoming peace discussions aimed at resolving the Russia-Ukraine war. The talks will take place in Malta on October 28-29, with the involvement of national security advisers from Ukraine’s allies. Türkiye’s role as a mediator and its open communication channels with both Russia and Ukraine have garnered praise for its efforts to achieve a permanent ceasefire in the ongoing conflict (Daily Sabah).

Türkiye and Azerbaijan Commence 3-Day Joint Military Exercises. Türkiye and Azerbaijan have initiated the three-day Mustafa Kemal Ataturk-2023 joint military exercises, involving 3,000 military personnel from both nations. The drills are taking place in multiple locations in Azerbaijan, including Baku, the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, and areas liberated following the 44-day conflict with Armenia in 2020. The exercises feature the use of armored vehicles, artillery, aviation, small boats, and aim to enhance combat readiness, command and control, and personnel professionalism (Anadolu Agency).

Greece Seeks Türkiye’s Cooperation to Address Irregular Migration to Europe. Greece’s Migration and Asylum Minister, Dimitris Keridis, highlighted the importance of Türkiye’s role in dealing with the issue of irregular migration to Europe. Keridis emphasized the ongoing rapprochement between Greece and Türkiye and the increasing flows of irregular migration. He underlined the need for cooperation between the two countries and within the EU to tackle this critical problem, which threatens stability, security, and democracy across Europe. Keridis mentioned that concrete ideas would be discussed in upcoming discussions between Türkiye and Greece (Anadolu Agency).

Turkiye Sees Significant Drop in Syrian Refugee Numbers, Hits 7-Year Low. New statistics from the Turkish Immigration Department indicate a significant decline in the number of Syrian refugees under temporary protection in Turkiye. The figures show a decrease of 247,143 people since the beginning of the year, with a further decline of 19,127 registered refugees in October compared to September. The total number now stands at 3,288,755 Syrian refugees, the lowest in seven years. Turkiye has recently intensified efforts to address illegal immigration and residency violations (Sharq Awsat).

October 24, 2023

  1. Istanbul Faces Alarming Drought: Lowest Dam Levels in a Decade. Istanbul’s reservoirs are sounding the alarm on drought. According to ISKI data, the current reservoir occupancy rate is measured at 20.36%. This marks the lowest value in the past decade, with 2014, a drought year, recording a 21.13% level. The occupancy rate has fallen below 10% in six of Istanbul’s dams, with the highest level at 43.55% in the Ömerli Dam, supplied with water from the Melen River (Hurriyet).
  2. Date Announced! All Balances Will Be Overturned. A roadmap for establishing an international gas center in Turkey between Ankara and Moscow is expected to come to life before the end of 2023. Turkey’s Ministry of Energy and Gazprom have reached an agreement to prepare and sign a roadmap for the project’s implementation. Meetings between the two sides have been progressing positively since the discussions held in Moscow during Russia Energy Week in October (Aksam).
  3. Germany Claims Turkey Could Have Brought Peace, but US Hindered It. Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder alleges that Ukraine was prevented from signing a peace agreement during the 2022 talks in Istanbul due to U.S. intervention. Schröder stated that Ukraine was willing to make concessions, but the U.S. restricted the discussions, and he criticized the American strategy as potentially divisive (Yeniakit).

 

October 25, 2023

  1. Turkish President Erdogan Cancels Israel Visit. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan canceled his planned visit to Israel due to his strong criticism of Israel’s actions during the ongoing conflict with Hamas in Gaza. Erdogan called for an immediate ceasefire, humanitarian aid for Gaza, and the recognition of Hamas as a liberation group. This strained Turkiye’s relationship with Hamas as Ankara seeks to normalize ties with Israel. Israel and Italy have denounced Erdogan’s statements, highlighting the challenging diplomatic balance Turkiye faces in the region (Al Nahar,Hurriyet, Sharq Awsat). 
  2. Turkey, Azerbaijan Bolster Military Ties; Russia Discusses South Caucasus Stability. Turkey and Azerbaijan have conducted joint military exercises, “Mustafa Kemal Ataturk 2023,” involving thousands of troops, tanks, and aircraft. The drills aim to bolster military cooperation and took place in areas including those formerly occupied by Armenia. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Turkish Defense Minister Yasar Guler met to discuss the strong bilateral military relationship and Azerbaijan’s regained sovereignty over Karabakh. Meanwhile, Russian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers discussed peace and stability in the South Caucasus, emphasizing the 3+3 regional cooperation platform (Anadolu Agency, TRT, Daily Sabah, TRT worldCumhuriyet).
  3. Successful High-Speed Test for Turkiye’s Bayraktar TB3 UAV. Turkiye’s domestically developed Bayraktar TB3 UAV, known for its short takeoff and landing on small ships, has successfully completed a high-speed test. It offers capabilities for reconnaissance, intelligence, and operating with indigenous smart munitions (Hurriyet).
  4. Turkish Intelligence Eliminates PKK Leader in Northern Iraq. Turkish intelligence successfully neutralized a senior member of the PKK/KCK terrorist organization in northern Iraq. The operation targeted “Sariya Atilla,” responsible for the group’s training academies. She had been operating under the alias “Rozarin Shemsinan” and joined the organization in 2007, engaging in field activities to support the organization. In a related development, Turkiye’s Interior Minister announced the elimination of three wanted PKK members in a separate operation in Diyarbakir, emphasizing their continued efforts to combat terrorism (Anadolu Agency).

 

October 26, 2023

  1. Turkiye Suspends Energy Cooperation with Israel During Gaza Conflict. Turkiye has suspended plans for energy cooperation with Israel in the wake of the Gaza conflict, including the cancellation of the Turkish Energy Minister’s planned visit to Israel. This decision comes after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Israel’s actions in Gaza, calling for an immediate ceasefire and humanitarian aid access. The planned visit aimed to discuss the possibility of transporting natural gas from Israel to Europe through Turkiye. Israel currently exports gas to Europe via Egypt, but the export to Egypt is currently on hold (Aljazeera).
  2. Serbian President and Turkish Defense Minister Discuss Ties and Kosovo. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic recently met with Turkish Defense Minister Yasar Guler, affirming their commitment to strengthening relations and ongoing political dialogue. Vucic emphasized the significance of Guler’s visit, particularly in the context of Turkiye assuming command in NATO’s Kosovo peacekeeping mission. Serbia remains dedicated to the EU’s dialogue process with Pristina, focusing on the safety of the Serbian people in Kosovo (TRT World).
  3. Türkiye and TRNC Conduct Joint Military Exercise in Northern Cyprus. Türkiye and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) completed a two-day military exercise aimed at ensuring security and protecting their rights in the Eastern Mediterranean. The exercise also highlighted the importance of search and rescue operations and sovereignty in the region. Thirteen military representatives from six countries observed the naval phase, emphasizing the ongoing commitment to security and cooperation in the region. This exercise is in line with Türkiye and TRNC’s support for a two-state solution in Cyprus (TRT World).
  4. Turkish Lira Hits New Record High: Exchange Rates on October 26, 2023. The article is about recent developments in Turkiye’s economy and the impact of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement regarding Hamas. It discusses the depreciation of the Turkish Lira (TL) against the US Dollar and Euro, the anticipated Central Bank’s interest rate decision, and ongoing economic changes (Cum Huriyet). 
  5. Turkiye-Israel Normalization Under Scrutiny: Will It End? Turkiye’s relations with Israel have been fluctuating, and President Erdoğan’s recent criticism of Israel has raised questions about the future of their normalization process. Tensions between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East have started to impact these diplomatic ties. Erdoğan’s strong words and refusal to meet with Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu have added to the uncertainty. The earlier optimism, which saw leaders planning mutual visits and cooperation in various fields, now faces an uncertain future (Cum Huriyet).
  6. Erdogan Sparks Outrage with Hamas Statements. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statements about the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) have stirred outrage in Israel. Erdogan rejected labeling Hamas as a terrorist organization, considering it a liberation movement. Israel strongly rejected these statements, insisting that Hamas is a heinous terrorist organization. Tensions Escalated Between the Two Nations During Ongoing Events in the Gaza Strip (Aljazeera).
  7. Turkish Drone Strikes Sever Water and Electricity Supply in Northeast Syria. Recent Turkish drone strikes on Kurdish-controlled areas in northeast Syria have damaged vital infrastructure, leading to the disruption of water and electricity supplies for millions of people. The damage is exacerbating the struggle for essential water access. Turkiye is called upon to immediately cease targeting critical infrastructure necessary for the well-being of the population, including power and water stations (HRW).

 

October 27, 2023

  1. Turkiye Invites Arab Leaders for Palestine Support March in Istanbul. Turkiye has reportedly sent invitations to leaders of Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, for a march in Istanbul in support of Palestine. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to participate. The invitation included Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, but it’s unclear whether they have approved participation. The march aims to draw attention to Israeli actions and support the Palestinian cause. The event is organized by the Justice and Development Party in Istanbul and will include various figures from media, sports, art, business, and Palestinian representatives (Khaleej Online).

October 30,2023

Turkiye-Israel Relations Hit New Low as Diplomatic Tensions Escalate. The relationship between Turkiye and Israel has reached a new low, marked by a series of confrontational statements and actions. President Erdogan’s strong condemnation of Israel at a pro-Palestine rally in Istanbul signifies Turkiye’s willingness to take a more assertive stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Erdogan’s pledge to label Israel as a war criminal and his criticism of the West for its inaction against Israel’s activities in Gaza indicate a significant shift in Turkiye’s foreign policy. Turkiye’s Foreign Ministry has also rejected what it calls “baseless allegations” made by Israeli officials, further escalating the diplomatic tension between the two countries. The ministry’s statement suggests that Turkiye views Israel’s actions in Gaza as indefensible and that any attempts to target the United Nations or President Erdogan are diversionary tactics. Due to  these tensions, Israel has recalled its diplomats from Turkiye, signaling a reassessment of bilateral relations. This move comes as a direct response to Erdogan’s remarks, which have been characterized as inflammatory by Israeli officials. The recall of diplomats could be a precursor to more drastic measures if the tensions continue to escalate. Interestingly, Turkiye’s economic resilience, as highlighted by its aim to become one of the world’s top 10 economies, adds another layer to this geopolitical tension. Turkiye’s economic ambitions could influence its foreign policy decisions, including its stance on Israel and the broader Middle East. In summary, the deteriorating relations between Turkiye and Israel, fueled by strong rhetoric and diplomatic actions, have the potential to significantly alter the geopolitical landscape in the Middle East. Both countries appear to be digging in their heels, making the prospect of de-escalation increasingly unlikely in the near term.

October 31, 2023

  1. Ankara-Tel Aviv Relations: A Diplomatic Tightrope Over Gaza Conflict. Israel recalls diplomats from Turkiye following Erdogan’s criticism over Gaza. Turkish analysts suggest Ankara aims to mend ties despite the rhetoric, warning of economic repercussions if relations deteriorate. Erdogan’s statements come ahead of local elections, balancing domestic politics with geopolitical realities (Al Hadath).
  2. Türkiye Aims to Notify ICC About Israeli War Crimes. Türkiye seeks to inform the International Criminal Court (ICC) about Israel’s alleged war crimes against Palestinian civilians, including the use of white phosphorus bombs, targeting hospitals and schools, and rejecting UN resolutions for a humanitarian ceasefire. ICC’s Prosecutor has warned that obstructing humanitarian aid to Gaza could be considered a criminal act, emphasizing the importance of ensuring aid reaches civilians promptly. Israel and Hamas are both reminded of their obligations under the laws of conflict (Daily Sabah). 
  3. Turkish Investment Fund Faces US Sanctions Over Alleged Hamas Support. The Turkish real estate investment fund “Trend GYO” denied providing any support to Hamas in response to US sanctions imposed on three of its shareholders for alleged assistance to the Palestinian movement. The company stressed its compliance with the laws and regulations, emphasizing its profit-oriented nature. The US sanctions were issued following Hamas’ recent attacks on Israel, targeting individuals residing in Iran and Iranian Revolutionary Guard members (Syria TV).

 

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