Turkey: Peace, Penitence And Prosperity

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July 13, 2022: Start with this fact: since January the Turkish lira has declined over 25 percent against the U.S. dollar. Other economic facts: in June Turkey’s inflation rate was 78.62 percent on an annual basis. The Turkish Statistical Institute reports that’s the highest annual inflation rate since 1998 -- 24 years based on subtracting from 2022. Turkey has a population of 85 million – that’s citizens. There are over five million refugees – 5.5 million is a good figure. To say president Recep Erdogan (aka “Erdo”) faces political trouble puts it mildly. Erdo regularly jails his critics (political and reportorial) and shuts down media outlets he doesn’t like, but Turkey remains an open society. Erdo is in trouble. Turkish media and internet sources are rife with distraction scenarios. What will Erdogan do to try to distract the Turkish people from his economic mess? One media source suggested Erdogan could invade Syria. Don’t dismiss the thought, but that could give Erdo his own Vietnam – a regional quagmire according to Turkish media. Trying to extract concessions from NATO-seeking Sweden and Finland vis a vis charges of harboring and/or coddling alleged terrorists (ie, Kurdistan Workers Party, PKK rebels) has a real basis in Turkish domestic politics, but intelligent voters know Russia is a huge problem. The Swedes and Finns give the Russians big problems, so why oppose their appeal to join NATO. Moreover, the Finns speak a Turkic language! OK, it’s actually Turko-Ugric, but Erdo has made a big deal about Pan-Turkism when it suits him. Turkish voters see that Erdo has tried to play both sides of the Russia-Ukraine war. Six centuries of Russian-Turkish suspicion has not been erased. Many Turks are proud of the Ukrainian use of the Bayraktar TB-2 drones. They’ve destroyed or disabled hundreds of Russian armored vehicles. The historical suspicion and the tactical pride acknowledged; Erdogan’s government has maintained open diplomatic channels to Moscow. Turkey has already promoted two rounds of peace talks, and both failed. That said, Turkey is very likely the only nation that could bring both Ukraine and Russia to the peace table. Is a Ukraine-Russia peace deal Erdogan’s domestic political salvation? I’ll bet Erdo has thought about it. So, stay tuned. (Austin Bay)

July 10, 2022: The defense minister revealed that Turkish forces operating in northern Syria, northern Iraq and inside Turkey had killed or captured 1,999 terrorists so far this year. This is a category that includes Islamic terrorists as well as Kurdish separatists in Turkey, Syria and Iraq. About a third of these terrorist casualties are inflicted by Turkish forces operating in Iraq and Syria. The governments of Iraq and Syria do not approve of these incursions but lack the military forces capable of preventing the incursions. Turkey claims to have killed or captured 35,000 terrorists in the last seven years (since July 2015). Some of those dead terrorists in Syria and Iraq were civilian bystanders. About 600 Turkish military personnel have been killed in Iraq and Syria since mid-2015. Several thousand Syrian Arab mercenaries have died in Syria, Libya and Armenia (for Azerbaijan). Turkey pays well (by Syrian standards) for these mercenaries, who receive free medical care and compensation for disability and death benefits of next-of-kin if killed. Turkey does not use local mercenaries in northern Iraq. A growing number of attacks against terrorists in Turkey, Syria and Iraq, as well as regular forces in Libya and Armenia are carried out by F-16s and UAVs using guided missiles.

July 9, 2022: Turkey’s military weapons production bureau warned that Turkey must be careful about delivering weapons to Ukraine. Turkey sold TB-2 drones to Ukraine in 2019 and the drone aircraft played a major role in defeating the initial Russian invasion of Ukraine in February and March. The statement sounds like a Turkish shift in position to favor Russia.

Turkey has started work on laying the deep-sea section of a pipeline to carry its over 540 billion cubic meters (bcm) natural gas reserves from the Black Sea. Pipelaying vessel Castorone began work on the section Sunday after the shallow-water section of the pipeline was completed earlier. Work at Turkey's newly discovered Sakarya Gas Field in the Black Sea continues 24/7 as the project is expected to unlock Turkey's foreign dependency in the energy sector, according to government officials.

July 8, 2022: Turkey’s aviation agency is attempting to limit the ability of Turk pilots who wish to work for foreign airlines. Turkey’s civil aviation industry and its military are short of pilots, a lingering after effect of the purges that took place in 2016 as Erdogan battled a largely imaginary coup attempt. There was a large-scale purge of government workers considered actual or potential opponents of Erdogan. So many air force pilots were purged that the air force is still suffering from a shortage of pilots. Many of those purged military pilots were banned from taking jobs in Turkish airlines.

An international equity and bond ratings service downgraded Turkey's debt rating to "B" from "B+". The report cited Turkey’s economic decline and inflation rate.

July 7, 2022: Ukraine issued a diplomatic complaint to Turkey’s ambassador after Turkey allowed a Russian ship bearing stolen Ukrainian grain to leave Turkey.

July 6, 2022: Turkey demanded Sweden and Finland extradite to Turkey individuals Turkey considers terrorists. Turkey is specifically targeting members of the PKK and YPG organizations. Turkey also regards the Gulen Network, led by Moslem cleric Fethullah Gulen, as a terrorist organization. Gulen was once a political ally of Erdogan but he moved to the United States and became an American citizen so he could more effectively run his international network of Islamic schools.

July 5, 2022: NATO approved accession protocols for Sweden and Finland. However, Turkey insisted it would block final approval if the Nordic countries failed to extradite alleged terror suspects to Turkey. The Turkish parliament must ratify the deal.

Ukraine has asked Turkey to investigate three more Russian ships it believes are carrying stolen Ukrainian grain from Russian-occupied territory. Ukraine has identified three dry bulk carriers – the Mikhail Nenashev, Matros Pozynich and Matros Koshka. All are owned by a Russian state-owned company.

July 4, 2022: Turkey announced it will support Sweden and Finland’s bid to join NATO. In May Turkey said it opposed the Nordics’ bid. However, over the last six weeks, Turkey’s opposition diminished as NATO allies pushed and pulled. Turkey continues to demand that Sweden and Finland stop supporting anti-Turkish terrorists – and that means the PKK. Turkey also wants to extradite suspected terrorists from Sweden and Finland. President Erdogan added a caveat: Turkey could still block the Nordics ascension if they fail to extradite alleged terrorists. The Swedes, who harbor all the Turkish expatriates that are considered terrorists, said the extradition request would be handled like any other and that means resolution was years away.

July 3, 2022: Ukraine said Turkey detained a Russian ship carrying grain from a Russian-occupied area of Ukraine. Ukraine asked Turkey to confiscate the grain. The ship is currently near the Turkish post of Karasu. Turkey claimed it stopped a Russian-flagged ship in the Black Sea that Ukraine claims is carrying stolen grain. Turkey has said it will not allow stolen grain to be brought into Turkish territory.

Turkish prosecutors announced that four members of the Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) had been arrested for spreading terrorist propaganda.

July 2, 2022: The preliminary report is awful. Turkey’s official inflation rate in June was 78.6 percent, up from 73.5 percent in May.

June 30, 2022: The Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources announced the discovery of a rare earth reserve comparable to China’s. The discovery contains an estimated 695 million metric tons of rare earths.

June 28, 2022: President Erdogan maintained his rejection of Finland and Sweden's NATO bids was firm. However, he also urged the U.S. to approve Turkey’s request to buy more F-16 fighters. Following Erdogan’s statement, Turkey, Sweden and Finland signed a trilateral memorandum that allegedly addresses Turkey’s security issues vis a vis the PKK and other organizations. Finland and Sweden indicated they would not support the Syrian Kurdish groups (ie, the YPG). Many Swedish political groups denounced the agreement.

June 27, 2022: Turkish security personnel confronted and rerouted a crowd gathered for Istanbul's annual Pride parade. Local officials had banned any public support for homosexuality, which is considered a capital in most Moslem majority nations. In some of those nations violence and even executions against accused homosexuals is common. Not so in Turkey, which until Erdogan’s Islamic coalition took power two decades ago was hostile to such Islamic traditions and practices.

June 23, 2022: Turkish security personnel arrested several people allegedly involved with an Iranian intelligence operation. The Iranians intended to kill or kidnap Israeli tourists in Istanbul. An Israeli diplomat was identified as a principal Iranian target. Turkish media later reported five Iranian citizens were arrested in connection with the plot.

June 22, 2022: Turkey and Russia agreed to pursue further talks on creating a “safe sea corridor” in the Black Sea that would permit the export of Ukrainian grain.

June 20, 2022: Israel confirmed that Israel and Turkey have recently stopped “several” attempted attacks by Iran-supported terrorists targeting Israelis.

June 17, 2022: Saudi Arabia indicated it intends to improve relations with Turkey. This is a side effect of a recent Turkish agreement with the UAE (United Arab Emirates) to get Mehmet Ali Ozturk freed from a UAE prison. Ozturk was serving a life sentence for running a Turkish government-sponsored Islamic terrorist network that was part of a secret Turkish effort to create and use suitable Islamic terror groups to support Turkish foreign policy throughout the Maddie East. This included areas like Syria and Libya where Turkey and the UAE were opponents. The Turks believed it was safe for Ozturk to travel to the UAE, which he did in 2018 on a business trip for BLC, the successful family firm he worked for.

Ozturk has spent most of this life with his family run firm and was recruited by MIT in 2012 because Ozturk supported Erdogan and the use of cooperative Islamic terror groups to do business with, including covertly hiring them as mercenaries. Turkey maintained the loyalty of these Islamic radicals by providing them access to Turkey to obtain supplies and sometimes as a safe place to put their families while the men were off fighting for their cause.

In 2018 Ozturk was arrested in the UAE and changed with a long list of crimes involving Islamic terrorist groups. A diplomat from the Turkish embassy was at the trial, which took ten weeks to complete. The Turks learned that the UAE intel officials knew a lot more about Ozturk and his work for MIT than the Turks realized. The Turks continued trying to get the Turkish businessman Ozturk freed from prison and all the Turks were offered in return was the possibility of freedom for Ozturk if Turkey provided confirmation of the charges against Ozturk and details of Ozturk’s work for the Turkish government. Erdogan resisted that until he realized that the UAE and Israel had long been sharing intelligence data, that all the details of MIT operations the UAE wanted would probably come out soon anyway, and here was a chance to come clean and repair relations with the UAE, Israel and maybe even the Americans all at once.

The Turks confirmed that the Ozturk network was one of several operating in the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia and Europe. The primary purpose of these groups is to protect Turks, especially Turkic minorities in other countries that are persecuted because they are a minority, not just because they are Turkic. This aid even extends, from time to time to the Turkic Uyghurs in northwest China. Uyghurs are being persecuted, jailed and killed for not cooperating with Chinese efforts to turn them into loyal Chinese citizens. Most of the MIT efforts with Islamic terrorists have less noble goals, usually involving supporting Turkish foreign policy. That is what MIT sought to do in Syria to maintain good relations with the Iranians while persecuting the local Kurds and placating the Iran-backed Assad government of Syria. The goals in Libya are purely about money and gaining access to Libyan oil and offshore deposits in waters between Libya and Turkey that by international law belong to Greece.

The MIT networks often disguised themselves as humanitarian groups to provide cover for MIT operations that often caused or exacerbated humanitarian disasters. Ozturk was released from prison at the end of 2021 and was hailed as a Turkish hero back home and became a popular speaker at pro-Erdogan gatherings in Turkey. Erdogan now has to clean up the mess all these recent MIT revelations identified. This was the cost of getting a key MIT operative out of jail and was considered worth it by supporters of the Erdogan-run Turkish government.

June 15, 2022: Turkish companies continue to expand their businesses in Africa. Recent media discussion pointed out that Turkey is becoming an alternative to China. Turkish construction companies are competitive in sub-Saharan Africa. They are well established in North Africa. Turkish firms not only sell competency, they tout Turkey’s geographical proximity and in Muslim countries their cultural connections. Libya was Turkey’s first major construction venture, beginning in 1972.

 

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