Sweden sent a delegation to Turkey to discuss Turkey’s demand that Sweden permit the extradition of individuals Turkey describes as terrorists. That’s a diplomatic way of saying Turkey wants Kurds associated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Sweden says its delegation is there to “technical talks.” Turkey’s Ministry of Justice is involved in the discussions. Turkey also seeks individuals linked to Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claims Gulen helped organize the July 2016 coup attempt.
Meanwhile, back in Turkey: The Foreign Ministry summoned Germany’s ambassador to Turkey. The Foreign Ministry officially protested a recent comment by Wolfgang Kubicki, the vice-speaker of the German Federal Parliament and a senior member of the Free Democratic Party (FDP). The FDP is a partner in Germany’s governing coalition. Kubicki’s comment: he compared Erdogan to a "little sewer rat." When Reuters contacted Kubicki, he confirmed he’d said it at an election rally. May as well add some more of what Kubicki said to the press: “"A sewer rat is a small, cute, but at the same time clever and crafty creature that also appears in children's stories." As has been pointed out repeatedly, Erdo’s skin is thin. Because of this Sweden and Finland believe that it will takes another year to deal with Turkey’s extradition demands so they can join NATO without sacrificing their independence from Turkish threats. (Austin Bay)
September 26, 2022: Turkey confirmed a September 23 report that Turkey is considering purchasing Eurofighter Typhoon jets if the U.S. fails to approve the sale of F-16s. Turkey wants to buy 40 new F-16s and an estimated 80 modernization kits for its current fleet of F-16s. The U.S. placed sanctions on Turkish weapons procurement and kicked Turkey out of the F-35 Lightning 2 joint strike fighter program after Turkey acquired Russian-made S-400 missiles. The U.S. and other major NATO nations fear the S-400 would give the Kremlin an “intelligence window” on NATO air operations and even compromise NATO’s stealthy aircraft. That decision led Turkey to request additional F-16s. (Austin Bay)
September 25, 2022: Turkey reminded media that Turkey did not recognize the results of the 2014 “unilateral referendum” in Crimea and Turkey’s position on such referendums (fake referendums) remains unchanged. Russia is currently trying to conduct referendums in eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin used the 2014 referendum to justify its annexation of Crimea.
September 24, 2022: The verbal battle between Turkey and Greece continues unabated. Turkey is now condemning Greece’s prime minister. The Greek PM recently accused Turkey of “undermining peace” throughout the eastern Mediterranean.
September 23, 2022: More Russians who oppose Putin’s war against Ukraine are fleeing Russia. Finland and Turkey are the favored safe havens. After the Russian government announced it was calling up reserve soldiers, the number of Russian men escaping increased dramatically. As of today, Russians still do not need a visa to enter Turkey.
September 22, 2022: In Syria Turkey continues trying to achieve control of a 30-kilometer-deep (into Syria) border strip along the length of its Syrian border. The Syrian Assad government and autonomous Syrian Kurds agree that this border strip is a bad idea.
September 20, 2022: Turkish Airline’s Flight Training Center has begun rejecting request from Russian pilots to use its training simulators. The center operates under European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) rules. The EU’s latest round of sanctions requires suspending Russian access to flight simulation training devices and forbids issuing EASA qualification certificates to Russia “organizations.”
September 19, 2022: The government of signed an agreement with the Texas-based Axiom Space company. Axiom Space will carry Turkey’s first astronaut to the International Space Station (ISS).
September 18, 2022: Turkish forces struck Syrian Army and Syrian Kurd positions near the Syrian border town of Kobane. At least three Syrian Army soldiers were killed.
Media reported that the United States will end America’s long-standing arms embargo on Cyprus. The arms embargo dates back to 1987 and will now end sometime in Fiscal Year 2023, which begins in October 2022. The U.S. has concluded Cyprus has finally met financial transparency and “exchange of information for tax purposes” standards. For decades Cyprus was regarded as a tax haven with next to no enforcement of trade laws. Though official announcement is pending, the Turkish government has already objected to the U.S. decision and removing the embargo will lead to “an arms race” on Cyprus and in the eastern Mediterranean.
September 15, 2022: Diplomats from several European countries are telling media that they believe Turkish president Erdogan wants to support Ukraine militarily as much as possible, despite some of his antics. For example, Turkey rejects Russia’s annexation of Crimea and considers attempts to annex eastern Ukraine to be illegal. However, given Turkey’s economic troubles, he has to maintain economic ties with Russia. Erdogan is very worried about Turkey’s shaky economy and national elections are scheduled for June 2023. He will be on the ballot. This is why Erdogan is seeking Russian investments (despite NATO sanctions on Russia) and continuing to work with Russia on infrastructure and energy projects. One report cited the deal with a Russian construction company to help finish the Akkuyu nuclear power plant complex. The plant is being built in Mersin province on Turkey’s southern Mediterranean coast. Turkey and Russia signed an initial deal to build the plant in 2010. The deal signed in early August is reportedly worth $5 billion. The plant was supposed to begin producing electricity sometime in 2022. Turkey’s economy would immediately benefit from the new energy source. (Austin Bay)
September 11, 2022: The Turkish Coast Guard reported that two Greek coast guard vessels fired at a cargo vessel transiting international waters in the Aegean Sea. The incident occurred less than 20 kilometers southwest of the Turkish island of Bozcaada. Turkey described the Greek ships as conducting “harassment fire” done in “disregard of international law.” The Greek ships sailed off when two Turkish coast guard ships approached. Greece did not reply to requests for comment. Turkey has launched an investigation and protested to Greece. The cargo vessel was a Comoros Islands-flagged ship named Anatolian. Interestingly enough, American media reported the ship was formerly a passenger ship named the Mavi Marmara. If the name seems vaguely familiar here’s why: it’s the ship Israeli commandos seized in 2010 when activists on board the ship tried to break Israel’s embargo of Gaza.
September 9, 2022: Turkey revealed its police and arrested Bashar Khattab Ghazal al-Sumaidai, a senior ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) official, in Turkey. Sumaidai was a senior judge for ISIL and divided his time between Turkey and Syria. Sumaidai was also considered one of six potential replacements for the top leadership position in ISIL. The last two ISIL leaders, including founder Baghdadi, had been killed in northwest Syria (Idlib province) near the Turkish border. The successor to Baghdadi was himself killed in February 2022 and his successor named a month later. With Sumaidai under arrest, the potential candidates for leadership of ISIL get smaller. These disruptions to the senior ISIL leadership have hurt the organization via fewer recruits and financial donors.
September 8, 2022: Turkey’s ambassador to Greece accused the Greek government of “spreading malicious gossip.” He said the inflammatory remarks increase tensions between the two NATO countries. The ambassador also accused Greece of threatening Turkish aircraft. He claimed Greek radars tied to non-NATO air defense systems are “locking on” to Turkish aircraft. Greece has been reinforcing some of its islands which are very close to the Turkish coast. Greece claims the reinforcements are “defensive” and don’t threaten Turkey.
September 5, 2022: Turkey's inflation rate in August hit 80.21 percent, a new 24-year high. Inflation in August 1988 was 81.4 percent. The cost of living is a factor, but analysts say the biggest factor is the central bank’s policy of cutting interest rates. Erdogan basically controls the bank and he insists that the bank cut rates. The economic crisis in the late 1990s and early 2000s helped propel Erdogan and his AKP to power.
September 3, 2022: In Libya Turkey has continued, for the sixth month, withholding pay for the thousands of Syrian mercenaries it has here. Turkey won’t let the Syrian soldier return to Syria either. Turkey is having political and financial problems back home that won’t be resolved until the June 2023 national elections.
September 1, 2022: Turkey announced significant price hikes in utility rates. The cost of electricity and natural gas for households (individual consumers) will increase by around 20 percent. Industrial prices for electricity and gas will rise an estimated 50 percent. Analysts said this will push Turkey’s inflation rate even higher. Also today, an international investment agency issued a very mixed projection for Turkey’s economy in 2022. It’s GDP will grow 5.5 percent this year. However, its current account deficit will reach $45 billion (up from $36 billion).
August 31, 2022: The Turkish government said that during the second quarter of this year (April-June) the country’s economy grew 7.6 percent (on an annual basis). Exports played a major role in the growth.
August 30, 2022: A long delayed (by the Russian invasion of Ukraine) shipment of Ukrainian grain has left Ukraine headed for Yemen. This delivery of 37.000 tons of grain will prevent a major famine in Yemen. The grain will be turned into flour during a short stopover in Turkey. This shipment will provide a one-month supply for four million Yemenis. Obtaining regular shipments of Ukrainian grain is not possible because the fighting has destroyed a large portion of the 2022 crop. The Ukrainians are on the offensive to clear Russian forces out of the grain producing areas. There is no fixed time table on how long that will take.
August 28, 2022: Bangladesh confirmed a report in late July that its armed forces are in the process of purchasing Bayraktar Tactical Block 2 (TB2) drones from Turkey.