Turkey: At War in Syria, Libya and With Greece


October 28, 2022: Turkish defense officials say Turkey will reorganize the Syrian National Army (SNA). The SNA was initially formed from 28 Free Syrian Army groups. It has since added another 13 groups. “Groups” is a diplomatic way of saying factions. Frequently, fighting erupts between SNA factions. In a recent clash at an SNA camp, eight people were killed and at least 47 wounded. The defense officials indicated reorganization will include an effective command, control and administrative structure. Turkey provides the SNA with logistics support, training advisers and intelligence.

Foreign media and several countries are criticizing Turkey’s new “disinformation” law which criminalizes “the spread of misinformation.” Who determines what is misinformation? The Turkish government does. Turkish opposition political parties claim the law will be used to silence them during 2023’s national election.

UN officials monitoring Ukraine's grain exports report that nearly 100 grain-laden ships are in the Black Sea waiting to pass through the Turkish Straits. The officials want Turkey to end its tedious inspections. Ukraine has exported (or tried to export) over 6.8 million tons of grain since the “sea corridor” export arrangement began in July.

In neighboring Greece, a joint Greek-Israeli pilot training center was opened in southern Greece. Israel and Greece invested $1.65 billion in the center, which will train Greek pilots as well as (for a fee) those from other nations. This sort of service has become quite common, and lucrative. This joint venture is part of a Greek effort to modernize its armed forces and strengthen its long-standing defense relationships with Israel. Both these efforts are crucial because of escalating tensions with traditional rival and fellow NATO member Turkey. Meanwhile, Israeli defense officials are visiting Turkey, as part of an effort to restore economic, diplomatic and military ties that were severed by the Islamic government that has run Turkey for the last twenty years. President Erdogan is trying to keep is Islamic political coalition in power by repairing what most voter see as mistakes. Cutting ties with Israel was always unpopular with most Turks and was done to improve relationships with Arab states. The Arabs weren’t interested but Israel still is. To that end Israel is asking Turkey to end sanctuary for Islamic terror groups like Hamas, which rules Gaza and regularly attacks Israel. Senior Hamas leadership operate from Turkey. Greece is also critical of Turkish support for Islamic terrorist groups. Continuing tensions with Greece are popular with most Turks. Erdogan is very worried about Turkey’s shaky economy and national elections are scheduled for June 2023. He is seeking reelection. Israel can help the Turkish economy and sees maintaining close ties with Greece and Turkey as an asset and opportunity to reduce the tensions between these two NATO members.

October 25, 2022: International financial media claim in the first eight months of 2022 over $28 billion from “unclear origins” has arrived in Turkey. Turkey’s finance ministry says the flow of currency is legitimate and says much of it is tourism revenues. Money brought by Russian refugees and exiles could be classified as tourism revenues. The finance ministry estimates Russian visitors account for 13 to 14 percent of Turkey’s “visitors” in 2022. Russian visitors brought cash with them because they were unable to use the international finance system due to sanctions imposed on the Kremlin after Russia invaded Ukraine. The finance ministry said Turkish companies are also repatriating cash profits from overseas. Though the ministry didn’t elaborate, the thought is the money is coming from Russia and possibly Ukraine.

October 24, 2022: The Swedish government said in order to join NATO it will fulfill all requirements stipulated in Sweden’s memorandum agreement with Turkey. Sweden’s new foreign minister said he shares Turkey’s concerns regarding the PKK. Turkey initially opposed Sweden’s and Finland’s requests to join NATO. Turkey took the position that the two Nordic countries were safe havens for the PKK. In the memorandum (signed in June), Finland and Sweden agreed to not support Kurdish secessionist and terrorist groups, including those in Syria. At this point in time, Hungary and Turkey are the only NATO nations that have not yet approved making Sweden and Finland members of NATO.

Turkish security personnel are accused of “arbitrarily” arresting and deporting hundreds of male Syrian refugees between February and July 2022. The men and boys were driven to the Syria-Turkey border and forced at gunpoint to cross into Syria

October 21, 2022: Responding to media accusations, Turkey insisted its armed forces have never used chemical weapons. He said he would take legal action against anyone making such allegations. The PKK accused Turkey of using chemical weapons in northern Iraq.

October 20, 2022: Since April 17, units participating in the Turkish military’s Operation Claw Lock seized 1,043 weapons from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The weapons were taken in northern Iraq. The Ministry of Defense stated that Claw Lock has seriously damaged the PKK in northern Iraq. The weapons recovered include 22 grenade launchers, 50 DShK machine guns (Dushkas), 31 Zagros sniper rifles, 85 PKC machine guns, 519 Kalashnikov rifles, 79 M16 rifles, 73 Dragunov SVD sniper rifles and two SA-18 Igla shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles.

Turkey’s central bank cut its key interest rate to 10.5 percent. Economists claim that is precisely the wrong move. Turkey’s current annual inflation rate is 83.45 percent.

October 17, 2022: In the northern Syria (Aleppo Province) fighting resumed between HTS Islamic terrorists and Turkey-backed militias. The fighting has been going on since the 12th but was supposed to have halted yesterday when HTS and the Turkey-backed groups agreed to a ceasefire. Since HTS is a coalition of Islamic terror groups, there are often some factions that disagree when the coalition leadership agrees to something.

October 16, 2022: Kazakhstan and Turkey have agreed to pursue “long term strategic cooperation.” Two Kazakh companies will team with Turkish Aerospace Industries to co-produce space systems, including satellites.

October 15, 2022: In the northwest Syria (Idlib province) efforts to get HTS (the dominant Islamic terrorist coalition in the province) to cooperate with the Turks have failed. Turkey proposed that HTS work with Turkey-backed Syrian militias to keep the peace so Turkey could move more Syrian refugees back to Syria. Turkey offered HTS sanctuary in Turkish controlled areas and a few HTS members would be allowed into Turkey. Reaching an agreement with HTS on the details proved difficult, so the fighting continues between HTS and Syrians working for the Turks. Most of the Syrian militiamen on the Turkish payroll are affiliated with the SIG (Syrian Interim Government). Turkey has, since 2013, supported the SIG, providing it with sanctuary in Turkey and adopting its military arm, the FSA (Free Syrian Army), as a paid and equipped auxiliary of the Turkish Army. In 2018 FSA was officially renamed the SNA (Syrian National Army) to better reflect their future role as defender of the SIG administered Safe Zone. Financial support for SIG is much less than for the SNA and some of that financial support comes from the United States. The families of SNA mercenaries are among the Syrian refugees most willing to return to Syria and settle in the Safe Zone. Turkey expects that will eventually encourage more refugees to settle. For the Kurds this is unwelcome because most of the refugees are Sunni Arab Syrians while the native population of Hasaka province is largely Kurd and other non-Arab minorities.

October 13, 2022: At a meeting in Kazakhstan, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated once again that he intends to turn Turkey into a gas hub for Europe. Russia will ship more gas through the TurkStream gas pipeline that runs beneath the Black Sea from Russia to Turkey. The Baltic Sea’s Nord Stream pipeline is closed. Diplomats in NATO countries are saying Putin’s offer to Turkey is just another bid by the Russian dictator to divide and weaken NATO and the EU. Russia began shipping gas via TurkStream in January 2020,

Turkey's parliament passed the “disinformation” law demanded by President Erdogan. The law would jail reporters and social media users for up to three years.

October 12, 2022: Malaysia announced it will buy three unmanned aerial systems Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). Malaysia will buy three TAI-manufactured Ankas. The Anka is a medium altitude long endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial system.

October 11, 2022: The Turkish government called for a ceasefire in Ukraine, while also announcing it will begin exploring Libyan waters for offshore hydro-carbon deposits. Greece has warned it will use all forms of national power to defend its sovereignty against “hostile plans” hatched by Turkey. On October 2 the Greek government said it wants to engage Turkey in constructive dialogue but Turkey must end its “unprecedented escalation of provocations.”

October 8, 2022: Thousands of Syrians are stuck in Libya. Turkey’s Libyan operations are proving to be more and more of a liability. Turkey seems aware of this as well. Most of their Syrian Arab mercenaries in Tripoli have not been paid for six months. Turkey is paying the Syrian leaders of the mercenaries to keep them under control. This includes allowing leaders to be flown back to Syria to deal with family affairs, like the death of a parent. The Syrian mercs have been in Libya for two years, which is longer than they signed up for.

October 7, 2022: President Erdogan spoke by phone with Russian president Vladimir Putin. They discussed improving bilateral ties. Erdogan once again told Putin that Turkey is prepared to help peacefully resolve the war in Ukraine.

October 6, 2022: Russia is reopening its embassy in Tripoli and backing the Abdulhamid Dbeibah faction in Libya rather than the Fathi Bashagha faction and the LNA (Libyan National Army) in the east. In effect, Russia is cooperating with Turkey, which has illegal agreements with the Tripoli government that enables Russia to explore for oil and gas in areas of the Mediterranean that are recognized as Greek.

October 5, 2022: The Turkish foreign ministry summoned the Swedish ambassador to Turkey and complained about what it regards as "insulting content" about Erdogan in a program aired by Swedish public television,

October 3, 2022: The government reported in September Turkey’s annual inflation rate hit a 24 year high. It was 83 percent in September. Independent economists estimated the September inflation was actually 186 percent.

October 1, 2022: Turkish forces “neutralized” 30 PKK fighters in two cross-border operations, one in Iraq and one in Syria. In Iraq air strikes killed 23 PKK fighters in the Asos region.

Elsewhere Turkey launched an Ada-class corvette built for Ukraine’s navy.

September 30, 2022: Sweden's Inspectorate of Strategic Products has terminated its ban on exporting military equipment to Turkey. The decision follows Sweden’s decision to join NATO. Sweden and Finland banned most arms exports to Turkey in 2019 after the Turkish military launched a major incursion into Syria targeting the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia.

In September Turkish defense manufacturer Baykar Technologies delivered 20 armed drones to the United Arab Emirates

September 28, 2022: After the U.S. lifted its defense trade restrictions on the nation of Cyprus, Turkey announced his government will reinforce its military presence in Northern Cyprus. Turkey said the American decision to lift the restrictions was "inexplicable in terms of content and timing."

September 27, 2022: A bomb explosion in the southern province of Mersin killed one police officer and wounded another. Turkey accused the PKK of launching the attack.


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