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Turkey Letter: 11 October 2016

Foreign Politics

  • US urges calm as Turkey-Iraq tensions risk ISIS fight
  • Turkey Plans to Join Mosul Operation Against Islamic State
  • Warming Relations in Person, Putin and Erdogan Revive Pipeline Deal
  • Turkey and Iran Draw Closer, Despite Syrian War
  • Turkish PM criticizes Clinton over promise to arm Syrian Kurds
  • German Prosecutors Drop Probe Into Comedian Who Recited Erdogan Poem
  • German lawmakers visit Turkey’s Incirlik air base after row ends
  • Turkish gold trader pushes for dismissal of U.S. sanctions case

Economy & Energy

  • Turkish Government Aims to Spend Its Way Out of Growth Slowdown
  • Turkey’s “love affair” with rating agencies faces Fitch test
  • Erdoğan basks in political support at Istanbul energy conference
  • Trafigura, Vitol Said Among Bidders for OMV Turkey Fuel Unit

Domestic Politics

  • Turkey’s Thirty-Year Coup
  • Truck bomb attack on soldiers kills 18 in southeast Turkey
  • Turkey’s Kurds are in the crosshairs as government crackdown widens
  • Turkey orders detention of 125 police officers
  • Kurdish Politician Who Vanished in Turkey Turns Up in Iraq
  • Turkey restores access to Google Drive after blocking cloud storage services
  • Passports of two Turkish journalists seized by authorities

Foreign Politics

US urges calm as Turkey-Iraq tensions risk ISIS fight

US officials are urging calm between Turkey and Iraq to keep the flaring tensions between the two key American allies from jeopardizing the fight against ISIS.

CNN, US urges calm as Turkey-Iraq tensions risk ISIS fight, October 11, 2016


Turkey Plans to Join Mosul Operation Against Islamic State

Turkey’s top officials said the military will join the planned operation against Islamic State in Mosul, the same way it did in Syria, with the prime minister warning of a sectarian civil war in Iraq if the Sunni-dominated city is liberated by Shiite soldiers.

Bloomberg, Turkey Plans to Join Mosul Operation Against Islamic State, October 11, 2016


Warming Relations in Person, Putin and Erdogan Revive Pipeline Deal

Amid increasingly tense relations with the United States over Syria, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia took advantage of a routine meeting in Istanbul on Monday to advance the Kremlin’s reconciliation with Turkey, including an agreement to revive a suspended natural-gas pipeline project.

New York Times, Warming Relations in Person, Putin and Erdogan Revive Pipeline Deal, October 10, 2016


Turkey and Iran Draw Closer, Despite Syrian War

The Syrian war went through one of its bloodiest stretches in recent weeks, with Iranian proxies battling Turkish-backed rebels for control of the city of Aleppo. At the same time, Iran’s foreign minister visited Ankara for the second time in two months for talks on how to improve bilateral ties, boost mutual trade, and bolster energy cooperation.

Wall Street Journal, Turkey and Iran Draw Closer, Despite Syrian War, October 6, 2016


Turkish PM criticizes Clinton over promise to arm Syrian Kurds

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has criticized U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for promising to arm Syrian Kurdish fighters.  “Clinton has said she would support Kurds in the region, terrorist organizations, with arms if she is elected. What does that mean? Is the U.S. not our ally? What does it mean to support them with arms,” Yıldırım said at his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) weekly parliamentary group meeting on Oct.11.

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkish PM criticizes Clinton over promise to arm Syrian Kurds, October 11, 2016


German Prosecutors Drop Probe Into Comedian Who Recited Erdogan Poem

Prosecutors dropped a criminal probe into alleged insults by a German comedian against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ending a case that had escalated into a diplomatic row between Turkey and Germany.

Wall Street Journal, German Prosecutors Drop Probe Into Comedian Who Recited Erdogan Poem, October 4, 2016


German lawmakers visit Turkey’s Incirlik air base after row ends

A delegation of German lawmakers visited Incirlik air base in southern Turkey on Wednesday, state-run Anadolu Agency said, defusing a months-long row that had prevented them meeting troops serving in the coalition against Islamic State.

Reuters, German lawmakers visit Turkey’s Incirlik air base after row ends, October 5, 2016


Turkish gold trader pushes for dismissal of U.S. sanctions case

A federal judge on Wednesday heard arguments on whether U.S. charges against a Turkish gold trader for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran should be dismissed, in a high-profile case that could determine the scope of the U.S. sanctions regime.

Reuters, Turkish gold trader pushes for dismissal of U.S. sanctions case, October 5, 2016


Economy & Energy

Turkish Government Aims to Spend Its Way Out of Growth Slowdown

Turkey’s government is seeking to overcome an economic downturn fanned by terrorism attacks and a failed military takeover by investing more and expanding budget deficits.

Bloomberg, Turkish Government Aims to Spend Its Way Out of Growth Slowdown, October 4, 2016


Turkey’s “love affair” with rating agencies faces Fitch test

Turkey’s love affair with international credit agencies – if it ever existed – is already over and its banks may rein in lending yet more if the last of the big firms, Fitch, downgrades the country’s rating to “junk”. President Tayyip Erdogan has long criticised the agencies, most recently when Moody’s followed Standard and Poor’s last month in removing Turkey’s investment grade rating. He will have another opportunity to vent his feelings if Fitch does the same when it reviews its BBB- sovereign rating in early 2017.

Reuters, RPT-Turkey’s “love affair” with rating agencies faces Fitch test, October 5, 2016


Erdoğan basks in political support at Istanbul energy conference

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan used his keynote speech at an international energy conference Monday to frame his country as a source of stability and cooperation in the face of terrorism in the region. Erdoğan capped off a series of presidential addresses on the first day of the World Energy Congress by some of his biggest political and energy allies — Russian President Vladimir Putin, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı, whose government is not recognized anywhere except in Turkey.

Politico, Erdoğan basks in political support at Istanbul energy conference, October 10, 2016


Trafigura, Vitol Said Among Bidders for OMV Turkey Fuel Unit

OMV AG, central Europe’s biggest oil and gas company, has got initial bids from Vitol SA and Trafigura Group Pte for its Turkish fuel retailer OMV Petrol Ofisi AS, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Bloomberg, Trafigura, Vitol Said Among Bidders for OMV Turkey Fuel Unit, October 11, 2016


Domestic Politics

Turkey’s Thirty-Year Coup

At nine o’clock on the night of July 15th, General Hulusi Akar, the chief of the Turkish Army’s general staff, heard a knock on his office door in Ankara, the nation’s capital. It was one of his subordinates, General Mehmet Dişli, and he was there to report that a military coup had begun. “We will get everybody,” Dişli said. “Battalions and brigades are on their way. You will soon see.”

New Yorker, Turkey’s Thirty-Year Coup, October 17, 2016


Truck bomb attack on soldiers kills 18 in southeast Turkey

Ten Turkish soldiers and eight civilians were killed on Sunday when suspected Kurdish militants detonated a five-tonne truck bomb that ripped through a checkpoint near a military outpost in the country’s southeast, the prime minister said.

Reuters, Truck bomb attack on soldiers kills 18 in southeast Turkey, October 9, 2016


Turkey’s Kurds are in the crosshairs as government crackdown widens

It was just after noon when police stormed the local television station and cut the feed as employees — stunned but defiant — looked on. “The truth cannot be silenced!” the reporters chanted as authorities charged through the studio. The channel, aligned with the Kurdish opposition, was one of dozens of outlets closed last week as Turkey expanded a crackdown that began after a failed coup in July.

New York Times, Turkey’s Kurds are in the crosshairs as government crackdown widens, October 10, 2016


Turkey orders detention of 125 police officers

A Turkish prosecutor on Tuesday ordered the detention of 125 police officers in the investigation of a religious movement the government blames for an unsuccessful military coup, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. It was the second wave of arrests since Oct. 7 to target suspected coup plotters in the police force.

Reuters, Turkey orders detention of 125 police officers, October 11, 2016


Kurdish Politician Who Vanished in Turkey Turns Up in Iraq

A Kurdish politician who had been missing from southeastern Turkey since May resurfaced in Iraq on Friday after months of speculation that the Turkish authorities had detained him.

New York Times, Kurdish Politician Who Vanished in Turkey Turns Up in Iraq, October 8, 2016


Turkey restores access to Google Drive after blocking cloud storage services

Turkey’s internet watchdog restored access to Google’s cloud storage service, Google Drive, on Oct. 9 after it was blocked on the grounds of “administrative measures” allegedly due to a series of leaks by the hacking group RedHack.

Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey restores access to Google Drive after blocking cloud storage services, October 10, 2016


Passports of two Turkish journalists seized by authorities

The passports of two journalists have been confiscated by police at Istanbul Atatürk Airport in the latest of a string of previously unannounced measures preventing media workers from traveling overseas. The passports of daily Cumhuriyet columnist Ayşe Yıldırım and duvar.com.tr columnist Celal Başlangıç, who is also Yıldırım’s husband, were seized by Turkish authorities as they were in the queue to fly to Brussels.

Hurriyet Daily News, Passports of two Turkish journalists seized by authorities, October 5, 2016