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Turkey in a week, October 22nd, 2018

Saudi Arabia has accepted at last that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi died in their consulate to Istanbul, however the “fistfight” explanation regarding how he died has not been bought by any side of the scandal. Journalist Khashoggi has been missing on 2 October since entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkey officials suggested from the beginning that the journalist was killed at the embassy, but the Saudi officials did not accept it until last week after the international pressures peaked. The Turkish officials said that Saudi Arabia should have accepted the killing at the beginning and took attention to the fact that Saudi Arabia has not produced the journalist’s body yet which will prove if the journalist was killed at the fistfight or not. Turkish crime investigation team was at the consulate to collect evidence. Sources close to the investigation have said they have audio evidence of Mr Khashoggi’s torture and eventual murder at the consulate. However, no evidence has not been made public to support these allegations yet.

Preparations of political parties for local elections due for March 2019, started with alliance meetings. Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli held an in-person meeting on October 16. Bahçeli already expressed before the meeting he wants to continue the People Alliance that they formed for June 24th snap elections. He thinks that the alliance is inevitable and explained the reason for this as following “It is not about how many more municipalities we will win or the votes we will garner. It is to avoid revisited discussions on the presidential governance system. Forming an alliance is an inevitable alliance”.

While the ruling party and its ally started to prepare for the local elections, the security and fairness of the elections were on the news again particularly after President Erdoğan’s remarks regarding the elected local officials with “terrorist links”. Erdoğan said that “some says elected officals cannot be dismissed. Off course we can if they have terrorist links”. Moreover, Turkey has dismissed 259 elected district officials known as “muhtars” for suspected links to terrorist groups or unsuitable behavior, the Interior Ministry said on Monday. Erdoğan administration dismissed 29 local mayors since the attempted coup d’etat, most of which had been won by the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). Erdoğan administration appointed official personnel called “kayyums” to these local administrations.

The Interior Ministry did not give a geographic breakdown of the dismissals of muhtars, but a parliamentarian from HDP said the move was the latest attempt by the ruling party to curtail the HDP’s influence in the southeast Turkey. Concerns were raised that the ruling party tries to make the elections meaningless suggesting they can dismiss the elected names as they had done before.

Due to the rise in interest rates Turkey’s mortgage based house sales have continued to decrease in September too according to the latest data provided by Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK). However, property sales to foreigners surged 151.1% in September year-on-year thanks to easing the criteria for foreigners to acquire Turkish citizenship to encourage investment. New regulations published in the country’s Official Gazette on Sept. 19. Most house sales were made to Iraqi citizens, followed by Iranians, Kuwaitis, Saudis, and Germans respectively.

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