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Turkey in a Week, November 5th, 2018

It has been several weeks since Washington Post journalist Saudi Jamal Khashoggi disappeared after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2. Saudi authorities, who at first denied that Khashoggi disappeared at the consulate premises, then acknowledged the fact that Khashoggi was killed, then arrested 18 people who were involved in the incident (See also Hilal Köylü’s report on Halagazeteciyiz.net). Saudi authorities sent chief public prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb to Turkey. Prosecutor al-Mojeb arrived in Istanbul on Sunday night and held talks on Monday with Istanbul’s chief prosecutor. Al-Mojeb held a second round of talks with Turkish officials on Tuesday and visited the Saudi consulate in Istanbul where journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed four weeks ago. The prosecutor left Turkey without making any comments.

President Erdoğan disclosed the details of his most recent talk with the US president Donald Trump on the joint press meeting with Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko. He addressed two major issues. He announced that president Trump had promised to task his secretaries with both the agreed course of action in Northern Syria and the Halkbank case.

Erdoğan said that, after the talk, the concerned Turkish ministries had been promptly contacted by their American counterparts.

Turkey demands the local Kurdish forces immediately withdraw from their positions in the west of Euphrates, a border province south of Gaziantep, now mostly identified as Manbij. US has been conducting military operations with Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a serious bulk of which is made of the Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG/PPU), a well organized Kurdish militia. Most recently, after a long period of non-conflict, the Turkish Armed Forces has bombarded the YPG positions on October 28.

President Erdoğan also welcomed the prospects of bilateral talks regarding the case against the Turkish state bank, Halkbank in the US and expressed his hopes for a mutual understanding and solution.

A related headline of the week regarding the relations with the US is about the forthcoming sanctions against Iran. Under president Trump’s orders, US had withdrawn from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding Iran’s nuclear program. With the withdrawal, the US is preparing to reimpose sanctions against Islamic Republic of Iran on oil, shipping and banking, starting by the 5th of November. The eight countries that will be exempt from the sanctions will be announced on the same day. However, the Turkish Minister of Energy, Fatih Dönmez has already announced that Turkey would be exempt. Both this decision and the positive atmosphere of Erdoğan-Trump talks are attributed to the fact that the relations between the two countries, after a period of high tensions, has recently warmed up by the release of Pastor Brunson (See Hilal Köylü’s report on the Halagazeteciyiz.net).

The fact that the President Erdoğan has explicitly dragged his heels on the issue of general amnesty proposed by the Nationalist Action Party (MHP/NAP), the divide between the JDP and the NAP regarding the latest decision of the Supreme Court on the reinstatement of the “youth’s pledge,” a heritage of the Kemalist foundations of the republic, NAP’s harsh critique of the government on Khashoggi incident, as well as many other issues at the level of local politics, fractured the political alliance between the two parties. NAP’s leader Bahçeli had announced that, although the general alliance is intact, for the coming local elections on March 2019, NAP will be nominating its own candidates and there will be no combined action with the JDP.

Turkey’s one of the most beloved couples, Sıla Gençoğlu and Ahmet Kural are among those occupied the week’s headlines. The long lasting “love story” has ended with an unfortunate series of events. Sıla, a pop singer known for her resilient stance against the current government has filed a case against her long time lover Ahmet Kural, a movie actor, alleging him of offences of violence and threat. Beyond being a tabloid news, the incident between the two set off a reaction from the public amidst the rising account of violence against women in the country. While Kural, having publicly apologized from Sıla as well as all the women, is expected to testify to the public prosecutor this Monday the issue is hotly debated along the lines of social policies and the civil law.

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