The Central Bank announced the current account data for October 2018. The economy seems to have given a 2 billion and 770 million US Dollars surplus for the month. It is a record surplus since 1984 when the data has been started to be compiled. The discussion on this development centered on whether it is due to a balancing move or a result of continuing contraction. While the government tries to present it as a positive development towards balancing of the international accounts, many economists and financial circles argue to the contrary.
The result of the monthly surplus in the current account is a net outflow of 1,4 billion Dollars. With a relatively stable “net errors and omissions,” a curiously active and determining item in the Turkey’s balance of payments for some time, the reserves registered an increase of 1.7 billion Dollars.
President Erdoğan announced on 12th of December that the Turkish armed forces will soon be intervening to the east of the Euphrates River, Northern Syria. Ignoring the complicated outcome of the Syrian regime’s population policies of the late 20th century Erdoğan argued that the region belongs overwhelmingly to the Arab people whereas has been controlled by Kurdish dominated terrorist structures. He stated that it was Turkey’s duty to clean the region of terrorist organizations. Erdoğan promptly said that the operation was possible at any moment.
Turkey’s official policy views the Kurdish militia, which has been in control of the region with slippery recognition from both the US and Russia, as a “terrorist offshoot” of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has waged a insurgency war against the Turkish armed forces since 1984. The militia has also been controlling a strategic pocket west of Euphrates along the Turkish border in coordination and alliance with the US armed forces in the region. Turkey has repeatedly appealed to the US for lifting their support to the militia at the region but in vain. The US sees the militia as a strong ally in their war effort against extremist Islamic terror organizations as well as a trump in the broader game in Syria against the Regime, Iran as well as Russia.
On 13th of December, the country was devastated by the news of a train crash in Ankara. Early in the morning on one of the three high speed train lines, a passenger train from Ankara to Konya crashed with a control locomotive just after departure. Nine were killed and 92 were wounded. Among the dead were the three locomotive drivers. This was the third incident regarding the railways in Turkey which claimed lives of many in the recent history. Just in July of this year, another passenger train derailed and turned over due to faulty lines in Çorlu, Tekirdağ, killing 24 and wounding 124. The government has been under attack due to its railway policies. After it was reported that the line has been lacking a signalization system at the place of the accident, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructures, Mehmet Cahit Turan argued that signalization system was nut a necessity. The opposition furious with the statement asked for the minister’s resignation in the parliament. Three railway workers including the railroad inspector and dispatcher were first detained and then arrested for involuntary manslaughter.
On Friday, 15th of December, another public infrastructure failure caused a flood in Eğil, Diyarbakır. With the rupture of one of the three radial dam gates on the Tigris River. Settlements around the region were alarmed against flooding. 17 settlements were evacuated and fortunately there were no loss of lives. However, with the release of the waters a considerable economic damage was revealed.
Curiously the “yellow vest” protests in Paris and France in general has found place in Turkish politics more than any other development in Europe. The reason behind this seems to be the fact that the protests remind the ruling JDP and the government, the Gezi protests of 2013. Similar to Gezi Protests the Yellow Vest movement lacks strict political affiliation and have support from a vast spectrum of political and social interests. Again like Gezi protests it threatens the legitimacy of the elected government. The government’s and president Erdoğan’s response to the Yellow Vest protests varied from condemning the French police force for brutality to announce the protesters as lawless vagabonds.
Last week president Erdoğan challanged Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to organize a similar event and “take to the streets” and added that “they” would not this time be as forgiving as it supposedly had been at the July 15 coup attempt and crush the opposition at the city squares. The judiciary and the government has taken the Gezi protests of 2013 back into agenda during the recent few weeks. The opposition, on the other hand accused president’s statements as deliberate attempts at polarizing the society for the coming local elections in order to consolidate and keep JDP’s vote base amid the foregoing economic crisis.