Turkey: Sweden Not Joining NATO

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November 8, 2023: Turkey once more delayed its promised approval of Sweden joining NATO. The delay this time was because Turkey was not consulted by the United States during the Hamas-Israel conflict.

November 5, 2023: Turkish police fired tear gas and water cannon at pro-Palestine demonstrators who tried to break through the gates of the huge Incirlik Air Base where U.S. and other NATO personnel are stationed. A Turkish Islamist aid organization, the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, helped bring the demonstrators to the air base, which is located in Adana province (southeastern Turkey). Incirlik is also a major logistical support center for the Turkish military.

November 2, 2023: The Turkish Interior Ministry said security forces had arrested drug smuggler Hakan Ayik and 36 other people involved in an international organized crime operation. Most of the arrests were made in the Istanbul area. The international gang’s base of operations is an Australian motorcycle gang named the Comanchero Motorcycle Club. The gang has been involved in criminal activity –primarily smuggling drugs, theft and money laundering-- in Australia, Holland, Hong Kong, South Korea, South Africa and throughout South America. The Interior ministry said that U.S., Australian and New Zealand police and security agencies have been actively pursuing gang members for several years. Ayik is on Australia’s “most wanted” list and is also faces charges in the U.S. Another senior gang leader, Duax Hohepa Ngakuru, faces multiple charges in New Zealand. Turkish prosecutors will charge the club members with Istanbul's “laundering assets” in Turkey.

The U.S. sanctioned several individuals, businesses and organizations in Turkey, China and the UAE for selling and/or shipping dual-use equipment to Russia or helping finance the illegal acquisition of banned equipment and parts. The forbidden trading including civilian electronic components goods that can also be used in Russian weapons systems and targeting equipment.

October 31, 2023: Business media reported that Turkey continues to let Israeli oil imports pass through Turkish pipelines and be shipped to Israel on oil tankers via Turkey’s primary export oil port, Ceyhan. The Azeri oil exports continue despite the diplomatic split spawned by Hamas’ October 7 massacre attack on Israel and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s subsequent vocal support for Palestinians and criticism of Israel. Erdogan has accused Israel of committing war crimes. Azerbaijan supplies Israel with about 40 percent of its annual oil imports. The Azeri pipeline runs from Baku through Tbilisi (Georgia) then runs through Turkey to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. According to one source, a tanker with one million barrels of oil left Ceyhan several days after the Hamas attack. The tanker went through the Suez Canal and unloaded its oil at the Israeli Red Sea port of Eilat. Why? Hamas’ October 7 attack damaged Israel’s oil port at Ashkelon (on the Mediterranean). After Erdogan’s initial outbursts Israel withdrew its diplomatic staff based in Turkey and the Israeli government said it is “re-evaluating relations with Turkey.” Yet Turkey hasn’t halted oil shipments. Erdogan continues to try to play both sides. He lashes Israel with extremely harsh rhetorical criticism. But the oil continues to flow. (Austin Bay)

The Swedish government announced that it believes Hungary will approve its bid to join NATO before Turkey ratifies accession.

October 29, 2023: The Turkish government held a ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of the modern, secular Turkish Republic. Turkish media reported the ceremony was simple and “somber” given the over 50,000 Turks died in the February earthquake. The public ceremonies did include laying a wreath at Kemal Ataturk’s mausoleum in Ankara and a Turkish Navy display in Istanbul. Ataturk founded the Turkish Republic in 1923. Many Turks accused President Erdogan of downplaying the centennial because Erdogan is jealous of Ataturk. It appears that President Erdogan wishes to displace Ataturk as Turkey’s greatest leader.

October 26, 2023: In response to continued inflation, Turkey’s central bank raised its key interest rate from 30 to 35 percent.

The Erdogan government and the Turkish military were accused of conducting an air campaign intentionally targeting critical water and electrical infrastructure in northeastern Syria’s Kurdish region. The strikes, most of them by UAVs, have harmed millions of civilians. The accusations come as Erdogan accuses Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza.

October 25, 2023: President Erdogan declared that Hamas is not a terrorist organization. Erdogan called Hamas a “liberation group.” The Israeli foreign ministry rejected Erdogan's description of Hamas. Erdogan also said he is canceling a planned visit to Israel.

October 23, 2023: President Erdogan sent a request to Turkey’s parliament, Grand National Assembly of Turkey, supporting Sweden’s bid to join NATO. The request, however, was called a protocol requesting legislation, and a protocol is not approval. The Turkish government still indicates that approval hinges on the sale of 40 new American-made F-16s to Turkey. The U.S. did suggest that the sale would go through once Turkey approved Swedish membership. Erdogan’s government has made it clear there is no set timeframe for ratification. Erdogan’s AKP (Justice and Development Party) and its allies have 322 out of the parliament’s 600 seats. The main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), supports Swedish membership. Kemal Ataturk founded the CHP.

October 19. 2023: In an address to Turkey’s parliament, Muhammed Ali Fatih Erbakan, a political ally of Erdogan, called for the immediate closure of Turkish military facilities that host U.S. and NATO military personnel. He specifically mentioned the Incirlik Air Base and the ballistic missile radar and surveillance facility at Kurecik (Malatya province, southeastern Turkey). In the past he has urged the government to deny both Israel and the U.S. use of Turkish ports and airspace. Erbakan’s critics describe him as a vicious anti-Semite.

October 17, 2023: Turkish unmanned aircraft developer Baykar Tech has begun initial ground tests of its new Bayraktar TB3 drone.

October 16, 2023: Diplomats believe Turkey is prepared to reopen its border with Armenia. The border has been closed over 30 years. after more than 30 years

October 14, 2023: The Turkish foreign ministry said that Turkey opposes “the exile” of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and being sent to Egypt.

October 13, 2023: Eight months after the terrible February earthquakes journalists report that the government is nowhere near rebuilding the 319,000 homes it promised to rebuild by February 2024. Local officials and construction companies say higher construction and material costs are part of the problem. One government source said that 40,000 homes will be rebuilt by the end of November 2023. Winter temperatures will limit construction in December, January and February.

October 11, 2023: Turkey and the UAE have signed a new strategic co-operation agreement to build advanced technology and defense equipment. The defense projects include drones, air-to-surface missiles and laser-guided bombs.

President Erdogan called Israel's blockade and air strikes on Gaza a “disproportionate attack” that amounts to a “massacre.” He then said that Turkey is prepared to mediate the conflict.

Syrian Kurd sources claimed that recent Turkish air and artillery strikes have damaged over half of the electrical power and fuel infrastructure in northeastern Syria. On October 5 Turkey launched a bombing campaign in response to terrorist attacks in Ankara.

October 9, 2023: President Erdogan said the Turkish military had concluded the first phase of its operations against terrorist targets in northern Syria and northern Iraq. He also criticized the U.S. for shooting down a Turkish drone in northern Syria. Turkey has targeted Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) bases in northern Iraq and the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northeastern Syria. Erdogan claimed that a total of 194 targets in Iraq and Syria have been destroyed. The defense ministry said that Turkish forces have struck 51 targets in northeastern Syria since October 5. Turkey regards the SDF (specifically, its YPG militia) as a wing of the PKK. Several military analysts –some in Turkey—have concluded Turkey will eventually create a buffer zone 30 kilometers wide inside Syria.

October 7, 2023: Turkey’s foreign ministry reported it has discussed the Hamas attack on Israel with Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran and Palestinian representatives. It has also consulted with the U.S. State Department.

The defense ministry said Turkish attacks today killed 58 Kurdish militants in northern Syria.

   

 

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