Turkey: June 2024 Update


June 25, 2024: The government finally relented and approved Sweden joining Turkey and 30 other nations as NATO members. This, in turn, allowed the upgrade program for Turkish F-16s to proceed. Turkey has 243 F-16s, and that is the second largest F-16 fleet after the U.S. Air Force’s 963. The United States refused to sell Turkey the new F-35 because of Turkeys close defense relationships with Russia. Turkey is building its own jet fighter, the Kaan, but deliveries won’t begin until the end of the decade and it will take several years after that to get mass production going. Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) declared that its new domestically manufactured KAAN fighter jet will be better than the American F-35. The government began pushing the KAAN project when the U.S. indicated it would kick Turkey out of the F-35 consortium. Turkey decided to procure Russian S-400 missiles – a move the U.S. argued compromised the F-35 program. The KAAN prototype, previously known as the TF-X, had its second test flight in mid-May. The KAAN aircraft project is billed as 90 percent indigenous. Over 100 Turkish corporations are involved in the project.

The Turkish government still has an inflation problem. In May the annual inflation rate was 75 percent, compared to 70 percent in April. The Central Bank forecasts the overall inflation rate for 2024 will be 38 percent. The Central Bank believes inflation has peaked and the overall economy is expanding. President Erdogan certainly hopes so. In mid-June he declared that Turkey’s new economic program is bearing fruit. The new economic program is letting the Central Bank practice aggressive monetary tightening. That means fighting inflation with high interest rates, a policy Erdogan rejected for over five years. Meanwhile, the government and the Turkish mining industry are touting Turkey’s potential as a European mineral producer. Turkey has significant reserves of nickel, thorium, boron, coal, trona and gold. The government believes Turkey has 6,500 tons of recoverable gold. Turkey produces 35 to 40 tons of gold a year. It wants to boost production to 50 tons a year and eventually produce 100 tons a year. That will help fight inflation eventually. (Austin Bay)

The Turkish military’s Operation Claw-Lock continues in northern Iraq. In actions from June 17 to June 21, the Ministry of Defense reported four Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) terrorists were killed. One Turkish sergeant died. The action took place in the Qandil Mountains region of northeastern Iraq near the Turkish and Iranian borders. Operation Claw-Lock began in April 2022. Earlier this month Turkey’s defense minister thanked Iraq for cooperating with Turkish counterterrorism efforts.

Turkey’s decision to allow Azerbaijan to ship oil to Israel has a domestic political price. Over the last five months several public demonstrations opposing the government’s decision have occurred in major cities. Several anti-Israel protests have been organized by two activist groups: The Resistance Tent and A Thousand Youths for Palestine. The demonstrators contend the government’s trade embargo against Israel is phony. At the end of May 13 protesters were arrested in Istanbul. Azerbaijan’s oil exports pass through Georgia and Turkey on pipelines to the port of Ceyhan.

Pro-PKK media report PKK fighters in northern Iraq are shooting down Turkish armed drones using Iranian loitering missiles. Turkish media speculate the PKK is using Iranian Saqr 358 type kamikaze drones to attack the Turkish drones. The 358 is sometimes described as a loitering surface-to-air missile. Yemen’s Houthis and Lebanon’s Hezbollah have 358s in their arsenals.

June 6, 2024: Turkey announced it will increase by 40 percent tariffs on all vehicles bought frin China. At a minimum $7,000 will be levied on each vehicle. Economic analysts said the move is intended to make buying imports more expensive – which will help narrow Turkey’s current account deficit. Turkey has begun manufacturing domestic-made electric vehicles.

Earlier this month a court sentenced Mehmet Siddik Akis to 20 years in prison over his alleged ties to PKK terrorists. Akis was the elected mayor of Hakkari province (southeastern Turkey). Akis belongs to the Kurdish People's Equality and Democracy (DEM) Party.

Turkey’s foreign minister, during a recent visit to China, confirmed Turkey is considering joining the BRICS economic group because it gives Turkey an alternative to the EU (European Union). BRICS stands for BRICS Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Iran, Egypt, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE also belong.

The Syrian Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces claimed that three weeks ago Turkish drones attacked sites in northeastern Syria. Four SDF fighters were killed and 11 civilians wounded.

At a NATO diplomatic meeting in Prague, Czech Republic Turkish representatives emphasized that Turkey continues to support Ukraine’s territorial integrity but will not support any direct NATO involvement in Ukraine’s war against Russia’s invasion. Direct would mean troops and warplanes from NATO nations operating inside Ukraine.

The government declared Turkey will not resume trade with Israel until a permanent ceasefire agreement in Gaza is reached and humanitarian aid for Gazans is assured. Turkey and Israel do about $7 billion in bilateral business every year. The statement is one thing, but shipping oil is another. Azeri oil passes through Turkey through the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline. Baku is the Azeri terminal; Tbilisi is in Georgia and Ceyhan is Turkey’s main oil shipment seaport. BOTAS, Turkey’s state-owned oil and gas company, manages the pipeline within Turkey, though British Petroleum is also involved. Turkey is paid a modest trans-shipment fee. At Ceyhan the oil is loaded on oil tankers for shipment to Haifa, Israel. Azerbaijan contends that BTC contracts obligate Turkey to ship oil to Azeri customers even in wartime.

In May Turkey’s defense consortium announced that it has started mass production of the Altay national tank. Development of Altay began in 2008. Altay is similar to the American M1 and German Leopard 2.

In May Turkish Navy and Air Force conducted exercises in the Mediterranean Sea to test unmanned surface vessels (USVs). The USVs will operate with manned ships and aircraft. A government press release highlighted the Albatross-S unmanned surface vessel, manufactured by Turkish company Aselsan. Six Albatro-S ships participated in the exercise.

Government and media report that many of the Russians who came to Turkey after the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine have decided to go elsewhere. Interviews with Russians leaving Turkey say Turkey’s rampant inflation is one reason. Many Russians also had trouble obtaining residency permits. The government says around 96,000 Russians now have residency permits. In December 2022 there were 154,000 Russians with residency permits. Where have the Russians gone? They don’t have many options. Montenegro and Serbia permit Russian residency. Brazil and Argentina are also preferred destinations.

Two European NGOs (Non-Government Organizations) are claiming Turkey is re-exporting Russian oil products in order to avoid sanctions on Russian goods. Turkey buys Russian refined oil products then re-labels them and ships them to another market. In January 2024 U.S. congressional investigators alleged that Turkey was trans-shipping Russian oil for processing in a Greek refinery. Turkey has long been known as a country tolerant of smuggling operations.

Syrian and French NGOs and European media report that Turkey has sent Syrian mercenary fighters to Niger. The deployment began in Fall 2023. Estimates of the number of Syrians in Niger run from 1,000 to 1,100. In December 2023 France terminated its military operation in Niger. U.S. forces are being withdrawn.

An Israeli media outlet claimed Hamas intends to establish a secret base in Turkey. President Erdogan says Hamas is a liberation group, however it is very unlikely he wants a terrorist base in Turkey. Hamas does raise money in Turkey.

In late April Turkey announced it had renamed the Incirlik 10th Tanker Air Base Command. The new name is 10th Main Jet Base Command. Up to 40 F-16 fighters will now be based at Incirlik.


Article Archive

Turkey: Current 2023 2022 2021



Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close