Turkey. On June 24, Turkey ran for presidential and parliamentary elections. In the presidential election, incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan won with 52.5% of the vote; challenger Muharrem Ince from the enriched CHP (Republican People’s Party) received 31.7%. In the parliamentary elections, Erdoğan’s AKP (Justice and Development Party) secured the majority in parliament with the help of the right-wing MHP (National Action Party). AKP received 42% of the votes, MHP 11% and CHP 23%. The pro-Kurdish party HDP (the People’s Democratic Party) passed the high ten percent barrier; with 10.8% of the vote, 59 were given seats out of 550. Voting in both elections was 87%
According to Countryaah.com, Ankara is the capital city of Turkey, a country located in Western Asia. The OSCE observer (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) believed that there were unfair conditions during the election, mainly because there has been an emergency permit in the country since the coup attempt in July 2016, which has greatly reduced freedom of the press as well as freedom of assembly and opinion. The EU also criticized Turkish electoral conditions. Of course, this does not improve the country’s ability to belong to the EU – at the beginning of the year, so-called privileged partnerships were offered in the EU, which was, however, blatantly dismissed by Turkey. It is the best EU can offer Turkey for as long as the state of emergency exists in the country and it continues with purges after the coup attempt 2016. On July 18, the state of emergency was terminated but instead replaced by a new anti-terror law, which will be valid for three years.
In February, 170 militants were arrested for their involvement in the coup attempt, and in March another 150, among them naval officers, teachers and union staff, were suspected of links to the minister Fethullah G邦len. He has been living in exile in the US since 1999 but is still suspected of being the one behind the coup attempt in July 2016. More than 160,000 have been arrested since July 2016; Of these, 50,000 are detained and awaiting trial. More than 150,000 have been dismissed or suspended from their jobs due to suspected links to the coup attempt.
In December, the Press Freedom Organization CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists) confirmed that for the third year in a row, Turkey is the country in the world that captures most journalists. By December, 68 journalists had been detained. This did not stop President Erdoğan from harshly criticizing Saudi Arabia for depriving liberty and murdering Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October.
In January, a ground and air offensive against Kurdish targets in Syria under the name Olive Branch was launched. The target of the offensive was the US-backed Kurdish YPG militia and the city of Afrin, which also included targets in Iraq. The offensive continued well into the spring, and in late October, Turkey threatened again with an offensive.
US pastor Andrew Brunson was released from Turkish captivity in October. He was arrested in October 2016 on suspicion of conspiracy with the G邦len movement.
Following pressure and sanctions from the US (including doubled aluminum and steel duties), the Turkish lira was in free fall. In August, the lira had lost close to 40% of its value against the US dollar during the year. Credit rating agency Moody’s therefore lowered its Turkish credit rating from Ba2 to Ba3 with a negative outlook. During the autumn, the lira recovered somewhat since the country’s central bank raised its key interest rate by as much as 6.25 percentage points to 24%.
2014 Support for Islamic State (IS)
Since the start of the civil war in Syria in 2011, Turkey’s Islamic government has left its borders open to rebels traveling back and forth and for supplies. The country was de facto at war with Syria, though no formal declaration of war had been issued. The Islamic government wanted worldly Bashar al-Assad in Damascus to be replaced by an Islamist. As IS grew strong during 2013-14, it led to significant Turkish support for this rebel movement, though it also brought Turkey on a collision course with the United States.
In the summer of 2012, the civil war against the Bashar Assad regime in Syria led the Syrian military to withdraw from the Kurdish areas of the northern part of the country. This power vacuum was not immediately filled by the Syrian rebel groups, but by the Kurds themselves. The two Kurdish parties in the area agreed to form the Kurdish Supreme Council (Desteya Bilind a Kurd, DBK). The council got its seat in the area’s largest city, Kobanê. The two parties also decided to form the People’s Defense Units (Yekîneyên Parastina, YPG) for the defense of the area. During July, the YPG threw the last remnants of the Syrian army out of Kobanê and several smaller Kurdish cities. During the fall, the YPG continued its offensive and fought several times with Syrian rebel groups. FSA. In early November, however, the FSA and YPG signed a peace agreement not to attack each other’s territories and support each other militarily. The armed conflict then increasingly became a stand between the YPG and the Islamist rebel groups. In May 2013, 21 of them signed a manifesto declaring the YPG to be “traitors to Jihad” and to purge northern Syria for the YPG and PKK. The Islamists received support from the Danish Eastern Lands Court, which in July 2013 banned the mention of PKK in Danish media and shut down Roj TV.
The YPG continued its progress when, after ½ years of fighting in July 2013, the movement finally gained full control of the larger city of Ras al-Ayn. However, the conquest increased the Kurds’ problems elsewhere. The Kurdish population of Aleppo was displaced or massacred by the Islamic militias with the al-Nusra front at the head. And on August 1, several FSA brigades and Islamic State (IS) launched a siege of Kobanê. Despite the previous alliance with the FSA, the FSA and IS were now fighting against the Kurds. In late September, Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani declared that he would intervene in Syria in support of the YPG. A few days ago, IS responded again by detonating more bombs in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Erbil.
Until March 2014, the YPG continued its advance in eastern Syria, with al-Nusra and IS forces being driven back and smaller cities conquered. In March, the YPG announced that it was suspending its advance, but at the same time warned its enemies that it intended to defend the conquered territories. Meanwhile, the Islamist groups continued to ethnically clean their own areas of Kurds killed or driven to flight, and the siege of Kobanê continued without the siege being able to move any closer.
The trapped situation changed in early July, when IS moved large quantities of captured North American heavy weapons such as guns and tanks from Iraq to Syria, where they were thrown into the battle for Kobanê. 10 days later, IS had conquered 10 villages east of Kobanê. The YPG was under pressure and urged all Kurds to back up its fight against IS. Initially, the only support from PYD’s sister party in Turkey was the PKK that sent partisans in support of the YPG. But they could not withstand the pressure of IS heavy weapons and many thousands of partisans who were put into the fighting. In the latter half of September, IS captured dozens of villages, and the YPG abandoned defending another 100. Thousands of Kurds fled across the border to Turkey. At the end of the month, the number of refugees was over 130,000. IS received support from Turkey for its siege of Kobanê. On September 20, the two parties signed a secret agreement after which IS released 48 Turkish hostages from the Turkish consulate in Mosul. In return, Turkey released hundreds of Islamist prisoners from its prisons and promised to help IS with the conquest of Kobanê. This was partly done by preventing supplies and reinforcements from entering Turkey into Kobanê. In part, Turkey continued its oil purchases from IS, continued to allow reinforcements and supplies to IS to cross its border, and allowed IS to establish positions within Turkey from which to attack Kobanê. This was partly done by preventing supplies and reinforcements from entering Turkey into Kobanê. In part, Turkey continued its oil purchases from IS, continued to allow reinforcements and supplies to IS to cross its border, and allowed IS to establish positions within Turkey from which to attack Kobanê. This was partly done by preventing supplies and reinforcements from entering Turkey into Kobanê. In part, Turkey continued its oil purchases from IS, continued to allow reinforcements and supplies to IS to cross its border, and allowed IS to establish positions within Turkey from which to attack Kobanê.
The United States and a number of Western countries had by this time launched aerial bombardments of IS, and the United States was not happy about the strategic alliance between Turkey and IS. At the same time, Western propaganda had difficulty explaining why the West should fight IS, but not help the only people who actually fought IS on land – namely the Kurds. On September 27, the United States therefore, for the first time, bombed IS positions around Kobanê. Several hundred bombings followed, but they had a limited effect. A war cannot be won from the air. The bombings happened only during the day, and the IS partisans only hid when bombers were reported in the area.
On October 2, IS had conquered 350 of 354 villages around Kobanê and stood just outside the city. The advance continued and at the end of the month IS had control of approx. 60% of the city. By then, 300,000 Kurds had fled to Turkey. The strategic situation did not change until the end of the month, when the United States succeeded in forcing Turkey to accept that Iraqi Kurdish forces came to the aid of the YPG. Iraqis were detained in Turkey for several days, but reached Nov. 1 on Kobanê carrying ammunition and weapons. At the same time, 3-400 partisans from the FSA joined the fighting against IS. But IS also strengthened Kobanê from, among other things. Aleppo.
The Kurdish people in Turkey reacted with fury to Turkey’s alliance with IS. Throughout October, Kurdish demonstrations were conducted in many Turkish cities. The Turkish state again responded with violence. Up to 50 Kurdish protesters were killed in Turkey during October, the PKK threatened to withdraw from the ongoing peace talks and attack the military positions. On November 1, an international protest day was held in solidarity with the Kurds in Kobanê. 5,000 demonstrated in the city of Suruc 10km from the border with Syrian Kurdistan and 15,000 in Diyarbakir. The Turkish security forces remained calm and the demonstrations were peaceful. However, Turkey still kept the border hermetically closed to Turkish Kurdish supplies to Kobanê.
For its part, Turkey was furious that the United States and its allies were indirectly helping the government in Damascus by bombing IS and Turkey’s other Islamist allies inside Syria. The price the United States had to pay to get Turkey to allow the passage of Iraqi Kurds into Kobanê was that the superpower promised to train and supply 5,000 rebels. However, the conflict revealed a very deep contradiction between Turkey and the United States. While Turkey wanted Islamists to power in Damascus, the US wanted to prevent this. This contradiction remained unsolved.