MESOPOTAMIA EWS MIDEAST PULSE : Turkey’s finance minister assures investors as lira slides

As Turkey’s currency neared record lows Wednesday, Turkish Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak worked to reassure investors in a rare conference call.

Diego Cupolo  – AL MONITOR –  May 6, 2020  – ISTANBUL — The Turkish lira fell for the fifth consecutive day Wednesday, approaching record lows last seen in the 2018 currency crisis, as the nation’s economy continues to weather the impacts of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The lira lost 1.5% against the dollar Wednesday, slumping to 7.19 per greenback. Negative pressure persisted on the currency despite a rare conference call by Turkish Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, in which he assured investors bank reserves were more than adequate and that state regulators would not impose capital controls.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS THE PULSE ON MIDEAST : Trump defender Dershowitz, other star lawyers begin work for Azeri-Turkish billionaire

An international team of lawyers will represent Azeri-Turkish billionaire Mubariz Mansimov Gurbanoglu, a shipping magnate who has been held on terrorism charges in Istanbul since March 17. – MOBILE VIEW

May 5, 2020 AL MONITOR

A star-studded team of global lawyers have taken on the case of Azeri-Turkish billionaire Mubariz Mansimov Gurbanoglu, saying they will investigate possible human rights abuses against the shipping magnate who has been held on terrorism charges in an Istanbul prison since March 17.

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TURKEY SHIFTS THE FOCUS OF IT ‘S FOREIGN POLICY – FROM SYRIA TO THE EASTERN MEDITERENEAN AND LIBYA

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS ANALYSIS –  GÜNTER SEUFERT – STIFTUNG WISSENSCHAFT UND POLITIK – BERLIN SWP

  1. Mai 2020
  2. On 27 November 2019, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared that Turkey had concluded a treaty on military assistance and cooperation with the government of Fayez al-Sarraj in Libya. The agreement permits the deployment of Turkish troops into the civil-war-torn country. The announcement was met with almost unanimous criticism in Western Europe. The indignation grew even greater when it became known that Turkey was controlling and financing the smuggling of Islamic Syrian fighters into Libya. Reports of a dominant influence of the Muslim Brotherhood on the Libyan gov­ern­ment seemed to complete the picture of a strongly Islamist-motivated Turkish policy.

However, Turkey’s engagement in Libya is not driven by ideology, but rather by stra­tegic considerations and economic interests. Ankara is thus reacting to its isolation in the eastern Mediterranean, where the dispute over the distribution of gas resources is intensifying. At the same time, Turkey is drawing lessons from the war in Syria. An­kara has lost this war, but through its engagement in Syria, it has been able to estab­lish a conflictual – but viable – working relationship with Russia. The bottom line is that Turkey’s commitment to Libya is a shift in the focus of its foreign policy from the Middle East to the Mediterranean, a shift that will present entirely new challenges to Europe, the European Union (EU), and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS OPINION : Turkish Opposition: Erdogan Will Certainly Leave Power

Sunday, 3 May, 2020 – 11:30 – ASHARQ AL AWSAT – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan cannot keep ruling the country with his policies that have actively affected democracies, freedoms and economy, the opposition said.

Head of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who is the leader of the main opposition in Turkey, said Erdogan knows he will certainly leave office.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS Intel: US doubles down on Turkey S-400 sanctions threats

Bryant Harris – Bryant Harris is Al-Monitor’s congressional correspondent. He was previously the White House assistant correspondent for Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan’s largest newspaper. He has also written for Foreign Policy, Al Jazeera English and IPS News. Prior to his stint in DC, he spent two years as a US Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco.

May 1, 2020 AL MONITOR

The Donald Trump administration doubled down on Thursday on threats to sanction Turkey should it activate the Russian S-400 missile defense system.

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Turkey will attack Kurdish fighters in Syria regardless of US withdrawal, foreign minister says

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : THE FUTURE OF KURDISTAN / SYRIA WITH TURKEY AND US

By Geliştirici: Mutlu Çiviroğlu

KEY POİNTS

·         Turkey will go ahead with its planned offensive against Kurdish militias in northeastern Syria whether or not the U.S. withdraws its troops from the country, its foreign minister said Thursday.

·         The warning comes after American officials attempted to condition a U.S. troop pullout on a guarantee of safety for its Kurdish partners and Turkish non-aggression.

·         Ankara, which views the U.S.-backed Kurdish militias in Syria as terrorists, has already amassed thousands of Turkish troops along its border with Syria.

Turkey will go ahead with its planned offensive against Kurdish militias in northeastern Syria whether or not the U.S. withdraws its troops from the country, its foreign minister said Thursday.

“If the (withdrawal) is put off with ridiculous excuses like Turks are massacring Kurds, which do not reflect the reality, we will implement this decision,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told local news station NTV, without elaborating on a timeline.

The warning comes after American officials attempted to condition a U.S. troop pullout on a guarantee of safety for its Kurdish partners and Turkish non-aggression — something Turkish President Recep Erdogan promptly smacked down on Tuesday. Now Ankara, which has amassed thousands of Turkish troops along its border with Syria, says it will act regardless of a U.S. delay.

“We are determined on the field and at the table,” Cavusoglu said. “We will decide on its timing and we will not receive permission from anyone.”

White House national security advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have spent the week in the Middle East trying to reassure allies of America’s commitment in the wake of President Donald Trump’s shock announcement to pull all U.S. troops out of Syria. Security officials and lawmakers have warned this would mean abandoning local partners on the ground and undermining U.S. credibility when it comes to alliances.

The White House and State Department did not respond to requests for comment on Cavusoglu’s statements at the time of publication.

Turkey’s government has long threatened to unilaterally attack the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the U.S.-supported militias controlling large swaths of northern Syria that spearheaded the local fight against the Islamic State. Ankara views the YPG as terrorists and a security threat on its southern border, stressing its ties to a separate Kurdish group that’s carried out a decades-long, violent insurgency against the Turkish state.

The two NATO allies continue to lock horns over the issue of the Kurds, which has proved a massive thorn in U.S.-Turkey relations since the Pentagon began arming and training the Kurds to battle IS in Syria in 2015.

 

WATCH NOW
VIDEO09:12
Watch CNBC’s full interview with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Allies in the global anti-IS coalition and in Congress also voiced concern that the campaign against the extremist group was not finished. Trump, defending his decision, stressed that it’s now time for other countries to fill the U.S.’s role, and welcomed Erdogan’s offer to take on the fight against IS — an offer that many critics see as a cover for having free reign to kill YPG members in Syria. Experts also warn that if Turkey attacks the Kurds, they will be forced to abandon the anti-IS fight in order to defend themselves.

For those who have long studied the region, a guarantee of Turkish non-aggression toward the Kurds, as White House officials have suggested, was never going to be feasible.

“The U.S. (or Bolton) attitude is precisely that the YPG should be left alone. This is not a feasible condition, and indeed, its improbability is what makes it attractive to US officials looking to keep the U.S. in Syria,” said Faysal Itani, a Syria expert at the Atlantic Council.

A policy that would ‘invite massacres’

For the Kurds themselves, the crisis may be existential.

“Kurds in Syria that I am constantly in contact with say they want to see action rather than statements because in their view threats from Turkey are very serious,” Mutlu Civiroglu, a Kurdish affairs analyst based in Washington D.C., told CNBC. They point to Turkey’s offensive in the northwestern Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin that began in January of last year and drove hundreds of thousands of Kurds to refugee camps.

WATCH NOW

VIDEO04:54

ISIS not the only terrorist organization: Turkish foreign minister

“If Trump’s team allows Erdogan to move his forces into northeastern Syria, it would be like inviting the fox to guard the henhouse,” said Nick Heras, a Middle East security fellow at the Center for a New American Security and former research associate at the National Defense University. This, he said, would be “a policy that would invite massacres, not the stabilization of post-IS Syria.”

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/10

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS ANALYSIS : RESILIENCE IN TURKEY

by Soner Cagaptay and Deniz Yuksel  – Center for European Policy Analysis April 22, 2020 – Despite Erdogan’s pandemic missteps and repressively conservative agenda, Turkey’s problem-solving opposition parties and the secularist youths who support them give hope that democracy will endure.

There was a time when Recep Tayyip Erdogan—whether you liked him or not—represented change. He stood for a forward-looking vision for the country, suggesting that he could navigate the most pressing challenges, from the Kurdish issue to corruption, to economic mismanagement, and he did. The people loved him for this reason and supported him at the ballot box.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS – Turkey & Coronavirus: Divided We Stand

By Burak Bekdil April 23, 2020

Coronavirus guidelines posted in Istanbul, photo by Maurice Flesier via Wikimedia Commons –  BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,539, April 23, 2020 – ISRAEL

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Erdoğan government in Turkey has banned fundraising efforts to fight the coronavirus in municipalities controlled by the opposition. It has frozen the bank accounts of the city of Istanbul and of soup kitchens, shut down hastily constructed coronavirus field hospitals, and cut off free bread distribution—all in opposition-controlled areas. The pandemic has forcefully reminded Turks how divided they remain—a division that is stopping them from coming together to stem a potential catastrophe that is national, not ideological.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : ERDOGAN’S WEAK  MONEY

 

Larger than expected rate cut raises pressure on Turkish lira

Turkey’s central bank surprised market watchers Wednesday with a significant interest rate cut to bolster the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, though analysts say the move poses inflationary risks.

A board showing the currency exchange rates of the US dollar and the Euro against Turkish lira is seen outside a currency exchange office in Istanbul, Turkey, May 23, 2019.  AL MONITOR – – Diego Cupolo is a freelance journalist and photographer based in Istanbul, Turkey. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Financial Times, Foreign Policy and The New Statesman, among other publications. Apr 22, 2020

ISTANBUL — Surprising market analysts, Turkey’s central bank lowered interest rates more than expected Wednesday in a measure to bolster cheap credit and moderate the economic impacts of the global coronavirus pandemic.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : Delayed S-400 activation could offer chance for Turkey-US ties to warm

Citing complications amid the coronavirus pandemic, Ankara has postponed the activation of its Russian-made S-400 missile systems, possibly opening an avenue to ease US-Turkey tensions.

Diego Cupolo – Diego Cupolo is a freelance journalist and photographer based in Istanbul, Turkey. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Financial Times, Foreign Policy and The New Statesman, among other publications. Apr 21, 2020  – AL MONITOR

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