News Briefing 16 January 2017


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Deaths continue in Turkey’s south east

Two soldiers were killed and two were wounded in an operation in Turkey’s south eastern province of Bitlis targeting PKK militants. The operation began on the evening of Friday 12 January and lasted throughout the weekend. Two PKK militants are believed to have been killed and weapons were recovered, while six more were reportedly killed by air strikes. Losses among Turkish armed forces at home and in Syria continue to mount.


First round of voting for constitutional changes

The Turkish parliament voted to pass all 18 articles of the proposed amendments to the Turkish constitution. After a second round of voting, the changes will be put to a referendum. The controversial changes were passed thanks to an alliance between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).


Rebel former MHP MP writes open letter to CHP, criticizes MHP leader Bahceli and President Erdogan

Umit Ozdag, independent MP for Gaziantep, and well-known pundit, wrote a letter to the Republican People’s Party (CHP), warning against the constitutional changes currently being voted upon in parliament. Ozdag was expelled from the MHP last year for his opposition to the party’s cooperation with President Erdogan over the constitutional changes. His letter to the CHP strongly criticizes the leader of the MHP. Some reports suggest the letter implied the MHP leader was a traitor.


Controversy over Turkish plane crash in Kirgizstan

A cargo plane, belonging to the Turkish company, ACT Airlines, crashed whilst attempting to land at Bishkek airport, the capital of Kirgizstan. The reported death toll has varied from 16 to 40 in different reports. Some reports suggest the plane crashed into a village, causing deaths on the ground. Pro-government Turkish newspaper, Yeni Safak, has accused the BBC of spreading ‘fake news’ about the crash after it tweeted the plane was operated by Turkish Airlines. Yeni Safak said the BBC had sought to damage public perceptions of Turkish Airlines. Anti-Western sentiment and suspicion continue to run high among pro-government outlets in Turkey.


False report of rate increase causes temporary spike in lira value

A leading aid to President Erodgan was misreported as having called for an interest rate hike, causing the lira to increase 0.8%  in value to the dollar. The lira lost its gains when a clarification was issued. Commentators have been calling on Turkey to increase interest rates to remedy its current currency woes, something to which the government is firmly opposed. The lira remains near to its lowest rate to the dollar in over 10 years.


Further HDP MP receives effective life sentence

Prosecutors called for pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP for Diyarbakir, Nursel Aydogan, to be sentenced to 103 years in prison. Aydogan is on trial accused of carrying out propaganda for and being a member of a banned organisation, inciting hatred among the people, as well as other charges. Last week, prosecutors called for Co-Chair of the HDP, Figen Yuksekdag, to be sentenced to life in prison.


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Photo credit: Yeni Safak



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