Turkey Country Report Dec22 - December, 2022

December 5, 2022

On November 13, a bomb attack in Istiklal Avenue, the main pedestrian zone in Istanbul, killed six people and wounded 81. Turkey’s government is yet to come up with a logical explanation for the bomb attack. So far, no one has claimed responsibility and everyone is pointing the finger at their enemy.

Nevertheless, Turkey again turned into a land of violence following the bomb attack.

Turks are currently afraid of a repeat of the period of terror and violence that began with the June 2015 elections and ended with the introduction of the currently prevailing so-called “Turkish-type presidential system” in 2017.

Turkey’s government has been blaming the Kurdish PKK for the attack. It also on November 20 launched an air bombardment campaign in northern Syria and Iraq. It should be noted that this is not a military offensive on the ground – it is mainly for public relations purposes. The air space in the region is controlled by the US and Russia. Turkey is allowed to use ground forces in limited areas. The US-Russia duo also open the air space occasionally.

Also on November 20, a rocket hit Turkish police and military forces at Oncupinar border gate in Kilis province on the Syria border. Kurdish organisations were yet to claim responsibility.

On November 21, about a dozen rockets hit Karkamis town in Turkey’s Gaziantep province on the Syria border. Two civilians died, 19 were wounded. Kurdish organisations were yet to claim responsibility.

As of November 27, the current situation was calmer but the risk of a further escalation was clear.

Erdogan, meanwhile, on November 20 went to Qatar for the World Cup football finals. Turkey’s southern border was throughout his trip under bombardment. Perhaps, he went through Iran. It is interesting that Erdogan went to Indonesia for the G20 after the bomb attack and then went to watch the World Cup after Turkey launched the air strikes. The country is said to have entered another wrenching period of violence, but its president travels the world. Is the situation not serious enough for the cancellation of vacations?

When it comes to the Istanbul bombing, a woman, who is said to have accepted that she left the backpack that allegedly carried the bomb on a bench, is currently under arrest. In her testimony, she has reportedly said that she was not aware of the bomb and she thought that the backpack contained drugs.

She also allegedly stated in her testimony given in the police station and at the courthouse that she was in contact with PKK-affiliated organisations in northern Syria. The woman is not a Kurd and there are no Kurds among the dozens of suspects who were allegedly operating around her and who are currently under arrest or detention. Turkish government proxies suggest that the PKK established a proxy organisation of Arabs and that this bombing was the first operation of this group.

It should be noted that the Turkish state does not show a consensus on the PKK story. Some parts of the state mechanism have been criticising the government’s attempts to politicise the case via the mouths of some retired officials.

The PKK, on the other hand, rejected the claim that it was the perpetrator of the attack. The problem is that it has in the past rejected its responsibility for terror attacks that targeted civilians. However, later on, some so-called offshoots such as TAK claimed responsibility. The PKK’s proxies have been saying Turkey’s interior minister Suleyman Soylu is the actual perpetrator of the attack.

The Gulenists, meanwhile, are circulating the claim that President Erdogan ordered his intelligence chief Hakan Fidan to conduct the attack. In response to the accusations levelled by Soylu and Erdogan’s junior coalition partner, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), some US proxies have blamed the MHP for the attack.

If there is someone you don’t like, you are invited to blame them for the attack.

The whole scenario is plastered with speculations and manipulations. All the mentioned political structures, ranging from ‘imperial’ powers to the cheapest proxies, are anyway, by nature of being a political actors, mass murderers.

At the cost of contributing to the ocean of mis-, dis- and mal-information, it could be said that the woman detained as the alleged bomber and the people supposedly operating around her have come from regions in northern Syria that are currently held by Turkey-back jihadist groups.

There are many such groups in the region in question. They fight among each other. Some of them have a problem with Turkey’s government from time to time. They are professional and they work for different employers in different intervals. They also do piecework. If you do not like someone and have enough money, you can find a jihadist group in the region in question that would bomb the subject wherever they are around the globe. If the subject is in Turkey, the price will be relatively low as Turkey is their backyard.

The real question at the moment is whether this bombing will remain an isolated case or mark the start of a new reign of terror and violence.

The obvious but possibly erroneous thing to do is to tie everything to Turkey’s upcoming elections, but the inescapable fact is that the polls are due by June 2023. Nothing would be a surprise in the period beforehand.

Meanwhile, when it comes to the economic turmoil that is again forgotten thanks to the blood covering the canvas, Turkish exporters have again begun pleading for an even weaker lira. The bankers, meanwhile, are again weeping about financial repression. The bankers will wait at least until the elections but a currency devaluation could be on the cards.

Turkey’s central bank ended its rate-cutting cycle with a 150 bp reduction to 9%.

Turkey’s Treasury, meanwhile, sold $1.5bn of eurobonds due January 15, 2028 at a coupon rate of 9.87% and a yield to investor of 10%.

In the autumn refinancing season this year, nine Turkish banks were to roll over a combined sum of $6bn. So far, in five renewals, the rollover rates for five private banks have come in in the 60-70%s with the highest rate of 78% registered by Denizbank, a unit of Emirates NBD.

Government-run Turk Eximbank reported a 101% rollover rate.

The biggest “bull trap” (keriz silkeleme in Turkish) operations in the history of Borsa Istanbul continue apace.

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