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★ February 14, 2021, 13 Turks were killed in a cave in northern Iraq during a Turkish military operation against the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party.
While Turkey said that the Kurdistan Workers Party killed the 13 Turks abducted over several years, some claimed that the Turkish bombings resulted in their deaths. Although President Erdoğan's administration said that they were all civilians, 13 included the Turkish military, police, and intelligent officials.
Turkeys Ministry of Defense officials said all but one of the captives died from a bullet to the head.
NATO's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg condemned the killings on February 17.
The initial U.S. reaction to the deaths had wording that doubted that the Kurdistan Workers Party carried out the killings, which infuriated the Turkish administration. Later, the U.S. changed the words describing the killings and directly blamed the Kurdistan Workers Party.
The rebel Kurdistan Workers Party has been active since the early 1990s. It has bases in mountainous northern Iraq bordering Turkey.
The European Union and the U.S. have the Kurdistan Workers Party on a list of terrorist organizations.
★ In related news, the main opposition Republican Peoples Party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu blamed president Erdoğan for the deaths of the 13 Turks in Iraq.
"You launch a rescue operation, and all the captives die. Someone needs to assume responsibility and resign," Kılıçdaroğlu said.
"Erdoğan doesn't even care about the deaths of 13 people. Turkey sees how he has fun and is enjoying himself," he said, urging everyone to watch Erdoğan's rally in the Black Sea province of Rize to see "how he laughed and told jokes."
★ The ruling Justice and Development Party administration has been prosecuting many politicians from the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party for several years.
In the latest move, this week government asked the parliament to remove the immunity of more parliamentarians. The government accuses the politicians of supporting the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party.
Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister Ann Linde said on February 16, 2021, Sweden is deeply worried to see the arrest of scores of people in Turkey. Reports indicate that some 718 people were detained across Turkey on February 15 following the death of 13 Turks in northern Iraq.
The Nationalist Action Party, the junior coalition partner with Mr. Erdoğan, has been calling for some time for the closure of the People's Democratic Party.
★ Protests against the appointment of a president with a presidential decree are continuing at the Boğaziçi University. Both the students and the professors want the president chosen with an election.
In an article related to the conflict published last month on the Brookings Institute website, Kemal Kirişci wrote that Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's war on the West has now turned inward and started taking on the Turkish academia.
Kirişci started the article by saying the following:
"I am writing this article in despair. Not because my alma mater, Boğaziçi University--one of the most prestigious universities in Turkey where I taught for almost 25 years--has been the target of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's latest invective. Not because I find the reactions from the Boğaziçi community lacking in any way to Erdoğan's unfair accusation that theirs is 'a failed institution because it did not align with national or local values' (read: Islamist and provincial.) My former colleagues responded with the kind of sound arguments and respectful language that can only come from those who believe in freedom of thought, critical thinking, and civility."
He continued and said:
"I am writing in despair because all the arguments in favor of academic values, science, and critical thinking will surely fall on deaf ears in the current Turkish administration."
Kemal Kirişci is currently and nonresident Senior fellow at the foreign policy Center on the United States and Europe, the Turkey project. Before joining Brookings, Kirişci was a professor of international relations and held the Jean Monnet Chair in European integration in the department of political science and international relations at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul.
★ Speaking of the Brookings Institute, the Nationalist Action Party leader Devlet Bahçeli criticize a report on U.S. Turkish relations for threatening the Turkish government.
The far-right Nationalist Action Party is the junior coalition partner with the ruling Justice and Development Party.
Nicholas Danforth penned the six-page article as the senior visiting fellow at the German Marshall Fund. The article was titled Between cooperation and containment: new U.S. policies for a new Turkey.
In the introduction to the article Nicholas Danforth writes the following:
"Put simply, the Turkish government views the United States as a strategic threat rather than an ally, and a growing majority in Washington have come to view Turkey the same way."
In the conclusion and recommendations section of the article, Danforth summarizes the recent history of U.S. thinking:
"For the last four years, the debate over U.S. policy toward Turkey has been between those who want to get tough with Erdoğan and those who continue to seek new avenues for engagement. This debate will likely continue within the Biden administration."
He then recommends three courses of action:
1-Plan around Turkey
2-Coordinate with partners to counter Turkish provocations where necessary
3-Leave the door open for cooperation where possible
★ According to the daily Duvar, Turkey has hired a U.S. lobbying firm in an attempt to remain in the F-35 jet fighter program. U.S. and NATO excluded Turkey from the program over its purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system, Euronews Turkish service reported February 18, 2021.
A Turkey-based entity, SSTEK Defense Industry Technologies, has hired Arnold & Porter for $750,000 for six months.
Earlier in February Pentagon said that the Joe Biden administration would not lift the Donald Trump administration's ban on Turkey for buying F-35 jet fighters.
However, The U.S. is still allowing Turkish firms to manufacture and supply parts to the F-35 program.
★ Istanbul Metropolitan area mayoralty has been in the opposition hands since June 2019. The ruling Justice and Development Party of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said to be putting impediments in the path of Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu to make him fail.
After the election, Turkish state banks abruptly stopped extending loans to the municipality. Before the elections, for 25 years, Mr. Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party and its Islamist predecessor Welfare Party have held the municipality.
In the funeral of the former Istanbul mayor Kadri Topbas, Mayor İmamoğlu met briefly with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and asked him to things:
1-Approval of municipality's request to raise money in the Eurobond market, and
2-Assistance in purchasing new buses for public transportation. The last time the municipality purchased buses was eight years ago, the mayor said.
★ On February 18, 2021, the Ministry of Health of Turkey announced that more than 5 million Turks out of 80 million received the Chinese Sinovac coronavirus vaccine since the vaccination campaign started January 14, 2021.
Around 900,000 vaccine recipients, including senior government officials, received a second dose.
The official death toll so far from the pandemic stands at 27,000. However, many experts say that the government deliberately undercounts the deaths, and the actual figure is ten times higher.
Also, despite vaccinations, daily infections still hover between 6000 to 8000, causing concern.
In related news, Turkish president Erdoğan announced that in March 2021, a gradual normalization process would start, and weekend lockdowns would stop province by province depending on the COVID-19 infection numbers.
★ The workload that COVID-19 has brought with it has left Turkish doctors on the verge of burnout, as 2,412 of them quit their jobs between March and September of 2020, reports the daily Duvar. Resident doctors have been the ones who shouldered the heaviest burden during this period, with several of them pushed to work 36 hours straight.
Turkish Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca disclosed the numbers in response to a parliamentary inquiry filed by the main opposition Republican Peoples Party.
★ Central Bank of Turkey held interest rates steady at 17% as expected on February 18 and kept up a hawkish tone, promising tighter policy if needed to rein in inflation that has risen to 15%, Reuters reports.
The new governor of the bank hiked the interest rates in November and December. The Turkish lira climbed down from eight liras per dollar to around seven.
The bank said they are planning to keep their tight monetary policy until inflation falls to 5%.
Although the government statistical agency says inflation is 15%, independent economists claim it is more like 35%.
ARTS AND CULTURE
★ Iconic action film star Jason Statham's movie shoot for the film "Five Eyes" has helped the Antalya businesses, the Turkish daily Duvar reports. The local business owners had been suffering financially amid the pandemic.
Directed by Guy Richie,
Jason Statham's film crew subsidized around 200 businesses during filming in the Mediterranean province of Antalya, Turkish news agencies reported.
"They gave business owners something, and it helped them make up for losses they may have had because of the shoot.
"What really matters is that a Hollywood movie will advertise Kaleiçi district to the world," Antalya Kaleiçi Business Owners and Hotel Managers Association Chair Hasan Yetgil said.
A business owner in Kaleiçi said that the small fees given to them by the film crew were helpful during the pandemic.
The crew was spotted filming in the historic Kaleiçi district, central Republic Square, and the open-air exhibit grounds Expo Antalya.
★ A group of fans wearing fezzes and chanting "We walk on your path" greeted the fourth-generation grandson of Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamit II, Abdülhamit Kayıhan Osmanoğlu, as he arrived in Istanbul on February 10, 2021.
Abdülhamit's fans are members of an organization that the grandson leads, called Organizations of the Great State that celebrates Ottoman culture. They met to mark the 103rd anniversary of the sultan's death.
"We walk in your path my sultan!" the crowds are heard chanting in the recently-surfaced footage outside of the Istanbul mausoleum for Abdulhamit II, accompanied by a janissary band. A janissary band was a traditional Ottoman music ensemble formed to cheer the empire's troops to war.
Led by the sultan's grandson, the crowd marched to the Hagia Sophia. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2020 opened all parts of the ancient place of worship to Muslim worship, prompting outrage globally. The Byzantines built the Hagia Sophia as a church in six century. When the Ottomans captured Constantinople – modern-day Istanbul – in 1453, Sultan Mehmet the second converted it to a mosque. Eight years after the establishment of the Turkish Republic, the Turkish government closed the mosque in 1931. Four years later, the government re-opened it as a Museum.
★ Turkish photographer Dilek Uyar's In Epicenter of COVID-19 series has won the International Photography Awards' Discovery of the Year Award 2020 in the Deeper Perspective category.
The series portrays patients and healthcare staff battling the COVID-19 disease, and the series caused quite a stir in the international photography community.
Uyar said that one of the world's best photographers, Steve McCurry -- the man behind the Afghan Girl portrait featured on the cover of National Geographic magazine -- was the one who announced the winner.
"IPA Discovery of Year, which is above all categories, is mine. My hands are shaking, I cannot believe it," she wrote on her Twitter account.
Uyar is a lawyer but has been taking pictures for ten years now. She has won numerous prizes from prestigious organizations for her photographs.
During the coronavirus outbreak, she has photographed the Turkish capital Ankara's streets and documented the municipality's disinfection works. Metropolitan Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş has even shared many of Uyar's photographs on his social media accounts.
The International Photography Awards is recognized around the globe as one of the most influential and comprehensive events in the photography world today.
★ As the 93rd Academy Awards Ceremony is fast approaching despite being delayed this year, Istanbul Modern Cinema is presenting a selection of 10 films from the Best International Feature category.
Last year, for the first time in its history, a foreign film won the Best Film award of the cutthroat Oscar race. Yet this exciting category of the Best International Feature mostly concerns world cinema.
These films represent different geographies and cultures that are still the "other" to Hollywood, despite having been nominated for the Oscars and have been shown at, and won awards from various world festivals.
The program will be screened online free of charge and will end on March 8, 2021.
★ The Endowment for Social Research Culture and Arts has launched a series of panel discussions titled "Near-Term Journey of Protest Music in Turkey," the daily Cumhuriyet reports. The panel discussions will focus on the protest music in Turkey from the 1970s until today.
The music writer Murat Meriç will moderate the talks. Musicians who took part in the stages, squares, and protests will participate.
Bülent Forta and Zülfü Livaneli will be guests of the talk series on February 21. The program will continue on February 28 with İlkay Akkaya, Tolga Çandar, and Ali Asker.
The talks will end on March 7 with Taner Öngür, Çağrı Sinci, and Murder King.
The endowment city will hold the talks live through Zoom. Those who would like to attend can register by filling the participation form or by calling the telephone number of the endowment Kadıköy Branch.
★ Public is discussing effects of the pandemic on art and the artist through the exhibition
Anew, the daily Cumhuriyet reports.
The authorities have renovated and opened the exhibition hall in Ataşehir Municipality Cemal Süreya Activity Center to contemporary art.
As part of this, Prof. Dr. Marcus Graf is curating the exhibition
Anew. The event will open its doors to art lovers on February 24.
Anew discusses how to proceed from the point we are finding ourselves and what role visual art can play in shaping the "new normal." By asking how we can shape a new relationship with the world, the exhibition reviews nature, culture, politics, the city, and the relationships with other people.
The artists at the exhibition reflect critically on the questions of "how we can relate to nature again, how we can reintegrate into society," and "how we can take part in reconnecting with the world constructively and positively."
Ataşehir Mayor Battal İlgezdi said, "We did not stop any of our culture and art activities during the pandemic period. We had to close our cultural centers to visit, considering the health of our people, but we took our activities to our people by moving them to the digital environment."
The exhibition will be through April 14, 2021.
★ The Fourth International Women Directors Festival has announced that it will show 45 local and 40 foreign films from 23 countries, the daily Cumhuriyet reports.
The festival will have the theme "Superheroism" and the slogan "We Can't Fit."
The event has reached an international dimension this year. The British public will view a selection of Turkish films in the UK through collaboration with the University of East Anglia and the British Turkish Women Association. Likewise, Kosovars will watch festival films through the Kosovo Reality Association.
The public can watch the World Cinema selection, consisting of 16 short and medium-length films, online on the festival website between March 1-7.
Between April 26 and May 5, 2021, there will be screenings of movies from Turkey and the Balkans. Between June 25 - 30, 2021, the organizers will have an awards ceremony in Izmir, taking into account the pandemic conditions.
In addition to films, the festival will include panels, interviews, and workshop activities. Also, the film directors will participate in online meetings.
This year, 150 films from 30 countries applied to the 4th International Women Directors Festival. In the competitive Balkan selection, the festival jury will evaluate 24 films in the full-length, documentary, and short-film categories.
★ Turkish agency Milyon Yapım launched a project titled "Every Home A Stage" for musicians who cannot make money due to the pandemic, the daily Cumhuriyet reports.
240 musicians will perform 24 hours of uninterrupted live concerts from their homes for ten days starting on February 28, 2021. The organizers will divide the income from the ticket sales equally among the participating musicians.
During the concerts, each artist will have a 45-minute online performance on the ticketed event platform Sosyo.
Tickets for the "Every home A Stage" event will be only $1.25 in local currency.
Many renowned artists and bands are supporting the project with their videos. Some of them are Moğollar, Manga, Gazapizm, Flört, Buray, and Gripin.
★ Görkem Şen is on Gary Numan's new album with a musical instrument he developed, and he signed a partnership agreement with him. Yaybahar is the name of the new instrument. Şen later developed more musical instruments such as Darbbahar and Şanbahar.
Gary Numan is an English musician, singer, songwriter, composer, and record producer.
Three songs in Gary Numan's 19th studio album "Intruder" features Görkem Şen's Yaybahar instrument.
According to the Turkish magazine Bantmag, in introducing his partnership, Numan said that the instrument is the only kind in the world. And it is a source of pride for him to be able to feature it with its incredible sounds.
EXCHANGE RATE for the U.S. dollar in Turkish Liras: 6.97
High and Low Temperatures in Degrees F, Weather
Ankara, in central Turkey : 41/16 Partly Cloudy
Antalya, on the Mediterranean : 59/46 Partly Cloudy
Erzurum, in Eastern Turkey : 25/1 Partly Cloudy
Istanbul, in northwestern Turkey : 48/34 Partly Cloudy
Izmir, on the Aegean : 59/41 Partly Cloudy
Trabzon, on the Black Sea : 48/34 Partly Cloudy
Snow depths at skiing locations:
Erciyes in Kayseri, Central Turkey : 20 inches
Ilgaz in Kastamonu, North Central Turkey: 31 inches
Kartalkaya in Bolu, Western Turkey : 75 inches
Palandöken in Erzurum, Eastern Turkey : 49 inches
Uludağ in Bursa, Western Turkey : 43 inches
Sarıkamış in Kars, Eastern Turkey : 36 inches
Edited by Ertuğrul Korkmaz
* Results for week: 25
Rize - Erzurum 0 - 2
Trabzon - G. Antep 1 - 0
Karagümrük - Fenerbahçe 1 - 2
Kayseri - Ankaragücü 0 - 0
Hatay - Alanya 0 - 0
G. Saray - Kasımpaşa 2 - 1
Konya - Denizli 2 - 0
Göztepe - Başakşehir 2 - 1
Antalya - Malatya 1 - 1
G. Birliği - Beşiktaş 0 - 3
* In games played so far this weekend:
Başakşehir - Trabzon 0 - 1
Malatya - Konya 2 - 3
Denizli - G. Birliği 1 - 0
Kasımpaşa - Karagümrük 3 - 2
Alanya - G. Saray 0 - 1
* Standing in the league as of week ending 25
1 - G. Saray 54
2 - Beşiktaş 51
3 - Fenerbahçe 51
4 - Trabzon 48
5 - Alanya 42
6 - Hatay 39
7 - G. Antep 38
8 - Karagümrük 37
9 - Antalya 32
10 - Konya 30
11 - Malatya 30
12 - Göztepe 29
13 - Kasımpaşa 29
14 - Sivas 28
15 - Rize 26
16 - Kayseri 25
17 - Erzurum 25
18 - Başakşehir 24
19 - Denizli 21
20 - G. Birliği 20
21 - Ankaragücü 19
★ In the Euroleague basketball championships, Turkey's Fenerbahçe Germany's Alba Berlin 89 - 84. Fenerbahçe is in the sixth place, the top being Barcelona.
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