Turkish Economy Targets 10th Place Worldwide by 2023


Ankara – The Turkish government aims to push its economy to the tenth place in the world, and the third in Europe by 2023. Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekçi stated that an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report issued last week showed that the Turkish economy has ranked 13th in the world and fifth in Europe.

According to the report, the GDP in Turkey hit $1.51 trillion based on purchasing power, compared with $1.5 trillion in Spain in 2012.

The minister pointed out that the time didn’t help rating agencies to renew speculation about the growth and development of the Turkish economy, noting that some agencies expected a growth of 2 percent in 2017, while others predicted a 2.8 percent, and 3 percent growth, yet, the economy grew by 5 percent in the first quarter.

Zeybekçi expected his country’s economy to grow between 5.1 and 5.5 percent in the second quarter, pointing out that growth would reach 7.5 percent in the third quarter.

According to the IMF report, the projected GDP in Turkey will reach $2.08 trillion by the end of 2017, followed by Italy with $2.3 trillion, France with $2.83 trillion, Britain with $2.91 trillion and Germany with $4.13 trillion. The report also estimated Turkey’s purchasing power in 2017 to stand at $25,780, compared with $16,900 in 2010. Turkey aims to raise the average income per capita from about $10,000 currently to $25,000 in 2023.

The trade volume of the Aegean region, western Turkey during the first half of this year hit about $21 billion. According to the customs department’s data, the value of exports to the Aegean region reached $10.667 billion during the first half of 2017, while imports were $10.449 billion.

The Aegean region is one of Turkey’s seven regions located in the western part of the country. It includes eight states: Izmir, Afyon, Aydin, Denizli, Manisa, Kutahya, Mugla and Oshak.

On the other hand, the Turkish Leather Exporters’ Federation announced that exports of Turkish leather amounted to $858 million during the last seven months of 2017, and the shoe sector acquired $470 million of them.

Shoe exports to the Russian Federation reached $18 million in the same period last year, while it surged by $129 to $41 million in 2017. As a result, the Russian market has become the second importer of Turkish shoes after Iraq.

“Exports of the Turkish shoe industry are increasing every year. Turkish shoes are exported to 160 countries, and we can exceed $1 billion in the short term,” said the federation’s chairman.

He pointed out that Russia is one of the most important markets in the Turkish shoe industry and will be participating for the first time at the Euro Shoes exhibition in Moscow in February and August of 2018.

Farouk Hanoglu, head of the shoes industry association in the Aegean region said that the shoe industry provides jobs for 200,000 people, adding that the exhibition and the quality of shoes made the Russian market top the export list.

On the other hand, Minister of Culture and Tourism of Turkey Numan Kurtulmuş said that the number of tourists who visited Turkey during the first six months of this year exceeded 15 million and that tourism income since the beginning of the year was over $9 billion.

He added that six million tourists visited Istanbul during the first seven months of this year, among them were 500,000 Germans.

Kurtulmuş explained that Turkey aims to boost the number of tourists to 50 million by 2023, and the tourism income to $50 billion.

The culture and tourism minister stressed the importance of work to diversify tourism in the country, noting that Turkey is already investing in various types of tourism, such as health, sports, religious, mountain, winter tourism and more.

Turkish Security Busts ISIS Cell in Istanbul


Ankara – Turkish counter-terrorism police busted on Tuesday a five-member cell linked with the terrorist ISIS organization during an operation in Istanbul.

Security sources said that the detention of the cell’s members was possible thanks to a collaboration between the security agency and the security general directorate of Istanbul, adding that members of the cell planned terrorist attacks in different locations in the megacity.

The sources said that the terrorists likely came from outside Istanbul. “In the apartment where the five terrorists resided in the region of Basaksehir, the anti-terrorism police found three guns, a silencer, various digital devices and documents related to ISIS,” the sources said.

The Turkish raid is one of the many preemptive operations conducted lately to foil terrorist plans before they are executed.

Since the beginning of this year, Turkey has carried out some 20,000 security crackdowns against terrorist organizations. The country’s security forces arrested more than thousands of terror suspects, with ISIS making up the majority of the detainees at 5,000 members.

The majority of the suspects, who were detained in raids carried out across the country, were foreign nationals. They also included dozens of ISIS members who were allegedly preparing to stage attacks in Turkey.

On New Year’s Eve, ISIS claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack when a gunman massacred at least 39 mostly foreign revelers at an Istanbul nightclub

A few days ago, the counter-terrorism police arrested three Iraqis on suspicion of affiliation to ISIS. One of the suspects was involved in the 2014 Speicher massacre in Iraq.

According to the latest security statistics, in the past five years, Turkish authorities deported more than 5,000 foreign members of terrorist organizations and prevented thousands from entering the country. Many planned on arriving in Turkey to join ISIS and then cross into the war zone of Syria.

Turkey’s interior ministry recently published a report listing the number of foreign nationals in ISIS ranks in the country with Tunisian nationals topping the list.

Deadly Freak Storm Hits Istanbul

A pedestrian carries a child in a pushchair as he crosses a street after a heavy downpour of rain and hail at Besiktas near Istanbul on July 27, 2017

A freak storm has caused injuries in Istanbul and shocking photos showed the damage to a passenger jet which was pummeled with hail stones and big as golf balls.

At least ten people have been injured as heavy rain, hail and strong winds knocked down trees and a stone wall and flooded streets in the Turkish city.

Sabah Daily reported an old cemetery wall adjacent to a busy street collapsing, wounding at least two people. Footage showed rescue crews and residents helping each other to remove the stones, looking for people who may have been trapped beneath the rubble.

The storm lasted just 20 minutes on Thursday evening but was enough to cause significant damage and flooding.

According to officials, 7,000 emergency workers were deployed to help in the aftermath of the storm which uprooted 230 trees, destroyed 90 roofs and sparked fires across the city.

Also, an explosion and a fire were caused when strong winds toppled a large crane that landed on oil barrels at a port. At least one person was injured in the fire.

Flights at Istanbul Atatürk International Airport were canceled and metro services were suspended, officials said.

Just nine days ago, Istanbul was pounded by heavy rains and winds of up to 50mph, which flooded streets and metro stations.

Turkey’s External Assets Surpass $219 Billion

Turkey’s external assets rose by 1.8 percent in the first five months of this year to reach $219.4 billion compared with the end of 2016, the Central Bank said this week.

The country’s liabilities against non-residents also increased by 11.4 percent to reach $638.9 billion over the same period, Central Bank data showed.

The net international investment position (NIIP) – the gap between Turkey’s assets abroad and liabilities – was minus $419.5 billion in May, while it was minus $358 billion at the end of last year.

In another economic development, leading banks in Germany, including Deutsche Bank – the country’s largest- have lined up to finance the third Istanbul airport project.

Previously, Deutsche Bank offered to refinance the first phase financing package for the İzmir-Istanbul highway project. The bank held talks with eight Turkish banks again, and the loan was renewed at a lower rate.

After the commissioning of the third airport in Istanbul, Istanbul Ataturk Airport will operate as an exhibition center, the Turkish Ministry of Transport, Maritime and Communications, said.

Meanwhile, a consortium that won the bid for the Çanakkale 1915 Bridge has two Korean contractors and Turkey’s leading groups Limak and Yapı Merkezi.

Export-Import Bank of Korea (Kexim) Turkey Chief Representative Ahn Sang-Seon said the consortium of banks to finance the project is expected to be formed in August or September and financing will be provided as soon as possible.

Sang-Seon said that Kexim, founded in 1976, has 28 agencies around the world and that they opened their agencies in Turkey three years ago. Yet, investments by Korean companies in Turkey are increasing and their targets are growing.

“We are here to support these investments,” added said.

Turkey Detains 44 Terrorists, Including Bomb Attack Planners

Ankara- Turkish police have detained 44 suspects in anti-terrorist operations, including the planners of two suicide bomb attacks in Istanbul last year, the city’s governor said on Thursday.

Twin bombs — one planted in a car and the other strapped to a suicide bomber — exploded in an attack outside the stadium of Besiktas soccer club in central Istanbul on Dec. 10, killing 44 people, including 37 policemen.

“One of the suspects detained in the operation had carried out reconaissance work before the December 2016 bombing, and had jumped and fled the car shortly before it was detonated,” Istanbul governor Vasip Sahin told reporters.

The other suspect detained has been identified as the organizer of a July 2016 attack against a police bus that killed 11 people, including civilians and police officers.

The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), claimed responsibility for both attacks.

Meanwhile, security forces continued to carry out large-scale operations across Turkey to foil any plot to carry out terrorist attacks during celebrations marking last year’s failed coup attempt.

Turkish anti-terror police arrested around 400 people suspected of belonging to ISIS, including foreigners, mainly Iraqis, who were plotting terrorist attacks during the celebrations.

Germany warned its citizens in Turkey on Wednesday to stay away from crowds during commemorations of the anniversary of the coup attempt.  

The warning was issued on the official website of Germany’s Federal Foreign Office.

The updated travel and security warning stated that some events could be held during commemorations across Turkey. It also warned German citizens to stay away from crowds and political rallies. 

The warning comes after the US Embassy issued a security message over the coup attempt commemorations across Turkey, advising US citizens to avoid demonstrations and large gatherings. 

“Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence,” it stated.

29 ISIS Terrorists Arrested in Turkey’s Istanbul


Turkish police arrested 29 suspected ISIS terrorists in raids in 20 different locations in the city of Istanbul, announced the state-run Anadolu news agency said on Friday.

Twenty-two of the detainees are foreign nationals, while the rest are Turkish. It did not disclose the details of the other nationalities.

All of the suspects were believed to have fought in ISIS ranks in Syria and were preparing to return to the neighboring country, added Anadolu.

Anti-terrorism police carried out operations in six city districts overnight, it said, adding that one unlicensed weapon and documents belonging to the terror group were found in the raids.

Thousands of foreign fighters have joined the militants in their self-proclaimed “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq in recent years, many of them passing through Turkey.

Turkey has been hit by a series of deadly attacks carried out by ISIS or Kurdish militants and has stepped up anti-terrorism operations across the country. Ankara has detained more than 5,000 ISIS suspects and deported some 3,290 foreign militants from 95 different countries in recent years, according to Turkish officials. It has also refused entry to at least 38,269 individuals.

On Wednesday, Turkish police detained six suspected ISIS terrorists for planning to attack a protest march led by the head of the secularist main opposition party.

In a separate operation on Wednesday, Turkish police detained another 37 ISIS suspects across Turkey, authorities said.

ISIS claimed responsibility for a New Year’s mass shooting at an Istanbul nightclub that killed 39 people.

Earlier, officials said suspected Kurdish militants have detonated an improvised explosive device in southeastern Turkey as the armored vehicle of a district official was passing by. No one was hurt in the attack.

The blast occurred Friday in the town of Baykan in the mostly Kurdish province of Siirt. It came days after two ruling party officials serving in district organizations were killed in attacks also blamed on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said an operation was launched in the area to catch the assailants, adding that such attacks would not “end (Turkey’s) patience and determination” in the fight against the PKK.

Turkey Condemns US Warning of Possible Istanbul Terror Attack


Ankara – A spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry slammed on Saturday a US consular warning of a possible terrorist attack in the city of Istanbul.

Hussein Mufti Oglu condemned the warning as not being based on any tangible intelligence, but on the activity of Turkish police and the intensified security forces patrols in the neighborhoods of Mecidiyekoy and Sisli.

“US authorities made this statement based on normal precautions taken by our security forces rather than any concrete intelligence.”

A US Consulate in Turkey has alerted its citizens of heightened security in the central Istanbul neighborhood of Mecidiyekoy and Sisli because of a possible terror threat.

The statement released late Friday said the Turkish security presence was increased in Mecidiyekoy and cited a specific street. It said the consulate didn’t have additional information on the specifics of the threat and asked American citizens to remain vigilant.

Istanbul is witnessing numerous security campaigns aimed at establishing stability and arresting terrorist suspects.

In a related development, security forces detained 11 suspected ISIS extremists in the southern Gaziantep district by the border with Syria.

The detainees, who include Syrians, were plotting a terror attack aimed at creating media uproar.

Turkish Authorities Demolish Most of Reina Nightclub


Authorities in Turkey have partially destroyed Reina nightclub, the site of the New Year ISIS attack that the claimed the lives of 39 revelers, announced Turkey’s state-run news agency.

The Anadolu Agency said most parts of the upscale Istanbul nightclub, on the shores of the Bosporus, were demolished Monday by the city’s municipality.

It cited a breach of construction regulations. Piles of rubble were left on the ground of the nightclub close to a bridge across the Bosporus. Only the entrance area of the club remained standing.

Anadolu reported that Reina employees were unaware of the demolition decision and arrived in the morning to see the destruction.

The surprise move came as questions remained on the future of the club that has been closed since the January 1 shooting. The dead included 25 foreign citizens.

The attacker, Abdulkadir Masharipov, an Uzbek citizen, is to go on trial for the attack on December 11.

Police captured him on January 17. ISIS said the attack was revenge for Turkish military involvement in Syria.

The attacker opened fire with an automatic rifle, throwing stun grenades to allow himself to reload and shooting the wounded on the ground. Among those killed in the attack were Turks and visitors from several Arab nations, India and Canada.

Last month, the United States revealed that a secret military ground operation killed an ISIS operative, a close associate of leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was linked to the Istanbul nightclub attack.

Ankara Police Kill 2 Suspected ISIS Members Plotting Attack

Turkish police on Sunday killed in a clash two suspected ISIS members believed to have been planning an attack in the capital Ankara, the regional governor said.

The two, in their 20s, were killed during a police operation on their residence in the Etimesgut district after a gunfight with officers, state-run news agency Anadolu quoted governor Ercan Topaca as saying.

It said the two men killed were believed to be planning an attack and police seized weapons and explosives in the apartment in the operation launched after a tip-off from a suspect detained in Istanbul.

Topaca told Anadolu at the scene of the raid that the detained suspect, an Azeri citizen, was still being questioned in Istanbul and was believed to have brought the two men to Ankara by car, Anadolu said.

The raid occurred ahead of the ruling AK Party’s congress in the city on Sunday, when it was expected to elect President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as leader after constitutional reforms approved last month in a referendum granting him sweeping new powers.

ISIS jihadists have been blamed for bomb and gun attacks in Turkey in the past, including an attack on Istanbul’s main airport which killed more than 40 people last June and a New Year’s Day shooting in Istanbul’s Reina nightclub that killed 39.

NATO member Turkey is part of the US-led coalition against ISIS and launched an incursion into Syria last August to drive the jihadist group and Kurdish militia fighters away from its borders.

Istanbul New Year Attack Suspect Faces 40 Life Sentences


Ankara – The General Prosecution in Turkey’s Istanbul city completed the indictment against the perpetrator of the attack against a nightclub in the city of New Year’s Eve that left 39 people dead and 69 wounded.

Prosecutors have demanded 40 life sentences and 2,397 days in jail against Uzbekistan citizen Abdulkadir Masharipov, who was captured in Istanbul in January after evading police for more than two weeks.

The ISIS militant group claimed responsibility for the mass shootings at the upscale Reina nightclub.

According to General Prosecution sources, the indictment included 57 accusations against the suspect.

Masharipov was arrested in Istanbul’s Esenyurt neighborhood on January 16. He was accompanied by an Iraqi and three women, one from Egypt, another from Somalia and the third from Senegal. It was claimed that ISIS presented the women to him as a reward for his success in the nightclub attack.

The suspect, who managed to evade arrest for two weeks, said that he received orders to carry out the attack from an ISIS leader in northern Syria. He was sent photographs and video footage from inside the club via a mobile app.

He revealed that Reina was not the terror group’s first choice as a target. It instead sought to carry out an attack in the Istanbul’s busy Taksim Square, but the heavy security in the area deterred it. Masharipov informed the group of the difficulty of the task and he was ordered two hours before the New Year attack to choose another target.

He was sent images of the Reina nightclub and he scouted the area before making his choice. He headed to his residence in Istanbul’s Zeytinburnu neighborhood to retrieve his weapons before returning to the club to carry out the attack.

The US army announced in April the death of Abdul Rahman al-Uzbeki, who is believed to have been also responsible for planning the Istanbul New Year attack.

A military spokesman said that the ISIS militant, who was killed by US forces on April 6, played a major role in the Reina attack and was responsible for recruiting militants to join the group and funding terror attacks. He was also involved in terror attacks outside of Iraq and Syria.