Last week, the public agenda in Turkey has been busy with three main topics.
First was President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Qatar for the Supreme Strategic Committee meeting.
Second was the initiation of the court case against 16 Mossad agents who were arrested in the operation of the MIT (Turkish National Intelligence).
Third had been the currency crisis and the sudden drop in value of Turkish Lira.
Erdogan’s Qatar visit
President Erdogan paid an important two-day visit to Qatar on Monday, 06 of December.
Turkey and Qatar on Tuesday signed 15 different agreements to enhance cooperation between the two countries, while President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, met in Doha to co-chair the seventh meeting of the Turkey-Qatar Supreme Strategic Committee.
According to Sabah Newspaper – media outlet close to the Turkish government- the agreements covered several fields, including trade, investment, development, culture, youth, sports, diplomacy, health, religious affairs and media cooperation.
Doha-based Al Jazeera, which closely followed the visit, reported that the Qatari government had agreed to extend a currency swap agreement with Turkey, which Doha had tripled to $15bn last year.
Before departing from Doha, Erdogan visited the Turkish soldiers at the military base.
“We do not separate the security and stability of Qatar from that of our own country,” Erdogan said in a speech, mentioning Doha’s contributions to “Turkey’s investment, employment, production and export-oriented growth”.
After Erdogan’s visit to Qatar, the Minister of Interior of Turkey announced that more than 3000 Turkish policemen would be sent to Qatar to ensure security in the world cup to be held in Qatar in 2022.
Another issue hotly debated in Turkey following Erdogan’s visit to Qatar, was the possibility of selling ASELSAN, part of Turkey’s national defense industry, to the Qataris. No official statement has yet been made on the matter.
Lawsuit filed against arrested MOSSAD agents
A lawsuit was filed against 16 Mossad agents who were caught and arrested in the operation of the MIT, demanding up to 20 years in prison for the crime of ‘political and military espionage’.
According to the news of Sabah Newspaper, the judicial investigation carried out against 5 separate cells of the Mossad, consisting of 16 people, revealed by the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) has been completed.
Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has filed an indictment against 16 suspects, including medical school student Mohammed A. Salhab, who was instructed by face-to-face meetings with Mossad officials abroad, and Abdulkadir Barakat, a live courier at the center of money distribution to network members.
A prison sentence of between 15 and 20 years was requested about the suspects within the scope of the crime of “providing the State’s confidential information for the purpose of political or military espionage”.
No official statement has been made about the lawsuit filed by Israel yet.
Economic crisis deepens
The economic crisis that broke out in Turkey with President Erdogan’s refusal to raise interest rates continues to worsen.
While the Turkish lira continued to depreciate against the dollar and the euro, hikes in basic consumer goods began to come one after another.
The currency hit an all-time low, of 13.95 Lira against the US dollar in this week surpassing its previous record low last week of roughly 13.45, following renewed worries over the country’s monetary policy and concerns over the Covid-19 omicron variant.
The lira’s spiral down has been staggering, and plummeted from roughly 8.5 in late August this year to more than 13 Lira against the US dollar, within a mere three months.
According the Axios news, Turkey’s currency is fluctuating on a daily basis and has lost 45% of its value against the dollar this year. Investors are abandoning Turkish assets due to concerns about the Central Bank’s ability to control inflation. Ordinary citizens are rushing to convert their savings to foreign currencies and gold.
Erdogan has consistently backed a lowering in interest rates to reign in rising double-digit inflation, and the lira has plummeted in value in recent years largely as a result of that. Yearly inflation in Turkey is around 20%. Erdogan has decommissioned three central bank chiefs for not aligning with his doctrine of lowering interest rates.
While experts refrain from talking about how deep the crisis might deepen, opposition parties continue to call for early elections, citing the economic crisis.