This article is a joint product of Rusorient and SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence
Between December 7 and 12, Turkish media paid close attention to the events in Iraq, the international coalition operations against the IS, discussions on SAM procurement, Erdogan’s visit to Turkmenistan, a phone conversation with Hollande and Erdogan’s appeal to Facebook management.
On December 7, international coalition aircraft attacked Syrian army positions. According to Cumhuriyet, 3 Syrian soldiers were killed and 13 wounded. Hurriyet and Vatan stated 4 were killed. According to Turkish media, the attack was not premeditated but rather the result of a mistake.
Turkey intensified negotiations with the French-Italian Eurosam consortium on buying SAMP-T air defense system. According to Aksam and Hurriyet, the decision was made after Turkey decided not to buy Chinese SAMs. Media reports emphasized the supposedly growing threat along Turkey’s borders and cited the foreign minister as saying this is a Turkish initiative to ensure own security above and beyond that which is provided by its NATO partners.
Turkish media widely covered Erdogan’s appeal to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. It was prompted by the anti-Muslim statements by Donald Trump, in response to which Zuckerberg expressed his own position and said that people ought to oppose attacks against any community. As a sign of solidarity, Erdogan expressed his support for Zuckerberg and noted the importance of separating terrorism from Islam.
On December 11, Erdogan began his visit to Turkmenistan. There is a trend of growing cooperation between the two countries. Aksam and Bugun cited Erdogan’s voicing of satisfaction with Turkmenistan’s policies. Upon his arrival, Erdogan talked by phone with Hollande. The two leaders discussed fighting terrorism and resolving regional problems, and exchanged opinions on the Paris Climate Conference.
The most frequently discussed topic in Turkish media are the events in Iraq. Reacting to sending of Turkish troops to the vicinity of Mosul, Iraq’s PM Haider al-Abadi said that Turkey buys oil from the IS and underscored the need to end the oil trade on terrorist-held territories. The opposition paper Cumhuriyet was the most extensive in covering criticism by the Iraqi PM. According to Milliyet, Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis said during a press conference that “we don’t support any military presence on Iraq’s territory.”
In December, 9, Erdogan met with the Iraqi Kurdistan day and on the following day there was a visit by Turkey’s MIT intelligence agency chief Hakan Fidan and deputy foreign minister Feridun Sinirlioglu to Iraq where they met Iraqi officials. Milliyet reports Turkish officials expressed their respect for Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. On December 10, PM Davutoglu held a phone conversation with Joe Biden concerning Turkey’s military contingent in Iraq. The media reported only on Davutoglu’s position. Erdogan also voiced his opinion on Iraq’s appeal to the UNSC. He called Iraq’s actions a “dishonest measure.” When reporting on the situation in Iraq, Turkish media are emphasizing the peaceful objective of Turkey’s forces in Iraq. The main arguments in favor of sending the troops were the training of Iraqi Kurds and Erdogan’s claims of “supposed” consent by Iraq authorities.