Turkish inflation hits highest rate since 1998 at 73.5 percent

A worker arranges fruit for sale a food market in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, June 3, 2022. (AP)
A worker arranges fruit for sale a food market in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, June 3, 2022. (AP)
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Updated 04 June 2022

Turkish inflation hits highest rate since 1998 at 73.5 percent

A worker arranges fruit for sale a food market in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, June 3, 2022. (AP)
  • Ukraine ambassador says Turkey among destinations of grain stolen by Russia
  • Transport prices jumped by 107.6% in May while food was up 91.6%

ANKARA: Turkey’s inflation climbed to its highest level since 1998, hitting an annual 73.5 percent in May, official data showed on Friday, an issue dogging President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of elections next year.

Critics have blamed the country’s economic woes on Erdogan’s unorthodox economic policy of pushing for lower interest rates to combat price rises.
The central bank refused again last week to raise its main rate, keeping it at 14 percent.
Soaring food and energy prices pushed inflation even higher last month.
Transport prices jumped by 107.6 percent in May while food was up 91.6 percent.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the coronavirus pandemic have exacerbated the energy price spikes and production bottlenecks.
With elections looming in June 2023, the opposition and many economists have accused the national statistics agency of deliberately underestimating the magnitude of inflation.
The Inflation Research Group, made up of independent Turkish economists, said on Friday that inflation actually accelerated by a whopping 160.8 percent, more than twice the official figure.
The statistics agency did not publish the detailed list of prices per product that serves as a basis for its calculations, a move that raised fresh doubts about the accuracy of official figures.
“According to my own observations, the gap between reality and what is measured has widened this month, with the goal of hiding impoverishment,” economist Murat Kubilay wrote on Twitter.
The country’s currency, meanwhile, has lost nearly 48 percent in value over the past year.
The collapse of the lira has pushed up the cost of energy imports and foreign investors are now turning away from the once-promising emerging market.
Rumors of military intervention in northern Syria further hit the value of the Turkish lira, which was at 16.49 to the dollar on Friday. The currency has lost nearly 48 percent in value over the past year.
Erdogan’s government has responded by using state banks to buy up liras in a bid to cut the currency’s losses.
Turkey has cut taxes on some goods and offered subsidies for electricity bills for vulnerable households but even this has failed to stem inflation.
There has also been speculation that the central bank sells dollars to stem the lira’s slide.
“If we don’t see change in policy the country faces a systemic economic crisis,” Timothy Ash, emerging markets strategist at BlueBay Asset Management, said on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Kyiv’s ambassador in Ankara said Turkish buyers were among those receiving grain that Russia stole from Ukraine, adding he has sought Turkey’s help to identify and capture individuals responsible for the shipments.
Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat supplies, while Russia also heavily exports fertilizer and Ukraine corn and sunflower oil.
But Ukrainian grain shipments from its Black Sea ports have stalled since Russia invaded, with some 20 million tons of grain stuck.
Ambassador Vasyl Bodnar said Russia was shipping the stolen grains out of Crimea, which it annexed in 2014, and added Kyiv was working with Turkey and Interpol to find the culprits.
“Russia is shamelessly stealing Ukrainian grains and getting it out from the invaded Crimea. These grains are being shipped to foreign countries, including Turkey,” he told reporters in Ankara.
“We have made our appeal for Turkey to help us and, upon the suggestion of the Turkish side, are launching criminal cases regarding those stealing and selling the grains,” he said.
The Ukrainian Embassy in Ankara later said the vessels that were involved in the stolen grains shipments were the Nadezhda, Finikia, Sormivskiy, Vera, and Mikhail Nenashev.
Reuters was not able to independently verify the embassy’s claims.
The Ukrainian Embassy in Beirut said this week Russia had sent its ally Syria some 100,000 tons of stolen wheat. The conflict has fueled a global food crisis, prompting the UN to pitch the plan to re-open shipping routes from Odesa and other Ukrainian ports.


UAE ranks 6th worldwide in InterNations expat survey

UAE ranks 6th worldwide in InterNations expat survey
Updated 18 sec ago

UAE ranks 6th worldwide in InterNations expat survey

UAE ranks 6th worldwide in InterNations expat survey
  • Emirates records top results in 4 out of 5 key pillars in this year’s report

ABU DHABI: The UAE has been ranked as the sixth best destination in the world for expatriates in 2022, according to InterNations.

In the annual Expat Insider survey, the German research firm examines every aspect of the expat experience in 181 countries.

The firm’s rankings are based on a range of factors, including language, bureaucracy, professional prospects, leisure options, travel, transport, job satisfaction, safety, healthcare, digital life, housing, wages and job safety, InterNations said.

This “Expat Insider 2022” report included the overall rankings of expatriate destination countries in terms of quality of life, ease of settling in, working abroad, personal finance and the availability of basic essentials.

Mexico was ranked first in 2022, followed by Indonesia in second, Taiwan in third, Portugal in fourth, and Spain in fifth.

While ranking sixth overall, UAE also ranked highly in four out of five key pillars and 11 out of 17 indexes.

It revealed that 94 percent of those surveyed felt safe in the UAE, while 86 percent were satisfied with the available government services.

Furthermore, 90 percent of respondents said that they can use cashless payments in the UAE.

Regarding health, 78 percent of respondents emphasized the ease of access to healthcare services in the country, while 79 percent of those surveyed said that living in the UAE improved their professional prospects.

About 85 percent of those polled said that not knowing the local language was not a barrier, and 83 percent of people said that administrative procedures are “simple and straightforward.”

The survey also found that 75 percent of people said the process of finding housing in the UAE was simple.

Lastly, 83 percent respondents said that it was simple to apply for a resident visa, making the UAE the world leader in this area.

 


Lebanese woman set on fire by husband in row over unwanted pregnancy dies in hospital

Lebanese woman set on fire by husband in row over unwanted pregnancy dies in hospital
Updated 17 August 2022

Lebanese woman set on fire by husband in row over unwanted pregnancy dies in hospital

Lebanese woman set on fire by husband in row over unwanted pregnancy dies in hospital
  • Hana Mohammed Khodor, 21, spent 11 days in intensive care being treated for burns to her entire body
  • Husband arrested as he was planning to flee the country

DUBAI: A pregnant Lebanese woman who was badly beaten and set on fire by her husband because she would not have an abortion died in hospital on Wednesday.
Hana Mohammed Khodor, 21, lost her fight for life at Al-Salam Hospital in northern Lebanon where she had been for the past 11 days.
A doctor from the hospital said on Tuesday that Khodor was admitted on Aug. 6 and had been receiving treatment for burns to her entire body.
He added that her unborn child died in the womb and had to be surgically removed, and described Khodor’s chances of survival as “very bleak.”
A family friend, Abdul Rahman Haddad, told Arab News that Khodor died on Wednesday. A hospital official confirmed the news and said her body had already been claimed by her family.
According to local media reports, Khodor’s husband, identified only by the initials A. A., beat his wife because she refused to abort their unborn child.
He was reported to have said the couple — who came from a poor background in the northern city of Tripoli — could not afford to raise it.
Speaking to Al-Jadeed TV on Tuesday, Khodor’s aunt said: “When she refused to abort the baby, he took her home and set her on fire using the gas cylinder.”
Haddad said A. A. had been arrested by Lebanese Internal Security Forces as he was planning to flee the country.
Prior to her death, Khodor’s family made several appeals for financial support to help pay for her hospital treatment, which included multiple operations and blood transfusions.
 


Iraqi PM calls meeting of senior politicians to end crisis

Iraqi PM calls meeting of senior politicians to end crisis
Updated 17 August 2022

Iraqi PM calls meeting of senior politicians to end crisis

Iraqi PM calls meeting of senior politicians to end crisis
  • The absence of al-Sadr's bloc effectively undermined Caretaker Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi's effort to resolve the 10-month crisis
  • Al-Sadr and his political rivals, the Iran-backed Shiite groups, have been at odds since after last year's parliamentary elections

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s caretaker prime minister called a meeting of senior political leaders and party representatives Wednesday, seeking a way out of a monthslong crisis amid a power struggle between rival Shiite blocs. But the party of influential Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr did not attend the gathering.
The absence of Al-Sadr’s bloc effectively undermined Caretaker Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s effort to resolve the 10-month crisis.
Al-Sadr and his political rivals, the Iran-backed Shiite groups, have been at odds since after last year’s parliamentary elections. Al-Sadr won the largest share of seats in the October vote but failed to form a majority government.
His bloc later resigned from parliament and his supporters last month stormed the parliament building in Baghdad. Al-Sadr has demanded that parliament be dissolved and early elections held.
Leaders of Iran-backed Shiite groups, Iraq’s Sunni and Kurdish political blocs, and the head of the country’s High Judicial Council attended Wednesday’s meeting, as did the UN special representative, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert.
After the meeting, a statement from Al-Kadhimi’s office said the discussions focused on possible solutions to the political crisis, prioritizing the maintaining of peace among Iraqis. Al-Sadr last Wednesday gave the judiciary a week to dissolve the legislature, to which it responded saying it has no authority to dissolve parliament.
On Saturday, he called on his followers to be ready to hold massive protests all over Iraq but then indefinitely postponed them after Iran-backed groups called for similar rallies the same day, saying he wants to preserve peace and that “Iraqi blood is invaluable” to him.
Al-Sadr’s Shiite rivals from the Coordination Framework, an alliance of Iran-backed parties, said earlier that parliament would have to convene to dissolve itself.


Iran ready to swap prisoners, urges US to free jailed Iranians

Iran ready to swap prisoners, urges US to free jailed Iranians
Updated 17 August 2022

Iran ready to swap prisoners, urges US to free jailed Iranians

Iran ready to swap prisoners, urges US to free jailed Iranians
  • Iran called on President Joe Biden’s administration to “act instead of performing theatrical shows”

DUBAI: Iran is ready to swap prisoners with the United States, its foreign ministry spokesman was quoted as saying on Wednesday, calling on President Joe Biden’s administration to “act instead of performing theatrical shows.”
Tehran has sought the release of over a dozen Iranians in the United States, including seven Iranian-American dual nationals, two Iranians with permanent US residency and four Iranian citizens with no legal status in the United States.
“We are ready to swap prisoners with Washington ... The US must release jailed Iranian citizens without any conditions,” the semi-official Fars news agency quoted foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani as saying.
On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken tweeted that Siamak Namazi had now spent 2,500 days “wrongfully detained” in Iran and Washington was determined to secure the freedom of all Americans held by its Middle East adversary.
Kanaani spoke as Tehran and Washington sought to revive a 2015 nuclear pact after lengthy negotiations. The European Union and United States said on Tuesday they were studying Iran’s response to what the EU has called its “final” proposal to save the deal, after Tehran called on Washington to show flexibility.


Israel, Turkey to restore full diplomatic ties

Israel, Turkey to restore full diplomatic ties
Updated 17 August 2022

Israel, Turkey to restore full diplomatic ties

Israel, Turkey to restore full diplomatic ties
  • Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the return of ambassadors “is important to improve bilateral ties”
  • But he cautioned that closer ties with Israel should not be interpreted as Ankara “giving up on the Palestinian cause”

JERUSALEM: Israel and Turkey announced the resumption of full diplomatic ties on Wednesday, following years of strained relations between the Mediterranean nations.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid hailed the diplomatic breakthrough as an “important asset for regional stability and very important economic news for the citizens of Israel.”
Lapid’s office said the diplomatic development will see ambassadors and consuls general posted to the two countries once more.
The announcement follows months of bilateral efforts to mend ties, with reciprocal visits by top officials.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the return of ambassadors “is important to improve bilateral ties.”
But he cautioned that closer ties with Israel should not be interpreted as Ankara “giving up on the Palestinian cause.”
Cavusoglu in May became the first Turkish foreign minister to visit Israel in 15 years, during a trip which also saw him meet the Palestinian leadership in the occupied West Bank.
During a landmark visit by Israeli President Isaac Herzog to Ankara two months earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan proclaimed their meeting marked “a turning point in our relations.”
Bilateral relations began to fray in 2008, following an Israeli military operation in Gaza.
Relations then froze after the deaths of 10 civilians following an Israeli raid on the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship, part of a flotilla trying to breach a blockade by carrying aid into Gaza in 2010.
A brief reconciliation lasted from 2016 until 2018, when ambassadors were withdrawn once again over the killing of Palestinians. More than 200 Gazans were shot dead by Israeli forces during border protests from 2018 to 2019.
Reconciliation publicly got underway after Herzog took office in July 2021.
The Israeli president on Wednesday said the full renewal of ties “will encourage greater economic relations, mutual tourism, and friendship between the Israeli and Turkish peoples.”
Despite the diplomatic differences in recent years, trade had continued and Turkey has remained a popular destination for Israeli tourists.
Israel however warned its citizens to return home in June, citing an Iranian assassination plot against its nationals in Istanbul.
Lapid then thanked Ankara for its cooperation on the issue and Israelis swiftly resumed their Turkish holidays.
Israel has been wary of upsetting regional allies over its decision to strengthen ties with Turkey, with Herzog dispatched to Cyprus and Greece ahead of his Ankara trip.
Turkey has meanwhile been keen to stress that its normalization with Israel could yield benefits for the Palestinians.
“As we have always said, we will continue to defend the rights of Palestinians,” Cavusoglu said on Wednesday.