Inflation eats into Turkey’s Eid feast

Inflation eats into Turkey’s Eid feast
Sellers of sacrificial animals eat lunch at a market in Istanbul ahead of Eid Al-Adha holiday amid concern over high inflation in Turkey. (AFP)
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Updated 09 July 2022

Inflation eats into Turkey’s Eid feast

Inflation eats into Turkey’s Eid feast
  • The price of food has soared by 93 percent in the past year, according to official data, with meat prices pushing even higher

ISTANBUL: With inflation in Turkey galloping, the sheep Gul Er buys every year for the festival of sacrifice in Istanbul looks agonizingly out of reach.

Prices have doubled or even tripled since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan began an unorthodox economic experiment last year that has seen Turks’ living standards suffer.

The young mother hopes to bargain down the price on one of the skimpiest-looking animals at a livestock fair held under white tents in a conservative corner of the city before the Kurban Bayrami (Eid Al-Adha) holiday.

“It is a sacred duty,” she said of buying a sheep, which along with oxen and goats are sacrificed, with the meat traditionally shared with the poor, friends and neighbors.

“But this year, prices are unaffordable,” Er said, the stench of thousands of animals mixing with the sounds of haggling in the heavy summer air, ahead of Saturday’s first full day of festivities.

Annual inflation in Turkey has officially reached 78.6 percent, although economists and many ordinary Turks doubt government data.

Even if the official figures are to be believed, that is higher than in any other emerging market and nearly 10 times the record levels rocking the European Union, where the cost of living is unleashing political crises.

An independent survey prepared by the ENAG group — and believed by most Turks — puts the annual inflation rate at 175 percent.

Besides clouding Erdogan’s chances in next year’s election, these figures spell trouble for the merchants at the Istanbul animal fair.

Turkey’s agricultural chambers union chief Semsi Bayraktar expects sales to fall by a quarter this year.

Galip Toklu, a breeder who came to the 40,000-square-meter fair from the Black Sea city of Samsun, listed the ways inflation snowballs into seemingly endless problems.

The cost of animal feed has quadrupled while the amount he pays to drive his livestock to Istanbul has tripled since the last Kurban Bayrami, forcing Toklu to double the price of his meat.

“Last year, I sold 500 kg of beef for 20,000 liras. This year, I set my prices at 45,000 liras,” he said.

Yet few can now afford Toklu’s beef, while selling it any cheaper could put him out of business.

“Customers are unavoidably upset,” he said, his face sullen under a wide-brimmed hat.

While this year’s animal fair looks huge, its 160 tents are a fraction of the 500 erected in past years.

As the fair winds down, breeder Sinas Ates looks despondent, having failed to make a single sale in two days. Livestock farming in Turkey is “finished,” he grumbled.

Just like the sacrifice of sheep, Erdogan’s economic experiment — dubbed “Erdonomics” by skeptical global markets — is also linked to his faith.

High interest rates cause prices to rise, according to Erdogan’s logic, which contradicts accepted economic orthodoxy. So Erdogan has pushed the central bank to set interest rates even lower.

Analysts at Capital Economics in London see the possibility of a crash of the lira as “a major risk.”

At the market, Salih Yeter has responded to the crisis by coming out to look for the perfect sheep with seven friends, who will all contribute to the purchase.

“People usually can’t afford to eat meat,” the 57-year-old said, adding that giving away meat to the poor is particularly important in times of trouble.

The price of food has soared by 93 percent in the past year, according to official data, with meat prices pushing even higher.

This is especially painful for Er, whose daughter has a metabolic condition that restricts her to a meat diet.

“I can’t even respect my daughter’s diet,” the mother whispered.

But respect for the holy holiday’s traditions is binding, said Selahattin Kose, a Hajji from the eastern city of Erzurum.

“Prices have doubled, but we have to deal with it,” Kose said. “It’s Allah’s orders.”


Iran releases Iranian-French academic Adelkhah on furlough -lawyer

Updated 14 sec ago

Iran releases Iranian-French academic Adelkhah on furlough -lawyer

Iran releases Iranian-French academic Adelkhah on furlough -lawyer
DUBAI: Iran has released Iranian-French academic Fariba Adelkhah on furlough for five days, her lawyer told the Emtedad website on Tuesday, a day after Tehran and Washington wound up indirect talks in Vienna to revive a 2015 nuclear pact.
“We hope it (the furlough) will be extended,” Emtedad quoted Hojjat Kermani as saying.
Adelkhah, who is a resident of France and was arrested in 2019 while on a visit to Iran, was sentenced in 2020 to five years in prison on national security charges. She was moved to house arrest later, but in January was returned to jail.
Adelkab has denied the charges. France has called them “politically motivated” and repeatedly called for the release of Adelkhah, a researcher affiliated with Paris’s prestigious Sciences Po University.
Iran does not recognize dual nationality, saying the case is an Iranian domestic legal matter.
In March 2020, Iran released Adelkhah’s partner, French academic Roland Marchal, who was detained along with her, after France freed Iranian engineer Jalal Ruhollahnejad, detained over alleged violations of US sanctions against Tehran.

Turkish drone strike kills 4 in northeast Syria: Monitor

Turkish drone strike kills 4 in northeast Syria: Monitor
Ankara has launched successive military offensives in Syria. (File/AFP)
Updated 36 min 23 sec ago

Turkish drone strike kills 4 in northeast Syria: Monitor

Turkish drone strike kills 4 in northeast Syria: Monitor
  • Turkey has stepped up its drone strikes in Kurdish-controlled areas of Syria since a July 19 summit with Iran and Russia failed to greenlight a fresh offensive, according to Kurdish officials and the Observatory

BEIRUT: A Turkish drone strike Tuesday killed at least four people in a northeast Syrian city held by Kurdish forces, the latest in a flurry of attacks, a war monitor said.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack struck near a hospital in Qamishli, the defacto capital of a semi-autonomous Kurdish administration that runs large parts of the country’s northeast.
The four victims, all affiliated with the administration, were killed while they dug trenches near Turkey’s border in anticipation of a new offensive that Ankara has threatened to launch since May, the monitor said.
Ankara has launched successive military offensives in Syria. Most have targeted Kurdish militants that Ankara links to a group waging a decades-long insurgency against it.
Turkey has stepped up its drone strikes in Kurdish-controlled areas of Syria since a July 19 summit with Iran and Russia failed to greenlight a fresh offensive, according to Kurdish officials and the Observatory.
A Turkish drone strike on Qamishli at the weekend killed four people, including two siblings, said the Observatory.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have counted at least 13 of their members killed in several Turkish attacks since July 19.
Syria’s conflict that began in March 2011 has killed nearly half a million people and displaced half the country’s pre-war population.


Egyptian FM, Kazakh deputy FM discuss bilateral ties

Egyptian FM, Kazakh deputy FM discuss bilateral ties
Updated 52 min 48 sec ago

Egyptian FM, Kazakh deputy FM discuss bilateral ties

Egyptian FM, Kazakh deputy FM discuss bilateral ties
  • Shoukry praised Kazakhstan’s role in launching the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia
  • Tursunov emphasized the value that Kazakhstan places on relations with Egypt, and on the critical role that Cairo plays in the region

CAIRO: Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry received Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Adil Tursunov in Cairo.

They discussed issues of common interest and ways to enhance bilateral relations. Shoukry praised Kazakhstan’s role in launching the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, which aims to enhance security and stability on the continent, particularly with regard to terrorism, drug trafficking and weapons of mass destruction.

He and Tursunov highlighted the significance of developing cooperation between their nations in various fields, following up on the phone call between their presidents in February.

Tursunov emphasized the value that Kazakhstan places on relations with Egypt, and on the critical role that Cairo plays in the region.


Egyptian, Israeli leaders hold talks after Gaza truce

Egyptian, Israeli leaders hold talks after Gaza truce
Updated 09 August 2022

Egyptian, Israeli leaders hold talks after Gaza truce

Egyptian, Israeli leaders hold talks after Gaza truce
  • Yair Lapid thanks Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for Cairo’s mediation

CAIRO: Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid held talks following Sunday night’s Cairo-brokered truce between Israel and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, where fighting last week left at least 44 Palestinians dead, including 15 children.

During their phone call, El-Sisi said it is crucial to build on the current calm and take immediate steps to improve living conditions in Gaza and support Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Lapid reaffirmed Egypt’s role as a cornerstone for Middle East peace, expressing his gratitude for its effective mediation in recent days.

In a statement, Lapid said he and El-Sisi “talked about the importance of promoting and developing normalization between Israel and the countries of the region and the importance of dialogue for achieving stability in the region.”

They also discussed “important humanitarian issues for the two countries and the continuation of economic cooperation between them.”

The truce ended the worst fighting in Gaza since an 11-day war last year. Israel began its operation by assassinating an Islamic Jihad leader on Friday, and killed another of its leaders on Saturday.


Hezbollah warns Israel against targeting Palestinian militants in Lebanon

Hezbollah warns Israel against targeting Palestinian militants in Lebanon
Updated 09 August 2022

Hezbollah warns Israel against targeting Palestinian militants in Lebanon

Hezbollah warns Israel against targeting Palestinian militants in Lebanon
  • Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah: ‘Any attack on any human being will not go unpunished or unanswered’
  • Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz hinted at the possible targeting of Islamic Jihad officials abroad

The head of Lebanon’s powerful armed movement Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, warned on Tuesday against any Israeli attempts to expand their targeting of Palestinian militants to Lebanon.
“Any attack on any human being will not go unpunished or unanswered,” Nasrallah said in a televised address marking Ashura, a melancholic commemoration for Shiite Muslims of the killing the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Hussein.
The comments came after a flare-up in violence between Israel and the Islamic Jihad movement in the Gaza strip, prompted by Israel’s arrest of a senior Islamic Jihad leader earlier this month.
On Saturday, Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz hinted at the possible targeting of Islamic Jihad officials abroad, who he said could be seen in “restaurants and hotels in Tehran, Syria and Lebanon.”
“They too will have to pay the price,” Gantz said.
On Monday, a day after a truce brokered by Egypt ended the Gaza violence, he said Israel could carry out “pre-emptive strikes” abroad.
“In the future too, if necessary, we will deliver a pre-emptive strike in order to defend Israel’s citizens, sovereignty and infrastructure and this is true for all fronts, from Teheran to Khan Younis,” he said.
Iran-backed Hezbollah is vehemently opposed to Israel and tensions between the two have been escalating in recent months over a disputed maritime border between Lebanon and Israel.