Worldwide defense sales fell 3.3 percent in 2011 from a year ago, driven by governments’ spending priorities, weak Western economies, and withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, a report from consultancy Deloitte said.
The decline in defense contrasted with an overall 2.3 percent rise in global aerospace and defense revenues, helped by higher production rates of airliners, the 2011 Global Aerospace & Defense Industry performance wrap-up report showed.
Despite the rise in the headline revenue figure, many key financial results generally fell, “likely because of the predominant weighting of the defense sub-segment,” the report said.
European industry grew by 0.8 percent compared with U.S. industry’s 3.3 percent, a lower performance attributed to a difference in “incentives, management philosophies, and work force practice,” the report said.
Turkey is a paradox: it is secular and Islamic, modern and traditional, wants to be Western – yet tends to looks eastwards. But whatever Turkey is doing, it seems to be working.
Last year, Turkey emerged as a source of inspiration for countries in the Middle East during the Arab Spring; the country is now considered to be a regional superpower. Wherever Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan goes in the Arab world, he is mobbed by cheering crowds.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s dynamic economy is breaking records. In 2011, it became the fastest growing economy in Europe – and the second fastest in the world. Foreign businesses are queuing up to invest in Turkey.
Is it any wonder that the country is thus held up as “the model”, both for emerging economies and for Muslim-majority countries struggling with the transition to democracy? However, inside Turkey, some say liberal democracy and secular freedoms are under assault. There does seem to be a climate of fear in the country’s largest city. In Istanbul, I met nervous journalists and bloggers willing to speak only in hushed tones about the growing number of restrictions on free speech. Within 24 hours of our arrival, one of my Al Jazeera colleagues was detained by police officers, who went through his bag and rifled through one of our scripts. They loudly objected to a line referring to the country’s “increasingly authoritarian government”. Who says that Turks don’t do irony?
The Republic of Turkey now imprisons more journalists than any other country in the world; nearly 100 journalists are behind bars, according to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Yes, that’s right: modern, secular, Western-oriented Turkey, with its democratically elected government, has locked away more members of the press than the People’s Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Iran combined.
But this isn’t just about the press – students, academics, artists and opposition MPs have all recently been targeted for daring to speak out against the government of Prime Minister Erdogan and his mildly Islamist Justice and Development Party, or AKP. In February, Nuray Mert, a columnist for the Milliyet newspaper, was sacked and her TV show cancelled after she was publicly singled out for criticism by the prime minister. In May, Ali Akel, a conservative columnist for the pro-government newspaper Yeni Safak, was fired for daring to write a rare critical article about Erdogan’s handling of the Kurdish issue. In June, Fazil Say, one of Turkey’s leading classical pianists, was charged with “publicly insulting religious values that are adopted by a part of the nation” after he retweeted a few lines from a poem by the 11th century Persian poet, Omar Khayyam, that mocked the Islamic vision of heaven.
Say’s trial is scheduled for October, and, if convicted, the pianist faces up to 18 months in prison. The irony is not lost on those Turks who remember how Erdogan himself was imprisoned in 1998, when he was mayor of Istanbul, for reading out a provocative poem.
Erdogan, re-elected as prime minister for the second time in June 2011 and now considered the most powerful Turkish leader since Kemal Ataturk, has become intolerant of criticism and seems bent on crushing domestic opposition.
“He is Putinesque,” says Mehmet Karli, a law lecturer at Galatasaray University, referring to reports that Erdogan plans to emulate the Russian leader’s switch from prime minister to president and thereby become the longest-serving leader in Turkish history. “Yes, he wins elections,” adds Karli. “But he does not respect the rights of those who do not vote [for] or support him.”
Let’s be clear: Turkey in the pre-Erdogan era was no liberal democratic nirvana. Since its creation in 1923, the republic has had to endure three military coups against elected governments: in 1960, 1971, and 1980. The AKP government is the first to succeed in neutering the military – and should be praised for doing so. Meanwhile, the ruling party’s paranoia is not wholly unjustified either: Turkey’s constitutional court was just one vote from banning the AKP in 2008, and a series of alleged anti-government plots and conspiracies were exposed in 2010 and 2011.
“I am concerned by the numbers [of imprisoned journalists] but they’re not all innocent,” the AKP MP Nursuna Memecan tells me. “Many of them were plotting against the government.” It’s a line echoed by her party leader. “It is hard for western countries to understand the problem because they do not have journalists who engage in coup attempts and who support and invite coups,” declared Erdogan in a speech in January.
Perhaps. But the AKP’s crackdown on dissent, on basic freedoms of speech and expression, has gone beyond all civilised norms. “We do need to expand free speech in Turkey,” admits Memecan.
Those of us who have long argued that elected Islamist parties should not be denied the opportunity to govern invested great hope in Erdogan and the AKP. But the truth is that Turkey cannot be the model, the template, for post-revolutionary, Muslim-majority countries such as Tunisia and Egypt – until it first gets its own house in order. To inspire freedom abroad, the Turkish government must first guarantee freedom at home.
Turkey’s Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry has disclosed a new five-year strategic plan, which finalizes completion dates for key projects including Turkish-made tanks, aircraft, satellites, destroyers, and helicopters, in a bid to lift the country’s defense industry into a higher league.
Altay, the Turkish-made tank project, will be complete by the end of 2015, the plan says. The first Turkish destroyer will be delivered in 2016. Atak, an attack helicopter, and Anka, an unmanned aerial vehicle, will be delivered in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
More than 280 projects have been carried out since 2011, according to the new 2012-2016 strategic plan. The total value of the contracts the undersecretariat signed last year was about $27.3 billion.
Top 10 Within Five Years
The plan envisages Turkey’s defense industry entering the top 10 worldwide within five years. The total turnover target for defense and aerospace industry exports for 2016 is $2 billion, out of an overall industry turnover of $8 billion, according to the plan.
Turkey will establish liaison offices in the Middle East, the Far East, the U.S., the Caucasus-Central Asia, and in Europe (EU-NATO). The undersecretariat will encourage collaboration between prime contractors, sub-industries, and small and medium enterprises, with universities and research institutions improving the technological base.
The Turkish government will support the establishment of testing and certification centers that meet international standards, in order to meet non-military and non-public sector demands. A land vehicle test center, a high-speed wind tunnel, an aerial vehicle flight test field, a missile systems test field, a satellite assembly center, and an integration and testing center will be among these facilities, according to the strategic plan.
Arms Projects Timetable
The strategic defense plan has laid out dates for the deadlines to manufacture the first domestically produced prototypes in the local defense industry.
A radar observation satellite will be ready by 2016.
The third-generation of the main battle tank, Altay, will be manufactured by the end of 2015.
The first destroyer will be delivered to the Turkish Navy by the end of 2016. Studies regarding development of a submarine will be completed by 2015.
Atak, a national attack helicopter, will be delivered by 2013. An all-purpose helicopter will be delivered by the end of 2016.
The mass production of a national infantry rifle starts in July.
Hürkuş, a training aircraft designed by TUSAŞ, and Anka, an unmanned aerial vehicle, will be delivered to the Turkish Air Force by the end of 2015 and 2014 respectively. And a jet motor prototype will be ready by 2016.
Long-range and medium-range anti-tank rocket systems will be in the inventory of the Turkish army by the end of 2012 and 2013 respectively.
Semi Active Laser Guided Missile, CIRIT, will be mass produced and integrated to ATAKs by the end of 2013.
Low and medium altitude air defense systems will be designed by the end of 2016.
In an effort to boost defense industry exports to Islamic states, Turkey has recently sold 10 mini drones to Qatar, a senior procurement official said Sunday.
The small unmanned aerial vehicles (SUAVs) were exported under a general agreement made during the International Defense Fair (IDEF), which convened in Istanbul May 2011, for the sale of Turkish defense goods to Qatar worth $120 million within a year.
This $2.5 million sale will become the first export of SUAVs by Turkey, and they will also be the first drones in Qatar’s inventory. The SUAVs, called “Bayraktar,” are made by Baykar Makina, which also produces the “Malazgirt” mini helicopter and the tactical “Çaldıran” unmanned aerial vehicle.
Turkey, which sold defense goods worth over $1 billion abroad in 2011, has recently attempted to bolster defense exports to Islamic countries.
In a separate development, the first drone to have been built entirely domestically by Turkey, the Anka, will compete in an international tender held by Colombia, even before entering service in Turkey, another senior procurement official said.
The Anka, Turkey’s first locally-made drone in the medium-altitude and long-endurance category, was successful in last year’s flight tests.
After crash landing in its first two attempts, the Anka successfully flew in the final two trials.
Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan has announced that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government’s export target this year is to earn $149 billion in revenue from goods sold to overseas markets.
Speaking to the Anatolia news agency, the minister made comparisons between Turkey and other economies, particularly those in Europe, with respect to a number of key indicators such as gross domestic product (GDP) growth, the unemployment rate, the budget deficit and the ratio of public debt to GDP, concluding that 2011 was an excellent year for the country. In the field of exports, he noted that the government is optimistic about meeting the 2023 republic centennial’s target of $500 billion. To that end, he noted that this year’s target has been set at just below $150 billion. “Thanks to the strategies we will follow, we expect our volume of exports to top $149 billion and our imports to be at $248 billion by the end of this year,” he said.
Turkey’s main exports are motor vehicles, petrochemicals and textile products. It has a trade relationship with almost all nations around the world, but the country’s largest trading partner and export market is the European Union, with which it has a customs union. The 27-member bloc accounts for nearly 45 percent of all of Turkey’s trade overseas, down from over 50 percent a decade ago.
The volume of exports in 2011 will be announced by the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TİM) on Monday, but it will take another two months before the assembly’s annual import figures will be announced by the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat).
According to the most recent data available, Turkey’s foreign trade deficit — the main reason for its wide current account deficit (CAD) — dropped by nearly 3 percent to $7.53 billion in November of last year from $7.75 billion in the same month of 2010. The same year-on-year evaluation by TurkStat indicated that the country’s exports expanded by 18.5 percent while its imports grew by only 8.8 percent in November. This is mainly due to the weakening of the lira against the US dollar for most of that particular month.
With the decline in the country’s foreign trade deficit expected to continue, it is also likely its CAD will shrink as well. Turkey’s CAD dropped to $4.2 billion in October of last year, nearly 35 percent lower than what it had been a month earlier.
The United States and Turkish governments in many senses rediscovered each other in 2011, achieving constructive engagement — especially in the aftermath of the people’s revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa.
In stark contrast, the previous year Ankara irked many in Washington with its relatively accommodating stance vis-à-vis Tehran. Deep tactical differences between the two governments on how to deal with Iran’s controversial nuclear program yielded to Turkey’s decision to cast a no vote for sanctions on Iran in the UN Security Council. The US, in return, raised its concerns publicly and privately to a point where there were untypically harsh exchanges between US President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a meeting on the sidelines of a G-20 summit in Toronto. Amidst serious doubts about the direction of Turkey, some American observers even speculated the country was changing its traditional Western trajectory
US-Turkish official relations miraculously recovering from that low point and quickly ascending to one of its best periods in history this year can mainly be attributed to the so-called Arab Spring. Despite initial confusion, both governments eventually adopted a pro-change strategy in the region and found reliable partners in each other. Turkey — with its increasing appeal to the Arab Street and improved political influence — actively helped many US goals such as ousting the Col. Gaddafi regime in Libya and boosting pressure on the Assad regime in Syria. Turkey considers its US ties important for securing its interests in the regional power play evident between an Iran-led Shiite bloc and Sunni nations. In a dramatic twist of events, Ankara undoubtedly positioned itself with the US and other Western allies by agreeing to host a critical NATO missile defense radar that Iran sees as a threat. Iran, in return, is using its influence in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to block Turkish reintegration with the rest of the region for the first time since the collapse of the Ottoman state.
Iraq, once a subject of deep resentment between the US and Turkey due to Washington’s unilateral occupation and Ankara’s hesitation to support it, has turned into a crucial ground for cooperation. In the aftermath of the American troop withdrawal, both governments want to see a unified and stable Iraq. In the event that the country breaks up, Turkey’s enhanced economic, political and social ties with the Kurdish north closely allied with Washington would serve as a cushion. The US government has proved sensitive to Turkey’s national security concerns regarding the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which uses the mountains in northern Iraq as a safe haven for its terrorists. Intelligence aid provided to Turkey will not be interrupted by the halt of US operations in Iraq. Four US surveillance drones have been transferred to the US air base in İncirlik, Adana, and have been operating from there. In November, the US Congress approved the sale of three SuperCobra attack helicopters to Turkey.
Historically, the most difficult terrain for Turkey in Washington has been Capitol Hill. 2011 was no exception, especially given the political sensitivities aroused by Turkey’s seriously deteriorated relations with Israel. Pro-Israel forces joined with traditionally hostile elements such as the Armenian and Greek lobbies to make life difficult for Turkey in the US Congress. However, as usual, the US House of Representatives fell short of passing a resolution marking the events of 1915 as the “Armenian genocide.” The House adopted Resolution 306 in December that urged Turkey to safeguard its Christian heritage and return confiscated Christian properties.
On the other hand, the Obama administration applauded an August decree by the Erdoğan government that invited non-Muslims to reclaim churches and synagogues that were confiscated 75 years ago. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which had initially blocked Francis Ricciardone’s appointment as US ambassador to Ankara, approved the nomination in September. What is remarkable was the fact that despite the rift with Israel, the closest US ally in the Middle East, Washington was able to improve its relations with Ankara on a separate track, while urging restraint to both sides. Even Ankara’s veiled threats to Tel Aviv over its cooperation with the Greek Cypriot government on natural gas exploration in a coastal area disputed by the Turkish Cypriots received a relatively muted response from Washington.
President Obama and Prime Minister Erdoğan personally invested generously in bilateral relations and have largely been instrumental in setting the current positive tone from atop. Perhaps only second to his British counterpart, President Obama has frequently called Erdoğan to consult and reflect on the developments in the region. Obama has made it clear he attaches a special value to relations with Turkey by making Ankara one of his first foreign destinations upon assuming office. Obama and Erdoğan were quick to recover from the hiccups of 2010 and built a cordial relationship, unparalleled by any American and Turkish leaders.
At the lower levels of bureaucracy, especially at the State Department, suspicions concerning Turkey’s relatively independent foreign policy linger to some extent. Likewise, American ambitions in the region keep Turkish cynicism alive in a nation where the US government’s public image remains low. However, Turkish officials are relieved by the visibly improved level and frequency of official consultations. It’s very rare for both the US president and vice president to visit a foreign nation in the same term. Vice President Joe Biden’s successful visit to Turkey in early December only reaffirmed the positive trend in US-Turkish relations.
From Afghanistan to the Balkans, from Central Asia to Africa, Turkey’s dynamic foreign policy and growing economic clout is increasingly regarded as an asset by the Americans. When the US is confronted by hurdles in continuing its military dominance and faces resistance from local populations, an emerging Turkey provides a useful venue for many American political and economic projects. Turkey’s improving democracy and strong security ties with the West — despite diminishing prospects for EU membership — serve as an antidote to the clash of civilizations that the US is also trying to avert. Apparently there is no better ally than Turkey practically and ideologically to counter anti-Western radical and terrorist movements emanating from the Muslim world. However, a lack of meaningful trade between the two countries and relatively poor public knowledge remains a mutual challenge.
Shortly after the production of an all-Turkish-made rifle was introduced on Wednesday, Turkey announced plans to beef up its missile defense system, as concerns simmer over the recent flare-up in regional conflicts.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) to develop a long-range missile shield which will be built by Turkish industries.
On Wednesday, along with the prime minister, 13 ministers attended a high-level meeting of the Science and Technology High Council and discussed boosting Turkey’s defense industry, including developing a long-range missile shield. According to a report appearing in the Habertürk daily on Thursday, Erdoğan referred to Iran as one example, saying that Iran successfully developed long-range missile systems with a range up to 2,500 km relying on its their sources.
Although Turkey already has a missile system of its own, it has produced only short range missiles that have range up to 150 km, while Iran has conventional long range missile systems, including the Shahab 3 and the Sejil, which could be used to hit Israel and U.S. bases in the Middle East. Despite the fact that it has conventional superiority over most neighbors, Turkey has ignored the development of its own ballistic systems for a long time and has been heavily relying on NATO systems in that field. The main objective of the Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry (SSM) is to produce a long-range missile system that has a range up to 2,500 km in the near future.
Erdoğan also noted in the meeting that Turkey began mass production of ATAK helicopters in 2013 which were designed in Turkey and will be the first helicopter built by the Turkish defense industry.
Additionally, the products of the Defense Research and Development Institute (SAGE) in the defense industry will be commercialized just like in the US, and are expected to contribute to Turkish economy, according decisions made during the meeting, the daily reported.
For the first time in republican history, a Turkish firm produced a domestic rifle for the Turkish military which was 100 percent built and designed with domestic technology. With the sponsorship of SSM, Kale Kalıp and the Turkish Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation (MKE) jointly manufactured a rifle that passed Turkish Land Forces tests.
Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have discussed the fight against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and its Iranian offshoot, the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), and have agreed to cooperate to ensure the security of their common border, a news report said on Monday.
Barzani had talks with Khamenei during a visit to Tehran on Sunday. The Iranian supreme leader told Barzani that Iran and Iraqi Kurds must closely cooperate against terrorism, Turkish private broadcaster NTV said.
Khamenei added that terrorist groups use Iraqi soil as a base for attacks on neighboring countries and urged joint measures to ensure border security. Barzani, for his part, agreed to Iran’s cooperation proposal for border security.
Barzani’s visit to Tehran comes before his planned trip to Turkey, slated for later this week. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who will meet Barzani on Saturday, Nov. 5, said in the wake of a deadly PKK attack on Oct. 19 that he asked Barzani to visit Turkey in order to discuss cooperation against the PKK. A total of 24 Turkish soldiers were killed in that attack in Hakkari, near the Iraqi border, prompting Turkey to launch a cross-border offensive into northern Iraq.
The PKK and PJAK use their bases in northern Iraq for attacks on Turkey and Iran. Lately, the PKK has said PJAK militants were withdrawn from Iranian territory back to the terrorist group’s main base in Kandil Mountains in northern Iraq.
The Iraqi Kurdish administration, which runs northern Iraq, condemned the Oct. 19 attack, saying it is also an attack on Turkish-Kurdish brotherhood. Barzani’s visit to Iran also comes as the US prepares for a troop withdrawal from Iraq by the end of 2011.
US President Barack Obama plans to withdraw his 40,000 troops from Iraq by the end of the year after negotiations on keeping some forces there as trainers for Iraqi security forces failed, a move some US politicians say could give Tehran more room to assert its influence.
Khamenei hailed the coming withdrawal of US troops from neighboring Iraq as a “golden” victory.
“The uniform stance of all tribes and religions in Iraq over America’s pressure to get legal immunity for its occupying servicemen, and ultimately the coercion of America to exit Iraq, constitute a golden page in that country’s history,” Khamenei was quoted as saying by Reuters after the meeting.
The global financial turmoil is an opportunity for Brazil and Turkey to boost economic cooperation and ease the impact of the crisis, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said on Oct. 7.
Despite the bruising impact of the global shake-up, Turkey and Brazil are among countries that continued to grow, Rousseff said speaking at a Turkish-Brazilian business forum hosted by the Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey (TUSKON).
“Turkey and Brazil are two strong countries that can ensure that the G-20 group revises its economic policies. If we look at the capacity of our countries, we can see that the economic crisis brings us an opportunity to expand relations to find ways to ease the effects of the situation,” Rousseff said.
Brazil could open the door to Latin America for Turkey and Turkey could open the door for Brazil to Europe, Asia and the Middle East, she added.
“We must encourage all economic activities between the two countries” Rousseff said, stressing that the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil could serve as an investment opportunity for the Turkish tourism and construction sector.
“We will hold talks to boost ties between Turkey and Brazil during our meetings in Brazil in November,” Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan said at the business forum. If Turkish businesspeople want to make business in North America, then they should focus on Brazil, he said.
In addition to Turkey and Brazil’s agreement on defense, it would also benefit the countries to boost cooperation in science and health, he said at a joint press conference with President Abdullah Gül on Oct. 7.