Could the Crisis in Turkey Impact US Policy in the Middle East?

by Jerry Gordon (January 2014)

Tayyip [Erdogan] Resign!!

arrested more than  52 persons in a wide-ranging corruption probe. Those arrested include some prominent persons and sons of AKP cabinet ministers on charges of bribery, illicit gold trading and payoffs on tenders for construction deals. The state-run Andalou News Agency cited the range of arrests and detentions, the outgrowth of a two year investigation:

Sixteen people, including the sons of two ministers, have been charged in connection with a sweeping corruption investigation targeting allies of the Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The conflict between the two Islamists allies: AKP Premier Erdogan versus Sheikh Gulen

dershane private school system operated by the GM that produced tens of millions in fee income. Their schools espoused the GM’s cultic Hizmat, World Islamic Order achieved through commitment of personal service, education and modernization. The national police in Turkey and the judiciary had been penetrated by Gulenists facilitating the corruption arrests. The GM also controls a major national newspaper, Today’s Zaman.

returned as Premier, if Erdogan is blocked. The previous Ottoman Caliphate that controlled vast swaths of the Middle East and North Africa ended with the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 that created the Republic of Turkey. The protests in Istanbul at Gezi Park, Ankara and other cities in June 2013 revealed vocal opposition in Turkey to Erdogan’s autocratic rule.

Fethullah Gulen: Is Islamic Cleric in Self-Exile Behind Turkey's High-Profile Arrests”?:

Tensions between the reclusive Muslim cleric and Erdogan have boiled over in recent months, and ultimately exploded after the Turkish government announced plans to outlaw private schools, including those run by the Gulen movement.

anti-government protests that swept across [Turkey’s largest] cities in May, Gülen said:

One European source knowledgeable about developments in Turkey wrote via email:

who fled into adjacent countries; Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Turkey has more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees. Further Turkey has served as the conduit for delivery of humanitarian aid and arms to adjacent rebel held areas in Syria.

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The Gulen US Connections

source there are more than 135 Gulen charter schools with an enrollment of 45,000 students in over 20 states in the US. The staffs of these US charter schools are manned by Turkish Gulenists who enter the US under the HI-B Visa program. There have been exposes on the US Gulen science academies in Texas and elsewhere published by the New York Times. We posted on FBI raids of a Gulen science academy in Louisiana. Because of the problems with the Gulen charter schools, many states have either passed or are considering legislation that would control the proportion of HI-B Visa staff employed at Gulen-sponsored charter schools. The Gulen movement charter school program has been supported by the Gates and Walton Family Foundations. The Walton Family Foundation contributed more than $1 million for Gulen schools in California, alone. Former President Bill Clinton has gone on record supporting the GM interfaith dialogue and educational development program in 2008. GM members were alleged to have contributed to Hillary Clinton’s failed Presidential Campaign in 2008.


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US Ambassador to Turkey, 

issued a statement refuting the allegation that the US was behind the graft probe to which the Turkish Foreign Ministry concurred. Sheikh Gulen we noted had denied any involvement although his followers had penetrated both the police and judiciary.

dismissed 25 police heads in the Istanbul police department in the midst of the corruption probe. He also withdrew a ranking prosecutor from implementing arrests in a second investigation that may involve his son Bilal and other insiders in money laundering to al Qaeda militias active in Syria via a shadowy Saudi billionaire.

Turkish Gen. Çevik Bir  was released by prosecutors giving rise to speculation that a possible Gulenist Secularist alliance may be in the offing directed at removing Erdogan.

decrying the government’s interference with the Judiciary in this “landmark” corruption probe and police purge. That comment by TÜSIAD’s leaders, reflected concerns over the weakening of the Turkish Lira in foreign exchange trading markets as reported by The Wall Street Journal, “Turkish Lira Falls to Fresh Lows.” The WSJ market report on December 20, 2013 noted, “Turkey's currency and bonds slumped again, dented by domestic and international stress that are piling further pressure on a central bank that is short on cash and lacking in investors' confidence. A Goldman Sachs emerging markets analyst, Sam Finkelstein cited the current domestic crisis not helping to assuage international investors’ confidence in Turkey’s economy, saying, “This political crisis is destabilizing, adding a set of dark clouds to an already difficult situation.”

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reshuffled his cabinet making 10 new appointments. The departing Environment Minister Bayraktar called upon Erdogan to resign implying that others close to the Premier had also been involved with some of the corruption. The following day further drop in the Turkish Lira in trading against major currencies.

Reza Zarrab — married to a popular Turkish singer — who was illegally trading with Iran. Zarrab is charged with bribing the sons of the Turkish ministers — some of Erdogan’s closest associates.

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What Lies Behind the Turkish Illicit Gold Trade with Iran?

arrested in the swirl of events in the current Turkish corruption scandal. Jonathan Schanzer and Mark Dubowitz of the Washington, DC-based Foundation for Defense of Democracy published an article in Foreign Policy Magazine (FPM) covering their research into the Turkey “gas for gold” scheme that the Obama Administration failed to stop, “Iran’s Turkish Gold Rush.” 

The drama surrounding two personalities are particularly eye-popping: Police reportedly discovered shoeboxes containing $4.5 million in the home of Suleyman Aslan, the CEO of state-owned Halkbank, and also arrested Reza Zarrab, an [Azeri] Iranian businessman who primarily deals in the gold trade, and who allegedly oversaw deals worth almost $10 billion last year alone.

buy gold with their Turkish lira — and that gold found its way back to Iranian coffers.

“Iran’s Golden Loophole” indicated the scope and impact of the ‘gas for gold’ scheme:

program. Since July 30, 2012, when the Obama administration issued an executive order prohibiting gold exports to the government of Iran, Iran has received over $6 billion in payment in gold for its energy exports—the value of the lack of enforcement of the golden loophole—mainly as gold payments to the Central Bank of Iran. These gold exports to the Central Bank of Iran already are a sanction able activity under existing U.S. law; gold exports to any entity in Iran will become sanction able as of July 1, 2013. This report estimates that, unless gold sanctions are enforced, Iran could receive up to $20 billion a year, representing around thirty percent of Iran’s projected 2013 energy exports.

Schanzer and Dubowitz questioned why Turkey, a NATO ally of the US, had engaged in the gold trade with Iran:

tightened sanctions on Iran's precious metals trade in July 2012.  

praised Halkbank for its “smart management decisions in recent years [that] have played an important role in Iranian-Turkish relations.” Halkbank insists that its role in these transactions was entirely legal.

insisted that Turkey only transferred gold to private Iranian citizens [perhaps a reference to Reza Zarrab]. The administration argued that, as a result, this wasn't an explicit violation of its executive order.

could exceed $119 billion — nine times the total of 'gas-for-gold' transactions reported.”

announced by AEOI head Ali Akbar Salehi. That prompted New Jersey Democrat US Senator Robert Menendez, Chairman of the powerful Foreign Relations Committee to  suggest to vacationing President Obama that the first order of business following the recess should be passage of the bi-partisan Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act of 2013 introduced on December 19, 2013. Then there is the question of payments for Russian contractors and personnel engaged in projects like the Arak heavy water reactor that would enable Iran to produce plutonium. And lest we not forget the waivers granted by the US in the Iranian oil trade with China and others. Clearly the current corruption probe in Turkey may lift the veil on covert transactions. They could have enabled Iran to continue, if not accelerate, achievement of their nuclear weapons program objective: nuclear hegemony destabilizing the Middle East and the World.

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Al Qaeda Connections in Erdogan Corruption Scandal

Yasin al-Qadi. Also involved was the Turkish intelligence service, (MIT) and Erdogan’s son Bilal. They conspired to use Muslim charities to channel funds to an al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, the Al-Nusrah Front. 

columnist, Emre Uslu present those allegations in articles, Turkey Scandal’s Al-Qaeda Angle and Yasin al-Qadi and the Erdogan Family.

Rubin in the Contentions blog post notes the al-Qadi/Erdogan connection and al Qaeda money laundering:

designated by the U.S. Treasury Department to be a “specially designated global terrorist.” Rather than distance himself from Zapsu, the prime minister doubled down and lent Qadi his personal endorsement.

column tells us when the al-Qadi/ Erdogan connections first surfaced:

security services still suspect him of having links to al-Qaeda networks.

Uslu tells what stopped Turkish prosecutors from arresting Qadi and Qutb:

listen to what the prosecutor had ordered.

It seems that the prosecutor had gotten evidence that made AKP officials so panicked that they blocked the whole investigation process and created a political crisis that has deeply affected the economy.

The West Speaks.


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