Mysterious Gold Dealer's Testimony Puts Erdogan On Shaky Ground

Authored by M K Bhadrakumar via The Asia Times,

As on the soccer field in his youth, so in a tumultuous political career spanning four decades: Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has consistently shown his mettle as a fighter who won’t be satisfied with anything short of total victory

But in the battle that is now unfolding around him, and which is besieging him, there isn’t going to be a winner.

What is at stake is survival – the chance to live another day, even if in some ignominy. That much is clear from the opening testimony in a federal courtroom in New York on Wednesday from the Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who allegedly helped Tehran sidestep US sanctions to export oil with the connivance of corrupt Turkish high officials and then to launder the income.

When the principal accused becomes the star witness in a US court, he has possibly struck a deal with the authorities. The remaining ambiguity is with regard to when it was that Zarrab struck the deal – was it when he landed in Miami 18 months ago, ostensibly to show his young son around Disneyland, or before he was spirited out of Turkey to America on the express understanding that he’d get clemency for providing hard evidence to nail Erdogan.

Zarrab explained before the court the elaborate scheme he orchestrated to free “a few billion euros” of Iran’s sanctioned oil using funds deposited in the Turkish state-owned Halkbank which were used to buy gold that was subsequently smuggled to Dubai and sold for cash. (The FBI also nabbed a senior functionary of Halkbank, Hakan Atilla, who is on trial.)

Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab is shown in a court room sketch as he appears in Manhattan federal court in New York. Photo: Reuters / Jane Rosenberg

Zarrab named a confidant of Erdogan, the former Turkish Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan, as having taken bribes amounting to over US$60 million and also implicated Turkey’s Aktif Bank, which is part of a holding company headed at the time by Erdogan’s son-in-law, Berat Albayrak (the current energy minister). Zarrab is due to testify again. We have only seen the tip of the iceberg.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s main opposition leader, Kemal K?l?çdaro?lu, revealed on Tuesday that Erdo?an’s close circle – including his brother, his son and his executive assistant – made transactions worth around US$15 million to an off-shore company called Bellway Limited in the Isle of Man (a tax haven) in late 2011 and early 2012. Kilicdaroglu produced documentary evidence and promised to revert with more such disclosures.

Top Turkish officials and senior leaders of the ruling party have made the counter-allegation that all of this is a political conspiracy orchestrated by Islamist preacher Fetullah Gulen, who lives in the US. They say Gulen and his American mentors are making a second attempt to remove Erdogan from power after the failed military coup two years ago. The Turks believe that CIA officials sponsored Gulen’s exile in Philadelphia.

Evidently, the US establishment has been preparing the case file for quite some time – and the effort predates the Trump presidency.

The Turkish side have kept President Trump personally out of the firing line.

There is, in fact, an eerie similarity here to what the Russians have been saying – namely, that Trump himself desires a good working relationship with Russia and President Vladimir Putin, but, alas, the Washington establishment is pursuing a contrarian agenda.

Erdogan’s strategic defiance of Washington seriously hurts US interests. Without Turkey’s cooperation, America’s military presence in northern Syria is unsustainable. Turkey’s entente with Russia and Iran undermines US regional strategies.

Add to that Turkey’s S-400 missile deal with Russia, Erdogan’s hostility toward Israel and support of Qatar in its rift with Saudi Arabia, the downhill slide in Turkey’s relations with major European countries and its lackadaisical attitude toward NATO, and it’s not hard to see how the West might view Erdogan as a hurdle that must somehow be overcome.

Zarrab can help irreparably damage Erdogan’s reputation, and even implicate his family members and close aides as criminals.

Worse still, heavy penalties of billions of dollars could be levied on the Turkish banks involved, crippling the country’s economy. And sanctions could be imposed.

Suffice to say, Erdogan has a choice between capitulation or the desecration of the house he has built in a long and hugely successful political career. Time is running out. Erdogan is circling the wagons. He may feel tempted to ride the wings of Turkish nationalism. There is still no credible political figure who can seriously challenge him in Turkish politics. He is daring and charismatic. The next elections are due only in 2019.

But that is to cast an eye at the horizon.

Significantly, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson quietly digressed during a speech on trans-Atlantic relations in Washington on Tuesday to pose a riddle to no one in particular – whether Turkey would be better off partnering with Russia and Iran or aligning with the West.

On the eve of Zorrab’s testimony, Tillerson seemed to hint at a passage that Erdogan has not taken, toward a door that he has never opened – one that leads into the rose-garden.


Lurk Skywatcher FullHedge1 Sun, 12/03/2017 - 03:24 Permalink

Erdogan has a hamper of dirty laundry from the past few years that he could air in retaliation...His family was involved with buying ill gotten oil from ISIS and selling it to Israel.And he was party to the abbetting of ISIS by Obama et al, including the shooting down of a Russian jet in an act of war.I highly doubt that Erdogan is the one who is apprehensive in this situation.

In reply to by FullHedge1

Crazy Or Not Lurk Skywatcher Sun, 12/03/2017 - 05:56 Permalink

Ergo-dergo doesn't take delivery of S-400's until 2019,  if Gülen /CiA & other State actors are to make a power play the clock is ticking against air power. In the meanwhile Russian Irainian military alliance grows stronger giving Putin a capable proxy ground force (& local training camps). USA / Gülen already on the back foot must act swiftly to recover position while its still possible, KSA /Qatar funding destabilisations are affecting sponsored SFA/allied fighters & supply chain. The supply choke point is Turkey. With Chinese fighters  soon to backstop Russian interests in Syria the countdown is on. The Chinese SF may also be an indication of deployment of sensitive Chinese UAV mil. tech. to battlefield....Possibility of a brewing shitstorm - High. 

In reply to by Lurk Skywatcher

ScratInTheHat Crazy Or Not Sun, 12/03/2017 - 10:09 Permalink

"whether Turkey would be better off partnering with Russia and Iran or aligning with the West." That would be best for Russia and Iran! When Turkey is no longer alined with the west russia will take the Bosphorus and much of eastern Turkey. Russia has wanted that since it fell to Islam in the 15th century. Putin would be among the greatest leaders of Russia if he takes that! Iran wouldn't mind gaining some of eastern Turkey either! Turkey is about to get a lot smaller if Erdogan drops out of NATO. 

In reply to by Crazy Or Not

Crazy Or Not ScratInTheHat Sun, 12/03/2017 - 11:14 Permalink

"whether Turkey would be better off partnering with Russia and Iran...Winding the clock back and seeing the MEast under the Ottoman period - it was unified and aligned with purpose and stability. It's Western interests that have taken the area and spit it geographically with no thought to ethnic, cultural and racial allegiances (essentially a punishment by the British for the nerve in selling oil to a expanding German power -tinder to WWI). So the aftermath is the factionalized fragments that we have today, without an overreaching superpower to keep rivalries in check. Sure ALL eyes are turning East for their future, but in very different ways. USA seeks to tame, contain and control China. Europe seeks to level trade with her (delusionarily so), Russia seeks to spring board from her as an essential partner, and India seeks to be pulled up by the bootstraps. Latin America seeks to validate itself by exclusion of US via China, Africa pipedreams of its 1st world transition by her. NK protected by her.Russia secures its economic future by pipelining to China - so far on track. divesting itself of European dependence. Turkey is a critical bridge in the remaining supply to Europe (EU is unlikely to start a firefight in Turkey or Greece)...and even if such routes also carry Mid East supply in the future - they will remain property and control of alliances built now. Casino rules - House wins.Erdogan's 100% lost faith in NATO since the attempted coup, Russian advisors giving a heads-up warning has cost them an Ambassador or 2, but from Putin's play book it was worth it to bring Erdo on board. Shutting off power to Incirlik after coup attempt spoke volumes of relationships, which still remain tense, as has done the ongoing removal argument of Nuclear weapons to Rumania . To be clear Erdogan hates the Kurds - I mean really fucking hates them - I've sail cruised the Turkish coast a few times in Summer months (they're beautiful waters), but the roadblocks when driving back to the airport are like something from Judge Dredd - they don't fuck about. And this was pre-Syrian 2000's -2009. I can only imagine what they're like now. Kurds have been blowing up buses in Turkey since the 1970's   there's no sympathy for a Kurdish state in mainstream Turkish politics - so USA, and EU crossed some major lines when they went down that path and expected Erdogan to follow them (dangling a carrot of full EU integration). Since that unsurprisingly fell apart - (no way does EU want a border with Syria, Iraq, Iran ... Georgia & Armenia!!! Migrant & Jihadi Heaven!!!) ...since then Erdo has basically run full tilt into the embrace of Putin - and he will do well, probably economically better under Putin's tutorage than the doubledealing he's experienced until now. Of course there'll be a war, and if it goes the distance Turkey's going to be tank country when East faces West. But China is the global manufacurer now, so until USA crashes the working class to Chinese subsistance levels, China will remain the default go-to for tech. consumables etc. and you don't go to war with your technical power base. So coup's, leverage and hard and soft diplomacy has a ways to go yet, and Erdgo's in good hands for info. certainly better than before.

In reply to by ScratInTheHat

BobEore Francis Marx Sun, 12/03/2017 - 06:34 Permalink

You've not been following things too closely I gather; the sanctification of the neo-liberal phony Islamist guy with the mug remarkably like another gold-lubber we all knowbegan in late summer 2016... when... after the coup he engineered against... himself  in the aftermath of the REAL COUP IN JUNE by which an Sraeli-Russo strategic alliance took power outta of his hands, a complicit press - which had buried the real story of the events of that summer as reported byreal reporters, on the ground... got busy following instructions from HQ in the s e Med to create a fake news storyline blaming Merika for the phony coup... posing Russia as the savior of all humanity, leaving Srael altogether out of the picture... and making the guy who created the first official TERROR STATE in the modern mold which Srael has mapped out forall OF YOUSE TOOS... INTO SOME KINDA HERO for wanting to recreate the medieval Ottoman heritage of jihad and genocide....all over agin! And that's why "general Flynn" is a 'saint' too - in the bizarro world of the altmedia gatekeepers and such... cause he hangs with the right peeple and only takes slush fund money from people whose motives are noble, charitable, and in no way related to skullduggery or corruption.Now yu know... back to our broadcast of broadly spread farm materials.
delivered... of course... to the greater good of all humankind~!

In reply to by Francis Marx

BobEore HowdyDoody Sun, 12/03/2017 - 09:15 Permalink

Err ya. ... now your're making some progress.When I gave the world a peek into the outlines of the phony coup... some 8 months before it actually happened...…

"These gentlemen are Gendarmerie officers, NOT "Regular Army officers" - the distinction is critical here. Although formally a part of the Turkish Army, this component is the fault line which the faction in control in Ankara will exploit to gain mentioned objective. Gendarmerie command reports directly to the Minister of the Interior-not Army General Staff, in all but training matters. This puts their command structure not just in a state of potential conflict of interest, but also allows the would be Caliph to open the attack on the Army without a direct frontal assault.Classic byzantine intrigue and turkish de-light left hook."

and then followed it up with the most trenchant analysis of what his military would ... and would not do, in Syria, three months later... originally published Feb 19 2016]that would reach the west... the reaction of the gatekeepin mediaz was to steal my story and post it WITHOUT ATTRIBUTION... calling it a "TOP SECRET RAW INTELLIGENCE REPORT ON TURKEY SYRIA AND IRAQ" [SEE embedded google docs copy of their re-publishing my report Feb 2016 - here and... collusion with the rest of the medias... suppress the real story of the phony coup as it proceeded to unfold... as was reported on from ground level... by myself. what the hell could someone like myself know about affairs in the muddled east - compared to someone like YOURSELF... REPORTING to us from the master of the universe console in your living room... with a mastery of intelligence gathering no mere reporter at the scene of a story could ever hope ... to compete with huh? This is really... truly... the weekend of 'GRASPING AT STRAWS'... for you merikan exceptionalist dudes huh?. Now/// please please please...tell me what "I'M FORGETTING" again?!?!?

In reply to by HowdyDoody

BobEore 1 Alabama Sun, 12/03/2017 - 15:27 Permalink

And suddenly...

what a surprise... as the bright guys with all the answers... and NONE of the facts...

realize that Bob is working them... slowly... into the corner where the paint never dries... and there's no further escape, for guys who once imagined that their bullshit games with the truth would simply

go on, forever.

Welll... let's just settle in... and watch paint NOT drying,
shall we?

In reply to by 1 Alabama

Number 9 Sat, 12/02/2017 - 23:07 Permalink

it is nice to see that the leaders of everything in this world is a bunch of lying cheating mudering thieving cunts..why am i not suprised?

Nobodys Home Number 9 Sat, 12/02/2017 - 23:56 Permalink

At least you're not wandering around looking for a free coffee in the halls of congress like Bernie does.

Maybe I should have voted for Jill (((Stein))). Who was pictured attending that nefarious dinner with Putin that Flynn attended. She was so above board with her recount push, until it backfired. Funny that...and she didn't even get a seaside home like Bernie did.

In reply to by Number 9

Nobodys Home Sat, 12/02/2017 - 23:21 Permalink

I live in ignominy. Why can't he?
What's ignominy?
You don't think my sneaky oil for gold money laundering scheme was awesome?
Israel seemed to like it. Iran loved it!
You must be a Guhlen supporter! I keel you!

But: Guhlen does seem like a whispy, sneaky character at best.
400 US charter schools funded by tax payers to do WHAT?...with a CIA handler to boot! Well I guess it must be ok;)

Conscious Reviver Catahoula Sat, 12/02/2017 - 23:55 Permalink

Helping Iran evade sanctions is going to hurt Erdo in Turkey exactly how? It won't. DC and Tel Aviv can get their panties in a bunch over it but it won't hurt Erdo. As far as sanctioning /fining Turkish banks, maybe that will happen, but like the sanctions on Iran, they will only hasten the demise of the dollar.The author sounds like a zino-troll / apparatchik.

In reply to by Catahoula

buzzsaw99 Sat, 12/02/2017 - 23:28 Permalink

the fbi can figure out what is going on halfway around the world and yet they have no idea, no idea whatsoever, about what is going on with hitlary's personal slush fund slash graft and corruption "charity", or her self cleaning servers, or the trail of bodies, or any of her crimes.  the fbi is a left leaning communist organization complicit in an endless array of conspiracies.

buzzsaw99 Nobodys Home Sat, 12/02/2017 - 23:57 Permalink

the entire apparatus is like a bunch of little clinton clones.  how in the fuck did a couple of backwater schmucks like bill and hillary mutate the entire god damn gubbermint into their own image?  how in the hell do a couple of fucking losers like that convert the whole fucking place into little fucking duplicate scumbags?  holy shit, it permeates the whole fucking thing.  it all reeks like skanky hillary snatch.  how in the hell did they do it?  it boggles the mind.  it befuddles me constantly.  it's like everything they touch gets infected by alien dna or some shit like that.  there isn't one clean microbe anywhere within a hundred miles.  they must have dirt on everybody.  they must have alien technology spying and prying into people's fucking heads or something.

In reply to by Nobodys Home

buzzsaw99 BlindMonkey Sun, 12/03/2017 - 10:01 Permalink

i considered that possibility and that may be the way it started but it's gone way beyond that now.  the clintons constantly do shit that is not in deep state's best interest.  they fuck up assets, bully people, even deep state's circle.  everybody acts like they are scared shitless of the clintons, even other presidents and former presidents.  i can't get my mind around it.  she must be long standing underworld boss of murder incorporated with connections to mind probe technology with added torture components or something.  in fact they act like she's more dangerous now than she was before which is even scarier.  i mean, the woman runs a blatant slush fund operation in broad daylight on times square with utter impunity while accusing others of the crimes she herself is committing before their very eyes.  good lord holy fuck good night irene.  this level of corruption cannot be cured, it is terminal.

In reply to by BlindMonkey