Turkey’s Erdogan won’t capitulate

As the countdown begins for the trial in a Manhattan federal court next week of the Turkish-Iranian millionaire gold trader Reza Zarrab over violations of US sanctions against Iran, Turkey is hardening its stance. President Recep Erdogan has said that Turkey cannot be prosecuted in a fake court. (See my article in Asia Times, Gold dealer’s testimony puts Erdogan on shaky ground.)

Importantly, on Friday, the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office issued an arrest warrant for a former top CIA official Graham Fuller alleging his involvement in the failed coup attempt in Turkey in July last year. The Turkish security is apparently in possession of information that Fuller was in the country during the coup attempt on July 15 and abruptly left after the coup failed. Fuller participated in a secret meeting of the coup plotters on July 15-16, which was held in the Buyukada Island in the Sea of Marmara off Istanbul.

For the first time, Ankara inches away from hinting that last year’s was a CIA-sponsored coup attempt, aimed at overthrowing Erdogan’s government. The government has alleged previously that the coup plotters intended to “eliminate” Erdogan.

This is an extremely serious development insofar as Turkey is, in effect, alleging that the spy agency of a major NATO ally, which swears by Article 5 of the alliance’s charter on collective security, actually conspired to overthrow its established government which enjoyed a democratic mandate.

From all indications, Turkish intelligence would have collected a lot of evidence regarding the coup before making the move to seek Fuller’s arrest. At least some of the evidence would also have been provided by friendly countries such as Russia and Iran. We will never know whether the Russian and Iranian intelligence are in possession of hard information pointing at CIA involvement in the coup attempt in Turkey, but the possibility cannot be ruled out. The Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif was constantly interacting telephonically with his Turkish counterpart through the fateful night of the coup attempt when things were on razor’s edge.

Ankara announced on Friday that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu will be attending the NATO Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Brussels on December 5-6. Cavusoglu is sure to bump into US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. One can only wish to be a fly on the wall at the NATO Hqs. Indeed, if the US plan is to leverage the Zarrab case to pressure Turkey to change course in its foreign policies and revert to its cold-war era role as the West’s junior partner in the region, it may boomarang. Turkey may be preparing to go on the offensive.

Make no mistake, Turkey will follow up on the arrest warrant for Fuller. Fuller was a mentor of the controversial Islamist preacher Fethullah Gulen. According to Turkish reports, Fuller had recommended Gulen’s application for the Green Card, which in turn enabled the latter to live in exile in the US for almost two decades after he fled Turkey in 1998. Turkish intelligence keeps a close tab on Gulen’s activities Ankara has often hinted that Gulen is actively in contact with the US establishment.

If Erdogan wants to hit the Americans hard, he won’t have to look beyond next-door Syria. Erdogan’s key advisor Ibrahim Kalin has written in the pro-government Sabah newspaper today that with the defeat of the ISIS, US has no justification to support the Syrian Kurds. To quote Kalin,

This question was discussed during a recent phone call between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Donald Trump on Nov. 24. Trump’s response was affirmative, adding that the huge military support the U.S. is providing to the YPG should have ended before. His statement was contradicted only a few days later by the Pentagon.

There is an implicit warning here that Turkey is drawing a red line. Kalin disclosed in the article that Pentagon is using the pictures of Kurdish women fighters to “romanticize” the US-Kurdish alliance. Kalin wrote, “[It is] a useful instrument to sell propaganda to Western audiences, but an affront to the female body and personality. Among the many ironies of this policy, this one is stunning: America’s best ally in Syria is a Marxist-Leninist terrorist organization that fights against Turkey, a key U.S. ally, and seeks autonomy and eventual independence in Syria.”

The Turkish intelligence has got through to the chief spokesman of the US-backed Kurdish alliance (known as the Syrian Democratic Front) Talal Silo who has “defected” to Turkey recently.  In an interview with the Anadolu news agency today, Silo has spilt the beans, exposing the Pentagon’s nefarious activities in Syria that threaten Turkish national security interests. The transcript of the interview is here.

Source: The Indian Punchline

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