Corruption

Obama rejects proposal to meet Erdogan during Turkish leader’s visit to US

Obama

This is a cross-post from Sputnik

US President Barack Obama will not have a personal meeting with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan during Erdogan’s upcoming visit to the United States, media reported.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — A number of world leaders, including Erdogan, are expected to gather for the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS), due to run in the United States from March 31 to April 1.

Obama has rejected Erdogan’s request to participate in a joint event and the US leader has no plans to have a one-on-one meeting with his Turkish counterpart, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing US officials.

The newspaper added that Erdogan might have a personal meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden instead of Obama.

Obama is said to have only one-on-one meeting planned during the NSS, with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Ankara is one of Washington’s closest partners in the Middle East, assisting the US anti-terror struggle in the region.

Is Turkey ruled by a tyrant? We may soon have an answer

This is a cross-post from the Telegraph.

Woe betide any Turk who dares insult His Excellency President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

File photo: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses a labor union meeting in Ankara, Turkey

Turkey’s leader inhabits the world’s largest residential palace with 1,000 rooms and a floor area four times the size of Versailles. He delights in issuing instructions to his people, notably by telling Turkish women to ensure they produce at least three babies each. He calls Benjamin Netanyahu a “murderer” and Bashar al-Assad a “merciless killer”.

But woe betide any Turk who dares insult His Excellency President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. And by the way, in theory at least, he also wants to join the European Union.

Mr Erdogan is now trying to subdue every possible challenge to his rule. Troublesome journalists go straight to jail where they are joined by ordinary Turks found guilty of “insulting” their leader, in breach of the notorious Article 299 of the Penal Code.

After 14 years of dominance in Turkey, Mr Erdoğan has become one of the most quixotic and accomplished politicians of all. The question which divides his country is whether he is also dangerous.

Here in his home city of Istanbul, which he served as mayor in the Nineties, there are plenty of devout supporters of the president. Devout is the right word, for Mr Erdoğan embraces the religious faithful, the poor and the lower middle class. One Istanbul commentator – no friend of the president – acknowledges the personal charisma of a ruthless but intensely emotional man, who wept in public during his mother’s funeral.

Yet Mr Erdoğan’s behaviour rings more and more alarm bells. After his Justice and Development (AK) party won power in 2002, he broke the army’s grip on politics – and Turkey’s secular modernisers cheered him on.

But Mr Erdoğan is now trying to subdue every possible challenge to his rule.Troublesome journalists go straight to jail where they are joined by ordinary Turks found guilty of “insulting” their leader, in breach of the notorious Article 299 of the Penal Code.

These days, Mr Erdoğan denounces Vladimir Putin at every opportunity. But he has borrowed from the Russian’s political playbook by jumping from the prime ministership to the presidency in order to prolong his dominance.

Now Mr Erdoğan wants to complete this manoeuvre by rewriting the constitution to create an imperial presidency, tailor-made for his own ambitions. As for how long he aims to rule, he talks of being “ready for 2023” – the centenary of the republic’s birth.

So Turkey has an instinctively authoritarian leader who treats the constitution as a personal plaything and plans for decades of dominance. How can this not be dangerous?

Workers of the Zaman newspaper hold placards that read, 'free media can not be silenced' and 'Zaman wont be silenced' during a demonstration in 2014

Workers of the Zaman newspaper hold placards that read, ‘free media can not be silenced’ and ‘Zaman wont be silenced’ during a demonstration in 2014 

¶Terrorists strike in Istanbul from time to time – witness the suicide bombing outside Hagia Sophia in January – but visitors to this heaving metropolis find it easy to forget that one corner of Turkey is already engulfed in conflict. The old war between the Turkish state and Kurdish guerrillas has flared back to life with terrible consequences. A 28-year-old Kurdish journalist, Vildan Atmaca, told me what happened when she tried to reach the scene of a gun battle in the eastern province of Van.

“We tried to go there, but the security forces blocked us,” she said. “So we went to the hospital to speak to people who had been wounded. But the police chased us away from the hospital. Half an hour later, the police came to our office to arrest a reporter for writing ‘false news’. Then I was detained for ‘resisting arrest’.”

For the next six weeks, Ms Atmaca was behind bars in Van. She was not physically assaulted, but she had to endure constant verbal abuse from her guards – often of a sexual nature. Then she was freed on bail, pending trial for allegedly “spreading terrorist propaganda”. Speaking over the phone from a town in the epicentre of the conflict, Ms Atmaca told me: “There is no law, no justice and no democracy in Turkey.”

Family members of army officer Enes Demir mourn as they attend a funeral ceremony for Enes Demir and Dogukan Tazegul, both killed while fighting Kurdish rebels in Sur

Family members of army officer Enes Demir mourn as they attend a funeral ceremony for Enes Demir and Dogukan Tazegul, both killed while fighting Kurdish rebels in Sur

¶Along the natural avenue carved between Europe and Asia by the mighty Bosphorus, a Russian frigate steamed towards the Black Sea. Istanbul straddles one of the great junctions of the world, controlling a vital artery for Russian shipping, both civilian and military.

Mr Putin and Mr Erdoğan have exchanged harsh words and economic counter-measures since Turkey destroyed a Russian jet last November. But the warships that Mr Putin sends to join his Syria campaign must pass under Mr Erdoğan’s metaphorical nose in Istanbul.

So far, he has done nothing to obstruct them: that would be too inflammatory even for him. Given that Mr Erdoğan intends to wield power into the indefinite future, however, who knows what he might have in store?

 

Erdogan uses ISIS to suppress Kurds, West stays silent – Turkish MP

This is a cross-post from RT Question more.

Buildings which were damaged during the security operations and clashes between Turkish security forces and Kurdish militants, are pictured in Sur district of Diyarbakir, Turkey February 11, 2016 © Sertac Kayar

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been using ISIS to advance his Middle East policy and suppress the Kurds, and Ankara’s elite maintains vibrant economic ties with the terror group and harbors its militants, a Turkish MP has told Russian media.

“Erdogan uses ISIS [Islamic State/IS, also known as ISIS/ISIL] against the Kurds. He can’t send the Turkish Army directly to Syrian Kurdistan, but he can use ISIS as an instrument against the Kurds. He has a greater Ottoman Empire in his mind, that’s his dream, while ISIS is one of the instruments [to achieve it],” Selma Irmak, a Turkish MP from the Peace and Democracy Party told RIA Novosti on Monday.

There are many signs that the Turkish leadership is aiding Islamic State and benefiting from it, Irmak argued.

“Wounded militants are given medical treatment in Turkey. For ISIS, Turkey is a very important supply channel. They are allowed to pass through the Turkish border, being given IDs [and other documents],”she added.

“ISIS has training camps in Turkey,” Irmak stressed, citing other examples of Turkey providing IS with certain capabilities, including the fact that all militants go back and forth into Syria through Turkish territory.

Both the Turkish elite and the terrorist group enjoy economic ties as well, Irmak argued.

“ISIS’ oil is sold via Turkey. All of ISIS’ external [trade] operations are being carried out via Turkey and involve not only oil.” Part of the terrorist group’s criminal business trafficking hostages as well as female slaves of Yazidi and Assyrian minorities, while “the government is, of course, well aware of it,” she added.

“ISIS never attacked Turkish positions and claimed no responsibility for terror attacks in Turkey’s cities. There were three large terror attacks [in 2015] in Diyarbakir, Suruc and Ankara. Each attack caused harm to the Kurds and opposition activists supporting them,” the MP noted.

Turkey only intervened when the Kurds retook territory from the IS-held Kurdish city of Tell Abyad in northern Syria.

“Turkish warplanes formally bombarded the ISIS-held territory and conducted two airstrikes to show it fights the Islamic State. And in the meantime, Turkey made 65 airstrikes on Qandil [the PKK stronghold in mountainous northern Iraq].”

According to Irmak, Ankara feels free to take on the Kurds because the West is unwilling to harm its interests in the region and beyond.

“Unfortunately, the international community is indifferent towards these events. Turkey has taken Europe prisoner by using Middle Eastern refugees as an instrument of blackmail. The US keeps silent too, having common interests with Turkey. For instance, the US wants to keep using the Incirlik airbase […] and the Turkish Army is emboldened by such impunity.”

Erdogan now ‘Editor-in-chief’ of all media in Turkey

Editor (1)

Tayyip Erdogan’s stranglehold on the media should be a major issue of concern for everyone who believes in Democracy.  He is now effectively the ‘editor-in–chief’ of all media in Turkey.  Only he decides what stories should be printed and what comments on social media are acceptable.  Any media organisation which dares to criticise him is seen as the enemy and is closed down and taken over by his state apparatus.

In recent weeks the IMC television channel was taken of air and the Zaman newspaper was seized.  Both of these had been critical of Erdogan and his government’s policies – Zaman in particular was considered to be the last effective voice speaking out against Erdogan’s excesses.  There is now no effective media organisation left to criticise the AKP’s abuses.

Last week Erdogan again displayed his dictatorial tendencies when he told a constitutional court which had released two newspaper editors of the opposition Cumhuriet newspaper that such actions could bring its very existence into question – in other words he will not tolerate any court decision which goes against his whims and desires.

The EU would be absolutely crazy to accept Turkey as a member of the European Union as long as Erdogan is leading it.   A leader who cannot tolerate freedom of speech and expression, a leader who only promotes his cronies and brutally suppresses his critics has no place in the EU.

Free speech is a universal human value and any leader who can’t tolerate even the slightest bit of criticism is nothing other than a brutal dictator.

How Erdogan duped the rural Turks

Asiatic Turkey

The rural Turks, mainly those living in Asiatic Turkey, have had it hard since the creation Turkey as a republic.  First they were forced to change their dress and customs and then they were largely neglected by Turkey’s military rulers.  They are known to be simple, hardworking, religiously conservative and straightforward.  Many of them are not skilled at reading Turkey’s complex political chessboard.

This is where Erdogan steps into the fray – he has successfully exploited and taken advantage of their simple nature. He has done this by cleverly honing the art of knowing exactly what to say and how to say it to get their support.  The manipulation of the rural class has undoubtedly been the secret of his success.  By using the right religious terminology, strongman image and spreading conspiracy theories of phantom external enemies, he has gained their trust.   However,  Erdogan’s manipulation of his support base does not stop there; insecure to the core he has been ruthlessly crushing any voice of dissent and ensuring only state approved information reaches the masses.   His approach is reminiscent of the type of system described in George Orwell’s brilliant novel ‘1984’.  The difference is that Orwell’s novel was based on Stalin’s Russia – a god forsaken system – whereas Erdogan’s system is supposedly based on religion.

So what will it take to wake up the rural Turks? It will most likely be that Erdogan will eventually give them enough rope to hang himself.    Either they will see through his years of deception and turn against him (if the deep state doesn’t remove him before then) or they will eventually see through his lies and switch their support to rival parties. Erdogan should take note of the old saying: “You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all of the time”.

When a person gets desperate they start making mistakes and Erdogan’s downfall has already begun; his dictatorial approach, dirty deals with terrorists and erosion of civil liberties is evidence of this.  It remains to be seen how sudden and rapid his demise will be.

Can a Turkey sliding into despotism and censorship still join the EU? The answer must be no

This is a cross-post from the Guardian.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

It is waging war on an ethnic minority, its riot police just stormed the offices of a major newspaper, its secret service faces allegations of arming Isis, itsmilitary shot down a Russian bomber – and yet Turkey wants to join the European Union. The country’s swift descent into despotism poses yet another existential problem for the west.

The sight of Europe’s leaders kowtowing to Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in the hope he would switch off the flood of refugees to Greece, was sickening. After the Turkish courts authorised police to seize the Zaman newspaper, tear-gassing its employees and sacking the editors, the new bosses immediately placed Erdoğan’s smiling picture on the front page. He has a lot to smile about.

Erdoğan’s mass support in Turkey is real. To the conservative heartlands, where Islam was suppressed for decades by one secular military regime after another, he initially seemed to have achieved an ideal stasis. The liberal, networked, progressive part of Turkey would leave the reactionary, religious, patriarchal part in peace, and vice versa. The Kurds would renounce guerilla warfare in favour of parliamentary opposition. Erdoğan would lead the country towards EU accession, at a pace slow enough to allow the obvious failings in democracy to be ignored.

But it has all gone wrong, and for the same fundamental reason that Assad’s regime in Syria collapsed: the unwillingness of educated youth to be ruled by simpletons running a “benign” police state.

The revolts that swept Turkey’s cities in June 2013 were triggered by the inability of Erdoğan and his old-man’s form of Islam to tolerate the basic microfreedoms that the younger generation want: the right to drink alcohol on campus, the right to uncensored social media, the right to protest peacefully about the same things European kids protest about – in the case of Gezi Park, the bulldozing of green space for a shopping mall.

Since then, Erdoğan has overcome all obstacles. The protest was suppressed by the simple method of firing US-made tear gas canisters into the crowd and laying waste to the urban areas of the Kurdish minority, who had joined the struggle.

Then Erdoğan got himself made president. And having narrowly lost his parliamentary majority in June 2015, he regained it late last year after a campaign that left the offices of the pro-Kurdish HDP party burned out in several cities.

Simultaneously, the Turkish military provoked an end to a three-year ceasefire with the Kurdish PKK, unleashing the army into the Kurdish towns of southern Turkey on a scale that has left some the mirror image of burned-out Syrian towns just across the border.

But all this is nothing compared to the strength of the hand Erdoğan has yet to play. With failed or failing states now in Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq and Syria, the more Turkish democracy fails, the more the west has to support him. And the more the European Commission, in particular, hangs on to the conceit that Turkey will one day join the EU, the more it strengthens forces in Europe who want to leave the union altogether.

Transcripts leaked to a Greek website last month appeared to show Erdoğan overtly threatening Europe with an uncontrolled flood of refugees unless he is given money and rapid accession to the EU. Although they were given credence by some news agencies, the transcripts have the ring of black propaganda of the kind Erdoğan’s newest enemy, the Russian secret service, is adept at producing. Real or fabricated, the tragedy is that they cannot be far from the truth: Europe is already turning a blind eye to the erosion of democracy, to collusion with people traffickers, and to military action against civilians.

What happens next must be done calmly and proportionately.

The citizens of the EU have a right, first of all, to demand honesty from their own governments, and the commission itself. The EC’s “progress report” in November was an exercise in hypocrisy: while noting the slide to despotism, censorship and brutality, the report praised Turkey for its economic progress. Imagine what the same rapporteurs might have made of an accession request by Mussolini’s Italy.

The critical question is not, as the racists of eastern Europe ask, “Can 75 million Muslims join Europe?” It is: can a state so fundamentally in breach of the Copenhagen criteria for EU membership remain in any kind of accession process? The answer must clearly be no – and once Erdoğan is told so, the EU has a duty to offer a programme of support to the secular democratic forces that need to come to power in order for accession talks to be resumed. The commission – which had no problem telling Greeks which way to vote in July 2015 – would surely have no problem supporting democratic parties against repressive ones in Turkey.

That would leave Erdoğan in strategic trouble. But it would not immediately solve the situation in the Aegean. It would require Europe to double-down on its strategic commitment to Greece, with border forces, debt relief, aid and solidarity.

To those in Europe wishing to demonstrate to a wavering Britain why we need the EU, there could not be a better opportunity. It’s a chance for a clear condemnation of the breaches of human rights; for clear action in support of Greece, a member of the union, against implicit threats by a non-member; and for centralized action to deal with any flood of refugees Erdoğan wishes to unleash.

The prospect will be viewed with dismay by the centrist political class that helped create this mess. It brings them face to face with a choice they do not want to make: democratic values over market logic; moral decisiveness over the illusion that everything will be all right.

Was Berat Albayrak picked as sacrificial offering in the oil trade with the ISIL?

Beyrat

As Italian prosecutor Manuela Cavallo’s launching an investigation into money laundering claims about Bilal Erdogan, who recently moved to the Italian city of Bologna with his family, made it into news reports, another initiative, the Russian Federation kicked off at the United Nations, has raised the possibility of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak’s being tried at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague on charges of aiding and abetting the terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).  In a letter it sent to the UN Secretary General and the UN Security Council Member States on January 29, 2016, the Russian Federation provided detailed information regarding the illegal oil trade between the ISIL and the individuals, organizations and firms close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).  Titled “ISIL’s illegal oil trade”, the letter contains serious accusations about Turkey.  It argues that majority of the ISIL-controlled hydrocarbon is transferred via Turkey and oil products are carried into the Turkish soil mainly through border crossings Karkamış, Akçakale, Cilvegözü and Öncüpınar.  The letter reads:

“Everyday 100-150 oil tankers pass through these checkpoints.  Moreover, crude oil is carried through rural paths that are not controlled by Turkish security forces.  A total of 4,500 vehicles are used to this end.”

The letter also claims that several Turkish firms such as Seri Otomotiv, owned by Mustafa Seri in Konya, and Sam Otomotiv, owned by Habib Haydaroğlu in Antakya, play a role in providing the ISIL with vehicles.  It is maintained that the majority of the crude oil smuggled out of the ISIL-controlled areas is transported to the Turkish Petroleum Refineries Corporation’s (TÜPRAŞ) refinery in Batman while a small portion of it is processed at small facilities in Turkey and distributed by the filling stations of the firms like “Opet Nizig, Alpet, Kadoil, Oneoil, Teco Alacalı and Mavigöl Gaz.”  Underlining that those who sell illegal oil products in Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Kahramanmaras, Kilis and Hatay have secured protection from local authorities, the letter suggests that a significant portion of oil is shipped from the Turkish ports on the Mediterranean coasts, particularly from Ceyhan.  The letter says:

“The tankers of ‘BMZ Grup Denizcilik ve İnşaat A.Ş.’ are used in the transportation. The firm was established in 2013; its registered capital is around $1 million and its head office is located at ‘Gürgen Sokak No. 3, Üsküdar’. The firm’s fleet consists of five tankers: Mecid Aslanov, Begim Aslanova, Poet Qabil, Armada Fair and Armada Breeze.” In the letter, it is alleged that the firm Powertrans, affiliated with Çalık Holding, where President Erdogan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak was the General Manager, played a role in the oil trade with the ISIL. In addition, it is noted that Turkish Petroleum International Company made a deal with Kurdish business from northern Iraq with guarantees from the Turkish government and oil production and processing projects are currently being undertaken in cooperation with the companies in the Kurdish Autonomous Region. “We have reasons to believe that this arrangement is an outlet for the ISIL to sell its energy sources. In cooperation with BOTAŞ, the TPAO and Genel Enerji are increasing their capacities for the crude oil that will come from Iraq and Syrian Arab Republic. In this context, the Yumurtalık oil station has been expanded to have a storage capacity of 1.7 million tons” it said. Pointing out that the crude oil so legalized in Turkey is sent to various parts of the world, making it difficult to keep track of it, the letter lists the other firms that are involved in the oil trade drilled from the ISIL-controlled areas as follows: “Palmali Shipping and Agency JSC (Turkey), General Energy (United Kingdom and Turkey) and Saudi Aramco (Saudi Arabia).”

The letter maintains that the ISIL uses the revenues from this oil trade to acquire weapons, military equipment, explosives, and ammunition among others while the donations from various individuals and Islamic organizations in some Gulf countries and Turkey constitute another source of income for the ISIL and the ISIL’s military council can secure more than $30 million every month in this way. It states that terrorists use Turkish territories effectively also for distribution of illegal weapons and explosives and they are abided by some associations and foundations in Turkey.  The letter puts forward that the number of oil-carrying vehicles from Turkey to Syrian Arab Republic rose by nine-fold between 2012 and 2015 and 400 vehicles worth of around $7.2 million have been procured in four years and the amount of supply for the first nine months of 2015 is expected to be $3.2 million.  In the letter, it is also argued that weapons and explosives are sent to the ISIL through uncontrolled parts of Syrian Arab Republic’s common borders with Turkey and Iraq and that Syria’s border crossings Bab al-Hawa (10 kilometers southeast of Reyhanli), Bab el-Selam (6 kilometres northeast of Azez) and Cerablus (105 kilometres northeast of Aleppo) are used for arms and explosives shipments from Turkey.  It is true that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but the fact that Berat Albayrak is the only person from AKP government whose name is highly affiliated with the most violent terror organization (ISIL) has been recently appointed as Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, raising questions that he has been deliberately sacrificed for this purpose-filled position.

An extensive recent report published by WSJ into ISIL’s financial activities in Turkey ( …) reinforces these allegations.

Erdogan is on the brink of ultimate power, but Turkey is falling apart

This is a cross-post from the Independent.

The biggest losers are the Turkish people, as critics and political opponents of the President’s regime are labelled ‘traitors’ and ‘terrorists’

president-erdogan-turkey.jpg

Until 2002, when the AKP (Justice and Development Party) came to power, Turkey was doing pretty well in following Kemal Atatürk’s dictum: “peace at home, peace abroad”. Admittedly, there were three military coups between 1960 and 1980 to keep Turkey on track, together with ‘a soft coup’ in 1997. But the country was still a respected member of NATO with prospects – however distant – of EU membership.

With the advent of the AKP under the leadership of a former mayor of Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, things started to unravel. The AKP presented itself as a Western, reformist, neo-liberal and secular party, and, as late as 2012, 16 EU foreign ministers drooled that Turkey was “an inspirational example of a secular and democratic country”. But as the deputy chair of the opposition CHP (Republican People’s Party), Faruk Logoglu, pointed out, their perception of the state of affairs in Turkey was “sadly out of focus”, and ignored the fact that the AKP government pursued an authoritarian policy of gradual Islamisation, leading to the erosion of Turkish democracy and secularism.

Turkey’s foreign minister and now Prime Minister, Professor Ahmet Davutoglu, replaced Atatürk’s dictum with “zero problems with neighbours” and a grandiose vision of Turkey’s role in the world. It was also Davutoglu who inspired Erdogan with neo-Ottoman fantasies.

Consequently, Turkey is now at loggerheads with all its neighbours, in particular Syria, and has even managed to alienate Russia after the shooting down of the Su-24 in November. At home, in his pursuit of untrammeled power, Erdogan has provoked a civil war which threatens to dismantle the Turkey Atatürk and his fellow nationalists created.

In 2005, Erdogan was hailed as the first Turkish leader to acknowledge there was a Kurdish question, and in 2013, after secret talks with the PKK, their imprisoned leader Abdullah Öcalan called for a ceasefire. In February last year the AKP government and the Kurdish HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) agreed on a 10-point plan to end the conflict, but after the HDP gained 13 percent of the vote in June’s election and threatened to block his plans for an executive presidency, Erdogan disowned the agreement.

Prior to the election, there were more than 130 attacks on the HDP’s offices, vehicles and supporters, culminating in two bombs at a rally in Diyarbakir, the capital of the Kurdish southeast. A similar attack in the Kurdish border town of Suruc on 20 July, killing 33 activists, reignited the conflict with the PKK, as the government was suspected of having a hand in the attack.

The twin bombs at the HDP’s rally in Ankara on 10 October, which killed 102 people, reinforced these suspicions, as there were links to the two previous attacks, but President Erdogan claimed this was a collective act, involving ISIS, the PKK, the Syrian intelligence agency, Mukhabarat, and the Syrian counterpart to the PKK, the PYD (Democratic Union Party).

However, the PKK’s youth wing, the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H), declared autonomy in a number of towns in the southeast and dug ditches and built barricades to repel government forces. Many civilian casualties have been caused by what Human Rights Watch has termed “the abusive and disproportionate use of force”, where the populations of towns under siege have been left without food, water, electricity and medical help and 200,000 people have been forced to leave their homes.

Bilal Erdogan: Italy names Turkish president’s son in money laundering investigation allegedly connected to political corruption

Bilal Erdogan

This is a cross-post from the Independent.

A son of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is under investigation in Italy for money laundering, in connection, it has been claimed, with the 2013 corruption scandal that rocked the Turkish political establishment.

The Bologna public prosecutor has opened a file on Bilal Erdogan, 35, after a key opponent of the Turkish regime officially denounced the president’s son, alleging he brought in large amounts of money to Italy last September to be recycled. The claim was made by the political dissident and Turkish businessman Murat Hakan Uzan, whose brother Cem Uzan founded Turkey’s Youth Party.

The Italian Manuela Cavallo is investigating claims that the money may relate to the massive political corruption scandal involving Turkey’s ruling AKP party. Bilal Erdogan has said he is in Italy with his wife and children purely to resume his PhD studies at the Bologna campus of America’s Johns Hopkins University, which he began in 2007.

In 2013 his name surfaced in the massive graft scandal that hit the AKP and senior Turkish government officials. Turkish prosecutors said it involved an alleged money laundering scheme designed to bypass United States-led sanctions on Iran. They ordered the arrest of 52 people in December 2013 and went on to accuse 14 people – including several family members of cabinet ministers – of bribery, corruption, fraud, money laundering and gold smuggling.

The whistleblowers who tipped off the police claimed that the son of the then Prime Minister (now President) Recep Tayyip Erdogan was next in line for questioning.

The subsequent release on YouTube of audio recordings in which President Erdogan was allegedly heard telling his son to urgently get rid of tens of millions of dollars ignited a political firestorm. Mr Erdogan has claimed the recordings were falsified but some experts have contradicted this. Both the Erdogans have denied any wrongdoing regarding the 2013 scandal.

President Erdogan even claimed that a coup attempt was under way and reacted to the accusations by dismissing police officers, prosecutors and judges.

In the complaint filed this week with the Bologna prosecutor by Mr Uzan’s lawyer, Massimiliano Annetta, it is claimed that €1bn (£779m) is still unaccounted for as a result of the corruption, according to reports.

Mr Uzan, who is currently in exile in France, also quoted anti-Erdogan dissidents as claiming that the president’s son flew to Italy in September with a large sum of money as part of a “getaway operation”. Last October, soon after Bilal Erdogan’s arrival in Bologna, the anonymous Turkish whistleblower known in the media as Fuat Avni, who has been a thorn in the side of the Erdogan government, claimed on Twitter that Bilal went to Italy with large amounts of cash, saying: “They [the Erdogan family] are planning to keep Bilal in Italy until the [November] election. They will determine whether he will be coming back according to the situation after the election.”

According to the news agency Ansa, Ms Cavallo is also investigating claims that Bilal arrived in Bologna with an attachment of armed bodyguards who initially were not allowed into the country, until within a matter of hours they were issued with Turkish diplomatic passports.

Giovanni Trombini, a Bologna-based lawyer representing Bilal, acknowledged that a criminal investigation involving his client had been opened but told The Independent that he was not prepared to comment until the exact nature of the accusations against his client were clear. The Bologna prosecutor was not available for comment.

Obama Warns Erdogan Over ISIS Oil Smuggling

Obama warns Erdogan

This is a cross-post which originally appeared at German Economic News. Translated from the German by Nils Hansen

The US government increases the pressure on Turkey: Within a few days, two official US government representatives have confirmed that IS brings its oil to the global markets via Turkey. Russia presented evidence of this a number of days ago.

The Islamic State terror militia (IS) is, according to Adam Szubin, responsible for the fight against terrorism financing as Acting Under Secretary in the US Treasury, already made more than US$ 500 million through the black market for oil.

As Reuters reports, Szubin said on Thursday in London that a part also came across the border into Turkey. IS oil trade would have a volume of US$ 40 million per month. The commodity would be sold in large quantities to the government of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

Already before, US State Department spokesman John Kirby had said that revenue from oil sales was an important source of financing for IS and that IS would smuggle a part of its oil through Turkey. Kirby was quoted by the newspaper Today Zaman, which belongs to the empire of Pennsylvania based preacher Fetullah Gülen.

The chief editor of the newspaper had stepped down only a few days ago, because he could not bear any longer the government pressure on its newspaper. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who used to be a close ally of Gülen, accuses him today of being in the service of the CIA, and uses extreme force against the Gülen media and other institutions of the movement. Most recently the closure of hospitals has been announced.

Neither Kirby nor Szubin wanted to go as far as accusing the government in Ankara directly of financing terrorism. However, even so it is an unambiguous warning to Erdogan: The Russians want to bring Turkey’s involvement in terror financing to the UN.

The US government seems to be interested in building up a position where it does not cover any longer Turkey’s doings. This would also be a message to the US military and the secret services, having so far covered all Turkish activities without reservation. Yet apparently Obama’s government has an interest in working together with the Russians in the region.