During the investigations held by Istanbul Public Prosecutors between 17-25 December 2013, various people including businessmen, bureaucrats, and government officials were subjected to operations for “money laundering”, “gold smuggling”, and “bribery” allegations. During these operations, 14 people were arrested including Rıza Zarrab, Salih Kaan Çağlayan, and Barış Güler.
After Rıza Zarrab was released in 28 February 2014, this first initiative of terrorist group of clergy Fethullah Gülen (FETO) towards the government was ground-breaking for AK Party, and was resulted with resignation of Minister of Economy, Zafer Çağlayan, and Minister of Internal Affairs Muammer Güler. Additionally, Istanbul Chief of Police was dismissed and many personnel were relocated.
After these events, FETO and AK Party government were in constant combat. In 15 July 2016 second attempt of FETO using military members infiltrated in Turkish Armed Forces was unsuccessful. President Erdoğan had received a massive public support and declared a war against FETO. In this process, thousands of people were arrested, dismissed, and the cards were reshuffled in the political arena.
Turkey asked the U.S, which is one of the most important allies of Turkey to deliver FETO Leader Fetullah Gülen. However, mutual visits and dialogues have failed. Additionally, the U.S.’s provision of large amounts of weapon to PYD terrorist organisation, which is regarded as PKK extension in Syria by Turkey, had raised the question of whether Turkey and U.S. are still allies.
Since Turkey was unable to receive the necessary support from U.S., the country shifted to east and tried to strengthen the relationships with Russia. After “Fighter Jet Crises” with Russia, Vladimir Putin called President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan when coup attempt occurred in July 15 and offered unconditional help. This offer opened a new page for the political relations. During this process, multiple visits were made and solution for problematic Syrian crises gained momentum with Russian-Turkish-Iranian cooperation.
Additionally, Turkey had signed large economic projects with Russia and signalled new paths with “Turkish Wave” project. As the U.S. Offered weapon support to PYD/PKK, this cast doubt on NATO and defence systems in the region, and even though there were reactions from Europe and U.S., purchase of S-400 missile system from Russia was not prevented. Additionally, during this process, Turkey became closer with Iran and after independency referendum in Northern Iraq, diplomatic relations with Tehran developed.
With the latest development in the U.S., 2 diplomatic notes were sent for Rıza Zarrab, who has been on trial as confessor. Rıza Zarrab is accused of infringing embargoing of U.S. on Iran for nuclear program. Additionally, it seems that Zarrab will cause certain problems for the reputation of Turkey in the international arena for bribing Zafer Çağlayan, Ministry of Economy of that period, and money laundering. AK Party government follows all these events with great care. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claims that FETO and the organisation members in the U.S. are conspiring against Turkey and he has achieved a high public support in Turkey.
With these developments in Turkey, the country will try to react to these chains of events by positioning itself to East. Turkey opened a new military basis in Qatar and is planning to open new military basis in certain points of Asia. Turkey is one of the strategic partners of China and is one of the greatest supporters of “New Silk Roads” project. Increased diplomatic dialogues with Russia and Iran had the power to change powers in Middle East. Additionally, on national level, there is a support for participating to Shanghai Union Organisation rather than EU. It is unclear that which path will Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will choose. Yet, Turkey is shifting to East as the country is constricted by Europe and the U.S.
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About Author: Sadik Oncu is a student at Marmara University, where he is pursuing a degree in Economics. He is interested in political economics and international affairs.