Setting Before 15 July

The events of 15 July 2016 took place amid country’s worsening conditions and ERDOGAN’s troubles with serious charges against him. ERDOGAN was continually looking for ways of evading domestic and international scrutiny for charges against him and his close circle. At his appearance on TVs on 15 July 2016, he openly called the bloody events as “a gift from God”[1]. The “gift”allowed him to ensure his legal immunity, to consolidate his authority and to conduct the biggest purge in the country’s history.

Declining Politics and Economy

Under ERDOGAN’s leadership, the political, social and economic atmosphere in Turkey was in turmoil long before July 2016. On the political domain, Turkey was distancing itself from the West. Turkey – EU relations were suffering due to issues like the refugee crisis and non-democratic practices of the Government. Ties with the U.S. were also weakening due to the politics of Syria. The economic challenge for ERDOGAN and the Government started long before July 2016. Tourism was suffering from the loss of millions of tourists because of security concerns and increasing terrorist attacks in the country. Russian President Vladimir PUTIN’s economic sanctions[2], placed after the downing of a Russian aircraft, penetrating the country’s Syrian border, caused Turkey notable economic losses. The continuing internal political turmoil and uncertainty, following the 17-25 December 2013 corruption cases, caused many international investors (such as PayPal and Tesco) to leave the country.

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Russian Jet is downed by Turkey – From: Getty Images

Charges Against ERDOGAN

The charges against ERDOGAN include laundering money to breach UN enforced financial sanctions against Iran[3], laundering money for ISIL by buying their oil[4] [5], weaponizing ISIL[6] and Al Nusra (Syrian branch of Al Qaida)[7] [8] [9]. ERDOGAN has been widely accused by the international media for not effectively blocking the logistics and manpower flow of terrorist organizations into Syria[10].

A prominent headache for ERDOGAN was the huge scale domestic corruption case in December 2013[11], which was closely related to “Oil for gold, money laundering for Iran” case. Reza ZARRAB, a Turkish citizen of Iranian descent, was arrested in December 2013 in Istanbul with several other people. The accusation was breaching sanctions against Iran through massive money laundering in the Turkish banking system. Besides, ERDOGAN’s family members and some Ministers were accused of receiving bribes in return. ERDOGAN crushed both cases by purging and arresting thousands of police officers, many judges and prosecutors, who took part in these lawsuits. In fact, the purge after July 2016 is just a devastating continuation of this previous blanket purge.

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Reza Zarrab – From: Getty Images

Despite ERDOGAN’s efforts, ZARRAB case has been resurrected in the United States. ZARRAB was arrested on his entry into U.S. on March 19, 2016. He is now facing a serious trial in a U.S. court for his role in Turkey’s Iranian oil to gold” scheme. The U.S. court accusations directed to ZARRAB comprise evading sanctions against Iran, plotting conspiracies to commit money laundering and arranging bank fraud of billions of dollars through the Turkish banking system[12]. Recently, Mehmet Hakan ATILLA, the Deputy CEO of the state’s largest lender, Halkbank, was arrested by the agents of the Federal Information Bureau (FBI) at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City on March 27, 2017[13]. His case was combined with that of Reza ZARRAB. According to the indictment, ZARRAB’s money laundering transactions benefitted a U.S. sanctioned firm, Iran-based Mahan Air, which supported the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force and Hizballah. ERDOGAN’s efforts to save his black box ZARRAB have not worked so far.

ERDOGAN’s also had difficulty with discussions and assertions about his lack of a college diploma, which is a definite prerequisite for being elected as President. ERDOGAN circulated alleged copies of his diploma through his affiliated media. However, the discussions became more complex with accusations of forgery on his diploma.

[1] http://www.dw.com/tr/erdo%C4%9Fan-Istanbulda-a%C3%A7%C4%B1klama-yapt%C4%B1/a-19403922

[2] “Vladimir Putin announces Russian sanctions against Turkey ”https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/28/ vladimir-putin-calls-for-greater-sanctions-against-turkey

[3] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/turkey-corruption-gold-trader-s-arrest-in-miami-could-put-president-ERDOGAN-in-the-spotlight-once-a6946901.html, last reached 13 February 2017

[4] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/wikileaks-turkey-isis-oil-minister-email-cache-leaks-claims-a7460736.html, last reached 13 February 2017

[5] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/russia-releases-proof-turkey-is-smuggling-isis-oil-over-its-border-a6757651.html, last reached 13 February 2017

[6] https://southfront.org/wesley-clark-turkey-is-supporting-isis/, last reached 13 February 2017

[7] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/28/truth-president-Erdogan-jailed-turkey-regime-state-security-crime, last reached 13 February 2017

[8] http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/01/turkey-syria-intelligence-service-shipping-weapons.html, last reached 13 February 2017

[9] http://russia-insider.com/en/turkey-main-supplier-weapons-isis/ri13717, last reached 13 February 2017

[10] http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/02/europe/syria-turkey-russia-warplane-tensions/

[11] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/26/world/europe/turkish-cabinet-members-resign.html, last reached 13 February 2017

[12] http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-wants-to-keep-charged-turkish-iranian-businessman-reza-zarrab-in-custody-1464208901

[13] https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/turkish-banker-arrested-conspiring-evade-us-sanctions-against-iran-and-other-offenses