Corruption “has become policy instrument” in AKP’s Turkey - report

The U.S. prosecution of Iranian–Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab may not be the only case of high-level corruption, which has become “an instrument of policy and rule” for the Turkish government, the U.S.-based Bipartisan Policy Centre think-tank said in a report.

“Depending upon the outcome of the Zarrab case, as well as (President Recep Tayyip) Erdoğan’s implicit opposition to U.S. economic sanctions on Iran, it is likely that there may be more federal investigations into Turkish political and business interests to come,” the report said.

The Turkish government was now actively subverting parts of international law and security, according to the report, which would likely lead to further tensions in its already chilly relationship with the United States.

The report cited a 2015 Turkish law change that allowed visitors to Turkey to bring in unlimited amounts of cash without declaring it at the border and the increasing politicisation of Turkey’s police force and judiciary as warning signs that indicated that the environment was becoming even more conducive to corrupt practices – and also, inadvertently, to terrorism and organised crime.

In that sense, the Zarrab case might be the start of a trend.

“Regardless of the outcome of the Zarrab case, it is possible that there are similar sanction-busting schemes looming,” said the report by the Bipartisan Policy Centre, a centrist think-tank founded by former Republican senator Howard Baker.

“Recent news reports documenting several spikes in gold trading between Turkey and the United Arab Emirates have drawn suspicions that a comparable gold-for-oil scheme may be in the offing,” it said.

Finally, the report’s authors – Blaise Misztal, Nick Danforth, Jessica Michek, and Ryan Gingeras – argue that an increase in corruption leaves Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government more fragile both internally and externally.

“Should the AKP government collapse due to the deterioration of its institutions and credibility, the impact on the Middle East and regional peace will be devastating,” they wrote.