Turkey may be turning into a mafia state: author

Is Turkey turning into a mafia state? That is the question posed by Ryan Gingeras, associate professor and author of 'Fall of the Sultanate: The Great War and the End of the Ottoman Empire', in Foreign Affairs magazine.

Gingeras argues that a trial in New York involving Iranian-Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab and a money-laundering scandal in Turkey in 2013 are signs of a deeper malaise of lawlessness in the country.

The government, he argues, is being complacent about illicit trade in oil and contraband across the border with Syria. A crackdown on the Fethullah Gülen movement, and the subsequent sacking of thousands of police investigators to be replaced by ill-qualified recruits, mean Turkey’s ability to combat organised crime has weakened significantly, Gingeras says.

The consequences of Turkey’s steady descent into lawlessness assume more ominous tones when one considers the importance of organised crime within the country’s recent past. Turkey’s geographic location has long made it a hub of illicit goods between Europe, Asia, and Africa. The incremental decline of the rule of law in the country will likely further stimulate illegal trafficking into Europe and the United States, leading to a growth in the trade of narcotics, weapons, and illicit funds, as well as migrants.


Increasing lawlessness in Turkey also presents a problem for the European Union. Dismal relations between Turkey and the bloc mean cooperation and coordination to combat these “grave matters of security” will suffer, Gingeras argues.