Turkey “violating the NATO spirit” - analyst

The Turkish government violated a tacit understanding of the NATO alliance by helping Iran evade sanctions, a senior policy analyst at the U.S.-based Bipartisan Policy Center said.

“Turkey’s attempt to undermine its other allies’ efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear programme while relying this much on the protection of NATO, I think, was a violation of the NATO spirit,” Nicholas Danforth told a panel at the think-tank on Monday, according to Voice of America.

He said the U.S. prosecution of Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla, due to start on Dec. 4, should not come as a surprise to Turkey. Atilla is accused of colluding with Iranian-Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab, as well as Turkish government and banking officials, to bypass U.S. sanctions on Iran.

“Both the Turkish government and the Turkish banking sector were aware of these laws when the sanctions began,” Danforth said. “Despite this, they carried out this great conspiracy … That is why Turkish ministers took those large bribes.”

Another speaker on the panel, Svante Cornell, director of the Washington and Stockholm-based Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center, said that under present conditions Turks would not believe that the legal process in the United States had been carried out in good faith.

“If there is a (Zarrab) plea bargain, you will not be able to convince Erdoğan, his supporters or the majority of Turks that this is solely a legal process in the United States,” he said. “The U.S. will not be able to convince people that this is a non-political issue.”

Panel was broadcasted live by CSPAN, Ahval's Ilhan Tanir was one of panelists.