Nov 30 2017

Trouble ahead for Turkey’s ex-PM Davutoğlu?

Recriminations in Ankara appear to be growing over the chain of events that led to Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold trader, travelling from Turkey to the United States in March last year.

Zarrab was arrested on his arrival in Florida and has since confessed to involvement in a Turkish-based scheme to circumvent sanctions on Iran. He is currently the star witness in the trial of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a Turkish bank executive accused of involvement in the scheme.

In an article published in the Turkish daily Hürriyet, a leading member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Mustafa Şentop, questioned why Zarrab was ever allowed to travel to the United States.

According to the article, prior to leaving Turkey, Zarrab sought, but failed to receive, assurances regarding his safety from then Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. Following this, he contacted and cut a deal with U.S. secret service agents in Istanbul.

Şentop suggested Turkish authorities should launch an investigation into elements within Turkey that played a role in either precipitating or assisting what he called Zarrab’s flight to the United States, describing such acts, either by commission or omission, as “betrayal”.