Flynn or Zarrab: whoever flips, Erdoğan loses

The possible indictment of a former Trump administration official and the trial of an Iranian-Turkish businessman in New York will likely have consequences for U.S.-Turkey relations, Arab Weekly columnist Tom Regan wrote.

Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant-General Michael Flynn, who briefly served as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, is being investigated by special prosecutor Robert Mueller on the possible collusion of Trump’s campaign with Russia. But Mueller is “very interested” in Flynn’s lobbying work for a pro-Erdoğan businessman, Regan said.

Ekim Alptekin hired Flynn for $600,000 to investigate Fethullah Gülen, the U.S.-based Turkish Islamic preacher whom Erdoğan blames for the July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. Gülen denies any involvement. Yet, according to former CIA Director James Woolsey, Flynn met with Turkish officials about “possibly abducting Gulen and secretly spiriting him to Turkey,” Regan wrote.

Gold trader Reza Zarrab’s trial over money laundering and evading U.S. sanctions over Iran is another headache for Erdoğan, Regan said:

Zarrab is tied to political elites in Ankara and there has been speculation in the US media that he could testify that certain important Turkish officials, including Erdogan, knew what he was doing.

Regan cited U.S. media reports that Zarrab had hired former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who shuttled between the Trump and Erdoğan administrations to get Zarrab’s charges dropped in return for a swap with U.S. citizens jailed in Turkey. But the more recent word is that Zarrab is cooperating with prosecutors for a plea deal.

It is very possible that both cases could push U.S.-Turkey relations even lower than the Turkish invasion of Cyprus did in the 1970s, Regan said.


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