By: William Engdahl
Since December last year, Turkey has been rocked by a series of arrests and waves of allegations that the government of AK Party Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is riddled with corruption. Erdogan, a scrappy political infighter for all his eccentricities, has fought back and accused “foreign powers” of standing behind his now-arch enemy, former Imam Fethullah Gülen, considered by the US Embassy in Ankara to be the most powerful man in Turkey. What is unfolding across Turkey is far more interesting than your ordinary politician graft scandal. It is an open warfare, not for the future of democracy in Turkey—there is hardly a trace of that. Rather, it is a surrogate battle between East and West for the future of a pivotal land at the geopolitical crossroads between Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
The clash domestically inside Turkey is between the Justice and Police versus family and cronies of Erdogan. In reality it is a kind-of surrogate warfare between a faction in Washington of CIA and hard-core Dick Cheney neo-conservatives whose man in Turkey is Fethullah Gülen. Opposed to this formidable team if Erdogan, determined to survive, and an emerging alliance of Iran, China and even Putin’s Russia.
Fethullah Gülen, whose movement spans the globe and also has huge influence inside the German Islamic community. Respected German Islamic scholar, Professor Ursula Spuler-Stegemann of Marburg University, called the Gülen movement, “the most important and most dangerous Islamic movement in Germany. They’re everywhere.“ (“Sie ist die wichtigste und gefährlichste islamistische Bewegung in Deutschland”, sagt die Marburger Islamwissenschaftlerin Ursula Spuler-Stegemann. “Sie sind überall.”).
In December Turkish police arrested Süleyman Aslan, Direktor of the state-owned Halkbank, on charges he facilitated some $10 billion dollars of gold-for-oil trade with Iran.  Naturally, the neo-conservatives and their AIPAC lobby in the US Congress are the ones upset at Erdogan’s skirting US sanctions against Iran that they pushed through the US Congress more than a year ago.
Erdogan’s Iran and Chinas Gambit
Now, rather than try to distance himself from Iran and the Halkbank deals, Erdogan has thrown down the gauntlet and traveled to Teheran to firm up a deeper strategic alliance with Iran. He went there to boost trade and energy ties according to Turkish state TV. The report also mentions that Erdogan wants to repair the strains in Turkish-Iran relations after Turkey supported the attacks on Iran ally, Bashar al Assad in Syria the past two years. Erdogan noted to press after his talks with Khameni and President Rouhani, “It is obvious that we import from Iran crude oil and gas, which are strategic energy sources, and we (will be) able to increase the volume of these imports.” Rouhani will also come to Ankara in the next months. Iran was Turkey’s third largest trade partner in 2012 at €16 billion before the latest US sanctions hit the oil trade. 
The Israeli intelligence-linked DebkaFile reports that the real reason for Erdogan’s Teheran talks is his, “spiting the Obama administration in the belief of a US plot to replace him with President Abdullah Gul and discredit him by corruption scandals implicating members of his family in sanctions-busting business with Iran through the state-owned Turkish Halkbank.” 
The warmer ties with Teheran and Erdogan’s government intersect closer Iran-Russian cooperation. On January 17, Iran’s President, Rouhani extended an invitation for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to meet him in Teheran. Putin replied, “I hope to visit you in Tehran very soon.”
The Erdogan-Iran rapprochement follows a major initiative to forge closer ties with China and the Eurasian Shanghai Cooperation Organization to which Turkey is an Observer. Last October, Erdogan negotiated purchase of a long-range air and missile defense system with China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp (CPMIEC) over rival bids from Russian, US and European firms. That followed a major trip to Beijing in April 2012, the first by a Turkish Prime Minister in 27 years where billions of dollars of trade deals were signed. Erdogan has also requested full membership in the SCO.
That seems not all that exaggerated. In late December as Erdogan was striking back at the Gülenist corruption indictments by firing specific Gülen-loyal judges and purging the national police. At that time US Ambassador to Ankara, Francis Ricciardone, told EU ambassadors in Ankara in the first days of the graft probe that the US had asked Turkey to cut its Halkbank ties to Iran: “We requested the end of the financial ties of Halkbank with Iran. But they didn’t listen. You are watching the collapse of an empire [Turkey],” Ricciardone told the Yeni Şafak newspaper. The following day at an election rally of supporters, Erdogan threatened to expel the US Ambassador for interfering in internal Turkish affairs. 
More recently, an unusual OpEd appeared in the Washington Post under the title, “The United States needs to tell Turkey to Change its Course.” In it, the three authors declared, “Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is destroying his country’s parlous democracy.” Further they wrote, “Erdogan has sought to destroy his opponents rather than compromise. After effectively sidelining the military’s political influence, Erdogan went after other centers of power: media, business leaders and civil society; now, the Gülenists, a strong, politically effective community.” 
The OpEd was signed by Morton Abramowitz, Eric Edelman and Blaise Misztal. Abramowitz is an alleged CIA operative turned US Ambassador to Turkey.  The fact they mention “the Gülenists, a strong, politically effective community,” is no casual affair. In 1998 Gülen, had taken political refuge from Turkish military government charges of treason for attempting to create an Islamic religious state in Turkey. He ended up in all places in the Pennsylvania Pocono hills in a remote estate, heavily guarded by followers.
In 2008, over the strong objections of the FBI, US State Department and Department of Homeland Security, Gülen managed to get a special Green Card and US permanent residency status. It was due to the intervention of Morton Abramowitz and Graham E. Fuller, former Istanbul CIA operative and Gülen supporter. According to former FBI Turkish translator and whistleblower, Sibel Edmonds, “Abramowitz, a known neocon, Israel lobbyist, CIA and State Department Operative, and Project on the New American Century signatory, has been one of Fethullah Gulen’s main handlers and backers.” 
Indeed, this Abramowitz, CIA, Neocon, Gülen network is precisely the “foreign-steered” network Erdogan accuses of trying to force him out. As one political wag once said to me, “Just because you’re paranoid don’t mean they ain’t out to get ya…” Erdogan is putting his finger on the very source of the destabilization and his new enemies in Washington know that only too well. His response is to turn to the very bitter foes of the Washington neocons.
The Turkish political drama is quite different from mainstream western media accounts and far more fascinating for the tectonic shift in global power relations now underway. Erdogan is clearly moving to firm ties with Iran, Assad’s Syria, Russia and China. Those were the very powers he sharply attacked two years ago for the situation in Syria when Erdogan was listening to Washington. Politics indeed sometimes has strange bedfellows. If Erdogan survives the Gülen-US neocon power play, the outlines of a new alignment of power with Turkey-Iran-Syria-Iraq-Russia-China could well emerge. It could form a new Eurasian center of influence to counter the NATO war faction that is backed by Netanyahu’s Likud and elements of the Israeli intelligence community.
# # # #F. William Engdahl, BFP contributing Author & Analyst
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