Turkish President Erdogan speaks at the presidential palace in Ankara. Photo: Reuters / Kayhan Ozer.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched fresh verbal onslaught against the US and Israel on Friday, as he responded to the sentencing of Turkish banker by an American court for breaking sanctions on Iran, as well as the previous week of protests against the Tehran regime.
Erdogan, currently in Paris for an official visit with French President Emmanuel Macron, accused the US of carrying out “a chain of plots,” following the sentencing on Wednesday of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, an executive with Halkbank, a Turkish bank.
“These are not just legal but also economic plots,” Erdogan asserted.
Atilla was convicted on five of six counts, including bank fraud and conspiracy to violate US sanctions law. The case against him was based on the testimony of a wealthy Turkish-Iranian gold trader, Reza Zarrab, who cooperated with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to charges of leading a scheme to evade American sanctions against Iran.
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In his testimony, Zarrab implicated top Turkish politicians, including Erdogan. Zarrab said Erdogan, who was Turkey’s prime minister at the time, had personally authorized two Turkish banks to join the scheme.
Turkey says the case was based on fabricated evidence and has accused US court officials of ties to Fethullah Gulen — the US-based Muslim cleric blamed by Erdogan for the murky coup attempt against his regime in July 2016.
In a separate set of remarks on Friday, Erdogan told Turkish journalists, “We cannot accept that some countries — foremost the US, Israel — to interfere in the internal affairs of Iran and Pakistan.”
He continued: “It is turning the people against each other in these countries. It’s a shame that we have seen this done in many nations. We saw this in Iraq.”
Erdogan did not expand on the nature of the alleged meddling in Pakistan. On Thursday, the US announced a freeze in deliveries of military equipment and security funding until Pakistan cracks down on jihadi terrorist organizations in the country.
The Turkish president then referred to problems in “Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia” and in African countries including Sudan and Chad.
He claimed a “game was being played” against Muslim-majority nations.
“They are taking steps towards making the plentiful underground riches in all these countries their own resources,” he said.
“Sorry, these realities should be known by our people and all people,” he said.
Turkey and Iran are presently enjoying a warm phase in their relations, with Erdogan giving full support to the Tehran regime as it faced a week of anti-government protests in more than thirty cities.