New crises at the door: The AK Party government is prepared to send troops to Afghanistan, where the U.S. and NATO have withdrawn, in order to square things with the Washington administration. And, obviously, there is the Halkbank trial. If Halkbank is found guilty and sentenced, Turkey is likely to pay a considerable amount of damages. Add to this compensation for the attacks on protesters in Washington by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s guards. All of this money will come from taxes paid by Turkish citizens. The claim for compensation was filed because the bodyguards, who accompanied Erdogan during his visit to Washington in 2017, intervened and beat protesters convened outside the Ambassador’s residence.
The AK Party government took pains to dismiss the case. They tried to use its political influence on the White House, devoted serious efforts to spread the message through lobbyists that ‘the violence was justified; Erdogan’s life was under threat’ and entered a plea many times to the court through American law firms they hired in order to dismiss the cases. The money for these lobbyists and law firms was also paid out of Turkish citizens’ pockets.
The result was that Turkey’s applications to dismiss the lawsuit were rejected, first at the lower court then at the court of appeals. This result was expected, because the U.S. Department of Justice sent official responses condemning the Turkish bodyguards to the Court of Appeals’, which countradicts the argument that the bodyguards intervened within the scope of their duties. In conclusion, the Court of Appeals ruled that protestors didn’t pose a life-threatening danger to Erdogan, therefore the bodyguards’ actions were in ‘excess of duty and power’. Now there are claims filed by the protestors for compensation.
THE CRISIS IN NORTHERN SYRIA
The crisis emerged in the recent ‘sanction’ decision taken by the U.S. administration. No new sanctions were imposed on Turkey, but Washington has imposed sanctions on Ahrar al-Sharqiya, one of the armed groups working in collaboration with Turkish Armed Forces elements in Northern Syria. The justification for sanctions will drive Turkey crazy: Human rights violations. In a written statement about the sanctions, the U.S. Department of Treasury announced ‘human rights violation against civilians in the North of Syria, torture of Syrian Kurds, kidnapping, seizure of property and murder’ as the reason why sanctions were imposed on Ahmad Ihsan Fayyad al-Hayes and Raed Jassim al-Hayes, the two leaders of Ahrar al-Sharqiya.
The same statement included allegations that the Ahrar al- Sharqiya group also incorporated former Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) members, which is a problem in itself.
That’s not all. There is also the transfer of financial resources to Hayat Tahrir al- Sham (HTS), which is officially considered as terrorist organization by the U.S., the United Nations and Turkey and controls the Idlib region.
The U.S. Department of Treasury has imposed sanctions on a person named Hasan al Shaban who was determined to provide financial resources to HTS. The key part of this decision is that in the sanction, his official address has been shown as Gaziantep, as well as Manbij in Syria. The U.S. included details, including al Shaban’s Turkish identity number, in the statement. (Meanwhile, al Shaban’s identity number included in the U.S. Department of Treasury’s statement starts with 99. Identity numbers starting with ‘99’ are given to people residing in Turkey within the scope of temporary protection. This identity document doesn’t mean that citizenship is conferred, however, the person subject to temporary protection status is allowed to benefit from healthcare services or financial supports provided by the Republic of Turkey).
These issues don’t bode well for Turkey. If measures aren’t taken now, Turkey may come up against them as major judicial problems in the future. We saw in the Zarrab case, and we see in the Sezgin Baran Korkmaz case now, that the U.S. justice department is willing to go after international fraud cases. This time, the alleged crimes go well beyond fraud…