Trump abandons Kurds ahead of planned Turkish slaughter

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Trump abandons Kurds ahead of planned Turkish slaughter

Postby Jerky » Mon Oct 07, 2019 3:42 am

This is, for all intents and purposes, an overnight US policy about-face by the Trump administration, and if events unfold as I fear they will, it will likely be looked back upon as one of the most shameful, shocking developments of Trump's ill-gotten presidency.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/ ... ish-allies
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Re: Trump abandons Kurds ahead of planned Turkish slaughter

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Oct 07, 2019 2:43 pm

Adam Klasfeld
Confused about Trump’s threat to Turkey?

The Treasury still has not issued a fine against Turkey’s state-run bank Halkbank for its role in a record-breaking money laundering scheme to Iran.

Experts told me last year the fine could torpedo its economy. https://www.courthousenews.com/turkish- ... ing-in-ny/

Image
The gold trader who spearheaded that money laundering scheme, Reza Zarrab, was a Trump Towers Istanbul resident and former ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Giuliani represented Zarrab in a quasi-diplomatic mission as a go-between for the White House and Erdogan.

Giuliani had discussed freeing Zarrab a possible prisoner swap with Erdogan.

The deal failed, and Zarrab pleaded guilty.


This is an important counterpoint, and this was the exact language that I was summarizing in my tweet, which linked to my article. https://twitter.com/emeyersson/status/1 ... 86848?s=21
Image
https://twitter.com/KlasfeldReports/sta ... 8637551627



Exclusive: Official Who Heard Call Says Trump Got 'Rolled' By Turkey and 'Has No Spine'
By James LaPorta On 10/7/19 at 2:16 PM EDT
Trump_Turkey_7Oct19
President Donald Trump returns to the White House after visiting Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on October 04, 2019 in Washington, D.C. In a White House statement released late Sunday evening, Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation against American-backed Kurdish forces in Northern Syria. The U.S. military forces will not support or be involved in the operation. Chip Somodevilla/Getty
Donald Trump got "rolled" by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a National Security Council source with direct knowledge of the discussions told Newsweek.

In a scheduled phone call on Sunday afternoon between President Trump and President Erdogan, Trump said he would withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria. The phone call was scheduled after Turkey announced it was planning to invade Syria, and hours after Erdogan reinforced his army units at the Syrian-Turkish border and issued his strongest threat to launch a military incursion, according to the National Security Council official to whom Newsweek spoke on condition of anonymity.

The U.S. withdrawal plays into the hands of the Islamic State group, Damascus and Moscow, and the announcement left Trump's own Defense Department "completely stunned," said Pentagon officials. Turkey, like the United States, wants regime change in Syria. Russia and Iran support the Assad regime.

"President Trump was definitely out-negotiated and only endorsed the troop withdraw to make it look like we are getting something—but we are not getting something," the National Security Council source told Newsweek. "The U.S. national security has entered a state of increased danger for decades to come because the president has no spine and that's the bottom line."

Newsweek granted the National Security Council official anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The source said it would not be surprising to see a Turkish incursion in the next 24 to 96 hours.

Turkey has long considered the Kurdish militia in Syria to be a terrorist insurgency, despite the United States providing military and financial aid to the group in its fight against ISIS, the Islamic State militant group. A battle with the vastly superior military of Turkey, a NATO ally, could drive the Kurds into the arms of Bashar Al-Assad, the Syrian dictator that Washington wants ousted, and by extension into an alliance with Russia and Iran, two U.S. rivals with forces in Syria.

The White House said late Sunday evening in a statement that Turkey will soon invade northern Syria but both the Defense Department and Trump on Twitter said they made clear to Turkey that they do not endorse a Turkish operation in northern Syria.

"As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I've done before!)," said Trump on Twitter Monday. "They must, with Europe and others, watch over the captured ISIS fighters and families...it is time now for others in the region, some of great wealth, to protect their own territory."

According to the NSC official, who had first-hand knowledge of the phone call, Trump did not endorse any Turkish military operation against Kurdish Forces, but also did not threaten economic sanctions during the phone call if Turkey decided to undertake offensive operations.

In a statement, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said, "The United States Armed Forces will not support or be involved in the operation, and United States forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial "Caliphate," will no longer be in the immediate area."

The New York Times reported Monday that about 100 to 150 American forces would withdraw from northern Syria but not completely from the country. Newsweek confirmed the Times reporting but the National Security Council official said the number was closer to 230 service members, among them U.S. Special Forces and reconnaissance units.

The Times also reported witnesses observed United States forces withdraw from two observation posts in Tel Abyad and Ein Eissa in northeastern Syria. Newsweek confirmed these on Monday—a senior Defense Department official said American forces are about 90 percent complete with the withdraw as of publication.

One of the main issues in the phone call between the two world leaders concerned the roughly 2,000 Islamic State militant prisoners being held by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Defense Forces in northeastern Syria, who the U.S. military assists financially.

Trump told Erdogan he did not want anything to do with ISIS prisoners despite the United States not currently detaining Islamic State prisoners in Syria. The Syrian Defense Forces control custody of the prisoners.

Erdogan said Turkey would take custody of the ISIS militant prisoners, according to the White House statement and the National Security Council official Newsweek spoke to for this story.

"The ISIS prisoners, some of them, will eventually be freed amongst the chaos, and remain in the area or go elsewhere to rejoin the fight," speculated the National Security Council official.

Turkey_Military_7Oct19
A U.S. soldier sits atop an armored vehicle during a demonstration by Syrian Kurds against Turkish threats next to a base for the U.S.-led international coalition on the outskirts of Ras al-Ain town in Syria's Hasakeh province near the Turkish border on October 6, 2019. - U.S. forces in Syria started pulling back on Monday from Turkish border areas, opening the way for Ankara's threatened military invasion and heightening fears of a jihadist resurgence. Delil SOULEIMAN/Getty
The White House statement on Sunday also expressed Trump's long-held frustration with how other NATO-allied countries had dealt with captured Islamic State group fighters. The statement singled out "France, Germany and other European nations," for refusing to take back their citizens who had joined the Islamic State militant group.

U.S. Army General Mark A. Milley, Trump's newly minted chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, is scheduled to meet with the service chiefs this morning to discuss the matter, said National Security Council source.

The National Security Council official said they could not speak about what Trump's admirals and generals may plan, but said they would not expect anything out of the usual norms as the Defense Department follows orders with or without advanced knowledge.

If the United States had refused to move out of Turkey's war path, U.S options would not just be the threat of potential conflict between nation-state militaries, it would have been applied pressure on the Turkish economy, according to the National Security Council official.

However, the United States chose not to stand its ground to protect Kurdish Forces against Turkish airstrikes as a part of Trump's "America First policy" and his historical views that war is bad for business, according to the official.

On Sunday, Erdogan reinforced his army units at the Syrian-Turkish border hours after he issued his strongest threat to launch Turkish forces over the border and into the "buffer zone," between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

The buffer zone—sometimes referred to as the peace corridor—was established to prevent another Turkish invasion of northern Syria. The United States had been working to establish a proper demilitarized zone prior to Trump's endorsement of Turkey's military plans.

If Trump's withdraw of U.S. forces had not occurred, the National Security Council official told Newsweek, the United States could have continued to refine the buffer zone on the Syrian-Turkish border.

"To be honest with you, it would be better for the United States to support a Kurdish nation across Turkey, Syria and Iraq," said the National Security Council official. "It would be another Israel in the region."

The current foreign policy debacle is what prompted Trump's former defense secretary, James Mattis, to resign his post after Trump decided to abruptly withdraw American forces from Syria in December 2018. Mattis was the last of the generals touted as the "adults" in the administration—and was an outspoken opponent of a Syrian withdrawal.

A senior Defense Department official told Newsweek in January no U.S. general was happy with the decision to pull back U.S. troops from Syria as Pentagon officials feared the withdrawal could spark an ISIS resurgence similar to the Taliban's growing influence and territory in Afghanistan.

Administration officials in January told Newsweek Trump's sudden withdraw order could undercut strategic U.S. alliances with regional allies; free Russia and Iran to re-establish a full military presence and solid footing in the Mediterranean; and leave U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters vulnerable to being decimated by a Turkish air campaign.

A complete withdrawal could also potentially give up a valuable regional position to American military forces that threaten United States interests in the region, including the interests of allies such as Israel and, to some extent, Jordan.

The National Security Council official compared Turkey to "playground bullies" on Monday.

"When the bigger guy [United States] moves aside in the playground, they [Turkey] get to beat on the smaller guy [Syrian Defense Forces] and this is not about the U.S. being the world police," the National Security Council source told Newsweek.

"We are telling the world, we will use you and then throw you away," the official added. "It's not like they don't have a television in Asia, in Africa, and South America."
https://www.newsweek.com/exclusive-offi ... ne-1463623
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Re: Trump abandons Kurds ahead of planned Turkish slaughter

Postby Jerky » Mon Oct 07, 2019 5:22 pm

The Turkish slaughter of our Kurdish allies in Syria has officially begun.

https://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Tur ... aws-604010
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Re: Trump abandons Kurds ahead of planned Turkish slaughter

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:33 am

David Ignatius


A bad situation in Northeast Syria is about to get much worse. Sources tell me that US officials have just informed the Syrian Kurds that Turkey is likely to attack on air and ground in next 24 hours. The US will do nothing. Targets are Tal Abyad and Ras al Ayn....

...Ironically Tal Abyad was the main supply route for ISIS in 2014-15 through an open border from Turkey. Turkey refused repeated requests from US to shut border. That's a big reason why US decided to partner with SDF, which took the town in the summer of 2015.

...I'm also told that Turkish attack appears coordinated with the Russians. Russian-backed forces are mobilizing to invade the Kurdish area from the south — towards Tabqa and other spots. Meanwhile, ISIS is mobilizing sleeper cells in Raqqa and attacks have taken place tonight.

...And finally there is the scary issue of the thousands of ISIS detainees and families, who may be breaking out of camps and prisons after Turkish attack--with NO American back-up plan. This is a major disaster coming at us because of Trump's decisions. Hours left to stop it...
https://twitter.com/IgnatiusPost/status ... 6242902016
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Re: Trump abandons Kurds ahead of planned Turkish slaughter

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Oct 09, 2019 1:53 pm

Lucas Tomlinson


Syrian Kurds under bombardment from Turkish jets urgently request air support from U.S. and “No fly zone” to protect civilians: SDF statement



Lincoln's Bible

Reports now that trump has ordered our military not to help.
Where the f*ck are our joint chiefs and the generals who were in this administration, who know exactly what a compromised madman trump is?!
Damn the GOP. Damn them all to hell.
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Re: Trump abandons Kurds ahead of planned Turkish slaughter

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Oct 09, 2019 3:48 pm

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Re: Trump abandons Kurds ahead of planned Turkish slaughter

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Oct 09, 2019 4:18 pm

Nicole Gaouette

.@realDonaldTrump knew in advance precisely what the scope of Turkey's operation against the Kurds in Syria would be, a top Erdogan adviser told @CNN's @camanpour in an exclusive interview.
11:38 AM - 9 Oct 2019

“President Trump and President Erdogan have reached an understanding over precisely what this operation is,” Gulnur Aybet, Senior Adviser to the President of Turkey, told @camanpour from Ankara on Wednesday. Trump “knows what the scope of the scope of this operation is.”
https://twitter.com/NicoleCNN/status/11 ... 3629222915



A Betrayal Too Far


Turkish army soldiers wait near the border before entering Syria, on January 21, 2018 at Hassa, in the Turkish province of Hatay, near the Syrian border. Turkey on January 20 launched operation "Olive Branch" seeking to oust from the Afrin region of northern Syria the YPG which Ankara considers a terror group. / AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
Nothing captures the moral and geopolitical bankruptcy of Donald Trump’s Hobbesian worldview better than his rank betrayal of the Kurds.

Once more, Turkey’s President Erdogan—a knave, but not a fool—demonstrated his hypnotic powers over an American president who is both. Without warning, the White House approved Turkey’s plan to invade territory in northern Syria held by the Kurds, America’s one indispensable ally on the ground in the fight against ISIS. The administration’s announcement of betrayal was bald and explicit: “Turkey will soon be moving forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria. The United States Armed Forces . . . having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area.”

Trump’s abrupt and stunning act of dereliction startled everyone he should have consulted beforehand: our State Department, Pentagon, intelligence community, allies, key members of Congress—and the Kurds themselves. He discussed this only with the Turkey’s authoritarian, who is determined to quash a fighting force tied to Kurdish insurgents inside Turkey. In acceding to Turkish aggression on the basis of a single phone call from a crafty autocrat, Trump contemptuously ignored all advice, and abandoned a painstaking American diplomatic effort to work out an accommodation which would satisfy Turkey’s demands for border security.

Even the normally supine Republicans in the House and Senate seem sickened.

Worse, Trump paraded his strategic stupidity and precipitous treachery in all their solitary splendor. Prior to proclaiming “my great and unmatched wisdom” in mastering the situation unassisted, he remonstrated that the Kurds had been “paid massive amounts of money and equipment” to fight a brutal terrorist regime which—he failed to add—American forces could not subdue alone. With ISIS thus quelled, Trump decided it was time for America to bail out of Syria and leave “Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds . . . to figure the situation out.”

America was through, he proudly concluded, with being played for a “sucker.”

The Kurds might beg to differ. By abandoning them, Trump has left the Kurds in a killing zone between Turkey and a genocidal Syrian regime which they must now embrace at the risk of obliteration.

But perhaps the biggest sucker is Trump himself, manipulated by a self-serving authoritarian into punishing vulnerable allies who believed that America would stand behind them—and who continue to be critical in containing an ISIS threat that could well reconstitute in the wake of Trump’s incompetence.

Erdogan, the New York Timesreports, perceived that he could exploit a division between Trump and his military advisors, who wanted a residual force of American troops in Syria to serve as a safeguard for the Kurds, and against ISIS. Their reasons were compelling: according to the New York Times, ISIS still has 18,000 fighters spread across Iraq and Syria, many active in carrying out terrorist operations. Moreover, America has assigned the Kurds responsibility for supervising tens of thousands of captured ISIS members and their families currently in custody.

No more. As if the Middle East was a Monopoly board, Trump has given ISIS a “get out of jail free card.” A Kurdish official told NBC news: “The Americans are traitors. They have abandoned us to a Turkish massacre. We can no longer fight against ISIS and have to defend ourselves. This could allow ISIS to return to the region.”

Brett McGurk, formerly a principal American strategist in Syria, was equally appalled: “This looks to be another reckless decision made without deliberation or consultation following a call with a foreign leader. The White House statement bears no relation to facts on the ground. If implemented, it will significantly increase risks to our personnel, as well as hasten ISIS’s resurgence.”

It was particularly surreal, therefore, that the White House announcement of Trump’s decision treated the problem of captive ISIS fighters as a budgetary problem which Trump cleverly offloaded on the ever-helpful Turks: “The United States Government has pressed France, Germany, and other European nations, from which many captured ISIS fighters came, to take them back, but they did not want them and refused. The United States will not hold them for what could be many years and great cost to the United States taxpayer. Turkey will now be responsible for all ISIS fighters in the area captured over the past two years.”

But of course the United States isn’t holding these detainees—the Kurds are. Now they can’t. As for Turkey, McGurk says, “It has neither the intent, desire, nor capacity to manage” ISIS prisoners who could form “the nucleus for a resurgent ISIS.” In short, Trump has licensed the potential release some of the world’s most dangerous terrorists—and at the same time given the Turks freedom to attack our one essential ally. As McGurk writes, “Donald Trump is not a Commander-in-Chief. He makes impulsive decisions with no knowledge or deliberation. . . . He blusters and then leaves our allies exposed when adversaries call his bluff or he confronts a hard phone call.”

This terrible decision confirms the zombie-like persistence of Trump’s worst notions. In 2018, McGurk notes, “Trump made a similarly impulsive decision when I was managing the policy.” Then, as now, Trump decided to withdraw American forces from Syria based on a single phone call from Erdogan—precipitating the resignations of both McGurk and Secretary of Defense James Mattis. After a tsunami of protest, Trump allowed a residual American force to remain. But the crisis sparked an exodus of principled advisors and left only spineless enablers in place, such as Mike Pompeo. A man without principles will not resign over principle. Or stop Trump from doing his worst the next time Erdogan calls.

But the consequences mistake transcend empowering ISIS. Or even Erdogan and Assad. With U.S. forces gone, the Iranians can more easily supply the Hezbollah militia it uses to empower the Assad regime, and menace Israel. And the Russians in Syria can act with total impunity, while continuing to manipulate the Turks in their effort to weaken NATO.

All of which underscores Trump’s total obliviousness to geopolitical consequences. Thus unimpeded, the Iranians will be able to thwart U.S. sanctions by taking control of oil fields in eastern Syria, undermining Trumps’ stated policy of “maximum pressure.” Most insidiously, perhaps, Trump has abetted Russia by further undermining American alliances and American credibility, continuing his unbroken record of assisting the one man, himself aside, he seems to admire most—Vladimir Putin.

The greatest tragedy, however, is how deeply Trump has invested American foreign policy with the solipsistic inhumanity of a leader who cares for nothing and no one but himself.

Not his country. Nor its allies. Nor the thousands of human beings who stand to be slaughtered by the Turks and, in time, by ISIS.

God help America—and the world that Trump, acting in our name, is abandoning to its most malignant actors.

Richard North Patterson is a lawyer, political commentator and best-selling novelist. He is a former chairman of Common Cause, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and serves on the board of the Renew Democracy Initiative, a bipartisan group dedicated to defending the principles of liberal democracy at home and abroad.
https://thebulwark.com/a-betrayal-too-far/
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Re: Trump abandons Kurds ahead of planned Turkish slaughter

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Oct 09, 2019 6:09 pm

Will Sommer


Trump appears to have gotten his "Kurds didn't help us at Normandy" line from a Kurt Schlichter column. https://townhall.com/columnists/kurtsch ... s-n2554328
Image

The column Trump cited also includes a plug for Schlichter's book series fantasizing about a second US civil war.

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Incidentally, Kurt Schlichter was all in favor of backing the Kurds until Trump decided to give them up to Erdogan. Then he changed his mind!
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Re: Trump abandons Kurds ahead of planned Turkish slaughter

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Oct 09, 2019 8:30 pm

Image


INDICTED Turkish Minister Former General Manager...GIULIANI?
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Re: Trump abandons Kurds ahead of planned Turkish slaughter

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Oct 09, 2019 9:06 pm


Adam Klasfeld

Preet was fired shortly after Giuliani met with Erdogan.

Elie Honig

At some point in early 2017, somebody had to have whispered into Trump’s ear something like “Hey boss, we’re gonna be breaking a lotta laws and obstructing a lotta justice in NY, so this @PreetBharara guy’s gotta go.” Who was it? Rudy? Jared? Other? https://twitter.com/klasfeldreports/sta ... 8971832320
6:13 PM - 9 Oct 2019


Adam Klasfeld added,
Preet Bharara

I have a lot of questions about this — Trump trying to interfere with this case in SDNY against Turkey’s Reza Zarrab https://twitter.com/yashar/status/1182061751380127744

Something Erdogan had lobbied for in 2016.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions ... story.html
Image

he got both, in the end






Neva

1/
Add Flynn to the Tillerson, Giuliani, Zarrab mess—

December 2016 meeting between Flynn and senior Turkish officials
Flynn and other participants discussed a way to free a Turkish-Iranian gold trader, Reza Zarrab, who is jailed in the U.S.

2/
Zarrab is facing federal charges that he helped Iran skirt U.S. sanctions

Rudy Giuliani, who was a top Trump campaign surrogate alongside Flynn, is part of Zarrab's defense team

3/
The New York Times reported that Giuliani met Erdoğan in late February
Giuliani and Erdogan discussed an agreement under which Zarrab would be freed in exchange for Turkey's help furthering U.S. interests in the region


4/
The meeting allegedly took place at the upscale 21 Club restaurant in New York, just blocks away from Trump Tower
Flynn, his son, and several Turkish officials planned to deliver—kidnap, basically—Fethullah Gülen to the Turkish government in exchange for $15 million

5/
November of 2016, The Hill published an op-ed written by Flynn comparing Gulen to Osama bin Laden

Flynn urged the U.S. to “adjust our foreign policy to recognize Turkey as a priority”

6/
Prosecutors charged Bijan Rafiekian, aka Bijan Kian, and Kamil Ekim Alptekin with acting as unregistered agents of the Turkish government in a plot centered around Turkish
cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania


7/
Bijan Kian faces up to 15 years of imprisonment, and Kamil Ekim Alptekin faces up to 30 years of imprisonment

Flynn and son, Flynn Intel Group, were not charged
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Re: Trump abandons Kurds ahead of planned Turkish slaughter

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Oct 09, 2019 10:55 pm

dam Klasfeld


Erdogan’s fear, as related by @ColinKahl here, was well-founded:

Zarrab implicated Erdogan and multiple-high ranking AKP ministers in the money laundering scandal on the witness stand.


From my live trial coverage nearly two years ago:
https://twitter.com/KlasfeldReports/sta ... 2269517825


Turkish President Implicated in Iran Sanctions Case
ADAM KLASFELD
November 30, 2017

Ahead of a May 16 meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife, Emine, disembark from a plane after arriving in Washington on May 15, 2017. (Presidency Press Service/Pool photo via AP)

MANHATTAN (CN) – The U.S. government’s key witness in a trial over billions of dollars funneled to Iran implicated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the scheme Thursday.

“What I’m saying is that the prime minister at that time period, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and minister of the treasury, Ali Babacan, had given orders to start doing this trade,” Reza Zarrab testified this morning.

A wealthy businessman who has been cooperating with U.S. prosecutors as part of a plea deal in the same case, Zarrab has been regaling jurors for two days about bribes to Turkish officials and a complicated scheme in which using gold trades were used to circumvent U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Erdogan would not become president of Turkey until 2014. It was as the country’s prime minister, Zarrab said, that Erdogan ordered trades between Iran and Turkey’s Ziraat Bank and Vakif Bank.


Reza Zarrab, a 34-year-old gold trader who was charged in the U.S. for evading sanctions on Iran, is pictured in this Dec. 17, 2013, photo surrounded by the media at a courthouse in Istanbul. The case against Zarrab is built on work initially performed by Turkish investigators who targeted him in 2013 in a sweeping corruption scandal that led high up to Turkish government Turkey’s official news agency reported that prosecutors there launched an investigation on Nov. 18, 2017, into two U.S. prosecutors involved in trying the Turkish-Iranian businessman. (Depo Photos via AP)
Zarrab said he assumed Ziraat Bank had offices in New York at the time of the trades.

Before this morning’s testimony, Erdogan released a statement defending his government’s conduct.

“We have both energy and trade relations with Iran,” Erdogan said, according to a translation by City University of New York professor Louis Fishman.

“We did not violate the [U.S.] embargo,” the Turkish president added. “Whatever happens in trial we did the correct thing. We did not have such an commitment to U.S. The world does not consist of the U.S. alone.”

Zarrab specified that he did not have direct knowledge of Erdogan’s alleged order, which he said he learned about from Turkey’s then-economic minister Zafer Caglayan.

A day earlier, Zarrab claimed to have bribed Caglayan between “45 and 50 million in euros” and more in other currency in service of the money laundering scheme, and the alleged corruption scheme expanded again today.

Zarrab said that he paid $2 million to Suleyman Aslan, the general manager of the state-run Halkbank.

The allegation put prosecutors one step closer to the man on trial: Mehmet Atilla, a manager at the same bank.

Zarrab did not accuse Atilla of corruption: Paying off anyone else was unnecessary, Zarrab said, because Caglayan and Aslan were already on the payroll.

“I was already giving bribes to the Turkish minister of the economy,” Zarrab noted.

But Atilla, according to Zarrab, was necessary to formulate a scheme to disguise Iranian assets in the form of food aid, which prosecutors claim to have been a sham.

Prosecutors played two audio recordings today of conversations between Zarrab and Atilla speaking of these transactions in Turkish.

During one of these conversations, Zarrab claims that Atilla told him: “Yes, I have knowledge of this matter,” referring to the Iranian transactions.

Atilla’s name had previously received scant mention, even though he is the sole defendant.

During opening statements, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Denton called Atilla the “architect” of the money laundering scheme, and he introduced a message indicating that the 47-year-old bank manager helped create the system.

Asked whether he had a “problem with the method proposed by Hakan Atilla” in April 2013, Zarrab replied: “No, that is absolutely the correct method.”

Prosecutors also introduced evidence through WhatsApp, the popular chat platform for encrypted communications.

“Generally, we were writing on WhatsApp the sensitive subjects, the private subjects and the important subjects,” Zarrab said.

In one message entered into evidence, Zarrab told Aslan: “My dear general manager, I started food today,” which he described as another nod to the Iran trades.

Zarrab’s testimony has received intense attention in Turkey, where Erdogan’s opponents see it as a reckoning over a 2013 corruption scandal that implicated several top people in the Turkish government.

One of those officials, former Turkish Minister of the Interior Muammer Guler, was caught up in that probe through his family, and Zarrab said today that he paid that man’s son Baris a $100,000 bribe.

The United States had Zarrab arrested in March 2016, years after the Turkish prosecution Erdogan described as a “judicial coup” evaporated.

The gold trader’s plea deal has raised eyebrows on both sides of the globe, with multiple outlets reporting that Zarrab may be cooperating in a probe of former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn.

As part of his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016, the Department of Justice’s special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly eyeing whether Trump’s former national-security adviser Michael Flynn considered kidnapping a Turkish dissident living in Pennsylvania and delivering him to Erdogan in exchange for $15 million.

NBC reported that Mueller may also be interested in whether Turkish government officials ever sought Flynn’s help in winning Zarrab’s release from prison.

Zarrab has not testified to any of these U.S. political ripples of his case so far.

His testimony, originally expected to conclude Friday, is likely to last far longer because the prosecution’s direct examination has not yet ended. Atilla’s attorneys will likely then try to undermine Zarrab’s statements on cross-examination.
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