February 27, 2014 | Quote

Erdogan Says Phone Taps of Him are Fakes From ‘Robot Lobby’

Turks in the conservative Istanbul district where Recep Tayyip Erdogan grew up stood defiantly by their prime minister on Wednesday in the face of a voice recording purportedly of him warning his son to hide large sums of money.

“A shameless montage,” read headlines in the pro-government Yeni Safak and Sabah newspapers, echoing Erdogan’s condemnation of the recordings, which he blamed on a network run by a former Islamist ally cleric Fethullah Gulen.

“The recording which is shaking Turkey,” read a headline in the liberalRadikal daily. “Flee or resign,” said the secularist Cumhuriyet, quoting the main opposition leader.

Meanwhile, a new report by Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington and former terrorism finance analyst at the US Department of the Treasury, titled “Terrorism Finance in Turkey: A Growing Concern,” says that Ankara has been turning “a blind eye to the flow of money and weaponry to dangerous jihadi groups, including al-Qaida.”

It points out that Turkey has been helping Iran avoid sanctions through a “gas-for-gold” arrangement.

In addition, Erdogan has been meeting with leaders ofHamas in Ankara. Hamas official Saleh Aruri resides in Turkey and has been running financial logistic operations for the group, states the report.

“There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that the AKP government in Turkey has fostered political and financial ties to Iran, Hamas, Syrian jihadi groups and even accused al-Qaida financiers,” Schanzer told The Jerusalem Post.

“What this means for Turkish- American ties is not yet clear.

Washington appears reticent to raise these issues publicly, but it is only a matter of time before the news headlines prompt a reckoning,” he said. “There is simply too much evidence to ignore.”

Turkey’s ties to terrorism-sponsoring states and terrorist groups needs to be publicized “while there is still an opportunity to address the problem through bilateral cooperation,” Schanzer said.

If the issue is not dealt with in this way, relations could fray if Washington designates Turkish entities as supporting terrorism, he said.

Read the full article here.