Amsterdam (ANF) – Michael Rubin, academic and former staff advisor for Iran and Iraq at the Pentagon, spoke to ANF English service on the inclusion of one of Erdoğan’s former ministers, Zafer Çağlayan, in the case file of Reza Zarrab, its influence on Zarrab’s case and Washington-Ankara relations, and Erdoğan’s planned visit to the U.S. in mid-September.
Rubin remarked that the arrest warrant issued for Zafer Çağlayan could be a sign that Zarrab is talking to prosecutors and giving evidence. He said: “That’s Erdogan’s nightmare, because if Zarrab is talking, then Zarrab is also likely talking about Erdogan’s dealings. And the thing with judicial proceedings is that they will become public. Erdogan can complain it’s a conspiracy against him, but the evidence is there and fewer people–at least outside his core supporters–believes him anymore. Certainly, the warrant on Cağlayan will undercut Washington-Ankara relations but, the U.S. Judiciary is independent and, regardless, U.S. officials simply don’t care anymore what Erdogan thinks.”
Rubin pointed out that this issue could go beyond Çağlayan and extend to some other persons or institutions because in Turkey the corruption and the shady dealings didn’t stop with Zarrab and Cağlayan.
“Ultimately, the finger will point at Erdoğan. That said, as the head of state, there’s little that the United States can do other than expose the information. That said, it would not be wise for his family members to visit the United States ever again.”
Regarding the possibility that the U.S. judiciary could backpedal at this stage, Rubin stated this is not the case as Çağlayan isn’t in the United States and Erdoğan won’t extradite him. “The case may not go forward, but it won’t disappear”, he said.
As Erdoğan will be visiting the U.S. in mid-September, we asked Rubin if this issue could be negotiated and overcome through talks with the US administration. He answered;
“The independence of the judiciary means that neither Trump nor Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would have the power to meet Erdogan’s demands should Erdogan be stupid enough to make them. And, frankly, everyone is just going to be watching to see who Erdogan’s bodyguards try to attack this time.”
Commenting on the reports by mouthpieces of the Erdoğan media that described this case as the U.S. war against Turkey, Rubin said: “It’s nonsense. Erdogan is facing consequences for his bad decisions. His aids sought to use U.S.-based banks to conduct activities illegal under U.S. law. Turkey is the victim of Erdogan, not of the United States.”
Asked about the influence this corruption case could have on the civil war in Turkey, Syria and Turkey’s role in the region, Rubin said this issue has more to do with U.S. sanctions against Iran, noting that he suspects Hakan Fidan is another lynchpin in many of these issues.
Rubin remarked that he doubts any of these suspects will want to travel to Germany anytime soon, adding: “Erdoğan may see himself as the new sultan, but most countries see him as the world’s biggest jackass. Simply put, his threats have backfired and few countries care what he says.”
Rubin stressed that: “It appears Zarrab is talking. he is the man who knows too much. And the whole reason he came to the U.S. is that he knew that in Turkey or Iran, he would likely be killed. In the US, he may be imprisoned, but he will be safe. And, someday he could walk free if he becomes an informant against men like Cağlayan and Erdoğan.”