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Sunday, December 22, 2013

BFF's no more? Erdoğan may expel US Ambassador to Turkey

Not too long ago, it looked like they would be best friends forever. But now, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is threatening to expel the United States Ambassador to Turkey as a corruption scandal rocks his government (Hat Tip: Joshua I).
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has implied that Turkey could expel the US ambassador to Ankara for his alleged remarks regarding a major graft probe in which four ministers face allegations of bribery and wrongdoing, and the state bank Halkbank is accused of links to suspicious money transactions and gold-smuggling from Iran. 
According to a report that appeared on the pro-government Yeni Şafak daily’s website, US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone told EU ambassadors in Ankara in a meeting on Dec. 17, the beginning of the graft probe, that the US had asked Turkey to cut Halkbank’s financial ties with Iran.
“We requested the end of the financial ties of Halkbank with Iran. But they didn’t listen. You are watching the collapse of an empire [Turkey],” said Ricciardone, according to the Yeni Şafak report, regarding the ongoing investigation into alleged bribery and tender rigging. 
Speaking at a rally in northern province of Samsun on Saturday, Erdoğan again struck a defiant tone, adamantly rejecting any wrongdoing, characterizing the corruption case as an international plot to weaken Turkey’s growing economic and diplomatic clout, and topple the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government. 
"These recent days, very strangely, ambassadors get involved in some provocative acts. I am calling on them: Do your job, if you leave your area of duty, this could extend into our government's area of jurisdiction. We do not have to keep you [Ricciardone] in our country," Erdogan told supporters in the Black Sea province, implying that the US ambassador could be expelled. 
The US Embassy to Turkey has denied any role in the investigation.
The US Embassy has actually gone even further. It has not only denied that Ricciardone made those comments, but also that the meeting in question ever took place. And so has a group of western ambassadors. 

The Turks have also tried blaming Israel for the scandal. But then, you could have guessed that.

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