Now Obama Needs to Pressure Turkey

(CNN) Jonathan Schanzer and Emanuele Ottolenghi - In a surprise development, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu issued an apology to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan over the ill-fated May 2010 flotilla. Netanyahu's apology was clearly a concession to U.S. President Obama. But if Obama plays his cards right, he should make demands of Erdogan, too - that Turkey cease acting as one of the more troubling epicenters of illicit financial activity. For one, Turkey has emerged in recent years as one of the primary patrons of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. In December 2011, Erdogan reportedly "instructed the Ministry of Finance to allocate $300 million to be sent to Hamas' government in Gaza." Iran has been benefiting handsomely from Turkey's Halkbank, which processes payments for Iranian gas with gold. Despite increased scrutiny, the Turkish newspaper Zaman noted in January that the Iranian "gas-for-gold" was still going. From Hizbullah assets to money-changers and gold dealers who do Iran's bidding to government backing of jihadists in Syria, Turkey will remain an illicit finance problem for the foreseeable future. Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S Department of the Treasury, is vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where Emanuele Ottolenghi, author of The Pasdaran: Inside Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, is a senior fellow.

2013-04-03 00:00:00

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