Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian businessman, stands accused of helping Iran violate sanctions, the case will have profound ramifications for Turkey, and its relationship with the United States. Zarrab allegedly bribed high-level Turkish government officials in order to secure their cooperation in his illicit “gas-for-gold” scheme. Moreover, because of the potential for damaging information about Turkish corruption to come out at trial, the Turkish government has pressured Washington to throw out the case.
The Zarrab case, however, is hardly unique. Since coming to power, the government of President Erdogan has coopted, then expanded illicit networks of influence to consolidate its rule. Understanding what makes Erdogan’s blend of crony capitalism and state sponsored patronage so effective will be, as the Zarrab case shows, crucial to understanding the nature of today’s Turkish regime and charting the future course of U.S.-Turkish relations.
This event served as the launch for a new Bipartisan Policy Center paper series exploring the role of corruption in contemporary Turkish politics. Watch as we dissected the allegations against Zarrab, evaluated the potential fallout of this case for Turkey and for America, and assessed the role corruption plays in Erdogan’s Turkey.
Director, Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center
Senior Policy Analyst, BPC