Six years ago, I penned a piece for the Middle East Quarterly about Turkey’s “Green Money” problem, basically putting pen to paper about a problem which Turkish journalists, politicians, and economists all whispered about, but which because of the chill on press freedom in Turkey, could not write: Basically, billions of dollars from Persian Gulf states and financiers had flooded into Turkey illegally and appeared to be funding the ruling Islamist party and the pet projects of its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Alas, it seems the problem continues. According to the Turkish press, almost $10 billion in unexplained money entered the Turkish economy in the first six months of the year. Alas, with no more separation of power in Turkey, such discrepancies can no longer be investigated. Some of the money might have gone to give the ruling party a competitive advantage over its competitors, other money might have been used to pay off judges and prosecutors, and still others might have gone to the prime minister’s favorite Islamist causes.
Rather than promote Turkey as a model for the Middle East, responsible American diplomacy would push Turkey toward accountability and transparency. Perhaps then more democratic forces would prevail. Alas, such hopes are impossible during the Obama administration. In the meantime, Erdoğan will continue to laugh all the way to the bank.