Trump withdrew American troops from the Syrian-Turkish border, leaving the Kurdish allies to be slaughtered and opening the way for a resurgent Islamic State. Trump’s rationale? He promised to bring USA soldiers home.
There could be another reason. Trump never divested from his real estate business, and the Trump Towers Istanbul is the Trump Organization’s first and only office and residential building in Europe. Businesses linked to the Turkish government are also major patrons of the Trump Organization. Which may be why Trump has repeatedly sided with the Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has been intent on eliminating the Kurds.
Trump Towers Istanbul are two conjoined towers in Şişli, Istanbul, Turkey. One of the towers is an office tower, and the other a residential tower, consisting of over 200 residences. The complex also holds a shopping mall with some 80 shops and a multiplex cinema. They are the first Trump Towers built in Europe. The property developer is Turkish billionaire Aydın Doğan, in a license-partnership with American businessman and current United States president Donald Trump. Many businesses based in Europe and the Middle East occupy the complex.
The residential tower includes the only collective wine cellar in Turkey, the cellar being built by Focus Wine Cellars.
Among the buildings’ prominent tenants is Iranian-born businessman Reza Zarrab.
In June 2016, Turkish President called for the removal of the Trump name from the towers, saying “Trump has no tolerance for Muslims living in the US. And on top of that they used a brand in Istanbul with his name. The ones who put that brand on their building should immediately remove it.”
In December 2015, Trump stated in a radio interview that he had a “conflict of interest” in dealing with Turkey because of his property, saying “I have a little conflict of interest, because I have a major, major building in Istanbul … It’s called Trump Towers. Two towers, instead of one. Not the usual one, it’s two. And I’ve gotten to know Turkey very well.”
In August 2018, Aytun Ciray, general secretary of the Iyi Party, a major opposition party in Turkey, called on the government of President Erdogan to “seize the Trump Towers” in protest the Trump Administration’s declaration of sanctions on Turkey’s ministers of justice and the interior.
The fact that Trump made his decision to pull the U.S. troops out of Syria shortly after the phone call with Erdogan has raised alarm bells from policymakers, as well as government ethics watchdog groups who have long seen Trump’s extensive business interests as a potential area for conflicts of interest. The decision underscores the “impulsiveness” and “the transactional, quid pro quo-ness of the president.”
That “transactional” charge is based on the Trump family’s multitude of continuing business entities and interests, all separated from the president — at least on paper — by the trust that now controls them. But the president is the beneficiary of that trust and two of his children have roles in it.
“It always is a concern that those business ties, at the very least, color his judgment,” said an undersecretary at the State Department during the Obama administration, “and at the very worst are the reasons for his judgment.”
Trump and his family have long had business ties in and with Turkey, the most visible example being the Trump Towers Istanbul, which licenses the Trump name. The Trump Organization describes the buildings on its website as “a landmark in the historic city of Istanbul” and it is the organization’s first and only office and residential tower in Europe, with offices, apartments and upscale shops. The Washington Post has reported that the organization was paid up to $10 million to put the Trump name on the two buildings.
Erdogan attended the opening ceremony of the office and residential towers in 2012 and Ivanka Trump tweeted a message thanking him for attending, although a photo of Erdogan at the ribbon cutting has been removed from his Facebook page.
A lawsuit filed by 29 senators and 186 House Democrats — one of three lawsuits that have alleged that Trump is in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clauses, which bar the president from receiving monetary or other benefits of value from foreign or U.S. state entities while in office — names Turkey as one of countries where Trump has personal business ventures that could pose a conflict of interest. Other countries listed include China and the Philippines.
Businesses linked to the Turkish government are also major patrons of the Trump Organization. Turkish officials have made 14 visits to Trump properties, more than any other country, according to an analysis performed for NBC News by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW.
In November 2016, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, soon to be Trump’s first national security adviser, wrote an op-ed favorable to Erdogan, who has consolidated his power and locked up thousands of people after a failed 2016 military coup, including many who had nothing to do with it.
Flynn, who was paid $530,000 for consulting work in Turkey prior to the 2016 election, violated U.S. law in not registering with the U.S. government for the work until almost a month after he was fired as Trump’s national security adviser in February 2017.
Trump, at the time, said the U.S. shouldn’t criticize Erdogan for a crackdown that’s included taking over dozens of television and radio stations and arresting reporters, according to Human Rights Watch. He even told reporters he gave “great credit to him for turning it around.”
Ivanka Trump’s main business contact in Turkey has been Mehmet Ali Yalcindag, who is the son-in-law of Dogan Holding founder Aydin Dogan, the developer behind the Trump Towers in Istanbul.
Yalcindag considers himself a close friend of Trump and his family. After the Dogans invested $400 million in Trump Towers, Trump said “we have a great, great friendship and relationship with them.”
“They’ve really become beyond partners,” Trump said in 2012.
Yalcindag reportedly attended Trump’s 2016 election victory celebration in New York City on election night. He subsequently became president of the Turkish-American Business Council (TAIK), a group that in 2017 held a three-day conference inside the Trump International Hotel in Washington, attended by U.S. government notables including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
According to Trump’s financial disclosure forms, the Trump business relating to the licensing of the Trump name to the Trump Towers Istanbul property in Turkey earned him $1 million to $5 million in royalties in 2015 and 2016. The royalties decreased, according to his disclosures, to $100,001 to $1 million for 2017 and 2018.
The conflicts extend to Trump’s hotel in D.C. Soon after the November 2016 election, “about 100 foreign diplomats, from Brazil to Turkey” were given “a sales pitch about [Defendant]’s newest hotel,” according to the Democrat-filed lawsuit.
John Sipher, who spent 28 years working for the CIA, expressed his frustration at Trump’s announcement. “At least the Trump Administration is consistent,” he said on Twitter. “We are about screwing our allies, partners and friends. Don’t trust America, even if you shed blood on their behalf. If you want favors build a Trump tower.”
The Syrian Democratic Forces released a statement in October 7, saying “Despite our efforts to avoid any military escalation with Turkey, the U.S. forces have not fulfilled their obligations and withdrew their forces from the border areas with Turkey…Turkey is now preparing an invasion of northern and eastern Syria.”
Source: NBC NEWS