Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will make a substantial contribution to the campaign funds of Turkey’s leading Islamic party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported yesterday. Under the terms of the deal, Iran made an initial transfer of $12 million to the AKP and further payments of up to $25 million will be made later in the year. The money is said to help support Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan’s campaign for re-election for a third term, a first in Turkish history.
In addition, according to the report, Iran will provide financial support to the IHH, the Turkish Islamic charity reportedly connected to the AKP that supported last May’s fatal aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip.
Iranian President Ahmadinejad (left) with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan (right)
The report comes on the heals of Erdogan’s victorious efforts to reform Turkey’s constitution. On Sunday, Turks approved amendments to the constitution that bolster the Islamic government at the expense of the court and military, two institutions that have historically safeguarded the country’s secularism.
Although both Ankara and Tehran denied the reports today, author Con Coughlin defends his article. Whether true or false, this story only increases already held suspicions in the Western world and among secular Turks that Ankara under the AKP-led government is deepening ties with Islamic states such as Iran and distancing itself from past allies such as Israel and the U.S.