How a Corruption Investigation Could Jeopardize NATO

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American and Swedish prosecutors are looking at Erdogan’s son, Bilal, for possible bribery, according to Reuters. The Swedish company Dignita Systems AB, owned by an American company, allegedly considered paying kickbacks to Bilal to facilitate the sale of its technology, car-mounted breathalyzers.

Dignity did not go through with the plan, claiming that it saw “potentially concerning conduct.” Whether the plans rise to the level of crime, and who would be indicted in this case, remains unknown. However, this investigation could have much wider political ramifications. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sweden and Finland have requested to join the alliance.

While Finland encountered no issues, Turkey and Sweden have been feuding over Kurdish politics, and Erdogan has withheld Sweden’s entry into the alliance which requires unanimous consent from current members. A corruption investigation into his own son will no doubt further prevent Sweden from joining the alliance. Erdogan’s recent reelection further solidifies his power in his country.

Turkey plays a critical geopolitical role in NATO. While its military budget is not the highest, it does have the most troops in the field after the United States. It controls the Turkish Straits, which can block access between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

Turkey can also project soft power throughout the Middle East, and has helped reshaped the battleground in the Caucasus when it helped Azerbaijan defeat Armenia in the 2020 conflict. It can control the flow of Middle Eastern refugees into Europe, which it has leveraged diplomatically in the past.

Erdogan’s family predicament shows an eery similarity to the accusations leveled against Joe Biden and his son Hunter. In both cases, the son of a major politician allegedly traded on the importance of their father to enrich themselves. How both Presidents handle these accusations will be enlightening.


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