Report: Ahmadinejad to Back Erdogan's Bid for Reelection
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad plans to help Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his bid for reelection, according to the British Daily Telegraph.
Ahmadinejad has reportedly offered Erdogan's party, the AKP, up to $37 million. The AKP is Turkey's largest Islamic party; Erdogan plans to run next year for a third term in office.
Iran is also planning to transfer funds to the Turkish pro-terrorist group IHH, whose activists attacked Israeli soldiers during an attempt earlier this year to break the naval blockade on Hamas. Soldiers opened fire in defense, killing nine, in an incident that severely strained Israel's already tense ties with Ankara.
Turkey's leaders have denied receiving campaign funds from Ahmadinejad. However, Western diplomatic sources told the Telegraph that they were concerned by the news. Tighter ties between Turkey and Iran indicate that Erdogan may use newly acquired power to push Turkey further towards Islamic rule.
Turkish citizens voted this week to transfer some power from the military and judiciary to the government. Erdogan has stated that the changes will make Turkey more democratic and will assist in the country's campaign to gain European Union membership.
The changes weaken what were seen as the guardians of Turkey's secular democracy. The Turkish army has historically intervened to keep politics secular, and the judiciary has kept Islamic parties in check, preventing them from openly promoting sharia (Islamic) law.