Ankara this week rolled back its opposition to Stockholm joining the US-led bloc.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh claimed on Thursday that US President Joe Biden offered his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan more than $11 billion in IMF assistance to ratify Sweden’s bid to join the NATO bloc.
In an article posted to his Substack account, Hersh wrote that he had been informed by an anonymous source that “Biden promised that a much-needed $11-13 billion line of credit” would be established for Türkiye by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This was to be in return, Hersh suggested, for Erdogan removing Ankara’s objection to Stockholm joining the US-led military bloc ahead of the NATO summit that took place this week in Lithuania.
Erdogan, who was re-elected as Turkish leader in late May, is currently facing the mammoth task of replacing or repairing hundreds of thousands of buildings damaged or destroyed in February’s earthquakes in which at least 50,000 lost their lives.
Türkiye had previously opposed Sweden’s accession to the bloc, largely due to Ankara’s stance that Stockholm has harbored militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which was involved in an armed conflict with the Turkish state in the 1980s. The PKK has been designated a terrorist organization by Türkiye, Sweden, Europe and the United States.
“What could be better for Erdogan,” Hersh wrote of the American and Turkish presidents’ alleged arrangement, quoting an official familiar with it, than him “finally having seen the light and realizing he is better off with NATO and Western Europe?”
The report also referenced a June financial analysis of Ankara’s coffers by the independent think tank Council on Foreign Relations, which cast a dire economic outlook for Erdogan to navigate in the early stages of his latest term as leader.
It said that Türkiye stands on the precipice of an “imminent financial crisis” and if facing a choice “between selling its gold, an avoidable default, or swallowing the bitter pill of a complete policy reversal and possibly an IMF program.”
Hersh, 86, generated headlines earlier this year when he claimed he had been informed –also by an anonymous source– that the United States was responsible for last year’s explosions that neutered the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines that supply energy from Russia to Europe. Washington dismissed the claims as “complete fiction.”