Turkish mafia scandal touches Erdogan

New statements from Turkey’s “top mafioso”, Sadat Peker, point to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s involvement in the illegal arms sale to the Islamist paramilitary group Al-Nusra. The scandal has already led to a drop in the rating of the country’s president and his party.

In the Turkish criminal world, Peker is considered a major figure: 49-year-old Sedat has sat in the dock many times on charges of murder or attempted murder, and was convicted of “creating a criminal organization.” Despite this, his charisma allowed him to gain a number of admirers, but until recently most Turks treated him simply like a big bandit.

In 2020, he fled Turkey and headed to the Balkans, and today claims to be living in Dubai, although, according to The guardian, it is most likely located in North Macedonia.

In May 2021, the mafiosi began to post videos one after another (12 announced in total, while 7 have been published), which reveal the criminal schemes of the Turkish elite. They have gained wide popularity, the most viewed at the moment has almost 13 million – numbers unseen in the Turkish segment of the Internet. And in a number of media outlets, for example, in the Akit newspaper, his activities have already been called Turkish Wikileaks

In recent weeks, however, Pecker has been in the spotlight for another reason, namely his YouTube video messages. In his speeches, he makes serious accusations against well-known politicians from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The accusations against the ruling party’s politicians are unprecedented: conspiracy to commit murder and rape, involvement in the drug trade, abuse of power and much more. Peker also claims that the Turkish authorities have protected him from prosecution for years and even provided him with police protection.

The main target of Peker’s attacks was Turkish Interior Minister Suleiman Soylu. In his videos, the crime boss claims that the minister warned about the investigation launched against him, after which Peker fled Turkey to avoid prison. Such accusations could seriously undermine Soylu’s position. Since the Turkish authorities have not yet launched an investigation into Peker’s allegations, the opposition’s demands for the resignation of the country’s interior minister are only intensifying.

Weapons from Ankara to An-Nusra?

According to Deutshe Welle, in his latest video, Packer claims that in 2014, the Turkish government, in violation of the law, supplied weapons to the Islamist paramilitary group Al-Nusra, which is fighting in Syria against the Assad regime and is considered a terrorist organization. He tried to substantiate the accusations with his personal testimony, saying that at the time he personally contacted government officials who asked him to supply Turkish guerrillas with weapons in northern Syria. But, according to Peker, some trucks that entered Syria with weapons and ammunition changed their destination and headed not towards the Turkish partisans, but towards Al-Nusra.

At the same time, the “mafia” claims that the entire operation was organized by the private company SADAT, specializing in military equipment and security technologies, while its owner is close to Erdogan (the founder of SADAT is Erdogan’s former security adviser Adnan Tenriverdi). However, SADAT denies these allegations. And yet, what Peker says is becoming increasingly important, since scenarios of Ankara’s possible involvement in arms sales to Islamist terrorist organizations have been circulating in Turkey for a long time.

Report by opposition journalist Dudar

In 2015, the then editor-in-chief of the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet caused a stir by claiming that Turkish intelligence services (MIT) were involved in the smuggling of weapons and ammunition into Syria. Dudar paid dearly for these words. He was arrested, lost his job as editor-in-chief, left Turkey in 2016 and has lived in exile in Berlin ever since. In December 2020, he was sentenced in absentia to 18 years and 9 months in prison for “espionage” and “supporting a terrorist organization”, as well as an additional eight years and nine months in prison for “supporting terrorist acts”. However, his case has not yet been decided by the Turkish Supreme Court (Yargitai).

Pecker’s allegations give hope for a possible re-trial of the Dudar case. Or maybe not. “With the current state of the justice system, it is difficult to expect significant steps,” Dudar told Deutsche Welle. It would be a special irony to hear the words of journalist Dudar in exculpation from the mafioso Peker, given what happened in the recent past. As soon as the threatening message was made public, Dudar said Packer sent him the following threatening message: “You deceived the nation. This is why you deserve to die. ”

Of course, this happened when Peker was still on the side of the Turkish government. “It’s ridiculous to think that our MIT truck report is backed up by a protagonist of organized crime,” says Dudar. Considering, however, that insider revelations are likely to increase the credibility of this report. “What surprised me in the last video was the revelation of the president’s involvement,” Dudar told DW. “Many details (about the supply of weapons) were known before, but no one dared to speak openly about the possible involvement of Erdogan.” But Peker, according to the former chief editor of Cumhuriet, mentioned specific names associated with the president.

Erdogan himself remained silent for a long time about Peker’s accusations. And while he usually doesn’t hesitate to comment on people and things, in this case “he was very patient and thought very carefully about what he was going to say,” Pecker said. In the next video, which he wants to post on Sunday, Packer said he would now turn to Erdogan himself. Peker is worried that this could cause his account to be blocked. In the videos he has uploaded to YouTube so far, Peker has fondly referred to Erdogan as “Abby”, something of a “big brother,” and directed a fire at Interior Minister Suleiman Soila. As opposition protests intensified, along with demanding Soilu’s resignation, Erdogan expressed solidarity with his minister, which Peker apparently sees as a problem. A sequel is expected next Sunday.

Erdogan’s party is experiencing a crisis of confidence?

Recently, the popularity of the ruling party among voters has continued to decline. The AKP’s rating has now dropped to 27% since the last parliamentary elections in the country in June 2018, according to a poll conducted by Metropoll, a Turkish polling institute.

Another survey suggests that popularity of President Erdogan among the population also dropped sharply. Now the president is supported by 40% of respondents: according to this indicator, Erdogan is inferior to such opposition politicians as the Mayor of Ankara Mansur Yavash, the Mayor of Istanbul Ekrem Imamoglu and the representative of the nationalist Good Party Meral Akshener.

Experts say: “Turkish authorities are closely linked to the mafia”

The drop in the AKP rating is primarily due to the economic crisis in the country and the consequences of the pandemic, explains Ibrahim Uslu. “Peker’s statements will probably not have a direct impact on the results of the polls, but in the long term they will undermine the credibility of the government,” the expert notes.

At the same time, political scientist Baris Doster from Marmara University in Istanbul suggests that the videos will immediately affect the situation in the country. “The AKP’s rating will fall to the lowest level. If the government can recover from such a blow, it will be a real miracle,” he said. Peker’s statements play into the hands of the opposition, Doster said.

Fikri Saglar, a member of the Turkish parliament from the Republican People’s Party, the country’s largest opposition force, notes that Sedat Peker’s revelations are not an isolated incident, but rather indicate a fundamental problem in Turkish society. “The government has never been able to distance itself from the mafia,” the politician complains, “and Peker’s video messages are yet another evidence of the“ close ties of the Turkish authorities with mafia structures, ”Saglar says.

A Turkish journalist in a conversation with Gazeta.Ru says that although the Turks had previously guessed about the links between the political establishment and the criminal world, it was only Pecker’s revelations that gave an idea of ​​the real scale.

“He shows all the cards quite convincingly. The Turks have heard about some of the suspicions before with the edge of their ear, but in his video everything is stated clearly and clearly. Peker always says that if someone tries to refute his words, he will disgrace them with evidence, and there was such a precedent. For example, he said that the Minister of Internal Affairs Suleiman Soglu tried to contact him through journalists, but they denied it. After that, Peker posted a conversation recorded in FaceTime, for which the journalists had to leave the country. The situation is very tense, “says the source of Gazeta.Ru.

Kamburoglu: Everyone in Turkey watches Peker’s video

According to Kamburoglu, Peker’s videos have an unprecedented resonance in Turkey, as they are discussed everywhere. “You go, for example, to the first-aid post – and there someone is sure to look his video… They break all records on Turkish YouTube, memes have also appeared, some joke that this is more interesting than the series on Netflix, ”says the Turkish journalist.

In the state media, Pecker is presented exclusively as a criminal, denoting that this is all slander. In addition, his brother Atilla was arrested. And in the criminal world itself, Peker has a number of enemies, for example, Alaattin Chakydzhi, loyal to Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s partners in parliament.

The resonance that Peker’s videos acquired is evidenced by the fact that Erdogan himself could not help reacting at least indirectly to them. True, he predictably focused on Pecker’s past, and not on the essence of the accusations. According to the leader of the state, in Turkey “there are pitiful and unworthy people who accept help from mafia groups, and criminal groups are as evil as terrorist organizations.” Observers believe that Erdogan has not yet developed an explicit strategy for action.

Kamburoglu says there is speculation that Peker’s accusations will eventually force Minister Soila to resign or even force President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to remove him from office.

“Of course, Peker’s words discredit Soila. Perhaps he will leave on his own and will pretend to be ready for the trial. This can help ward off the blow. But at the same time, Soylu does not directly answer questions about his involvement in possible crimes and so far emphasized that he does not think about resignation. There is an internal struggle in the government, as the one who takes the first step will take the blow, ”says the journalist.

He also recalls that in Turkey, since about 2016, the media have been depressed. This is clearly illustrated by the recent situation when a journalist from the state agency Anandolu, who on his own initiative asked Soyle a direct question about the charges, was fired.

Sources: Deutsche Welle, gazeta.ru

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