Two high-ranking advisers to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lost their posts a few days ago. The reason – their names were involved in a corruption scandal. Serkan Taranoglu was fired by Erdogan, and Korkmaz Karaca resigned himself, explaining the decision with health problems, writes “Mother well“
These events happen thanks to the famous mafia godfather Sedat Peker. With his revelations over the past year, he has become a major player in Turkish politics. His recent revelations carried particularly heavy weight. They showed that corruption has spread including in the Turkish presidential institution. The former supporter and current opponent of Turkish President Peker is currently based in the United Arab Emirates and occasionally posts videos and tweets from there. For some time now, Peker has been tweeting under the pseudonym “Deli Çavuş,” which translates as “Crazy Sergeant.” Such behind-the-scenes approaches to Turkish politics put an additional burden on the government, which is already under the pressure of serious economic and political problems.
Prosecutors also opened an investigation into Peker’s revelations for the first time since his appearances began. In view of the state of the rule of law in Turkey, however, hopes that the investigation will be conducted objectively and impartially are not particularly high.
“Disclosures pay off”
Peker’s accusations spell trouble for the Turkish government, but are they able to topple him? Ryan Gingeras, an American professor who studies the relationship between the state and mafia organizations, has been studying organized crime in Turkey for some time. Recent developments indicate that Pecker’s revelations appear to be paying off, Gingeras says. “However, it is not clear how they affect noncommittals and staunch supporters of the government. If Peker’s first statements did not change your point of view, why would the new revelations change your opinion?” Gingeras asks in this regard.
Turks will vote on June 18 next year. Then they will be able to elect another government and, in theory, send Erdogan into retirement.
The damage Peker could have done has already been done, Gingeras points out. “Probably voters who believe Peker and find his claims relevant have already decided not to vote for Erdogan next year.” The American expert is not sure if the government has a strategy regarding Peker’s revelations.
Is Turkey a “mafia state”?
Last year, Turkey was included in the so-called “grey list” by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The reason is that the measures in the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism were described as insufficient.
The Global Organized Crime Index of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime also makes serious accusations: “Turkey has become known as a mafia state, and the evidence confirms that it is so. And this is true now more than ever,” it said. .
“Organized crime and its people, embedded in the state, have extremely strong and complex connections dating back several decades and continuing to this day,” say the analysts.
Gingeras commented that Turkey has already become a “centre of organized crime” and Erdogan’s AKP party does not have much of a problem with that. According to him, the country has reduced its measures against money laundering. “Meanwhile, money laundering and illegal trade have become the main driver for the Turkish economy. Turkey has become an attractive place for people and groups who want to earn money or launder funds in an illegal way,” Gingeras is convinced.
A deep rooted problem
Illegal business is by no means new to Turkey. Corruption did not appear with AKP governments, but has deep historical traditions and roots. “For 100 years, Turkey’s economic policy has provided many opportunities for illegal transactions. The disruptions, contradictions and tensions in politics have created a fertile ground for an extremely profitable underground economy,” explains American Turkey expert Gingeras. Therefore, it seems unlikely that next year’s elections will lead to sudden change and the introduction of flawless anti-corruption policies.
The question of whether Pecker’s revelations can end the current government has no easy answer. Political phenomenon Sedat Peker has become an important player who continues to shape opinion in Turkish society.
Gingeras explained to DV that Peker represented both the old Turkey before the AKP and the new Turkey after the AKP. He believes the former mob boss is giving the Turks what they want by using social media, whose prestige has grown. “It also deals with the current trends of the day. A remarkable number of people find that attractive and identify with it.”