Turkey’s Erdogan Under Renewed Pressure Following Mafia Boss Allegations

The Turkish government is facing accusations of arming and funding jihadists in Syria. The allegations are just the latest by an exiled mafia boss in a weekly YouTube broadcast that are putting the Turkish president in an increasingly tight spot.

Among the many allegations being spread by Sedat Peker on YouTube is one that allegedly implicates the Turkish government of arming and buying oil from Syrian jihadists. In one of his broadcasts Peker explains in detail how key aides of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ran the scheme.

Peker, who analysts say once enjoyed close ties to Turkey’s rulers, started broadcasting weekly Sunday videos on a YouTube channel, alleging government misdeeds after he was forced to flee the country.

Analyst Atilla Yesilada says the mafia boss has a growing audience.

“It is huge. He is easily attracting audiences in excess of four and five million per video. And everything he says is scrutinized in the opposition channels. So, I would say everyone knows about what he is saying. Obviously, the most damaging is him opening the 1990s file, the extrajudicial killings,” Yesilada said.

Peker alleges former interior minister Mehmet Agar was the head of a shadowy organization known as the “deep state,” which is said to have been responsible for a series of assassinations of prominent journalists dating back to the 1990s. Agar is closely linked to Erdogan, and his son Tolga is a parliamentary deputy for the ruling AKP, Turkey’s ruling party.

Agar has denied the allegations. Erol Onderoglu of Reporters Without Borders says there is a need for government transparency.

“This should be part of a parliamentary investigation first, but I think that it will never be possible without the Turkish government naming some state actors in this period. So, transparency today should calm public opinion today and show respect to victims’ families,” Onderoglu said.

But Erdogan is dismissing the allegations.

Speaking to his party’s deputies, the Turkish president claimed the accusations are part of an international conspiracy to oust him.

But Peker’s allegations continue, accusing the son of Erdogan’s close confidant, former prime minister Binali Yildirim, of cocaine smuggling, and turning Turkey into one of the biggest hubs for importing and distributing drugs into Europe. Yildirim dismissed the allegations.

Analysts point out Erdogan is experienced at weathering political storms. But analyst Yesilada says, unlike in the past, Turkey is in the midst of an economic crisis and record-low opinion poll ratings for Erdogan.

“These are all unmistakable signs of Armageddon for Erdogan approaching. It will really take a miracle to repair the reputational damage that is caused by the Peker videos. The picture that emerges is that this is a government set for personal benefit and for the benefit of cronies and [one that] has completely lost interest in the voters,” Yesilada said.

Peker is promising more YouTube videos that he says will share more intimate secrets he claims he learned from spending two decades in the inner circles of the ruling party.

Source: Voice of America

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