Sedat Peker's Videos and Their Implications for the Turkish Interior

EPC | 19 Jun 2021

Sedat Peker is one of the leaders of the well-known nationalist mafias in Turkey. He is one of the biggest of those leaders and is well-known and prominent in Turkey. He is a Turanian nationalist who glorifies the Turkish state and considers committing any crime in the service of the “higher interests of the state” an honour he does not hesitate to pursue. In the past seven years, he appeared to support the government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and President Erdogan, and has threatened Erdogan’s opponents on more than one occasion. Within the fierce competition that prevailed within the ruling party between the trend of the nationalist Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, and the former Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, the son-in-law of President Erdogan, who relies on the Islamist trend, Sedat Peker aligned himself with Suleyman Soylu by virtue of nationalist tendencies. Soylu helped Sedat Peker to escape from Turkey in 2020 when he discovered that Berat Albayrak was trying to frame Sedat Peker and imprison him to get rid of him and break one of the arms of his rival Soylu within the party.

After staying in Montenegro for several months, Peker waited for Interior Minister Soylu to fulfill his promise to arrange matters for him to return to Turkey, especially after Albayrak was defeated, dismissed from the Ministry of Finance and disappeared from the scene. But Peker says that Interior Minister Soylu did not fulfill his promise, and that the Turkish intelligence began chasing him in Montenegro and a number of Balkan countries to which he fled, until he reached Dubai, and began publishing his revenge videos. He asserts that his goal is personal revenge against everyone who tried to harm him or abandoned him, and that his primary goal is to reach an understanding with President Erdogan himself in order to have his security and judicial prosecution suspended, return to Turkey and obtain immunity. He stressed that the goal of exposing some government scandals is to negotiate with Erdogan, not to promote democracy or transparency in Turkey. As he put it, he is interested in his personal profile and not the democracy file in Turkey. In all his videos, Peker would indicate that he knew much more than he was revealing, and would name unknown people and threaten to reveal their relations with government officials.

Lawsuits, scandals and leaks published by Sedat Peker

In the first video, on 2 May 2021, Peker threatened former security director Mehmet Agar, whom he accused of operating and managing a number of mafia gangs in Turkey, and of being an arm of President Erdogan's son-in-law Berat Albayrak, claiming that they work together within financial interests. He said that Albayrak and Agar wanted to get rid of him at any cost. In that video, he offered reconciliation and understanding with President Erdogan, and greeted him with respect.

In the second video, on 6 May 2021, Peker began revealing some accusations for the first time directly and by name. He focused here on the son of Mehmet Agar, namely Tolga Agar, the current Member of Parliament (MP) for the Justice and Development Party. Peker said that Tolga was the one who fired shots in the air after a telephone argument with Nusret Gokce (known as Nusr-ET, the owner of the famous restaurants and a friend of Sedat Peker’s), and that this crime was covered up by holding his driver responsible. He confirmed that Tolga Agar was a drug addict.

Also in this video, Peker said that nearly 5 tons of cocaine were seized in 2020 in one of the ports of Colombia, and that officials in Colombia announced that this shipment was heading for Turkey, but the Turkish authorities did not conduct any investigation into this matter because they know that this shipment belongs to Mehmet Agar and his son Tolga.

In the third video, dated 9 May 2021, Peker accused Tolga Agar of the killing of the Kazakh journalist Yeldana Kahraman in Turkey in March 2019. He said that Tolga raped her after he gave her a press interview, and that the next day, she went and filed a complaint against him, but was found dead in her home in the next day, and that his father, Mehmet Agar, used his influence to show that the journalist had committed suicide, and erased her complaint against his son.

In that video, Peker says that he sent his men to beat the politician Feyzi Isbsaran because he insulted the first lady, the wife of President Erdogan, Emine Erdogan.

Peker explained how he escaped from the Balkans, saying that it was the Minister of the Interior Soylu who warned him and asked him to escape, a charge against the Minister of the Interior of cooperating with a mafia chief who is wanted for arrest, according to the Turkish government. Peker stressed that the Minister of the Interior had provided him with protection by appointing a number of the Ministry of the Interior staff to protect him for the past five years. He tried to exonerate the intelligence chief Hakan Fidan of any suspicious relationship with the mafia and with Mehmet Agar, saying that Fidan was an honest man.

In that video, Peker again accused Mehmet Agar of using his influence in the security apparatus and the judiciary in order to charge the Azerbaijani businessman Mubariz Mansimov, a personal friend of Peker’s, with the accusation of belonging to the terrorist-designated Fetullah Gulen group. He said that the reason for making up this accusation was to pressure Mansimov to sell the Yalikavak Yachting Marina, in the city of Bodrum on the Mediterranean Sea, that belonged to his company Palmali and whose value was estimated at 200 million dollars, for only 30 million dollars to an offshore company registered in Malta. The importance of the Yalikavak Yachting Marina, in which Mehmet Agar and his son Tolga held high-level positions, was that both would be using it for drug smuggling.

In the fourth video, on 13 May 2021, Peker addressed his accusations to Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, his friend whom he accuses of abandoning him. Peker said that he decided to record this video after Soylu verbally insulted him while commenting on his videos. Here, Peker goes back to explain his old relationship with Soylu, saying that he helped him when he was a member of the True Path Party (subsequently Democratic Party) to reach the leadership of the party, and that it was Peker's men who pressured the party's politicians to elect Soylu as its leader. Peker also published a recording of his communication with journalist Hadi Ozisik, who is close to the Minister of the Interior via the FaceTime application. In this recording, Peker talks with the journalist who tries to mediate between Peker and the Minister of the Interior, asking Peker not to pay attention to the verbal insults that Soylu addressed to him because he was forced to do so in order to maintain his position within the party.

In this video, Peker did not file any criminal accusation against Interior Minister Soylu, but explained the strong and old relationship between them, and how Soylu protected him from the attempts by Agar and Berat Albayrak to arrest him. He said that Soylu disavowed him and abandoned him in order to preserve his position in the ruling party and his relationship with President Erdogan. He said that Soylu did not conduct any criminal investigation to expose the drug trade, which he knew that Mehmet Agar and his son Tolga were involved in, in order not to clash with Berat Albayrak, the primary protector of Mehmet Agar and his son.

In the fifth video, on 16 May 2021, Sedat Peker said that Mehmet Agar and Suleyman Soylu would share the appointment of prosecutors and security directors in Turkey, that each would embed his own men in the security establishment, that Soylu’s advisor Ali Faik Hacioglu, receives bribes and acts on behalf of Soylu and Agar in running a mafia for blackmailing businessmen and taking money from them in exchange for their acquittal of the accusation of belonging to the Fetullah Gulen group, and that he has a car worth 1.5 million liras and a house worth 5 million liras. He says that a security official explained to him how this mafia operates, and how the charges of belonging to the Gulenist group have been made up for businessmen and a number of politicians to blackmail them. In that video, Peker acquitted a number of politicians whom he considers "clean hands" in the Justice and Development Party, including the Islamist leader Numan Kurtulmus, the former leading figure and current leader of the Future Party Ahmet Davutoglu, and Defence Minister Hulusi Akar.

In the sixth video, dated 20 May 2021, Peker referred to pressure and intimidation operations in which he and his men got involved at the request of leaders in the Justice and Development Party in order to pressure media professionals, journalists and media institutions to be sold to businessmen close to President Erdogan. Peker said that the leading figure in the ruling party Abdurrahim Boynukalin asked him to attack the building of the newspaper Hurriyet and the channel CNN Turk. In 2015, Peker’s men attacked the newspaper and television building, and the move was to pressure and intimidate the owner of these two institutions Aydin Dogan into selling them, which is indeed what subsequently took place. The sale was made to a businessman known to be close to Erdogan, namely Mehmet Demiroren.

Also in that video, Peker said that Interior Minister Soylu had spied on and tapped the phones of 613 government officials, including the President's Adviser for Foreign Affairs and Security Ibrahim Kalin. Here is an indication that Soylu spied on Erdogan's phones as well, but Peker refers to this indirectly.

In the seventh video, dated 23 May 2021, Peker said that he would explain the drug smuggling route via Turkey, and drew on a board behind him an incomprehensible map on which Iran, Sabiha Gokcen Airport and the Turkish port of Mersin were written, although he did not talk about Iran. Sedat Peker said that the political relations that have developed rapidly since 2016 with Venezuela are a cover for drug trafficking from Latin America to Turkey and from there to Europe after smuggling routes from Latin America to Holland and Denmark became exposed. He said that the US has exposed the drug smuggling routes from Colombia. Therefore, the smuggling line was changed from Colombia by land to Venezuela and from there to the Syrian port of Latakia and the Turkish port of Mersin. He said that this change came in agreement with Erkam Yildirim, son of former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim in the Justice and Development government, who went to visit Venezuela in February 2021 for the agreement on this new line. He said that the line starts from the port of Caracas in Venezuela, and then ships pass through the Dominican Republic, and then reach Turkey. At sea, these quantities of heroin are transferred to small boats carrying smaller quantities to Turkey and Syria.

Peker said that this drug money laundering process is carried out by the Turkish Cypriot businessman Halil Falyali, who resides in Northern Cyprus, to where the hands of the Interpol or any international security agency cannot reach, because the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) is not recognised internationally, and Turkey is the only country that recognises it. Peker added that this man is the one who manages the money distribution and laundering, and deposits it in offshore accounts for Erkam Yildirim.

Peker said that nearly 20 years ago, the director of special operations in the Turkish intelligence and a close friend of Mehmet Agar, Mr. Korkut Eken, came to him and asked him to provide him with one of his men in order to kill the Turkish Cypriot journalist Kutlu Adali, and that he provided him with his brother Atilla Peker who travelled with Korkut Eken to Cyprus at that time, although his brother did not kill the journalist at the time, but rather the journalist was killed afterwards, given that Korkut Eken told Peker that he dealt with the matter in his own way. The Turkish Cypriot journalist used to write reports on the relationship between Turkish intelligence and the gambling and drug gangs operating in Cyprus.

In that video, Peker accused Mehmet Agar of plotting to assassinate the famous Turkish journalist Ugur Mumcu in 1993, after the Turkish journalist found evidence documenting the cooperation of the Turkish intelligence with the mafia, and the reliance by the intelligence services on the mafia to liquidate Kurdish businessmen.

The eighth video, dated 30 May 2021, came after President Erdogan's first comment on Peker's statements, where Erdogan promised to bring Peker to trial, and confirmed his support for Interior Minister Soylu. Here, Peker blamed President Erdogan and said: "I am revealing scandals around you in those videos so that you know what is happening, but it seems that you chose to stand with the corrupt, so I will dedicate the next video on 6 June 2021 to talk about my relationship with you".

Prior to that video, Peker published a tweet commenting on Erdogan's statements against him, without naming Erdogan by name, warning and threatening: "Do not make me now reveal who had an affair with Mrs. Defne and was visiting her in a hotel, and had a seizure during the meeting with her". Peker's words brought to mind rumours that spread 15 years ago about Erdogan – who was Prime Minister at the time – with Miss Turkey Defne Samyeli, and that the Military Intelligence – which was at odds with Erdogan at the time in the atmosphere of military guardianship that was continuing at the time – had scandalous sexual videos against Erdogan with Defne. Those videos were used secretly and those rumours were leaked in order to blackmail Erdogan and put pressure on him at the time. But the next day, Peker published a new tweet in which he apologised for opening this topic and apologised to Defne Samyeli, saying that the intended person in that tweet was another person whose name was also Defne.

In this (eighth) video, Peker explained that he would transport weapons and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) from Turkey to Syria via his trucks and men, that he would receive weapons and vehicles from the military company SADAT, which is owned by retired Islamist General Adnan Tanriverdi, who previously served as President Erdogan’s advisor for military affairs, that he would deliver them to Syrian armed groups in Idlib, and that he believed that the arms would go to defend the Syrian Turkmen there, but he discovered that the arms were going to Jabhat al-Nusra (Front of the Supporters of the People of the Levant). He said that after it was revealed that Turkish intelligence had sent weapons to northern Syria in 2013 in a famous case, he worked with the company SADAT to send those weapons and equipment in isolation from the intelligence service, and that he cooperated with the company SADAT to transport weapons, bulletproof vests, walkie-talkies and drones with cameras. Peker said that he stopped the transfer of weapons after he discovered that the company SADAT delivered those weapons to Jabhat al-Nusra and not to the Turkmen, as they used to tell him.

Peker revealed that there was a large trade going on between Turkey and the areas controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria, including goods and foodstuff, stolen second-hand vehicles, etc.; that any merchant who wanted to enter this trade had first to communicate with the Director of Administrative Affairs in the Presidential Palace in Turkey Mr. Metin Kiratli; and that Kiratli was the one who connected the merchants with the “Minister of Trade in Jabhat al-Nusra”, namely Abu Abdul Rahman, but before that, one should go to the two businessmen close to Erdogan, namely Murat Sancak and Ramazan Ozturk, in order to arrange these operations and pay bribes to them, especially in the oil trade. Afterwards, the merchant can export or import whatever is required from northern Syria without any customs or inspection obstacles. To confirm the relationship of these two merchants (Sancak and Ozturk), Peker said that President Erdogan's son-in-law Berat Albayrak who is now away from the spotlight, is currently residing in a house belonging to Murat Sancak in Istanbul.

In this video, Peker stated that he was aware that leaders in the ruling party and close businessmen were hiding part of their money in Qatari banks, and threatened to reveal their names and the banks they deal with in Qatar.

Repercussions of Sedat Peker’s videos for the Turkish interior

Sedat Peker’s videos have caused a sensation in Turkey and embarrassed the government of President Erdogan, especially that Peker was close to the government, had a strong relationship with many officials, and had pictures in which he appears with Erdogan and a number of officials. The videos received a lot of public attention and were viewed millions of times (on average, 7 million people watched each video), and polls showed that 75 percent of Turks believe what Peker says. The opposition parties demanded an investigation into all of Peker’s allegations and the relationship between Peker and the Interior Minister, whose resignation was demanded by them. However, Erdogan supported Interior Minister Soylu and did not ask him to resign. Erdogan refused to conduct any criminal or parliamentary investigation, and the government and officials simply issued statements denying Peker’s statements, saying that international quarters are behind him in order to discredit President Erdogan and his government with the aim of overthrowing the government, and that the Fetullah Gulen group and the US, Israeli and the UAE intelligence provide him with support and protection.

However, the government did not succeed in refuting Peker’s allegations, especially on the issue of drug trafficking and the transfer of arms to Syria. When former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim justified his son’s visit to Venezuela in February 2021, he said that he went to hand out aid and PCR testing equipment to the Venezuelan people to help them deal with a pandemic. However, the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet revealed that there is no record or mention in the Turkish customs records of the transfer of this equipment to Venezuela. Besides, Erkam Yildirim, who is accused of organising the drug trade, owns a fleet of ships and has grown rich tremendously and mysteriously in recent years, which increased suspicions against him. President Erdogan avoided defending Erkam Yildirim.

In the arms transfer file, Turkey had witnessed a case in 2013 when border guards detected trucks transporting weapons to Syria. Those weapons were photographed, and the government at that time tried to cover up the issue and imprison journalists and politicians who disclosed the matter to the press. Therefore, Sedat Peker’s statements in this regard are difficult for the government to deny, especially since there are pictures of Sedat Peker with part of the weapons and trucks written on them, “This is a gift in support for our people in Syria”.

Sedat Peker's videos led to a significant decline in President Erdogan's popularity, so that opinion polls indicated that any opposition candidate could beat President Erdogan in the upcoming presidential elections by an important point difference.

President Erdogan and his nationalist ally Devlet Bahceli refused to conduct any investigation into these allegations, and refused the opposition's request for early elections, given that early elections can only be resorted to if the ruling party or its nationalist ally agrees to that in Parliament. Therefore, the repercussions of those videos – indeed more are expected to come – are still limited to influencing Erdogan's popularity, but it is not expected that they will have a direct impact on overthrowing the government.

However, analysts stated that the Supreme Court of Justice had launched an investigation in 2015 into the file of Turkey's transfer of weapons to fighters in northern Syria, and no accusation or specific position has been issued by the Court on these charges. It is not known whether the US or Russia will re-activate this file at the Court based on the confessions of Sedat Peker. Syria may also resort to moving this file in case it receives Arab or international support at the United Nations (UN).

One of the important political repercussions is that Erdogan, who refused to investigate those accusations and allegations so as not to reveal his close men, was forced to support Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, a nationalist, even as Erdogan was preparing to dismiss him due to the increase in his power within the ruling party. Erdogan was paving the way and preparing for a major liquidation process in the state institutions in order to get rid of the nationalists in their cadres after he felt that the nationalists had begun to besiege him with their power within the state and party institutions. He was also preparing to expel 1,200 nationalist-oriented officers from the army at the regular meeting of the Supreme Military Council in July 2021. However, after these developments, it seems that the nationalists will retain their places in the state, and Erdogan will not be able to liquidate an important part of them.

These allegations will have some impact on President Erdogan's upcoming meeting with his US counterpart, in terms of weakening Erdogan's position, especially that Washington is interested in the file of drug smuggling via Venezuela to Europe. President Joe Biden was personally interested in the file of the arms being transferred to Jabhat al-Nusra when he was Obama's Vice President. At the time, he declared more than once, "We send arms and assistance to the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Syria, but we are surprised that these weapons reach al-Nusra in a mysterious way".

Sedat Peker retracted from dedicating the ninth video to talk about his personal relationship with President Erdogan and said, in a tweet that preceded the video, that he would postpone talking about his personal relationship with Erdogan until after 14 June 2021, that is, after President Erdogan’s meeting with his US counterpart Joe Biden, in order not to influence the meeting, after the pro-Erdogan media accused Peker of working for the US intelligence. However, Peker pre-empted the ninth video by publishing a video recording of his conversation via FaceTime with his partner in transporting arms to Syria, namely Serdar Eksioglu, who is the husband of President Erdogan’s niece. The recording shows a clear talk about the number of trucks and the times Peker and Eksioglu dispatched weapons to Syria. Here, for the first time, the confessions of Sedat Peker directly affect a relative of President Erdogan.

In the ninth video, which was published on 6 June 2021, Sedat Peker spoke extensively about corruption between the government and businessmen close to it. He revealed that the current government has established a rooted corruption system to win businessmen close to it by offering large tenders to them with budgets worth ten times the amount due to implement those projects, that the businessman who won the tender would sell it to another merchant to implement it after he took for himself 60 percent of the project budget as a net profit without doing any work, and that the deal would then be sold more than once through more than one businessman who would also profit in the same way until the project was implemented at only 10 percent of its original amount.

Peker also revealed that the businessman close to President Erdogan (Demiroren) bought the Dogan Media Group (the newspaper Hurriyet, the news channel CNN Turk, and the entertainment D channel) for 750 million dollars under pressure from President Erdogan, after Sedat Peker attacked the buildings of this group at the request of the ruling party and threatened the owner to force him to sell, that Demiroren did not pay any amount for the purchase of this group, but rather obtained a loan from the state Ziraat (Agriculture) Bank with concessions from the government in the full amount of 750 million dollars, that he has not paid any part of this amount until today, and that he handed over its management indirectly to President Erdogan's son-in-law Berat Albayrak. Consequently, this media group shifted from a media policy opposed to the government and Erdogan to another that is completely loyal to him.

Peker revealed that he had given tens of thousands of dollars to the MP and leading figure in the Justice and Development Party, one of the closest to President Erdogan, namely Metin Kulunk, in order to support some of Kulunk's projects (Kulunk is accused in Germany of being the one who runs the Osmanen Germania organisation that works to mobilise Germans of Turkish origin) to support President Erdogan and spy on Turkish opponents in Germany). Peker also said that he financially supported the AKP propaganda campaign in the last elections.

In that video, Peker explained in detail the process of allowing Turkish businessman Sezgin Baran Korkmaz to escape from Turkey, after an arrest warrant was issued against him on charges of running a criminal organisation and mafia, and a demand by the US to arrest him for his involvement in criminal acts in the US. Peker revealed that the current Minister of the Interior Suleyman Soylu is the one who helped him escape from Turkey.

Peker revealed his strong relations with a number of journalists close to President Erdogan. In general, Peker tried to prove that Turkey is now governed by a system of corruption in which politicians, businessmen, security men and the mafia are involved in what he called "one family". While Peker did not direct any accusations against President Erdogan, the talk about this "family" is a strong indication that Erdogan stands at the top of the pyramid therein.

Expectations about the Turkish regime’s methodology in dealing with Sedat Peker and his revelations

Erdogan is once again expected to ignore all the accusations and allegations made by Sedat Peker. Erdogan is currently preventing their publication through the media loyal to him, simply launching a media attack to accuse Sedat Peker of working with foreign intelligence and countries that want to “carry out a coup against him". The strategy that Erdogan follows is to ignore Peker and change Turkey’s agenda by raising societal or political contentious issues, such as taking steps that support the Islamist trend and irritate the secular trend in order to occupy the opposition with this issue once again. Erdogan bets that those videos would end one day, given that they cannot continue for many months. He insists on not resorting to early elections, and stressing that the date of the elections is the summer of 2023, hoping for the decline in the impact of those videos from now until then. He is also preparing to put forward the draft of a new constitution and occupy public opinion with discussing it.

In the coming weeks, Erdogan will focus on addressing the coronavirus pandemic with the arrival of large quantities of the Pfizer vaccine, and the improvement of the economic situation with the revitalisation of tourism. After the impact of those videos subsides, he may resort to a governmental change in ministers and within the party, in which all the names mentioned in Peker’s statements would be excluded from the list in order to "close this file". Erdogan may also resort to detonating a military crisis in Libya or Syria or with the Kurds in order to cover up for Peker’s statements. In his recent tweets, Peker warned of the existence of plans for political assassinations or attacks on Kurds or Alawites in order to create security crises that would push Turks to focus on the security file rather than government corruption.

Erdogan will also seek to search Peker's record for any scandal or crime with which to accuse him in order to discredit him and undermine confidence in what he says. He also ordered contact with the Interpol to bring Sedat Peker back to Turkey. Sedat Peker talked about negotiations that took place between him and men sent by Erdogan to Dubai to meet him, but they failed. He also talked about the possibility that Erdogan would seek to kidnap him.

All of this, of course, if Erdogan fails to negotiate with Sedat Peker to reach a solution. However, it is unlikely that Erdogan will allow any investigation into any accusation that Sedat Peker spoke about, because that would open the door for an investigation into all what he said.

The beneficiaries and losers inside Turkey from the leaks of Sedat Peker

There are several losers from Sedat Peker's videos, mainly the following:

1. President Erdogan and his son-in-law Berat Albayrak. These confessions reinforced the image promoted by the opposition that President Erdogan is mired in corruption, and that all officials and businessmen around him are corrupt. Erdogan’s popularity has now declined significantly due to the public’s belief in what Sedat Peker says. Erdogan is now in his weakest political condition, given that a number of his loyalists have begun to take precaution for themselves by moving away from the Justice and Development Party. Furthermore, Erdogan has become besieged by the nationalist movement with whom he has tactically allied, but he knows that the nationalists are using him as a cover for their rule, and that they will seek to get rid of him to rule the party and the state when they have the opportunity to do so.

2. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, as his credibility and popularity within the ruling party have declined, even as he was preparing to take over the leadership of the party after Erdogan. However, while Soylu’s popularity declined in the eyes of the people and within the party, he is still strong in the government and in front of President Erdogan, because Soylu revealed, during press interviews, in response to Peker’s accusations, that he had a lot of secret information about the ruling party and the government. That was a veiled sign to threaten Erdogan and pressure him so that he would not ask Soylu to resign. Peker’s claim seems to be true that Interior Minister Soylu spied on Erdogan's phones and that he has many secrets that would harm Erdogan.

3. All those whose names and companies were mentioned in Sedat Peker’s confessions and allegations are among the losers, such as the former security director Mehmet Agar, whom Peker accused of being “the head of the deep state in Turkey” who runs the mafia networks therein, and his son Tolga Agar, the MP in the ruling party, whom Peker accused of trafficking drugs, as well as former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and his son Erkam, whom Peker accused of running the drug trade from Venezuela via his ships to Turkey and Syria.

4. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) has received a heavy blow through those accusations, as the issue of the Party’s transformation into a corrupt, ambiguous and suspicious business relations institution has also taken root. The debate has escalated within the party between those calling for an investigation into Sedat Peker’s allegations and getting rid of the nationalists and the corrupt, and those who support Erdogan’s decision to ignore the accusations and maintain the alliance with the nationalists.

The winners from those developments can be summarised as follows:

1. Sedat Peker himself. While he is known to be a mafia leader, there is currently great popular sympathy for him, because he exposes files of corruption and suspicious relations. The biggest proof of this is the number of views, retweets and likes of his videos.

2. The opposition parties, especially the Ataturkian Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the opposition nationalist Good Party. In this context, it is possible to refer specifically to the leader of the Good Party, Mrs. Meral Aksener, whose popularity has increased strongly recently, and is now the only and strongest symbol of the clean nationalist right that has not been involved in relations with the mafia or financial corruption. Therefore, there is a migration of voters from the government coalition to her party, and this migration is increasing with the recent developments. Opinion polls indicate that her party's popularity is currently close to 14 percent and that it could reach 18 percent soon. Recent opinion polls have also indicated that voters trust her more than they trust President Erdogan as the leader of Turkey's conservative nationalist right-wing.

3. Alternative and opposition media, and the social media. President Erdogan’s withholding of Sedat Peker’s news and allegations from the loyalist media, which constitutes nearly 90 percent of the media in Turkey, has led Turks to turn aggressively to the opposition media and social media and its channels in order to find out what Peker says and analyse it. The viewership of opposition channels has doubled, while online news sites and social media have gained hundreds of thousands of followers over May 2021. This will have its effect in any upcoming election campaign in favour of the opposition and against Erdogan.

In a comprehensive comparison, it can be said that the winners are in a stronger political position than the losers in these developments. If the elections were close, President Erdogan would certainly lose them. However, the fact that two years remain for the elections makes the impact on the actual political scene limited.

Summary and conclusions

  • Through 9 videos so far, Sedat Peker, one of the leaders of the well-known nationalist mafia in Turkey, revealed many of the disadvantages of the Turkish government, including murder, corruption, transferring weapons to Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria, in addition to drug trafficking on a global scale, especially with Venezuela, and money laundering. Peker revealed the involvement of big names in the government and close to President Erdogan, and stressed that Turkey is now governed by a corrupt system in which politicians, businessmen, mafiosi and security men are involved. But he has not yet brought any direct accusation against Erdogan, whom he describes as the "big brother", whom he offered reconciliation as part of a deal, but later expressed his regret over Erdogan's lack of response to him and his preference for supporting the surrounding corrupt clique.
  • Peker's videos and tweets have received great attention in Turkey, as they are being watched by millions. Opinion polls indicate that at least 75 percent of followers believe what Peker says because he was always close to the ruling Justice and Development Party and enjoyed security and political cover by the government. This has led to a new decline in President Erdogan's popularity. It seems that Erdogan is currently following a strategy of ignoring those videos in the hope that their influence would fade with time, and rejecting the opposition's call for early elections, in order to gain time for the impact of those videos to subside. Erdogan is betting on the relative improvement of the economy over 2022, and on occupying Turkish public opinion with new controversial issues that would distract it from Peker’s videos.
  • Peker's videos have helped increase the popularity of the Ataturkian Republican People's Party (CHP) and the opposition nationalist Good Party. Peker's allegations caused disagreements within the ruling party, which called for an investigation into those allegations and the exclusion of all suspicious names. It also caused a rift between the two wings of the ruling coalition after Erdogan tried to exploit those allegations to get rid of Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, who is affiliated with the allied nationalist movement.
  • It seems that this crisis may affect the cohesion of the ruling coalition, and it may affect Turkey's policies after it seemed that President Erdogan has one of two options: either to continue to deny all those accusations and bet on time for their impact to subside, and thus risk his popularity in the upcoming elections, as well as strengthening the nationalists’ control over state institutions, knowing that the nationalists may seek to get rid of him and rule Turkey directly; or he would turn against the nationalists and try to distance himself from all those accusations and defendants, and therefore would need the support of one of the opposition parties in order to achieve this and support his popularity in the upcoming elections, which would force him to submit to the conditions of the opposition that wants to reduce his powers as president and return to the parliamentary system. The first possibility would strengthen Turkey's relations with Moscow, the natural ally of the nationalists, while the second possibility would strengthen Turkey's relations with Washington, which calls on Erdogan to pursue democratic reforms.

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