Do not let the headline misguide you because what we witness in Turkey today is something further than a duel between Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and fugitive mob leader Sedat Peker, who has been publishing videos full of allegations about the former and others.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), and even Devlet Bahçeli, the head of its election partner Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), have remained silent against the salvos against Solyu, a figure that they openly defended in the previous crises, indicating that the fight is deeper than what it seems. The duel that includes allegations of international drug trafficking, money laundering and cryptocurrency fraud cannot be limited to the Soylu-Peker fight and would inevitably exceed the AKP and the borders of Turkey.
Soylu himself actually admitted that when he said on state broadcaster TRT late on May 19 that the allegations should have overseas links. International actors who have not emerged so far will eventually be involved in matters that concern multi-billion dollars of interest. It does not matter whether Peker is in the United Arab Emirates, as he claims so, or Albania, as Soylu claims, it is hard for him to keep his campaign going without being harbored by local powers.
His situation can be compared to Fethullah Gülen, the number one suspect of the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. Could Gülen and his network continue their activities from the U.S in the absence of support by certain powers? Or could the outlawed PKK continue its campaign in Iraq, Syria, Iran or the European Union without the support of local powers?
However, the recent issue lies even deeper.
Minister’s criminal complaint in vain
When the interior minister filed a criminal complaint against Peker on May 17, I thought it was a sigh of relief, a sign, for prosecutors to launch investigations against him. I was wrong. As I wrote this piece, no prosecutors had moved on. So are the public prosecutors hesitating to launch probes? Despite the fact that the minister said they could?
Moreover, in his sixth video released early on May 20, Peker denounced himself. Peker said he was responsible for a raid on the headquarters of daily Hürriyet after the June 7, 2015, general elections that failed to produce a government, and before the re-run on Oct. 1 the same year. He said he did it to fulfill a demand from inside the AKP. I was there. We witnessed the provocative speech at the gates of the newspaper by Abdürrahim Boynukalın, who was the AKP youth branch official at the time and later granted the deputy youth and sports minister seat between 2015 and 2018. He was later appointed as the London representative of the AKP, and his uncle is the chief imam of Hagia Sophia Mosque, who is known for his statements calling for a Sharia law instead of the secular order.
Following Peker’s claim, Abdürrahim Boynukalın said “I am relieved” in a Twitter post, but later he deleted it.
Any investigations against Peker yet? No.
So, in an environment that prosecutors are hesitating to probe Peker despite the call by the minister, it would be naive to hope that the Soylu-Peker fight will result in “broad cleaning”?
Other interesting details
Soylu said in his TRT interview that the fight against terrorism and drugs boosted during his tenure. We should applause all successful activities beneficial to the public should be appreciated. But was it the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in power before Soylu was appointed the interior minister in the aftermath of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.? No. Soylu replaced Efkan Âlâ, who was appointed the head of the foreign relations board of the AKP at the March 24, 2021 party congress by President Tayyip Erdoğan.
In addition, Soylu said, “Peker was granted legal guards one and a half years before my tenure. I removed it.” Peker also said he was given guards during his travels abroad. So Soylu unintentionally admits that Peker was offered protection during the tenure of his fellow predecessor Âlâ.
So are the journalist to blame now for asking “Where would these relations lead to and why no one can launch a probe into them?” and “Can this issue be related to an internal conflict inside the AKP?” or saying “Any AKP figures who rise in the eyes of the public should go down.”
You might ask why the parliament has been idle about the issue. But keep in mind that just recently the AKP and the MHP rejected an opposition motion seeking a probe into the sale of overpriced sanitizers by Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan’s husband to the ministry during tenure. So it is too optimistic to expect a profound parliamentary investigation into the Soylu-Peker duel.
Cleaning is difficult without political will.
As the law regresses, illegality becomes dominant.
In short, this is not just the Soylu-Peker fight. But thanks to Soylu-Peker polemic, dirty laundry comes out. We will keep watching.