By KURSAT YILMAZ
In the last decade, disguised behind the discourse of magic words such as democracy, justice, good governance, civil rights and national will, Turkey has step by step transformed by Erdogan and his party, AKP, into a full-fledged mafiocracy. Particularly, for the last three years, Erdogan has been running the state apparatus just like a don – firms, financial institutions and media companies have been looted by the help of Capital Markets Board and Savings Guarantee Fund, opponents are abducted in broad daylight by state backed militia and protesters have been brutally beaten by his security detail, sometimes by Erdogan or his top aides. Now with the recent referendum which boosted the executive powers of Erdogan, enabled him to control the judicial system and destroyed all checks and balances, Turkey has become a constitutional mafiocracy.
However, a wise mafia boss should always raise the bar to intimidate crowds and contenders and to preserve the respect of the neighborhood. So as the domestic performances lost excitement, Erdogan opened up to the world.
Breaking the nose of an Ecuadorian lawmaker in Ecuador and kicking peaceful protesters in Washington DC could be presumed as a reflection of this globalization strategy. Playing don abroad also helped Erdogan to boost his support in his neighborhood.
Don at Home
Probably the most terrorizing instrument of Erdogan is mysterious broad daylight abductions of his opponents. Sadly, this is no urban legend and the police refuse to investigate the abductions as the victims are alleged members of opposition groups stigmatized as terrorists or traitors. A dozen cases of abductions reported so far. Nearly all victims have been purged after the failed coup of 15 July and all alleged to have links with Gulen (Hizmet) Movement. The Turkish Government claims that Gulen supporters were behind the coup attempt. However, as irrationalities in the real incidence and inconsistent statements by the forefront people point to a possible conspiracy, no one outside Turkey buys that claim (if you are in Turkey you should better buy that for not to be spotted as terrorist!) Moreover, since the conspiracy, Gulen has been denying the allegations and calling for an independent international investigation.
In all cases, the families of abductees are helpless and try to collect evidences by themselves. CCTV camera footages show that most of them were forced by few masked men to get on a van, a black WW transporter which became a symbol of horror for opponents. In fact, Turkey has a bad record for state backed abductions symbolized also by the vehicles hired. Back in 1990s abductions of Kurdish citizens were common and at that time the used vehicles was white Renault 12 sedans known by people as Toros, a symbol which still terrorizes Kurds. At that period, Toros was a model produced by Renault factory in Bursa partly owned by OYAK, a holding established by savings of military staff, and procured and used vastly by intelligence and security services.
Hence it was no surprise that the abductions in 1990s were allegedly orchestrated and carried out by Gendarmerie Intelligence (JİTEM) members. Conversely, the recent abductions point to a shadowy militia group, SADAT and Turkish Intelligence Agency, turned abruptly by Erdogan into an organization with complete impunity against judicial and parliamentary probations after corruption investigations of December 17th and 25th.
According to pundits, SADAT is also responsible for casualties during the failed coup in an attempt to increase the death toll for justifying the planned crackdown afterwards.
Don in the World
For an average resident of Turkey, probably, Ecuador is only a banana brand. There are barely any economic, cultural or political relations between two countries. Hence, it is nearly impossible to start a row and spoil currently non-existent relations. Erdogan managed to do it. In 2016, when protested while his speech in Quito, his bodyguards brutally beaten the predominantly women protesters. They forcefully removed the protesters, by punching their heads, vaginas and breasts during which Erdogan said, “As we see now, there are sometimes disrespectful characters as well. Appropriate responses will always be taken to handle these disrespectful people.” Afterwards the bodyguards attacked another group outside the building, breaking the nose of an Ecuadorian lawmaker, Diego Vintimilla. It was a shock for Ecuador to witness how shamelessly the diplomatic immunity could be abused. This incident rarely mentioned in mostly pro-Erdogan Turkish media but received a great deal of attention in social media. However, this proved to be not adequate for other countries to understand the danger and take appropriate measures to prevent reoccurrence of similar gang spectacles on their soil.
Although 5 years before the Ecuador incident, Erdogan’s muscles brawled with UN security forces in NY after which a UN security guard was hospitalized, obviously the United States was one of the countries which were not aware of the Erdogan danger. Washington police caught totally unprepared against Erdogan’s gang and could not protect peaceful protesters gathered in front of Turkish embassy in Washington DC. Erdogan’s guards punched the Kurdish protesters and kicked them on the ground while they were desperately trying to protect their heads. Footage even poses some indications that, probably Erdogan, himself gave the order for the assault and watched it briefly, obviously not a surprise for people familiar with Erdogan’s brutal nature.
Among all performances of Erdogan’s gang this was the hit. Occurred at the heart of Washington DC, the incident got extensive media coverage around the globe after which the civilized countries alarmed to take measures. Germany for instance, before the G-20 meeting warned Erdogan not to bring his criminal bodyguards and declared that they will take appropriate measures including conviction if so. Even more oppressed after the 2016 coup conspiracy, the ultra-pro-Erdogan Turkish press took this opportunity for stereotyped unapologetic propaganda. They blamed protesters and US security forces, claiming they aggressively provoked Turkish delegation, attempted to attack them and the local police did nothing to prevent it. This whole violent incident indeed was a pride for Erdogan’s indifferent and increasingly radicalized supporters, the half of the Turkish People, displaying to the whole world the strength of them and what happens to traitors.
As with the gang-style assaults on protestors, the broad day light abductions of opponents have also spread worldwide. Recently three Turkish teachers working at a Hizmet school were abducted in Malaysia. Pro-Erdogan Turkish media even proudly stated that an anesthesiologist took part in the abduction.
Najib Rezzak, the infamous prime minister of Malaysia, and Erdogan’s shadowy financial ties thought to be helped to facilitate the abductions as Malaysian officials made conflicting and inconsistent statements about the incident.
Reports of homicides and abductions also come from various African countries (e.g. Somalia), casting doubt on possible role of Turkish intelligence service which even did not hesitate to officially give German counterparts a list of suspected supporters of Gulen including at least one German Lawmaker. German officials regarded the incident as an open provocation as Erdogan deliberately tries to escalate tension with the EU in an attempt to boost his popularity in Turkey. Nowadays, it is not very surprising to see that this relentless mafia-style intelligence and investigation scandals extended to 681 German companies doing business in Turkey, evidencing that how Erdogan’s muscles may suddenly show up for those turning a blind eye to severe violations by a dictatorship for the sake of realpolitik.