Turkey’s Erdoğan selects controversial security contractor as his new advisor

The founder of a security company, which according to some analysts is an important pillar of what they say is a paramilitary force loyal to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was among the 76 people appointed to the president’s new policy advisory boards on Tuesday, Artı Gercek reported

Adnan Tanriverdi, a former Brig-Gen and the founder of the SADAT Defence Consultancy, was appointed as a member of Erdoğan’s new security and foreign policy advisory board. Tanrıverdi is reported to have been dismissed from the Turkish Armed Forces due to his Islamist leanings.

The aim of the contractor is “to establish a defensive collaboration and defensive industrial cooperation among Islamic Countries to help Islamic World,” according to its English website

SADAT’s activities “are testimony both to the changing nature of the Turkish state, and to the process by which power and influence are currently built and held in the Middle East,” analyst Jonathan Spyer said in April. 

Erdoğan’s new security and foreign policy advisory board also includes Turkey’s Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın and Erdoğan’s advisor İlnur Çevik. 

Turkish businessman Mehmet Ali Yalçındağ was appointed to the advisory board on science, technology, and innovation. Yalçındağ worked as the director general of Turkey’s Doğan Media Group, until he had to step down in 2016 when leaked emails showed he had been reporting daily developments at the private media conglomerate to a staunchly, rival pro-Erdoğan media group. 

Yalçındağ is also the son-in-law of Aydın Doğan, the former owner of the media group, which was purchased in April by a conglomerate close to Erdoğan. Yalçındağ was selected as the new head of Turkish-American Business Council in March.

Erdoğan’s new economic policy board includes former advisors Cemil Ertem and Yiğit Bulut, who are known to be supporters of Turkish president’s unorthodox economic views. 

Alev Alatlı, a former columnist of the Zaman newspaper, a media outlet used to be owned by the Gülen movement, which the Turkish government accuses of orchestrating a coup attempt in 2016,   will serve in the new board for culture and arts. Alatlı, who is known for her criticism against the West, said Turkish intellectuals opposing Erdoğan were behaving like “adolescents” during a television programme in August. 

Historian and columnist Murat Bardakçı is also in the same board, which includes Turkey’s veteran actress Hülya Koçyiğit, calligraphist Mehmed Özçay, and musician Orhan Gencebay, Orhan Gencebay, known to be the inventor of Turkish arabesque music.

The new members of the advisory board will each receive a monthly salary of 11,974 lira ($ 1,950), columnist Çiğdem Toker said on Wednesday in opposition Sözcü newspaper. 

Toker said that the existence of these boards may create confusions in the administrative system. “If those boards are to develop policy recommendations, what will the ministries do,” she said.

Dilek Güngör, a columnist of pro-government Sabah Daily, on the other hand, said that the members of the economic policy board should be careful in their comments in order to sustain the harmony in Turkey’s economic management.

“If the members of this board make excessive commentaries every day, the harmony established in the economic management can be harmed. The most important issue at the moment is not to confuse the markets,” Güngör said.