Turkish Interior Ministry has long organised formal, informal elements of state – Bacık

It is too early to say whether the earth-shaking revelations by infamous Turkish mobster Sedat Peker are the product of personal vendetta or the reflection of a greater power struggle, Gökhan Bacık, political science professor at Palacký University in the Czech Republic, said.

Peker has made bombshell claims in a series of tell-all videos on his YouTube channel, linking members of the ruling Turkish coalition with the criminal underworld, accusing them of crimes from drug trafficking to murders of journalists. 

In the latest video, Turkey’s notorious organised crime leader said President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's son-in-law leads a group of allies who have been profiteering off the Syrian war by controlling the trade together with internationally recognised terrorist organisation al-Nusra Front, which later became Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). 

According to Bacık, one needs to look at the Turkish state from a historical perspective to make sense of what is happening today amid Peker’s allegations.

Despite the fact that Turkey is organised as a modern state on paper, Bacık said, it has always included formal and informal elements within the system, therefore what we are hearing from Peker is nothing new. 

What is more, Bacık said, "traditionally, the Turkish Interior Ministry has been an office that organises these informal and formal relations".

Not surprisingly, many of Peker's most serious accusations target officials in the Interior Ministry, past and present.

Peker, for example, claims the former Interior Minister Mehmet Ağar was the head of the deep state in Turkey and alleged that Ağar and former intelligence official Korkut Eken committed a series of illegal acts in the 1990s and now, including organising an international drug trafficking system and murdering the investigative journalist Uğur Mumcu with a car bomb in Ankara. 

Mumcu's assassination and the killing of the Turkish Cypriot journalist and activist Kutlu Adalı in 1996 remain shrouded in mystery. Peker's attacks also focus on the current Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.

The country’s ruling elite has come to believe that the modern Turkish state is not enough for its own survival, according to Bacık, and therefore it requires some informal elements to help and protect its apparatus.

Today, at a time when Turkish Armed Forces are involved in Libya and Syria, we see these informal elements in addition to some other religious groups working for the Turkish state.

While Peker’s attack on the Erdoğan's ruling system continues, the Turkish president continues his relentlessley pursuit of Islamist policies.

Erdoğan's conversion of Hagia Sophia in 2020, his opening of a Çamlıca Mosque in 2019, has been followed by the opening of the Taksim Mosque. 

Erdoğan is well aware of the problems with the economy and foreign policy, however through Islamist policies, Bacık said, he wants to keep his Islamist base united behind him. 

But, Bacık added, such culture politics is not helpful in preserving large segments in Turkey, given the deterioration of the country’s economy.