Turkish mafia kingpin revelations have strategic implications - analyst

Turkish mobster Sedat Peker’s Youtube videos, alleging ties between the state and mafia, have fractured the legitimacy of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s regime, columnist Melik Kaylan said.

Peker’s claims levelled at past and present government officials are “not all a storm in a teacup within the country,” Kaylan said in an analysis for Forbes magazine on Tuesday.

In response, Erdoğan may “resort to full-fledged Belarus-style autocracy,” making it harder for the West to cooperate with him politically, according to Kaylan.

In a series of tell-all videos posted on YouTube since the start of May, Peker, a convicted mafia kingpin in exile has alleged close relations between the Turkish state and the mafia.

The videos, which have received millions of hits, feature accusations against top Turkish officials of rape, drug trafficking, murder and assassinations. Among Peker’s targets was Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and former police chief and interior minister Mehmet Ağar.

“Whether he goes or stays, instability looms for a country so strategically positioned, that the European Union, Balkans, NATO, the Russo-sphere, the Middle East and Central Asia all are affected by any potential meltdown,” Kaylan said, underlining that Peker’s videos come at a time when Erdoğan’s regime has lost its popularity, even among its conservative supporters.

Poor economic performance and allegations of financial mismanagement appear to have weighed heavily on support for the government.

Popular support for Erdoğan’s ruling alliance has fallen to just over 32 percent, according to polling company Turkey Report last month, down from 54 percent in the 2018 general elections.