Erdoğan stands behind minister, seeing himself as mob boss’s real target – columnist

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is backing Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu against a series of allegations by mob boss Sedat Peker because he sees himself as the main target, columnist Abdülkadir Selvi said.

Selvi characterised Peker’s YouTube video campaign against the government as an operation conducted with the United Arab Emirates, mirroring claims by Turkish officials. Peker travelled to the UAE ahead of a police crackdown on his group in April, according to local media reports. 

“As a leader who has never surrendered and always emerged from crises, Erdoğan will be the winner,” Selvi wrote in the Hürriyet newspaper on Thursday.

Peker, in a series of tell-all videos over the past few weeks, accused Soylu and other government officials of turning a blind eye to drug trafficking, helping him flee the country last year to evade arrest and of dropping charges against several people with ties to the Gülen movement, which the government blames for orchestrating a failed military coup in 2016.

On Wednesday, Soylu accompanied Erdoğan into a meeting of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) at the parliament in Ankara in a show of support by the president.

"We stand with our interior minister in his battle with criminal gangs, as well as terrorist organisations," Erdoğan said in televised comments.