Sedat Peker signals a power struggle in post-Erdoğan Turkey - analysts

What we witness in Turkish mob boss Sedat Peker’s videos is a political crisis, where different political actors engage in a tug-of-war for seats in the seemingly near post-Erdoğan Turkey, Oğuz Alyanak, a postdoctoral researcher at the Technical University of Berlin and Ümit Kurt, a Polonsky Fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, said.

Since early May, convicted mobster Peker has been uploading hour-long videos on YouTube, linking past and present government officials to organised crime.

Peker's retaliation entails more than a battle between a mafia boss and his wrongdoers. It extends beyond personal enmity, for the very names he attacks have also been in betrayal of the Turkish people, the Turkish president, and above all, the Turkish state, the pair said in an article they co-authored for Jadaliyya news site on Friday.

Peker values statecraft, and finds in the people, the leader, and the state his holy trinity, the authors said, adding that what matters for him is the perpetuation of a centuries-long state tradition that can be traced to a time long before the foundation of the Turkish republic in 1923.

The 49-year-old mob boss fears the loss of honour in statecraft by disgraceful bureaucrats, such as Turkey's Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, and former Interior Minister and police chief Mehmet Ağar, as well as opportunistic businessmen and journalists, who benefit from the crisis in which the Turkish state finds itself today, the authors noted.

“He makes it his duty to warn the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Turkish people of the looming crisis and finds himself in some sort of a revolutionary's shoes,” according to the analysts.

Peker has long been a member of a shadowy network of powerful figures in Turkey’s recent political history.

In 1997, Peker was charged with organised crime, leading him to flee Turkey for Romania. Upon his return in 1998, Peker faced another trial, and served nearly nine months in jail. He was again sentenced in 2005 for organized crime, which led to his long-term arrest. However, in 2014, he was released. Since then, Peker has been a staunch proponent of Erdoğan.

According to authors, the two factions have been warring for seats and power in anticipation of the termination of Erdoğan’s presidency.

One faction comprises Erdoğan’s son-in-law and former finance minister Berat Albayrak, and “the Pelicanists”, which include Albayrak's media mogul older brother Serhat Albayrak, who leads the powerful Turkuvaz Media Group that is in charge of several television stations, newspapers and magazines, and journalists who work for Turkuvaz.

For the authors, Erdoğan’s support to Soylu would give a clear message as to what the post-Erdoğan Turkey would look like, where Soylu and Erdoğan’s far-right ally Devlet Bahçeli would further foment their power.

If, however, Erdoğan chooses to dismiss Soylu, then that would be a clear win for Albayrak, which would lead to further friction between the AKP, and Bahçeli’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the authors maintained.

Peker’s words matter even for the staunchest critics of Erdoğan, including many academics such as ourselves, the authors said, adding, “he may not be the revolutionary we have expected, but he sadly is what we have got’’.