Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has remained silent as his election ally, Devlet Bahçeli, leader of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), voiced support for Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu following scandalous allegations by a mafia boss about him as well as other members of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.
Sedat Peker, the head of one of Turkey’s most powerful mafia groups who was once a staunch supporter of Erdoğan, has since early May been setting the country’s political agenda through videos he posts on YouTube. Having fled to Dubai, the mafia boss has been making shocking revelations about state-mafia relations, drug trafficking and murders implicating state officials.
In his latest video posted on Sunday, Peker once again targeted Soylu, saying he will make him pay for “every child and their mother” he had wronged, after he loses his position as interior minister, by putting a leash on him and walking him around the streets.
Referring to Peker’s statements, Bahçeli said during his party’s group meeting on Tuesday: “Nobody will be able to put a leash on the interior minister of the Turkish Republic. No one will ever have the power to do it.”
Expressing that Soylu wasn’t alone, the MHP leader added that what was at stake was the Turkish government’s honor and staying power. “Everybody has the responsibility to listen to themselves. Turkey’s agenda cannot be occupied by a video series, and it cannot be seized by slander,” he said.
Bahçeli also referred to Erkan Yıldırım, the son of former prime minister and Erdoğan loyalist Binali Yıldırım, who was alleged by Peker to be part of a major drug trafficking ring between Venezuela and Turkey.
“It’s slanderous to incriminate Binali Yıldırım by way of [citing allegations about] his son. If you’re ‘impartial’ in such circumstances, it means you’re providing support to circles against Turkey,” the MHP leader argued.
Peker has claimed that it was connections to his family that had helped Soylu rise through the ranks of the right-wing True Path Party (DYP) before he joined the ruling AKP in 2012 at the invitation of Erdoğan. He also claimed that Soylu helped him avoid police prosecution by notifying him that an investigation was being prepared against him, before he fled Turkey in early 2020. The mob boss further said Soylu previously told people that he and Erdoğan “liked” Peker.