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Controversial SADAT CEO accompanies Erdoğan during Saudi visit despite denial of ties

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The CEO of SADAT International Defense Consultancy, a company with alleged links to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, accompanied the president on his Monday visit to Saudi Arabia, although Erdoğan last year denied having ties to the company, the Evrensel daily reported.

SADAT, Turkey’s first domestic military consultancy firm and a paramilitary organization, was established by former Erdoğan aide Adnan Tanrıverdi and 23 retired military officers on Feb. 28, 2012. The CEO of the company is Tanrıverdi’s son, Melih Tanrıverdi.

Erdoğan arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday to begin a three-state Gulf tour as he looks to attract foreign investment in his country’s ailing economy.

Tanrıverdi took part in a business forum between Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEİK) and representatives from Saudi Arabia as part of Erdoğan’s visit to the country.

“Turkey-Saudi Arabia business forum meetings are still ongoing,” Tanrıverdi said in a tweet on Monday in which he posted photos from the event.

In May 2022 main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said SADAT would be the culprit if an incident were to threaten security in the 2023 elections.

“SADAT is a paramilitary organization. They used to be Erdoğan’s advisers. … This organization also trains [people] for unconventional warfare, namely sabotage, raids, ambush, destruction, assassination and terror. It is an organization that trains terrorists,” Kılıçdaroğlu said at the time.

A few days after Kılıçdaroğlu’s statements, Erdoğan denied having ties to the company, prompting opposition figures to rebut his claim with facts that the company’s founder served as his aide while actively working for SADAT and attended high-level Cabinet meetings.

The company has attracted growing scrutiny over US allegations that it trains Syrians who then are deployed to support pro-Turkish forces in war zones such as Libya.

In June 2021 the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), rejected a parliamentary motion to investigate SADAT’s controversial activities after Turkish mob boss Sedat Peker claimed SADAT had sent weapons to the al-Nusra Front in Syria in 2015.

Peker also alleged that SADAT could possibly carry out assassinations of dissidents living in Turkey and abroad in the near future.

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