Mafia-state allegations lift lid on murkiness surrounding ruling AKP - former minister

The recent allegations that members of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development (AKP) were connected to mafia figures exposes a dark side of the party’s dealings, former Turkish foreign minister Yaşar Yakış wrote in his column for Arab News

On Sunday, Yakış penned his article in response to recent videos made by wanted mobster Sedat Peker. Yakış writes that Peker’s allegations, if true, showcase “corrupt practices in Turkey, irregularities, absence of the rule of law and futile rivalries between the security apparatus and the judiciary."

Some of the claims being put forward by Peker are not entirely new, but they touched on important figures within the AKP including former interior minister Mehmet Ağar. Peker claims that he covered up crimes committed by Ağar’s son, who is now a member of Turkey’s parliament, and that the Ağar protected the mobster. 

Yakış writes that Peker’s videos could expose what is actually an intra-party conflict between  former finance minister Berat Albayrak, who is also President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son in law, and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu. Already there has been some blowback as Soylu has come in for criticism as a “junction” between the AKP, its partner Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the mafia. 

Even as Peker’s claims remain unverified, there are also some signs of discontent within the AKP. Yakis points to a remark from former justice minister Cemil Çiçek who said that the allegations on their own should be a source of concern. 

“If one thousandth of what Peker says turns out to be true, this is already a disaster for the country. Public prosecutors who hear or read such scandalous news do not need an instigation to take action. They are expected to prosecute these allegations on their own initiative without being asked or instructed to do so,” Cicek said.  

In his column, Yakış writes that Peker having to flee Turkey and needing to remain on the run suggests that he bet on the wrong side. However, behind the current scandal is a question is whether or not it will spur either the AKP to enact reforms or lead to electoral consequences.

“When the AKP was established in mid-2001, corruption was one of the vices it promised to eradicate, but it has now become even more widespread,” writes Yakış. “Peker’s disclosures have opened a debate in Turkey on whether this could be an opportunity to bring an end to the devastating corruption that ruins all structures of the state.”
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