Embattled Erdogan: A New Tape, A Sudden U-Turn and A Terse Dare

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaking at his party's parliamentary meeting, Feb. 11, 2014. (Photo: Doğan News Agency)

ANKARA—The crisis plaguing Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his ruling AK Party seemed to unravel with the revelation of a second audio tape that allegedly implicates the prime minister in a financial cover up with his son.

In a surprise move Wednesday, Erdogan distanced himself from the sensational trials of former Turkish military leaders, which were aimed to halt the army’s involvement in politics and orchestrated by Erdogan, himself.

New Tapes
A new audio recording uploaded to YouTube, allegedly of Erdogan and his son Bilal Erdogan discussing a lower-than-promised bribe from a businessman, has escalated tensions in Turkish politics while putting the legitimacy of the government further into question.

In a previous digital audio file leaked on Feb. 24 Erdogan reportedly told his son to quickly get rid of enormous sums of money–$10 million–stashed in the houses of several family members.

The incident is alleged to have taken place on the morning of Dec. 17, the day when a major graft scandal involving prominent public figures close to Erdogan came to light.

The second audio track is purported to be of Erdogan ordering Bilal to hold out for a better offer in an unspecified deal with a businessman, whose name is mentioned by Bilal as Sitki.

“Don’t take it [the money]. Whatever he has promised us, that’s what he should bring. If he is not going to bring that, there is no need, “says the voice on the recording.” The others are bringing [that amount]. Why can’t he bring it? What do they think this business is? … But don’t worry, they will fall into our lap.”

An accompanying text within the YouTube clip says the mentioned businessman in the tape is Sitki Ayan, the chairman of the Istanbul-based transportation company Turang, which was awarded a contract to build a pipeline to transport Iranian and Turkmen gas to Europe via Turkey.

Erdogan Dares Gulen to Return to Turkey
Calling the recording a “montage”—edited—Erdogan, once again, shifted the blame for his and his country’s woes on Islamist preacher Fetullah Gulen, who lives in seclusion in Pennsylvania but has a powerful hold on Turkish society.

Addressing his first campaign rally for March’s local elections since the recordings appeared, a combative Erdogan said Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen had collaborated with the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) to spread the fabricated “montage,” reported Reuters.

“Hodja [scholar], if you have not done anything wrong, then don’t live in Pennsylvania. If your country is Turkey, then come back to your country,” Erdogan told thousands of supporters in the southern town of Burdur, using Gulen’s honorific title.

Erdogan Calls Ergenekon Case ‘A Sham’
For the past several years, Erdogan and his government have arrested and jailed former military leaders for allegedly plotting coups. Now, The New York Times reported Thursday, Erdogan is calling the trials, known as the Ergenekon case, a sham.

“He has reversed himself no because of any pangs of guilt,” said Tim Arango, reporting for The New York Times, “but for the simple reason that the same prosecutors who targeted the military… are now going after him.”

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7 Comments

  1. Vindicated Man said:

    It looks like his time as a politician is over. Unless he manages to tighten his dictatorial grip.

  2. Sarkis Sarkissian said:

    What else to expect. A person with a personality built on lies and cheating. He lies about Armenian Genocide, fights vigorously against recognition, and on top of all, cheats his homeland of money, robs the public treasure as if it is a piggy bank for his family. Unfortunately next in line is Daoud oglu, a not so much better apple. Turkey, enjoy your leaders, they are all descendants of Kamal Pasha, Enver Pasha and all the other unnamed beasts

  3. Alex Postallian said:

    I don’t think jerky turkey wants reform,they seem to love the raving maniacs of their country; it must give them a mongol sense of power..

  4. Zareh said:

    As long as Hussein Obama supports his Muslim buddy Erdogan, he will stay in power. American silence only emboldens him and makes Turkey more autocratic and fascist. If Erdogan can have Al-Qaida bases in Turkey with American knowledge then he can do anything he wants. If he can make Netanyahu apologize to him then he can do anything he wants. No wonder the Ottomans ruled for five centuries. No wonder there are three million Turks in Germany. The West is so stupid to allow such a man to stay in power. Another fifty years and Europe will become Europistan.

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